NIKE ZOOM X VAPORFLY NEXT% REVIEW

Melanie Mitchell | July 15, 2019

NIKE VAPORFLY NEXT% - SHOE REVIEW

by BRIAN METZLER | JULY, 2019

THE BUZZ

Nike turned the running world upside down with the development and release of the Vaporfly Elite in 2017, a shoe that Eluid Kipchoge wore to run 2:00:25 for an experimental marathon in 2017, and the Vaporfly 4% Flyknit, which he wore to a new world record of 2:01:39 in 2018, as well as Shalane Flanagan’s 2017 New York City Marathon win, among others.

Like both of those super-light shoes, the new featherweight Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% has a carbon-fiber propulsion plate embedded in the midsole and copious amounts of energetic cushioning.

WHAT'S NEW: NIKE VAPORFLY NEXT%

Let's not beat around the bush and get straight to the details on the Nike Zoom X Vaporfly NEXT%. That's what we want to know.  What are the improvements have been made from the Nike Vaporfly 4% and how will it make a runner faster?

Firstly, Nike scrapped the Flyknit upper replaced it with a new, even lighter VaporWeave woven mesh upper, added 15 percent more ultra-light ZoomX midsole foam, lowered the heel-toe offset from 11mm to 8mm and added more traction to the outsole rubber.

The result is a lighter, faster and smoother-riding shoe that’s already proved its worth with Kipchoge’s 2:02:37 win at the 2019 London Marathon. Runners are right to get excited about this running shoe. 

Nike NEXT% - Run on... fast

FIT-FEEL-RIDE

Like most Nike shoes, the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% sports a snug, athletic fit throughout—meaning it’s locked down in the heel, narrow and snug through the midfoot/arch and has just a little wiggle room in the forefoot.

It’s not nearly as cramped in the forefoot as the Vaporfly 4% Flyknit, which was designed with a very low-volume toe box. When you put it on, the Next% feels moderately soft, sparsely appointed and very high off the ground. But it’s when you lace it up and start moving that you can feel the fast, featherweight airiness sensation it exudes.

No question about it, this shoe inspires speed.

The NEXT% encourages a midfoot gait but it doesn’t penalize you if you land slightly back on your heels, either. As your foot hits the ground and starts to roll forward, you engage the curved carbon plate embedded in the midsole foam and as you roll forward you seem to get a boost of energy that propels your foot forward. Once you get into a rhythm at a fast pace, it feels buttery smooth.

Unlike the previous Vaporfly models, the Next% features a moderate heel counter which, combined with the VaporWeave upper and a more stable heel, offers some much-needed rear-foot support and stability for some runners.

WHO'S IT BEST FOR?

The Nike Vaporfly NEXT% is a dialed in running shoe for fast runners training for half marathons and marathons. They'll love this shoe for faster long runs, races and some longer tempo efforts.

There’s enough foam in this shoe for strong, nimble runners to use it as an everyday trainer, but most runners will want to save it only for their fast days and races.

PROS AND CONS: NIKE VAPORFLY NEXT%

Nike NEXT% - Pros

Pros:Nike Vaporfly NEXT%

The updated lacing system is much better than the previous versions. Offset laces, combined with the new VaporWeave woven nylon mesh upper, alleviate pressure and lock the foot in place. The VaporWeave upper also retains less water and sweat than the Flyknit upper that was replaced.

Nike’s ZoomX foam delivers enormous energy return, providing a combination responsiveness and cushioning for long-distance running. Lab tests have found that it compresses more consistently than most foams and returns considerably more energy (up to 87 percent) than EVA midsole foams (which max out at about 70 percent).

Nike says the Zoom X foam has been redistributed to decrease the offset from 11mm to 8mm to provide a more stable feeling and help maximize energy return at the critical toe-off.

The outsole has been improved with more high-abrasion rubber in the heel for durability, a foam rubber compound in the forefoot for more traction and energy return. Contoured treads with deep grooves on the outsole facilitate smoother movement during turns. A nice touch is the outsole pattern is a combination of custom designs submitted by Nike elite athletes Mo Farah, Eliud Kipchoge and Geoffrey Kirui.

Nike NEXT% - Cons

Cons: Nike Vaporfly NEXT%

Well, there is no denying the Nike Vaporfly NEXT% comes with an expensive price tag — the cost of two regularly price pair of training shoes — and you’re probably not going to wear it every day.  But for that magic run, sometimes it's worth it. 

SHOP NIKE VAPORFLY NEXT%

Nike Zoom X Vaporfly NEXT% - UnisexUNISEX NIKE VAPORFLY NEXT%

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BRIAN METZLER

Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles, wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher and occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado. 

He's the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine. He's the author of "Running Colorado's Front Range" and the co-author of "Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running" and "Run Like a Champion: An Olympian's Approach for Every Runner."