A real-world update to Nike’s Vaporfly 4% could be the answer to triathletes’ 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 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 athletes like the new marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge alongside Olympic medalists like Mo Farah and Shalane Flanagan as well as 2017 Boston Marathon winner Geoffrey Kirui, the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% adds traction, a lesser heel offset, a fancy (bright!) new upper, and more foam—among other tweaks.
If nothing else, triathletes should recognize the Vaporfly 4% and its younger cousin, the Zoom Fly Flyknit, from this year’s Ironman World Championships, where Nike was one of the fastest movers in the the annual Kona shoe count—moving up by nearly 9 percent from 2017 into the number two spot behind Hoka One One. No doubt bolstered by the popularity of the energy-returning shoes, Nikes were also spotted on the only two men in Kona’s top 10 without a shoe sponsor (Michael Weiss and Cameron Wurf) and no less than three of the shoe-sponsor-less women in the top ten.
So the Vaporfly 4% is fast, and they’re popular with fast people (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 that the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% will be better for triathletes. 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 multisporters. 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. “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.”
Protection is also the name of the game for those triathletes and runners who aren’t necessarily posted at the pointy end of the field, as Nike engineered an increase in midsole foam—while keeping weight the same. “We get the same amount of input on impact protection as propulsion,” says Brett Holts, Nike’s vice president of running footwear. “As the run is last [in triathlon], your legs are already tired when you take that first step.” 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.
So, if like many Nike athletes, you liked the idea of the 4%, but felt it was a little bit too theoretical and not as practical for everyday athletes, Nike says the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% might be the answer to your prayers.
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% Updates:
- Breathable Vaporweave upper
- Offset lacing on the upper to relieve pressure on the top of the foot
- Thin foam pod for Achilles relief
- Added foam in the midsole
- Reduced heel-to-toe offset from 11mm to 8mm
- Better traction and tread on the outsole
Same As It Ever Was:
- Retaining the full-length carbon-fiber plate for increased stiffness and Nike’s 4% trademarked increase in efficiency
- Even with increased foam and traction, Nike says the weight remains the same as the 4%
To get your ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%s, get in virtual line in the Nike Run Club App on Sunday, April 28 in the U.S.