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Category: Soccer
Best For: Players with explosive speed and footskills
Star Feature: All Conditions Control (ACC)
Weight: 6.6 oz

Lacing up these boots you get the immediate sensation that these aren't your typical soccer cleats. The Teijin microfiber upper wrapped around the contours of the foot, making for a snug fit. The All Conditions Control component provided glossy surface to receive the ball with precision and control, similar to the original Air Zoom Total 90 technology. The carbon fiber plate on the sole made an incredibly lightweight boot even lighter, while simultaneously increasing strength and flexibility. The insole provided ample cushioning and ventilation. Comfort and breathability are essential when playing for an extended amount of time, especially on artificial surfaces.

Running around the pitch in other, bulkier cleats tend to weigh you down in the latter stages of a grueling match or training session. In the case of the Mercurial Vapor IX (and its predecessors), you almost forget that you’ve got them on, and that’s the primary function of a cleat. While some might prefer boots that are loaded with external technologies and awkward, never-before-seen design, there is a certain beauty to a cleat that has been stripped down to the bare essentials. Simplicity reigns supreme, and Nike captures it beautifully with the Mercurial Vapor IX.

First touches on the ball were clean. The lightweight material provided a more natural feel as compared to boots with leather uppers and complex stitching. It takes some getting used to if you’re making the switch from “traditional” boots to the Vapor IX, but once you lace them up—and we can’t stress this enough—you can feel the difference. Receiving the ball, passing, striking—less material between your foot and the ball is paramount. Of course, this can also be a two-edged sword if someone engages you with a clumsy or ill-advised challenge. It really stings—more so than with other boots—when you pick up nicks and bruises over the course of 90 minutes. Hopefully with the added quickness, you’ll be able to step around tackles and glide forward victoriously.

One of the biggest advantages of the Vapor IX is mobility, quickness, and responsiveness. For players who rely on skill and speed, the Mercurial is built to go from zero to full speed in the blink of an eye. Not only that, but the stud configuration also allows for you to stop on a dime and change pace. So, whether you’re exploding to a 50/50 ball, negotiating a sharp cut, or getting up for an aerial challenge, the structure of the Vapor IX allows for optimum performance from the first minute to the final whistle.

Bottom Line: The Nike Mercurial Vapor IX is an ideal boot for offensive-minded players who push forward, take on defenders, and attack the goal. The lightweight, minimalistic design elements eliminate the non-essentials to give you the purest footballing experience possible. In a game of inches and milliseconds, the Vapor gives you that extra half-step ahead of the competition.

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