Since the launch of the Nike Vaporfly 4% following Eliud Kipchoge’s Breaking 2 challenge, the shoe has become the go-to model for those seeking to achieve their best performance on the road.
The Nike Vaporfly 3 is the third version of the shoe and will surely be as popular as ever.
While the shoe gains much of its attention from marathon records, it’s much more versatile and indeed a great option at any distance from 5k to marathon and even beyond.
The shoe sticks to the same basic design principles of the first two models, but now has a little more cushioning and a new upper design.
Nike Vaporfly 3 – First Impression:
Wow! It’s light and soft, it straightaway feels softer than the previous version.
Although the stack height remains the same at an ‘on the limit’ legal height of 40 mm, cushioning is increased by reducing the outsole.
The upper is incredibly light and breathable. The large open space in the knit of the upper help reduce the weight and make this what must be the most breathable upper on any running shoe right now.
The off-set laces sit on the foot well, but there’s a little bunching in the forefoot when pulled tight and the tongue is rather long!
Even with the cut-out section in the tongue, it sits very close to the ankle. Something that will need a little adjustment when lacing the shoes.
Nike Vaporfly 3 – The Tech:
In the new model, even more of the total 40 mm stack of the shoe is made up of Nike’s super foam cushion, ZoomX.
The brand’s most responsive cushioning, it offers a high level of energy return and feels noticeably bouncy from the moment you step into the shoe.
The full-length carbon plate is named Flyplate by Nike, it’s their unique shape and curvature to provide a stiff and propulsive feel when combined with the ZoomX foam.
The Flyknit upper is an engineered mesh with large apertures incorporated into the design. These spaces allow for lots of air to pass through the upper, making it extremely breathable.
Nike Vaporfly 3 – Road Test:
Having run most of my best races of 2022 in the Vaporfly 2 I was keen to try the 3. Knowing how the shoe should perform, I was pretty confident of it working well again.
With this in mind, I chose my first run in the shoes to be the Half Marathon at the Great Manchester Run event here in the UK.
Of course, I’d always advise people not to try anything new on race day, so it was a case of ‘do as I say’ rather than as I do!
I pulled the shoes on before a short jog to the start line.
The only slight concern I had was over the placement of the tongue close to the ankle. I adjusted this after the warm-up jog, refastening the shoes and simply not pulling the tongue up too much. This solved the problem.
From the gun, the shoes felt light and fast, and actually, I didn’t give them much thought during the race. They did feel softer than the previous version, but not in a way that it could be a different shoe.
The course had a few sharp turns as well as one U-turn and the stability of the shoes was fine in these circumstances.
I aimed to run a pretty consistent pace of around 5:45 per mile and did so pretty comfortably to finish in 1 hour and 15 minutes. The springy, responsive feel of the shoes was great and every bit as good as version 2.
Nike Vaporfly 3 – Conclusion:
In conclusion, the Nike Vaporfly 3 is now my first choice of racing shoe. That said, it is very closely followed by the Vaporfly 2, and given the fact you can pick up the 2 at half the price, it’s a very close call.
The feel of both shoes is very similar, perhaps the Vaporfly 3 being slightly softer and slightly lighter and very slightly more stable.
Durability might become a concern given the very thin outsole, but I haven’t covered enough miles yet to notice and, being honest, I will keep the shoe for racing only.
If you can afford the Nike Vaporfly 3, don’t give it a second thought, it’s amazing. If price is a consideration, stick with the Vaporfly 2. Whichever shoe you choose you’ll have one that’s highly capable when it comes to helping you achieve your goals.