Over the last 20 years or so, Nike has been one of the major innovators in the soccer world when it comes to synthetic uppers and wild designs. In today’s current soccer cleat market, it takes something truly outrageous to get people talking, and Nike has successfully raised the bar once again with the Magista Obra. Featuring a very unique FlyKnit upper construction, along with an equally unusual mid-cut design. Similar design elements can also be found on Nike’s own Superfly 4, letting us know that this style of soccer footwear is something that Nike will most likely be pushing for the next little while. So, since we’re going to have to live with it, how does it actually perform?
The most unique aspect of the Obra is how the boot fits and moves with your foot. The implementation of FlyKnit as the primary upper material really is a game changer when it comes to performance, as well as overall comfort. Since it was originally introduced in 2012, mainly as a primary upper material for running shoes, FlyKnit has been marketed as the only upper material that allowed for a sock-like fit, as well as being able to provide a sock-like level of comfort. Over the last two years, we’ve seen the steady, and dramatic evolution of FlyKnit technology through several different running models, showing the versatility of the technology as it has since been implemented on several different types of footwear, each with its own unique construction.
All of this has led to the Obra, Nike’s first FlyKnit soccer cleat, and honestly, I couldn’t be happier with the final product. Anybody who has tried any FlyKnit running product at this point will most likely agree that it offers a truly sock-like feel, which is great, but also the biggest misconception when it comes to the Magista Obra.
To explain why the Obra isn’t just a sock, we have to talk about what FlyKnit actually is. What FlyKnit is not, is a standard cotton sock, so if that has been your impression of the Obra, forget everything you once thought. FlyKnit is a combination of yarns and different fabrics, engineered in such a way to provide a combination of flexibility, support, structure and comfort, all in a seamless package that is also very lightweight. This is not something that your grandma knits in an afternoon. The construction process is much more complex, and requires very unique machinery to even make it a possibility. The final product is a seamless piece of material, with every square inch being engineered for the best possible performance.
When you break down the essentials of FlyKnit technology, it sounds almost too good to be true, but with the amount of progress Nike has made with this technology over the years, they’re able to achieve some pretty remarkable results.
So, what is the upper like on the Magista Obra? Visually, the upper is very impressive, showing off the complexity of the FlyKnit construction with its unique pattern and variety of colors all coming together as one. The FlyKnit material is tightly knit, with no gaps, spaces or ventilation holes anywhere on the upper, something that is quite different from any of Nike’s running models. Its very easy to see that the upper is composed of several layers of knitted material, with an extra several layers raised off of the upper, giving the Obra its spider web-esque appearance. Running from the base of the shoe, vertically into the lacing system, FlyWire/Brio Cables have been incorporated into the construction of the FlyKnit upper, allowing for further support and stability when you pull the laces tight.
This describes the majority of the upper, which is also covered with clear NikeSkin layer, fused directly over the FlyKnit base, more on that later. The structured composition of the FlyKnit upper along with the NikeSkin covering gives this area of the upper a very solid feel. Yes its flexible, yes it allows for a sock-like level of comfort, but the upper will not stretch, making for a very responsive feel and no lack of lateral stability. If you don’t believe me, check out the slow motion traction test video that I made above.
Like I said, this describes only part of the upper, as there is a second variation of FlyKnit featured on the shoe. Across the top of the foot, where the laces are situated, as well as the entire dynamic fit collar through the ankle, features an elasticated variation of FlyKnit, without a NikeSkin layer over top. Unlike the rest of the upper, these areas of the boot stretch in all directions, which is great for a couple different reasons.
The first reason for the stretchy material is simply to allow you to put the boots on, and of course take them off. While the collar won’t necessarily squeeze your ankle, it still offers a snug fit, and the opening needs to stretch to get your foot inside the boot. Once you get your foot inside, the upper snaps back to its original shape, offering a nice snug fit.
The stretchy area across the top of the foot is key to the sock-like fit of the Obra. The upper is intentionally cut a little tighter, so when you slide your foot into the boot, the middle portion of the upper expands to the exact shape of your foot. This compression style of fit allows the Obra to fit nice and snug across the entire foot without even using the laces. It also allows to the boot to adjust to virtually any foot shape, like a sock. The laces are there simply to allow you to secure your foot on the inside of the boot, and also increase the lateral stability of the boot as it works with the Brio Cables.
Another huge misconception about the Obra is that the upper is made only from FlyKnit, when in fact the boot does feature a line, as well as several other materials inside the boot to allow for optimal comfort and a quality fit. Lining the inside of the boot is a thin, very soft material that makes for a very comfortable feel, without taking away from the natural pliability of the FlyKnit upper. This is something that I honestly was not expecting, but definitely feels great inside the boot.
