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I wasn’t able to purchase the elusive VaporFly 4%. The shoe was not available in Singaporean stores, and each time they came out online, they were sold out within seconds. I literally could not add them to my basket 1 second after they were released- and this happened numerous times.
Luckily the Next% has had a much, much wider release, and I was able to purchase a pair (I had to purchase a half size smaller than my regular size because my regular size was sold out).
The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%
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.
Heck, I don’t even time myself when I run. Why would I purchase such an expensive shoe then? The technology?
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.
Looks & design
Everything about the shoe 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.
Upper & materials
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.
Fit & comfort
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.
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.
The ride experience
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.
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.
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.
Durability & wear
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.
So the question is this: is the Nike VaporFly Next% 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.
Here we go with Vaporfly Next%, the third generation of Nike’s glorious Vaporfly family. This shoe promises to help you get running even better than Vaporfly 4%.
First of all, let’s clarify a few things.
For a 3-hour marathoner, 4% is 7 minutes. I don’t think that Vaporfly, compared to any other decent racing shoe, gives you an advantage of 7 minutes, but I can confirm that in my case it helps you along.
Easy! So, where’s the flaw?
Well… you have to have the right running gait for this shoe. Vaporfly has been famous for its structure, which is far from the typical racing flat.
All racing shoes tend to have a low stack with a low drop while with Vaporfly, you are on stilts. Vaporfly Flyknit has a heel height of 39mm with a forefoot height of 29mm and a consequent heel-to-toe drop of 10mm.
Updates on the Vaporfly Next%
With Vaporfly Next%, Nike has increased the heel height even more, adding a further millimetre (40mm), but has reduced the drop slightly to 8mm, meaning that your foot is even farther from the ground.
The outer sole has also been changed from the previous generation. You can clearly see that the material is slightly different and more compact.
In its official specs, Nike claims to have added an additional 15% of ZoomX Foam. Personally, I can say that you can also feel it from the ride, which is more stable than the previous generation gave.
Finally, they have completely changed the upper mesh by using a different material - from knit, which was like a second sock, to something similar to plastic which doesn’t look very transpirant or flexible. In this case, the upper mesh of the Vaporfly Mesh is easier to clean and firmer than its predecessors, but at a cost to flexibility.
Personally, I prefer a firmer ride.
However, the material of the upper mesh of the Next% requires great precision when the shoe is assembled, otherwise, you are going to have creases that may restrict the toe box. Sadly, this is the case of most of the green shoes that I have seen, including mine in the picture.
Personally, I found the toe box of the pink version bigger, probably due to a different production line. After a full effort marathon, I got some black nails (and toes).
With Vaporfly Next% the lacing system has been improved a lot, which was badly needed. With its predecessor, lacing shoes was very tricky - for short races you might have had to spend more time fighting with the laces before the start rather than racing.
In fact, in the Vaporfly Flyknit, the upper mesh was like a second sock and the laces didn’t make a big difference so the tendency was often to tighten the shoes too much.
The outer sole might seem cumbersome, but I can guarantee that it promotes a fast ride and is way more supportive than Vaporfly knit.
Also, the old Vaporfly didn’t offer a good grip, while this aspect has been improved a lot in Next. One hint that I can give is to avoid running just behind a runner wearing Vaporfly Next on a rainy day because you will get splashed almost as much as in a cross country.
Despite the outer sole being made of a harder material, Nike has managed to keep this shoe to the same weight of the previous generation (176g for a UK 7).
I don’t think that there is much to discuss here - you have already found plenty of content on this topic around the Internet and I would just repeat what other sources have already written.
What I can say is that the look is great, as it is in the whole Nike Air Zoom series. And, unlike in the past, I can tell you that speed is not gained at the expense of comfort.
Needless to say, the carbon fibre plate which cups the heel and runs the whole length of the shoe makes everything easy, and the weight again is minimal.
Type of workouts
The Vaporfly Next%, with its lower drop, may be more suitable for shorter distances than the marathon compared to its predecessors. Personally, I used it on track and on 5k/10k and found both Vaporfly Next% and the old version to be very good options for those days too.
At the time of writing this review, I have run just under 100k on Vaporfly Next%, but I can tell you that this shoe is going to have a much longer life than Vaporfly 4%.
The material of the outer sole is way denser than its predecessor and is going to rub less. The material of the upper mesh looks more durable; however, failing points might be those ones where the upper is connected to the sole.
The only two models comparable with Vaporfly Next% are Vaporfly 4% and Nike Zoom Fly 3. If you have read the above, I have included plenty of details about the differences between these two generations of Vaporfly. For me personally, the biggest differences are:
- The slightly more stable ride given by Vaporfly Next%
- The material of the upper
But if you are wondering if Vaporfly Next% is faster than its predecessors I can’t help you much. In terms of speed, I don’t see much difference, but because the 4% is less supportive, for sure I can tell you that it is way more demanding on your lower leg. However, this always depends on your gait.
