Nike Vaporfly 3 Review

The Nike Vaporfly 3 glides onto the scene, bearing a legacy that has reshaped the paradigm of running performance. The name has become synonymous with breaking records and challenging the limits of what we once thought possible. With every iteration, Nike seems to tweak the formula ever so slightly, pushing the boundaries a tad further, and the Vaporfly 3 is no exception. It carries the torch of its predecessors, the ones worn by elite marathoners Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei when they shattered world records, making marathon history. Kipchoge’s sub-two-hour marathon and Kosgei’s women’s world record are the stuff of legends, and they donned the Vaporfly as they etched their names in the annals of running immortality​​.

Could this version continue the legacy? The Vaporfly series has not just been about breaking records — it’s about how it breaks them. Sports scientist Ross Tucker estimated that Kipchoge’s physical output for his 2:01:39 world record in the Vaporfly shoes equated to a 2:03 marathon in regular racing flats. The shoe doesn’t just shave seconds off; it carves out minutes, a feat once thought to be fantasy​​.

And it’s not just about the elite runners. A study found that the Vaporfly gives runners an efficiency edge of 4.2% compared to Adidas’s Adizero Adios 3. It’s about using significantly less energy to run at a given pace, an advantage that isn’t just for the record-breakers but every runner who laces up a pair​, as we will delve in this Nike Vaporfly 3 review.

But with great power, comes great scrutiny. The Vaporfly found itself under the microscope, with its record marathon performances triggering investigations into the very essence of fairness in competition​​.

The question is, does the Vaporfly 3 uphold the lineage of its groundbreaking forebears? Or does it bring something new to the table, raising the bar yet again in the relentless quest for speed?

Nike Vaporfly 3 Full Review

Nike Vaporfly 3 Review

First Impressions & Feel of the Nike Vaporfly 3

The Nike Vaporfly 3 hints at meticulous tweaking to inch closer to the ultimate perfection of the racing shoe. The fit is snug yet non-restrictive, giving your toes the room to breathe and splay naturally as you pace through the miles. The cushioning strikes a fine balance between plush comfort for the long haul and the firm responsiveness that springs you forward with every stride.

Now, let’s dig into the crux of what sets the Vaporfly 3 apart. The combination of ZoomX foam and a carbon plate continues to be the heart of the Vaporfly story, delivering that distinct bounce and pop that has become synonymous with the Vaporfly lineage. However, some seasoned runners might find the bounce less novel, perhaps a testament to the industry’s chase to mimic the Vaporfly’s secret sauce.

The standout tweak in the Vaporfly 3 comes in the form of stability. The wider base, a subtle but game-changing alteration, addresses the “tipsy” feel experienced in previous models, particularly for those with a history of ankle woes. The widened heel and forefoot base bring a newfound sense of stability, making cornering and tackling uneven terrains less of a chore and more of a breeze. This little change in midsole shaping pays huge dividends in the stability department, a nod to Nike’s attention to feedback and continuous improvement.


Next% Foam: The heart of the Vaporfly 3 is the Next% foam, designed to provide a cushioned ride while ensuring a high level of energy return. 

Carbon Plate: A carbon plate runs through the midsole, aiming to provide a snappy response with each stride. 

Flyknit Upper: The Flyknit upper is a lightweight and breathable fabric that offers a comfortable, secure fit. 

ZoomX Cushioning: The ZoomX cushioning is engineered for optimal energy return, making sure your efforts are translated into forward motion. 

Forefoot Stack Height: A generous forefoot stack height provides ample cushioning, a feature that can be particularly beneficial as your feet strike the pavement, ensuring a plush landing and take-off.


  • Improved Stability: The widened base in the heel and forefoot areas offers enhanced stability, making the Vaporfly 3 more balanced and secure, especially during cornering or on uneven ground.
  • Responsive Cushioning: Courtesy of the ZoomX foam and carbon plate combo, the shoe continues to provide bounce and responsiveness, propelling you forward with each stride.
  • Breathability Upgrade: The Flyknit upper significantly improves breathability, ensuring your feet remain cool and comfortable even in warmer conditions.
  • Enhanced Traction: The redesigned outsole traction pattern provides better grip across a variety of conditions, although there’s still some room for improvement in wet weather traction.
  • Comfortable Fit: The fit is snug yet non-restrictive, providing a comfortable enclosure for your feet while allowing natural toe splay.
  • Lightweight: Despite the added stability and enhanced features, the Vaporfly 3 remains a lightweight option, crucial for reducing fatigue over long distances.
  • Race-proven Performance: The Vaporfly lineage has a strong track record in competitive running, and the Vaporfly 3 continues this legacy with its feature-packed design tailored for serious runners.