The heel is lined with a smooth synthetic material, backed by a thin layer of foam. This is there simply to increase the structural integrity of the rear portion of the boot, as well as increase to overall comfort level. To go along with the heel liner, the boot also features a thin, perforated foam insole, similar to that of the Hypervenom Phantom, that does not slide around and provides some decent step-in comfort.
Aside from the FlyKnit upper, the mid-cut design of the Obra is another major point of controversy. Does it feel weird? Does it get in the way? Does it restrict ankle flexibility? All of these are common questions that people want to know about the Obra Dynamic Fit collar design. It certainly is an odd design choice by Nike, but as odd as it looks, it honestly doesn’t feel weird at all. Now I don’t want to say that it didn’t take some getting used too, more on that later, but it certainly didn’t feel unnatural while playing.
Like I mentioned earlier, it fits snug around your ankle and nothing more. It’s not a compression sleeve and there’s no actual structure to the collar, it’s just simply an extension of the boot, and I have to say that it really does work well with the design of the boot. I was worried that it would feel like an unnecessary, an extra gimmick that Nike threw on simply to draw some attention, but it actually feels like it’s supposed to be there. It’s not something that is super noticeable while playing, but you definitely can feel that there is extra material where there normally wouldn’t be anything. This false sense of security/stability from the mid-cut design is partly what Nike is claiming as its main reasoning for the design choice, and to certain extent, you do feel slightly more secure, but at the end of the day, its just extra material.
What I like most about the combination of the FlyKnit upper and mid-cut design is how the boot truly feels like an extension of your body, as opposed to just feeling like another pair of shoes. The upper wraps your foot like a sock, and that sock-like fit runs all the way up your ankle. It’s that sensation of forgetting that your wearing shoes, normally achieved by making the boot extremely light, but Nike has achieved a similar type of experience by way of fit. It really is one of a kind in comparison to every other boot currently on the market, and certainly an experience worth having if you’re curious.
As far as break-in is concerned, the shoes felt pretty snug at first, and it was slightly odd playing in a pair of mid-cut soccer cleats, but all that was normal. What felt off to me was the fit in the heel. Normally with a low-cut soccer cleat, when you pull the top two lace holes tight, it pulls the sides of the boot around the ankle tight as well, helping to lock your heel into the shoe. Since the Obra is a mid-cut, you don’t get that same tight wrap around the sides of the heel when you pull the laces tight. Instead, to achieve proper heel lockdown, Nike implemented an external heel counter, made from plastic, that hugs either side of your heel, helping to keep everything locked in place. That, along with the Dynamic Fit collar is what allows the mid-cut concept to work.
While I did end up having a very comfortable experience with the Obra, there was a slight adjustment period where I was having some slight discomfort in the heel and even some minor slippage. This wasn’t necessarily the fault of the boot, but more so myself adjusting to pressure being applied to certain parts of the heel that I was not used too. I never got any blisters, but I did end up with some minor soreness in my heels after the first two hours session. After further experimenting, I found that tying the laces a little tighter really helped the issue, and after wearing the boots a couple more times, allowing the upper to stretch every slightly, the pressure went away. Once broken-in, the Obra is a very comfortable boot.
When it comes to fit, the Obra, as well as the entire Magista line, is based off of the same X1.1 last as the Hypervenom line. This gives the boot a decent amount of width in the mid-foot and forefoot, with the toe box being a little tighter. The boot will expand in width as much as the central piece of FlyKnit will stretch, which is surprisingly a lot. With that being said, this only makes up the mid-foot portion of the boot, with the forefoot and toe box area not stretching much at all. As long as you don’t have excessively wide feet, or if you fit comfortably into any of Nike’s current high-end models, you’ll have no issues achieving a comfortable fit in the Magista Obra.
In terms of sizing, the Obra runs half a size small. I wore a size 9.5US for review, half a size up from my normal size 9US, and the fit in the length was perfect. This is not a boot that you want to buy with room to grow. The way the mid-cut design and heel area of the boot works, it is absolutely crucial that the boot has a snug fit length-wise, otherwise heel slippage can become an issue. Pending that you get the right size, you shouldn’t have any issues at all.
In a size 9US, the Magista Obra weighs in at a very impressive 7.2oz. The FlyKnit upper in combination with the compressed nylon and Pebax soleplate makes for a very lightweight soccer cleat. The Obra has the appearance of a more “substantial” style of soccer shoe, but the weight certainly does not reflect that. If you’re interested in getting a pair of Obras, weight should not be the deciding factor, but just know that they aren’t going to weigh you down.
