We spent 10.2 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

9 reasons to buy

  • Majority of its users find the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% to be a lightweight running shoe.
  • Some runners describe the Vaporfly Next% as the fastest running shoe they have ever worn.
  • The shoe’s overall structure has visibly improved compared to the previous version, according to a reviewer.
  • A number of commenters feel the shoe provides a flawless fit.
  • A few users find the outsole of the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% to hold up better than that of its predecessor. 
  • The new upper material and lacing setup offer a lightweight yet stable frame around the foot, a couple of wearers reported. Meanwhile, others claim that the upper is snug yet breathable. 
  • The sole unit’s wider base helps in balancing the foot, according to a tester.
  • Several wear-testers praised the ZoomX midsole as bouncy and soft, with some even saying it is the most cushioned foam they have encountered.
  • Many users attribute the faster and more responsive ride to the shoe’s updated, lower drop.

2 reasons not to buy

  • The flimsy quality of the tongue makes it difficult to lay flat or stay in place on top of the foot, said a reviewer.
  • A few consumers disliked the expensiveness of the Vaporfly Next%.

Bottom line

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% is considerably a successful shoe release, as attested by both running professionals and casual runners. The new features presented by Nike in this shoe has impressed the majority, thus making them claim that the shoe is a huge upgrade from the earlier version of the ZoomX Vaporfly Next%. The shoe’s performance has also allowed some users to say it is a must-have for running. With very little criticism coming from buyers, it is safe to say that the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% is worth the purchase despite its hefty price tag.


Expert Reviews

93 / 100 based on 25 expert reviews

  • 98 / 100 |

    Vaporfly Next%: Training and running form are not included

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    Here we go with Vaporfly Next%, the third generation of Nike’s glorious Vaporfly family. This shoe promises to help you get running even better than Vaporfly 4%.

    First of all, let’s clarify a few things.



    For a 3-hour marathoner, 4% is 7 minutes. I don’t think that Vaporfly, compared to any other decent racing shoe, gives you an advantage of 7 minutes, but I can confirm that in my case it helps you along.

    Easy! So, where’s the flaw?

    Well… you have to have the right running gait for this shoe. Vaporfly has been famous for its structure, which is far from the typical racing flat.

    All racing shoes tend to have a low stack with a low drop while with Vaporfly, you are on stilts. Vaporfly Flyknit has a heel height of 39mm with a forefoot height of 29mm and a consequent heel-to-toe drop of 10mm.  


    Updates on the Vaporfly Next%

    With Vaporfly Next%, Nike has increased the heel height even more, adding a further millimetre (40mm), but has reduced the drop slightly to 8mm, meaning that your foot is even farther from the ground.

    The outer sole has also been changed from the previous generation. You can clearly see that the material is slightly different and more compact.

    In its official specs, Nike claims to have added an additional 15% of ZoomX Foam. Personally, I can say that you can also feel it from the ride, which is more stable than the previous generation gave.



    Finally, they have completely changed the upper mesh by using a different material - from knit, which was like a second sock, to something similar to plastic which doesn’t look very transpirant or flexible. In this case, the upper mesh of the Vaporfly Mesh is easier to clean and firmer than its predecessors, but at a cost to flexibility.

    Personally, I prefer a firmer ride.

    However, the material of the upper mesh of the Next% requires great precision when the shoe is assembled, otherwise, you are going to have creases that may restrict the toe box. Sadly, this is the case of most of the green shoes that I have seen, including mine in the picture.

    Personally, I found the toe box of the pink version bigger, probably due to a different production line. After a full effort marathon, I got some black nails (and toes). 

    With Vaporfly Next% the lacing system has been improved a lot, which was badly needed. With its predecessor, lacing shoes was very tricky - for short races you might have had to spend more time fighting with the laces before the start rather than racing.



    In fact, in the Vaporfly Flyknit, the upper mesh was like a second sock and the laces didn’t make a big difference so the tendency was often to tighten the shoes too much.

    Outer sole

    The outer sole might seem cumbersome, but I can guarantee that it promotes a fast ride and is way more supportive than Vaporfly knit.

    Also, the old Vaporfly didn’t offer a good grip, while this aspect has been improved a lot in Next. One hint that I can give is to avoid running just behind a runner wearing Vaporfly Next on a rainy day because you will get splashed almost as much as in a cross country.

