The Saucony Endorphin Pro is ready to challenge the road racing dominance of the Nike Alphafly Next% and Nike Vaporfly Next%. In February, Molly Seidel used the Endorphin Pro to place second at the US Marathon Olympic Trials and secure a spot on the US Olympic team. It’s clear the Endorphin Pro can perform at the highest level.
Our Alphafly Next% vs Endorphin Pro comparison will help runners decide which shoe they want to buy as their next racing shoe. I’ve heard from a lot of our running audience who plan to buy one of the two for the fall marathon season (? that all marathons don’t need to be cancelled). For those that want to go in depth on the Saucony Endorphin Pro’s performance, I’ll post a full performance review next week.
Alphafly Next% vs Endorphin Pro: What’s the same?
- Pebax. The foam cushion in both shoes is Pebax. Saucony calls it PWRRUN PB and Nike calls it ZoomX. And if you haven’t tried Pebax, you should. Pebax is extremely light, super squishy, and rebounds well. It’s the best foam available. Light enough for long distance races and perfect for pairing with the stiffness of a carbon fiber plate. While Saucony’s version is a bit firmer than ZoomX, it’s still squishier than any other foam except the FuelCell used on the New Balance FuelCell TC.
- Carbon Fiber Plate. Both the Endorphin Pro and the Alphafly Next% utilize carbon fiber plates sandwiched within their foam midsole. The plates stabilize the squishy Pebax and work with the foam to provide a bouncy feeling. Both plates are s-curved to better match your foot’s natural geometry and add some snappiness to every toe off.
- Rocker sole. Now standard in road racing shoes, both midsoles feature exaggerated heel and toe curvature that “guides” the foot through a quick heel to toe transition and lift off. Saucony calls its version Speedroll while Nike calls it rocker geometry. Doesn’t matter what’s it called, the result is the same. You’ll land smoothly and launch quickly, every time.
- Weight. In a size 9, the Alphafly Next% weights 7.4 ounces while the Endorphin Pro weighs 7.5 ounces. In hand, mine (size 11.5) feel virtually identical weight-wise. On foot, it’s impossible to tell any difference.
- True to size. The Alphafly Next% and the Endorphin Pro fit true to size lengthwise. They also feature enough width for most wide footers and a solid amount of room up front for toe splay.
Alphafly Next% vs Endorphin Pro: What’s different?
- Fit. The Saucony Endorphin Pro fits like a (very light) traditional running shoe while the Alphafly Next% fits like a space age moonwalker. Both fits are nice in ways I’ll cover. The main difference to note is that the Alphafly Next% takes some getting used to. You likely haven’t worn anything like it. On the other hand, the Endorphin Pro feels familiar. You can immediately slip them on and instantly feel ready to tackle any workout or race.
- Upper material. The Alphafly Next% uses a steamed and stretched flyknit called Atomknit. It’s sturdier than a regular flyknit and almost as comfortable. The Endorphin Pro uses an ultra-thin engineered mesh called Formfit. Both feel great and I didn’t experience any hot spots.
- Tongue. The Endorphin Pro features a gusseted mesh and neoprene tongue while the Alphafly Next% features no tongue at all. As a result, the Alphafly feels sock-like while the Endorphin Pro leans into the traditional running shoe fit.
- Support. The Endorphin Pro doesn’t have a TPU heel counter but is by far the more supportive shoe. A combination of the knit upper and high stack height make tight corners in the Alphafly Next% feel precarious despite it’s monstrous heel counter. The Alphafly tries to make up for it’s precariousness with a forefoot where it’s Zoom Air bags act as outriggers. The outriggers work. You’ll feel secure if you happen to step on uneven pavement, rocks, or other small obstacles. As for the Endorphin Pro, the forefoot is similarly widened and you sit inside the midsole at both the heel and midfoot. With the Endorphin Pro you feel completely secure at all times. The Alphafly’s support isn’t as good. Wide footers may get the feeling they’re hanging over the midsole at the midfoot. However, the Alphafly Next% support is better than its predecessor, the Vaporfly Next%.
- Forefoot cushioning. The forefoot of the Endorphin Pro is Pebax while the forefoot of the Alphafly Next% features Pebax and two huge Zoom Air bags. This elevates the Alphafly’s cushioning to the next level of bounce and energy return. I created Instagram videos to show the difference: Alphafly bounce vs Endorphin Pro bounce.
- Traction. In what’s becoming a pattern, it’s again future versus tradition with both working well. The Alphafly Next% gets a space age outsole with bulbous flowing lines while the Endorphin Pro uses a traditional chevron pattern. Both grabbed the pavement well in wet, slippery conditions. I tried to find ways to make them slip but couldn’t do it. The Endorphin Pro may have a slight edge in the durability of the rubber (the Alphafly Next% rubber started fraying fairly quick) but I haven’t worn either pair enough (yet) to say for sure.
- Stack height. The Alphafly Next% is the taller of the two shoes measuring 35mm in the forefoot and 39mm in the heel. The Endorphin Pro comes in quite a bit shorter at 25mm in the forefoot and 33mm in the heel. You can feel the difference on foot and it affects the feel of both the support and the cushioning.
- Offset. The Endorphin Pro features a standard 8mm drop while the Alphafly Next% gets a 4mm drop. A lot of runners have firm offset preferences so this may be a deciding factor for many people.
- Price. The Endorphin Pro retails at $200 while the Alphafly Next% comes in at $275. Yep, at least two whole Benjamins. You need to love running (or shoes) to shell out that kind of cash. The extra $75 for the Alphafly Next% gets you Zoom Air, more Pebax, and a knit upper. Will it be worth it for most runners? Probably not. But never underestimate the ability of hype and world records to sell shoes.
Alphafly Next% vs Endorphin Pro: Overall
The Alphafly Next% vs Endorphin Pro is a comparison of the two best road racing shoes on the planet (depending on where you feel the Vaporfly Next% should rank. I have it third.). Which one you select will depend mainly on your preferences for fit, cushioning, offset, and price.
The Saucony Endorphin Pro is available now at Road Runner Sports and will be in stock again soon at Saucony. The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% will be released globally at Nike and other retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods on July 2, 2020.