In 2020 pretty much every major running brand released a new carbon plate racing shoe, in response to the huge success of the Nike Vaporfly 4% and NEXT% shoes – the default picks for runners at every level chasing fast times. That includes Nike, which made the Alphafly NEXT% – the shoe Eliud Kipchoge used to run the first sub-two hour marathon – available to all.

Given all these new launches, it is an indication of the quality of the Vaporfly NEXT% – which was released in mid-2019 – that it still makes a strong case for being the best racing shoe (even if we put the Alphafly slightly ahead of it). Another indication of its quality is that Nike has made very few changes with the second version of the Vaporfly NEXT%.

All the updates on the Vaporfly NEXT% 2 are found in the upper. The Vaporweave material used in the original Vaporfly NEXT% is gone, replaced by a breathable engineered mesh that conforms to the foot more. Vaporweave wasn’t a bad upper material by any means, but tended to bunch up a little in the forefoot rather than hugging the foot.

There is also some extra padding on the tongue which reduces the pressure placed on the top of the foot by the offset laces, making the shoe more comfortable. Additionally, a new reinforced section around the toe box increases the durability of the upper.

In the sole you’re getting the same experience as the Vaporfly NEXT% and that is a very good thing. There’s a full-length carbon plate coupled with a generous stack of Nike’s soft and springy ZoomX cushioning. The shoe has an 8mm drop, with a thin rubber layer on key sections of the outsole, which in our experience does a good job of gripping even in the wet.

The Vaporfly NEXT% 2 has launched with a limited-edition white colourway that’s only available to Nike members (and already sold out, from what we can tell). The full launch will be on 25th March, followed by one in a fresh light blue colourway. The Vaporfly 2 will cost £239.95, the same price as the Vaporfly NEXT%.

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