Nike Alphafly 3 Review (2024): Ultimate Running Shoes?The Nike Alphafly 3 are the brand's most advanced carbon-plated racing shoes.
Excellent carbon plate shoe for marathon running.
Don’t have time to read the full review? Here’s what you need to know.
The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 3 has generated impressive anticipation following the world-record performances of athletes Eliud Kipchoge in Berlin and Kelvin Kiptum in Chicago. Many new features considerably improve this outstanding model.
The midsole design now translates into a single block of ZoomX foam and a wider FlyPlate carbon plate for enhanced stability. The Zoom Air pods are also integrated into this single unit. This new combination provides better shock distribution and stronger forward propulsion, delivering significantly running economy.
The AtomKnit upper is minimalist and lightweight but provides impressive comfort for a racing model. The fit is very good, with a FlyKnit upper that hugs the foot perfectly. The outsole is thinner to accommodate more foam, yet the grip is better, with excellent traction.
Unsurprisingly, the only potential drawback raised by myself and other testers was durability. All in all, the Nike Alphafly 3 succeeds in the impressive feat of being both more powerful and more accessible to the general public, placing it at the top of its category.
Please read our full review of the Nike Alphafly 3 for more information.
- Very strong forward propulsion
- Excellent shock absorption
- Soft, responsive cushioning
- Very comfortable and effective foot lockdown
- Greater stability, making the shoes accessible to more runners
- Very high price
- Insufficient durability
It’s fair to say that Nike revolutionized the world of running with its seminal Vaporfly. The brand then expanded its carbon-plate shoe series, including a model dedicated to marathon running: the Alphafly.
In the early years, the brand’s dominance was total. Then other brands reacted, such as Asics and Adidas, who have quite comparable products available for sale, especially as the Alphafly 2 and Vaporfly 3 were not unanimously acclaimed.
To say that this new shoe has been eagerly awaited is an understatement, especially since Kelvin Kiptum’s extraordinary world record in Chicago with the Nike Alphafly 3.
The marathons being my favorite distance, with more than a dozen races under my belt, I was eager to see if these shoes really are the best performers. It’s also interesting to assess whether they’re a clear improvement over the previous version.
That’s what we’re going to find out in this analysis based on my test of over 100 km, put into perspective with the reviews of several other testers.
The midsole of this Nike Alphafly 3 features the famous ZoomX foam, which remains one of the best to date. This 2024 version has been updated though Nike doesn’t disclose exactly what has changed.
The FlyPlate carbon-fiber plate is also back, although it has been widened and better adjusted to distribute energy more evenly. Last but not least, the two Zoom Air units in the forefoot complete the existing technologies, this time integrated into the sole unit.
This is not the only change: the outsole is thinner, allowing for more foam. The main change comes from the new geometry: we don’t have two separate blocks anymore, but just a single block of ZoomX foam.
The alchemy between these different elements gives a very impressive propulsion. Yet I still find a pleasantly soft feel, which makes for greater versatility and unique sensations. Visually, the shoe makes a statement with its impressive dimensions of 40 mm stack height in the heel and 32 mm in the forefoot. This configuration, very typical of NIKE long-distance performance shoes, was unanimously approved by the testers.
Shock absorption is great for a competition model, making it possible to tackle a marathon confidently. Lastly, the 8 mm heel-to-toe drop is classic and won’t require any special adaptation.
The beveled heel helps you to tilt forward and, combined with the rocker, delivers a stunning forward motion upon impact.
However, it’s also the first point of caution for novices: the shoe is demanding and requires vigilance to get used to the unique movement.
Inevitably, the energy return is excellent, with Zoom Air units and ZoomX foam doing the job. The large groove in the length of the outsole allows better twisting of the FlyPlate. The bounce is strong yet effective, and heel-to-toe transitions are effortlessly smooth.
Weighing in at 218 g/7.7 oz, the Nike Alphafly 3’s responsiveness is excellent, among the best yet. I find the running economy considerable over the length, and the shoe allows me to maintain high paces with great ease.
Support and stability
This was a point of contention in previous versions, and the switch to a ZoomX foam monoblock is a real change. What’s more, the FlyPlate carbon plate (and therefore the platform) is wider. This new structure means greater stability for the Nike Alphafly 3. I found it hard to fault the shoes when twisting, turning, and changing paces.