I’ve heard of people developing calf and heels problems easily with the new generation, while that’s not my case.
Compared instead with Nike Zoom Fly 3, Next% is more or less the same shoe but one level up. Nike Zoom Fly 3 also has a full-length carbon fibre plate in the insole, but is slightly heavier because the outer sole is made of a different material.
That’s the only remarkable difference that I have noticed, as both of them are fast shoes. So, if you don’t fancy the price tag of Next%, Zoom Fly 3 is a very valid alternative.
- Undoubtedly fast
- Firmer and more supportive than its predecessor
- Less demanding on lower leg than its predecessor
- Training is not included
- Small production defects not acceptable at that price
- Could lead to injuries
Vaporfly Next% is simply another masterpiece from Nike. It’s not only marketing: as long as you have a neutral gait, these shoes help a lot.
The design is great, and I think that this is a step ahead of Vaporfly 4%. What I didn’t like is that these shoes have a lot of small imperfections in the outer sole and upper attachment that is unacceptable at this price.
For the rest, if you are already racing on Vaporfly 4% and happy with that, I can tell you that this is going to be your “next” racing shoe.
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%: Worth buying for the non-elite, average runner? The short answer is, yes. Maybe. Probably. Actually, it really depends.
In my opinion, the Vaporfly Next% is worth the cost. However, the shoe is not for every runner. I've read that the shoe won't make an average runner "faster." I agree with that.
However, I think the shoe, for the right runner with the right training, can ensure faster race times.
You won't go from recreational runner to elite runner with this shoe, but you might just enjoy the ride while also posting a PR time. I read so much against casual runners buying the shoes, that I needed to find out for myself.
For the casual runner, like me, I think the decision to buy the shoe can be broken down into two thoughts: 1) the cost and 2) your running style/training
Sure, $250 is a lot of money for a shoe you wear for only 100 miles or so (note: I think some runners can get many, many more miles). You will need more than just this shoe to get yourself to a PR marathon time.
But you know that. If you didn't know that, you shouldn't be spending $250 on a running shoe anyway.
Your running style/training
So you can handle the $250 price tag. But, can you handle the shoe? If you need support, don't buy the shoe. That's just an easy NO.
The Vaporfly Next% (middle) is narrow. Here, I placed the shoe next to a Turbo 2 (left) and a 2018 pair of Nike Free Runs (right) for comparison.
The stack height is high at 40mm, and the shoes initially feel like stilts. The drop is 8 mm. I think you could be a mid-foot striker and still benefit from the shoe, but I can't see the shoe being comfortable for a heel striker.
If you like lightweight "race" shoes for race day, consider the Vaporfly. If you aren't sure what you like, buy a lower-cost trainer shoe first.
I use the Pegasus Turbo 2s as a "trainer" along with a few other non-Nike brands for slow days and trail/mud runs. If you can handle the narrow feel of the Turbo 2, you might enjoy the Vaporflys.
I haven't run in the Nike Fly 3 (they sound entirely too heavy for me to enjoy), but other runners use that as a trainer.
In short, if you aren't sure you could or would run in the Vaporfly Next%, then you probably can't and shouldn't. If you don't know, buy a lightweight, non-stability shoe and see what you think.
My initial thoughts
I tested the Vaporfly Next% on a 4-mile treadmill run to see if the size would work. I normally wear a women's size 8 running shoe (half size up), but currently, run in a size 7.5 Turbo 2 shoe.
My Vaporfly Next% are size 7.5 women (size 6 men), which on the treadmill felt a bit small in length (the toe box itself is fine and roomy. It was simply the length of the shoe that felt too short).
Of course, 4 miles in these shoes isn't enough to fully "feel" or understand their use.
I followed up with a 9-mile "interval" run on the treadmill (it's winter, so I wasn't taking these shoes out in the snow and mud). The shoe didn't work for me at 8:30min/mile jog pace (but that's not their purpose).
I started to feel the advantage of the shoe when running a 6:40min/mile pace as part of my Yasso 800 intervals. The shoe felt better in that 6:40 min/mile stride. I could use this shoe for speed workouts, but I don't want to wear them down.
I don't recommend testing the shoe on a treadmill. The shoes had a totally different feel during a 17-mile run on pavement.
Unfortunately, I ran on a still icy road/paved trail, which obviously isn't good for these shoes. They feel very unstable/stilt-like when walking, so be prepared for that as you wait around for a race to start. They also didn't work well on sharp turns.
However, once I started to run, and the path started to thaw, I noticed the appeal of the Vaporflys.
