This real-world update to Nike's attention-grabbing Vaporfly 4% could be the answer to everyday runners’ prayers.
Ask and you shall receive. While running shoes don’t exactly share the same weight as the sermon on the mount, the statement rings true with the announcement of Nike’s new ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%, an update to one of Nike’s most groundbreaking shoes in recent history, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%. Available in unisex sizing only and in limited quantities beginning Sunday, April 28, the new $275 shoe will serve as the second iteration to the popular 4% racers.
Using the foundation from the behemoth running brand’s unique technology that claims to improve running economy by 4 percent (backed by an independent study in the journal Sports Medicine), the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% retains all of the 4%’s biomechanical magic and adds a drop of reality via some much-needed real-world race-condition updates. Based off of feedback from elite athletes like the new marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge alongside Olympic medalist Shalane Flanagan, the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% adds traction, a lesser heel offset, a new upper, more energy-saving foam, and a (super bright!) new color—among other tweaks. Bear in mind that the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% will not be available in a women’s-specific sizing or lasts, but this was also the case with the older Vaporfly 4% version as well.
Runners should recognize the Vaporfly 4% from the pointy end of the race corral (17 of the 36 podium finishers at last year’s World Marathon Majors also wore some version of the 4%), but the new updates mean they’re also better for those in the middle and the back. With the increase in foam, Nike’s running footwear product line manager Elliott Heath says this is a shoe “good for anyone trying to break through,” and adds that it follows the trend away from super-minimal shoes toward something that simply helps legs stay fresher, no matter the speed.
“We get the same amount of input on impact protection as propulsion,” says Brett Holts, Nike’s vice president of running footwear. So it goes that Nike also says the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% will help keeps legs fresher longer, even for slower runners. “Athletes say they get back to racing faster after a hard race,” he adds. Not only will runners get back faster, but hopefully they’ll stay on their feet longer. According to Elliott Heath, Nike’s running footwear product line manager, the increased traction will serve a more “wide range of conditions” including slippery paint on roads near aid stations that can become a treacherous obstacle for runners.
Nike also points to the space-age upper that uses a new material based off of sailcloth called Vaporweave that’s meant to be more breathable and less susceptible to soaking. (You can thank feedback from Shalane Flanagan at last year’s Boston Marathon slopfest for this feature.) Not just for messy conditions, the lighter fabric helps out with its hot and bone dry. “The upper is good for athletes looking to keep their core temperature low by dumping water on their heads,” Heath says. “[Even when soaked] the performance will stay the same.”
So if you liked the idea of the 4%, but felt it was a little bit too theoretical and not practical enough for everyday athletes, Nike says the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% might just be the answer to your prayers.
To get yours, get in virtual line in the Nike Run Club App on Sunday, April 28 in the U.S.