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Academy Mercurial Vapor 15

Ian Ebbs

The Academy Vapor is Nike’s best seller, a budget-friendly pair of speed boots for the general public. Aesthetics are always based on the Elite; no need to force yourself on the pricey professional-level Vapors just to look good and feel good. More importantly, the affordable Vapor Academy has enough quality for you to enjoy your football and perform well!


Cheap Academy Vapor

  1. Costs £75; can even get for less in Nike’s clearout sales of older colourways
  2. Multiground tooling exclusive to the Academy level; not available in the top-end models Vapor Elite and Pro
  3. Low cut with a standard tongue, as opposed to the knit tongue and collar of the Superfly; no additional difference after that
  4. Has the current generation’s highlight tech: the Zoom Air unit, but confined to the heel only
  5. Kids Mercurial Vapor Academy available, but looks very similar to the Kids Superfly takedown because of the same laceless setup and the fabric collar (the Vapor’s collar more of a midcut finish than full-fledged high-cut)
  6. Unlike the Pro which simply tones down the quality of the Elite’s material, the Academy attempts to replicate the fit and feel of the high-end Vapor using cheaper, more economic materials
  7. 3D Swoosh outline changed to a simple print to go with the rest of the graphics design
  8. Nikeskin upper offers a distinct boot experience relative to the GTs’ and Tiempos’

Children’s Vapor Academy Easy-On

Nike Jr – First-ever Vapor boots to feature a laceless closure; Pull tabs on the heel and tongue provide an ‘Easy On’ entry, with crisscross straps on the top of the midfoot providing a nice tension across the arch of the foot; interesting to see that Nike Jr Vapor Academy is collared similar to the Superfly, albeit with a midcut finish

Available Vapor Academy Soleplates

SG Pro Anti-Clog – Nike’s pantented Soft Ground soleplate technology can be enjoyed in the cheaper Academy Vapor

TF – Ragged outsole applicable to the shorter 1st-gen synthetic grass

IC – A cheap but functional option for doing your freestyles on the street

AG – Your cheap Vapor option for that long grass fibres and multilayered in-fill of new-gen artificial pitches 

Mercurial Vapor Academy 15 Reviewed:

Mercurial Academy Vapor 15

Probably the most sold boot in the world right now, the Academy Vapor looks just like those worn by players in the world's football leagues but comes at a much more affordable price point for the amateur player, they are available in both adult and junior sizes.

Product SKU: DJ5631

Product Brand: Nike

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:

✔️ Pros
  • Nikeskin does a good job replicating the thin upper profile and barefoot ball contact, as well as the structured responsive feel
  • In addition to the upper, the fit and feel is Mercurial-like in terms of that snug, form-fitting wrap around the foot
  • Secure lockdown from the laces complements the fit and feel
  • Only the Academy Vapor has the MG outsole; takedown Vapor also has surface-specific options for other playing grounds
  • Great value-for-money Mercs
❌ Cons
  • Zoom Air unit is there but not enough to be noticeable
  • May come as uncomfortable for those who like the microfibre upper and rounded shape of previous Vapor Academy models

Vapor 15 finally made its takedown to be in the mould of a true Mercurial boot despite the obvious change in the quality of materials. Still a second to the Academy Tiempo, but nonetheless a close second for that matter…

Boot Rankings, Best For…


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SR4U Vapor 15 Academy Review:

