Nike has once again revolutionized the world of running footwear with the introduction of the Nike Vaporfly 2. Which is how we’ll be referring to the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%2 because for a fast shoe, that’s a mouthful of a name!
The first edition of the Vaporfly was released in 2019. It quickly become the go-to choice for elite and recreational runners alike. Its innovative technology has even sparked debate and controversy within the running community, as some argue that the shoe provides an unfair advantage over other running shoes.
Does it? We’ll dive in to that, along with what to expect from fit, feel and comfort of the Vaporfly 2. The Vaporfly 3 came out just before the Boston Marathon and you can see my full Vaporfly 3 review.
Yes, they are different. Each time folks are preferring one version over another.
However, this is one shoe where a new model may not be the winner. Many, many of the speediest runners I know have been stoking up on the original Vaporfly Next% finding it to be faster and comfier than the 2.
That being said, Nike claims that really only the upper was changed. So is it all in their minds?? Who knows.
Let’s dive in now to some details around this technology and whether it will benefit you.
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 Review
I love testing running shoes and so I’m always excited to try something new. But I admit to anxiously peering out the window checking for this delivery.
Who doesn’t want to find out if a shoe might be their ticket to a PR?!
While training smart is the first 95% of getting there, we know that gear can make that last bit of difference. In fact, Nike has banked on that for years and the price of these carbon fiber shoes we all keep shelling out for means we believe it too.
Unlike a traditional racing shoe, that’s super flat and close to the ground, the Vaporfly is going the other direction and testing the World Athletic Associations limits on stack height.
The combination of the carbon fiber plate and ZoomX foam make the Nike Vaporfly 2 one of the most technologically advanced running shoes on the market.
Just picking up the shoe I could feel how light it was and when you combine that with cushion that doesn’t suck up energy, it’s a pretty fantastic ride.
Let’s dive in with some of the top line info that we all need to know about a shoe!
- Neutral Carbon Fiber Shoe
- Maximal shoe
- Weight: 6.6 oz men’s, 5.8 oz women’s
- Heel drop: 8mm
- 3 colors
- Not available in wide
- Previous Model: Nike Vaporfly Next%
Find it here on Nike.com for $250 (or on sale with the new model coming), so you can enjoy their 30 day trial policy!
My first speed workout in these shoes was kind of magical.
Which sounds INSANE to my ears because usually I need a few runs in a shoe before I start to really enjoy it. But oh baby, I was pretty stoked from that first 800 and still quite stoked by the 6th 800. Primarily because I noticed that my HR was remaining about 5 beats lower than the last time I did this workout.
Could that be my training kicking in, absolutely.
Could it simply be a mental boost, absolutely.
Either way it felt great and I was ready to take them out for 1200m repeats the following week. Unfortunately due to snow and ice, all of these miles have been on the treadmill. I don’t mind the treadmill, but providing reference for running surface.
With the absolutely lack of any traction in these shoes, I wouldn’t want to wear them on a wet race day.
Additionally, this is a narrow shoe. In fact, at times you might feel a bit like you’re running on a rail with them. I don’t mind it thanks to the fabulous cushion and I can do a narrow shoe, but important to know.
This is likely why some folks have said they will not wear them in races with a lot of tight turns.
Key features of the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly 2 that set it apart:
- Carbon Fiber Plate and slight rocker design
- Super thin upper, which is very breathable and light
- No padding in the heel collar (not unusual in Nike, but not comfortable for everyone).
The technology behind the Nike Vaporfly 2 is centered around its carbon fiber plate combined with the cushioned midsole. The combination of the carbon fiber plate and ZoomX foam has been dubbed the “spring plate” by Nike.
The plate is embedded in the sole of the shoe and is designed to act like a springboard, propelling the runner forward with each stride. The plate is also designed to reduce the amount of energy lost during each stride, which allows the runner to maintain their pace for longer periods of time.
Hence the original name of 4%, which claimed to provide a 4% improvement in performance.
We’ve now seen more studies on the everyday runner to suggest that it might be more like 1% and then increase as your speed gets over an 8 min mile.
It is important to note that the Nike Vaporfly 2 is not a magic shoe that will instantly make you a faster runner. Like any other running shoe, the Nike Vaporfly 2 requires proper training and conditioning to get the most out of it. But for runners who are looking to improve their performance, the Nike Vaporfly 2 is an excellent choice.
Nike ZoomX Foam
The first time I tested out the ZoomX foam was in the Nike Invincible 3. It’s a stability shoe, but with the similar high stack and fabulous bounce. While that shoe wasn’t a winner for my foot, the bounce of the ZoomX foam in the Vaporfly was beautiful.
