Verdict from 7.2 hours of research from the internet

6 reasons to buy

  • Responsiveness: Plenty of runners agree that this carbon-plated shoe propels the foot forward like a trampoline, making it hard to go slow.
  • Cushioning: The bouncy React cushioning creates a smooth ride that lasts on long distances, according to many users.
  • Vaporweave: Droves of wearers love this extremely lightweight and breathable material that absorbs no moisture and is very quick-drying.
  • Aerodynamic fit: Its close-fitting upper hugs the foot in a very streamlined manner, most runners note.
  • Heel collar: The tapered heel prevents irritation and chafing, as noted by some users.
  • Traction: Those who tested the shoe on rainy days affirm its slip-resistance on wet pavement.

4 reasons not to buy

  • Weight: Most runners find the Zoom Fly 3 to be bottom-heavy and cumbersome. One expert notes that it “feels like running on the shoe, not in it.”
  • Durability: The shoe’s long-term owners warn that the platform shows heavy wear after less than 100 miles.
  • Laces: Some wearers are irritated that the laces come untied even when with a double knot.
  • Narrow design: This Nike shoe has a narrow construction on both the upper and the sole, making it a no-go for wide feet.

Bottom line

Perceived as the Vaporfly Next%’s little sibling, the Nike Zoom Fly 3 doesn’t fall short of the competition-ready qualities. Fast yet cushioned, it can be best described as a hybrid racing shoe that will help you accelerate but, at the same time, train for a marathon.

Be warned, however, that it is heavier than a typical racing flat but is not as durable as a standard daily trainer. It feels unstable on uneven terrain but shines on a smooth road or track.

Tip: see the best running shoes.

Expert reviews:

User reviews:

Our reviews

89
/100 by Carlos Storms, posted on .

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
Carlos Storms | Level 3 expert Verified
I'm Carlos, a 39 year old driven to run like people half my age. I've been running for the last 8 years and have focused on training for a half-marathon recently. I average around 80 km (50 miles) per week. I'm a Nike guy but have recently run in Asics. My goal is to help everyone get the right shoes for them. Running shoes don’t make the runner but surely can break a stellar performance. So let’s go and hit that road the right way!

67
/100 by Brandon Law, posted on .

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.

Brandon Law | Level 4 expert Verified
Hi, I'm Brandon. I have a running shoe obsession and addiction. I spend hours a day on websites and on review sites reading about the latest tech and upcoming releases. I run +-50km per week, and one of my favourite past times is going into shoe stores and testing salesmen on their knowledge of running shoes.

88
/100 by Jeffrey Schulberg, posted on .

Carbon-plated shoes are all the rage these days. It seems as if every brand is following Nike’s lead and producing a shoe with carbon or carbon-infused plate in their high-end running shoes to propel runners forward and increase speed over longer distances.

 

Nike-Zoom-Fly-3-road-running-shoe.jpg

 

Since Nike led the way here and already has several carbon-plated shoes in their catalog (which were aimed for race days), Nike decided to produce a companion of sorts to those shoes. 

A model that can be used for race days but can also be used for training (due to its durability), and then easily swapped out on race day for one of their ‘premium’ carbon-plated shoes without a significant change in overall feel.

 

Nike-Zoom-Fly-3-React-running-shoe.jpg

React vs. ZoomX

Enter the Nike Zoom Fly 3, Nike’s ‘budget’ carbon-plate shoe (if you can call a $160 shoe ‘budget-friendly’).

Unlike its more expensive siblings, the FlyKnit 4% or the Vaporfly Next%, the Zoom Fly 3 does not pair its carbon plate with Nike’s premiere, ultralight ZoomX midsole foam.

 

Nike-Zoom-fly-3-breathable-running-shoe.jpg

 

Instead, the Nike Zoom Fly 3 features Nike’s React Foam which is slightly heavier and not as responsive as the ZoomX foam (it is the same foam used in the $120 Pegasus 37, for example).

Since the React Foam is less expensive to produce (and, according to many, more durable), Nike can offer a less expensive training option, while still giving the runner the carbon plate and a feel that is relatively close, but not exactly the same, as those of its higher-end shoes.

Specifications

The Zoom Fly 3 from Nike is currently available in 6 colors and retails for $160, significantly less expensive than the 4% or the Next%. The Zoom Fly 3 features an 8mm drop and weighs in at approximately 9.5 ounces in my men’s size 10.

VaporWeave upper

Like the Next%, the Zoom Fly 3 upper features the transparent VaporWeave upper found on the Next% which, according to Nike, is both lighter and more weather-resistant.

