Summary

We spent 7.2 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

5 reasons to buy

  •  Several testers claim that the Zoom Fly 3 has a sizing scheme that follows their expectations.
  • Some consumers feel that the underfoot experience of this Nike running shoe is reactive enough to permit speedier toe-offs.
  • The generous height of the midsole unit allow for extended running sessions, according to most runners.
  • The aesthetics of this neutral running shoe are praised for being highly appreciable and street-ready.
  • A couple of purchasers welcome the traction capacity of the outsole, likening it to a car tire that can handle the wet and dry ground.

3 reasons not to buy

  • Several consumers have complained about the too-soft underfoot experience of the Nike Zoom Fly 3, comparing it to a recovery shoe.
  • A handful of testers have observed the outsole rubber wearing off after only a few months of use.
  • The weight e is subjected to criticism for being a bit heavy for a racing shoe.

Bottom line

The Nike Zoom Fly 3 enjoys its fair share of positive reviews from consumers. Its quality is mostly held in high regard, save for the outsole which is apparently quick to wear off. Furthermore, the performance of the midsole has its critics, with some stating that the underfoot experience is a bit too soft for extended runs. But the same part also savors praise from those who like its push-off power. The design is also noticed by admiring eyes.

Fans of road running shoes who are neutral pronators are the target market of the Nike Zoom Fly 3.

Facts

Rankings

Among the better Road running shoes
A top rated Nike running shoe
Top 1% most popular running shoes

Expert Reviews

84 / 100 based on 24 expert reviews

  • 67 / 100 |

    Nike Zoom Fly 3: Poor man’s Next%

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    The Nike Zoom Fly 3 feels and looks more like a lifestyle sneaker than a performance running shoe. The chunky midsole does not cradle the foot.

    There is also a stark contrast or disconnect between the super light minimal upper and the midsole. It is one of the best looking shoes of the year. 

     

     

    The purple fade from light to dark is very eye-catching. I even caught a few people staring. The narrow heel point looks modern and fast.

    Upper

    The upper is my favourite part of the shoe. It feels light and breathable. The new Vaporweave looks and feels like the same as the Next% upper, but thicker.

    It is a welcome improvement over the OG Zoom Fly and the Flyknit uppers. The heel flares away so as to not cause any heel chafing problems, which occurred with the Flyknit upper.

     

     

    One can even wear the shoe with hidden or no socks without any problems. The Vaporweave upper has a roomy and relaxed fit.

    Outsole

    The outsole rubber placement is an improvement and leads to an extended outsole life span. Most of the wear on the previous versions of the shoe could be seen on the outer heel edge.

    This year’s update has long strips of rubber on both lateral and medial sides of the heel. It is a durable rubber.

     

     

    It may not be as durable as Adidas’ Continental, but it's still one of the more durable outsole rubbers out there.

    Midsole

    The shoe is bottom heavy. It feels like you have two tanks on your feet. It feels even heavier than the Glycerin from Brooks.

    Also, you'll get the sensation that you are running on top of a shoe rather than inside a shoe.

    The react foam is too firm for me compared to the Epic React foam, which feels bouncy and light. Nike probably had to make the midsole firmer to assist the carbon plate and the stack height.

    Still, I wish there was some sink-in feel as I don’t feel comfortable running in these for longer than 10km distances.

    The midsole is VERY narrow, causing the medial side to poke uncomfortably into the feet. Even someone with super narrow feet would feel the discomfort.

    It isn’t painful. But, you'll definitely feel it poking into your foot with every foot strike, even if you are a rearfoot striker. It’s a weird feeling that I have not felt in any other shoe before.

    The heel is also narrow compared to the forefoot, and it may be a problem for heel strikers. I found it slightly unstable in the heel, almost like you’re walking on a pole.

    The shoe is definitely more suited to forefoot strikers.

    You can feel the carbon fibre plate in the forefoot. It creates a feeling like you are walking off a step and your forefoot tips forward.

    It feels like a contradiction because the carbon plate wants to propel you forward and make you faster. However, the clunky midsole foam is slow and cumbersome.

    Conclusion

    Running in the Zoom Fly 3’s feels more like a chore and is not an enjoyable experience. The react midsole feels outdated: heavy and dense, without the bounce.

    I would make the outsole softer and lighter because the propelling of the carbon plate is cancelled out by the weight of the shoe.

    I can see what they were trying to do in replicating the Vaporfly Next% at a cheaper price. But this shoe is a miss for me.

