Our verdict

The Nike Dragonfly has solidified its reputation as a premier spike in the Olympics, capturing multiple gold medals, and has similarly proven its exceptional quality in our lab tests. For $150, we found the elite-level ZoomX foam provides plenty of cushioning for a spike, paired with a superb upper and versatility across multiple distances from 800m to 10K. We really think it’s one of the best spikes ever crafted, despite some room for improvement in terms of stability and comfort.

Pros

  • Perfect for 1500-10k
  • Suitable for 400m-800m
  • Bouncy ZoomX foam
  • Full-length Pebax plate
  • Highly breathable
  • Premium notched laces
  • Lightweight
  • Fairly priced

Cons

  • Needs better tongue
  • Possibly too flexible
  • Unstable midfoot design

Audience verdict

96
Superb!

Who should buy

We highly recommend the Dragonfly for track enthusiasts seeking a blend of cushioning and performance. In our view, this spike is:

  • Ideal for anyone running 5K or 10K, offering one of the most forgiving rides available that cater to all speed levels.
  • Perfect for runners who practice interval training ranging from 400m to 5K in the track.
  • Suitable for those competing even in shorter events like 800m who prefer more foam and less stiffness than the usual speedsters offer.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly

Who should NOT buy

While the Dragonfly excels for many athletes, we do not recommend it for those targeting shorter distances—as its features can impede a powerful, ground-contact stride needed for sprints. For events shorter than 800 meters, we think the Nike Air Zoom Maxfly is a better choice.

Furthermore, the Dragonfly carries a price tag of $150, which might be steep for some. For those in search of a more cost-effective alternative, the Nike Zoom Rival D 10 stands out as an excellent choice. It delivers a nice degree of versatility and comfort, making it a great fit for newcomers to track events or weekend warriors who don't want to spend that much.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly parts

Breathability

Breathability often takes a backseat in spikes since track events are usually short, but the Dragonfly is crafted for distances ranging from 1500 meters to 10K, necessitating high ventilation, especially due to the warm temperatures of outdoor events.

Luckily, we discovered that the engineered mesh used by Nike features ample spacing between its threads, allowing heat and moisture to escape effectively, which is crucial for longer distances. This is a 4 out of 5 for us.

Using a light, we were able to observe how Nike meticulously designed this model. The toebox and tongue benefit from full ventilation, and there is a noticeable degree of breathability in the midfoot, which we found to be more than sufficient.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly mesh

Under the microscope, we noted that the Dragonfly boasts a really good upper. It's simpler for brands to use uniform mesh across all parts, but Nike has strategically enhanced ventilation in key areas with remarkable ease and precision.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly microscope

Lastly, in their pursuit of an ultra-lightweight spike, Nike minimized padding and sacrificed comfort, incorporating only two strips in the rearfoot area that extend through the heel.

Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 4
Average 3.6
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

The upper is notably minimal and thin, which left us quite skeptical during our fierce test with the Dremel tool.

Regrettably, we discovered it scored a dismal 1/5. Although track spikes generally endure less damage than their road or trail counterparts, a slight enhancement in durability for the next version would be greatly appreciated.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Toebox durability
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 1
Average 2.9
Compared to 8 track spikes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

After evaluating the toebox, we shifted our focus to the heel, applying the same specifications with our Dremel: 5K RPM and 3.2N of force.

Luckily, the results showed improvement over the toebox (3/5), yet it still indicates a need for further refinement in the Dragonfly 2.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Heel padding durability
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 3
Average 4
Compared to 8 track spikes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole thickness

We measured the thickness of the Dragonfly's outsole at 3.1 mm, but this isn't just any ordinary outsole—it's a Pebax plate that extends from the heel to double as the outsole in the forefoot.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly outsole

The ZoomX foam is completely exposed in the midfoot, yet premature wear in that area is very unlikely in a track spike.

This unique design enhances responsiveness and is quite effective.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Outsole thickness
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 3.1 mm
Average 3.1 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
1.6 mm
Outsole thickness
6.4 mm

Outsole hardness

We also measured the hardness of the rubber coverage Nike uses in the heel, registering it on our durometer at just 55.0 HC. While that may seem low, it's important to note that this shoe isn't designed for firm heel landings.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Outsole hardness
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 55.0 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.

Cushioning

Heel stack

The heel of the Dragonfly pushes the boundaries of World Athletics regulations, which cap track spike height at 20.0 mm for 2024 and beyond, pending any rule changes, of course. Our measurements show it comes in at 19.8 mm.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Heel stack
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 19.8 mm
Average 13.9 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
10.4 mm
Heel stack
19.8 mm

Forefoot stack

The forefoot boasts a total stack height of 17.8 mm, primarily composed of ZoomX foam, which effectively saves your legs for the final laps of 5K and 10K races.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Forefoot stack
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 17.8 mm
Average 13.2 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
8.6 mm
Forefoot stack
17.8 mm

Drop

While most track spikes lean towards a zero drop or even a negative offset, the Dragonfly offers a feel similar to low-drop road running shoes.

