The New Mercurial
Pushing the boundaries of technological innovation, Nike have crafted an all-new generation of Nike Mercurial shoes including making major changes to the Vapor. The upper is now solely constructed from Flyknit. To make things even more interesting, there’s no Flywire to reinforce the upper. And to finish it all off, the soleplate has been cut in half. It’s safe to say the new Nike Vapor 12 Elite combines the best of old Vapors with a better, more modern fit and newer technology, all while taking inspiration from nature’s most agile speedsters.
Before discussing how they perform on the pitch, there’s a lot to talk about regarding their appearance. The Mercurial Vapor 12 Elite/Vapor 360 (*it has two official names) undoubtedly sports a sleek, low-profile look in this Black/Total Orange/White colorway. The launch colorway, which is pretty much an inverted (in terms of colors) version of this Black/Total Orange/White colorway, is much brighter and flashier. Weaved into the laces are shiny orange ribbons which add some flair to the simple black upper.
The large Mercurial branding on the heel is iridescent, meaning the colors change when seen from different angles; this is one of those things that you just have to see in person to really appreciate. The split soleplate is also iridescent, but with a matte coating. When hit with light from different angles, the colors change from pink, to yellow, to orange, which, again, looks even more incredible in person (this does wear away with use, though). The large Nike swoosh known to wrap around the lateral side of the boot no longer does so on the Vapor 12 Elite and Superfly 6 Elite; it’s been reduced in size and placed on the toe box. For the first time ever, the Vapor is identical to its Superfly counterpart except for one thing; the dynamic fit collar. Aside from not having a dynamic fit collar, the Vapor 12 Elite is the exact same boot as the Superfly 6 Elite.
Considering the upper of the Vapor 12 Elite is made of tightly-weaved Flyknit and not the renowned Teijin synthetic leather found on the Vapor 8, 9, 10, and 11, I expected the touch to be a bit different, but to my surprise, it feels pretty much the same as the Vapor 11. With the Vapor 12 Elite, you’re getting an incredibly thin, precise, and barefoot-like touch on the ball with a solid amount of grip. However, there is not much protection as you would expect with an extremely thin speed boot. To achieve the most barefoot sensation possible, Nike have engineered a boot with 360 degrees of thin Flyknit and 3D speed ribs all over the upper for a controlled, texturized grip on the ball. In typical Vapor fashion, you get that clean, pingy sensation where the ball powerfully flies off your foot.
Fit and Feel
Essentially, the Vapor 12 Elite is just a coated knit sock with a solid, secure base. That’s how it feels on foot, anyway. At first, the one piece Flyknit upper feels stiff and rigid before you break it in and soften it up, and there’s also some minor chafing at the heel which subsides once you break in the boots. The soleplate’s chassis is placed on the inside of the boot, with the two studded plates placed on the outside of the boot (one beneath the toes and one beneath the heel).
While testing, I didn’t notice that big of a difference having the soleplate be two pieces instead of one; the traction is just as aggressive as the Vapor 11 (they share the same stud configuration) and the soleplate is beyond responsive and flexible. Nike actually took inspiration from a Cheetah’s paw and running habits in their decision to utilize a split soleplate, which is an interesting idea that looks cool but doesn’t feel all that different from a traditional one piece soleplate. The toe box is a bit rounder with a bit more room in the toes than that of the previous generation Mercurial Vapor. Overall, the Vapor 12 Elite offers a tight, seamless, and lightweight fit and, once broken in, is truly one of the best speed boots to wear on the pitch.
Nike’s latest concoction of innovative materials and new technology is what makes the Mercurial Vapor 12 Elite better than every other speed boot on the market. In typical Vapor fashion, the boots make you feel fast and light on your toes, ready to sprint down the field and put one into the back of the net. The tight fit and super thin, barefoot-like touch on the ball makes this boot irresistible for speedsters and strikers alike.