On the market for your next pair of running shoes?
Nike’s Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% and Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% are two options that are worth considering if you’re a serious runner - no matter whether you’re all about distance or pace.
Firstly, it shouldn’t have to be said that both the Air Zoom Tempo and Air Zoom Alphafly are high-spec.
Debuting in 2020, both Nike models sit at around $200+ and boast top-of-the-range Nike design: breathable Flyknit, ZoomX foam, and responsive Air Zoom pods.
But while the Air Zoom Tempo and Air Zoom Alphafly have their similarities—especially in appearance—they are miles apart when it comes to performance.
So in this two-part review, we run through what Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% and Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% bring to the table, weighing up the designs and features, performance, pros and cons, and reasons to buy.
Not sure which one is best for you? You’ve arrived at the right place!
Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% hit shelves in 2020, marketed as the new Nike racer for runners who don’t just want to run faster but feel faster.
It’s hard to disagree, we have to admit, as the 10mm drop, ZoomX sole, and Air Zoom pods offer an explosive spring that simply leaves other Nike runners in the dust - even the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%.
This is a shoe for increasing speed and pace - there’s no doubt about that.
So if you’re someone who does, or incorporates, tempo runs and speed runs for training, the Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% is one that won’t disappoint.
For a quick overview of the selection of colors you’ve got to choose from, Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% can be bought in these colorways:
- Black/Anthracite/Pure Platinum/White
- Barely Volt/Mint Foam/Barely Green/Cave
- White/Pure Platinum/Black/Photo Blue
- Particle Grey/Dark Grey/Wild Berry/Volt
- White/Washed Coral/Pink Blast/Black
Simply put, the color choice with the Air Zoom Tempos offers an all-around selection that’s going to appease most runners - no matter whether you prefer something minimal and toned down or a running shoe that’s going to stand out.
As mentioned earlier, the Nike Air Zoom Tempo comes with a 10mm drop - a design choice made to spring you into your next stride.
It weighs in at 220 grams (for a US 7.5) with a stack height of 36mm to 48mm.
Like most Nike running shoes, Nike’s trademark Flyknit uppers (with no tongue) on the Tempo NEXT% offer breathability and durability.
The midsole is where it differs from other Nike running shoes for the most part, featuring ZoomX foam at the forefoot, a Nike React heel, and two Air Zoom pods.
As for the outsole, it has full rubber coating.
If the combination of ZoomX and Nike React technology is something that caught your eye, it was meant to.
The design enables comfort and responsiveness, offering speed where it matters.
Now for the main part: Performance.
First of all, the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% feels comfortable and secure.
The high drop isn’t too noticeable (at least for someone who’s had their fair share of running shoes), with a firm sponginess, supported arch, and overall lightweight feel that isn’t surprising - due to the Flyknit uppers.
Right off the bat, the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% delivers extra speed.
Running feels light and springy - as if the shoe actually wants to pull you forwards!
There’s a certain kind of responsiveness and “energy” that comes from the Air Zoom Tempo’s sole, most noticeable on take-offs.
If you’re looking for acceleration, this is where the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% really shines.
It’s a fast running shoe through and through, excelling the most when it comes to quick, long strides needed for racing to finish lines and new PRs.
Like the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT%, Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% was released in 2020 yet still manages to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the most elite running shoes on the market.
Unlike the Air Zoom Tempo NEXT%, however, the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% was designed for one single purpose: distance.
As a result, you might be surprised to know that the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% comes in at a lighter weight than the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% - a whole 38 grams/1.34 ounces, to be exact (for a US 7.5).
Needless to say, the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% is a solid contender if you’re someone who goes the distance each time you slip your running shoes on.
We listed the colors that the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% comes in, so here are the various colorways you get with the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%:
- Barely Volt/Hyper Orange/Dynamic Turquoise/Black
- Amarillo/Magma Orange/Healing Orange/Black
- Hyper Volt/Flash Crimson/Black/Black
- Bright Mango/Metallic Red Bronze/Black/Citron Pulse
- Valerian Blue/Lime Blast-Black
- Hyper Turquoise/Black/Oracle Aqua/White
In contrast with the Air Zoom Tempo, the Air Zoom Alphafly offers a brighter, more colorful choice of designs.
These aren’t for everyone, it has to be said, but where the Zoom Air Alphafly actually stands out is performance.
Compared with the Nike Air Zoom Tempo, the Nike Nike Air Alphafly has a smaller drop of 4mm - something that, surprisingly, is hardly noticeable when the two running shoes are placed next to each other.
Despite that, the Alphafly sits at 182 grams (US 7.5), much lighter than the Tempo.
You’ve got the Flyknit uppers here and a stack height of 35mm to 39mm, with partial rubber coating of the outsole.
Two Air Zoom pods cushion the forefoot, with ZoomX foam making up the full construction of the sole.
The biggest difference between the Alphafly and Tempo, however, is the carbon fiber plate that’s included in the Alphafly - a feature made to deliver snappy strides and the extra durability needed for long-distance feats.
