Skechers Speed Elite vs Vaporfly – Racing Flat Showdown!

Running shoes have come a long way in recent years as brands incorporate the latest technologies to maximize energy return and running economy.

Two of the most popular high-performance road racing shoes currently are the Skechers Speed Elite Hyper and the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%.

But with both featuring carbon fiber plates and lightweight foams, how exactly do they differ? Which provides the faster ride?

I’ll compare the Skechers and Vaporfly head-to-head on key performance factors so you can decide which race day shoes may work best for your goals and running style. I’ll also include user reviews and pricing information to provide real-runner experiences and cost considerations around both options.

Skechers Speed Elite vs Vaporfly

The main difference between Skechers Speed Elite and Vaporfly is that the Speed Elite uses a lightweight foam and plate for a fast, responsive feel during runs and races, whereas the Vaporfly features advanced ZoomX cushioning and carbon fiber plate to propel runners with exceptional energy return.

Both are designed for racing or fast-paced training.

Before comparing the specifics, here is an overview of Skechers Speed Elite vs Vaporfly Shoes:

Comparison CriteriaSkechers Speed EliteNike ZoomX Vaporfly
CategoryRacing flatRacing flat
Ideal UseMarathon racing shoeMarathon/racing shoe
Stack Height30mm heel, 22mm forefoot40mm heel, 32mm forefoot
CushioningFlight Gen hyper burst foamFull-length ZoomX foam
PlateIntegrated HyperplateFull carbon fiber plate
FitTrue to sizeRuns small, narrow
UpperBreathable mesh and laminateBreathable mesh
ResponsivenessHigh energy returnExtremely responsive
ComfortRemovable socklinerMinimal yet secure fit
DurabilityDurable rubber gripDurable ContinentalTM rubber
Style ProfileSleek performance silhouetteDistinctive curved shape
Intended UseTraining and racing performanceRacing and PRs
Price$$ ($160)$$$ ($250)

In summary, the Skechers offer a highly cushioned, flexible marathon racing option with a comfortable secure fit, while the Nike model provides the gold standard in responsive speed technology for peak race day performance at a premium price.

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Pros and Cons

Pros: Skechers Speed Elite

  • More affordable price point
  • Durable outsole with good traction
  • Breathable mesh upper
  • Stable ride for neutral runners

Cons: Skechers Speed Elite

  • Not as lightweight as premium options
  • Cushioning may feel firm for some
  • No carbon fiber plate technology
  • Energy return not on par with top racers

Pros: Nike Vaporfly

  • Incredibly lightweight and responsive
  • Outstanding energy return from ZoomX foam
  • Propulsive carbon fiber plate
  • Reduces energy needs for faster paces

Cons: Nike Vaporfly

  • Very expensive retail price
  • Durability concerns with ZoomX foam
  • Unstable for severe overpronation
  • Upper may not be as breathable

Which Shoes Are Good for Different Activities

Shoes for Running

Skechers Speed Elite:

  • Lightweight and responsive midsole (Hyper Burst cushioning) for a responsive ride during runs.
  • Durable rubber outsole with strategically placed flex grooves for traction and flexibility.
  • Breathable knit upper for ventilation.
  • Best suited for shorter-distance runs and training sessions.

Nike Vaporfly

  • Features the revolutionary ZoomX foam, which provides exceptional energy return and cushioning for long-distance runs.
  • Full-length carbon fiber plate in the midsole for increased propulsion and efficiency.
  • Lightweight and breathable Vaporweave upper.
  • Designed specifically for competitive road racing and marathons, providing a significant advantage over traditional running shoes.

Shoes for Walking

Skechers Speed Elite

  • The Hyper Burst cushioning provides adequate comfort and shock absorption for walking.
  • The flexible outsole allows for a natural stride and movement.
  • Suitable for moderate walking and light exercise.

Nike Vaporfly

  • While the Vaporfly is designed for running, the ZoomX foam offers a comfortable and responsive ride for walking as well.
  • However, the carbon fiber plate may feel slightly stiff and less flexible for extended periods of walking.

Shoes for Standing All Day

Skechers Speed Elite

  • The cushioned midsole provides some comfort for standing, but may not be the ideal choice for extended periods of standing.
  • The relatively minimal support and stability features may lead to fatigue over time.

Nike Vaporfly

  • The Vaporfly is not designed for prolonged standing or all-day wear.
  • The carbon fiber plate and ZoomX foam are optimized for running, not necessarily for standing.
  • Prolonged standing in the Vaporfly may lead to discomfort and potential foot fatigue.

Now that you have an overview of Skechers Speed Elite vs Vaporfly Shoes differences, read on for an in-depth feature-by-feature comparison.

Cushioning & Midsole Foams Comparison

The midsole is where we find the biggest differences in terms of cushioning materials and technology between the Skechers Speed Elite and Vaporfly Next%.

Skechers Speed Elite Midsole

The Speed Elite uses a two-part midsole foam setup:

  • Hyperburst Foam (Top): Skechers’ proprietary lightweight and responsive foam designed to provide soft cushioning and bounce. More durable than shoes using EVA foam.
  • Flight Gen Foam (Bottom): Dense foam for stabilizing the foot, absorbing shock, and smoothing the transition.