I averaged an 8 min/mile pace overall during 17 miles, but that factored in having to walk around ice frequently. This was also a somewhat hilly route with an elevation gain of 1,269 feet over a 17-mile distance.
The shoes worked well both up and downhills. My legs never hurt. I could feel my calves and feet working more than typical, but that's part of the shoe. I suggest training in a shoe that forces more from the calves and ankles.
My feet themselves did not hurt; they were simply working more than what I experience with other shoes. For me, the shoes made a difference because they were comfortable the entire run, and I never "hurt."
That said, it took about 4 miles for me to figure out the stride needed to get a benefit from the shoe. Otherwise, I felt the carbon plate either "bunch" or perhaps simply strike my foot in an undesired position.
I also started on a downhill, so maybe that's why I felt the plate was "bunched." The tongue does "bunch" when putting on the shoes; I had no issues with the tongue after running, but I did make sure it was smooth and positioned before running.
The Vaporflys were difficult to both walk in and run in on a slick surface.
Of note, I never felt that "push" or "propelled" feeling from the shoe that I've heard other runners mention. Maybe I don't run fast enough, which makes sense.
However, each step felt good, comfortable, and powerful. All of that is still a win for me.
Does the shoe work for non-sub-3 hour marathon runners?
I'm still hesitant to think the shoe is cost-effective for runners who aren't running a sub 3-hour marathon. I feel like I was running easier and faster in the shoe, but I also knew the faster I went, the more the benefit.
The shoe isn't made for casual runners. If you run a sub 3-hour marathon, then I think the shoes are a great consideration.
For me, someone who is looking to run a 3:30 marathon, I think the value of the Vaporfly Next% greatly depends. I enjoy them, and I am happy with the purchase.
However, if you doubt that a high stack, the lightweight shoe works for you, don't risk the $250 price. There are so many other options.
I was racing into my 14th mile of NYC's Marathon on Nov 3rd, 2019 when all of a sudden, I felt an incredible pain in my left leg (posterior shin splint) as if somebody stabbed me there.
I had to stop immediately, to take a deep breath and figure out what happened. I tried running again, but it seemed impossible. My legs said STOP, but my mind said GO ON.
I started walking, trying to find the correct position for my foot landing on the ground so that the pain would be as bearable as possible...the cushioning of my Next% was helping.
I could feel myself being pushed forward with every step. They actually saved my race because I managed to finish it (and in a reasonable time 4:07:57...but the injury kept me off training for the next ten weeks).
Aesthetics and design
This was my first pair of Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%. I could hardly wait to try them on. But, when I opened the box, I was surprised to find a truly unusual looking running shoe.
The strange angles, the asymmetric design and the radiant pink color, made me wonder if it was the right choice. (This feeling totally changed when I put them on.)
They also came along with a very nice storage bag, transparent white, which proves to be so useful when you carry them in your backpack and change from one training session to another one that requires different shoes.
The fabric (a new material, called Vaporweave according to Nike) is paper-thin transparent (which I don't like in particular, because I always have to match my socks) and slightly stretchy, which lets it conform to the curves of my feet without looking deformed.
Yet, what I like most is that this fabric is super light, and it doesn't absorb water, which is a big plus for outside runners like me, especially on rainy or very humid days.
Nike put the laces toward the outside of the shoe to take extra pressure off the top of the foot. With all my other running shoes, I had to really tighten up the laces to get a secure fit, usually ending with an I-can’t-feel-my-foot-because-I cut-off-all-my-circulation.
But, this offset lacing managed to lock my midfoot well and without extra friction or pain. The heel counter has an inner soft strip of foam to reduce lift and to help lock in the foot. There is no slippage when cornering.
It is so soft and responsive! And, it feels consistent no matter what pace you are going.
The thick ZoomX foam might seem too soft at first, and somehow instable, but it gives you a boost just when it's needed. The full-length carbon plate provides the right propulsion at the toe-off point. No matter where you land, it will propel you forward.
Ride and performance
The forefoot rubber and the longer strips of rubber towards the heel provide well-rounded traction on all surfaces and in slick conditions (I admit I never got the chance to test them on snow, so I don't know about that).
I used the Next% on grass, roads, brick, concrete and a track. On the roads and track, the shoe provides the best rebound.
The long strips of rubber also help with the shredding of the outsole, which has always been a concern for heavy runners like me.
Next% is a neutral cushioned shoe, intended for runners who have a higher, stable arch that does not pronate excessively (roll inwards) or may even supinate (roll outwards).
Nike combined a wide forefoot outsole with the carbon plate. Thus, the front of the shoe is the most stable point.
The Nike Vaporfly Next% is meant for speed. It is a great shoe for serious marathon and road racers looking for cutting edge tech.
In my view, it is the best racing shoe on the market at the moment, and I would not recommend it for regular training runs or casual use. I would probably reach for something lighter and closer to the ground for anything below a 10K.
