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Review Summary

For endurance runners, more and more quick and efficient shoe options are hitting the market from all of the top brands. One of the groundbreakers, the Nike Alphafly 1 Next%, released in 2020 after the prototype aided Kipchoge to a sub two hour marathon in 2019. The immediately controversial shoe has gone on to help many shatter PRs due to the introduction of various new technologies.

The Alphafly 1 was the first shoe to introduce an atomknit upper, a slightly more form fitted and rigid take on the traditional flyknit material. This lightweight woven technology helps offset some of the additional weight found in the underfoot from the two air zoom pods. These pods, along with the thicker zoomX foam, provide unprecedented cushioning and responsiveness during longer endurance runs. The incorporation of a full length carbon fiber plate paired with a decent heel drop is what really brings these shoes to life with snappy strides that keep the legs feeling fresh. 

These shoes are absolutely and undoubtedly fast when covering the daunting marathon distance, but they may not be for everyone. The narrow midfoot might bring about some discomfort in the arch area for those with wider feet or a heavier heel strike. While not an experience of mine, there have been reports of arch blisters which I guarantee nobody wants. If the Alphafly 1 does indeed work for you, by all means add them to your race day rotation and enjoy the miles of smiles.

Review Ratings


  • A fast shoe with a 4mm heel drop that effortlessly propels you forward
  • Full length carbon plate transfers energy incredibly efficiently which reduces muscle fatigue and increases power 
  • 40mm stack height of squishy zoomX foam and dual zoom air pods provide ultimate cushioning
  • Beautiful overall design in some awesome colorways


  • Narrow midfoot may cause some to experience arch discomfort or even blister
  • Slightly heavier than the close contender Vaporfly offering due to air zoom pods

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly 1 Next%

Buy at Stadium Goods

Review Details

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly 1 Next% Sizing

The fit of the Nike Alphafly 1 is a bit controversial as it’s 100% not for everyone. This is a tough realization for many distance runners as the hype is real, yet nobody wants to come to terms with the fact that the shoe may not fit as comfortably as intended. This was unfortunately the case for me to some degree. 

Nike’s race day shoes have historically been somewhat narrow through the midfoot. This hasn’t resulted in any ill effects in the past with shoes such as the Vaporfly (all versions), however, the Alphafly 1 seems to take ‘narrow’ to the next level. On all other Nike race shoes, the prominent arch found in the insole generally marries up to the arch on your foot quite nicely. It feels like a match made in heaven with the insole mimicking the shape along the bottom of your foot. With the narrow insole found on the Alphafly 1, the arch actually presses up against the dead center of your foot as opposed to the void where your natural arch is. 

This results in a slightly uncomfortable and instantly recognizable sensation. Upon slipping the shoe on, you will most likely notice this weird feeling with your first step. For some, this may be non-existent while for others, it may be a non-starter. I fall somewhere in between. I can feel the arch pushing up into the soft center of my foot when walking, but it doesn’t necessarily hurt. I decided to take these on a mellow shakeout run over 10 miles to see what gives. 

To my surprise, once I settled into a comfortable stride of around 7:50 min/mile, the arch issue was less pronounced, at least initially. Towards the latter part of the run, I could feel a bit of discomfort that I would describe more as soreness than sharp. The following day, I did indeed have a bit of sensitivity in the middle of my foot where the arch had pushed up against, but it subsided rather quickly. After a handful of runs my feet either became accustomed to the pressure, or the arch subtly decreased under the impact of my feet. Either way, the Nike Alphafly 1 is now more enjoyable to run in than it was day 1. That being said, some may not be so lucky. There are countless stories of arch blisters and pain that likely comes from those with wider feet, flatter arches or a more heavy heel strike.

Nike has nailed the single piece atomknit upper that I was a bit skeptical of initially. This material is slightly stretchy, yet firm enough to keep your foot completely planted and secure. It perfectly hugs the contours of the foot once slipped into the sock like construction. The finger loops found on the top of the atomknit and the back of the heel help with installing the shoes as it would be near impossible without these additions. The Alphafly 1 definitely slides on much easier than the 2, but both require some patient effort and proper wiggling. Laces are almost redundant due to the tight hold from the atomknit, however, they do apply the right pressure in the right places to refine the fit. 

One of my favorite features on the racing line of Nike shoes is the achilles heel lock pillows found on the inside of the shoe. I’m typically prone to blisters along my achilles with any new pair of running shoes until properly broken in. This is an absolute non-issue with the Alphafly 1 due to the soft cushions that hug the narrowest part above your heel, creating a slight gap between your skin and the top of the shoe. These pillows also help lock your heel into place and avoid any unwanted float during quicker strides. 

From a fit and comfort standpoint, Nike really nailed everything about this shoe except for the narrow midfoot. I generally prefer the one piece sleeve design and atomknit material over the traditional tongue and breathable mesh of the Vaporfly 2, however, the initial discomfort and longer break in continues to give me pause. 

