Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% Initial Review and Shoe Details: Cushier and Lighter!

Article by Sam Winebaum

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% ($250)

With the Next% already for sale in Europe I picked up a pair via StockX just ahead of its July11 US release. I was a huge fan of the very original ice blue Vaporfly 4% setting many 8 year personal bests in many distances in them in 2017 (RTR Review). I was less of a fan of the Vaporfly Flyknit (RTR Review) as I found it firmer with less of that distinctive drop forward and spring away feel of the original and not nearly as comfortable an upper.

Hearing the Next% had 15% more Zoom X foam, much concentrated at the forefoot, a lower 8mm drop, a new outsole design and overall geometry and a new thin VaporWeave upper I was eager to test the marathon world record setting shoe. 
Key Highlights
Science has shown and the Vaporfly has proved that among the keys to improving running economy are reducing the weight of the racing shoe, improving its energy "return", and keeping legs fresher longer. The Next% clearly focuses on these elements.
  • 15% more high energy "returning" Zoom X foam and a  thicker front outsole leads to a softer forefoot ride than any previous VF, yet one with carbon pop.
  • The weight drops 0.3 oz / 10 g to an amazing estimated sub 6.5 oz / 184 g for a US9 (Sample: US8.5 176 g)
  • Apparent lower position of the carbon plate at the heel, low medial side walls plus firmer and thicker well placed heel outsole leads to a softer yet considerably more stable heel. 
  • The oh so thin VaporWeave upper, first real heel counter in a VaporFly and asymmetrical lacing holds the foot well front to back.
  • I was true to my size 8.5 with thinner medium socks, as I was in predecessors, with the original requiring thicker socks and Flyknit quite snug and low over the toes for me. The upper fit and feel is closer to the original than Flyknit, if a touch snugger but with no sloppiness. 
  • The ride has less of that drop forward and spring away feel of the original VF, feeling more level and stable with the front of the shoe providing a broad platform for a more vertical less abrupt toe off and spring away than the original.I miss the very original VF's dynamism at bit but don't miss the firmer stiffer feel of the VF Flyknit.  Compared to the Hoka Carbon X with its flat carbon plate and 2mm lower drop the Next% with its spoon shaped plate is not as flat feeling and is easier to transition. 
  • There is enough cushion and overall  stability for me to easily daily train in the Next%, something I would hesitate to do in prior VF or even new Pegasus Turbo 2 (RTR Review). This said given the rigid plate it is best to mix the new VF with other shoes in training. 

Update: I did a progression run with each mile faster with an overall pace 8:32 / mile a bit slower than my 2017 Boston qualifier so a mix of slower and faster miles with ending mile at my half pace. 

Some observations:
  • The %Next is considerably more stable than the 4%. My run included some rough concrete sidewalks and some off camber road shoulders and I was totally stable despite the obviously narrow platform. 
  • The ride is more "level" than the very original VF meaning less of a sense of drop forward to toe off and by my sense closer to the later firmer VF but... here the forefoot and heel is more forgiving while not being in any way mushy soft. It is clearly and by spec more cushioned.  
  • There is less of a sense of a particular groove, a slight forward lean to activate the plate and toe off of the original. Thus, I found slower paces easier to handle but faster paces not quite as distinctly dynamic at toe off, with a more vertical than forward sensation but not one requiring a deliberate knee lift action as in the Carbon X.  I had no issues stepping up the pace at each mile
  • The combination of massive cushion without a sense of lost energy or instability  and the light weight is remarkable, even more so than the originals. 
  • At least for me and I am a heel striker, somehow, so far Nike has solved the notorious ugly very rapid scuffing of the heel ZoomX foam. I suspect the firmer longer outsole rubber patches which are slightly convex are part of the answer. Below my %Next at 10 miles. The 4% was scuffed after the first mile or two.

Full written review to follow after more runs and a race or two!

Read reviewers' full run bios here

The product reviewed was a personal purchase. The opinions herein are the author's.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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Anonymous said...

It would be appreciated if you could provide reviews & coverage on other companies footwear besides Nike.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous, Please see link below. We have hundreds and hundreds of reviews for all brands, at link below. It turns out Nike releases most of their running shoes in July and thus our focus on them this week.
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our page with links 100’s of in depth shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews.
Shopping through links on articles help support RoadTrail Run and is much appreciated!

Anonymous said...

No thanks to Nike. According to them our flag is racist. Go figure.

Bobcat said...

Wow, I just realized this shoe is the same weight as the Norvan SL.

Bobby said...

Hi RTR, I'm curious why you would mix the new VF with other shoes for training (due to it's carbon plate). What's the reason for this, and would the samer advice apply to the Carbon X? Thanks.

Andrew Choi said...

Hello! I'm training for my first marathon in October, and I'm looking for a shoe to wear for race day. So far, new balance beacon and pegasus in average width have given me blisters, I think they are too narrow. The altra escalante is the only shoe that hasnt given me blisters so far.

Will all the Nike's zoom shoes be too narrow for me, like the pegasus turbo, Zoom fly and the zoom%??


Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Andrew,
Sorry about that. Where do you get the blisters and what kind of socks do you use? Also what run shoes have you worn that don't give you blisters?
The Vomero 14 will have the widest toe box in Nike. This said Peg Turbo 1, Zoom Fly FK 2, Pegasus all have very snug uppers and narrow fits to begin with. Next% is not much wider but the material is super light and pliable unlike the other Nike uppers and might work. You might also look at Hoka Carbon X
Sam, Editor

suzy said...

Thanks for this review! I’ve been running in these for about a month and I love them! I ran 3 marathons in the original version and never loved the flyknit. This is by far the best yet. I have about 150 miles on them and I don’t feel like they are bottoming out at all. Great shoe!

Andrew Choi said...

Hey Sam,

The only shoes that don't give me blisters are my Altra Escalantes. I use these for my long runs, and I'm deciding on wearing the escalantes versus something that might have a little drop. I wear normal synthetic blend socks, haven't tried anything like the smart wool socks. I get the blisters just on my right foot for some reason, right on the ball of my foot, but more on the big toe side.

I was looking at the New Balance Fuel Cell as well since they offer a wide version of the shoe.

Luke said...


I picked up a pair of these vice the FK4% that I had for my fall marathon. I'm also going to use these for the 1/2 that I plan to do in the work up. Do you think that these could be stretched down to 10M or 10K? or is a flat a better choice below the 1/2?


As a longtime wearer of the Escalante, I know the value of a large toebox. I had a pair of the Zoomfly Flyknit as a trainer companion to the FK4%. Both the Zoomfly 3 and the Next% have a much roomier toebox than the previous versions. There was room right out of the box, with no breakin required. Not Alta roomy, but roomy enough to allow me to wear my normal Injinji Nuwool socks rather than have to go to a thinner sock. I went to the Injinji Nuwool a few years ago to both to give my feet more room and to alleviate some hotspot issues.

Luke said...

As a follow up, I did wear the Escalante Racer in my first marathon, but did want something that was a bit lighter, had some drop and was more responsive.