Fifteen years ago, Nike unveiled its first Mercurial worn by Ronaldo. It’s a boot that not only dominated the game with its intricate innovations, but became an institution in worldwide athletic apparel. Now what do Ronaldo, Neymar, Hazard, and Ribéry as well as numerous soccer stars have in common? Strikingly fast speed, yes, they also all wear the Vapors. Nike having employed the name of a natural gas to a boot, it makes perfect sense since slipping into a pair of these will make your foot pace quick witted much like the reactions of Vapor itself.
Speed can only be matched by weight, and the innovation kitchen has made it a standard to create only the most lightweight and durable boots. Conquer any surface in these boots as they are made available for Soft Ground (SG), Firm Ground (FG), Artifical Ground (AG), and Hard Ground (HG). Here is The Complete Tech History of the Nike Mercurial Vapor.
The first Mercurial hit the scene at the 1998 World Cup when the 21-year-old soccer sensation burst onto the scene. Though Brazil lost to France in the final, the Nike Mercurial was born.
Nike Mercurial Vapor
Key Technology: Nike Skin
In its advent, the Nike Mercurial Vapor protruded as the lightest boot in the market. The tissue-like mass of the shoe feels like it's just another layer of skin. They deemed it "Nike Skin" which was thinner and stronger than any kangaroo leather. Nike also added a "glass" filled outsole called NikeFrame, designed to spring back to its shape with a nimble push off the ground.
Nike Mercurial Vapor II
Key Technology: Larger Heel Tab
Why do too much to an originally designed high performance and lightweight boot? The Vapor II is a tad thicker, a little more cushioned, and slightly modified from its first version. The only major change is a padded area around the ankle with a larger heel tab. The pattern down the sides of the boot was redesigned to showcase the indentations. The boot still maintains the same upper material, sole plate, along with an external heel counter.
Nike Mercurial Vapor III
Key Technology: Teijin Microfibers
The innovation kitchen at Nike introduced Teijin microfibers to the third vapor boot. Not only does it make the shoe lighter and more durable, but it conforms to the shape of your foot. Weighing in at only 6.9 oz, the shoe attracted American soccer player, Clint Dempsey. On May 5th, 2007, he scored the only goal against Liverpool in a blue and white colorway of the pair. Finished with a carbon last, these vapors offer support to the heel and enhanced cushion was added to the heel cup area.
Nike Mercurial Vapor IV
Key Technology: Teijin Synthetic Leather
Did you happen to see Cristiano Ronaldo outrun a Bugatti Veyron? Allegedly the fastest car in the world, man overcame machine when Ronaldo wore the orange and obsidian colorway of this pair. This is a boot where you can “feel” the ball. The top part of the boot has increased surface areas that cover the laces and offer additional ball contact area. The soft yet protective TEIJIN synthetic leather conforms to every curve and lining of the foot. Regardless of whatever size or shape feet you have, these boots will comfortably conform to it.
Nike Mercurial Vapor V
Key Technology: Flywire Technology and Additional Cleat
Nike added a cleat to the front of the sole that lets your foot gain extra grip on the surface, making it easier to push off. Super light at just 8.4oz, this is primarily due to Teijin Microfiber on the upper of the cleat, a synthetic material that is light weight and easily conforms to the shape of your foot. Robinho scored 14 Premier League goals in these babies in his first season as a Manchester City Striker. This fifth Vapor remained its covered lacing system that offers a larger strike zone, without placing a bulky cover over the laces.
Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly
Key Technology: Flywire Technology
Flywire is embedded in a synthetic upper that is made of Teijin. Flywire is an adhesive thread placed in the upper area of the cleat where feet need the most support. By providing soccer players with support they desire without extra weight, Robinho, Pato, and Ronaldo are all professional soccer players that helped and approved the design of this fifth incarnation. The insole has a covered lacing which keep the laces from making contact with the ball and striking it clean.
