Running in the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 was both a familiar and surprisingly new experience. Nike's latest high-stack carbon racers provide the all-so-familiar bouncy, propulsive ride, but thanks to the updates – added foam under the Air Zoom pods, new upper – they behave differently from their predecessor.
Not trying to spoil the review too early, but I must say, the Alphafly 2 are the best Nike running shoes for people who take marathon racing seriously. Sure, they aren't as versatile as the daily trainer Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 or as snappy as the Nike ZoomX Streakfly, but for anything longer/more uptempo, the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2s are your best option, especially if you are a Nike fan.
The hefty price tag might put some runners off from buying these shoes, but it's worth mentioning they aren't for everybody. Some runners might find it difficult to harness the power of the high stack midsole, especially beginners; they might be better off getting more stable shoes. Read my Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 to find out if you should get a pair (or not).
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 review: Price and availability
The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 was announced on 15 June 2022 and is available to buy now (in limited quantities) directly from Nike US (opens in new tab), Nike UK (opens in new tab) and Nike AU (opens in new tab) for a recommended retail price of $275/£270/AU$370. The shoes are also available to buy via third-party retailers such as SportsShoes.com (opens in new tab).
[Take a look at our Nike discount codes page for ways to save on your order.]
Thanks to the new release, the original Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% can be bought for cheaper at third-party retailers. For example, the Women's Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% is only £182 at Pro:Direct Running (opens in new tab) right now, down from £260. In the US, the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% Flyknit is currently on offer and being sold for $204.97 (opens in new tab) (down from $275).
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 review: What's new?
The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 introduced some fundamental changes compared to its predecessor. Stack height stayed the same under the heel (just under the 'legal' race limit of 40 mm), but the Alphafly 2 has a steeper 8 mm drop (32 mm under the forefoot) compared to the 4 mm drop of the OG Alphafly (36 mm foam under the forefoot).
Even more interestingly, some extra foam was added under the Zoom Air pods (located under the balls of your feet, so very much so in the forefoot area), but even with this, the shoes have a higher heel-to-toe drop than before. The heel area has also been redesigned, and the platform is now wider to provide more stability.
Finally, the Alpgafly 2 features the brand new Atomknit 2.0 upper, engineered for "containment in the forefoot, breathability above the toes, and comfortable padding under the laces", Nike explains.
The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 weighs 269 grams (men’s UK 10/US 11).
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 review: Fit
Step-in comfort is okay, not plush, but definitely along the line of what you'd expect from racing shoes. The new upper is tight and designed to hold your foot securely, not for plushness. If softness is what you're after, I'd recommend the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 or the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 24.
There are two tabs to help you get in the shoes easier, and once you get the hang of using them, putting the shoes on and taking them off will become much easier. The upper is tight in a way you'd expect from race-only shoes; foot containment is excellent, and despite the synthetic upper, there is no sign of chafing or discomfort even in hot weather. The integrated tongue also reduces chafing under the lace cage.
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 review: Running performance
The drop has increased, strangely, but the stack height hasn’t (it can’t; otherwise, it’d be ‘illegal’ to use in races). Even more strangely, there is more foam under the air zoom units – how can the drop be higher!?
The structure of the foam is similar, and there is also a lot of bounce. You’d think the tow-part midsole will be felt under foot – it really isn’t. The combination of ZoomX foam, Air Zoom units and carbon plate keep giving back the energy mile after mile after mile.
It really feels like you can run in the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 forever without your legs ever getting tired. All that foam underfoot, combined with the propulsive power of the carbon plate, provides a superb running experience over long distances.
One thing I couldn't get over was how chunky the shoes looked and how lightweight they were. The shoes are heavier (269 g) than the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2 (228 g), the ASICS METASPEED EDGE+ (231 g) and even the Adidas Adios Pro 3 (244 g), but the Alphafly 2 is just so much bigger than those.
It might have something to do with the extra foam under Air Zoom units – it makes the shoes roll smoother, further reinforcing the sensation that the shoes weigh less. Amazing engineering from Nike's designers.
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 review: Verdict
Are the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 worth the hype?
The truth is, Nike shoes will always be hyped, and so will be ‘super shoes’ – the Nike Alphafly 2 is both of those things. Not just that, but it’s also really good, making it all the more appealing to anyone interested in shoes, runners and sneakerheads alike.
Are these shoes better than the Vaporfly NEXT% 2, EDGE+ or the Adios Pro 3? Yes and no. The Nike Alphafly 2 is a superb shoe, but so is the OG Alphafly and even the OG Vaporfly. If you’re a fast runner looking for marginal gains, you’ll need the Alphafly 2 to break your PBs. For less speedy runners, there are many alternatives that will help you move forward faster and are also available to buy now for cheaper.
In any case, I'd recommend giving it a serious thought whether you need the shoes or not. They are far from being cheap, and spending this much money on shoes that should be used for racing and tempo sessions only (to preserve the foam for when you are in peak performance mode) is a big ask from people who run only recreationally.
If you have the money, though, by all means, go for it, and go faster for longer than ever before.
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 review: Also consider
The Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 are carbon-enhanced running shoes of the best kind; the extra foam under the forefoot and the rocker shape help push you forward over long distances with ease. However, the toe box is a bit narrow, and the distinct foam cutaway sections might affect the gait cycle of some athletes (especially those who supinate). They are slightly cheaper than the Nike Alphafly 2, though.
ASICS did the impossible and made the METASPEED EDGE+ even better than its predecessor. There is more foam underfoot to help you power throughout any race or workout, no matter the distance. The engineered mesh upper is more comfortable, and even the laces have been tweaked to maximise performance. These shoes are more stable than the Alphafly 2 and are an excellent choice for half-marathons.
For shorter distances, the Nike ZoomX Streakfly might be a good alternative (it's certainly cheaper). The stack height is lower, but you get the same ZoomX foam and Nike signature fit.