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Nike Vaporfly 3 Review: The Original King Returns
By David Salas, Andrea Myers and Matthew Klein

The Nike Vaporfly line has been the gold standard for many when it comes to race day. Nike updated their popular lineup with some small tweaks that make for a similar but augmented experience. The  Vaporfly 3 has similar specifications as Version 2, but has an updated upper and outsole design. There are also some small modifications in the platform to help with getting you through your big day. The latest Vaporfly continues to certainly be a top-shelf road racer. In this review, we'll take a look at the major changes to the latest version and see how it competes with the competition.

Nike Vaporfly 3
Price: $249.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 6.5 oz, 184 g (men's size 9), 5.6 oz, 159 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 38 mm / 30 mm
Drop: 8 mm
Classification: Super Shoe


Matt: The Nike Vaporfly 3 is the latest iteration of the original super racing shoe. A new upper combines a secure heel with a surprisingly high-volume forefoot. The full-length ZoomX midsole still feels incredibly bouncy, providing both cushioning and speed for almost any racing distance. New geometrical changes drop the weight even further, reestablishing the Vaporfly as the lightest super shoe on the market. While it continues to not be a stable shoe by any means, the Vaporfly Next% 3 continues as one of the fastest shoes on the market. 

David: The Vaporfly 3 is a road racing shoe that has focused its updates on weight, lockdown, and traction. The new Vaporfly uses a new Flyknit material that is very airy and locks the foot down well. The updated outsole pattern has better traction on all surfaces. The ZoomX is still as bouncy as it has been. The updates clean up the little things for this versatile 5k - marathon racing shoe. 

Andrea: The new Vaporfly is Nike's latest update to its original super shoe line. For me, Version 3 has the best-fitting upper yet, a slightly firmer (but still bouncy and responsive) ride, and a new outsole that should improve durability. At 5.6 oz for a women's size 8, this incredibly lightweight shoe will continue to be a great option for almost any road race distance.

: Saucony Endorphin Pro 3, ASICS Metaspeed Edge+
PAST MODEL: Vaporfly Next% 2


Matt: The Nike Vaporfly 3 fits me true to size in my normal Men's US size 10. The width is snug in the heel and midfoot, then opens into a surprisingly wide forefoot. The volume is high in the forefoot, which provides plenty of room. The midfoot immediately becomes snug with a thin, non-gusseted tongue. The tongue is notched, so it is secure if you lock it down correctly first. Despite the snug fit in the midfoot, I did have to tighten down the laces due to the lack of additional structure in the midfoot. This locks down the upper decently as long as you consistently tighten the laces along the length of the midfoot. The heel is also snug with an additional piece of padding around the top of the heel collar. There is a moderately stiff heel counter that is quite noticeable, but is offset a little by the small pad in the rearfoot. Those sensitive to counters should be cautious with this shoe while those wanting a stiff counter will enjoy this.

The security of the upper is decent. The thin, see-through mesh has plenty of volume to adapt to a variety of meet, but tightening down the laces easily secures this for a variety of foot types. However, the security is really only best running in a straight line. Turning is a little precarious and I have felt like my foot is going to fall off the platform during any quick maneuvering outside of the sagittal plane. This is also due to how narrow the platform is at the heel and midfoot. Fortunately, the heel counter does help lock things down further and I did not have to lace lock the shoe. The insole is not removable at all. Those with orthotic needs will need to look elsewhere. The upper is comfortable, but socks are necessary. The mesh holes can be scratchy against bare skin. Those interested in this shoe should use socks to prevent any friction. 

David: The Nike Vaporfly 3 fits true to size in my Men's 9.5. The Flyknit material is surprisingly comfortable. It is very airy and holds its structure pretty well. The tongue is thin and integrates really well with the Flyknit. The new Flyknit material is much more comfortable than the previous engineered mesh and feels softer and less encroaching. The width through the heel and midfoot are slighly snug and consistent with most performance shoes. It does feel more forgiving in this region than the previous model. The forefoot width is normal to slightly wide. The upper also does a great job of accommodating swelling and has slight stretch to it. The volume of the material is surprisingly high through the forefoot into the midfoot, though locks down really well. This also helps contribute to the comfort factor of the flyknit upper. There is a rigid heel counter that holds the structure of the heel cup without giving any irritation. There is some padding for the Achilles as well which feels comfortable and helps prevent slippage. There was still a small amount of slippage for me, though significantly better than the second version. This is by far my favorite upper so far for the Vaporfly line. 

Andrea: The Vaporfly 3 fits true to size in my women's 9.5. I think it is the best fitting Vaporfly yet. Those who have gone up 1/2 size in previous models of the Vaporfly for length will likely find v3 to fit true to size. My pair of Next% 2 are women's 10, and the size 9.5 in v3 fits the same in terms of length and with a little more volume in the toe box. The midfoot and rearfoot fit securely, but do not feel overly narrow. I did not need to mess with the laces much to get secure and comfortable lockdown, and did not experience any heel slippage.