    Despite the outer sole being made of a harder material, Nike has managed to keep this shoe to the same weight of the previous generation (176g for a UK 7).



    I don’t think that there is much to discuss here - you have already found plenty of content on this topic around the Internet and I would just repeat what other sources have already written.

    What I can say is that the look is great, as it is in the whole Nike Air Zoom series. And, unlike in the past, I can tell you that speed is not gained at the expense of comfort.

    Needless to say, the carbon fibre plate which cups the heel and runs the whole length of the shoe makes everything easy, and the weight again is minimal.


    Type of workouts

    The Vaporfly Next%, with its lower drop, may be more suitable for shorter distances than the marathon compared to its predecessors. Personally, I used it on track and on 5k/10k and found both Vaporfly Next% and the old version to be very good options for those days too.


    At the time of writing this review, I have run just under 100k on Vaporfly Next%, but I can tell you that this shoe is going to have a much longer life than Vaporfly 4%.



    The material of the outer sole is way denser than its predecessor and is going to rub less. The material of the upper mesh looks more durable; however, failing points might be those ones where the upper is connected to the sole.


    The only two models comparable with Vaporfly Next% are Vaporfly 4% and Nike Zoom Fly 3. If you have read the above, I have included plenty of details about the differences between these two generations of Vaporfly. For me personally, the biggest differences are:

    1. The slightly more stable ride given by Vaporfly Next%
    2. The material of the upper

    But if you are wondering if Vaporfly Next% is faster than its predecessors I can’t help you much. In terms of speed, I don’t see much difference, but because the 4% is less supportive, for sure I can tell you that it is way more demanding on your lower leg. However, this always depends on your gait.

    I’ve heard of people developing calf and heels problems easily with the new generation, while that’s not my case.



    Compared instead with Nike Zoom Fly 3, Next% is more or less the same shoe but one level up. Nike Zoom Fly 3 also has a full-length carbon fibre plate in the insole, but is slightly heavier because the outer sole is made of a different material.

    That’s the only remarkable difference that I have noticed, as both of them are fast shoes. So, if you don’t fancy the price tag of Next%, Zoom Fly 3 is a very valid alternative.



    • Undoubtedly fast
    • Firmer and more supportive than its predecessor
    • Less demanding on lower leg than its predecessor


    • Training is not included
    • Small production defects not acceptable at that price
    • Could lead to injuries


    Vaporfly Next% is simply another masterpiece from Nike. It’s not only marketing: as long as you have a neutral gait, these shoes help a lot.

    The design is great, and I think that this is a step ahead of Vaporfly 4%. What I didn’t like is that these shoes have a lot of small imperfections in the outer sole and upper attachment that is unacceptable at this price.

    For the rest, if you are already racing on Vaporfly 4% and happy with that, I can tell you that this is going to be your “next” racing shoe.

  • 85 / 100 |

    Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% - A special shoe for special occasions

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    I wasn’t able to purchase the elusive VaporFly 4%. The shoe was not available in Singaporean stores, and each time they came out online, they were sold out within seconds. I literally could not add them to my basket 1 second after they were released- and this happened numerous times.

    Luckily the Next% has had a much, much wider release, and I was able to purchase a pair (I had to purchase a half size smaller than my regular size because my regular size was sold out).


    The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%


    The VaporFly Next% is marketed as an elite shoe for elite runners wanting to break records. This is very intimidating for a casual runner such as me who has never run a marathon or even tried to break a personal record.

    Heck, I don’t even time myself when I run. Why would I purchase such an expensive shoe then? The technology?

    The VaporFly is the most advanced shoe of its generation. The super foam ZoomX along with the carbon fiber plate makes for a truly unforgettable ride, which I will remember for the rest of my life.

    Looks & design

    Everything about the shoe screams “fast.” From the bright green upper to the pointy heel, the shoe looks like it is meant to break records.

    The skew lacing makes the shoe look a bit wacky but does not cause any issues. I would not wear these shoes casually with a pair of jeans and nobody should. They are purely for running.


    The shoe curls inward like a banana.

