Nike Vaporfly vs. Alphafly

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.

Side-by-side comparison

Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2
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A carbon plate shoe for fast, long, and comfortable running. This second version is more stable with a wider upper
Even more comfortable than the first version
Impressive cushioning
More stable platform
New upper with a wider, more breathable forefoot
Better versatility
Sloppy foot lockdown according to testers
Hefty price considering the expected lifespan
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%
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The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% is a carbon plate competition shoe that elite athletes Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei used to crush the world marathon records.
Effective and comfortable cushioning for competition
Precise foot lockdown
Good space even for wider feet
Lightweight
Above-average durability for a carbon shoe
The new ‘Nature’ version is more ecological with 50% recycled material
Some runners note stability issues
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%

Technical Specs

TerrainRoadRoad
Pronation typeNeutralNeutral
Drop8 mm4 mm
Heel stack height40 mm40 mm
Forefoot stack height32 mm36 mm
Weight (men)186 g/6.6 oz210 g/7.4 oz
Weight (women)168 g/5.9 oz184 g/6.5 oz
Release year20212020

Technologies

OutsoleTextured rubberTextured rubber
MidsoleZoomXZoomX, Zoom Air
UpperEngineered meshAtomknit

Cushioning

Softness (1-5)4 – Soft3 – Moderate
Bounce (1-5)5 – Very bouncy5 – Very bouncy

Use

SpeedModerate, fastFast
DistanceMid, long, 10 km, marathonMid, long, 10 km, half marathon, marathon
WorkoutCompetitionCompetition
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