Nike is back at it again! The most infamous and arguably the fastest marathon shoe of all time, the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly is on its 3rd iteration of the public-release version, the NEXT%. Maybe I’m just being picky, but isn’t the “next” percent after 4, 5%? The name is a bit silly, but for the first time in the Vaporfly’s existence, the name is more accurate. Adding “4%” to the Vaporfly’s name was a marketing gimmick that had some truth to it but still to this day causes so much debate and misunderstanding. The 4% refers to the fact that lab tests proved that on average across all of the runners tested, the average increase in running economy was 4%. Some runners saw nearly no measurable increase, and others saw 6%+, but on average, a person should see a 4% increase. The NEXT% refers to the fact that this new model has improved on the original and through its weight loss and redesigned mechanics will give a runner the “next” percent of economy, and THIS is why it’s not called the 5%. Nike Finally got wise and realized the debacle they created by defining a specific percentage increase in economy, and corrected its grammatical trajectory by sticking with simple to understand facts. So, in short, whatever percentage of economy you gained from the Vaporfly 4%, expect this new shoe to get you whatever YOUR “next” percent is.
Model: ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%
Mens size: 12
Weight: 7.52oz (mens 12)
Type: Racing; Cushioned
Use: Racing (primarily full marathon) / long runs / speed work
Color: Electric Green / Black-Guava Ice
Style Number: AO4568-300
What’s in the Box
I normally don’t excited about a shoe until I open the box and see the actual shoe, but the Vaporfly NEXT% was a totally different experience. Everything about the entire package felt extra premium. The shoe box was dressed all in black with black text. On the sides of the box you see “Nike ZoomX” and “Designed in a Lab. Verified with medals and records”. It’s everything I’ve expected from the Vaporfly line, and frankly I was disappointed in the presentation of all previous public release models. A shoe with this prestige and price tag deserves more than a regular plain orange Nike box. On the inside, the shoe is wrapped in a special printed paper with feels more like wax paper than the regular tissue paper. Also, I knew the shoe came with a special dust bag, but what I didn’t realize is that it’s actually made of the same Vaporweave material that the shoe’s upper is made of!
Out with the old and in with the new, the Vaporfly NEXT% kicks down the door of subtlety and boldly stands at the top of the running shoe food chain. The style of this Vaporfly is very loud and screams “racing elite”. While past versions of the Vaporfly had a racing shoe look, none aside from the Vaporfly Elite have ever been this bold, for that matter none of the Elite models have even been this wild looking.
The overall lines of this model are very similar to the Vaporfly Elite Flyprint, but the design of the upper is all new. Nike opted for a small swoosh on the lateral side of the shoe, while having a massive striped swoosh along the anterior side which looks somewhat similar to the swoosh on the original version of the Vaporfly. Coupled with the offset laces that start at the center of the shoe and work their way down and to the outside of the shoe, this shoe looks like a prototype that designers were playing with but never finalized a design. I’ m not sure if this is the style Nike was going for, but the upper looks a bit like a mess. I personally liked the previous Vaporfly’s swoosh that extended down onto the midsole, this new models huge swoosh that wraps around the anterior side of the shoe over the entire toe box just looks misplaced to me.
On the positive side, the NEXT% has much more attention to detail than all of the other Vaporfly models. There’s lots of little subtle additions to the shoe that were intentionally added as a way for the designers to express their appreciation for the shoe line. A couple style items that caught my attention were; the camouflaged “Vaporweave” print near the anterior ankle, the large swoosh somewhat resembles a sketch rather than a solid graphic design whereas there are imperfections in thew lines (obviously intentional), and the varying textures on the midsole where previous models were a consistent texture throughout the entire midsole.
All in all I like the look fo this shoe. There’s things I would’ve done differently, but I think a lot of people will appreciate what Nike has done. The Vaporfly NEXT% gives the general public the feel and style of a prototype shoe and delivers the most loud and extreme look of just about any running shoe.
