Nike Alphafly vs Vaporfly: 8 Key Differences Noted

Written By Sunny

Nike has always been ahead of the curve in creating athletic goods. This brand competes with Adidas, Hokas, and Puma to supply the best shoes to runners.

Alphafly and Vaporfly are considered the legendary running shoes in Nike’s line. But which one is the best?


Here, I will focus on the overall features of the Alphafly and Vaporfly lines and highlight the differences between the two. Hence, you will be able to purchase the right pair for yourself.

So, let’s dive right into the topic!

Nike Alphafly vs Vaporfly: Overview At A Glance

Alphafly and Vaporfly are loaded with many favorable features for professional racers. Both of them have different categories like Next Nature, Next %, Next %2.

The second and third editions of Next % are Next Nature and Next %2, respectively.

The designers and artisans of Nike tried to insert the latest technology and more features with the increment of the edition that can be beneficial for their consumers, especially runners.

Now, let’s focus on the pivotal characteristics of Alphafly and Vaporfly so that you can attain a basic idea of these two.

Here are the key features of Alphafly:

  • Breathable Atomknit upper
  • Nike ZoomX AirPods
  • Narrow midfoot
  • Highly cushioned
  • Carbon plate layer
  • For advanced-level runner
  • Durable and moderately stable
  • Comparatively heavy and expensive

Here are the characteristics of Vaporfly Racing Shoes:

  • Flyknit and Vaporwave upper
  • Comfortable with ZoomX foam
  • Wider toe area
  • Includes carbon plate
  • For mid and advanced runners
  • Best stability
  • Lightweight and cheaper than Alphafly.

Though they differ in some features, both are made keeping in mind the demand of the runners. After miles of running with any of these shoes, your feet will never lack comfort and support.

I will discuss each of the features in detail. So, hang on!

What Are The Differences Between Alphafly & Vaporfly?

After gaining valid information and opinions from numerous reliable resources and users, I noted the top seven dissimilarities between Alphafly and Vaporfly.

If you desire to grab only one pair, you should precisely know the differences.

Here are the differences between Alphafly & Vaporfly:

1. Upper Construction

The Vaporfly Next% and Next %2 come with a water-repellent Vapor Weave upper. This material is very thin and lightweight yet strong. And the shoes are easy to wear.

The primary version, Vaporfly Next Nature includes Flyknit upper, which is a breathable and stretchy fabric.

On the other hand, the upper of Alphafly Next% is made with AtomKnit, which nearly looks like a fishing net. That means this porous material leads to certain airflow.


Due to the AtomKnit upper, Alphafly gives a socklike vibe to the feet.

The construction of Alphafly Next Nature holds a mixture of Flyknit and Flyprint, and Next %2 made use of Atomknit 2.

To reduce the weight of Alphafly, the Nike Innovation team promoted Atomknit and Atomknit 2 in place of the previously used Flyknit.

AtomKnit is comparatively tighter than Vapor Weave, so you might feel a little bit uncomfortable and disturbed while putting on and off the shoes.

2. Air Zoom Pods

The insertion of two Zoom AirPods in the forefoot of Alphafly has made it a signature benchmark of Nike.

Just because of the streamlined AirPods, another common name for this running shoe is Air Zoom Alphafly.

According to Nike, This premiere racing shoe is loaded with new technology and innovation that includes two ultra-responsive Zoom Air pods in the forefoot and additional ZoomX foam in the heel.


You might be thinking, what’s the function of the AirPods?

They are responsible for offering the highest energy return and best cushioning.

The Vaporfly does not hold any kind of AirPods. That doesn’t mean you won’t receive energy return and cushion.

Here you will also get cushion and energy with the installation of responsive ZoomX foam in the forefoot and midsole.

But the notable thing is that the Air Zoom Pods of Alphafly can provide more padding and energy return than Vaporfly’s ZoomX foam. A bonus you will get in Vaporfly. That is the foam pod which enables protection and additional cushion in the heel area.

3. Heel Drop

If you take a closer look at the bottom of the shoe, you will see the exterior of the Vaporfly is chunkier than Alphafly. It is because of the thicker midsole and more heel drop.

Heel drop denotes the drop from the heel to toe. The Vaporfly Next% has an 8 mm heel drop, and Alphafly has 4 mm.

The more the drop is, the more suitable it is for speedy running.

Simply imagine the situation of pacing ahead at high speed. Your feet will constantly press on the bottom of the shoe.

With less heel drop, the feet are in more touch with the rigid surface, and it causes soreness. But with a high heel drop and bouncy midsole, the feet can maintain more distance from the rough area.

Hence, the runner is able to move forward with more relaxation and comfort.

Now, you might have guessed which heel drop is best; It’s the Vaporfly.

Check out our separate article does Nike make steel toe shoes?

4. Fit & Lace

The toe area and overall configuration of Vaporfly are fit for ideal and wide feet.

With the roomy toe box, you will be able to wiggle your toes in the shoe. If you have wide feet, go for the wide-shoe version without any hesitation.

On the other hand, Alphafly Next Nature and Next %2 offer narrow midfoot & toe boxes.

This shoe is generally suited for runners with narrow feet and high arches.

Now, let’s come to the lace quality. The laces of Alphafly are far stronger than Vaporfly. It is almost braided and will help you to adjust the fit.

The lace of Vaporfly is really smooth, which might result in a sudden open-up. This incident can be turned into a big issue at the time of your running or marathon competition.

