Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% review

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.

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.

Pros

  • fast, propulsive ride 
  • incredibly bouncy cushioning
  • ultra-breathable
  • equally great for short distances and marathons
  • unique design

Cons

  • tight fit
  • upper bunches up weirdly
  • thin tongue slides
  • takes some getting used to
  • outsole lacks durability

Vaporfly Next% 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.

Odd but well-functioning upper

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.

Nike Vaporfly Next% fits like a race shoe

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.

No flex in the Next%

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.

Ride: it's a kind of magic

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.

Vaporfly Next% doesn't get more responsive!

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.

Updated outsole

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.

 

This Nike racer wears out too fast!

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.

Is Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% worth it? 

So the question is this: is it 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.

Tip: see the best running shoes.

Author
Brandon Law
Brandon Law

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.