I found the upper to be very comfortable. However, on extremely hot and sweaty days, it seems to stay wetter for longer.

 

Nike-Zoom-Fly-3-lightweight-running-shoe.jpg

 

Also, the toe box has ample room and creates a nice alternative to the FlyKnit found in the 4%.

“Bootie” heel

The fit of the Zoom Fly 3 is not unlike the 4%. The heel cup has the same ‘bootie’ fit as the 4% which I personally prefer but some runners don’t.

Lockdown is easily achievable on the Zoom Fly 3 by simply slipping your foot into the shoe and tightening the laces to the desired tightness. There is no tongue to speak of and/or fuss with which, for me, is a positive.

 

Nike-Zoom-Fly-3-upper.jpg

Performance

While I was not expecting the Zoom Fly 3 to perform as well as the 4%, I was continuously and pleasantly surprised by how fast I was able to go in the Zoom Fly 3.

It’s a bit heavier than I like for a training shoe but the carbon plate certainly propelled me forward. I did not notice the difference in foam once I got going though I’m sure the heavier React Foam midsole contributes to the slightly heavier weight of the shoe as compared to, say, the 4%.

Recovery was also similar in both the Zoom Fly 3 and the 4%, despite the difference in foam.

Durability

As far as durability goes, I anticipate getting 300+ miles out of this shoe, which is considerably more than I would expect to get out of the more expensive 4% or Next%.

This is primarily due to the React Foam being used instead of the ZoomX foam. I’ve put about 60 miles on the shoe already and there is no sign of wear whatsoever.

 

Nike-Zoom-Fly-3-outsole.jpg

Jeffrey Schulberg | Level 3 expert Verified
I am a runner but not a super fast or super long runner. I've done several marathons and dozens of half-marathons. Also, I'm an avid biker. So, I think I speak to a lot of guys who want to be a runner but don't want to necessarily be a marathon runner or a sprinter who runs races on weekends. I appeal to people who want to run more than most—that is 10+ miles on the weekend.

70
/100 by Pierre Jambet, posted on .

I loved the first two Zoom Flys! I'm not exaggerating; I ran close to 1,000 miles in the first pair and a little bit over 700 with the Flyknit one.

This easily puts them in the top 5 of the shoes I've used the most, ever. So you can easily imagine how excited I was when they announced the third iteration.

There's a whole new upper? Keep everything that made the previous ones great and make it even better? A carbon plate shoe under $200?

Sign. Me. Up.

 

 

However, after more than 220 miles in these shoes, I never really want to pick it up for a run.

I just don't really like it. And the worst part, I have a hard time explaining why. This is my attempt!

Upper

A lot changed. So much that it feels like a completely different shoe!

It barely has anything in common with the previous iteration - the Zoom Fly Flyknit. Different materials, different laces, different feel, different everything!

Let's start with the new material - the Vaporweave. There's not much to stay about it in dry conditions. However, on a rainy day, indeed, it didn't get soaked that much, and therefore remained relatively light.

That being said, the part that feels problematic to me when I run under the rain is the insole.

 

 

Overall, it is a little bit better than the previous version, but I never felt like the Flyknit material was that problematic anyway. So sure, they improved it (slightly), but it's not something that I cared that much about.

This leads me to what I think is what I dislike the most about this shoe - the ankle section.

You can see how lose it looks in the picture below. It doesn't give me this snug feel that I loved in the previous one.

 

Outsole

One of the selling points of the updated sole was the improved traction, and "slippage prevention" on wet surfaces.

As a matter of fact, as I am writing this, I am coming back from a 13-miler under the rain, and I can report that the sole grip felt great and never slippery. However, the heel area is starting to show significant signs of wear, especially on the left one.

 

 

It's still a little bit early to really assess the durability of the sole, but the fact that the rubber on the heel is already wearing off is definitely not a good sign. The front section looks good so far.

At the same time, I care more about the midfoot section, as this is the one that is responsible for most of the traction. That being said, the foam itself seems to hold up.

I have seen shoes where you could see the foam starting to look old and "squished" after less than 100 miles, but looking at the side of the shoe, it doesn't seem to show any signs of losing its responsiveness.

 

 

A small detail that I really appreciated compared to the two previous versions is that the sole is slightly wider around the toe box.

This may sound like a small addition, but it makes a big difference when switching direction rather abruptly. Especially given the fairly thick sole, it wasn't uncommon to feel a little bit unbalanced in the previous one. I am really glad they made this small change.

