Nike Vaporfly 3 Shoe Review

Nike Vaporfly 3 Shoe Review

The Nike Vaporfly 3 is a shoe you’ve probably already decided about. You either want it or you don’t. Reading a bunch of shoe reviews isn’t going to change your mind.

But hey, you’re here, and I’m writing the review. Maybe you want to know:

  • What changed in the Nike Vaporfly 3?
  • Is the Nike Vaporfly 3 fast?

The answer to the second question is yes. The third version increases the stability while also being lighter. Nike changes the midsole geometry and eliminates weight where it’s not essential. Nike claims there is slightly more energy return than previous versions. So yes, it’s faster and lighter.

Nike Vaporfly 3 Shoe Review

Nike Vaporfly 3 Quick Stats:

Weight: 6.5 oz

Heel to Toe Drop: 8 mm

Cost: $250

Nike Vaporfly 3 Fit:

The Nike Vaporfly 3 upper is completely changed. Thank goodness. Like many people, I had a lot of issues with the previous version rubbing against my Achilles. The material is also very different in different aspects of the shoe. It’s dense around the perimeter of the forefoot (this would make sense since lateral force is much more robust). It has a very perforated, airy pattern in the toe area (for breathability) and a mixture of the two around the laces and the tongue. It is the best upper of the Vaporfly series. It’s breathable and fits well. What more could you need?

The best-running shoe uppers disappear off your feet, and I’ve found this to be true with the Nike Vaporfly 3. Nothing rubs or bothers you, and the upper feels comfortable immediately after putting it on. I haven’t been able to say this about other versions of the Vaporfly. The Alphafly upper always felt super comfortable, but the midsole felt clunky to me. This year, the Vaporfly 3 just feels comfortable to put on your feet.

I usually wear a men’s size 8.5 and/or women’s 10 for racing shoes, which I found suitable for the Nike Vaporfly 3. The shoe fits true to size, although keep in mind most racing shoes are more narrow and hug your feet more. When in doubt, go up a half size. Remember, if you have a wider foot, you’ll need to up anywhere from half to full size. Luckily the Nike Vaporfly 3’s upper is more stretchy than previous versions.

Nike Vaporfly 3 Shoe Review

Nike Vaporfly 3 Ride:

Just putting the Nike Vaporfly 3, you can tell there is a difference in stability and width in the midfoot. The Nike Vaporfly 3 ZoomX compresses, so you are much closer to the ground than it appears. Looking at the shoe, you might think: “Wow, I am so far off the ground.” But you aren’t, and the foam compresses a lot. This is also why the Vaporfly doesn’t last too long. Becasue once that foam is fully compressed, you aren’t getting the 4% advantage.

Compared to other shoes, the Nike Vaporfly 3 is very stiff. It provides almost no flex and has a more aggressive feel than the Vaporfly 2. More aggressive, you say? Who knew that was possible? The lightweights and carbon plate assist in helping improve the turnover. Nike has claimed they changed the ZoomX to feel firmer.

There is also about 2 mm more stack height and extra foam in the Nike Vaporfly 3. This extra foam saves energy, and a slightly firmer foam gives the Vaporfly 3 more stability. The Vaporfly is not a stable shoe and isn’t even good at stability, but it provides more stability than previous versions. Sadly there is no regular carbon-plated shoe; the closest would be the new Hoka Rocket X 2  with a much wider base.

Nike Vaporfly 3 Shoe Review

The Nike Vaporfly 3 geometry in the shoe changed with more vertical and squared-off sidewalls. You can see this change laterally, especially compared to the classic curved rear rocker. The changes provide a slightly firmer and quicker energy return and cause the shoe to feel flatter in general.

Nike claims the carbon plate is the same in the third version as the previous one. It does sit lower in the shoe, which provides more stability.

Finally, the weight of the Nike Vaporfly 3 is much less. Nike has dropped all extra foam in areas it’s not needed. Weight doesn’t matter but will affect the feeling of the shoe. Honestly, it’s one reason I’ve never felt great in the Alphafly. It just feels too heavy and clunky to me.

Traction and Durability: The original Vaporfly was terrible for traction and durability because it lacked a lot of rubber to keep you grounded. Since then,  it’s gotten more blown rubber for better durability and traction. Remember that super shoes weren’t designed to run more than 100 miles. Can you run more? Sure, but you aren’t getting the same 4% benefit. The Nike Vaporfly 3 is the same, and you aren’t going to get that particular foam benefit after about 100 miles.

Nike Vaporfly 3 Shoe Review

The durability is good, and I haven’t been sliding around too much in inclement weather. The new waffle pattern on the outsole provides more traction than previous versions, especially on downhills. The outsole of the Nike Vaporfly 3 is thinner, but I haven’t had any issues sliding around because of it. It will affect the durability, and I don’t see the Nike Vaporfly 3 lasting more than 100 miles.

The Vaporfly 3 is designed to run fast, and that’s precisely what you should do. Easy runs in the Vaporfly don’t feel great, so why waste the mileage? I’ve taken it out for a few faster and longish runs, and it’s supposed to be suitable the entire time. It rises; it ponds well, and I appreciate it’s much lighter.

Nike Vaporfly 3 Conclusion:

The Nike Vaporfly 3 is the best version of the Vaporfly to date (and no, I cannot say that about every updated Nike shoe). But they’ve listened and made it less bulky, firmer, and more stable.

Who should purchase the Nike Vaporfly 3? If you are looking for a race day or workout shoe, it’s a good option. Well not just good; it’s one of the fastest options out there.

Who should not purchase the Nike Vaporfly 3? If you are looking for a daily trainer, an easy run, or a durable shoe. You aren’t going to get a lot of miles out of it. This isn’t a great option if you need a very stable trainer.

Nike Vaporfly 3 Shoe Review

My Current Shoe Rotation:

Easy/Daily Runs: Antepes Muscle Runners, Tracksmith Eliot Runner, New Balance 1080v12,  Saucony Triumph 19, Mizuno Wave Neo Ultra, 361 Centauri

Speed Work: Hoka Solimar, Altra Vanish Carbon, 361 Flame, Nike Tempo Next%, Reebok Float Ride Run fast Pro, Nike ZoomX Streakfly

Long Runs: ASICS Superblast

Trail Running/Hiking: Brooks Caldera 6, Saucony Peregrine 12Hoka Torrent 2, Hoka Zinal Shoe, Speedland SL: PDX

Races: Nike Vaporfly 3, Nike ZoomX Streakfly, Asics Metaspeed Sky, Hoka One One Rocket X, adidas Adizero Pro, New Balance Fuelcell 5280Nike Next%,  Saucony Endorphin Pro 2Reebok Run fast Pro 

You Can See All Current Shoe Reviews Here.

Are you looking to learn more about running shoes? In my ebook, I talk about why you need a good running shoe, a shoe’s anatomy, neutral vs. stable, and even myths about running shoes.

Questions for you:

Have you tried the Nike Vaporfly 3?

What is your favorite race day shoe?