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Nike Vaporfly 3 - Women's Review

This speed-focused road shoe is what you want if you are chasing PRs, Strava segments, or pushing your limits
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Nike Vaporfly 3 - Women's Review (If you are ready to race, this is the shoe to do it in.)
If you are ready to race, this is the shoe to do it in.
Credit: Ally Arcuri
Price:  $260 List
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Manufacturer:   Nike
By Ally Arcuri ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 9, 2023
76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 19
  • Cushioning and Landing Comfort - 25% 6.5
  • Responsiveness - 25% 10.0
  • Stability - 20% 6.0
  • Upper Comfort - 15% 5.0
  • Weight - 15% 10.0

Our Verdict

The Nike Vaporfly 3 is a shoe unlike all others in our lineup. With a full-length carbon plate for serious propulsion and a strong toe-off, and a uniquely minimalistic upper, this is a racing shoe through and through. Weighing in at only 4.98 ounces for a women's size 6.5, the Vaporfly isn't going to weigh you down one bit. Though impressive as a race shoe, it lacks versatility and isn't a road shoe that we recommend for all runners and run types — not least of which is because of the elite-level price point. But if you are ready to amp up your speed days and have the cash to spare, the Vaporfly 3 is a worthy, albeit pricy, investment.
REASONS TO BUY
Ultra-responsive
Lightweight
Great for racing
REASONS TO AVOID
Less versatile
Very expensive
Lacks upper comfort

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Bottom Line While not a daily trainer, this shoe is a racing phenom that will help you push your speed boundariesThis running shoe offers the performance technology and comfort needed to be your go-to shoe, no matter your running goalsWith strong responsive bounce and enough comfort for long runs, this shoe will suit marathon hopefuls and speed demons alikeThe structure and comfort of this shoe make it a highly recommended option for long distance runners who want a reliable road running steedWhile not a race-focused shoe, this affordable and bouncy option will keep your legs turning over quickly and easily
Rating Categories Nike Vaporfly 3 - W... Asics Novablast 4 -... Puma Deviate Nitro... Brooks Adrenaline G... Saucony Kinvara 14...
Cushioning and Landing Comfort (25%)
6.5
9.0
7.0
8.0
7.5
Responsiveness (25%)
10.0
7.5
9.5
6.5
7.5
Stability (20%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Upper Comfort (15%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Weight (15%)
10.0
6.9
7.4
5.8
9.3
Specs Nike Vaporfly 3 - W... Asics Novablast 4 -... Puma Deviate Nitro... Brooks Adrenaline G... Saucony Kinvara 14...
Weight (per shoe, size 6.5) 4.98 oz 7.36 oz 7.02 oz 8.21 oz 5.55 oz
Style Racing Neutral Neutral/race Supportive Neutral
Sizes Available 5 - 12 US 5 - 12 US 5.5 - 11 US 5 - 13 US 5 - 12 US
Measured Heel-to-Toe Drop 8 mm 9 mm 8 mm 12 mm 5 mm
Measured Heel Stack Height 32 mm 40 mm 34 mm 34 mm 30 mm
Measured Forefoot Stack Height 24 mm 31 mm 26 mm 22 mm 25 mm
Claimed Heel-to-Toe Drop Not stated 8 mm 6 mm 12 mm 4 mm
Claimed Heel Stack Height Not stated 40.5 mm Not stated Not stated 31 mm
Claimed Forefoot Stack Height Not stated 32.5 mm Not stated Not stated 27 mm
Measured Outsole Length 10.19 in 10.65 in 10.31 in 10.50 in 10.13 in
Measured Outsole Width 3.80 in 4.32 in 4.00 in 4.25 in 3.96 in
Upper Flyknit yarn Engineered knit mesh Mesh Engineered air mesh Mesh
Midsole Nike ZoomX foam FF Blast Plus Eco Nitro/Nitro-Elite DNA Loft v2 PWRRUN, PWRRUN+
Outsole Rubber AHAR outsole PumaGrip ATR Rubber Rubber XT-900 rubber
Measured Outsole Hardness 72 HA at forefoot, 49 HA at heel 59 HA 65 HA 47 HA 63 HA at inner toe/outer heel, 35 HA rest of shoe
Heel Tab Type None Finger loop None None Finger loop
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Narrow, medium, wide, extra wide Regular, wide
Heel Compression Stiffness 37 lbf 44 lbf 35 lbf 52 lbf 40 lbf
Toe Compression Stiffness 42 lbf 38 lbf 40 lbf 56 lbf 42 lbf
Toe Box Volume 6.5 in^3 6.2 in^3 6.7 in^3 6.5 in^3 6.7 in^3
Rocker Angle 24.0 deg 22.0 deg 12.5 deg 26.5 deg 26.0 deg