  • Durability Concerns: The outsole shows signs of wear fairly quickly, which could be a concern for runners looking for a more durable option.
  • Tongue Design: The tongue is described as tall, wide, and offset which can move around a lot during runs, causing a minor nuisance.
  • Not Wide-Foot Friendly: Despite being the widest Vaporfly to date, it still doesn’t cater well to runners with wider feet, requiring them to possibly size up for a comfortable fit.
  • Pricey: The Vaporfly 3 is a significant investment, which might deter some runners, especially those on a tighter budget.
  • Wet Weather Traction: Although improved, the Vaporfly 3 still has some slippage issues in wet weather conditions.
  • Outsole Rubber Durability: The trade-off between weight savings and durability might not sit well with some runners, especially those looking for a more long-lasting rubber compound on the outsole.
Nike Vaporfly 3 Review

Who Is This Shoe For?

  • Competitive Runners: With its race-proven pedigree, the Vaporfly 3 is a dream for those seeking to shave seconds off their personal bests. Its responsiveness and lightweight design make it a top contender in the racing shoe category.
  • Neutral Striders: Its design complements natural foot motion, making it a suitable choice for runners with a neutral gait who don’t overpronate or supinate.
  • Road Runners: With improved traction and a cushioned yet responsive ride, it’s well-suited for those pounding the pavement, especially in competition.
  • Long Distance Enthusiasts: The blend of cushioning and responsiveness ensures comfort over long distances, making it a match for marathoners and half-marathoners.
  • Runners Seeking Responsive Cushioning: If you’re chasing a shoe that strikes a good balance between cushioning and responsiveness, the Vaporfly 3 is a solid candidate.
  • Performance-Oriented Runners: Those who prioritize performance and are willing to invest in high-quality running gear will find the Vaporfly 3 a worthy addition to their arsenal.

Who Is This Shoe NOT For?

  • Budget-Conscious Runners: With a higher price tag, the Vaporfly 3 might not appeal to runners on a tight budget or those who are not willing to invest heavily in running shoes.
  • Wide-Footed Individuals: Despite being the widest Vaporfly to date, it still doesn’t cater well to wider feet (like mine), and if this is you as well, you might find the fit a bit restrictive.
  • Runners Seeking Additional Arch Support: The shoe may not provide the additional arch support needed by some runners, particularly those with high arches or specific support needs.
  • Trail Runners: Its design is primarily for road running, and doesn’t provide the grip and support needed for more technical or rugged trail running.
  • Runners Prioritizing Durability: Those seeking a more durable option might be deterred by the wear signs on the outsole and might opt for other marathon shoes with longer-lasting outsole rubber.
  • Runners New to the Vaporfly Line: The unique feel and design of the Vaporfly line might require some getting used to, and those new to this line might find other options more comfortable initially.

Upper Design of the Nike Vaporfly 3

The Nike Vaporfly 3, while staying true to its lineage, brings forth a Flyknit upper that’s synonymous with breathability and a lightweight feel. Here’s a more detailed look at what the upper design has to offer:

Breathable Flyknit Upper: The Vaporfly 3 comes with a Flyknit upper that ensures a well-ventilated, breezy experience for your feet.

Comfortable Fit: The Flyknit material not only provides breathability but also a snug, adaptive fit.

Lightweight: The lightweight nature of the Flyknit material means that there’s no extra burden on your feet, which is crucial for minimizing fatigue over long distances.

Improved Lacing System: Although not explicitly detailed, a good lacing system is essential for a secure fit, which in turn contributes to comfort and performance.

Tongue Design: The tongue of the Vaporfly 3 has been described as tall, wide, and offset, which could potentially cause some movement during runs. Though it didn’t cause discomfort or blisters, the unusual design may require some getting used to.

