The collar game is Nike’s playground, and everyone else is merely playing in it. However, we’re starting to find our way into the second generation of their collared efforts, and the competition is far greater than when Nike first changed the game. Can the originator of the trend still claim the title of being the “best,” or will the Swoosh’s new toy prove that other brands have closed the gap?

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The Magista began this whole crazy ride… can it still claim the throne?

The fervor of collars and knitted materials now feels like second nature to the boot world. In fact, it’s becoming tough to sell someone on your product being “top-tier” if there isn’t something that wraps around the ankle. It’s hard to imagine that all this began with one new boot silo and calculated risk. The results have been undeniable. Now, other brands have followed suit, some brands have tried to copy/paste for results, and others still try and survive through denial that the original Magista didn’t herald in a new age of boots and boot tech. Kill off the beloved CTR franchise? No big deal. Convince the world that all that’s been missing in their life is a knitted sock? Done. The first time around, Nike answered the call with the Magista Obra. This time, Nike won’t be looking to change the game so much as continue to push the game forward.

Does this boot enter into the market with a ridiculously high standard that its own predecessor set for itself? Definitely. Add in that the first look had a wealth of players worried about it being just a Hypervenom copy, an ineffective change to the collar, and issues about the circular stud set-up on the soleplate… and the job ahead wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. If any boot could pull it off, it would be a horse from the Nike stables. It’s going to be interesting to see if the originator can continue to stave off the competition or if others have caught up to the Swoosh.

We’ve had a revolution, a lightweight arms race, and continuous progressive change since the first Magista. Will Nike fade under the pressure or execute another massive win?

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Volt to Pitch Dark… Nike covering all bases.

The launch colourway introduced us to the heat map idea, while the Pitch Dark pack is a stealth beauty for fans of conservative looks. There’s no doubt that volt has become a signature colour for the Swoosh but the Pitch Dark edition cools the heat in simplistic style. A more resevred heat map design takes centre stage, changing in shade across the boot in accordance to which areas of the boot come into the most contact with the ball during play. Nike’s FlyKnit collar is still there, but the cut has been changed from a straight cut to one that is shaped to conform a bit better to your foot… we’ll discuss it a bit more later, but it’s a rather significant change.

Perhaps the biggest note about the look is all the odd bumps that appear to cover the entirety of the boot. While most were quick to label it some type of NikeSkin like we saw on the original Hypervenom, it’s actually FlyKnit crafted in different levels of thickness. Those bumps vary in depth depending on where you look on the boot, and it makes the boot look a fair bit more unique up close. In terms of colours on the soleplate, you have one main colour with the tips of a few of the studs given a different colour. It’s actually the most easygoing set-up on the boot, but it all comes together for a sleek and cohesive look.

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Will the comfort from the first Magista be found on the newest version?

FlyKnit could basically be defined as “comfort.” No matter how they craft it, how they use a last to shape it, or label it… it’s come out the other end as a winner. We’re fairly certain that Nike hasn’t decided to start changing that M.O. at this point in the game, but nothing is ever for certain. You think you can add a bunch of bumps all over the upper of a boot, change the collar, and still have a boot that’s comfy? A tall order, but if there was ever a brand to pull it off…

The FlyKnit creations take a minute to figure out how to put on, but we’ve gotten fairly used to slipping these on. The soft knitted material means that the collar and tongue is going to shift and move however you stretch them until your foot has gotten all the way inside the boot. You quickly notice that the bumps on the outside are totally unnoticeable when you are only looking at the comfort of the boot. Which is a good thing because, if you feel the upper with your hands right after you take the boot out of the box, those bumps are incredibly stiff.

In terms of comfort, the boot is a cloud around your foot. The lining that covers from the edge of your ankles (the only spots that don’t have this pillow-like liner are under the laces and in the heel). The heel seems to have the same material but it’s covered with a thin synthetic material on top of the padding (with an extra bit of padding around the major rub zone in your heel). We could wax lyrical for a few more sentences or a couple more paragraphs on how much a dream these boots are, but we really covered it with the “cloud” thing. This is how boots are supposed to feel.

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Like most FlyKnit releases, the laces help tighten the upper up enough to help it form better to your foot. Each lace hole loops through some FlyWire to help aid in rollover and keep the upper wrapped tightly around your foot. For new inductees to the FlyWire, this will also help keep the material from over-stretching after break-in so that your comfort level stays at its highest level.

