Nike HyperVenom Phatal Review
It isn’t often that I come across a takedown model that I truly enjoy wearing, but I have to say that the Hypervenom Phatal really surprised me. The shape and soleplate of the Hypervenom Phatal is almost identical to that of the top-end Phantom, making for a fit and feel that you would expect from $200 plus soccer shoe. Perhaps the most noticeable, and main difference between the top end Phantom and the takedown Phatal is the upper. Unlike the NikeSkin upper featured on the Phantom, the Phatal features what Nike calls Mirage Synthetic, an ultra-thin, fused, dual layer synthetic that is arguably the thinnest upper that Nike currently makes. It gives the shoe a very Mercurial-esque vibe, providing that lightweight, barefoot feel. The Mirage synthetic upper is completely smooth, unlike the Phantom and Phelon, with some minor texturing being provided by the perforated, fused internal support cage. The synthetic feels really good when making touches on the ball, but in terms of comfort, it does feel a little bit unnatural against the foot.
Other comfort elements of the boot include an off-centered lacing system, with the laces being pushed towards the lateral side of the boot, allowing for a secure fit without any discomfort. The heel is lined in smooth synthetic leather, which is nicely padded, keeping your heel comfortably locked in place. The removable insole is fairly minimal, with perforations all the way through and a mesh liner on top. Just like the top end Phantom, I ran into some minor issues with insole slippage, bit this is an easy fix with just a dab of glue or a simple insole swap. The soleplate is made from glass nylon, just like the Phantom, providing a very responsive and slightly rigid feel, especially from brand new.
From right out of the box, the Phatal feels a little stiff. Throughout the break-in process, I had some minor issues foot cramping, mainly due to the stiffness of the boot, but after about two to three hours of wear-time, they became a lot more comfortable. The Mirage synthetic upper doesn’t have that natural softness of the NikeSkin synthetic featured on the top-end Phantom, or even the Teijin synthetic featured on the Mercurial Vapor 9 for that matter, but what it does have going for it is that its very flexible. When you pull the laces tight, the entire upper hugs the foot, keeping everything locked in place, but it never feels as if it disappears on your foot, which is the one sign of true comfort. Also keep in mind that the Mirage synthetic upper does not stretch, so the way that the shoe fits from right out of the box, is the way that it will fit for the entire lifespan of the boot.
The Phatal features the exact same X1.1 last as the top end Phantom, making for a very high-quality fit. Through the mid-foot and forefoot area, the Phatal is what I would consider to be average in width, while the toe box is cut a little more narrow. The Hypervenom line has drawn a lot of comparisons to the Mercurial line from Nike and rightfully so. The Phatal does have a tighter fit overall, but is definitely wider than similarly styled models, like the Mercurial Veloce. The Phatal is a boot that is best suited for average to narrow foot types, especially because the upper has very little stretch to it. As far as sizing goes, I wore my usual size 9US for review and the fit in the length was absolutely perfect. The Phatal runs true to size, so if you’re looking to order a pair for yourself, I would strongly recommend going for your normal size for the best possible fit.
The Hypervenom Phatal weighs in at 7.6oz, which is very lightweight, especially considering that the Phatal is a takedown model! Both in-hand and on feet, the Phatal’s feels nice and light. The secure fit in combination with the lightweight construction makes for that weightless feel when playing, which is great. The Phatal is one of the lightest takedown models currently available, and in all honesty, it’s almost impossible to tell a difference in weight if compared to the top-end Phantom.
The solepate and stud pattern featured on the Phatal is exactly the same as the top end Phantom. The stud pattern featured on the Hypervenom is geared towards agility, and I can confirm that it really does perform well. Upon comparing the stud pattern to other Nike models, you’ll notice some similarities on the Hypervenom stud pattern to that of the Mercurial Vapor 9. The five main studs featured on the FG stud pattern on the Vapor 9, can also be found in the same spots on the Hypervenom, but in the form of conical studs as opposed to the blades. The layout features three conical studs on both the lateral and medial sides of the forefoot, with one bladed stud at the tip of the toe and one support stud in the middle, while the heel features four conical studs, two on each side.
The thin profile of the conical studs, allows for plenty of ground penetration with every cut, while the conical shape makes for plenty of freedom to twist and pivot when planted. The studs are positioned in all of the main push-off points at the base of the forefoot and toe area, providing optimal traction no matter which direction that you cut. On firm, natural grass playing surfaces, I had no issues at all with slippage. One of my personal favorite elements of the stud pattern is the single bladed stud positioned on an angle at the tip of the toe. It gives you that little bit of extra grip when pushing off, which makes all the difference when making that first step.
