This past week, a friend told me that Nike finally had the Zoom Vaporfly 4% in stock. It was good timing, too, as they sold out again within hours. I had previously gone to the trouble of qualifying for a pair through the Nike+ App by doing a Sunday run, but Nike had some technical difficulties, causing me to arrive late to the party for a size 12 shoe. If only I wore a size 5, then I’d never have to worry about shoes being in stock…

Anyway, my normal operating procedure with an overly hyped product like the Vaporfly 4% is to disbelieve the sales pitch. 4% reduction in energy expenditure? Ha! Nike even paid for the study in question. Just another company twisting the science to make more money, right?

Then came Boston, Chicago, and of course Flanagan in New York. Some of the runners winning races in the 4% weren’t expected to win. They were expected in the top 10 but not on the podium.

So I was curious, and as I completed my purchase at Nike, my absolute first impression was that this is the most money I’ve ever paid per ounce for a pair of shoes. We’re talking almost $40/ounce.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff, the shoes.

From the moment you put on the Vaporfly 4%, you can tell there is something different about them. They had a familiar squishiness and instability like some of the Hoka’s, but there’s more of a bounce to your step. You don’t sink into the foam the way you do with many of the Hoka One One models. For posterity, I’m a fan of Hoka so this isn’t me being critical of Hoka. I’m just trying to provide a familiar comparison since it’s hard to try out the 4% unless you have incredibly small feet.

At this point, I only have 12 miles on the 4% so I don’t want to jump the gun by writing a full review.  Instead, I’ll just leave a few brief first impressions:

  • The Zoom Vaporfly 4% size 12 is slightly bigger than my Nike Flyknit 4’s. If stock weren’t a problem, I might have traded down to the 11.5.
  • Running in shoes that are so lightweight but so well cushioned is incredible.
  • My 20 minute 5K attempt in the Zoom Vaporfly 4% failed, but I had fallen off my training plan several weeks prior. So they weren’t magic, but I managed to match my previous PR without proper training.
  • I am a forefoot striker. I get the impression from walking in the shoes that mid foot strikers and heel strikers would see much greater improvements in running economy.
  • Nike did not sacrifice comfort for weight. The upper is a bit odd due to all of the weight trimming, but I’ve found it extremely comfortable so far, especially around the back of the foot.

I’ll have more after a few more weeks and some more mileage, but my first impression is that the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% is much more than hype.