By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
Photo credit: Amazon
The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is at the cutting edge of running shoe technology. It is the first shoe to feature a curved midsole plate. This is the secret ingredient that has the potential to help runners everywhere become faster and more efficient. The ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is a very lightweight running shoe, weighing in at around 190 grams. The extra level of ZoomX foam that is packed into this shoe provides a very comfortable, springy feel.
The ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is one of the most expensive running shoes you will find. Of course you have to pay for the best, which this shoe may be. This is not the most durable running shoe you will ever come across, however, with a performance limit of around 200 km. Finally, the ankle collar of the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is a little snug.
The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is, quite simply, the best long-distance running shoe on the market today. It will improve your running efficiency so that you will be able to maintain your running pace with less effort. It costs a lot of money, but, if you’re serious about becoming a better runner, you’ll probably manage to fit it into your budget.
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Ever since marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge broke the world record with them on his feet back in 2018, I’ve been hearing people rave about Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% shoes. I’ve been struggling to find a really good pair of long-distance running shoes, so when I finally managed to slip into a pair for this Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% review, I was keen to see if they really lived up to the hype.
Well, guess what? They do!
Admittedly, I had to swallow hard at the price tag, but, when I got beyond that, it was all good news. However, before we delve into what makes this shoe so good, I have one point of clarification: even though it features the word “zoom” in its name, this shoe does not incorporate Nike’s patented Zoom airbag the way that every other shoe with the word Zoom in its title does. The Vaporfly NEXT% features a strictly foam platform.
A key feature of this shoe is the ZoomX foam midsole, which is extremely lightweight, bouncy, and comfortable. Foam midsoles are potentially unstable, so this problem incorporates a full-length carbon plate in order to provide more stability. This curved plate, by the way, does far more than stabilize the foam support. It also serves as an energy return to drive your forward and make maximum use of your running energy. You will run more efficiently thanks to the curved plate, which allows you to maintain a consistent pace with less energy expenditure. It is this feature that provides the breakthrough for faster times as evidenced by that record-breaking run by Eliud Kipchog back in 2018.
The one-piece upper design of the Vaporfly NEXT% lends an extremely slick, aerodynamic profile to the shoe. Single-piece engineered mesh is supported by flywire-assisted lacing. The Vaporweave material used in the upper material will not absorb water.
The design of the shoe has been improved from its previous version (the Nike Vaporfly 4%). The heel-to-toe offset has been reduced by 3mm (to 8mm) to provide better ergonomics while running. You also get 15% more ZoomX foam. That increases the midsole stack height to 36 mm. This is an increase of 5 mm over the previous version.
The rubber outsole of the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% features more rubber to deliver enhanced grip when running in inclement weather. It is important to note, though, that this shoe’s outsole is designed only for road running.
The Zoom Vaporfly NEXT% is an impressively lightweight and breathable running shoe. Despite the insertion of the curved plate in the midsole, this shoe only weighs 190 grams. When you first slip your foot into this shoe, you’ll notice how soft and comfortable it feels. That may be a cause for concern in terms of running functionality. However, when you actually begin to stride out, you will be amazed at how stable it is, thanks to the afore-mentioned midsole curved plate.
We have already established that the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is the best shoe to improve your running performance. But is it also the most comfortable running shoe? Maybe not. But in my experience, it is the most comfortable shoe that doesn’t compromise functionality for comfort. There are some shoes out there that allow you to sink down into them, providing a luxury experience for your feet. But when it comes to performing running exercises in them, it is a bit like running on sand—a percentage of your effort is being absorbed by the soft cushioning. When it comes to the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%, however, you get the curved midsole plate, which ensures that you experience the comfort without the compromised running functionality.
When it comes to finding cons for the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%, you’ve got a challenging task. In terms of running performance and comfort, it is hard to fault. However, this is not an overly durable shoe. It is built to last for around 200 km. It won’t fall apart after that, but its performance-boosting effects, which are significant, will be diminished.
Be aware, too, that the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% is designed strictly for on-road use. The outsole grip is not meant to handle off-road conditions.