Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14 Review

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Nike’s marketing pitch: Breakthrough responsiveness with every stride.

Upper: Closed mesh, full inner sleeve, Flywire strap-based lacing.

Midsole: Full-length Zoom Air bag, React foam. 10 mm heel drop.

Outsole: Hard wearing Carbon rubber in a side-by-side configuration.

Weight: 298 gms/ 10.5 Oz for a half pair of Men's US 10/UK 9/EUR 44/CM 27.1

Widths available: D - regular (reviewed), 2E - Wide, 4E - Extra Wide.

The Vomero 14 struggles among its peers, and its somewhat lumpy ride and uncomfortable upper doesn't do it any favors either.
Heel cushioning, supportive, multiple widths, outsole grip and transitions, smooth interiors
Short tongue irritates the foot, distracting heel grip pods, lack of forefoot cushioning makes long runs tiring, no reflectivity

INTRODUCTION

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The Vomero is supposed to one of Nike’s plushest running shoes, but its 14th version is most certainly not. Instead, the new model is a shoe which is better suited for faster runs than easy runs in utmost comfort – and that’s not what the Vomero is meant for.

In life, context is everything. Without it, anything can be good, bad, or both.

It is the same thing as walking into a motorcycle dealership to buy a luxurious cruiser and getting tricked into buying a sports-bike with a firmer suspension instead. Is it a decent motorcycle? Sure. But is it the cruiser you want? No.

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This review is all about a half-decent shoe but an absolutely terrible Vomero.

The earliest Nike Vomero’s (versions 3 -5) were the most comfortable running shoes of their time. The upper had uber-luxurious interiors, and the ride quality held the sweet spot between soft cushioning and bouncy responsiveness. The shoe looked the part too; the exteriors exuded an aura of unmistakable expensive-ness.

Over time, Nike watered down the Vomero, but you always had a running shoe which fared well in cushioning plushness. Even the Vomero 12 with its blown rubber pods wasn’t bad.

With the Vomero 13 now pushed to the discount section of shoe stores, the last vestiges of the Vomero’s plushness are now footwear history.

The Vomero 14 discards most things which gave the franchise its ‘Vomero-ness’. In its place is a shoe which feels like a hybrid between the Zoom Elite 10 and the Pegasus 36.

Nike completely botched up this redesign.

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The upper lacks any form of plushness; the upper mesh is flat and so is the race-like tongue which barely has any foam fill. The shortness of the tongue presses into the foot and doesn’t provide enough coverage for heel-lock lacing. The collar foam pods do their job but are stiff and distracting.

There’s no foam lasting or soft blown rubber used on the Vomero 14. Even the Zoom Air doesn’t feel the same, because the full-length version is a lot thinner than the legacy two-bag set-up. The forefoot feels lumpy, and the entire shoe’s not even lightweight.

If we wanted a firm shoe which works for faster workouts (the Vomero 14 works to a certain extent here), we’d buy the Zoom Elite or Zoom Rival Fly. The Vomero is not meant to be that shoe.

You might be thinking that solereview wants a shoe like the Vomero 3 or 5 back. Not at all; those models would be running shoe anachronisms in 2019. And if you didn’t know it already, Nike already sells the Vomero 5 brand new as a retro release. Even Drake was seen wearing one a few months ago.

Our gripe is thus: The Vomero 14 is a poor present-day interpretation of a plush ride – considering that the shoe competes with the likes of adidas Boost, Reebok Floatride, and Nike’s own ZoomX.

In an alternate reality where better sense prevailed, the Vomero 14 would be sold as the Pegasus 36 and the Pegasus Turbo as the Vomero 14.

To us, the Pegasus Turbo with small modifications would have been the perfect re-imagining of the Vomero. Lightweight, cushioned, and hyper-responsive, the Turbo is the shoe in which your feet feel fresh even after runs of double-digit mileage.

