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.

David said...


Thank you. I picked up a pair of Next % last week. NOTE, I have never been a Nike fan . . . these are a mind changer and a game changer! Quite frankly, I am blown away by the cushion and responsiveness. Further, due to an old ankle injury I have always had to have some sort of insert (Aetrex or superfeet) or the ankle would flare-up. I have run 3 times in the Next % (long of 7.5) and not a single ankle twinge. The ONLY issue I have it that the medial edge of the non-removable insole is a bit rough at is just a bit irritating. Did you notice that issue? Lastly, it will be interesting to see how durable these are . . . do you have a forecast of how long they will last?

Unknown said...

Made the mistake of trying a pair on yesterday and now seriously considering getting them. So soft, light and springy. The only issue I had was the upper material feels weird and also bunched up (although I didn't spend any time getting the lacing right), I know it is deliberately light and breathable and I'm sure it's high quality but felt like a plastic bag and that it would tear easily. They are also a bit ugly, I assume there's some reason for the long tail on the heel of Nike's latest shoes but with the ankle collar on most of their shoes now they look like something Peter Pan wears. However, my biggest question to myself is whether a runner with a half marathon PB of 1:42 can justify the price and I'd feel a bit 'all the gear no idea' on the start line as they aren't exactly inconspicuous!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Unknown,
Don't worry about the upper much. It works just fine and contributes to the incredibly low weight. It has a great foot hold for me. Better than Flyknit and even original. As far as rocking a 1:42 half in them well... depending on what you have raced in before (which were?) if you are like many/most expect about a 2 minute faster surprise than expected. Happened every half for me in the original, races in come in Next%. As far as your pace at 1:42, I range from about that time down to 1:35. I ran a smooth 5.2 miles in mine today at 9:20 pace and they were fine, very stable, very well cushioned and smooth. They make a great trainer. Probably the best Nike trainer for me of the current crop as so light, stable, and so well cushioned.
Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam,

Read your review of the 4% and now next%. Congrats on the great series of races in the 4%. That must have been exciting.

I'm getting ready to run my first marathon in 3 years in October (Baystate). My last game changing shoe was the original Hoka Clifton. After reading about the vaporflys, I'm similarly intrigued. For the past few years, all my running has been done in Kinvara 7's (got a bunch for 50 bucks a pair a few years ago). So here are my questions for you:

1. If I wear a size 11 Kinvara, what size should I get in the Vaporfly 4% or Next %?

2. Would you buy the 4% or the Next %?

3. Do you think I'd be risking injury problems if I got a pair now and did a few 7-8 mile easy runs, then built up from there (Maybe a few 13 milers with 10 at MP) and on to 1 or two long runs. The goal would be to do just enough running in these to acclimate before the marathon (continuing most of my training in the Kinvaras) and then unleash these on race day.

Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!:)

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks! Ramping up for 2 fall halves in Next% so we will see but I am older!
1) In Next% same size as Kinvara true to size but trickier with VF Flyknit. Some needed to size up a half. I was true to size but a bit snug.
2) If you could find a pair of the very first baby blue VF I would pick over Next% for racing but not as much for training. Subsequent versions and I had Obsidian and pink Flyknit I felt were firmer and snugger and lost some of the original magic. While the Next% is not quite as dynamic as the very original it is considerably more cushioned, lighter fits better, is much more stable, and I think will get better outsole wear over time. It may remind you a bit more of the Kinvara than the original with its pronounced feel of falling forward then boom toe off Go Next!
3) You should be fine with your build up in a VF as described. I did a 4 mile at 10K pace run in the original on a Thursday and raced them that Saturday. You don't need to do all the runs in them you describe but you might find them easier on the legs and faster than the K shoe for training although I would not train every single day in them only because of the stiffness which is not noticed running but may lead to weird overuse if used daily. Mix it up. I am. It is important to find the marathon pace groove in them. It seems less pronounced in Next but there.
Sam, Editor

Sam Winebaum said...

HI Anonymous,
One last thing... we all react differently to different shoes so caution is advised especially as you may be tempted to pull them out everyday!
Sam, Editor

Ryan said...

When is the multi-tester review going to drop?

M&M said...

Hello! Running for about 5 years....3-4 half per year and 2 full marathons so far. Flat feet so always a must for me to remove insoles and place my orthoses in my shoes. Many problems with many brands but happy (without any discomforts) in the last 3 years with a new pair of neutral Saucony Triumph (now ISO5) every 6 months. I’m getting old (50...hehe) and stocked at 1h45m (or 5 min/km) for Half Marathon so any chances to go under 1h45M with these new Nike shoes without any problems with my orthoses?



Sam Winebaum said...