The Vaporfly 3’s upper design is about providing a comfortable, breathable environment for your feet, ensuring that you remain focused on the road ahead rather than what’s on your feet.

Midsole Design of the Nike Vaporfly 3

The magic of the Nike Vaporfly 3 largely happens in its midsole, a powerhouse of innovative technology to provide runners with an edge. Here’s a breakdown of what the Vaporfly 3’s midsole has to offer:

ZoomX Cushioning: At the core of the Vaporfly 3’s midsole is the ZoomX cushioning, engineered to offer a blend of responsiveness and comfort. It’s all about absorbing shock while propelling you forward, making each stride efficient and energetic.

Carbon Plate Technology: Nestled within the ZoomX foam is a rigid carbon plate, a critical element that significantly contributes to the springy responsiveness of the shoe. The synergy between the ZoomX and carbon plate continues to be the hallmark of the Vaporfly series, offering that signature bounce and pop that runners have come to adore.

Improved Stability: A widened base in the Vaporfly 3 addresses stability concerns from previous models, paving the way for a more balanced and stable ride.

The Vaporfly 3 isn’t looking to break the mold, but to refine it. With a blend of tried-and-true technologies and subtle design improvements, the Vaporfly 3 is ready to support you in chasing your running goals, be it a new personal record or the endless horizon.

Nike Vaporfly 3 Review

Weight and Stack Height of the Nike Vaporfly 3

  • Weight: Men’s: 6.5 oz. (184 grams) / Women’s: 5.6 oz. (159 grams)
  • Stack Height — Heel height: 40 mm Forefoot height: 32 mm Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8 mm

The meticulously engineered weight and stack height of the Vaporfly 3 echo Nike’s unyielding mission to craft a shoe that caters to the demanding nature of competitive racing.

Support of the Nike Vaporfly 3

The Nike Vaporfly 3 is fine-tuned for racers, with a level of support that aims to optimize performance while providing a sense of stability. Here’s my take on its support features:

Wider Base: A noticeable update is the widened base of the Vaporfly 3, particularly aimed at enhancing stability. This change is great as you clock the miles at high speeds.

Midsole Shaping: The midsole’s subtle shaping contributes to the shoe’s stability, a critical aspect that helps in maintaining a balanced stride, even during the fatigue-ridden final miles of a marathon.

Heel Structure: The heel design in the Vaporfly 3 is crafted to provide a secure fit, aiding in overall stability and ensuring the foot stays in place, stride after stride.

Responsive Cushioning: The Vaporfly 3 continues to offer responsive cushioning, ensuring that the support isn’t compromised, allowing runners to maintain a lively step throughout their run.

The Nike Vaporfly 3 offers a level of support that complements the fast-paced nature of race days. It’s not overly corrective, adhering to the needs of neutral runners and those seeking to secure new personal records on race day. The shoe’s design emphasizes promoting natural foot dynamics while providing a stable and supportive platform to tackle the high demands of racing.

FAQs about the Nike Vaporfly 3

What kind of races is the Nike Vaporfly 3 best suited for?

The Nike Vaporfly 3 is a marvel in long-distance racing, specifically in half marathons and full marathons. Its pedigree lies in the meticulous engineering that goes into its cushioning and carbon plate technology, a combination that spells a significant advantage for runners.

The ZoomX foam offers a plush yet responsive cushioning, meanwhile, the carbon plate nestled within the midsole propels you forward with a spring-like effect, conserving valuable energy with each stride.

This synergy between cushioning and propulsion is what sets the Vaporfly 3 apart, making it a prized possession for serious racers. While it’s versatile enough to handle shorter races with aplomb, it’s in the relentless stretches of half and full marathons where the Vaporfly 3 truly shines.

The shoe’s ability to maintain a high level of comfort while optimizing energy return is a nod to Nike’s commitment to aiding athletes in chasing down those elusive personal records. Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or an enthusiastic amateur eager to shave off minutes from your timing, striding in a pair of Vaporfly 3’s could very well be a game-changer.

What are the top competitors of the Nike Vaporfly 3 in the racing shoe market?

The running shoe market is fiercely competitive, with several brands offering high-performance shoes that vie for the top spot alongside the Nike Vaporfly 3. Here are some notable competitors:

* Adidas Adizero Adios Pro: A strong contender with its responsive Lightstrike Pro foam and carbon-infused rods, mirroring the cushioning and propulsion synergy of the Vaporfly 3.