In its current avatar, we question the need for the 10.6 oz Vomero 14 to exist. Because if you want a Nike shoe for long-distance runs, you have the extremely comfortable Vaporfly.

Lightweight and responsive cushioning is found in the Pegasus Turbo which works for both forefoot and rearfoot strikers. A firmer ride is delivered by models like the Zoom Elite 10 and the Zoom Rival; short races are done best in the Zoom Streak variants.

And the Pegasus 36, besides meeting your daily training needs, is more versatile than the Vomero. The Vomero 14 fits none of the above categories well, so what is the point of having it in the line?

Being out of context is a heinous crime enough – but being an average running shoe is harder to forgive. Let’s assume for a moment that the Vomero was a brand new introduction with no history of plushness.

Even so, the Vomero 14 feels like an early prototype pushed into the market without any road testing. The forefoot feels lumpy and lacks cushioning for anything longer than 10k. The upper isn’t very comfortable, something which can be traced to the race-like tongue which is too short and presses over the foot.

If it isn’t abundantly clear by now, here’s the lowdown. Do not buy the Vomero if you want a plush ride and/or land midfoot/forefoot. There are better choices, both within Nike’s line-up and outside it.

THE RIDE EXPERIENCE

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The Vomero 14 is the definitive rearfoot striker’s shoe. Based on Nike’s specs, the heel and forefoot have stack heights of 22 mm and 12 mm respectively – thus resulting in a 10 mm gradient.

The difference in midsole thickness is exaggerated through the sidewall design. The rearfoot edges rise upwards in a flare on either side, creating a cupping effect around the base of the foot. This makes the forefoot appear much thinner and lower than the rear.

Go for a run, and the functional difference between the heel and forefoot cushioning becomes apparent. Nearly all the React cushioning is packed under the rearfoot; very little trickles down to the forefoot.

If you’re ‘upgrading’ from a Vomero 12 or 13, the lower level of forefoot cushioning is even more obvious. With just 12 mm of stack, there’s only so much cushioning you can get. Besides, many of the components which made the forefoot more responsive and cushioned in the earlier versions of the Vomero are missing.

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Take, for instance, the outsole. The Vomero 14 uses hard Carbon rubber for its entire outsole instead of the softer blown rubber pods used by the last version. As a result, the traction has improved but the outsole no longer acts as the soft landing layer.

Inside, the foam lasting has been replaced with a padding-free fabric kind – so that’s another softness-adding component gone. The insole is faux-Ortholite and that’s the only soft topping you get inside the Vomero.

The new, full-length Zoom Air bag is the biggest update making the forefoot what it is.

But isn’t full-length Zoom Air supposed to be better? Not necessarily. We also have to keep in mind that there’s a trade-off for the longer Zoom Air bag, and that is thickness.

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A comparison of the Pegasus 35’s full-length Zoom bag with the standalone Zoom unit on top. The Vomero uses a similar (thinner) full-length Zoom.


The Vomero 14’s moderately flexible forefoot/midfoot suggests that the Zoom used inside is the same as the Pegasus. This means that the full-length version is substantially thinner with decreased cushioning and responsiveness. We dissected the Pegasus 35 last year, and you can see the difference in thickness.

So the two-bag Zoom Air arrangement of the older Vomero did a better job at keeping the forefoot cushioned.

With the thinner Zoom Air bag occupying a few millimeters of precious real estate, there’s barely any React foam underneath. Combine this with the loss of other layers we mentioned, and the forefoot becomes a sparsely cushioned zone.

This level of cushioning works for shorter runs, so you can use the Vomero 14 as a daily trainer as long as you aren’t crossing 10K. Once you cross this threshold, your feet feel tired.

Maybe we’re getting used to the Vaporfly 4%, Pegasus Turbo, and even the Reebok Floatride – which only tells you how out of place the Vomero 14 is.

If you do ground-contact (aka midfoot/forefoot) landings, it is a good idea to avoid the Vomero 14 completely. And even if you’re a rearfoot striker, the forefoot design isn’t your friend.