Our Analysis and Test Results

If you are a speed-focused racer and want a shoe that can keep up on race day, this 8mm drop, carbon-plated superstar might be perfect for you.

Performance Comparison


nike vaporfly 3 for women - the vaporfly is built to push paces in. though it lacks some of the...
The Vaporfly is built to push paces in. Though it lacks some of the comfort elements of other shoes, it performs exactly as it is intended to.
Credit: Prudence Amsden

Cushioning and Landing Comfort


The Vaporfly 3 doesn't offer the typical landing comfort and cushioning that we are accustomed to seeing on shoes built for the road. Instead, it hosts a thick Nike ZoomX foam stack with an embedded plate for powerful energy return. This is paired with a profoundly thin insole (0.5mm) for maximal speed pushes.


The foam and rubber come together beneath the body of the Vaporfly to create a really bouncy and comfortable ride, especially considering all of the tech that is squished into the outsole. While not a plush outsole, the springy foam cushions joints well enough to earn high marks in this metric. This is not our top recommendation for all training distances because of its carbon fiber plate. Especially for newer runners, a more traditionally shaped running shoe without a plate in the outsole will likely be a more reliable choice for overall comfort.

The underfoot foam of the Vaporfly cushions your landings to protect your joints while the carbon plate propels you forward.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Responsiveness


The Vaporfly set the standard for responsiveness for our lineup of tested shoes. We have yet to test another model with such strength in its energy return. If you are looking for a responsive shoe, you've found it.


The carbon fiber fly plate is responsible for the epic propulsion of the Vaporfly. The plate runs the entire length of the outsole, so no matter your gait, you have a launchpad to propel yourself forward. The mildly convex shape of the outsole adds an additional element of responsiveness, as it seemingly allows one footfall to roll into the next. This combines beautifully with the launchpad-style outsole for maximal speed. Running in the Vaporfly means that the energy you put into your stride will be returned, which is very efficient, especially for racing. The first few strides in such a responsive shoe can feel wobbly because the fit tends to be unfamiliar, but after hitting a rhythm, the energetic feedback becomes addictive.

nike vaporfly 3 for women - the outsole shape and design make the vaporfly the most responsive...
The outsole shape and design make the Vaporfly the most responsive shoe that we have tested to date.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

While the Vaporfly is powerfully responsive, that doesn't make it appropriate for all runners and run types. Executing some training runs in the shoes you'll race in is a great idea, but performing all of your training runs in such a unique shoe isn't. Our expert testers recommend utilizing speed shoes like the Vaporfly as part of your arsenal. For long, slow mileage, the responsiveness provided by the Vaporfly is overkill, so these types of runs would be better enjoyed in shoes with a bit more outsole flexibility, lateral support, and toe box space.

The responsive design of the Vaporfly is awesome for speed work and races but is less appropriate for long and slow marathon training efforts.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Stability


The updated heel collar taper of the Vaporfly 3 makes it more stable than previous iterations, though this is still not a shoe we recommend to runners who want stability.