We discovered in our lab that it features a 2.0-mm drop, which is ideally suited for long-distance events like 5K or 10K. This design not only helps runners who lack that eye-catching forefoot-striking technique but also feels less taxing on the posterior chain and Achilles tendons.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Drop
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 2.0 mm
Average 0.7 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
-5.8 mm
Drop
4.1 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Here’s the highlight of the Dragonfly, which has set it apart since its debut. The shoe boasts a full-length layer of ultra-responsive ZoomX foam, the same material Nike features in models like the Alphafly.

With a softness rating of 20.1 HA, it’s remarkably plush for a track spike, typically known for their firm feel.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly side

We found that this exceptional cushioning has contributed significantly to its success in long-distance events. The use of Pebax foam brings the leg-saving magic of modern marathon shoes to the track, helping runners preserve their muscles for the final kick!

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Midsole softness
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 20.1 HA
Average 26.7 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 6 track spikes
Number of shoes
20.1 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
30.3 HA

Insole thickness

The insole is quite basic and minimal, measuring only 2.8 mm, yet it feels perfectly adequate for a track spike. There’s really nothing more to add about it, and that is a definite plus!

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Insole thickness
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 2.8 mm
Average 3.0 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
1.8 mm
Insole thickness
3.9 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

This result was truly unexpected—despite featuring a Pebax plate, the Dragonfly only registered 17.5N in our 90-degree bend test. This was quite surprising, especially when compared to nylon-plated road shoes like the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4, which typically score between 25N and 40N in the same test.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly bend

Some runners might prefer a stiffer sole similar to that of road competition shoes, yet we found the comfort of this more flexible setup to be a major plus for longer distances in the track. Additionally, the target audience for this shoe—world-class athletes—often possesses exceptionally reactive ankles and strong feet, which diminishes the need for a rigid sole.

Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 17.5N
Average 29.1N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
10.9N
Stiffness
66.6N

Removable pins

The Dragonfly is designed with a classic 6-pin setup. Each pin is removable, giving you the ability to tailor the shoe's grip to suit your specific needs perfectly.

We found this very important, as the softer-than-usual forefoot may lead you to choose longer pins for this spike.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Removable pins

Stability

Torsional rigidity

Despite its surprisingly low longitudinal stiffness, our manual assessment revealed that the shoe is quite resistant to twisting. This led us to award the Dragonfly a 4/5 for torsional rigidity in our lab tests.

Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 4
Average 2.8
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel counter is hyper flexible, promoting a fit ideal for track competitions. Consequently, we assigned it a predictable rating of 1/5.

Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 1
Average 1.7
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Track spikes typically feature a narrower design, so stability isn't usually expected.

However, our measurements revealed a surprisingly wide forefoot in the Dragonfly for a track spike, measuring 98.2 mm, which does provide some stability and helps mitigate the soft foam's wobbliness.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 98.2 mm
Average 92.8 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
87.6 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
99.6 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The heel, mirroring the narrow shape of the midfoot, measures just 60.2 mm in width, necessitating a midfoot or forefoot striking technique.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Midsole width in the heel
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 60.2 mm
Average 59.7 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
54.0 mm
Midsole width in the heel
67.9 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Shifting our focus to the toebox, we immediately recognized that Nike did a big effort to offer a wider fit compared to typical spikes.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly wide

With a width of 92.0 mm, we experienced ample space to comfortably tackle 5K or 10K races without any problems!

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 92.0 mm
Average 87.9 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
81.9 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
96.4 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

However, it was the measurement of the big toe that truly unveiled the comfort level of this fit. At 76.1 mm, the taper is unusually generous for a track spike!

Regarding vertical volume, it aligns with most of its competitors but obviously still feels more confined compared to any road running shoe.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 76.1 mm
Average 73.1 mm
Compared to 8 track spikes
Number of shoes
68.3 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
77.1 mm

Comfort

Tongue padding

The tongue of the Dragonfly, inspired by the Vaporfly, is exceptionally minimal with just 1.4 mm of padding.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly tongue

We're quite skeptical that a more ventilated tongue than this one could possibly be crafted.

We discovered that while this design offers a streamlined feel, those participating in 5K or 10K races should adjust the notched laces with care. Oh, and these laces themselves are a cool premium feature, enhancing both the lockdown and the aesthetic appeal of the shoe.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Tongue padding
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 1.4 mm
Average 3.0 mm
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
0.4 mm
Tongue padding
7.5 mm

Heel tab

The Dragonfly lacks a heel tab, yet it incorporates a now-iconic Nike feature—a large hole in the heel counter. This iconic design enhances heel lock and slightly reduces weight, so it's a win-win in our books.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Heel tab
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly None

Weight

During our track tests, the Dragonfly made us feel almost barefoot in terms of weight—a sensation we found astonishing.

After placing it on our scale back in the lab, the reason became clear. At only 4.7 oz or 133g, this shoe stands out as one of the lightest long-distance spikes ever made.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Weight
Test results
ZoomX Dragonfly 4.69 oz (133g)
Average 5.57 oz (158g)
Compared to 9 track spikes
Number of shoes
4.59 oz (130g)
Weight
6.46 oz (183g)