Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2 review and lab test

Hands down, this is a speed shoe. Nothing else matters but PRs and fast splits. Get on your toes and go straight and fast. For anything else, pick a different shoe. 

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 pieces of the shoe

Who the shoe is (not) for 

Nike lovers and speed-demanding racers will rejoice. The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2 is fast, light, airy, and runs a touch wider than V1, giving more runners the opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. Buy this shoe if you’re a forefoot striker in need of a race-day shoe that’s quick, nimble, responsive, and flashy. 

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 white

Don’t buy this shoe if you:

  • Are a heel striker, the platform and heel are extremely narrow making it unstable, check out the Pegasus Turbo 2
  • Have wider feet
  • Hate heel slip, this shoe is still plagued with poor ankle/heel design 

Check out the Asics Metaspeed Sky or the Hoka Rocket X for wider fitting, more stable carbon-plated shoes. 

Vaporfly NEXT% hasn't nailed the fit yet 

My biggest complaint about the Vaporfly NEXT% 2 is the fit. Nike has always been a bit too narrow for my Eastern European feet, but I was enthusiastic about V2 as it gained a bit of width in the update. It’s better, but for those with wider feet, it’s still a bit narrow. 

The ankle collar is still an issue. You really have to crank down the laces to stop your heel from moving around.

Nike knows this, they added some light padding to the shoe’s tongue to help with this issue of lace cinch, but why not just solve the ankle collar issue instead? The laces are not long enough to do a heel cinch lacing pattern either. 

Vaporfly NEXT% 2 is like a trampoline 

Other than feeling a bit narrow, the shoe is actually pretty dang comfortable.

The updated upper is nice and flexible and hugs your foot well.

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 upper

The ZoomX feels like pillows under your feet making every stride like your walking across a trampoline. 

Tongue keeps moving around

One thing I wish Nike would update in V3 is the tongue.

First, I wish it was gusseted, but second, the swallowtail design was uncomfortable. The tongue wanted to move around on me, and it was hard to place where I wanted it. 

Bouncy ride: THE reason to buy NEXT% 2

Nike nailed it with ZoomX. It’s fun to run in, bouncy, cushioned, responsive, and overall the best part of this shoe in my opinion. But it does require a full carbon plate to stiffen the midsole material up to really make it usable. 

Without the plate, ZoomX is just too unstable. Check out our review of the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run, where my main complaint was the shoe was just all over the place. 

The shoe really caters to forefoot runners. There’s a steep rockered curve under the front part of the shoe that forces you onto your toes the second you roll past your midfoot.

It takes a little practice to get used to this design. 

For fast forefoot strikers only

One complaint I do have with the Vaporfly 2 is the platform is still too narrow underfoot, and it’s still unstable at anything below race pace.

This is not a shoe you can jog in or walk around in. It demands you be on your toes and moving fast. 

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 heel

At 74.9mm wide in the heel, it’s the narrowest shoe we’ve tested and 16.7% narrower than the average heel midsole width (89.9mm)

Vaporfly NEXT%2 is good right out of the box

The shoe really doesn’t need much break-in time, but if you have wider feet, you will feel the squeeze on your midfoot and pinky toe, so wear these a few times before race day. 

Incredibly lightweight 

For a shoe with a 38.6mm stack in the heel and an extremely long overall length thanks to its pointy rear end, it’s incredibly lightweight. At 196g, in men’s US 9, it's second only to the Metaspeed Sky so far in our ongoing lab tests

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 weight

Race shoes need to be lightweight, but this feels like your feet are surrounded by nothing but air!

Vaporfly NEXT% 2 is not durable

Race shoes are not known for their longevity, and the Vaporfly NEXT% 2 is no exception. The ZoomX is so soft it will pack out quickly in my opinion, and the upper is extremely thin.

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 outsole thickness

Nike has added a few welded overlays to high wear areas in V2, but it’s still bound to deteriorate quickly.

This is not a shoe you train in. Save it for race day.

Good grip for dry surfaces

The grip on these shoes was adequate for their intended purpose, race day on dry cement.