So how does the Nike Air Alphafly measure up in terms of performance?
As you’ve probably gathered by now, the Alphafly is a distance running shoe - which is where it differs the most from the Air Zoom Tempo.
Despite that, however, the two running shoes don’t feel too different when worn initially.
The first impressions running with the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% was that the sole isn’t as soft and spongy, most likely due to the carbon plate.
This was a surprise due to the full ZoomX sole, but didn’t come as a downside!
In fact, while the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% doesn’t feel springy or speedy, it simply brings comfort and durability.
The shoe didn’t lose its initial comfort even past the 10k mark, with each footstrike feeling light yet controlled.
Nike Tempo NEXT% vs Nike Alphafly NEXT% - The Key Differences
To go over the differences between the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT and Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT, the biggest, most glaring difference is that the Tempo is for speed and power while the Alphafly is for comfort, responsiveness, and endurance.
In other words, the Nike Air Zoom Tempo is for sprinting tempo runs and speed runs while the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly is for going the distance - no matter whether that’s a 10k run, half marathon, marathon, or ultra.
The design of both running shoes is close to the same - except for the sole.
The sole of the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% is constructed with ZoomX forefoot and React heel while the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% is constructed with ZoomX foam from toe to heel.
Both models have two Air Zoom pods at the forefoot, producing forward-propelling footstrikes.
In addition, the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% has a drop of 10mm while the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% has a drop of 4mm.
Due to this, the weight of both shoes is also different. The Tempo NEXT% weighs in at 220 grams while the Alphafly NEXT% is 182 grams (for a US 7.5).
The Pros And Cons
Pros And Cons: Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT%
Still undecided? To help you out as well as summarize the above, here are the pros and cons of the Nike Air Zoom Tempos:
- Ideal for speed
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Flyknit breathability
- 2 forefoot Air Zoom pods for cushioned footfalls
- Zoom X foam (forefoot)
- Nike React heel for extra spring
- Greater choice of colors
- Not ideal for long distance running
- A sense of reduced durability and lifespan compared with the Alphafly
- High drop (which might not be for everyone)
Pros And Cons: Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%
Following the pros and cons of the Nike Air Zoom Tempos, here are the pros and cons of the Nike Air Zoom Alphaflys:
- Ideal for long distance
- Comfortable and durable
- Flyknit breathability
- 2 forefoot Air Zoom pods for cushioned footfalls
- Zoom X foam sole (from toe to heel)
- Not ideal for speed running (tempo running)
- Not as soft or spongy as the Nike Air Zoom Tempo
- Less accommodating choice of colors
- Not as ideal for heel landing running styles
Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% VS Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% - Which One Should You Buy?
Ultimately, the choice between the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% and the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% comes down to the kind of runner that you are.
Still, for more versatile runners, there’s no harm in investing in both if you have the cash to spare.
The Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% is the main winner here if you run for speed, particularly when it comes to timed tempo runs or speed runs, performed to increase pace or train for the track.
On the other hand, the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% wins outright when it comes to long distance runs, offering comfort and a sense of durability and reliability that you can rely on for simply achieving the furthest distance you possibly can.
Both high-end Nike runners sit at a similar price range ($250+, depending where bought) and an overall weight that’s hardly noticeable.
You’re ultimately getting extra spring and power with the Air Zoom Tempos while the Air Zoom Alphaflys will give you added durability and greater versatility for different kinds of runners.
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% - Worth Mentioning
As a final thought, it’s worth mentioning the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%, another high-end Nike runner that sits in the NEXT% range.
Like the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT and Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT, this running shoe has to be talked about for the specific purpose it brings to the table.
So for elite-level runners with a few hundred to invest, it’s also one to consider.
At a glance, the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT doesn’t feature Nike’s Flyknit technology, but does brag durable and waterproof Vaporweave material, ZoomX foam forefoot, and a carbon fiber plate underfoot (the same as the Alphafly).
The ZoomX Vaporfly was made for races, simply put. It’s a more versatile entry, overall, for runners who run short and long distances with a focus on balancing speed and comfort.
So to compare it with the Tempo and Alphafly, the Vaporfly is a more accessible all-rounder that also sits at a more affordable price.
Who’s it for? The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly is worth considering if you consider yourself a more casual runner.
On the whole, the price of the Air Zoom Tempo and Air Zoom Alphafly might scare some runners off, making the ZoomX Vaporfly a better choice for those who want a more elite-level running shoe that trumps the Air Zoom Pegasus in all aspects but isn’t as costly, or fine-tuned for a specific purpose, as the Air Zoom Tempo and Air Zoom Alphafly.
That rounds up our review of the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% and Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%, offering our thoughts on the design, features, and performance, with a summary of the pros and cons to help you decide which one is right for you.
Overall, both these high-spec Nike Zoom running shoes offer more than enough to get your money’s worth - it simply all comes down to the type of runner you are.
For speedsters, the Air Zoom Tempo comes out on top, but for long distancers, you won’t go wrong with the Air Zoom Alphafly.