Back to what I did not like, it feels very stiff. It very likely has to do with the carbon plate, but unless you really pick up the pace, it just feels like running with a pair of bricks attached to your feet.

My average pace on long runs is usually in the 7:30 -7:45 range, and it feels like that's not enough. I did use this pair a few times for faster workouts during my last marathon training in the fall, and it did feel better at a faster pace, usually in the 6:20-6:40 range.

Random thought

It took me a while, but I did find another thing I liked! The laces!

They're good. They're made of a fabric that stays tied fairly well, and long enough to allow a heel lock and double knot.

 

 

At 8.9 oz, for a size 9, it is slightly heavier than the Flyknit one at 8.4 oz; not a massive difference, but another reason to like it less compared to its predecessor.

An unusual thing to note is the absence of a "real" tongue. I am having a hard time describing it, but there's a bootie-like thing inside the shoe that merges with the ankle section.

It sounds like it could be good in theory. But in practice, it feels very loose around the Achilles, as noted previously, and does not feel snug around the foot. It's not comfortable, but it's also not great.

Conclusion

At this point, I don't see how I can give this pair more than my current score. Maybe it is a matter of expectations because I did have high expectations.

It feels bulky. The Vaporweave is not bad, but it does not feel as comfortable as Flyknit to me.

There are so many shoes that I like more for daily runs, the Epic React or the Pegasus, both being way cheaper.  And for race day? Well, of course, you have the Next% option, which is clearly better, but crazy expensive.

If you don't want to spend that much money, I feel like there are better options, starting with the Zoom Fly Flyknit, which you can still find, but also, let's be honest, you don't need a carbon fiber plate.

There are tons of great racing shoes out there, one of my all-time favorites, the New Balance 1500 series. Point being, you have options out there, most of them being cheaper and likely as durable, potentially more.

It's not actually that expensive, as in, it's not the most expensive Nike shoe, but still, at $160. I feel like you're not allowed to be an "ok" shoe.

This is what it is to me, not a terrible shoe, and some things are actually pretty good, like the Vaporweave upper, but overall, it's just "meh," and that makes me sad.

Will I buy the next iteration? Of course, I will, one can hope they'll improve on the areas I disliked. And I am a Nike fanboy.

Pierre Jambet | Level 2 expert Verified
Hi, I'm Pierre. After years of absolutely zero physical activity, I decided to start running in 2013 to get in shape. Six years later, I now average more than 60 miles a week, reached a new record with 5000km in 2019. That year, I was finally able to enter my dream marathon, New York, and finished with a BQ of 2:54. My favorite distance is the half marathon, with a current PR of 1:18. My goal is to complete all the world majors after that.

90
/100 by Kim Urmaza, posted on .

Nike has undoubtedly made some exponential strides to the future of running shoe technology in 2019. The premiere of the ZoomX Vaporfly Next % in marathon racing imposed confounding interest in the extent of which running shoes may influence race performance.

Though the Vaporfly Next % and Alphafly maintain as Nike's high-end marathon racers, the Zoom Fly 3 presents with similar characteristics at a significantly lower price point. 

 

Nike-Zoom-Fly-3-rod-running-shoes.jpg

 

Nonetheless, the feel relative to the shoe's specifications, components, and overall performance still raises the question: Is the Zoom Fly 3 a racer, trainer, or both? 

Specifications

Release year: 2019
Shoe type: Road, racing
Arch: Neutral
Weight: m= 8.9 oz (sz 9) // w=7.4oz (sz 8)
Stack height: Heel=34mm // forefoot=23mm
Price point: $160 ($90-140 on sale)

Aesthetics

On first impressions, the shoe looks fast-looks like a racer with a very similar appeal to that of the ZoomX Vaporfly Next%. Zoom Fly 3 comes in a variety of vibrant colorways that are sure to get attention.

The iconic Nike swoosh is extended from the forefoot across the lateral side of the shoe. A blank timer is displayed on the left heel counter and "engineered to exact specifications of world-class runners" is tagged alongside the medial outsole. 

The upper is comprised of Vaporweave, a new moisture-wicking material that Nike unveiled in their 2019 racing series. I have not run in any previous iterations of the Zoom Fly and cannot offer a valid comparison between VaporWeave and Flyknit.

 

Nike-Zoom-Fly-3-upper-1.jpg

 

However, numerous runners have mentioned that the Vaporweave is a major upgrade in terms of look, feel, and breathe-ability. 

