Images of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature leaked a few weeks back and our running audience has asked one question over and over. Is the Alphafly Next Nature a running shoe or a casual shoe?
The short answer is the Alphafly Next Nature is meant to be a performance running shoe. In this case, one focused on long distance racing just like the previous Alphafly and Vaporfly. I do have a couple areas where I’m not sure if the Next Nature will perform as well as the regular version of the Alphafly, but I’ll get into that. If you need a refresher, click here to read the performance review of the original Nike Alphafly Next%. Now, let’s talk about the new Alphafly Next Nature
The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature packs all the same cushioning tech as the Alphafly Next%. A ZoomX midsole, full length carbon fiber plate and two large volume forefoot Zoom Air Bags. The high performing rubber outsole is the same as well. The basics that made the Alphafly the shoe to help Eliud Kipchoge break the 2 hour marathon barrier are all there. But it has some differences as well.
The insole (or sockliner) is now made with recycled ZoomX. We’ve seen a similar type of insole previously on the Nike Vapormax 2020 USA Medal Stand and the Space Hippie line. The problem with the ZoomX insoles is they’re very slippery, and so far, haven’t been performance-oriented. It also takes a long time to get them to mold to your foot shape. Hopefully Nike did something to the top side to nullify the slick coating that’s usually present on the recycled ZoomX. And from the pictures, the top of the insole doesn’t look like raw ZoomX so I’m hopeful this got done.
But all that recycled ZoomX is not a bad thing. The Alphafly Next Nature is 50% total recycled content by weight. That absolutely blows away Nike’s record for a performance model using recycled materials. The previous record was set by the Nike Cosmic Unity basketball shoe with 25% total recycled content by weight. That’s a big jump. And even if you believe Nike just does its recycling efforts for cost savings or marketing, they’re moving fast to create less waste. And that’s a really good thing in a world where the climate crisis is showing up in our lives almost daily.
The last big change from the Alphafly Next% to the Alphafly Next Nature is the upper material. The Alphafly Next% used Atomknit, a steamed and stretched version of Flyknit. The Alphafly Next Nature uses a hybrid Flyprint and Flyknit upper. And the Flyprint is made partly from leftover Zoom Air pod waste. Flyprint is a way to make textile uppers stronger in all the right places. So theoretically, this new upper could provide as support that’s just as good as Atomknit but be more comfortable due to regular Flyknit getting used alongside the Flyprint.
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature Conclusion
While there’s a couple of things I want to feel on foot first, namely the ZoomX insole and the new upper, the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature is clearly a true race day running shoe despite the 50% recycled material. We’ll see if it can perform quite as well as the original recipe Alphafly, but even if it doesn’t match those lofty standards, it’ll get very close. And if shoe companies can keep using more and more recycled materials and get performance that’s basically the same? That’s a win for all of us that want the sneaker industry to be more sustainable.
The Alphafly Next Nature will be available soon at Nike.