Nike Zoom Fly 3 review

Nike Zoom Fly is the daily trainer/cheaper option of the Vaporfly Next%, Nike's fastest shoe ever.

How Nike Zoom Fly came to glory

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.

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.

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.

Nike Zoom Fly 3 looks fast even when you're 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 of Nike Zoom Fly

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.

How this Nike speedster rides

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.

The end of an era

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

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

Facts / Specs

Terrain: Road
Weight: Men 252g
Drop: Men 8mm
Arch support: Neutral
Update: Nike Zoom Fly 5
Forefoot height: Men 28mm
Heel height: Men 36mm

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Carlos Storms
Carlos Storms

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!