The updated Flyknit material is one of the best-updated features of v3. It is much more breathable than in previous models and has more structure due to variation in the thickness and stiffness of the mesh. The mesh is thicker and stiffer on the sides of the midfoot and forefoot, which helps the upper to hold its shape better and lift the upper slightly away from the foot. The tongue is flat, with minimal padding and no gusset. It is held in place by a lace loop over the midfoot and I did not experience any tongue slippage while running. The medial aspect of the tongue is longer than normal and extends over the front of the ankle. It appears to have the potential to create skin irritation, but I did not experience any whatsoever. Version 3 retains the asymmetrical lacing of previous versions, which I have not had any issues with. The textured laces are the same as v2 and stay securely tied.

The rigid heel counter provides structure to the rearfoot without creating any heel irritation. The padded heel collar, which feels slightly thinner than v2, further contributes to comfortable rearfoot lockdown. For me, this is the best-fitting Vaporfly so far thanks to the improved upper material, true-to-size fit, and additional volume in the toe box.

Want more details?
Listen to our full podcast review of the Vaporfly 3 here.


Matt: The Nike Vaporfly 3 is a high-stack, carbon-plated super shoe. The ZoomX midsole is soft and bouncy throughout the length of the shoe. Prior to the first run, I actually found the foam oddly firm underfoot. This broke in quickly, however there is still a bit of contrast between the heel and forefoot. Both still have the classic ZoomX feel, but the forefoot is a bit firmer. The heel is really soft and bouncy, but landing at either spot provides a bouncy and responsive ride. The heel transition has a solid bevel, but due to the narrow platform is a bit unsteady to land on unless you have stable mechanics. The forefoot has a great forefoot rocker that transitions well at both high and moderate speeds. The forefoot is stiff, although this is a good thing as it offsets the soft ZoomX foam and works great for faster efforts. There is an 8 mm drop listed, although it feels a little lower likely due to how much the midsole compresses.

The Vaporfly 3 works best for races and workouts. I have used this for a fartlek, tempo run and hill repeats. It works best at a variety of fast speeds and although not stable enough for me, has plenty of cushioning and speed for a 5k all the way to up to a marathon. It can do some easier efforts and has been fine using for warm-ups and cool-downs. However, it is a bit stiff and unstable for that. Those wanting ZoomX in a daily training shoe should look at the Invincible 3 instead. The forefoot outsole has been redone with a waffle-style design, which grips the road really well and provides solid traction. I have tested this on dirt and the forefoot does well on mild terrain. Those who use the Vaporfly for XC courses may find this version works better, but the rearfoot is especially narrow and unstable. Thus, those who land farther forward may find this version better than the prior ones for dirt. I personally would not use this on an XC course as the unstable surface combined with the unstable rearfoot/midfoot would probably destroy my ankles.

The outsole has a decent amount of rubber with two strips of additional reinforcement on the most lateral and medial sides of the heel. These sections have almost no wear on them, whereas the exposed ZoomX is getting chewed up after 25 miles. The reinforcements as mentioned have no wear, even in my normal posterior lateral side. The forefoot has no wear even after some dirt use. Thus, I do expect these to last as long as prior models despite some of the wear on the exposed ZoomX.

The new Vaporfly 3 did not disappoint for me. The shoe feels cleaned up with its transitions compared to the second model. The specifications between Vaporfly's are very similar but do ride slightly differently. For those that love the Next% 2 you will still get along with the 3, though there are some differences. The plate design is supposed to be similar to the original Vaporfly and follows a spoon like pattern. The platform has been shifted slightly in the forefoot to allow for some sole flare medially to help with forefoot collapse. The traction underfoot is significantly better for me in the forefoot, though it is thinned through the heel. The midfoot and forefoot are very bouncy and the sole flare does feel like it helps a tad with toe off. The heel bevel is small but seems to help a little with the initial contact.

The platform is pretty narrow in the heel and midfoot. This shoe is all about quick transitions and does not mess around. Those that are sensitive to narrow platforms might find this a little unstable, though I did find this to be better than the previous version. I have been able to take this shoe nearly all paces asked of me, though it does respond better in the 5k to marathon type pacing. On the track it corners decently, though I did still feel some resistance on the left leg secondary to collapse medially while turning into it. The responsiveness of the platform, traction of the outsole, and comfort of the upper definitely make this a shoe worth looking at when tackling your next race. 

