Nike Alphafly 3: Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The Fastest Shoe In The World

The highly anticipated super shoe is now available to us mere mortals. Where can you buy it, and is it worth the hype?

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Nike has officially launched the highly anticipated Alphafly 3, marking the latest evolution in the brand’s renowned super shoe series.

The release comes on the heels of Kelvin Kiptum‘s world record-breaking performance in the Chicago Marathon late last year, where he donned a prototype of the Alphafly 3. The shoe was also spotted on Sifan Hassan, who won Chicago in the second fastest marathon in history, as well as in Japan on some of its top runners throughout the fall.

Nike released a reported 3,800 pairs worldwide at 7 a.m. ET today (Jan. 4).

Update (Jan. 4, 2023; 12 p.m. ET): the Alphafly 3 is already soldout on Nike.com.

Nike didn’t do much to keep this shoe under wraps, and perhaps that was by design, as the rollout for this shoe to the public now comes with a huge amount of hype.

Nike Alphafly 3: Here's Everything You Need To Know About The Fastest Shoe In The World 1

The Alphafly 3 is hailed as Nike’s most technologically advanced race shoe to date, boasting a combination of Air Zoom units, ZoomX foam, and a carbon fiber Flyplate. We see it as more of a distillation of everything the last two iterations of the Alphafly did well, along with minor but key improvements where those shoes were criticized, including its bulky feel and platform shoe-like lack of stability.

Bret Schoolmeester, Nike Running’s senior product designer and one of the key stewards of the super shoe era, describes the Alphafly 3 as a “have your cake and eat it, too” moment. the Alphafly 3 certainly is decadent, but it is also surprisingly versatile and might be less of a glass slipper, in that it probably will work for many more runners than the first two versions.

Nike Alphafly 3: Here's Everything You Need To Know About The Fastest Shoe In The World 2

Key Features of the Nike Alphafly 3

Reduced Weight for an Already Light Shoe

In the past six months, suddenly we’re right back to where we started with racing flats: it’s all about weight.

The Alphafly 3 is 15 percent lighter in overall weight compared to its predecessor, the Alphafly 2, which we didn’t find overly heavy in the first place, and thought was an excellent race day option. This weight reduction is attributed to a new outsole compound and a super-light FlyKnit upper, enhancing the shoe’s streamlined profile. It also doesn’t hurt that the Alphafly design has these deep cutouts in the middle of the midsole.

Longevity for a Super Shoe

The main concern with super shoes has always been: how many marathons can I get out of them before I’m taking a risk wearing them?

Nike seems to have taken note of this, leading with a claim that the Alphafly 3 is the most durable super shoe to date. In the press release, Nike emphasizes the durability of the Alphafly 3. Unlike some competitors with limited usage recommendations, the Alphafly 3 is apparently built for the long haul, capable of enduring 250 miles and beyond. It should be entertaining to see folks on Reddit and various super shoe Facebook groups put this claim to the test.

Our gear editor will be sure to put the Alphafly 3 through its paces in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for a review after, say, 250 miles of thrashing.

While it remains to be seen if the Alphafy 3 feels as responsive and looks fresh after the equivalent of about eight or nine marathons, it’s certainly a marked contrast to Adidas’ Pro Evo 1, which is designed for a grand total of one marathon. It’s fun to see the two big titans go in very different directions on this front.

While we don’t love the ugly carbon footprint the super shoe market has created (no pun intended), we do like it when there is variety and choice, and different technological approaches. Ultimately, these competing philosophies could lead to one even faster shoe down the road.

The Alphafly 3 Is Not Ugly

The Alphafly 3 debuts in what Nike is calling its “Prototype” colorway. The all-white silhouette features vibrant pops of color, highlighting the dual Air Zoom units and includes unique athlete wear-test numbers and iteration references. These styling details are reminiscent to how hypercar designers tend to leave experimental unit flourishes on production vehicles.

Nike has been criticized in the past for releasing super shoes with loud and often polarizing neon shades. This first Alphafly 3 is clearly playing it safe, with just a touch of Back to the Future vibes, which is part of its identity and charm. While we feel the Alphafly is a McLaren, not a Toyota and should demand attention, not avoid it, this initial colorway feels more like a Porsche. It’s certainly aggressive, but you won’t feel like a total jerk in it.

