Nike Alphafly Next%2 vs Nike Vaporfly Next%2: Which carbon fiber shoe is best for you?

So you look at the best carbon fiber running shoes and opted for either the Nike Alphafly Next%2 or the Nike Vaporfly Next%2.

Both running shoes are designed for going fast on race day, not for pacing in the park – in fact, both feel quite unsteady when running slowly. Although Nike says they’ll last longer than a few runs, you definitely wouldn’t want to do all of your training or long runs in either of these shoes. They both have a carbon fiber plate and the same Zoom X midsole foam, but which Nike runner do you want on your feet for your next run?

I was lucky enough to do a fair amount of running in both shoes over several different sessions.

You can read my detail Nike Alphafly Next% 2 reviews here, and my Nike Vaporfly Next% 2 reviews here. If you’re looking for a more affordable or durable shoe, check out our guide to the best running shoes or check out my Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 vs. Pegasus 38 face-off.

So which one to choose? Read our Nike Alphafly Next%2 vs Nike Vaporfly Next%2 face-off to find out.

Nike Alphafly Next%2 vs. Nike Vaporfly Next%2: Price and availability

The Nike Alphafly Next%2 is the newer of the two super shoes, releasing in limited numbers starting June 15, 2022. Its predecessor, the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%, was first seen at the feet of Eliud Kipchoge, as he became the first man to run a marathon in 1:59. The Next% is now widely available and will likely be discounted after the new shoe releases. However, with the second iteration of the shoe, Nike addressed some of the stability issues runners had with the first iteration of the shoe, trying to make it more stable underfoot for the everyday runner, not just for the elite.

a photo of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%2

(Image credit: Future/Tom’s Guide)

Like the original Alphafly, the Alphafly Next%2 doesn’t come cheap. Sure, it’s designed for the everyday runner, but the everyday runner with a $275/£274.95 stash in their pocket for a running shoe. By comparison, the Nike Vaporfly Next %2, released in March 2021, costs $250 / £229 in the men’s version and £224 in the women’s shoe.

Nike Alphafly Next%2 vs. Nike Vaporfly Next%2: Design, Fit and Feel

Although both shoes are designed for running, they are very different underfoot. Let’s start with the stack height: the Alphafly Next% 2 has a stack height of 40mm in the heel and 32mm in the forefoot. This is slightly different from the first iteration of the shoe, which had a 4mm heel drop.

The Vaporfly Next%2 also has the same 8mm drop, with a stack height of 40mm in the heel and 32mm in the forefoot. Both use the same ZoomX foam, which is bouncy and responsive underfoot, and both have a full-length carbon fiber plate.

A side view of the Nike Vaporfly Next%2

(Image credit: Future/Tom’s Guide)

That said, where the Vaporfly Next%2 has a pure foam midsole, the Alphafly Next%2 has two Zoom Air units, which sit under the ball of your foot to provide real bounce when you take off. In the second version of the shoe, there is also foam under these units and Nike says this is to provide more energy return and “provide a smooth transition from heel to forefoot while runners cross their stride”. These Zoom Air units give the shoe a completely different feel to the Vaporfly Next% – the toe is slightly firmer due to the addition of the Zoom Air units, and on your first run you really feel like you’re flying forward. this.

a photo of the midsole of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%2

(Image credit: Future/Tom’s Guide)

Both shoes have a similar knit-style upper; in the Alphafly Next%2, it’s the AtomKnit, Nike’s latest version of its FlyKnit upper. Both uppers are super light and breathable, with minimal water absorption while running. They also both have an asymmetrical lacing system, designed to put less pressure on the top of the foot, and a pillow in the back of the shoe to give you extra cushioning on the heel.

a photo of the Nike Alphafly Next%2 and the Nike Vaporfly Next%2

(Image credit: Future/Tom’s Guide)

As for the outsole, both are designed for road running and don’t have much traction. On both shoes, there are two strips of rubber on the back of the shoe and rubber on the forefoot, covering the key impact zone. There is also exposed foam on both shoes.

As for fit, I found the Vaporfly Next %2 to be true to size, although I wear one size larger than my everyday sneakers when shopping for running shoes (confused? Read our guide to how to buy running shoes). In the Alphafly Next %2, I found that the shoe is available in “unisex”, or men’s sizing. This could be because I received my shoe in a small version, but found that I needed to go up half a size.

In the original Alphafly I wore a UK 5, in the Alphafly Next %2 I wore a UK 5.5 to get the same fit, although this is probably due to the unisex sizing – none of the male runners I know of went up half a size in the new shoe.

So this is where it gets interesting. Both shoes have rocker geometry, which encourages you to roll on the ball of your foot as you move, helping you run faster – and both do just that. After running in both shoes, I would say the main difference between the Vaporfly Next %2 and the Alphafly Next %2 is the Zoom Air units and the cushioning. The Vaporfly Next %2 feels slightly more nimble underfoot – it lets you really attack corners and sprint out of them, and I wore them comfortably for some speed sessions on the trail without any issues.

A front view of the Nike Vaporfly Next%2

(Image credit: Future/Tom’s Guide)

In contrast, the Zoom Air units paired with the thick wedge of ZoomX foam on the Alphafly Next%2 really makes you feel like you’re flying, but only on the long, straight parts of your long run. Nike made huge improvements to the shoe to make it more stable underfoot – the heel is wider and the less aggressive heel drop removes some of the wobble I felt when running in the first shoe, but this is still not the case. the best in turns. That said, while I wouldn’t wear it on the track, I found that on long runs my pace surprised me and it was easier to run fast, which is exactly what you would expect from it. a great shoe.

Nike Alphafly Next%2 vs Nike Vaporfly Next%2: Which is better for you?

The Alphafly Next%2 and the Vaporfly Next%2 are absolutely fantastic running shoes, but which should you choose for your next run? It’s hard to choose – both will definitely help you run faster, and probably PR your next run, but I’d say while the Alphafly Next %2 is a huge improvement over the original Alphafly, its weaknesses are still the same. It definitely feels more stable than the first version, but it still struggles in the corners, and fans of the Vaporfly Next %2 probably won’t be converted.

That said, the Alphafly Next %2 comes into its own over longer distances, and if you’re running a fast, flat course, like the Berlin Marathon, it’s a brilliant shoe to have on your feet. The Vaporfly Next %2 could easily cope with a fast 5K or 10K, and you wouldn’t have to worry about doing fast, twisty laps in this shoe.

a photo of the upper of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%2

(Image credit: Future/Tom’s Guide)

Of course, cost comes into play here as well. The Alphafly Next%2 is the newest shoe and therefore the most expensive. While you might find the Vaporfly Next %2 on sale, the Alphafly Next %2 isn’t likely to drop anytime soon, which means if you’re not ready to shell out the bulk of $300, the Vaporfly Next%2 is the shoe for you. The original Alphafly can be scaled down, and you can read my Nike Alphafly Next% vs Nike Vaporfly Next% 2 comparison here.

Either way, both are great choices for race day. If you are looking for a cheaper shoe, the new Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 is also a brilliantly fast carbon fiber racing shoe worth checking out.

Darryl A. Chapin