Style Creativity: 10/10
Color Combinations: 9/10
Physical Lines: 9/10
Attention to Detail: 10/10
Overall Look: 9.5/10
Performance & Feel
Despite being a fashion forward running shoe, the performance and feel is what this shoe was built for and where the money you spent on this thing is really invested.
The upper is made of a light and breathable multi-piece mesh. The material feels light on foot and allows for plenty of room in the toe box. The mid foot is a bitter more structured than the toe which is excellent for a locked in/secure feel. The heel is very secure and stable thanks to the thick material and the firm heel counter.
The tongue is thin and curved just like we saw on the original Vaporfly, with a thin layer of fabric for comfort. Even though the tongue is thin, I had no problems with discomfort even when locking down the laces.
The laces are offset, which is supposed to alleviate pressure across the top of the foot. I never had issues with previous models, but apparently some people do, so I guess this is good for them. There’s no downside to the offset laces, so I’m happy to have them as to avoid any potential undiscovered discomfort.
My absolute favorite part of this upper is the heel cup and ankle cushion. The heel cup feels much sturdier than all other Vaporflys and made the shoe feel much more stable and secure. On the inside, there’s a large foam strip that wraps around the ankle for comfort and support. This was absolutely the most comfortable Vaporfly I’ve worn.
The combination of the materials and design of the upper allow you to get a very good lock in feeling. I was able to really pull the laces very tight and got a very secure Midfoot feel without discomfort.
Lastly, the upper does fit a tiny bit more generous than the previous models. The previous versions fit like a typical racing flat where it’s narrow and a little short, but the NEXT% fit more like a trainer. I would say the overall length and width fit like my Pegasus 35.
The midsole of the NEXT% is the exact same as previous Vaporflys, except different 😑🤦🏻♂️
The shoe uses the winning combo of ZoomX foam with a carbon fiber “launch pad” plate embedded inside. The big changes come in the form of 15% more ZoomX foam as well as a reduction in heel drop from 11mm down to 8mm for a more natural and stable ride. In addition, the midsole is the same shape as the Vaporfly Elite which is supposed to me more natural feeling as well as being more aerodynamic. The overall redesigned midsole package makes quite a difference. The shoe feels more stable, and even more soft/comfortable. It may just be me, but the shoe felt more natural, with a little less rocker feeling.
The outsole is usually an underwhelming aspect of a running shoe to talk about, until now! The upgrade to the outsole is equally as impressive as all other changes. On the heel, nike has done away with the 3 small pads that absorbed 75% of the rear wear and moved to these two large bars that run along the sides of the heel where the majority of heel wear occurs. After running 25 miles in my pair, almost every bit of rear wear was right on the rubber pads, there was almost not even any dirt on the foam in between or around the rubber pads. While I haven’t used them long, this is a really good sign that the rear foam wear will likely be very minimal.
As always, with good comes bad. The addition of extra foam and more comfortable materials brings an obvious weight gain….. so you would assume. Despite being more comfortable and cushiony, the Vaporfly NEXT% actually dropped weight! In a men’s size 12, the Vaporfly 4% weighs 8.32oz but the NEXT% only weighs 7.52oz, that’s about a 10% reduction in weight, OMG! The already impossibly light shoe feels even lighter. There literally is no drawback to any of the improvements to the new Vaporfly.
This is it, this is THE shoe. this new iteration of the Vaporfly has completely improved on the shoe and even improved on areas that we didn’t even realize that could be improved upon. I was skeptical when Nike bummed the price by 10% to $275, but after running in the NEXT%, I can say I would gladly pay $100 more for this over the past 2 Vaporfly versions. The shoe feels much more; stable, planted to the ground, cushioned and of course faster. While the Vaporfly 4% is fantastic, it’s simply just the appetizer to the NEXT% main course. It’s a wonder how Nike has had this midsole for 2 years and used it for the elites only, I’m just not quite sure why they wouldn’t have gone with this setup from the start. Regardless, it’s here now and the people have gotten what they wanted!
Overall Feel: 9.5/10
Bottom Line: 9.5/10
For different perspectives on this shoe, check out reviews from the OG’s of the running-shoe-review game.