Firstly, rearfoot loading tends to push the air forward. This makes the Zoom Air bag feel bubbly or lumpy under the mid to forefoot area. Secondly, there’s some effort involved in flexing the Zoom Air bag. Since there’s no fixed zone where this occurs, flexing happens in the area of least resistance – which is closer to the midfoot than just under the forefoot.

An erratic flexing action is tiresome. So no matter what your footstrike type is, the forefoot design results in fatigue over longer distances.

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Thus, the Vomero isn’t a shoe we recommend for longer runs. You’re far better off in the Nike Pegasus Turbo – the cushioning keeps your feet fresh regardless of your footstrike orientation. The $40 price difference might seem a lot but some internet sleuthing should yield good deals on the Turbo.

And for all things daily training, the Pegasus 36 will do most of things the  Vomero can do, except for the heel softness.

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The Vomero 14 has plenty of rearfoot cushioning. Compared to the forefoot, the heel feels like it’s from an entirely different shoe and makes the 10 mm drop noticeable.

The back isn’t super-soft but the thick React foam stack delivers a substantial amount of cushioning underneath. The midsole also flares out wide on both sides so it’s also a matter of the higher foam volume. However, do note that this foam blend ‘Reacts’ to very cold weather and will stiffen.

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Along with the cushioning, a certain amount of responsiveness exists in the rearfoot. You get a nice springy sensation from the composite stack which you don’t feel in the front. The outsole also has a very wide transition channel splitting the layout which splays upon loading.

The firmed up ride quality, the deep outsole channel, and the midsole design makes the Vomero 14 very supportive.

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The raised sidewalls keep the foot cradled in the rear and the wide midsole provides stability. The midsole design makes the Vomero 14 extremely neutral without any outward lean or bias.

Interestingly though, the midsole edges do not flare under the arch.

If it were not for the lumpy Zoom Air bag, the transition quality would have been excellent. The wide channel splitting the outsole into halves helps the shoe track straight, and relative firmness of the ride prevents the midsole from bottoming.

The rearfoot midsole sports the current Nike design language with a pointy end. The heel has a gentle spring from the inner rearfoot and prevents jarring edge-landings if you’re a rearfoot striker.

Despite its shortcomings, the firmer Vomero 14 does a better job at faster runs as compared the older models. Of course, it’s not supposed to be that shoe, but for whatever it’s worth, this is a newly acquired trait.

At the same time, the 10.6 oz Vomero 14 is no Zoom Elite. And therein lies the Vomero 14’s flaw; it isn’t the best choice for tempo runs, nor is it a good fit for longer runs. The plushness expected of the Vomero series is sorely (pun intended) lacking.

SIMILAR PREMIUM NEUTRAL TRAINERS

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So it’s hard to think of a reason why anybody making an informed choice will buy the Vomero. Because, if one went shopping for a cushioned daily trainer which also doubles as a long-distance shoe, then there are so many other shoes.

The adidas Solar Glide has all the soft cushioning you want, and so does the New Balance 1080V9. The Brooks Glycerin 17 and the Saucony Triumph ISO 5 aren’t exactly the lightest of the lot, and yet their midsoles have enough cushioning for the long haul.

Even Nike’s own Epic React V2 provides superior comfort, that too at a much lower weight. The only shoe which makes the Vomero look good is the Asics Nimbus 21,  a running shoe conceived in the desert of lifeless midsoles.

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The Vomero 14 also struggles to fit into a rotation. But in case, you do decide to buy a Vomero, then it makes sense to get a Pegasus Turbo or Vaporfly for longer runs and races and the Zoom Streak 7 for short races.

A better scenario would involve buying the Turbo in the first place and skip the Vomero altogether.

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The Vomero 14 will give you around 400 miles of usage. The React foam holds its structure and cushioning well, and the double-layered upper will outlast the sole.