  • Fit, feel, and overall experience like a true pair of Mercurials for the first time ever
  • May not be like OG Hypervenom-level, but Nikeskin upper in the Academy Vapor 15 infinitely better than the microfibre/foam-based uppers of past Academy Vapors; perfect in overall thickness and firmness; a little stiff out of the box without any internal padding; once broken in, pliability complements the raw barefoot sensation; a gigantic step up from Nike; pretty grippy on the ball
  • Tongue falls on the cheap side
  • Lockdown from the laces works well with the upper in terms of responsiveness and snug fit
  • Zoom unit inclusion, while not immediately noticeable, is still a good thing considering the price
  • A solid stud layout and soleplate for Academy-level
  • Might need to consider the higher-tiered Vapors if you prefer to get the lightest possible Mercurial
  • Transitioning from old to new Academy Vapor might cause a surprise because of the lower volume-shape, snug and secure on-feet experience, and added structure feel; less comfortable out of the box but could be addressed with proper break-in time
  • True-to-size; might not be a great option for wide feet
  • Pound-for-pound blows the Academy Vapor 14 out of the water despite the added weight; has more of the trademark Mercurial boot sensation than anything seen these past few years; Tiempo Academy still best value-for-money but Mercurial Academy certainly up there

Academy Mercurial FAQ:

  • How’s the fit of the Academy Vapor?

The Vapor Academy has a tight fit with a shape and upper material that moulds a bit nicely to the shape of your foot.  Its low volume profile is a good complement to the lockdown especially after securing the laces. It is perfect length-wise. Overall, your best bet is going true-to-size. If you already know that your width is wider than the average, consider sizing up. 

Yes, Nike produce kids sizes for the Vapor Academy. Be advised though that the Nike Jr. Vapor Academy has almost the same construct as the Academy Superfly-a laceless setup supported by crisscrossing straps, and a fabric collar! Only thing is that the Vapor has more of like a midcut-finish.

At the Academy range, it’s a neck-and-neck battle with the Puma Ultra, given how it also successfully brings as much Ultra boot experience to the sub £100 level. But the Nike Vapor certainly fares well vs the adidas X Speedportal.3, which still suffers from the chronic shallow heel of adidas takedown boots even if you choose the laced model.


Academy Vapor 15 vs Vapor 14

As mentioned, the Vapor 15 improved on a great number of aspects vis-a-vis the Vapor 14: upper, shape, fit, and responsiveness. Perhaps the main takeaway from this comparison is that the Vapor 15 needs a little bit of break-in time to make you feel at home with its progress in performance and structure. The Vapor 14, on the other hand, has a slight edge in out-of-box comfort because of the soft foam-based upper and its more rounded shape. 

Most Affordable Vapor: Club

At this point, the only reason to get the Club Vapor, the cheapest entry-level option of the Nike speed boot, is price, and price alone! For whatever reason you need just something to put on with thinking too much about the volume inside, the thickness or stiffness of the upper, or any performance benefit in general, you can certainly try the Vapor Club. 

Club vs Academy Superfly

With that said, Mercurial Vapor Club is usually bought to for young players just starting to play the beautiful game, with the expectation that cheap boots would be economical given how fast they develop physically. Other than that, you can’t go wrong by settling at least with the Academy takedown.

Academy 14 Review

Relative to the Academy Vapor 13 at least, the microfibre upper of the Academy 14 is a slight improvement in terms of pliability. The thing is it’s not necessarily responsive as an upper material, with the performance side even put into question when you take into account the relaxed, less streamlined shape of the boot. Setting aside the structural change of the soleplate, the stud configuration is essentially the same as the previous one.

Academy 13 Reviewed

The Vapor 13 Academy was an interesting option during its time given its synthetic nature vs the knitted Pro and Elite levels. Other than that, the boot was simply okay but deviates from the barefoot sensation because of the internal padding. As early as this Vapor, the Academy is already locked-in as an MG boot by default. During this time at the Nike Academy range, the Vapor ranks far behind the Tiempo and Phantom VNM, which, interestingly, had a Nikeskin upper back then.


Ian Ebbs

Founder of back in 2010, Ian went on to create and host their YouTube channel which now has 1.5million subscribers and over 300 million views, he also hosts their podcast which you can find on Spotify. Taking his over fifteen year experience in the football industry, Ian wrote the book: How To Choose Your Boots (find it on Amazon) where he looks to help footballers of all levels find their perfect pair.