The changes to the collar do actually start to showcase themselves very early and are predominantly present in comfort terms. The heel is no longer a hot zone during break-in, and it makes everything feel like it’s putting less pressure and stress on the area above your ankles while still giving you that fantastic locked-in feel that we’ve come to expect from the dynamic fit collar. If previous iterations gave you issues on your Achilles or other spots, it’s time to dive back in. Every collar on every new(er) Nike release gets improved… and this version is no different.

The soleplate is extremely similar to outings in the past from Nike, but with some slight tweaks and changes. In terms of comfort, it has a nice bit of flex to add to the responsiveness of the boot while still staying far away from making the boot feel like you’ve strapped a block of wood to the bottom of your foot.

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The biggest and brightest are under Nike’s employ, so their boots better be up to par.

The original Magista won everyone over with it’s nice, padded feel for the ball. Considering how quickly and easily we fell in love with this comfort, we were begging the footballing gods to make sure that the boot felt as amazing on the ball as it felt on our foot. Could those bumps soften up? Will the padding that brings us top notch comfort make it feel like there’s too much between us and the ball.

Questions answered, and passed with flying colours.

The Obra II is one of the few boots that we’ve ever been testing where, in between sessions and times using it, guys would just stop and start praising the boot. The feel for the ball is totally unaffected by the padding and the raised FlyKnit bumps. Whenever you are addressing the ball, it feels like it all compresses between the pressure from your foot and the ball to make sure that you still get great touch. This all blends together for elite level feel for the ball while dribbling and perfect padding when cushioning the ball. Zipped passes or balls out of the air feel amazing whenever you’re wearing the Obra II, and, despite it being a bit tougher to decipher the CTR lineage, this boot shows the amount of time that Nike has been moulding their synthetic to aid in cushioning the ball (guess what… they’ve gotten damn good at it).

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When you are the one doling out strong passes or firing towards goal, the Obra II still brings together its build to create a joy of a surface to strike the ball with. The bumps don’t create a sensation on their own but meld to give a uniform feel wherever the ball is on your boot. The thicker FlyKnit is strategically placed to make those high impact areas get that extra bit of padding that gives it such a professional feel. It comes through in shooting as well with shots that zip off your boot feeling warm as you drive your foot through the ball completely. Don’t expect the bumps to act as any type of shooting element that could add spin, but those bumps make the Obra II separate itself.

It wouldn’t matter what we threw at it, what position we were playing, or what type of action we were executing on the ball. It just felt better while using the Obra II. We usually try to refrain from getting over-hyped but we’re going to blame Nike for getting a bit giddy on this one…but, we’ll tell you something, we aren’t mad at all.

The soleplate on the Obra II has serious CTR360 references throughout the stud set-up.  From the almost, but not quite conical studs that adorn the majority of the boot to the circular set-up of studs on the forefoot… we’ve certainly seen this before. However, the circular set-up has been changed to improve it as the CTR set-up met some fairly universal scrutiny.  Nike has changed the length of the studs towards the middle of the foot with the top/central stud being almost totally recessed. This makes sure that it gives top-notch traction, but prevents it from sticking in artificial turf. The studs also aren’t perfectly rounded in the circular pattern as the CTR’s were, and it all points towards changes being made to improve the traction while reducing the chances that it hurts your mobility.

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So, what are you saying? That this boot is pretty damn good?

No. The new Magista Obra is better than good. It’s the best boot on the Nike roster, and could be the best option available on the market. If you sat alone for hours compiling the notes for what a boot would be required to have, then you’d find the new Magista quickly and efficiently ticks every box. The comfort is top notch, and immediately present. Like a well built leather, it only increases with wear. The traction is built for a boot that is dependable, responsive, and an enjoyable ride. It’s already a winner, but the way that this boot feels on the ball feels like the pinnacle of FlyKnit. We never like to ever wade into calling anything the “absolute best” or putting something too far above anything else, but the new Magista Obra makes it tempting… very tempting.

The craziest thought? That Nike might not have pushed themselves to the limit of what their knitted materials can do. Our time with the Magista would have us fully prepared to think that this is the best we’ll see from FlyKnit… but, who knows. Perhaps the greatest strength of this boot is not how much we’ve enjoyed it, but how it has made us ponder how much higher the bar can go. The first time, the Magista changed the game. This time, it reminded us who’s still well in charge.

Want a pair? Get them here.