Nike Vapor Grip 3 – Goalie Gloves Review

Nike Gloves have undergone an interesting process in my opinion. Nike was the first brand that went all in on those goalie gloves that look like you’ve just put on a sock. If you’ve read some of the other articles on the site already you know that I’m not a big fan. Don’t get me wrong they look amazing and can be perfectly serviceable for a very specific type of goalkeeper. There are plenty of flaws though with these modern models that people would do well to not overlook. In any case, the reason I said the development process for Nike goalie gloves has been interesting is because they’ve once again taken a step back and bet pretty big on their middle tier model gloves. That’s exactly where I put the Nike Vapor Grip 3! 

First thing I want to clarify about what I just said, is that I’m putting these gloves in that middle tier because of their price. However, when I first got them I was really excited because what I wanted to see was if I had just bought a premium glove for a middle of the pack price. Again, if you’ve been around some of these reviews before you know that the value that I feel the glove brings to the table is one of the main things I focus on. You can have decent gloves at a very high price point, and I’d never recommend that people buy them. Yet I’d be all over good gloves at a low or middle tier price. That was the expectation coming into the testing!  

Nike Vapor Grip 3 – Great Glove For Goalies With Smaller Thinner Hands

Thought it would be a good idea to frame this benefit of the Vapor Grip gloves like this. I usually talk about gloves with thicker palms being better for goalkeepers that want to make sure they don’t feel the burn when they are up against a hard shot. It’s not just about feeling the burn. The reality is that some of these modern thinner gloves are not great when it comes to protecting your hands. That’s in fact been my main criticism of some of the premier glove options that Nike offers. These gloves though are very much on the traditional side with thicker palms and finger areas. Another thing that I like about these gloves is the large wrist strap that you’re going to be able to adjust. 

What happens with gloves that you can’t adjust is that you just have to deal with the fit as is. For some of us with thinner hands you’re going to want that extra support in the wrist area. Now, if you didn’t have that support naturally from a wrist strap you can always tape your hands. That works great for the pros, but for us Joe’s who are running to the game or practice after work and things like that you sometimes just don’t have enough time to do this. Basically the whole glove is built to help people with thinner hands. In my book that means this is also a glove that I would recommend for ladies and preteens of any gender.   

Is The Grip Good With The Grip 3?

The grip is very decent. You’re going to be dealing with a larger latex area than what you’ll find on some gloves. The fabric in these gloves is softer than average. I wouldn’t say that they feature the best grip on the market. Still, what they do offer is enough for any goalkeeper to feel confident in the grip that the gloves provide. I get the sense that now some of these brands want to show off how their gloves are so sticky that they can literally latch on to the post of the goal. Those videos are great for Instagram, and you won’t find these gloves featured there. Ultimately grip comes down to more than being sticky.  

In fact, I would make the argument that gloves that are just sticky will see their natural grip levels drop off much faster than ones that have grip like these Nike gloves. Where what gives you the chance to catch more balls cleanly is the fact that you have soft latex on your hands and the ball is going to slow down into your hands rather than bounce off hard like it would on equally harder palms. All this to say that I do feel that the Grip 3 features decent grip. At the same time, I would understand if someone told me that these gloves were not sticky enough for them. Ultimately, these are natural grip levels that you can certainly work with.     

Durability Is Middle Of The Pack 

Durability with these gloves is something that worries me a lot more than the natural grip. When you have gloves that are this soft it usually means that they are not going to hold up too well if you take them to a rough field. So if you are consistently playing on turf fields you could shave about a month off of the lifespan for these gloves. Compared to how much they would last for a pro goalkeeper like Memo Ochoa who uses them on perfect fields all of the time. In fact, that’s a good thing that I’d like people to think about. Where are you going to be using this glove the most? 

If the answer to the previous question is, “I’m going to be using it mostly on turf”, I’d be a bit reluctant. Unless you know what you’re getting into. When you play mostly on turf you have to be more proactive about glove care. The first step is to never play with dry gloves. Otherwise, even if you take them right out of the box to go play they can rip apart. If you use these gloves occasionally on turf you’ll probably be fine. Just make sure to follow the advice that I just gave out of playing with wet gloves. Yeah, not even damp, you’d need to be more on the wet side. Clean them regularly in general, and you can make these gloves have an ok lifespan.     

A Good Balance Between Protection & Mobility

I know there are goalkeepers out there that are going to lean into one of these elements. What I mean is, a goalkeeper who feels he or she has strong hands naturally may then gravitate towards a thinner one that’s going to provide better mobility. For them some of the modern models that feature no palm thickness whatsoever are going to be perfect. Then there’s the other side of goalkeepers like myself who do need that extra protection to be able to minimize the impact of a hard shot. In my book these Nike Vapor Grip 3 are in a good middle ground. You’re not going to feel like your hands are heavy when you’re wearing these gloves. At the same time you won’t have to put ice on your hands after games or practice because the shots came into your hand directly.

If most of us are being honest I think that we’d all love a glove in that middle ground that gets you the best of both worlds. These days finding that glove may not be as easy. If you do find it tends to be a glove leaning more towards the traditional side. At times what I’ve also seen plenty of are awkward finger cuts that don’t fit some goalkeepers all that well. For example, the Elite Aqua gloves that I wear the most fall into this category of a glove that’s trying to find that middle ground. The finger cut though is a bit awkward for some. These Nike gloves have a more “realistic” finger cut in my opinion.   

The Price Point Makes Them A Very Attractive Glove

We’ve gotten to the point in all of these review articles where I usually reveal why I’m high or low on a glove. I always say that there are great gloves out there that I just wouldn’t buy because I don’t see them having the value that I’d like to get out of my purchase. In this case, I get the sense that the 100 dollar price point that these Vapor Grip 3 gloves are sitting on is just right. If they were at 150 dollars then we’d be having a different conversation. By the way I have been critical of some of the Nike pricing in the past. A lot of times I’d gotten the sense that they’re selling poor quality gloves at high prices. They get away with it because they’re putting the swoosh logo on them.

Nothing against the swoosh logo at all. It provides Nike products with a sense of fashion and at times swagger when it comes to athletic gear. That you just don’t get from other brands. For example, if I’m wearing Uhlsport gloves or some of the Reusch options I’m probably wearing them because they have a great design and the latex grip is above average. Other than maybe the traditional red Uhlsport models I don’t get the sense that the brand provides that extra in the design department. With these gloves you do get a bit of the complete package for a price that I feel is fair.          

Are The Nike Vapor Grip 3 Gloves A Good Buy?

With these Nike Vapor Grip 3 gloves I get the sense that you really need to think about where you’re going to be playing the most and having that influence your decision. Even though the price point is fair, if you’re going to be using them on rough fields and for training, would you be ready to change them out every couple months or so? Now if you’re going to be on great fields you’re really going to be able to get the most out of these gloves. Like I said, one of the things that truly stands out to me is that these gloves try to give you the best of the modern glove models with key elements from traditional options. That last point is one that I feel actual goalkeepers who’ve been in this for a while are going to appreciate. 

You don’t necessarily want to completely change what or how your goalkeeper gloves feel if you’re accustomed to the very traditional gloves. I get the sense that Nike missed the mark on that idea when they unveiled some of their other models. With the Vapor Grip 3 gloves you have a good middle ground glove. That’s going to be perfectly serviceable, but may not be heavy duty. Plus, you’re getting that Nike swagger to complement your GK outfit. I know that this last point isn’t going to be all that relevant for those people looking for a purely technical analysis. At the end of the day Nike is big on selling status, and these gloves have it. I wouldn’t mind sporting a pair of these in the Sunday league at all.