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Nike Vaporfly 3 review

It's the shoe that started the super shoe trend over five years ago, but is the Nike Vaporfly 3 still at the front of the pack? Matt Baird finds out...

Our rating 
4.2 out of 5 star rating 4.2
Nike Vaporfly Next% 3 running shoes

The Nike Vaporfly 3, the super shoe that started the revolution back in 2016, returns for what’s technically its fifth version (including the original Vaporfly 4% and Vaporfly 4% FK).

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Its various guises have smashed countless records and PBs, caused runners to pay four times its already astronomical cost online and generally changed running as we know it.

The Vaporfly 3 has already proven its marathon chops, with Alemu Megertu (2:18:37) wearing these to second women’s place at this year’s London Marathon.

Nike Vaporfly 3 review

So what’s new and what remains similar from the Vaporfly 2, the shoe that runner-up Sam Laidlow wore at the Ironman Worlds in 2022 (his time, a not-too-shabby 2:44:40)?

Again, there’s a full-length carbon plate and a crazily low weight for something with 40mm of stack height (183g on our UK7, slightly lighter than the Next% 2).

The 8mm heel-to-toe drop remains, but there’s been a midsole-shape redesign that’s added 2mm of foam underfoot. The result is another incredibly swift yet supportive ride with masses of bounce and stability.

While you won’t forget you’re wearing them, they hit the sweetspot between sponginess and firmness, and offer versatility for a wealth of race distances.

Nike Vaporfly 3 running shoe
Credit: Dave Caudery/Our Media

So far, so good. So why isn’t it best on test? That’s down to this being a triathlon review, and for the bike-to-run transition the super shoe comes up short.

That’s due to the tongue, which splits into two triangular pieces at the top and takes plenty of adjusting to sit flush on the foot.

The result is that all of the time gains you might be about to secure on the race course have evaporated the moment you leave T2.

The coarse one-piece mesh upper also makes these unsuitable for sockless racing over longer distances, unless you have tougher feet than us.

But it does also provide the ventilation goods for midsummer races and airing those sweaty post-bike feet.

Nike Vaporfly 3 sole
Credit: Dave Caudery/Our Media

Staying inside the shoe, there’s a generously cushioned tab of foam along the heel collar that neatly kept our heel in place, while our wide feet appreciated the roomy toe box (thinner footed runners might want to size down).

The elephant in the room is that price of £234.95, of course, which isn’t the most expensive on test but is still a hefty outlay (they’re nearly £50 cheaper than Nike’s latest and divisive Alphaflys).

In terms of durability, the upper feels rugged and the lack of seams ensures no wear on that front.

The outsole does have reinforced areas at the front and rear, but we worry about the latter’s ability to log hundreds of miles.

There’s also an exposed area of midsole that shows the carbon plate underneath – great for saving weight, but stones can get stuck in it.

Verdict: Still a formidable contender, but T2 troubles might deter triathletes.

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Score: 85%