With the introduction of Flyknit to soccer equipment, the world truly seemed to have entered into a new era of possibilities. An absolutely amazing creation, Flyknit has a stretch to create a flawless fit while having the structure necessary to be used on an area that needs so much support while still allowing free movement. Enter Nike’s Magista Obra and the Mercurial SuperFly IV: two boots that have turned the boot world on its head. While the review for the Obra came from the expert down-under, I have been handed the task of (somehow) describing the SuperFly IV. Has Nike been able to blend Flyknit and a revived boot legend to make an amazing boot?
The idea behind the SuperFly IV is an absolute departure from the SuperFly predecessors. There are no sense-studs, no “hot-water-trick” needed in order to avoid a 12-hour break-in, and it seems that the only true similarity lies in the carbon-fibre soleplate and brio cables meant to aid the tightness of the fit. This boot also is not the lightest in the Nike stable as the current Vapor X is about half-an-ounce lighter. However, the SuperFly IV is the type of boot that has attempted to blend technology and the ingenuity of a long-standing brand in order to make a game-changing boot. Considering how long we had speculated on the use of Flyknit on boots, it made the SuperFly IV that much more entertaining to finally receive.
With several colorways on the market, Nike has made sure that the SuperFly will appeal to any sensibility. A blackout version for the more conservative boot enthusiasts, and the pink launch/electric green SE/laser orange SuperFly for those that like a bit more “pop” from their boots. The huge “NIKE” emblem from the Vapor IX has gone by the wayside and we have gotten back to simply two Nike Swoosh symbols on the boot. All of the releases so far look great, but there will definitely be a colorway that meets your standards.
The biggest change in the look will be the dynamic fit collar that extends up to the ankle. Admittedly, certain colors will look odd mixed with certain socks, but the collar is an unmissable addition when looking at these boots. Albeit it more of a conversation starter than an attractive addition, it gives no doubt (even from across the pitch) which boots you are wearing. If you do not like drawing attention to your feet, these boots are not for you.
The most daunting task of this review: actually explaining what it is like to use the SFIV. The newest SuperFly is the closest thing to wearing a second-skin that you can have. While other boots might have thinner uppers, the way that the Flyknit conforms to your foot immediately upon placing your foot in the boot is unmatched outside of the current Flyknit options. While the previous statement may have some running back to their worries about differentiating the SF and the Obra, the similarities stop fairly quickly. The SF is one layer of the Flyknit with a uniform thickness throughout the entirety of the boot. No added padding and the same material spread everywhere across your foot brings an amazing touch to your time on the ball. While protection is sacrificed in the name of close touch, the trade-off feels worth it after getting used to the SF.
No shooting elements or grippy textures means that every strike, pass, or movement with the ball feels extremely pure. While most boots that brag about a “barefoot feel” tend to do so because of the thin nature of the upper, the SF pulls this off through a combo of a thin upper and an unmatched ability to wrap around your foot. Despite not being a huge fan of boots typically tossed into the “speed” category, I fell in love with the SFIV. Where the Vapor X felt very sticky upon the first few wears, the SuperFly allows the ball to move against the upper without getting stuck under your feet easily.
Striking with the SF has a noticeable zip to it as the ball quickly flies off of your foot. With no extra padding or shooting elements, you feel the ball as it pings away from your foot. Bringing the ball out of the air or passing also provides immediate response and, with the thin nature of the laces, is meant to be as close to a perfect experience as soccer boots can currently provide. Considering what Nike was hoping to achieve with this boot, it seems difficult to imagine them releasing something better than this on the first go around. When you have the laces tight and get secure inside the SuperFly, nothing out there is comparable on the market.
The one negative area for me with the SuperFly IV and one area where I would advise caution is the break-in. Despite the boot having two different consistencies of Flyknit to form tightly to your foot (stretchy around the top/lace-area of your foot to allow stretch for different foot sizes and tight everywhere else to let the laces do their work), the heel lining caused some big-time blisters. Made from a smooth rubbery material, this boot is best broken-in in spurts instead of long sessions. Having tested a few pairs already to help me with this review, playing in them until you feel possible blisters warming up is the best way to go. The initial SF saw me wearing them for long training sessions right away, and I have never had heel blisters as big. However, once this boot is broken-in, it fits like a dream.
In regards to the dynamic fit collar, it takes a bit of getting used to. However, the experience is an enjoyable one once the initial odd feeling wears off. While I would never imply that a good fitting boot without the collar does not fit well, the SF has an extra level of integration with your foot/leg that aids the fit and the experience. While the collar does not provide any real extra protection, the sensation of a seamless transition from the area of your leg outside the boot to the area inside is astounding. While not for everyone, this set-up will make believers out of many skeptical wearers.
The soleplate on the SuperFly sees a return to carbon-fibre, but the stiffness of past SF’s has definitely been shelved. The dual studs in the heel have also been replaced by a four stud set-up, while the forefoot studs hearken back to early Mercurial boots instead of more recent ventures. In harder pitches and even a few soggy ones, there was no slippage and the set-up allows you confidence on your feet while providing great traction and push-off for any type of movement your game requires. Couple the studs with the locked-in sensation from the Brio cables in the upper and you will experience great movement on any firm ground pitch. As with any FG boot, the SF in this stud set-up is not made for artificial surfaces. However, Nike have made sure that their latest innovation is available in any stud pattern you may need, so shop accordingly.
THE VERDICT – WHO’S WEARING IT – BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
While no other boot in the world may split opinion like the SuperFly, I have quickly found myself returning to Nike’s current headline boot. Even with a few blisters along the way, the quality of the boot shines through after the break-in and will have me proclaiming its success from the mountaintops. If you have the opportunity to shift into this boot, you will definitely find it is an experience unlike any other. If all the information above appeals to you, then the experience should be glorious. While Nike makes sure to keep their premier athletes in their premier boots, we would be remiss to not mention that these beauties are worn by CR7 himself, Alexis Sanchez, and a host of other professionals at the highest level.
Although I would love to say that the break-in is the only negative I found with the SF, the pricing pushes this boot outside of most player’s budgets. While our friends over at SoccerPro can get it to you for a bit cheaper, the retail price of $275 is very tough to justify. Still, if the opportunity arises for you to get the SuperFly, it is an opportunity that you should not pass up. A definite competitor for Boot of the Year that has me giving Nike a standing ovation…truly impressive.
SIZING NOTE: TRUE TO SIZE BUT FITS A BIT LONG
The epitome of odd sizing, with some here at The Instep getting (and enjoying) their true size while some (myself included) have opted for a half-size smaller. Trying on a pair would be the easiest suggestion, but take how your current boot fits into consideration when choosing sizing (if your size is already very tight, you should be fine…if your preferred size allows for a little room at the toes, jump down half a size).