    It is a very expensive shoe compared to other 2019 releases. I would rather choose the Go Run Ride 7 or NB Beacon over this shoe any day of the week.

    I will continue to wear the ZF3 but only for casual use.

  • 89 / 100 |

    Nike Zoom Fly 3: The end of an era

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    Back when the fastest shoes were racing flats, right before the foam craze and the huge stack heights and the propulsion plates.

    Back then, when all we cared about was weight and the most minimal upper, the Nike Zoom Fly, along with the Vaporfly 4% made a dent in the status quo of running shoes.

     

     

    Back then, when all we cared about was weight and the most minimal upper, the Nike Zoom Fly, along with the Vaporfly 4% made a dent in the status quo of running shoes.

    The Nike Zoom Fly existed before this, but in 2017 with the release of the Vaporfly 4%, the Zoom Fly became the daily trainer/cheaper option of the fastest shoe ever developed by Nike at the time.

    They became quite popular and had been evolving from a Cushlon Foam and Carbon-infused plate to the React and full fiber-carbon plate first introduced in the Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit (also called the Nike Zoom Fly 2). The Vaporfly also got the Flyknit treatment that year. 

    With the release of the Nike Vaporfly Next%, the younger brother got an update as well, taking design cues and colors from the now fastest Nike offering at the time.

    But enough history lessons, let's dig into the shoes.

    The looks

    The Nike Zoom Fly is meant to look fast while standing.

     

    The Zoom Fly 3 is meant to look fast just sitting in your closet; they look like they are going to take off. I actually prefer this look to the Next %'s minimal upper look.

    The addition of the new Vaporweave makes leaps for form and function. This new material from Nike helps in reducing the weight of the upper.

    The material does work as advertised, providing spill resistance as well as breathability. This is achieved by way of having a micro-perforated mesh that feels plastic but helps with the intended purpose.

    The Vaporweave has a very intelligible checkered flag texture that is more reminiscent of automotive racing, but it is a very subtle detail.

    The various materials make for a busy overlay, but it is subdued by the simple lines and clean design. All lines go from front to back, in flow patterns.

     

    There is a more conventional mesh behind the Vaporweave external layer to support the shape.

     

    The midsole is painted partially in a gradient color effect to maximize that sense of flow.

    The heel counter is pointy, and the bottom the heel angles up the same way supercars have rear bumper wind deflectors. This model is definitely automotive inspired.

     

    The rear of the heel looks like a rear bumper wind deflector from an exotic sports car.

    The feel

    On foot, the softness of the midsole is noticeable, but the shoes do not sink in like the Vaporfly Next%. The React foam is firmer than the one in the Nike Epic React, maybe because of the rigidity that the Launchpad offers to keep the lateral torsion at bay.

    In general, this shoe feels soft yet rigid, but not in a bad way.

    I have tried long runs, and the ride holds up pretty well all the way. This shoe really shines in interval and tempo workouts, where the angle of attack of the stride is more in line with the shape of the shoe.

    The performance

    The most compelling element of the performance is the React midsole. This feels even softer than the one in the previous Nike Zoom Fly Flynit.

    Although Nike silently went back to a "carbon-infused" plate or "Launchpad, that works as requested, providing rigidity and propulsion forward when striking from the mid to forefoot.

     

     

    The weight is rather low at 9.65oz for Men's size 10. This is outstanding considering the stack height of 23mm in the forefoot and 34mm in the heel for a not so subtle 11mm offset that will put you right on the edge of your toes.

    This shoe is so forward-strike oriented that the amount of rubber in the heel was reduced with no noticeable difference in performance.

     

    The rubber on the outsole is placed strategically in only the most common areas that suffer wear in a neutral shoe.

     

    The rubber in the heel is placed exactly in the only places where a neutral runner would wear the outsole. The arch area and middle of the heel are exposed React foam, which holds wear really well.

    For a minimal upper, the Nike Zoom Fly 3 holds the foot really well because of its neoprene Bootie that wraps around the foot all the way to the insole. Gone are the Flywires, that I think we may never see again in a flagship model.

     

    A Neoprene bootie provides support, medial lockdown, and comfort.

    The bad

    I find this shoe to be quite capable and durable. The only drawback I see is the softness (or little of it) of the foam.

    React foam has been somehow hardening from the days of the marshmallowy Epic React all-foam approach, it seems React is getting denser, probably to improve durability.