The rubber outsole is hard-wearing. However, you’ll see initial wear and tear happen on the inner heel edge first – where it says Nike Vomero – because of the outsole’s rounded profile. The rate of wear tapers off once some rubber is shaved off the thin lugs.

UPPER FIT QUALITY

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Just like the midsole, the upper has been completely redesigned in a way hitherto unknown to the Vomero series. There’s not even a trace of plushness in the upper.

The collar lining and the gripping mechanism is brand new, and the tongue barely has any padding. Even the inner sleeve uses a thinner mesh. All that would have been okay if the Vomero had a comfortable fit, but the new upper even lacks that.

But first, the basics.

The Vomero 14 fits true to size and has more forefoot and toe-box room than the Vomero 12 and 13; it even fits slightly larger.

There are two reasons why this occurs. The first is the redesigned heel. The collar uses tightly packed foam pods instead of the traditional quilted lining. This helps the foot’s position to shift rearwards by a few millimeters, thus creating more space inside the toe-box.

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Like the past two editions, the Vomero 14 uses a full inner sleeve which extends from the third eyelet to the toe-box. On top is the main upper mesh. Both these layers are thin and devoid of any spacer-mesh sponginess, so they help create interior space.

Also, the first row of laces is positioned further away from the forefoot as compared to the Vomero 13, hence creating an easier fit and feel.

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The Vomero 14 isn’t the breeziest of running shoes; the dual layer of mesh means that air is slow to circulate. If you’re running in very warm summers, then you might want to consider buying a different shoe.

The Flywire cords and the laces work together extremely well. The cords are angled towards the back and away from the forefoot so they do not press into the sides. The new flat laces, while not as plush as the older round ones, do a superior job at connecting both sides of the Flywire columns.

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The tongue is the upper’s biggest flaw. Not only is it short, but the flap also presses into the foot during runs. Though the edges are made of a soft synthetic, the thicker part of the flap is stiff. This part of the tongue flap digs into the foot during dorsiflexion.

Since the tongue is short, it is nearly impossible to use the last row of the heel lock lacing without having the latter rest directly over the foot. The near lack of padding inside the tongue also makes the top-down lacing pressure felt.

Nike’s use of a Zoom Streak kind of tongue on a supposedly plush shoe like the Vomero is an enigma. It’s also strange how Nike see-saws between an ultra long tongue (eg. Pegasus 35 and Turbo) to a hyper-short kind; there seems to be no standard or best practice whatsoever.

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We commented in a Facebook post earlier this year that the heel slips. We take that back; the heel pods do a decent job at locking the heel in. Initially, the switch from a plush collar to a relatively stiff pod design didn’t instill confidence. To be specific, the inner/medial pod tends to slide up and down against the foot, thus giving the impression of heel slippage.

At the same time, the firm pods are somewhat distracting. You feel their presence inside the heel, unlike the traditional heel collar’s slip-on-and-forget-it nature.

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Styling is the only thing which the Vomero has going for it. The single-piece knit mesh upper with the side logos gives the V-14 a sleek appearance. The subtle textures over the mesh is a nice touch too.

We love the way in which the Flywire cords are exposed; the visible sections start long near the forefoot while gradually shortening towards the rearfoot.

PROS AND CONS

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The Vomero 14 isn’t a bad daily trainer as long you keep your runs below 10k. The rearfoot is stable and has plenty of cushioning; the split outsole provides good grip over the road, treadmill, and gravel trails.

The forefoot and toe-box have enough splay room, and optional widths also help to achieve the Vomero fit you desire.

Where you’ll find the Vomero come up short is its inability to take you over long distances in comfort. The thin forefoot fatigues the foot, and the somewhat lumpy Zoom Air bag doesn’t help.

The short tongue has a flawed design; its flap edges presses into the foot during runs. The lack of tongue coverage also makes the last lacing row stiff, and the heel pods, while they function perfectly well, come across as stiff and distracting during runs.

And this has to be the first Vomero without any reflective trim.

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