The Zoom Fly 3 originally comes with traditional laces, but I swapped out the stock laces with a lock-lacing system to avoid having to continuously adjust the laces mid-run. 

Fit and performance

I had initially purchased the Zoom Fly 3 to use strictly as a racer or uptempo shoe during my preparation for the Miami Marathon. Despite having run approximately 110-130 road miles in Zoom Fly 3, I am still left uncertain as to how I truly feel about the shoe's performance at certain speeds and distances. 

The Zoom Fly 3 runs true to size and features a bootie-like fit. I personally preferred the aesthetics of the men's shoes over the women's and purchased a size 7.5 M. The bootie is comprised of a neoprene/mesh material that feels like a form-fitted sock.

On a positive note, the bootie alleviates the upending discomfort of a tongue; however, I have noticed a few hot-spots along the heel collar if the foot is not completely locked down. 

Similar to the Vaporfly Next%, Zoom Fly 3 has a full-length carbon plate for some added stiffness and pop. I have had some difficulty in discerning the support of the carbon plate during faster-paced runs; the carbon plate does not feel as pronounced as in the Next % or Hoka One One Carbon X

With regards to the midsole, Nike decided to cushion the Zoom Fly 3 with React foam. The foam is incredibly soft and bouncy. I enjoy the comfort that the React foam provides during long, steady runs.

Nonetheless, my foot/stride will tend to sink into the shoe if I do not pay close attention to my foot strike or when my form begins to break down. I have taken this shoe on runs upwards of 20 miles at steady and sub-threshold paces.

Alternatively, I have also run a few 800m track sessions in Zoom Fly 3. My appreciation for the shoe's performance differs significantly between the two types of runs.

The combination of the React foam and carbon plate accommodate the demands of a long run (continuous pounding over distance) but do not necessarily offer propulsion as anticipated in faster workouts. 

The Zoom Fly 3 also presents with a stack height of 34mm (per Nike.com). Again, Nike does an excellent job in providing a solid cushion.

However, I would not consider the Zoom Fly 3 reliable or efficient in turning or cornering. This shoe is best suited for smooth, linear routes with minimal turns or technical terrains. 

At nearly 8.4 oz for a men's size 7.5, the Zoom Fly 3 falls right in the middle of a racer/trainer. The shoe is not particularly light and feels a bit bottom-heavy through the stride.

 

Nike-Zoom-Fly-3-weight.jpg

 

Sometimes, I feel as if the shoe is running against me rather than with me, especially during tempo workouts. 

Durability

Black rubber lines the medial/lateral heel and covers the forefoot in its entirety. The midfoot and remainder of the outsole is exposed React foam. The shoes pictured below have covered approximately 30 miles and show very minimal wear—the shoe still looks brand new.

 

Nike-Zoom-Fly-3-outsole-1.jpg

 

I have a second pair that I have run no more than 130 road miles that show some mild wear along the forefoot, but I anticipate the shoe to last at least another 150 miles. 

Final thoughts

At $160, the Zoom Fly 3 is set at a significantly lower price point than the ZoomX Next%, Alphafly, and other carbon-plate-based shoes. 

To answer the questions: Is this shoe a racer, trainer, or both? Will I use the Zoom fly 3 in a race? 

In terms of overall performance, I prefer to use the Zoom Fly 3 for steady runs (regardless of distance) with minimal changes in pace as opposed to speed or tempo workouts.

The combination of React foam and carbon plate produces a comfortable and bouncy ride; however, the shoe can feel a bit heavy. I do not see myself lacing the Zoom Fly 3s for a race, but I am looking forward to how Nike will improve the next iteration of the Zoom Fly series. 

Kim Urmaza | Level 2 expert Verified
I am currently the Head Athletic Trainer for a high school in Hollywood, FL and am pursuing a Master's degree in Kinesiology with a double concentration in sports performance and orthopedic rehabilitation. I am also a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and a member of the USA National Duathlon Team. I currently run 70-80 road miles per week & have run numerous distances from the 5K to the marathon and aim to dabble into the ultramarathon world within the next year. My background in sports medicine has also allowed for a better understanding of running mechanics relative to shoe wear, shoe type, and foot striking patterns. It is a privilege to share my experiences with various running shoes.

94
/100 by Nick Alexander, posted on .

The Nike Zoom Fly 3 is a shoe that Nike says inspired by the Vaporfly, giving distance runners race-day comfort and durability. The power of a carbon-fibre plate keeps you in the running mile after mile.

Will they keep me running mile after mile in the marathon I have planned?

