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Nike Vaporfly 3 Review

Nike Vaporfly 3
BY: James Dunn
16 April 2023

Nike’s game-changing shoe is back with a third iteration but with the entire running shoe market producing their own carbon plated racer nowadays, can the OG still keep up with the rest of the pack and prove that the original is still the greatest? It’s been two years since the last Vaporfly came out on the market and it’s safe to say that the anticipation is massive, so let’s get into it.

Out of the box the changes are surprisingly noticeable when compared to the 1’s and 2’s. With aggressive cut aways on the medial and outer to try and make it lighter on the scales, making the 3 the lightest ratio of cushion height to weight of any shoe out there. Visually the 3 is a lot more aggressive than its older brothers and almost resembles a prototype of a shoe rather than one ready for retail, thanks to its boxy and sharp-angled midsole and the numbering drawn onto the shoe.

Performance

But how does it actually perform? Nike says that the geometry of the carbon plate as well as the foam have stayed nearly exactly the same (apart from those aggressive cutaways), but in our initial testing, the ZoomX foam feels a lot more spongy and less stable than the previous two models. If anything they’re more in line with the spongy feel of the Invincible 3 shoe from Nike that was released earlier this year.

(We made a video where I went out for a half marathon run with the Invincible 3s straight out of the box and you can watch that here: https://youtu.be/3Q2hyrAtUOE).

So while Nike says that the ZoomX foam compound is the same, they have clearly changed its construction with energy return being its focus, so unless you are light on your feet the instability from that extra energy return is incredibly noticeable. This makes the OG marathon super shoes a hard sell to those more in the middle of the pack, as that instability makes longer distances more exhaustive than in other super shoes on the market.

This design change even had a few of Nike’s elite runners stating that they prefer the snappier, more race-like feel of the 1’s and 2’s. But it is still a Vaporfly, the combination of Nike’s foam, the plate and their knowledge of how to make a record-breaking shoe is no less apparent. At 5-20km PB pacing and max effort sprints you could really feel the shoe propelling you forward.

Nike has also stripped back the outer, making it thinner while still maintaining a fantastic level of grip for a carbon racer. This might have been to account for the extra mm’s of foam, resulting in a more cushioned feel to the 3’s.

Flyknit Upper

Moving away from the plastic feel of the previous models, this new Flyknit upper is aimed at helping with breathability, as a result it is primarily made up of holes. Don’t let this deter you though, as it’s still a great feel over your foot and the small amount of cushioning put into the heel section creates structure. This added support is very much needed, as once again Vaporfly’s issue of heel slippage rears its head. The asymmetrical lacing system aimed at alleviating pressure across the bridge of your foot is still causing heel lockdown issues, and you need tight lacing to be able to avoid slippage with each footfall.

Verdict

Our recommendation is if you want a Nike super shoe then grab yourself a discounted pair of Vaporfly 2s and wait to see if they do anything radical for the 4’s, as the updates and the new colourways just don’t justify the extra money.

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