    Upper & materials

    The VaporWeave upper feels like an upper made of soft plastic. It was designed to stop moisture absorption, and while it is not uncomfortable, it bunches in the forefoot.

    My feet don’t sweat excessively, so I would prefer a Flyknit material just because it looks more aesthetically pleasing. The skew shoelaces don’t irritate, but they just look a bit weird.


    The plastic-like material bunches in the forefoot.

    Fit & comfort

    The shoe fits snug, but it is not uncomfortable. I think my regular size of a half size bigger would have been perfect.

    There is no heel slippage, but I had to use every row of eyelets, including the last one. The midfoot is very narrow, and I have a flat foot, so I feel the arch on my foot.


    The midfoot is very narrow while the forefoot and rearfoot bulge out.


    The arch is soft, so it is not uncomfortable, like the poking arch of the Zoom Fly 3. There is ample space in the forefoot, but with the midfoot being very narrow, the shoe reminds me of a fat person wearing a tight belt.

    Like most of the 2019 Nike shoes, the tongue has gone on a diet- a change that I do not enjoy. It is flat and slides down and to the sides, but I didn’t feel it or need to adjust it during any run.


    The carbon fiber plate stops the shoe from flexing and makes it rigid, which provides the springing sensation, similar to a diver jumping off a board with the front of the carbon plate being the pivot and the back being the lever that launches you forward.

    This shoe was designed for forefoot striking, and while I am a heel striker, I could still feel the spring sensation with every step. The VaporFly is like a curious Labrador puppy pulling you forward; it just wants to go.


    The carbon fibre plate stops the shoe from flexing.

    The ride experience

    It’s like a magical carpet ride. The soft, cushioned ZoomX spoils your feet. It’s amazing how quickly the foam compresses and bounces back. You feel like you are gliding over the road with minimal effort.

    After my first couple of long runs, I noticed that my calves and ankles felt extremely stiff. This is due to the high stack height and the shoe begging you to get up onto your forefoot- a real calf workout. After a week of getting used to it, my legs got used to them, and the stiffness disappeared.


    There is no ground feel due to the chunky midsole.


    The versatility of the ZoomX makes the VaporFly suitable for all types of races. It has deep enough cushioning for marathons and is fast enough for short distances. It really is a swiss army knife of race shoes.

    The one thing I did not like was the stability when taking corners. The large stack height and narrow midfoot made me feel like I was going to roll an ankle.


    The VaporFly Next% is hands down the most responsive shoe I have ever worn. The carbon fiber plate and the ZoomX work in tandem to propel you forward with each foot strike. My legs feel less tired after a long run than in any other shoe.


    You can tell by the large thick rubber slab in the front where Nike wants you to land in the VaporFly’s. Thank goodness for the two extra strips of rubber in the rearfoot.

    Being a heel striker, I found excessive wear with my Zoom Fly 1’s and Zoom Fly Flyknits because the pods in the rearfoot did not cover the entire heel striking area. Nike addressed this problem with this new outsole design.


    The forefoot rubber slab is thick and smooth.

    Durability & wear

    My shoe shows excessive wear on the ZoomX areas not covered by rubber. I wish they made a dark ZoomX foam because the light-colored foam shows off dirt and scrapes.

    I don’t see any out of the ordinary wear on the large forefoot rubber slab. But overall, the durability is a lot lower compared to other workhorse running shoes.


    The exposed ZoomX scrapes easily.


    So the question is this: is the Nike VaporFly Next% really worth $250? Absolutely yes!

    It’s the most unique ride I have ever experienced. I will wear it for special occasions due to its low durability. Is this the perfect shoe for me?

    No. My perfect shoe is one that I can run into the ground and put 1000+ km on it. This shoe I will only use when I want to treat my feet and legs.

  • 96 / 100 | Road Trail Run | | Level 5 expert

    I could very well see this shoe—despite its high cost—being a wonderful daily trainer.

  • 95 / 100 | Runner's World | | Level 4 expert

    You don't have to be a world-class marathoner to enjoy these shoes.