First if no issues you are very likely to go faster by 3 minutes or so than "expected" at least that is what I have consistently found for a half in the older VF. What is your HM time now? As far as orthotics in them not sure... the glued in insole is very thin and the mid foot platform directly under that narrow. Given the stiff plate I might wonder if you actually need the orthotics. If you are on FB you might join the Running Shoe Geeks (answering the 3 questions, I am an admin) and ask or search about orthotics and VF. Another good FB group the Nike Vaporfly & ZoomX Enthusiasts where someone likely has faced the same situation as you.
Sam, Editor

M&M said...

Tx Sam for your prompt answers. BT for HM is 1h45m. I’ll join Running Shoe Geeks with pleasure!

Regards! M&M

P.S. What is the drop again for the VF? 8mm?

VT runner said...

Hi Sam,

Anonymous here again (asking about jumping from Kinvara 7 to Vaporfly next %. Thanks so much for your responses. I ended getting the same size VF Next as I use for the Kinvara and they seem to fit just fine. Wore them in the house and did just a half block jog (yes, in the dark just to see after they arrived). What a soft shoe. And you can certainly feel the spring, even walking.

I'm going to try a short run in these next week. And have my PT watch me on the treadmill in them just to be safe (getting treatment anyway so she said bring them in). Am curious to see if my paces will be better or not. But right now am a bit worried that they might be too soft. I have trouble running in the original Clifton now as I got used to the more road feel Kinvaras. But I will report back on how things go.

I can certainly see why these are kind on the legs though...

Thanks again.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi VT Runner,
Thanks for your report. They are "relatively" soft in feel but remember the Zoom X foam has lots of return. I too had problems in Clifton 1. To soft but especially the beveled heel had me going probably negative drop as more a heel striker. Weird side of achilles pain although a fast shoe. Newer are more stable and duller in ride, The key to the Next's softness is that it is stable all around for me due to the plate and geometry. And the plate is of course propulsive. I am still on the fence if I will prefer them to very original VF but for sure Next for me is more useful. I don't hesitate to train in them at all whereas the original was riskier and the Next handles slower paces better for me. And don't forget the WR was set in them, not a Kinvara which is still a fine shoe,
Sam, Editor

Sam Winebaum said...

VT Runner,
And yes they ware very kind on the legs, especially racing. Hope with some miles you will get used to them.
Sam, Editor

VT runner said...

Hi Sam,

So I did a 7 mile easy run in the Next % as a first run. It was an easy run day so didn't push at all. It took a few miles to really get the feel. I have to say the softness concern was alleviated once I started to feel the natural cadence set in. I think (hard to really tell from one run) that my paces were 10-20 sec/mile faster than I normally would have gone. Only issue was my lower middle back got a little tight at end of run and was a bit sore (like very mild DOMS) the next day. Did some pilates at PT next day and it all loosened. Had PT film running on treadmill with them and all looked good. I think I will try these next on a MLR (13 miles with 10 at MP) and see how they feel at race speed. And to see if they mess with my back again or whether that was coming regardless of shoe choice that day. I have managed to hit maximal fitness for my upcoming marathon at just the right time. So want to make sure I don't throw a possible Kinvara-driven PR out by going all in with the Next%. Will report back how the next run goes. Hopefully all will be well!


VT runner said...

OH, and I agree about your assessment of the Clifton line.

And now I'm curious about the original VF 4%;-).

Sam Winebaum said...

HI VT Runner,
Thanks for the update. Great you are a maximal fitness, timed just right! The ride and geometry is different so caution as you get used to them. You don't want the shoe to be the cause of some new issues. This said I am pretty sure if no "big" issues resulting you will run way faster in them Kinvara, still a fine shoe.
Sam, Editor

VT runner said...

Hi Sam,

So I have now done a pair of subLT runs (13 miles with 1 mile w/u, 10 miles at MP/80% of maxHR, then 2 mile c/d) in the next %. No lower back issues on these runs. No problems at all really now. They do goose, just a bit, one of my extensor tendons (big toe of left foot) as I have to lace them tighter to make sure heel doesn't slip. First of these runs I didn't lace tight enough and heel slipped a bit. Second run all was perfect. I was amazed a just how comfy these guys are. I really like them at MP, but less so at slower paces (although agree they can handle it all). First of these sessions wasn't noticeably faster than previous weeks on same course with Kinvaras. But man the second one I was cooking (maybe 10-12 sec/mile better). So think the first run I was simply tired.

Have decided to use them in a 10 K and then my marathon (coming up in the next 3 weeks). Will be interested to see how they work for me especially in the marathon.

Thanks again for all the feedback. One thing I worry about a bit is that I now have about 44 miles on them. Will probably be at 65 miles when I toe the start of the marathon. Think that will be OK? Not sure of the durability of the foam and/or carbon plate. Outsoles still look very good currently.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi VT Runner,
Glad they are working out for you! So tempting to also use as a trainer as they are so stable, cushioned, and Fast! You should be fine for your marathon with 65 miles on them. The Zoom X stays very resilient and the plate will not change. This said except for a few shorter runs to make sure you still feel the groove at MP I would save them for the race!
Sam, Editor