Andrea: Nike super shoes and I get along very well. I have done many races from 5k through marathon in the original Vaporfly Next% and have done three races from 10k to half marathon this year in my pair of the original Alphaflys. The Nike Vaporfly 3 is an exciting addition to my race shoe lineup and it is definitely a contender for my race shoe for Grandma's Marathon later this year. It has the familiar ZoomX bounce that can handle any pace. The thing that I notice most about this version is that it feels more immediately responsive than previous versions of the Vaporfly. The original and v2 both have a mild sinking in feeling at initial contact before feeling the bounce and propulsion of the foam, plate, and forefoot rocker.

For me, version 3 does not have that initial sinking in feeling, but instead immediately feels like it responds and propels me to push off. Midfoot landings feel comfortable and natural in the shoe, without the rearfoot feeling like it gets in the way. The platform overall is quite stiff, which contributes to fast transitions. Everything about the ride of this shoe feels like it is geared towards movement in the forward direction. Like my original Next%, I would use this shoe for everything from a 5k through the marathon. The updated outsole provides incredible traction for a racing shoe and I had no issues during a 12 mile workout in the rain that included a lot of corners. The extensive rubber coverage should improve durability of this version, although durability of super shoe can be more related to breakdown of the midsole.



Matt: The Vaporfly 3 is a neutral shoe that is a bit unstable in the rearfoot and midfoot. There are no methods of stability given this is a neutral racing shoe. The ZoomX is soft and resilient, which combined with the tall and extremely narrow platform in the heel and midfoot makes the ride inherently unstable in that area. There are small sidewalls in the midfoot on the medial and lateral side, but to me this just made it feel like the arch was higher. The forefoot is decently stable thanks to what feels like a wide platform on both the medial and lateral side. Those who land farther forward will find a neutral but not unstable ride, while those who land at the rearfoot will need to have stable mechanics to take this shoe for longer distances. 

David: This is definitely not a stability shoe. The ZoomX foam is relatively compliant and does have some give to it. The platform is also narrow and forces you to transition quickly to try and avoid collapse medially. There are some things the Vaporfly did well though. The traction underfoot is noticeable and does give the runner more confidence when running on both road and track. The midsole also has some sidewalls medially and laterally in the distal rearfoot/early midfoot. I would like to see one in the early forefoot as well, though the sidewall that is present works pretty well. The forefoot platform has also been shifted slightly medially to help with forefoot pronation. The upper lockdown and security is surprisingly good and helps with having a good stability experience as well. I do feel like the Next% 3 is a more stable shoe than the 2, though definitely a neutral model. 

The Vaporfly 3 is a neutral racing shoe. Its narrow rearfoot and midfoot could create stability issues for rearfoot strikers. The combination of the extremely responsive ZoomX midsole, plate, and rocker geometry make for a quick transition to push-off that will put greater stress on the hip due to moving quickly into hip extension at push-off. The shoe does have a few elements that help to center the ride in the forefoot. Like previous versions, there is significant sole flaring both medially and laterally. The forefoot platform in v3 has also been shifted medially, which may help slow or reduce forefoot pronation. The well-done upper also provides excellent lockdown and structure, helping to stabilize the foot in the shoe. This shoe performs exceptionally well on wet roads due to its updated rubber outsole and overall fit. I agree with David that v3 feels more stable than previous versions, but it remains a shoe for those without significant stability needs.

Thoughts as a DPT: Little Tweaks
By David Salas

What do you do when you have a best-selling shoe and limits to the parameters you can develop in? You look at the little things that make the shoe good.

Throughout the years Nike has done a good job with playing around with their materials and presenting a slightly more refined concoction each time. The updates from the Nike Vaporfly 2 and 3 maintain the same root DNA with some large changes. The two most obvious are the upper and outsole. Though supposedly they worked on creating some convexity of the platform through the forefoot to help with stability. In an interview with Elliot Heath and Running Warehouse, they discussed that the underfoot platform, or foot base, is the same width as the previous model with a small tweak in the forefoot. The small tweak was shifting the forefoot platform a couple of millimeters medially to help with improving forefoot stability. In a shoe world, this pulls from some ideology in the orthotics world with flare. 

Sole flare is essentially an extension of a platform beyond the foot base of where you are standing. This is common in a lot of high-stack rockered shoes in todays world. It is believed that the wider base of material helps with resisting motion moving into that direction. In custom footwear or orthotics we will see modifications like this to help excessive translation, pronation, or supination, depending on the impairment. This change in the Vaporfly 3 is a small change, though one that I found makes this shoe more in tune with my mechanics.


