Nike Vaporfly 2 vs. Alphafly (2021)
These two elite Nike shoes aim to go very fast in competition. Brigid Kosgei broke the marathon world record with the Vaporfly on her feet, while Eliud Kipchoge wore the Alphafly for his record in the men’s competition. American star Galen Rupp, also a star long-distance runner, is known to run in Alphafly.
Both shoes have similar configurations: 39-40 mm thick sole under the heel, ZoomX foam, carbon plate.
The main difference is in the forefoot: the Vaporfly has a higher heel-to-toe drop of 8mm vs. 4mm for the Alphafly, so logically the Vaporfly’s stack is less padded under the toes. In addition, the Alphafly has a Zoom Air unit (a kind of cushion filled with compressed air) for a very comfortable push.
One might think that the higher drop of the Vaporfly favors more of a heel-to-toe attack, but that can vary from runner to runner, so there’s no hard and fast rule.
Finally, let’s note that Alphafly’s lockdown is a little more precise than the Vaporfly’s. Version 2 of the Vaporfly (2021) amplifies this difference by providing an even more ample lockdown.
Vaporfly or Alphafly: Which one to choose?
This comparison is a perfect example of “it depends” and “it’s a matter of preference.” These are two very good shoes designed with equivalent but slightly different configurations to cater to as many athletes as possible.
We recommend trying them on in the store (or ideally in a training session) to decide. The first Vaporfly (2020) has the advantage of being less expensive (about $220), while the Alphafly and Vaporfly 2 are currently priced at $275 and $250, respectively.
More stable platform
New upper with a wider, more breathable forefoot
Hefty price considering the expected lifespan
Precise foot lockdown
Good space even for wider feet
Above-average durability for a carbon shoe
The new ‘Nature’ version is more ecological with 50% recycled material
The low heel-to-toe drop may not be suitable for everyone
Really high price
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%
|Drop||8 mm||4 mm|
|Heel stack height||40 mm||40 mm|
|Forefoot stack height||32 mm||36 mm|
|Weight (men)||186 g/6.6 oz||210 g/7.4 oz|
|Weight (women)||168 g/5.9 oz||184 g/6.5 oz|
|Outsole||Textured rubber||Textured rubber|
|Midsole||ZoomX||ZoomX, Zoom Air|
|Softness (1-5)||4 – Soft||3 – Moderate|
|Bounce (1-5)||5 – Very bouncy||5 – Very bouncy|
|Distance||Mid, long, 10 km, marathon||Mid, long, 10 km, half marathon, marathon|
Kevin is the founder and editor of Runner’s Lab. He started running in 2015 and completed his first marathon in Rotterdam in 2016. He’s also worked for Under Armour from 2016 to 2018 and helped launch their running collection in Europe (in particular the HOVR shoes). In addition, Kevin is a 300-hour certified yoga teacher (Sivananda) and uses this experience to run more mindfully with a focus on well-being over performance.