Placing the softer Hyperburst foam towards the top of the midsole aims to offer cushioned comfort without excess instability.

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% Midsole

The entire midsole of the Next% utilizes just a single foam:

  • ZoomX Foam: Nike’s lightest weight foam, made partially from Pebax fibers for exceptional bounce and energy return. More durable than EVA but less dense than Flight Gen.

So the Vaporfly relies fully on the responsive ZoomX foam for its cushioning. This creates a very soft and flexible ride.

FeatureSkechers Speed EliteNike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%
Main Midsole Foam(s)Hyperburst (top)<br>Flight Gen (bottom)ZoomX
Foam WeightHyperburst – Lightweight<br>Flight Gen – DenseVery lightweight
ResponsivenessHyperburst – Responsive bounce<br>Flight Gen – Firm stabilizingExceptionally springy bounce from ZoomX
Cushioning FeelSofter top, firmer bottomVery soft throughout

The Vaporfly’s full-length ZoomX foam provides a softer and more responsive compressed ride than the Speed Elite’s two-layer cushioning setup.

Plates Comparison

Both the Skechers and Nike shoes incorporate stiff carbon fiber plates running the length of the midsoles. These plates play a key role in propelling the foot forward with each stride.

Skechers Speed Elite Plate

  • Full-length curved carbon fiber plate
  • Provides rigidity to snap back and propel foot forwards
  • The plate extends from midfoot through the forefoot
  • Aimed to reduce calf strain compared to flat plates

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% Plate

  • Full-length carbon fiber plate
  • Very stiff and snappy
  • Ideal leverage of toe joints to aid propulsion
  • Improved connection from heel to toe compared to ZoomX Vaporfly 4% plate

The carbon plates in both shoes help convert vertical force into horizontal propulsion with each foot strike, saving leg muscle effort. The Vaporfly Next% plate runs straighter from heel to toe than the curved Speed Elite plate.

FeatureSkechers Speed EliteNike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%
Plate MaterialCarbon FiberCarbon Fiber
Plate LengthFull-lengthFull-length
Plate ShapeCurvedStraight
PropulsionGood forward snapVery stiff, snappy toe-off

The stiffer carbon plate of the Next% provides a snappier, more responsive, and propulsive toe-off motion.

Weight Comparison

Racing flats aim to be as lightweight as possible to minimize energy loss while running. Let’s see how the Skechers and Nike compare:

Skechers Speed Elite Weight

  • Approx 7.8oz (Men’s Size 9)
  • Skechers lists weight at 221g

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% Weight

  • Approx 6.5oz (Men’s Size 9)
  • Nike lists weight at 184g

Clearly, the Vaporfly Next% is the much lighter shoe of the two by over an ounce, which is very significant in racing shoes. The impressive light weight comes from the ZoomX foam and minimalistic construction.

FeatureSkechers Speed EliteNike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%
Listed Weight221g184g
Measured Weight (Size 9)~7.8 oz~6.5 oz
Weight Difference+1.3 oz heavier37g / 1.3oz lighter

Upper & Fit Comparison

The upper design and materials impact the fit, breathability, and security of the shoe.

Skechers Speed Elite Upper

  • Engineered Knit Mesh – Provides flexible and breathable lightweight coverage
  • Synthetic overlays – Strategically placed for support
  • Padded collar – Extra ankle cushioning
  • Wide shape – Roomy toe box and forefoot
  • Medium to wide feet should find a comfortable race-ready fit

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% Upper

  • Flyknit construction – Socks-like fit breathes well
  • Reinforced heel – Helps securely lock down the foot
  • Narrow shape – May not suit wider feet
  • Those with narrow to medium-width feet will get the best performance fit

The Vaporfly Upper utilizes the signature Nike Flyknit for a flexible enclosed foot feel, while the Speed Elite employs an open-engineered mesh for better ventilation.

FeatureSkechers Speed EliteNike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%
Main Upper MaterialEngineered Knit MeshFlyknit
ReinforcementsSynthetic leather overlaysReinforced heel collar
Fit TypeMedium to wideNarrow to medium
Foot SecurityGood heel & midfoot lockdownExcellent foot lockdown
BreathabilityVery breathable meshImproved breathability over 4%

Durability Comparison

Racing flats tend to sacrifice outsole rubber for lightness, decreasing durability. Here’s how they compare:

Skechers Speed Elite Durability

  • Lightweight rubber in heel only
  • Bare foam exposed on much of the outsole
  • Est lifetime: 100-150 miles
  • Replace once foam compression reduces the pop

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% Durability

  • Rubber traction pads in heel & forefoot
  • Much exposed foam especially in midfoot
  • Est lifetime: 100-200 miles max
  • The foam may crease/wrinkle before it’s fully compressed

Unfortunately, neither option excels at high mileage. Expect around 150 miles maximum before the foams start to lose their bounce and need replacement. Treat them as race-day shoes rather than high-mileage trainers.

