Nike soccer cleats have long been designed for specific types of players. Early on, they saw how players identify with their cleats and moved to associate their endorsed athletes with a specific model. While that is still the case to a certain extent, players are being asked to do more on the field which blurs the lines of cleat design. Cleats, like the players that wear them, can no longer be one dimensional and more multi-functional models are available than ever before.
When it comes to Nike soccer cleats, there are four different families, or silos, of footwear that make up the American brand’s soccer catalog. The Mercurial is the flagship model primarily aimed at speedy attacking players while the Hypervenom is the specialist for goal scorers. The Magista and Tiempo are the multi-functional do it all silos with the latter holding classic status amongst players.
For years, Nike soccer cleats have pushed the boundaries of innovation and they continue to do so with some fantastic options to choose from. Be sure to check out our guide to saving money on soccer cleats when you’re done to see how to get the best deal once you’ve identified the perfect pair.
Nike Mercurial & Mercurial Superfly
The Nike Mercurial Vapor has been loved by players since it first made its way on the scene in 1998. Back then, it was on the foot of a young Brazilian named Ronaldo who was setting the world on fire with his power, pace, and instinctive finishing ability. Fast forward to 2018 and the Vapor is on its 12th iteration and worn by many more players who continue to challenge what’s possible on a soccer field.
With 20 years of innovation behind it, the Mercurial is Nike’s dedicated speed silo with the tag line “Engineered for Speed”. The Vapor 12 has a lot to talk about with some major design upgrades as Nike continues to improve its flagship silo.
The 360 in this year’s name refers to the full Flyknit wrap that stretches and conforms to tightly fit your foot and respond to every movement. Nike have embedded their All Conditions Control (ACC) into the Flyknit for close control regardless of the playing conditions. An added bonus of only having one layer to their upper is increased durability (i.e. -they will last longer).
In a truly revolutionary move, Nike have switched to a minimalist split soleplate. Where as most soleplates are one piece, Nike have eliminated the plate in the mid foot between the studs and replaced it with foot-hugging Flyknit. The idea being that the cleat disappears on your foot and provides traction only where you need it. Nike have also gone with all chevron studs inspired by the paw of a cheetah. They have positioned the studs to give aggressive acceleration in the forefoot and braking in the heel.
In a first for Nike, the Mercurial Superfly is identical to the Vapor with the one exception being the dynamic fit collar. If you prefer the collar of your cleat to come up over your ankle, the Superfly is for you.
The Mercurial and Mercurial Superfly are ultra lightweight weighing in at 6.4oz and 7.2 oz respectively. The cleats benefit from some amazing technology that makes them about the closest thing to wearing a sock with studs on the field. If you’re the speed player that wants something ultralight you can put on and forget about, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more ideal cleat.
The Hypervenom was originally Nike’s dedicated agility silo but has since been transformed and is now aimed at forwards. The tag line is now “Built for lethal finishing” and it’s clear that Nike have engineered every part of this cleat to be deadly in front of goal. The cleat comes in both a low cut and Dynamic Fit (DF) collared version and graces the feet of top class strikers like Kane, Cavani, Rashford, and Aubameyang. With top players to draw on for feedback, it’s no surprise that this edition of the Hypervenom is the best yet.
The Flyknit upper ensures a tight snug fit and the addition of Flywire deliver superior lockdown from the very first time you lace them up. Flywire was designed with inspiration from a suspension bridge and gives support in the medial and lateral parts of the foot while remaining flexibile and lightweight. It wraps the fool like tendons and keeps it locked tightly to the insole so your foot isn’t slipping inside the shoe. Nike uses this technology on many of their soccer cleats and it has performed fantastically.
The Flyknit upper on the Hypervenom is covered with Nike’s All Conditions Control skin to make them water tight and ensure close control in all weather. Flyknit replaces the tongue of the cleat and allows a stretchy second-skin fit and feel. The all important strike zone of the cleat has a hyper-reactive texture optimized for striking a ball. Nike used Poron to give next-gen padding in all the right places without effecting your feel for the ball. The laces even angle towards the outside of your foot to give you a bigger strike zone for driving the top of your foot through the ball.
The Hyper-reactive soleplate has a flexible forefoot for responsive support you can feel from the very first step. It’s obvious they’ve added additional flex to aid the quick movements strikers often make around the box. Nike have really looked at the typical actions a striker makes and its reflected in their choice of studs. The studs on the lateral side (outer part) are all chevrons for ideal traction when making a cut. On the medial side (inner part), the studs are all conical shaped for pivoting and driving forward to strike the ball. It’s a simple but intuitive touch that really does reap rewards on the field.
Overall, the Hypervenom really is a striker’s dream and there has been no detail left uncovered. While players in other positions will no doubt love this cleat, it is about as close as you can get to a cleat designed specifically for a position.
The Magista is Nike’s dedicated silo for playmakers. What that means practically is a cleat that is focused on giving you the absolute best touch on the ball and all the features possible to aid in spraying the ball across the field.
To do this, Nike studied the most sensitive parts of the foot as well as the parts of the foot used most for controlling the ball. From there, they focused on sensory amplification through feel. The result is a 3D textured upper that has peaks and troughs of various dimensions with the highest peaks in the areas most in contact with the ball. This textured upper combines nicely with the padding to give your foot an amplified feel for the ball. It also gives you plenty to work with for putting spin on the ball.
The Magista benefits from a number of Nike’s other innovations including a tongueless Flyknit constructed upper for that stretchy formfitting feel players love so much. Flywire and an interior heel counter provide an ideal lockdown and combine nicely with the Nikegrip insole so there is no slippage inside the cleat.
The outsole is significantly lighter than previous versions of the Magista and features a rotational forefoot zone. This is basically 3 bladed studs on the interior ball of the foot set up circularly to aid in turning and pivoting. It’s like Nike had Sergio Busquets on their design team when they put this cleat together.
The Magista is a very underrated cleat and has a fantastic feel on your foot. Nike have done what they do so well and looked at the exact specifications of players and given them the best tool to do the job.
The Tiempo is Nike’s classic cleat. Made with leather for the truest of touches, the Tiempo has been worn by generations of players of every skill level. It is an absolute classic and Nike have taken careful steps to make sure they keep the cleat up to date without detracting from the features players love so much.
Leather cleats are rare these days and there are a few pros and cons to consider, but the Tiempo has always been leather and that won’t be changing. It’s ultra soft feel on the ball is fantastic and it molds to your foot over time for a custom fit. Nike have gone one step further and used a Fitmeshliner inside the toe and midfoot of the cleat to preserve the fit and prevent over stretching of the leather. This is a nice touch that will lengthen the life of the cleat.
For the first time in the Tiempo, Flyknit is used in the heel and tongue for a snugger fit that is lighter than the leather used on previous editions. The addition of Flywire aids with the snug fit and gives fantastic lock down. Nikegrip insoles use interlocking textures to keep your foot from sliding inside the cleat so the Tiempo really does feel like its an extension of your foot when you’re on the field.
The Hyperstability soleplate has a Pebax overlay that is ultralight so you will have all of the traction without any added weight. This really is the best Tiempo yet and the painstaking steps and careful attention to detail shine through all over this cleat.
Now that you’re up to speed on Nike’s line up, be sure to check out our recommendations for the best cleats based on your position. Whether you’re a goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, or forward, we have a few suggestions to help you get the best cleats for your needs.