The split toe design of the soleplate is one of the new technologies brought forward by the Hypervenom Phantom. The split design is supposed to allow for more articulated flexibility on the forefoot area of the boot, in order to make for a more natural feel, but in all honesty, I didn’t really notice any difference in feel at all. The split is not as dramatic as you might expect, as I couldn’t feel any extra flexibility in the soleplate either in-hand or on feet. With that being said, it doesn’t hurt the feel of the boot, it’s just a feature that doesn’t make as big of an impact as you might expect.
The Mirage synthetic featured on the Phatal is very impressive, especially for a takedown model. In comparison to the NikeSkin synthetic used on the Phantom, Mirage synthetic is a lot thinner and more rigid, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Mirage synthetic is made up of two ultra-thin, fused layers, with a fused, external NikeSkin support frame, making for a feel more similar to the Teijin synthetic found on the top end Mercurial Vapor 9, rather than the Hypervenom Phantom. I would also say that Mirage synthetic is one of the thinnest uppers currently on the market, making for a true barefoot feel. Also unlike NikeSkin, Mirage synthetic is completely smooth and offers nothing in the way of additional grip on the ball, again playing into that barefoot feel.
The upper itself is surprisingly flexible, and moves very well with the bend of your foot. Since it has such a tight fit, it really gives you that one to one responsiveness, allowing you to feel every bit of the ball, while the one-piece upper also allows for a uniform touch across the entire foot. The smooth texturing of the upper makes for a somewhat slick feel on the ball, especially in wet playing conditions, so if you’re not a fan of grippy synthetics, than you’ll love the feel of the Phatal.
For a takedown model, there isn’t much to complain about when it comes to the Phatal. The Mirage synthetic feels like something that could easily be on a top-end model boot, and if compared to other similarly priced synthetic takedown models, like Nike’s own Mercurial Veloce, the Phatal is far superior when it comes to quality.
Striking the ball in the Hypervenom Phatal is nothing that you wouldn’t expect from any thin synthetic soccer shoe. The ultra-thin upper lets you feel every bit of the ball, while the smooth finish provides very little additional grip. Considering the lightweight feel of the boot, it still has plenty of rigidity through the mid-foot and forefoot of the sole, making for a very solid impact when striking the ball. Unlike the Mercurial series from Nike, the entire Hypervenom models all feature off-centred lacing systems, making for a fairly large sweet spot, free of any laces or obstructions. If you’re looking for a very clean and responsive striking experience, than you’ll get that from the Phatal.
If protection is important to you, than the Phatal is not the best choice. The ultra-thin upper provides next to nothing in the way of impact protection, so should you get stepped on, you’ll feel every bit of the blow. The only protective element of the Phatal would be the internal plastic heel counter, and even that isn’t the most solid when it comes to protection. The Phatal is all about providing a true barefoot playing experience, which doesn’t make for an overly protective boot at all.
For such a lightweight boot, the Phatal actually feels pretty solid. While the upper is very thin, its still well reinforced on both the inside and outside of the boot. The glass nylon soleplate is fairly rigid, making for long lasting responsiveness and eliminating any kind of stud pressure. Throughout testing I did not have any issues at all with sole separation and nothing really jumped out at me as a potential durability concern. The one thing that I can say regarding the upper is that it will scuff fairly easily, but this does not have an impact on the longevity of the boot. The Phatal is a shoe that should easily get you through a season’s worth of play, if not longer should you take good care of them.
Keep in mind that the firm ground version of the Hypervenom Phatal, or any FG shoe for that matter, is designed for use on firm, natural grass playing surfaces only. Using any FG shoe on any type of artificial playing surface will have a major impact on the durability and lifespan of the boot.
I’m always skeptical of takedown models, especially when they retail above $100, but the Phatal really impressed me. If compared to other takedown models in the same price range, it is by far one of the best in terms of overall quality and in my opinion could almost pass as a top-end model. It features several elements that are identical to the top-end Phantom and with the inclusion of the ultra-thin Mirage synthetic upper, it’s hard to deny that the Phatal isn’t an attractive option. The Phatal is comparable in feel to top-end models such as the Adidas F50 adizero and even the Nike Mercurial vapor 9, but at a lesser cost. Is it better, not necessarily, but it comes very close, and is definitely something to consider if you’re on a budget of about $100.