Matt: The Vaporfly 3 is a great progression from a performance standpoint for this line. My major suggestion is to widen the platform in the midfoot and maybe the heel. The midfoot is far too narrow for a shoe that has this much stack height. The narrowness occurs both on the medial and lateral side. The stiffness of the plate is enough that the medial "wall" of ZoomX could be moved farther medial to allow for a larger central gap in the midfoot. Saucony did this extremely well with Endorphin Pro 3 and in order to maintain the low weight, that may be the best option for Nike. I appreciate that Nike is experimenting further with geometry, but on the same topic, I think the central groove can be lengthened further into the heel to allow for more buildup of midsole on the medial and lateral side of the heel/midfoot. I recognize adding things would take away the title of being the lightest super shoe, but shifting things could make this shoe a bit more stable and accessible. Outside of that, I think this is still a high-performing super racing shoe. It just isn't quite stable enough for me to use to the level of versatility others will be able to. 

David: I really enjoyed my experience in the Nike Vaporfly 3, though I do have a recommendation. The sidewall in the late rearfoot/early midfoot works pretty well, though I would love to have another one more distal. This would help with having a sensation of guidance despite the narrow platform. 

Andrea: This is my favorite Vaporfly yet thanks to the updated fit, upper, and responsive ride. My one recommendation would be to shorten the tongue. I don't see any reason for it to be so long on the medial side and while it didn't cause any irritation for me, could potentially cause issues for other runners.



Matt: The Nike Vaporfly 3 is a super racing shoe for those that want a highly responsive and fast ride for 5k to the marathon. The fit is higher volume in the forefoot and snug in the rest of the shoe. The ZoomX midsole is as bouncy and resilient as ever, with improved traction on the outsole for some additional versatility for those with stable mechanics on mild XC courses. The heel and midfoot are more narrow than ever, so those with stability needs will not do well in this shoe. Those who have neutral mechanics will do fine in this shoe, which again returns lighter than ever. Those who have struggled with a narrow forefoot will do quite well in those and those sensitive to stability will enjoy these (just be careful of the mild sidewalls). Nike has done a great job continuing to improve the original super shoe. Although it isn't quite stable enough for me, I respect the high level of performance this shoe provides while still staying at the same price. 

David: The Nike Vaporfly 3 is a road racing shoe for someone that wants quick transitions and doesn't mind a narrow platform. Everything about this shoe is quick and is biased towards performance. The volume in this shoe is also very forgiving and would work well for those that normally have complaints of racing shoes being too tight. The Next% 3 is still that versatile racing shoe that can go from 5k to marathon. 

Andrea: The new Vaporfly  3 is the best version yet of Nike's flagship super shoe. It is for runners who want an extremely responsive racing shoe that does not feel like a marshmallow. Those who have found previous versions of the Vaporfly to be too low volume will be pleased with v3. It really is a do-it-all super shoe, and could be used for road races of any distance.


Fit: A- (Snug heel/midfoot with a higher volume forefoot that is secure running in a straight direction)
A (One of the most responsive, fast and light rides still).
Stability: B- [Neutral] (Solid forefoot but narrow/slightly unstable rearfoot/midfoot)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (Geometry attempts are great, but narrowing the heel/midfoot this much is not appropriate from a stability standpoint)
Personal: B+/A- (I really like the ride and fit of this shoe, but it isn't stable enough for me to use over longer distances. The improved forefoot volume will work for a large variety of people and this is still one of the fastest and most versatile racers. Just not for me)
Overall: B+/A-

Fit: A- (This is my favorite fitting Vaporfly so far. Though I would like a little more medial/lateral reinforcement from the upper, potentially even integrated with a sidewall in the forefoot.)
Performance: A- 
(It does what it is supposed to do. I did not find transitions clunky in this model like I did the 2nd. Improving some medial/lateral stability would help with cornering on and off the track. )
Stability: B- (Better than the previous model, but the high stack, compliant foam, and narrow platform don't lend it to great stability. Sidewall and forefoot sole flare help a tad.)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+ (Nike did a good job playing around with ingredients they already had to clean up some things from the previous model, though nothing crazy going on here)
Personal: A (Finally a Vaporfly I look forward to running in. I wish it was a little better turning, especially on track, but it is still good enough in those situations. Transitions much smoother than before.)
Overall: A- (Another solid addition to the super shoe category.)

Fit: (Best fitting Vaporfly yet due to improved upper material, length TTS, and secure lockdown.)
 (Provides responsiveness and propulsion at every pace, exceptional traction in wet conditions, all about forward motion.)
Stability: B- (neutral shoe with a narrow rearfoot and midfoot, mild stability in forefoot from sole flaring)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (Nike continues to have the right combination of foam, plate, and geometry to produce a fast, responsive shoe for any pace)
Personal: A (Best Vaporfly yet, and I loved previous versions. Incredibly versatile for a variety of race distances and improved forefoot volume makes it even more comfortable.)


Nike Vaporfly 3
Price: $249.95 at Running Warehouse

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your
local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at Nike for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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