While the stud pattern is exclusive to the Magista line, it isn’t necessarily what you might call “all new”. The layout of the studs is nearly identical to that of the Nike Tiempo series, with some very minor tweaks. You’ll find 8 conical studs in the forefoot, with two bladed support studs in the middle and one Mercurial-esque bladed stud at the toe. The positioning of the studs is pretty much identical to that of the Tiempos, with the minor variation being that the studs have a slightly narrower footprint. Under the heel you’ll find for more conical studs, again with a fairly narrow profile.
When it comes to overall performance, it’s not too far off from what the Tiempos have to offer. The narrow profile of the conical studs allows them to penetrate the ground very easily allowing for plenty of grip when pushing off in nearly any direction. The conical shape also allows for plenty of maneuverability when planted, granting you the freedom to twist and pivot, as opposed to being stuck in one place. It’s a traditional layout with a slightly more aggressive twist.
The one bladed stud at the tip of the toe is also a nice little add on, and with the release of the Magista, is a stud that is now featured on all of Nike’s current models. It allows you to have something to push off of when on the very tips of your toes, allowing you to maintain grip at all times.
The combination glass nylon and Pebax soleplate also plays a part in the overall traction experience in that it’s a little stiffer than average, but still maintains a decent amount of flexibility. This gives the boot a nice responsive and stable feel when pushing off for a sprint, as well as when making quick lateral cuts.
While the Magista stud pattern is nothing that you would call ground-breaking, words that you might use to describe the rest of the boot, it still performs great and actually suits the overall feel of the boot quite well. It offers a nice blend of grip and maneuverability, and that all you can really ask for.
We’ve covered what FlyKnit is all about when it comes to fit and support, but how does it fair when making touches on the ball? While FlyKnit is very new when it comes to soccer cleats, the actual construction of the Obra upper isn’t too far off from NikeSkin synthetic, found on the Hypervenom Phantom. The difference is that instead of the base layer for the synthetic being made from mesh, the base of the upper is made from FlyKnit, and is then covered with a NikeSkin top layer.
The result is an upper that feels similar to that of the Hypervenom Phantom, but at the same is very different. The FlyKnit featured on the Magista Obra is quite dense and very structured, giving it a much more solid touch than the thinner, more open upper of the Hypervenom Phantom. You must also consider that there is a thin layer of padding lining the inside of the boot, which gives the upper a slightly more cushioned feel than you might expect. The FlyKnit base also features a unique texturing about it, but in terms of that having an impact on touch, I didn’t find that it added to the overall experience. Its technically quite thin, but feels much more solid due to its unique construction and combination of materials.
Covering the majority of the upper is a thin polyurethane layer, fused directly to the FlyKnit, something that Nike calls NikeSkin. The NikeSkin layer not only acts as a protective layer for the FlyKnit upper, but also provides some additional grip on the ball. Its not quite as aggressive in grip or texture as you’ll find from the Hypervenom Phantom, but there’s just enough grip there to give the Obra a much more natural feel for the ball than you might expect.
Just like all of Nike’s other top-end models, ACC (All Conditions Control) is also included as part of the package. ACC is a secretive process that Nike has, which improves the performance of the boot in wet weather, mainly by providing slightly more grip on the ball. Its tough to determine whether or not its an actual feature or simply the placebo effect in action, since you can’t actually see ACC, but I personally can notice a difference between an ACC and non-ACC boot. With all of that being said, it’s a nice feature that I’m glad Nike includes, but it isn’t something that is going to make or break your overall experience with the Obra.
The mid-cut design is also a talking point when it comes to touch. Normally, soccer cleats are cut below the ankle, so to have a shoe cut above the ankle, you expect that extra material to get in the way. Fortunately, the mid-cut design has been very well thought out. The FlyKnit material is perfect for this type of design for the simple fact that it is thin, yet durable, and moves very naturally with your ankle. At no point did I feel like the collar was getting in the way, and in all honesty, you don’t even notice that its there when playing.
While all of this new technology is great to see, the best part of the Obra when it comes to touch is the seamless sensation that it provides. Since there’s no tongue, there are no overlapping materials across the top of the foot, and since the FlyKnit upper is essentially one-piece, it creates the most seamless touch on the ball that I have ever experience. No matter what part of the foot makes contact with the ball, the touch and thickness of the upper is exactly the same, which is by far one of the best aspects of the FlyKnit design.
