Nike React Vapor NXT Review & Playtest Notes
To gain a comprehensive understanding of a shoe’s performance, I’ll test them in various situations to flesh out my thoughts and opinions.
For this playtest, I took the Nike React Vapor NXTs on a two-mile offroad run to gain a sense of comfort and the weight of the shoes. I also spent plenty of time running various agility and footwork drills to flesh out traction and stability.
Finally, I put in 8-10 hours hitting on the court over two weeks to gain a feel for their overall performance. All combined, I used my experience through these different scenarios as the basis for this review.
Below you’ll find my ratings for the Nike React Vapor NXTs across a standardized set of criteria that I use for all of my shoe reviews, as well as notes providing context for each.
When it comes to style, the React Vapor NXT is a bit of a mixed bag.
I like the portions of the Flyweave upper that give the shoe a clean performance-oriented look, but I struggle with the brightly colored, thick rubber protective material that wraps the inside up through the toe.
It’s not because of the color, but I feel Nike didn’t need to wrap so high up the forefoot, adding unnecessary weight and find it gives the shoe a slightly awkward, visually unbalanced look.
With that said, I’m not put off by the style and happily wear them without much thought, but I did feel the visual design was a bit of a miss. It’s worth noting they do offer an all-white and mostly black pair that reduces that contrast between panels for a more balanced look.
As far as lacing goes, it’s relatively smooth and easy.
The shoe offers a bootie construction, so I didn’t experience an awkward bunching under the laces, and I felt I could achieve a locked-in fit with the non-traditional lacing loops that run along the upper’s inside.
One thing you’ll want to keep in mind is that the material below the laces is relatively thin, so if you lace too tight, you’re going to feel it.
I didn’t find this a problem because even without laces, the shoes are relatively secure with the bootie construction, so a moderately snug lacing does the trick.
In terms of comfort, I was pleasantly surprised.
I was expecting a bit of a firmer ride, but the thick midsole and react foam do an excellent job absorbing shock at the heel, while the thinner sole at the forefoot keeps your foot closer to the ground for a responsive feel.
Regarding fit, the shoes were spot on and feel great. However, if you do have wider feet, then I’d expect that to present an issue.
It’s worth noting that early on, I did find the thick orange rubber proactive material on the inside or medial portion of the shoe to put a bit of pressure at the top of my foot as the shoe collapsed.
As they’ve broken in, it’s become less of an issue, but it’s good to be aware that may present slight discomfort early on in the first 10-20 hours of play, which is why I suggest giving them a break-in period.
As far as stability goes, the Nike React Vapor NXTs have room for improvement – primarily at the top of the foot around the ankle.
Generally, I found they offered slightly too much give for sharp lateral or side-to-side movements. They’re by no means poor, and outside of that, they were perfectly sufficient, but even when laced tighter, I found the upper’s flex to be somewhat problematic.
If stability is a high priority, then I’d encourage you to look elsewhere. Otherwise, it’s just good to be aware.
When it comes to traction, I thought the Nike React Vapor NXTs were excellent, and it seems as though the data-informed design they market for coming up with the outsole is beneficial.
The shoes offer fantastic grip and ensure solid footing for all ranges of movement. At the same time, they offer a slight give when lunging into a shot to prevent your foot from locking up, which is how I prefer my shoes.
It’s always hard to gauge how a refreshed tread design will work out, but I’m a big fan of what Nike has done with this shoe.
From a durability standpoint, the Nike React Vapor NXTs are solid.
The outsole held up well to the pounding of a hard court, but they’re by no means indestructible. I have a tendency to drag my right foot a bit, and I could see some of the tread start to fade at the front after 5-10 hours of play, but for me, that’s par for the course.
I’ve been most impressed by the durable orange rubber, which seems to hold up very well, so if that’s a high wear area for you, then I’d expect them to offer excellent protection.
As we covered earlier, the React Vapor NXTs fall on the heavier end of the weight spectrum, and while noticeable, I didn’t find they hindered my movement or slowed me down.
For the most part, I view the added weight as a tradeoff. Although heavier, you’re getting some extra durability, so the weight might be less of a concern if that’s important. If not, then a lighter shoe to help you feel as agile as possible will likely be a better fit.
I will say for their weight, I wish they offered better stability, which is typical of what you can expect with a heavier shoe, so I view that as a downside that Nike could stand to improve.
When it comes to ventilation, Nike’s React Vapor NXTs perform well.
You’ll get most of the breathability from the mid to front outside edge beneath the Flyweave material and at the tongue where you lace the shoes, which offers plenty of ventilation.
Generally, I found them to keep my feet plenty cool and comfortable.