The Nike Alphafly 3 is the latest iteration of Nike’s marathon racing shoe line that took marathon racing shoes to another level. The original upleveled both the cushioning and price (it launched at $275 and the Alphafly 3 ups the ante to $285) for the top end of running shoes. It also enhanced the fun factor.
Nike Alphafly 3
Release Date: January 4, 2024
Weight: Men’s 7.0 oz., Women’s 6.1 oz.
Sizing: True to size
- Rundown: The Nike Alphafly 3 is the best version of the Alphafly yet. It captures the magic of the original Alphafly and gives Alphafly fans what they want.
Slipping on (ok yanking on…the collar wasn’t accommodating) the original Alphafly and taking that first run was magical. It was the beginning of something new. And its early pandemic release was a bright spot in what at the time was a confusing world. It wasn’t a perfect shoe but it felt so unique and different that it was easy to overlook the flaws. And it didn’t hurt that Eliud Kipchoge used the shoe to break the two hour marathon time barrier in a controlled time trial.
Because of all that, the Alphafly mystique reached a fever pitch that was eventually submarined by a solid if unspectacular second model. Soon enough, other companies caught up with shoes like the Saucony Endorphin Elite and air jordan 8 solefly leading many runners to turn away from the Alphafly.
But Nike, as Nike does, wasn’t standing still. Instead the Nike design team was cooking up a Return of the Jedi level third entry in this trilogy. The Nike Alphafly 3 is the best Alphafly to date and Nike’s return to the top tier of our best marathon running shoes list.
The Nike Alphafly 3 fits better, though wide footers are still out of luck (see below for more details). The upper feels less constrictive, softer, and offers the same airflow as the original. It’s much easier to get on than either of the previous Alphaflys. And even the lockdown is better with a quick lacing system allowing you to pull the laces from the top and cinch down the entire foot. It’s just as awkward walking around in the Alphafly 3 as previous versions but the on foot experience is much better.
The Alphafly 3 traction is also better, taking learnings from the Alphafly 2 and creating a similar but different pattern. The outsole isn’t as sticky as what Puma, adidas, and Saucony are doing but it’s come a long way from the original Vaporfly days. Stability is still treacherous around ninety degree corners, especially when taking them at 5k or 10k speeds. That’s something to be aware of if you haven’t yet had the Alphafly experience.
Most importantly, the signature bounce from the combined might of the Zoom Air pods and ZoomX foam is there and it’s glorious. I wore the Nike Alphafly 3 for a New Year’s Day 5k and enjoyed the extra “oomph” I felt with every step. The fun factor is high and makes the Alphafly 3 a shoe that could be the difference between getting out the door or sleeping in during dark early morning marathon training sessions as you prepare for that spring marathon.
- Super bouncy
- Easy to maintain marathon pace
- Most accommodating and comfortable Alphafly to date
- Arch is less pronounced and more comfortable
- Upper is less plasticky and uses a softer knit
- Lacing system is quick and easy
- 8 mm drop feels like 8 mm. The heel doesn’t squish more than the forefoot
- Heel strikers beware. Nike cut a ton of material from the bottom of the heel (like the Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro) so it can be unstable for heel strikers and heavier runners.
- Not forgiving of running form weaknesses. It was built for pros with great form.
- The arch can still bother flat footers and cause blisters
- Running at slow easy run pace in the Alphafly 3 often feels clunky
- Super squishy midsole means below average ankle stability
Is the Nike Alphafly 3 wide foot friendly?
While the Nike Alphafly 3 is more accommodating than previous Alphaflys, it’s still too narrow through the midfoot and heel to be a great option for wide-footed runners.
Is the Nike Alphafly 3 worth $285?
$285 is A LOT. It’s close though. I think most serious runners will be ok paying $285 to access the bounce and Alphafly-inspired confidence boost. For more casual mid to late pack runners the value won’t be the same.
Nike Alphafly 3 Summary
The Nike Alphafly 3 is the best Alphafly yet. It evokes the magic of the original Alphafly and avoids the more pedestrian feel of the underwhelming second model.
If you loved the original or are looking to understand why the Alphafly series has earned its reputation, the Nike Alphafly 3 provides the exciting experience you’re looking for.