Nonetheless, more stable doesn’t mean completely stable. Indeed, the high stack height and softness mean there’s still some instability, and beginners should beware. Still, the overall support is satisfactory and will suit a large number of runners. This shoe is for neutral runners.
The optimized AtomKnit 3.0 upper is another highlight of the Nike Alphafly 3. The fabric is heated and then stretched for a lightweight extensible fit. The upper is optimally breathable and water-repellent.
While the shoes are not easy to put on, comfort is immediate once you succeed. Here again, this is an important point for runners who will be wearing them for long distances such as marathons.
The heel counter is rigid up to mid-height, then softer above. The padding is very appreciable. The tongue isn’t really a tongue at all, but rather an extension of the upper – nothing new for those familiar with Nike’s FlyKnit upper.
It all adds up to a very good, precise fit that should suit a wide variety of feet (the shoe runs true to size). I didn’t feel compressed with my wide feed–I had just the right amount of room to be comfortable and secure. Locking is good and allows you to run confidently at any pace. The notched laces are also very secure.
The outsole is thinner. However, the strategically placed rubber on the forefoot, such as the Zoom Air pods, delivers great grip.
On the other hand, some testers note the absence of rubber on the heel (which starts halfway up the shoe), which can lead to instability on wet ground for heel-strikers. For my part, with my mid-to-forefoot strike, I didn’t feel the rain as an obstacle. Also, the shoe’s geometry pushes you to land more forward on the foot, mitigating the problem, except perhaps at slower paces.
The grooves ensure good sole flexibility. Regarding terrain, non-technical paths won’t be a problem, but the Nike Alphafly 3’s main use is on the road.
The Nike Alphafly Next 3 is a pair designed for breaking records in official long-distance races like the marathon or half marathon.
However, as a pure racing model, the Alphafly 3s should be used in rotation with another pair rather than as a single pair. Indeed, recent studies show that carbon-plate shoes make the effort easier and preserve the body, while it’s important to stress the muscles and tendons a little when training for a race.
As such, I have reserved the shoes for key runs with marathon pace segments. Needless to say, I will have them on my feet on Race Day (if I don’t pick the Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro instead).
It’s important to note that you need a minimum pace to get the most out of these shoes’ fantastic propulsion, even though ZoomX’s softness does make them more versatile and accessible to slower runners.
This can vary from one runner to another, but in my case, I estimate the minimum threshold to be 6:26 per mile.
Quality and Durability
Unsurprisingly, this was the main point raised by testers. It’s nothing new, but we have to admit that Nike hasn’t improved on this font. The mesh is surprisingly robust despite its thinness and the outsole is equally durable.
The problem remains with the foam. There’s already the risk of the Zoom Air units bursting, but even without this, the ZoomX foam risks losing its properties over time depending on your stride. There’s been some progress, but I don’t think I will be able to take them beyond 180-250 miles. Factor the price and technology in and we let you judge whether the Alpahfly 3’s represents good value.
We have contacted the brand for more information on the shoe’s sustainability as there’s not much insight. Also, it seems like Nike Alphafly 3 is not vegan.
The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next 3 is an exceptional shoe. The only two points of concern are its durability and potential instability for unaccustomed runners.
However, the improvements over v2 make it more accessible and it should be suitable for more runners than in the past. In any case, you need a minimum pace to benefit from its propulsion.
Overall, the Alphafly 3 is undoubtedly one of the best running shoes today, if not the best, to crush your marathon goals.
|218 g/7.7 oz
|174 g/6.1 oz
|Carbon-fiber plate, Wide feet, Rocker
|Eliud Kipchoge, Kelvin Kiptum
|ZoomX, FlyPlate, Zoom Air
|Mid, 10K, Half marathon, Long, Marathon
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2
There are several new features:
- The AtomKnit upper has been redesigned for improved breathability and weight savings
- Wider FlyPlate and ZoomX foam in a single block for greater stability
- Zoom Air units are integrated into the midsole, making the shoe more responsive
- A thinner, more efficient outsole for better traction
All these differences make the Nike Alphafly 3 a better choice. However, version 2 was already a top performer, and it’s a good alternative pick if you find it on sale or if v3 is out of stock.