I’d warn that there’s not a lot of grippy rubber on the heels though, so if you are a heel striker, you should buy a different shoe anyway, but beware on wet days or slick surfaces. 

Insanely breathable

The updated upper is even more breathable than V1, with mesh so wide your socks may push through the open areas.

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 upper

I’m actually impressed with how taut this upper is based on its design. I assumed at first glance it would be much more stretchy and flexible. 

Lockdown gone wrong 

Lockdown was a con for me in the new Vaporfly. First off, I just don’t like side lacing patterns, I don’t really understand the point.

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 laces

Both aesthetically and functionally I just don’t get it.

That aside though the shoe has some issues. 

  • First, the heel collar is a bit loose around your ankle. It feels sloppy and leads to a lot of heel slip in my experience. 
  • The midfoot locks down well, but you do have to lace it tightly. 
  • The laces are stiff and feel abrasive to the touch, which I didn’t love. They stay tight though, which is the point in their design, but I just didn’t like the experience with them. 
  • Lastly, to get the shoe real tight is a bit of a bear. It’s not fun on your fingers, and there’s a lot of pressure over the top of your foot. 

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 heel collar

The lightly padded tongue helps compared to V1, but at .9mm, the padding only goes so far before you’re still annoyed by the lace pressure required to negate any movement inside the shoe. 

Horrible looks and color choices

My last criticism is I just don’t like how they look. They are too flashy, and this is coming from a guy who loves neon shoes and bright colors. I just hate the pointy heel and the metallic colors.

I feel pretentious in these shoes, like I am wearing some high-fashion footwear for the runaway or red carpet. 

Vaporfly NEXT%2 is expensive

I also don’t love the price tag. At $250, these are expensive shoes.

Conclusion 

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2 is probably one of the fastest shoes on the market, but it has some problems that I think the majority of runners will agree with. 

It’s unstable, a bit too narrow still, looks ridiculous, and hits the pocket book hard. 

If your job is to run fast, or you’re a sponsored athlete I think these shoes may be the tool to help you win, but for the average joe who wants to drop 2 minutes off their 5K time, it may be too much tech in a shoe designed for the 1% club.

Complete lab-specs overview 

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2  Average
Weight 196.0 269.2
Width Midsole - Forefoot (mm) 107.8 112.7
Width Midsole - Heel (mm) 74.9 89.1
Width Upper - Forefoot (mm) 93.8 98.7
Width Upper - Heel (mm) 64.9 76.0
Stack - Forefoot with insole (mm) 30.9 24.9
Stack - Heel with insole (mm) 38.6 32.8
Insole Heel Thickness (mm) N/A 4.5
Drop (mm) 7.7 7.9
Outsole thickness (Heel) (mm) 3.4 3.8
Lugs Depth (mm) N/A 3.1
Lace Stretch (1-5) 1  
Durometer Outsole Heel (Room temperature) (HC) 78.5 78.5
Durometer Midsole Heel (Room temperature) (HA) 19.0 24.0
Flexibility of the shoe (N) 83.7 36.8
Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 1 hour) (N) 89.2 51.6
Thickness - Tongue (mm) 0.9 5.4
Flexibility of the heel counter (1-5, 1 being the stiffest) 1  
Lace slip test with the knot (N) 33.9 25.2
Longitudinal flexibility (on a 0-5 scale, 0 being the stiffest) 0 2.2
Torsional flexibility (on a 0-5 scale, 0 being the stiffest) 1 2.1
Tongue: gusset type none -
Heel: pull tab none -
Insole: removable no -
Multi-density midsole yes -
Rigid heel counter no -
Elevated medial insole under arch yes -
Supportive tensioned medial upper no -
Medial flare yes -
Thermoplastic medial post no -

Tip: see the best running shoes.

Rankings

How Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2 ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 35% road running shoes
All road running shoes
Top 37% Nike running shoes
All Nike running shoes
Bottom 41% maximalist running shoes
All maximalist running shoes

Popularity

The current trend of Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2.
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Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.