    This "bad" element is the reason ZoomX Foam is reserved to the Vaporfly Next% and soon to the Alphafly line. To keep you wanting more, at a heftier price tag.

    Summary

    As we begin a new era of mixed airpods, multiple carbon fiber plates and foam propulsion with the introduction of the Alphafly line, the Nike Zoom Fly 3 and the Vaporfly Next% step down to give way to a new top line.

    The reign of the Zoom line has ended; this is really the end of an era.

    Pros

    • Nice propulsion to spice up your speedwork
    • Great looking design
    • Nike is pushing the envelope on the development of materials such as Vaporweave

    Cons

    • React foam, although soft, seems to be firmer than in previous models.
    • The initial price tag was very high, but the price has been dropping
  • 80 / 100 | Believe in the Run | | Level 5 expert

    Great-fitting upper. Enjoyed the way the shoe fit and went through the stride.

  • 94 / 100 | kofuzi | Level 4 expert

    I think that this is the best Zoom Fly that Nike has made to date.

Become an expert

  • The Nike Zoom Fly 3 is advertised as a racing shoe which means that it is for those who like to participate in contests or extended running sessions. The midsole unit is updated from the Zoom Fly 2 as it is now made of React, one of the brand’s premier cushioning technologies. The stack height is also thicker than almost all Nike performance shoes, boasting a touted 40-millimeter heel height. A carbon plate is embedded in the React to help with steadiness and push-off power.
  • On the upper of this product is a material called Vaporweave. This feature is made of a transparent mesh exterior and an inner sheet that is stretchy and seamless. Arch bands on the left and right sides replace the Flywire cables. The heel collar has a leaf shape to responsibly maintain steadiness without causing pressure on the Achilles tendon.

When it comes to size, Nike has used the standard measurements to accommodate the expectations of consumers. Half and full sizes are available from the get-go, so people can make adjustments if they feel that they need to do so. It is recommended to personally test the shoe or check online reactions from testers to achieve an in-shoe feel that is agreeable.

When it comes to width, the available options are D - Medium and B - Medium for men and women, respectively. It is worth noting that the lasting board of this product is optimized for racing which means that it has an arrowhead-like shape to emphasize speed and forward momentum. Arrowheads have tout tips, so the forefoot may be a bit snug near the forefoot.

The outsole unit of the Nike Zoom Fly 3 is made of rubber. This material covers the majority of the forefoot section and the contact points of the heel part. It has a waffle design to heighten the traction capacity of the shoe, especially since the bumps or nodes that make up this waffle are naturally grippy.

The waffle design of the rubber exterior also has shallow flex grooves to help the foot with its capacity to bend as it goes through the gait cycle. The toe-off phase of the step is the part that benefits the most from such inclusion because it is where the foot flexes the most.

Underfoot cushioning is the responsibility of the Nike React foam. This full-length cushioning unit is designed to be lightweight, flexible and capable of lasting longer. The brand especially touts its role as an all-around cushioning unit that responsibly handles impact shock during the landing process and gives back energy during the toe-off. The React foam started in the realm of basketball but is now slowly taking over running shoes, with rosters like the Nike Epic React Flyknit taking the lead as examples of its full utilization.

A carbon fiber plate is placed inside the React foam. This layer is flexible enough to blend with the motion of the foot, yet it is also able to spring back into its original shape when there is no force bending it. The push-off part of the step is the act that benefits from this feature because it bends the plate during the preparation phase then allows it to whip itself into its relaxed state when the foot lifts off.

The upper unit of the Zoom Fly 3 is made of Vaporweave. This material is an innovation from Nike. It is comprised of a see-through exterior that has a close-weave construction to maintain its durability, as well as a seamless inner layer that serves as the thing that wraps the foot. It is breathable, form-accommodating and relatively lightweight.

Arch bands are placed on the sides of the shoe. These stretchy panels replace the Flywire cables that have graced many older Nike shoes. The purpose of these accoutrements is to help the lacing system in providing a snug and secure fit by having their tips as the lace-holes that cause the rest of the upper unit to adapt to the adjustment of the fit.

A one-piece opening is used for this shoe. Such a design makes sure to evoke the feeling of being wrapped by a sock instead of a collar and a separate tongue unit. The stretchy material used for the cleatie also accommodates the shape and movement ability of the foot.

The tapered heel construction holds the heel without irritating it or causing hot spots to develop. This leaf-like shape also aims to relieve any pressure on the ankles, especially when running for extended periods. Heel security is, after all, important during every run.

Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.

jens@runrepeat.com