- Fastest running shoe so far
- Upper material is extremely breathable and durable The cushion is top-notch
- Cutting edge tech and durability
- Expensive price tag, almost double the price of a regular running shoe.
- Flimsy quality of the tongue makes it difficult to lay flat or stay in place on top of the foot
- Many running enthusiasts might recall the earlier version of the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% because of its unique name and equally unique claim as a benefit: to improve the running economy (not speed) of the athlete. In this iteration, the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% sticks to that objective at an improved rate but without an exact value; hence, the “Next” percent in the name.
- There are several notable updates in this shoe. First is the new material called VaporWeave that is introduced as the main component of the upper. The VaporWeave replaces the previous version’s Flymesh; it gives the Vaporfly Next% a thin yet sturdy coverage.
- The midsole material is also leveled up a notch, in the form of the ZoomX technology. Although the same material is utilized in the shoe’s predecessor, the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% uses more of it in its midsole. With more foam, there is more energy return.
- Lastly, the outsole also presents an update as it gets a revamped tread pattern. The materials remain the same, but with upgraded benefits in order to improve the running experience.
Like the earlier version, the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% is a unisex shoe that has a standard running shoe length, thus making it true-to-size for most runners. Those who usually go with women’s sizes are advised to get 1.5 sizes down to achieve their preferred fit. However, the shoe has an upper material that is relatively thinner compared to other running shoes. This might make it loose-fitting to some. The construction of the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% has the makings of a shoe for race day: a snug fit across the heel and midfoot and a low toe box height. The shoe is available in Medium width.
The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% uses a combination of rubber compounds to deliver a combination of traction and responsiveness for a speedy run that is consistent as the miles log on.
At the forefoot area is a foam rubber that has a lightweight quality, allowing for easy toe-offs while retaining grip. The foam portion is thicker in this shoe compared to its predecessor, ensuring that softness of the foam provides optimum cushioning and contributes to the energy return during each stride.
Meanwhile, the heel area is composed of a high-abrasion rubber that equips the shoe with durability especially during footstrike. The material is designed to withstand the impact forces occurring during the run, thus reducing stress on the foot. Nike running shoes are known for utilizing basic rubber compounds in the outsole and focusing instead on midsole technologies. The Nike Revolution 4 is another example of this design philosophy.
The updated tread pattern of the outsole reflects the layouts made by the three athletes that inspired the creation of the shoe: Eliud Kipchoge, Mo Farah, and Geoffrey Kirui. The three elite runners were also involved in the design process of the ZoomX Vaporfly Next%. In making the outsole’s tread, lengthwise grooves were included in a way to enhance multi-surface traction in various weather conditions.
Although a returning feature from the previous version, the ZoomX midsole foam gets an update, too. In this shoe, the cushioning material is increased in quantity by 15% to facilitate better energy return. The added foam is strategically distributed in different locations: 1 mm in the heel and 4 mm in the forefoot. This technique consequently changes the drop of the shoe, which is intentionally done for a more efficient engagement between the runner and the ZoomX. It is also worth noting that the ZoomX foam prides itself as Nike’s most responsive and most cushioned foam.
The midsole of the Vaporfly Next% also retains the full-length carbon plate that is embedded within the foam. This feature is meant to increase the stiffness of the midsole and encourage propulsion. The carbon plate is located closer to the heel in order to promote a stable platform in this area.
The most noticeable change in the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% is the introduction of the Vaporweave upper material. The Vaporweave has a thin, minimal appearance that makes it a lighter and more breathable textile compared to the Flymesh, which is what the previous shoe used. Additionally, the Vaporweave material is designed to absorb less water, thus maintaining dryness and ensuring consistent airflow throughout the run.
Utilizing an offset-style lacing system alleviates pressure on the sensitive areas of the foot. It also aims for an improved, more locked-in fit.
Beneath the mesh upper is a thin foam pod located on the heel area of the shoe. This element supports the Achilles, providing comfortable coverage in each step.
Compared to its predecessor, the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% features a wider toe box that gives the runner even more room for an adequate toe splay.
The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% takes pride in being one of, if not the only, the running shoes that claim to improve an athlete’s running economy. But what exactly is a running economy? This notion is a little confusing to the average or casual runner, as it does not necessarily take into account speed or pace.
Although a very scientific concept, the running economy involves factors that are familiar to the typical runner, such as energy return and performance. Such aspects were highly considered by the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% in order to create a shoe that improves on the wearer’s running economy. Simply put, the running economy entails the consumption of energy throughout an activity with aerobic intensity.
The ZoomX Vaporfly Next% aims for a higher percentage of running economy, which means the runner should expend less energy but still boost, or at least maintain, their performance.
Size and fit
How ZoomX Vaporfly Next% compares
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