Nike ZoomX cushioning is Nike’s latest innovation in running technology.
It’s a cushioning system that provides lightweight, responsive cushioning for a faster and more comfortable ride.
Made from a unique foam material that is 30% lighter than traditional foam and is designed to provide maximum energy return, allowing runners to go farther and faster. The foam also provides a softer landing and smoother transitions from heel to toe.
The cushioning is designed specifically for running, providing a more efficient and responsive ride that reduces strain on the body. With Nike ZoomX cushioning, runners can enjoy a smoother, faster, and more comfortable running experience.
The previous foam I was so in love with and still appears in others shoes is the REACT. So this is apperantly a step up from that, where they claimed:
- 13% more energy return with every foot fall than the Nike Lunarlon foam
- 11% softer than the Nike LunarEpic
- 5% lighter than the Nike LunarEpic
Nike ZoomX Running Shoes
Since they also state “Nike ZoomX midsole delivers 85% energy return, the greatest of any Nike foam, to give you a propulsive feeling as you move forward,” I thought it might be useful to know what other models are rocking this feature.
What you’re going to quickly notice is that it’s in most of their racing shoes!
So it’s impressive to put it in a stability shoe for the everyday runner.
- Nike Zoom Fly 5
- Nike Alphafly 2
- Nike Alphafly Next%
- Nike Vaporfly Next% 2
- Nike Streakfly
- Nike Zegma (hugely popular trail shoe)
See all the ZoomX shoes available >>
Cons of the Vaporfly 2
The biggest drawback of these racing shoes is going to be cost and lifespan. They are roughly $100 more than your average shoe and probably last about half the time.
Beyond that, all Nike’s run a bit narrow and this is no exception. You aren’t going to find a wide version to help accommodate a wider toebox or a wider running shoe fit all around.
- Not designed for everyday easy runs
- Not ideal for heavy heel-striking or overstriders
- Definitely not for trails or anything needing good traction
- Narrow from toebox to heel
- Unable to use an orthotic with these
What’s the Debate Around Nike Vaporfly 2?
But the question remains: does the Nike Vaporfly or Alphafly provide an unfair advantage to runners who wear them?
This question has been the subject of much debate within the running community. Some argue that the shoe provides an unfair advantage due to its innovative technology, while others argue that the shoe is simply a natural evolution of running footwear.
Several studies have been conducted on the effects of carbon fiber plate running shoes, including the Nike Vaporfly.
One such study from the University of Colorado, published in the journal Sports Medicine in 2020, found that the carbon fiber plate could improve running economy by up to 4%, compared to traditional running shoes. The study also found that the shoe could improve running speed by up to 2%.
A new small study in 2021, tested out the Vaporfly 2 against other top models from competitors and as a whole found that “From these data, it appears the running shoe market as a whole has not caught up to the advantages conferred by the NVF2 (Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2).”
The two closest were Nike-Alphafly and Asics-Metaspeed Sky.
These studies have fueled the debate around the Nike Vaporfly 2, with some arguing that the shoe provides an unfair advantage to runners who wear them. However, others point out that the Nike Vaporfly 2 is simply a product of innovation and technological advancement, and that the shoe is not fundamentally different from other running shoes.
However, I loved this statement in Sports Medicine Open:
“The Nike Vaporfly/Alphafly shoes do push the perceived acceptability of running shoes to the limits of the current sports regulations. However, the alleged gains have not manifested themselves to a level that could be considered excessive when reviewing historical performances or when evaluated against a set of well-cited criteria. The sport will need to adopt a stance of ongoing vigilance as such technologies continue to develop or be optimised in the future.”
Why I Order Direct from Nike?
One. I look for the older model and it’s almost always on sale, where the price has gone up for it on other sites!! PLUS, I’ve heard of too many folks ordering from other sites where it’s cheaper to find out it’s not the right shoe. The knock off issue seems more prevalent with Nike.
Two. I’m a size 11 and honestly, a lot of running stores just don’t stock a ton in my size. Their 60-day return period because it means I can take them on a run to make sure they fit and feel the way I think they should.
The exception would be Dick’s Sporting Goods, which has a partnership with Nike making it easier to get deals and often extended sizes.
All right, I really hope this Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 review helped you in making a decision! I may not love every single shoe that I test, but I’ve found that just sharing the details helps you find a shoe that YOU LOVE.
And that’s all that actually matters.
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