Images of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature leaked a while 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. Will the Alphafly Next Nature perform as well or better than the regular version of the Alphafly? That’s what we’re here to find out. 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.
Nike Air Alphafly Next Nature
Colorway: Flat Pewter/Light Artic Pink/Light Cream/Black
Release Date: Novmber 2021
Style Code: DB0129-001
Original Alphafly vs 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 while to get them to mold to your foot shape. This time, Nike added a traditional insole liner to the top of the insole to nullify the slick coating that’s usually present on the recycled ZoomX. So the ZoomX insole works just like a normal Nike running insole, just more cushioned.
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 a daily occurrence.
But using this recycled ZoomX does have a cost. The chunks of recycled ZoomX need more glue to stick to the other pieces and the carbon plate. The extra glue adds some weight and makes the midsole slightly stiffer than previous iterations of the Alphafly. With how plush the Alphafly midsole is, it’s not a huge difference, but is noticeable in a direct comparison. Some people may actually prefer this less cushioned setup.
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 and feels like vinyl. Flyprint is a way to make textile uppers stronger in all the right places.
The Flyprint on the Alphafly Next Nature feels likes a rubbery flyknit. It covers the entire upper except for the toebox. It makes the upper both beefier and more supportive. I felt much steadier around tight turns versus how I feel in the Alphafly. The Flyprint also helps support the arch, a spot that caused chafing for some in the original Alphafly. The combo of the ZoomX insole and Flyprint support improve the arch fit significantly and may make this an option for some who didn’t like the Alphafly’s arch fit.
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature Conclusion
I can answer definitively that the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature performs just as well as the original recipe Alphafly. In fact, I think the slightly stiffer midsole, ZoomX insole and more supportive upper make it a better all-around shoe. Is it heavier? Yes, slightly. But the weight increase is worth it for the improved support and fit.
And if shoe companies can keep using more and more recycled materials and get performance that’s basically the same or better? That’s a win for all of us that want the sneaker industry to be more sustainable.
The Alphafly Next Nature is now available at Nike.