Nike wanted to take their ZoomX foam and put it under the feet of every runner. Here with the Invincible 3 they have done just that and with a great bit piece of ZoomX.
It’s a very soft ride I’d go as far as to say it’s the softest feeling shoe I’ve ever worn. Far softer than the new ASICS Nimbus 25.
ZoomX as we know from the Alphafly and Vaporfly Next % is a very responsive foam too. That responsive, almost springy feeling is evident from the moment you pull on these shoes.
Nike says the Invincible 3 falls into their support category of shoes, but we’ll explore this claim in more depth later!
Nike Invincible 3 – First Impression
I missed the first version of the Nike Invincible, so after hearing and reading so much about the highly responsive ride of the shoe, I took the chance only a few months ago to pick up a pair of the Invincible 2 in a sale.
With the Invincible 2, it was clear it was a very soft and very responsive ride. The feel is similar to the Vaporfly Next%, albeit without the Carbon plate to keep it stable.
And it’s that stability that was the real issue for me with the Invincible 2. It was simply wobbly.
So much so that I only ran in it a couple of times and quickly demoted it to a ‘holiday shoe’. In terms of all-day comfort, it served me well on a couple of mini-breaks in Europe.
The Invincible 3 is much better.
The foam has a new shape and configuration, a wider base in the heel and forefoot, and new geometry through the midfoot.
There’s a new heel clip too to help with stability, so overall the shoe seems a whole lot more stable at first glance.
The shoe’s upper has been updated too, with a trimmed-down design it’s lost a little of the excess padding from the upper and especially around the heel area.
Nike Invincible 3 – The Tech
The ZoomX midsole is the main technology story of this shoe.
It’s the same midsole material used in the brand’s racing shoes, so has a familiar spring-like feel to it. There’s no carbon plate, but this is a training shoe, so there’s no need for that here.
The midsole features a deep rocker design.
The rear of the shoe rolls gently into the midsole and the forefoot features a steeper, more aggressive rocker. It feels smooth when on the move, it simply helps get that deep stack of foam rolling along better.
The midsole has new geometry. It’s broader in the heel, midfoot, and forefoot but still retains a slightly unusual shape rather than being simply a big ‘blob’ of foam.
An external heel clip sits around the heel counter for stability.
The outsole features a miniature waffle design pattern for traction.
Nike Invincible 3 – Road Test
I couldn’t wait to get out on the road in the Nike Invincible 3, such was the welcoming nature of that soft ZoomX foam.
From the moment I pulled them on, they were instantly comfortable and offered a glimpse of what the running experience might be like.
My initial 5k on the road was great, an easy mid-week run following a harder tempo session the previous day, the shoes simply soaked up the impact which meant my legs seemed to be recovering well.
The Flyknit upper now has a slightly different texture and finish to its construction. It feels almost a little water-repellent and this was something I was able to discuss with a Nike designer recently. He told me this was indeed something they had worked on to retain breathability but also help with water repellence.
The fit is great, the shoe has lost some of the excess weight and bulk from the upper, noticeably in the tongue and ankle collar areas. They remain comfortable, just a little slimmer than the Invincible 2.
The spring-like feel from the ZoomX is noticeable. With every step, you can feel the shoe giving a little ‘energy return’.
My next run was more of the same, this time a longer, medium pace 8-mile run. Once again, the shoe performed well.
My pace was consistent throughout the run and the shoes gave a good level of energy return, keeping a smile on my face and a spring in my stride.
Having enjoyed my first couple of runs in the Invincible 3 it was without hesitation that I pulled them on for my Sunday run.
This was to be a hilly 16-mile route. The first few miles came and went with great ease and comfort.
The shoes were responsive enough to get me up the hills with ease and a long downhill section of around 3 miles which usually leaves my legs feeling a little beat up came and went without issue.
It was only in the latter stages of this particular run that I became aware of the stability, or rather lack of stability of the shoe.
As I became a little tired and my form began to suffer a little, I was very aware of a wobble. The high stack and very soft nature of the shoe seemed to allow a little too much pronation.
We’ve all been there; the legs start to give a little. Usually, it’s towards the end of a marathon as we pray for the finish line to get nearer.
It’s when the tiredness kicks in that you become more aware of the discrepancies in your stride and form, and it was on this occasion that I noticed the instability.
Nike Invincible 3 – Conclusion
Ok, so the Nike Invincible 3 is a really good shoe. The soft, spring-like ride is amazing. There’s nothing else that comes remotely close in terms of that much sort of responsive feel.
But, in my opinion, it’s best suited to the neutral runner. I’ll no doubt wear the shoes again, but it will be for easy, recovery run days when I am relatively fresh and not going to be venturing far enough for poor gait to become an issue.
When compared to the ASICS Gel Nimbus 25, the Invincible 3 has the edge on that energy return whereas the Nimbus proves more stable.
Another close competitor might be the Brooks Glycerin 20. Its Nitrogen infused midsole gives it a little spring, and the Nitro foam of the Brooks certainly has the edge in terms of durability. The Glycerin is also available in a supportive ‘GTS’ version for those with any instability issues.