Become an expert

  • Many running enthusiasts might recall the earlier version of the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% because of its unique name and equally unique claim as a benefit: to improve the running economy (not speed) of the athlete. In this iteration, the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% sticks to that objective at an improved rate but without an exact value; hence, the “Next” percent in the name.
  • There are several notable updates in this shoe. First is the new material called VaporWeave that is introduced as the main component of the upper. The VaporWeave replaces the previous version’s Flymesh; it gives the Vaporfly Next% a thin yet sturdy coverage.
  • The midsole material is also leveled up a notch, in the form of the ZoomX technology. Although the same material is utilized in the shoe’s predecessor, the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% uses more of it in its midsole. With more foam, there is more energy return.
  • Lastly, the outsole also presents an update as it gets a revamped tread pattern. The materials remain the same, but with upgraded benefits in order to improve the running experience.

Like the earlier version, the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% is a unisex shoe that has a standard running shoe length, thus making it true-to-size for most runners. Those who usually go with women’s sizes are advised to get 1.5 sizes down to achieve their preferred fit. However, the shoe has an upper material that is relatively thinner compared to other running shoes. This might make it loose-fitting to some. The construction of the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% has the makings of a shoe for race day: a snug fit across the heel and midfoot and a low toe box height. The shoe is available in Medium width.

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% uses a combination of rubber compounds to deliver a combination of traction and responsiveness for a speedy run that is consistent as the miles log on.

At the forefoot area is a foam rubber that has a lightweight quality, allowing for easy toe-offs while retaining grip. The foam portion is thicker in this shoe compared to its predecessor, ensuring that softness of the foam provides optimum cushioning and contributes to the energy return during each stride.

Meanwhile, the heel area is composed of a high-abrasion rubber that equips the shoe with durability especially during footstrike. The material is designed to withstand the impact forces occurring during the run, thus reducing stress on the foot. Nike running shoes are known for utilizing basic rubber compounds in the outsole and focusing instead on midsole technologies. The Nike Revolution 4 is another example of this design philosophy.

The updated tread pattern of the outsole reflects the layouts made by the three athletes that inspired the creation of the shoe: Eliud Kipchoge, Mo Farah, and Geoffrey Kirui. The three elite runners were also involved in the design process of the ZoomX Vaporfly Next%. In making the outsole’s tread, lengthwise grooves were included in a way to enhance multi-surface traction in various weather conditions.

Although a returning feature from the previous version, the ZoomX midsole foam gets an update, too. In this shoe, the cushioning material is increased in quantity by 15% to facilitate better energy return. The added foam is strategically distributed in different locations: 1 mm in the heel and 4 mm in the forefoot. This technique consequently changes the drop of the shoe, which is intentionally done for a more efficient engagement between the runner and the ZoomX. It is also worth noting that the ZoomX foam prides itself as Nike’s most responsive and most cushioned foam. 

The midsole of the Vaporfly Next% also retains the full-length carbon plate that is embedded within the foam. This feature is meant to increase the stiffness of the midsole and encourage propulsion. The carbon plate is located closer to the heel in order to promote a stable platform in this area.

The most noticeable change in the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% is the introduction of the Vaporweave upper material. The Vaporweave has a thin, minimal appearance that makes it a lighter and more breathable textile compared to the Flymesh, which is what the previous shoe used. Additionally, the Vaporweave material is designed to absorb less water, thus maintaining dryness and ensuring consistent airflow throughout the run. 

Utilizing an offset-style lacing system alleviates pressure on the sensitive areas of the foot. It also aims for an improved, more locked-in fit. 

Beneath the mesh upper is a thin foam pod located on the heel area of the shoe. This element supports the Achilles, providing comfortable coverage in each step.

Compared to its predecessor, the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% features a wider toe box that gives the runner even more room for an adequate toe splay. 

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% takes pride in being one of, if not the only, the running shoes that claim to improve an athlete’s running economy. But what exactly is a running economy? This notion is a little confusing to the average or casual runner, as it does not necessarily take into account speed or pace. 

Although a very scientific concept, the running economy involves factors that are familiar to the typical runner, such as energy return and performance. Such aspects were highly considered by the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% in order to create a shoe that improves on the wearer’s running economy. Simply put, the running economy entails the consumption of energy throughout an activity with aerobic intensity. 

The ZoomX Vaporfly Next% aims for a higher percentage of running economy, which means the runner should expend less energy but still boost, or at least maintain, their performance.

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.