What I mean is, the lightness and springboard quality in the shoe’s product description aren’t simply marketing speak, they’re traits you can observe for yourself. Going fast in this shoe feels easier than going fast in other shoes—and that’s exactly what the scientists who studied it found out, too. Science or placebo, running fast in the Vaporfly feels good. It feels fun. And in the end, it doesn’t matter how many scientific studies are behind a shoe, it still has to feel good.

Are they worth it?

The Vaporfly isn’t as hard to get today as it once was. (Its younger, turbo-charged sibling, the Alphafly, is, which is one of the reasons I think the Vaporfly is a better pick for most runners; I also think the Vaporfly is a bit more universal.) But does that mean you should get it?

You’ll notice that I’ve talked a lot in this review about races and training for them. That’s because the Vaporfly is a racing shoe. You can wear it for fast workouts, too, but if an everyday running shoe is what you’re after, get something else. The Vaporfly is often referred to as the best running shoe out there, but what’s meant there is “best for racing.” It is an excellent shoe, but it’s overbuilt for casual loops around the neighborhood. Also, remember that running shoes are personal. The hype around the Vaporfly is hard to ignore, but if you try out a pair and don’t like them, don’t force it. Unlike when it first came out, there are plenty of other super shoes to choose from.

But if they do feel good on your feet, and your ambitions as a runner include seeking the limits of how far you can push yourself, the Vaporfly 3 can help you find them. It’s a great shoe. The original has already gone down in the record books as a pivotal turning point in running footwear, and this version is better. Subjectively, I’d say that’s money well spent.

About the Author

Tanner Bowden is a writer, editor, and photographer based in Vermont. With over a decade of experience in media, he’s tested and written about hundreds of products for camping, hiking, skiing, cycling, running, and more for publications like Gear Patrol, Men’s Journal, Field Mag, and Outside, among others. He often writes about running—gear, training, and culture—and is a six-time marathoner who achieved a personal best of 2:56 at the 2023 Tokyo Marathon.

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