Just imagine the situation while you’re running at a good speed, but you need to stop just to tie the untied laces. This occurrence might be a major reason for your defeat or injuries.

So, in terms of lacing configuration, Alphafly is the winner.

5. Weight

Shoe weight is a big concern for professional runners as they always prefer lightweight shoes for a smooth running experience.

After concentrating on the weight measurement, I found Alphafly is almost 230 gm, and Vaporfly weighs around 200 gm. Many people are dissatisfied with this excess of 30 gm in Alphafly.

Let’s discover where this additional weight comes from.

I already mentioned that two Zoom AirPods and a foamy layer are insulated in Alphafly. The team members of Nike revealed that the overall weight increased with the additional foam and the two Zoom Air pods.

6. Price

Both shoes are enriched with the finest materials, developed technologies and user-friendly features.

So, you can’t expect them within a cheap price tag. You must pay more for the renowned brand name.

The Alphafly retails for around $275 to $300. Quite expensive, right?

But as a premium quality running shoe and top-notch brand, this price is suitable.

Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s best marathoner, won the two-hour marathon wearing Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%. This incident can be a role player for the expensive price tag.

For additional price information, see why Nike is so expensive.

You will have to spend almost $250 to get a set of Vaporfly. It doesn’t feature Zoom AirPods, which is the reason for their relatively low cost.

So, there’s no clear winner in terms of price. It just depends on your budget.

7. Outlook

Since Alphafly and Vaporfly are from two different lines, they possess an unalike outlook.

The forefoot area of Alphafly is narrower. You can see a portion of the carbon plate from the exterior sole. This shoe is slimmer than Vaporfly.


On the contrary, Vaporfly’s toe area is wider. You won’t be able to see even a glimpse of the carbon plate. This shoe is chunkier.

8. Stack Height

The Vaporfly has a stack height of 40 mm in the heel and 32 mm in the front area.

On the contrary, you will get a thickness of 39mm in the heel and 35 mm in the forefoot of Alphafly.

The stack height in the two shoes doesn’t vary too much. And this stack thickness is quite beneficial for protecting the feet from the harshness of the surface.

Nike Alphafly vs Vaporfly: What Are The Similarities?

Apart from the dissimilarities, both shoes are similar in some cases, such as midsole material, sizing, carbon plate, grip and durability.

Let’s focus on the common things between the shoes:

ZoomX in the Midsole

This material gives a bouncy feel and cushions the feet. But the level of cushion and bounciness varies depending on the version.

The brand new ZoomX foam of Alphafly Next% 2 is firmer and less squishy.

Carbon plate

Just as the meat and cheese are layered in the sandwich, a carbon fiber plate is positioned in between the ZoomX midsole.

Do you know what the duty of this carbon plate is?

They are responsible for sufficient energy return and act as shock preventers.

The workers make use of 80% recycled carbon fiber in preparing the carbon plate of Nature version.

True to size

Nike shoes are true to size and available in half sizes. So, do not panic about getting an improper size for your feet.

If you own normal feet and wanna buy these shoes online, just make sure to measure the proper size of your feet and then order. But it’s always safe to get the shoes from the nearest Nike outlet.

Read Adidas vs. Nike Sizing to know more information about sizing.

Heel pocket

The heel pocket is a piece of foam. Nike inserts it in the heel area of Alphafly and Vaporfly to ensure the wearer’s ankle and heel protection. This additional safety feature is rare in other branded racing shoes.

Grip and Durability

The outsole is fabricated with recycled rubber. It contains different shapes of grooves.


So, you will benefit from good traction and grip from both shoes.

Vaporfly and Alphafly have a lifespan of 3 to 4 years, even if you use them for frequent running. This longevity is pretty good for a running shoe.

All credit for this durability goes to the materials, talented workers and iconic shoe-making procedure.


Is The Alphafly worth it?

With the insertion of the finest building materials, durability and user-friendly features, Alphafly is worth the price.

Is Alphafly heavier than Vaporfly?

Yes, Alphafly is a little bit heavier than Vaporfly because of the installation of Air Zoom Pods.

Is Alphafly better than Vaporfly?

Alphafly is ahead in terms of some features. But no one is better than the other, both are highly qualified.


Nike is constantly working to strengthen the features of its racing shoes. The Vaporfly and Alphafly series are the most famous among them.

You already know the details of these two lineages. Now, it’s easier for you to choose the right pair for yourself. Even then, let me assist you directly.

Opt for Vaporfly if you

  • wanna go for a short distance yet speedy race
  • prefer wider toe area and low heel drop
  • are budget-conscious
  • wish for lightweight shoes.

Go for Alphafly if you

  • desire for long-distance running
  • are passionate about Zoom AirPods
  • have narrow feet
  • are ready to invest more penny
  • can wear chunkier shoes

Now, it’s time to go shopping. Let me know which shoe you’re gonna pick to gear up your race.

Leave your thoughts regarding Vaporfy and Alphafly in the comment section.

Thanks for reading till the end!

About The Author
Sunny is all about action and activities. He finds it difficult to contain himself. Be it motorcycling, playing football, or exploring the great outdoors, he loves to keep his legs busy.Sunny quickly realized the importance of footwear to keep himself going healthily. This was when he decided to share all his knowledge and expertise regarding different footwear and their significance.Now, he’s on a mission with this humble platform by his side. With time he plans on doing bigger and better things.Apart from his writing and other hobbies, he loves spending time with his cat Sophie. He loves to cook for his friends and family too.

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