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly 1 Next% Construction

As you would expect from a company of Nike’s stature, the construction quality of their hallmark marathon shoe trends on the higher side. This groundbreaking race day shoe brought about many new technologies not previously seen in the Nike lineup all while maintaining a relatively light weight and decent durability. 

Focusing on the underfoot first, the Alphafly 1 features a squishy 40mm stack height which is right at the max threshold to meet world athletic rules. This thick mass of zoomX is highly responsive and provides amazing cushioning for an exciting and comfortable ride. If you’re new to the shoe, it may take some getting used to as it can feel a bit unstable when making sharp turns, however, this hesitation went away rather quickly. The heel to toe drop is 4mm which when paired with the rocking chair shape of the outsole, keeps your feet in motion almost subconsciously.

The star of the show, the full length carbon fiber plate runs from heel to toe with a slight curvature and is scaled in thickness depending on the size of the shoe. Larger shoes are a bit stiffer to accommodate what would be assumed is a heavier weighted runner while the smaller sizes feature a hardly noticeable thinner plate. Introducing carbon fiber to running shoes was one of those revolutionary light bulb moments that there is no turning back from now. The propulsive snappy nature of the carbon fiber in the Alphafly 1 has an addictive quality that truly makes any run feel significantly more special. As the plate loads under stride, it accumulates energy that is then released in the form of forward momentum, all with less effort and muscle strain.

Dual zoom air pods can be found under the forefoot of each shoe which offer an even more pillow like landing. The air pods are slightly rigid so as not to take away any energy from each stride, yet give just enough to soften the compression. These become exceptionally beneficial during the longer distance runs exceeding half marathon length as they help minimize fatigue to the legs. 

Because of the additional weight that is brought about by the use of the dual zoom air pods, Nike had to innovate in order to keep things in check. The result, a refreshed take on the original flyknit material, reworked to create atomknit. This highly breathable, slightly stretchy, light weight and surprisingly strong material is form fitted to the contours of the foot to create a sleeve for the foot to slide into. It appears there is a water resistant coating applied to the exterior of the material to help shield from the elements, however, I imagine moisture could still easily penetrate through the gaps if there is a heavy soak. 

The end result of all this innovation is a 7.4oz/210 gram speed demon of a shoe that operates like a gentle drill sergeant forcing your legs to stay in motion. I’ve logged roughly 200 miles (mostly race) thus far in the Nike Alphafly 1 and have been incredibly happy with the long term durability. There is some scuffing and wear on the exposed zoomX material which is to be expected, yet nothing showing of concern. The outsole on the forefoot and edges of the heel are still super grippy and appear to be wearing at a slow enough rate to give me another 50-100 miles out of this pair.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly 1 Next% Style

What immediately drew me to the Nike Alphafly 1, aside from the lust for faster race times, was the aggressive styling available in unique colorways. The hyper violet iteration with its zig zag black and white heel, pinkish zoom air pods, gradient colored foam and multicolor pink and purple atomknit upper is certainly easy on the eyes. The large amount of zoomX foam that tapers out to a tail on the backside and rolls up under the midfoot creates a unique silhouette not found on other shoes. 

The gap in the outsole creates a dramatic effect that serves to highlight the dual zoomX air pods found on the left and right of the forefoot. This two piece outsole aesthetic packed with air is unconventional and menacing as it appears to claw at the ground and spring you forward. As a massive fan of the flyknit technology found on the original flyknit racer, I was instantly won over by the multicolor atomknit that adorns the full upper of the Alphafly 1. The non uniform transition of pinks and purples makes for an interesting illusion that is only enhanced by the gradient found on the midsole.

While style is typically secondary for a purpose built shoe like the Alphafly 1, Nike has done an exceptional job of getting me excited to wear these to accent my Reigning Champ running kit and District Vision Junya Racers. That being said, these shoes are difficult to pull off with everyday casual attire. The extreme nature of the stack height makes them less than confidence inspiring for regular maneuvers and the overall squishiness just feels strange when running errands. I’m not against rocking these with a pair of nice nylon shorts and a shirt, they just fall lower on the selection list.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly 1 Next% Value

When originally released, the Nike Alphafly 1 flew off the shelves at $250 per pair. With the hype of Eliud Kipchoge breaking the two hour barrier in the marathon, everyone was eager to put these shoes through the paces and shave minutes off their PRs. In comparison to other shoes available at that time, the Alphafly 1 was definitely worth the investment. With the introduction of the Alphafly 2 at an even more costly $275, many believe that the original is a stronger performer at an even more enticing price. 

You can find the Alphafly 1 today across sites like Stadium Goods, goat, and stockX for below retail on just about all of the highly sought after colorways including the fast pack and hyper violet. I’ve opted to add a few pairs to the archive for a future date as I’m not sure the raw nature of these shoes will be replicated again in the iterations to come. This shoe is an absolute value for any distance runner that is unbothered by the narrow midfoot and is looking to break some PRs.

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