Nike Mercurial Vapor VI
Key Technology: Vapor Traction
If Cristiano Ronaldo raced a snow leopard, who would win? This event never happened, but on 23 October 2010, you saw him attacking like one as he scored four goals against Racing De Santander, the most goals he has ever scored in a single match. And if you were a fan or collector of the vapor boot, you happened to snatch the limited snow leopard pattern of this pair. With firm-ground molded cleats (FG) and Vapor Traction, Nike offered a multi-directional cleat pattern for quick acceleration and sharp cuts towards any direction. Also grip zones in the forefoot were inspired by racing spikes and allow for quick bursts of speed.
Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly II
Key Technology: Adaptable Studs
Intricately built for speed and touch on the ball at high speeds, not only did it conquer its predecessors but swept most football boots with a strictly synthetic upper. The big innovation on this boot is the adaptable stud system; there are two studs on each boot that react to the pressure pressed down by the player, and is pushed back up by the ground underneath. If you dig centered lacing, and an upper that hugs the top of the boot, you’re going to love striking the ball in this version of the boot.
Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly II Safari CR7
Year Released: 2010
Key Technology: Nike SENSE technology
Probably the wildest pattern to ever be featured on a boot, the Safari CR7’s is not only iconic for its snow leopard print and orange swoosh, but also how light and relentless they are on the field. Constructed with a lightweight yet tough Flywire to the midfoot, offer support and long lasting design. It also features a pressure-activated Nike SENSE technology that adjusts stud length according to surface type for the acceleration you demand. Weighing in at 8.3 ounces, slip in these and you’ll wonder why they called it the superfly’s.
Nike Mercurial Vapor VII
Key Technology: Tepex Glass Composite
Weighing in at 8 oz, Nike added a Tepex glass composite chassis that delivers cheetah speed and remarkable support. These boots allow the player to feel the ball as it slides against the shoe rather than grab. The upper hugs your foot very tightly to the point where it just feels like you are playing barefoot. The light Teijin material is one of the best synthetic on the market, so go feel it for yourself.
Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly III
Key Technology: Vapor Traction
Can the boot get any lighter? Subtract .2oz and you've got the lightest boot from all its predecessors in its initial release. One dope change was an added lace hole at the top of the boot, which is the reason for the extra Flywire in the heel. Widely praised for its speed and technical precision, with Nike Flywire technology added into the synthetic upper, it reduces weight and adjusts to the foot. Unique vapor traction pattern and direct injected dual density heel studs give stability and explosive acceleration.
Nike Mercurial Vapor VIII
Key Technology: Suede Finish
More narrow fitting than the Vapor VII, Nike has brought back the original mold of the Vapor II where the midfoot and toe box tightly hug your foot. These are game ready when they come out of the box, and no need to walk around the house for five hours to break them in. They come with a Teijin upper which is much thinner, softer, and way more flexible than past Vapors. The new glass-fiber sole is also an improvement over that of the Vapor VII, in that it is much more flexible. They swag out with a new suede-like finish that feels similar to a soft leather shoe.
Nike Mercurial Vapor IX
Key Technology: Dimpled Upper
The one thing that has changed between the Vapor VIII and the Vapor IX is the dimpled upper. On the Vapor VIII, the suede like finish brought a natural feel to the ball. However, getting rid of the suede in this version meant getting the scuffs out as well. Don't be shunned if they look like abnormal golf balls on your feet, its made with a smooth synthetic material that coats the surface. The unique sole plate on the Vapors will help you cut with agility and tackle the field with great speed. Weighing in at 6.8oz., not only are these one of the lightest football boot, but they relieve you throughout the game when your legs feel like bricks.
Nike Mercurial Vapor VIII CR
Year Released: 2012
Key Technology: Glass Fibre Plate
The killer pink and blue colorway will make you stand out in the field. Especially the logo on the heel, a heart slashed by an X, which represents Ronaldo’s love of winning, and hatred of losing. This boot's feathery weight is due to the glass-fibre plate that subtracts weight while multiplying strength and power. These firm-ground (FG) cleats are specifically designed for use on short-grass fields that may be slightly wet.
Nike Mercurial IX Special Edition
Released: May 8, 2013
Key Technology: One-piece, seamless upper just like the 1998 original.
To celebrate the fifteenth year of the first Mercurial football boot, Nike releases a special edition version of the cleat Ronaldo made famous in France in the summer of 1998. Only 1,998 pairs are available now at Nike.com.