When it comes to striking the ball, the Obras feel great. The upper is thin, yet solid, and that’s really the best way to describe the shooting experience as well. There’s more padding in comparison to something like a Nike Mercurial Vapor, but less padded than a natural leather boot. It’s an interesting middle ground, but it feels really good. There’s a slight grip sensation from the NikeSkin covering, but other than that, the sensation that you get is just very natural.
One could argue that the mid-cut design helps with providing some extra support for the ankle when striking the ball, but for the most part, I would say that this is more the placebo effect as opposed to actual support.
Protection was a huge talking point when the FlyKnit was first unveiled, and I’m not so sure why. I can understand the reasoning of many people in that Nike marketed the FlyKnit upper of the Obra as “sock-like”, and while that is true to a certain extent, the upper of the Obra is far from a standard pair of socks in both quality and protection.
As I’ve mentioned several times, the FlyKnit upper is very tightly knit and feels surprisingly strong and solid. It’s also made up of several layers and features a padded liner inside the boot as well. All of this makes for an upper that is thin, but at the same time is the most rugged thin upper that I have ever used. Should you get stepped on, you’ll definitely feel it, but will the Obra be more protective than other thin models, such as the Mercurial Vapor 9 or even the Hypervenom Phantom, yes it will.
It must also be said that the mid-cut design provides extra protection that you wouldn’t normally have around the ankle area. It, just like the rest of the upper, is several layers thick, and while it won’t cushion an impact to the ankle, it will certainly prevent a cut, and provide more protection than other shoe in this particular area.
Overall, the mid-cut design, tough FlyKnit upper and external plastic heel counter makes the Obra safer than most, especially if you’re comparing it to other boots in the same 7oz weight range.
The woven concept scares a lot of people, for the simple fact that people are worried that the upper will essentially unravel or snag, causing major damage to the boot. This is again a misconception with the Obra, either because people aren’t familiar with FlyKnit or just because most have not yet held the Obra in their hands. Once more people get to try out the Obra for themselves, even just seeing them in person will change a lot of opinions when it comes to the structural integrity of the boot.
The FlyKnit upper does not snag, and will not unravel, its very well made. The majority of the upper is also covered in NikeSkin, which not only acts as a protective barrier for the FlyKnit upper, but also makes cleaning the boot much easier than you might expect. Even the areas of the upper that aren’t covered in NikeSkin have held up very well.
I’ve put well over 25 hours into my pair of Obras and have had no issues whatsoever. Every part of the upper is 100% intact, and nothing had been damaged at all. It’s very clear that the Obra is extremely well made, they’re made in Italy by the way, and that translates into what seems to be a surprisingly durable product.
It’s fair to be skeptical of the Obra since everything about it is new and never been done before, but trust me when I say that this is a shoe that is built to last. I am confident in saying that the Obra will get you through at least a season’s worth of play, if not much longer should you take good care of them.
Please keep in mind that the firm ground version of the Obra, or any FG boot for that matter, is designed for use on firm, natural grass, and nothing else. Using any FG boot on artificial grass/turf will result in premature durability issues with your shoes. For the best durability, stick to using your boots on the playing surface that they are designed to be used on. Also keep in mind that the Obra is available in soft ground and artificial grass stud variations, so you’re pretty much covered for all types of playing surfaces, its just up to you to buy the right model.
It isn’t often that we see a boot that simply does not compare to anything else on the market, or anything in the past for that matter. It really is a gigantic leap in the evolution of the modern soccer cleat, with Nike doing everything they can to push the boundary, as they often do.
It was a matter of time until we saw FlyKnit technology to make its way to the soccer market, but I don’t think anybody expected it in the form of a mid-cut soccer cleat. Visually, it’s unusual, but at the same time very modern, demanding attention, something you’ll get a lot of when wearing these boots.
When it comes to performance, the Magista Obra is equally as impressive. It offers a seamless, truly sock-like level of comfort, tremendous support and stability, a premium feel for the ball and an awesome stud pattern. You can tell that the Obra went through tons of testing, because for something so new, everything just feels right, and I honestly just wasn’t expecting that.
Its an all new concept that uses all new materials, and certainly isn’t for everybody, but if the Magista Obra intrigues you, my best advice would be to go for it. They’re very different, but in a good way. It’s boots like this that let me know that soccer cleats, as far as they’ve come over the years, still have a long way to go when it comes to innovation. The Obra is not just a boot, it’s an extension of your body, and that’s the best way to describe it.
|Comfort/Fit||10 out of 10|
|Weight||9 out of 10|
|Traction||9 out of 10|
|Touch||10 out of 10|
|Shooting||8 out of 10|
|Protection||8 out of 10|
|Durability||8 out of 10|
|FINAL SCORE||62 out of 70 or 89%|