Nike announced its update to the elusive and speedy Vaporfly 4% sneaker, the brand new ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% back in April, but the shoes quickly sold out. Today, you can pick up a pair online and in stores at Nike or JackRabbit. The shoes help you to use less energy when running, so you can go faster with less effort, and that translates into faster times. But do the performance benefits transfer to the everyday runner as well? Overwhelmingly, yes.
Video: Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% Review
The shoe has been the center of many lab studies, all of which prove that the shoe helps you run four percent faster. The New York Times looked at half a million marathon and half-marathon race times on Strava and found the same results: “In a race between two marathoners of the same ability, a runner wearing Vaporflys would have a real advantage over a competitor not wearing them.” Four percent may sound like a small number, but for 26.2 miles, that can equate to a runner shaving six minutes off their previous three-hour marathon time (at a 6:50-minute mile pace), or eight minutes for a four-hour marathoner (a 9-minute mile pace). Long story short, these are the shoes you want to run your fastest, especially during distance races like the half marathon or full.
The Nike team worked closely with elite athletes like Eliud Kipchoge, Geoffrey Kirui, Shalane Flanagan and Mo Farah (many of whom won marathons in the 4% in 2018) to learn what they didn’t like about the shoe and fixed it. Nike updated the midsole with additional foam, yet no added weight. The designers decreased the offset (the difference between how high off the ground your heel is from your toes) from 11mm to 8mm, so runners feel more stable. The outsole has more contoured treads with deeper grooves to improve traction, yet not trap rocks or anything else that could pick up even the slightest amount of weight. Any additional weight from sweat or rain or sticks can add up throughout 26.2 miles and can mean the difference between first and second place.
Lastly, the upper features a brand new material, Vaporweave. It’s lighter than the previous upper, Flyknit, and absorbs less water, which will be important when race day weather conditions are like the Boston Marathon in 2018 — pouring rain. Sailcloth and sailing inspired the designers behind Vaporweave, as they looked for something that would be strong and durable, yet light and water-resistant.
As for the aesthetic of the shoes, the offset laces come from Mo Farah’s input — he liked how speedy they looked. And the team landed on the initial colorway because neon green is the most visible color to the human eye.
From what we’ve seen, these shoes move as fast as the runners who wear them, so if you want a pair, jump on the links below.
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