* Brooks Hyperion Elite 2: With a DNA FLASH midsole at its core, this shoe is a blend of lightness and responsiveness.

* ASICS Metaspeed Sky: Harnessing a carbon plate and FF Blast Turbo cushioning, the Metaspeed Sky is crafted to help runners keep pace with their ambitions.

* Saucony Endorphin Pro: The Pebax-based PWRRUN PB foam and a carbon-fiber plate under its hood offer a responsive and propulsive ride.

* HOKA ONE ONE Rocket X: With a carbon fiber plate nestled within lightweight EVA foam, the Rocket X promises a cushioned and energetic ride for long-distance warriors.

* New Balance FuelCell RC Elite: With the integration of a carbon plate within its FuelCell midsole, the RC Elite seeks to offer a bouquet of cushioning and energy return for the competitive souls.

* Altra Vanish Carbon: A relative newcomer to the carbon racing flat scene, the Altra Vanish Carbon brings a zero-drop platform and a foot-shaped toe box into the fray, offering a unique take on the racing flat paradigm — and my number 1 performance shoe for wider feet.

Each of these competitors has its own set of strengths, and the choice between them and the Vaporfly 3 would come down to personal preferences such as fit, feel, and brand loyalty among other factors.

Is the Nike Vaporfly 3 an upgrade over the Vaporfly 2, and is it worth the switch?

The leap from Nike Vaporfly 2 to Vaporfly 3 isn’t about a complete overhaul but an evolution, refining the blend of speed, cushioning, and stability that has become the hallmark of this series. Here’s a quick comparison to gauge if the switch is worth the stride:

Cushioning: The Vaporfly 3 continues the legacy of exceptional cushioning, but with a touch of enhanced stability, making it a more balanced ride, especially over longer distances.

Stability: A notable upgrade in the Vaporfly 3 is the wider base which lends more stability, tackling a common critique of its predecessor being a tad tipsy for some runners.

Traction: The traction pattern has seen a redesign, shifting from a wavy rectangle to a more traditional nub-like pattern, aiming to provide a better grip across various conditions.

Breathability: With an enhanced Flyknit upper, the Vaporfly 3 takes breathability up a notch, ensuring your feet stay cool, even when the race heats up.

Price: The Vaporfly 3 comes with a premium price tag, a common trait in this lineage. The assessment of worth boils down to whether the tweaks in design translate to a significant improvement in your running experience.

The narrative here is not of a revolutionary change but a series of thoughtful tweaks aiming to enhance what was already a remarkable shoe. If the enhanced stability, traction, and breathability align with what you felt was missing in the Vaporfly 2, then the Vaporfly 3 could well be worth the investment. However, if you are content with the Vaporfly 2, the upgrade, while sweet, might not be a game-changer.

Nike Vaporfly 3 Review

Final Thoughts on the Nike Vaporfly 3 Review

The Nike Vaporfly 3 subtly refines the already exceptional formula that has made the Vaporfly series a cornerstone in the racing realm. The notable changes, including a wider base for improved stability, a revised traction pattern for better grip, and an enhanced Flyknit upper for increased breathability, address the feedback from the running community, making the Vaporfly 3 a more well-rounded racing shoe. It continues to excel in what it’s designed for – aiding runners in achieving their personal best in half marathon to marathon distances with its hallmark cushioning and responsiveness delivered by the ZoomX foam and carbon plate combo.

Is the Vaporfly 3 a revolutionary leap from its predecessor? Not quite, but it’s a thoughtful evolution, embodying Nike’s commitment to refining performance. For those with a competitive streak, seeking to shave off those precious seconds off their race time, investing in the Vaporfly 3 could be a wise decision.

To wrap up our Nike Vaporfly 3 review it is worth to note that the shoe stands as a testament to Nike’s enduring drive to provide runners with that extra ounce of advantage on the race course. Its price tag mirrors the high-octane performance it aims to deliver, making it a compelling contender for serious racers.

Photo of author


Marlene Baiton

Marlene Baiton is a freelance writer/editor and accounting controller. As a running and cycling enthusiast, she loves spending her free time out on the roads and trails with her family.

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