 

 

This is a shoe I looked forward to running in since I got late into the Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit party. I have previously lamented the sole of the original Zoom Fly, the pentagons falling out of mine on several pairs, so the final tick in the (NZF3) box was a new sole, coming from the VaporFly Next%.

Retailing at €160, it is less than the VaporFly 4% (€250) and VaporFly Next % (€275), but I shall be mainly using it as a race day shoe.

My initial concern was the colorway. Living in Ireland, my option at the time was restricted to only one colorway (white). This was a concern, how long will it stay white?

Let us start with the facts:

8mm drop
Carbon fiber plate (CFP for future ref)
VaporWeave upper
Full length react foam midsole

 

My first observation of the shoe (as I have previously admitted, I’m a Nike fanboy here), is that it is a gorgeous shoe. The option I had (99% white) is perhaps the cleanest, though how long they would stay that way was anyone’s guess?

The Zoom Fly 3 made minor changes to the midsole, firstly more react foam with a higher stack height. They changed the outsole from that of the VaporFly 4% to that of the VaporFly Next% and overhauled the upper to new VaporWeave material.

My hopes on the weatherproofing of this shoe, relying on this new technique. The shoe still features a full-length carbon plate and react foam for a responsive, forward-moving feel.

 

 

The fit is true to size, though I noticed a bit more room in the toe box. The design/appearance of the shoe is superb yet another futuristic-looking shoe. The breathability of the shoe is good.

I bought this shoe with Berlin 2019 in mind having run in the Nike ZoomFly Flyknit (NZFF) a lot throughout the summer. I struggled with cornering in the Flyknit initially, and I was delighted to see that this has been corrected with the Fly 3.

My guess would be the new sole design, which runs the length of the shoe rather than the pentagons of the first two generations of Zoom Fly. There is also extra rubber on the sole, which protects the foam from my experience.

 

 

Berlin 2019 was wet. It was really, really wet the second half of the race. The shoe gave me zero problems in terms of grip through the 26.2 miles, which is impressive. 

Towards the end of the race, it became impossible to judge the breathability of the shoe as other runners splashing through puddles meant my feet were soaked through, but it sure tested their durability. 

The shoe held firm throughout! I loved the responsiveness of the shoe from the first wear and was delighted to record a marathon personal best.

 Lastly, durability is one of the most impressive things about this shoe. This image at the time of writing is 99.94 miles on them.

 

 

I find the wear of the shoe incredible for the number of miles on them. Since Berlin, I have been able to test the VaporWeave upper more thoroughly too. 

This is made of plastics (as amazing as it sounds). Specifically, TPU and TPE are used. TPU is used in many running shoe companies premier foams whilst TPE is a material that makes up most yoga mats.

The upper is weaved in a breathable manner that is really lightweight. Unlike Flyknit, it does not absorb sweat or water.

Under normal Irish conditions (away from Berlin, Germany), I have encountered zero problems with the upper in the rain, and again, coupled with the superb grip, I am loving this shoe.

It is a great shoe for tempo runs, and I used the past few weeks in both a 5 and 10k race recording PB's in both.

Conclusion

Overall, I feel the Nike Zoom Fly 3 is an improvement on the NZFF, particularly in terms of grip. At 100 miles, it feels like it will last a lot longer (something that was labeled against the Vaporfly 4%). 

It will do all the training runs if you own the 4% (or Next%) for race day, or if those shoes are out of your price range, it will do the races too.  

 

Nick Alexander | Level 2 expert Verified
Hi. I'm Nick. I'm a runner, and I love running and talking about running. Moreover, I work in a running shop, and I've started my own running business. I've completed 12 marathons since I started running in 2015, soon to be 13 (Berlin) and 14 (Dublin). I love parkruns. It's what started me on my running journey when I got sober in 2015, and have run over 150 of these. I also volunteer at and bring friends to parkruns.

  • 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.

Size and fit

True to size based on 74 user votes
Small (14%)
True to size (72%)
Large (15%)
Add rating

Same sizing as Nike Zoom Fly.

Calculate size

Size comments

The Zoomfly 3 runs true to size. - Believe in the Run
The fit is true to size. - Nick Alexander, Level 2 expert
The Zoom Fly 3 runs true to size. - Kim Urmaza, Level 2 expert
Toebox
Tight Roomy

How Zoom Fly 3 compares

This shoe: 92
All shoes average: 86
53 98
This shoe: $160
All shoes average: $119
$40 $350
This shoe: 8.9oz
All shoes average: 9.5oz
3.5oz 16.2oz
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