Nike Alphafly 3: Here's Everything You Need To Know About The Fastest Shoe In The World 3

Even More Shoe Doping!

Air Zoom Units

The Alphafly 3 incorporates Nike’s proprietary Air Zoom units strategically placed in the forefoot for for what its designers say create enhanced propulsion and energy return. The idea is that the dual Air Zoom setup provides runners with an improved level of responsiveness, helping them to maximize speed and efficiency with each step.

Previously, the debate between the Vaporfly and the Alphafly has come down to whether or not the consumer believes this conceit. Sure, Eliud Kipchoge had success in both versions of the Alphafly, but can anyone else? Certainly, it doesn’t hurt Nike’s argument that the current world record was run in this shoe. It’ll be curious to see what the early returns are in the Alphafly 3 at spring marathons, at all running abilities.

ZoomX Foam

At the core of the Alphafly 3 is the ZoomX foam, a lightweight and responsive material designed to minimize weight while maximizing energy return. ZoomX has been Nike’s secret sauce since the first Vaporfly 4% shoe, and after the initial hoopla regarding carbon plates faded, it became clear that the Swoosh had a clear advantage on its competitors because of the foam.

ZoomX’s reductive redesign not only trims down the overall shoe weight but, according to Nike’s designers, also ensures a smooth transition from heel to toe, optimizing the runner’s stride efficiency. Again, this remains to be seen. As super shoes are stiff by design, this would be a welcomed change.

Nike Alphafly 3: Here's Everything You Need To Know About The Fastest Shoe In The World 4

A Wider Carbon Fiber Flyplate

A key component of the Alphafly 3’s success is the carbon fiber Flyplate embedded within the midsole. This feature contributes to stability and a propulsive sensation, and is a fundamental component to improve energy return. Think of it as the spinal structure of the shoe. It doesn’t create the energy return, so much as holds the full package together, helping you remain stable as you fling forward with the aid of the ZoomX foam (and your quick running stride, of course).

In the Alphafly 3, the Flyplate has been widened on the medial midfoot for improved stability during each stride. Hopefully, this helps remedy complaints about the previous two models that it felt “tippy.”

Fast Shot Outsole = More Traction

The introduction of what Nike has dubbed the Fast Shot outsole is aimed at enhancing traction and grip, which is essential for maintaining control and speed during races, particularly hilly, turny ones, like, say, the Boston Marathon or the Paris Olympics course. This redesigned outsole not only improves traction but also contributes to an overall weight reduction of the shoe.

Traction has been an issue with other super shoes, particularly Adidas, so again its intriguing that Nike is sacrificing a touch of weight in order to add some grip and longevity to the Alphafly 3.

The Atomknit 3.0 Upper Is Comfy

The Alphafly 3 features the aptly named Atomknit 3.0 uppers, delivering more in the way of moderation: a nice balance of breathability and stability in a lightweight package. These uppers were the result of extensive testing and feedback from over 300 test runners worldwide, according to Nike.

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Technical Specifications of the Nike Alphafly 3

The Alphafly 3 is Nike’s lightest Alphafly, with a men’s size 10 weighing 7.7 oz. (220 g) and a women’s size 8 coming in at 6.2 oz. (176 grams)

The stack height, complying with World Athletics regulations, is just under 40 millimeters. So if you run a world record in the shoe, it’ll count. This also means you can bet on seeing many pairs of the Alphafly 3 on marathoners at each o the World Marathon Majors and the Paris Games this August.

The shoe features an 8mm drop from heel to forefoot, providing a nice balance of stability and performance, and shouldn’t feel too aggressive while still delivering that forefoot striking positioning that is essential in maximizing running economy.

The Nike Alphafly 3 hits the shelves with a retail price of $285 USD, which is at the top of the market. That sounds like a lot, and it is. But what you’re paying for is effectively to be a beta tester of bleeding edge in running shoe technology, offsetting the exceptional research and development costs Nike must endure each time it reloads to develop a new super shoe. 

Get the the Alphafly 3 while you can, as it appears that, as of noon ET on release day, Nike.com is already sold out:

Nike Alphafly 3 is already sold out on Nike.com

Happy Alphafly 3 Day!

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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