If you’re looking for a pair of race day-ready sneakers, looks like you have a new pair to try on: Nike just announced its latest and fastest running shoes called the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%—a $275 neon green follow-up to the Zoom Vaporfly 4% sneakers you already know.
For its newest release, Nike listened to runners and tweaked the upper in the NEXT%, swapping out the Zoom Vaporfly 4%’s Flyknit and outfitting your feet in what it calls Vaporweave.
This helps your sneakers stay lightweight and essentially make them better equipped to power through wet-and-miserable races where the last thing you want is to feel like you’re dragging your feet.
“Not only is the Vaporweave material lighter than Flyknit, just out of the box and dry, but that gets amplified more and more as you go throughout the race,” says Elliott Heath, product line manager at Nike Running. “The Vaporweave material absorbs less than 13% of the amount of water that the Flyknit and other materials similar to it would absorb, so the weight savings are there from start to finish and even more so at the end.”
Inside on the heel, designers placed a small foam strip that covers only part of your heel. It looks like it could be a piece of foam tape and it’s meant to give you just the right amount of comfort without slowing you up. “We really spent a lot of time on a bunch of different constructions just to try to use the exact amount of foam that we felt like we needed but no more,” Heath says, “as opposed to other traditional foam heel packages that would have foam all around the heel—although it’s very comfortable, a lot of that’s just not getting used.”
Nike designed the NEXT% with an 8mm drop, along with the carbon fiber plate from the 4% and even more of its ZoomX foam. Trying on the shoes, you can feel how much you want to move to the next step while the foam offers a lightweight, cushioned feel under your feet. “That sensation of energy return and propulsion roll-off that was so unique to the Vaporfly is really just amplified in this next version,” Heath says. “That’s what all of our athletes have continued to call out once trying the shoe, they can notice a difference in just how much energy they’re receiving back.”
But those aren’t the only updates. Underneath Nike says it added extra traction in key areas of the shoe based on runner feedback from Eliud Kipchoge to Mo Farah.
And looking down, you’ll notice the laces aren’t in the center of your feet like your other running kicks. “Essentially it was to help provide comfort over the 26 miles of the marathon,” says Brett Holts, Nike’s vice president of Running Footwear.
Meanwhile, the Nike logo swooshes over your toes to the other side of your feet. And as Nike reps point out, this design choice on the NEXT% is 100% intentional. After all, how else will everyone be able to tell which shoes you wore when you cross the finish line?
You can pick up the NEXT% for a retail price of $275. Orders start April 28.