New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2 vs. Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2 (2022)
The NB RC Elite v2 and the Nike Vaporfly 2 are the spearheads of the carbon collections of their respective brands. However, despite the fact that they are direct competitors, they offer slightly different configurations.
First of all, the weight of the Vaporfly 2 sets the tone: at only 6.6 oz/186 g with a 40 mm stack height, it’s a little gem that aims to be at the forefront of technology and help high-level athletes crush new world records. In comparison, the RC Elite v2 weighs 1.2 oz/35 g more and has a thinner sole (36 mm under the heel).
According to runners who have tried both shoes, it reflects in the performance: the Vaporfly offers much more explosive cushioning and feels much more effortless than the RC Elite. Beware: this does not mean that the rebound offered by the carbon plate of the RC Elite v2 is not effective in terms of propulsion. Far from it! Nonetheless, the consensus seems to be that the Vaporfly’s is a level above. Also, the cushioning is soft underfoot in both cases.
However, the RC Elite is not without strengths against the carbon queen. First of all, runners note that the NB carbon shoe is more versatile. Indeed, it’s possible to use it at slow paces, which is not really the case of the Vaporfly NEXT, made almost exclusively for competition.
Then, the RC Elite v2 is more solid and less expensive (better value for money, therefore) and it offers more precise foot support than the Vaporfly 2 (in this regard it’s equivalent to the Vaporfly OG).
RC Elite vs. Vaporfly: which one should you choose?
It really depends on your practice and preferences. If you’re looking for a shoe for split training and competition, the RC Elite v2 is a good candidate. If you need the ultimate shoe to set a new PB at the marathon, then the Vaporfly 2 will give you the best chance.
The price difference is also not insignificant. If it hurts you to throw away $200+ shoes after 200 miles, then the RC Elite v2 is a better choice.
Versatile shoe for a carbon-plated racer
Good grip on wet surfaces
More stable platform
New upper with a wider, more breathable forefoot
Hefty price considering the expected lifespan
New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2
|Drop||8 mm||8 mm|
|Heel stack height||36 mm||40 mm|
|Forefoot stack height||28 mm||32 mm|
|Weight (men)||221 g/7.8 oz||186 g/6.6 oz|
|Weight (women)||184 g/6.5 oz||168 g/5.9 oz|
|Features||Rocker, Carbon plate||Rocker, Carbon plate|
|Outsole||Rubber||Flex grooves, Rubber|
|Midsole||FuelCell, Carbon plate||ZoomX|
|Upper||Engineered mesh||Engineered mesh|
|Softness (1-5)||4 – Soft||4 – Soft|
|Bounce (1-5)||4 – Bouncy||5 – Very bouncy|
|Speed||Moderate, fast||Moderate, fast|
|Distance||Mid, long, 10 km, half marathon, marathon||Mid, long, 10k, marathon|
|Workout||Competition, daily runs||Competition|
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.