It’s safe to say that Nike is in winning form with the beloved Mercurial range. The Vapor 12 was a great step forward for the line, which, admittedly, was in need of some reinvigoration; and the Vapor 13 elevates everything that made the previous iteration of the speed boot great, while also injecting an extra dose of creature comforts into the model.
The 184 gram Vapor 13 Pro model is the second-tier entry in the line, just under the Elite model, which features a full Flyknit upper. The Pro model, however, doesn’t carry Nike’s Flyknit, but instead uses a circular knit construction. Despite this, it’s still incredibly soft, carries that premium knitted-feel, and feels almost as good as the Flyknit model. Now it’s not the best tech Nike has to offer, but this is a pretty incredible construction given the notable price difference between the expensive Elite and Pro model (around R2,000 more).
While the Vapor 13 Pro might not be as soft-to-the-touch as the Elite model, once your foot is in it, it’s hard to tell the difference. You still get that sock-like fit that wraps your foot, giving you a snug and secure lockdown, while the upper moulds to your foot shape with ease straight out of the box. The Pro model also features a dynamic-fit collar, which wraps the ankle effectively and provides some comfort around those trouble-areas that often result in blisters. At certain foot angles, the collar does crimp at points and open small gaps, but it’s barely noticeable on the field.
On the flip side, the two-piece soleplate is an anatomical build consisting of a forefoot and heel area, but Nike has included what they call an Aerotrak zone, which is a slightly stiffer chassis to help provide stability and aggressive acceleration. While it is great to have a flexible soleplate, it’s nice to have a bit of rigidity too for safety and to deliver that solid feet underfoot — and the combination of that with the sock-like upper is a fantastic cocktail for on-field enjoyment.
While the standard Vapor 13 FG stud pattern of chevron-like blades is suitable for most straight running players, we opted to review the AG model featuring predominantly conical studs, with two blades on the heel. This stud pattern, while designed for artificial ground, is more than suitable for South Africa’s hard, dry fields, especially in summer.
The layout is pretty standard of classic football boots, but having two extra studs on the forefoot (a total of 8 rather than the usual 6) provides less ‘sink’ into the ground, more stability, and due to the shape, allows you to pivot and rotate more easily than the traditional FG blades. This helps reduce strain on the knees and avoid any nasty injuries, especially when shifting and changing angles in a game of football or rugby.
As for the looks, Nike’s Daybreak pack is a colourful one at that, but its more subdued, washed-out yellow is a great look on the Vapor’s streamlined silhouette. There have been some light design tweaks to the decals too, with Nike’s iconic swoosh now featuring a slight kink, making it resemble a lightning bolt. A simple, yet effective adjustment that gives the Vapor 13 Daybreak edition a touch of personality.
When it comes to the Vapor 13 Pro, you’re getting what is essentially a premium boot for a far-more affordable price. Of course, there are some slight corners cut on the highest-end materials, but Nike has done a fantastic job at making the Vapor 13 Pro a viable option if you’re someone who’s aiming at a cheap takedown for Sunday touch rugby, or someone who loves boots but doesn’t want to splash the cash on the extremely expensive silo.
The Nike Mercurial Vapor 13 Pro AG model is available from Nike.com for R2,199.
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