The upper is made of wildly breathable Flyknit yarn. It is so breathable, in fact, that you can see straight through the holes to your socks. This design helps to keep the weight of the Vaporfly low but doesn't offer much reinforcement for lateral stability. The angled lace bed and tongue allow you to tighten the laces up for a secure fit to ensure you won't roll your ankles off of the platform. In terms of support for overpronators and the like, the Vaporfly is lacking. It feels secure but not particularly stable. If you want a racing shoe that offers incredible responsiveness with support, other options might be more appropriate for you.

nike vaporfly 3 for women - the bit of cushion in the heel creates a secure fit, but doesn't...
The bit of cushion in the heel creates a secure fit, but doesn't offer any lateral support.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Upper Comfort


The upper weave of the Vaporfly 3 offers almost nothing in terms of cushioning or comfort elements. With the exception of the tiniest little cushions you've ever seen on the tongue, the upper is severely minimalistic.


The Flyknit weave of the Vaporfly is minimal but well-designed so as not to interfere with the fit and use of the shoe. To be clear, there is nothing outwardly comfortable about the upper, but it fits in such a way that it feels fine as you run. The toe box is slightly wider than it was in versions past, giving your toes a bit of extra space to splay and flex as you work. The heel collar is far from plush, but the small, pillowy pockets at the rear prevent rubbing and hotspots by ensuring a secure fit. The lay-flat tongue doesn't offer much of a barrier between the lace bed and the upper of your foot, which can feel uncomfortable after a few miles. Ultimately, the Vaporfly is not a shoe to consider if you want a truly comfortable experience. But if you are motivated by PRs and leg turnover, this shoe is well-fitted enough to earn a spot in your race day gear lineup.

The huge holes in the upper of the Vaporfly provide extreme breathability and help keep this speed-focused shoe so lightweight.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Weight


It is no surprise that a shoe built for speed weighs in at the light end of the pack, but the lightness of the Vaporfly feels almost otherworldly.


At 4.98 ounces for a women's size 6.5, the Vaporfly is light. All of its weight rides in the outsole, which can add to the slightly awkward feel of the first few strides. But once your body grows used to the way the outsole weight functions, the Vaporfly feels almost weightless underfoot. It feels like a serious piece of gear underfoot, a sensation that is far different from many of the plush, pillowy running shoes on the market today. If an ultra-lightweight and responsive shoe is your jam, here it is.

nike vaporfly 3 for women - the minimalistic upper of the vaporfly is part of what allows it to...
The minimalistic upper of the Vaporfly is part of what allows it to be such a lightweight shoe.
Credit: Ally Arcuri


Should You Buy the Nike Vaporfly 3?


The Vaporfly 3 lacks the versatility of some of our most often recommended running shoes, so keep that in mind as you shop. This is a really great speed and racing shoe, but it is not going to be your best bet for long, slow, distance runs because the comfortable elements just aren't there. If this niche shoe sounds like it would make a great addition to your existing running shoe lineup, we wholeheartedly recommend buying it and enjoying the speed it encourages. If you want a do-it-all daily trainer, we recommend you avoid specialty shoes like the Vaporfly.

nike vaporfly 3 for women - finishing speed workouts in such a propulsive shoe is sure to give...
Finishing speed workouts in such a propulsive shoe is sure to give you a sense of pride in your accomplishments.
Credit: Prudence Amsden

What Other Running Shoes Should You Consider?


If you like the idea of a super responsive shoe but want one with a bit more versatility, check out the Puma Deviate Nitro 2. The Deviate Nitro is heavier than the Vaporfly but comes with a bit more stability, cushion, and comfort. If you want a responsive shoe without a carbon fiber plate, the Saucony Kinvara 14 might be a great option for you. The flexible outsole of the Kinvara doesn't offer as strong of energy return as the Vaporfly or Deviate Nitro, but its foamy underfoot feel is comfortable and peppy. Finally, if you want a shoe that is appropriate for long-distance races and that provides support, stability, and some responsiveness, check out the Brooks Ghost 15 or the ultra bouncy Asics Gel Kayano 30.

Ally Arcuri