FeatureSkechers Speed EliteNike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%
Outsole Rubber CoverageHeel section onlyHeel & forefoot pads
Exposed FoamYes, much of the outsoleYes, center exposed
Est. Lifetime Miles100-150 miles100-200 miles
Reason for ReplacementCushioning deterioratesFoam creasing/compression

Performance & Speed Comparison

Let’s compare actual racing performance between the two models:

Skechers Speed Elite Racing Performance

  • Marathon: 2:09-2:11 range times reported
  • 10K: 27-29 minute winning times reported
  • Sets multiple new PRs for many runners
  • True racing flat provides a snappy fast ride

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% Racing Performance

  • Marathon: 2:01 elite times, 2:04-2:06 common for club runners
  • 10K: Sub-27-minute times reported
  • Half Marathon: 59-60 minutes common
  • Most runners achieve 10 sec/mile quicker than the previous PR shoe

The Vaporfly Next% has proven itself as the current gold standard in racing footwear, providing a super soft and bouncy experience that simply helps runners achieve times faster than in any other current shoe. While the Skechers Speed Elite provides a nice snappy ride as a true racing flat, it hasn’t yet demonstrated the individual or world record-setting performances that the Vaporfly line has achieved over multiple distances.

AttributeSkechers Speed EliteGood flat for a 5K to marathon
Racing PedigreeGood flat for 5K to marathonThe premier racing shoe right now from 5K to marathon
Marathon Performances2:09-2:11 times2:01 elite, 2:04-2:06 common
10K Performances27-29 minute winning timesSub-27-minute times
Speed BenefitFast responsive flatUp to 10 sec/mile speed improvement

Prices & User Reviews

Before deciding, it’s helpful to know the current pricing and runner experiences with each shoe.

Skechers Speed Elite User Reviews & Pricing

SiteRatingSample ReviewPrice
Skechers⭐⭐⭐⭐✰“PR’d my last marathon by over 2 minutes…husband took 10 minutes off the last marathon”$190 MSRP
Running Warehouse⭐⭐⭐⭐✰“Low to the ground, good forefoot lockdown…Not as soft or bouncy as Vaporfly but still quick transitions”$150 Sale Price
Road Runner Sports⭐⭐⭐⭐✰“True racing flat…Very smooth transitions but less cushion than Next%”$135 VIP Price

The Speed Elite costs around $150, with users praising its quick ride as a lightweight racing flat while noting it doesn’t provide quite as soft or bouncy a ride as the Vaporfly series.

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% User Reviews & Pricing

SiteRatingSample ReviewPrice
Nike⭐⭐⭐⭐✰“These make me fly…Legitimately made me 2 minutes faster per mile”$250 MSRP
Running Warehouse⭐⭐⭐⭐✰“Gold standard of racing shoes…Most responsive shoe ever, PB by 5 mins”$199 Sale Price
Road Runner Sports⭐⭐⭐⭐✰“Most amazing shoe…Feel the technology propelling me forward”$229 VIP Price

Despite the much higher $250 MSRP, the Vaporfly garners slightly higher praise from runners for its lightweight, propulsive, and speed-enhancing ride. Sale prices around $200 make them more affordable.

Conclusion & Recommendation

The Skechers Speed Elite and Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% represent two of the top racing shoe options today, but they excel in different areas:

  • The Vaporfly is lighter and softer utilizing ZoomX foam and the carbon fiber plate delivers exceptional energy return for faster times over all race distances.
  • The Speed Elite provides a firmer and more stable lightweight racing ride, though without the proven speed gains of the Vaporfly.

Ultimately the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% is the faster, more responsive shoe, delivering the best racing performances across different runners at elite and amateur levels. The Skechers Speed Elite still provides a good fast ride as a lightweight racing flat, but can’t match the smooth and speed enhancing properties of the Vaporfly line.

I suggest the Vaporfly if chasing new PRs or primarily care about maximizing speed, while the Speed Elite appeals if you want a more affordable racing flat option without the disconnect some feel from the ultra soft Vaporfly foam. But don’t expect quite the same game-changing speed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Vaporfly Next% legal for competition?

Yes. World Athletics revised its footwear rules but the updated Vaporfly Next% meets all requirements having passed independent testing.

Do the Skechers Speed Elite or Vaporfly work for 5K/10K races?

Yes, both shoes excel at these shorter race distances due to the plate stiffness and foam response. The Next% will provide better energy return for closing speed.

How is the sizing between the two shoes?

The Skechers runs medium to slightly wide. The Vaporfly has a more curved narrower shape catering to narrower feet. Consider sizing up half in the next.

Can the Vaporfly be used for training or just racing?

We only recommend the Vaporfly for race days or the occasional faster workout due to durability limits. Use a more durable daily trainer for key workouts and higher mileage.

Which shoe is a better value?

The Skechers Speed Elite provides strong racing performance at a more affordable $150 price point. But most will achieve faster times in the Vaporfly Next% that justify the higher $225 sale pricing.

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