Nike ZoomX Invincible 3 Review: What The Heel
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10.6 oz. (300 g) for a US M9,
8 oz. (227 g) for a US W7.5
40 mm in the heel, 31 mm in forefoot (9 mm drop)
Easy days, long runs
Full ZoomX midsole, increased stack height (3 mm), Flyknit upper
🟢 Bouncy and comfortable
🔴 Upper not as plush
🔴 Major heel slip
ROBBE: “Everybody Loves ZoomX” was a failed sitcom that nobody watched or even noticed. Released in 2019, the show only lasted for a single pilot on local access television, which we’re not even sure exists anymore. Critics said the show was judged by its title alone; audiences simply assumed it was a pitch for an already-existent Elon Musk pet project. In reality, it was just a documentary about shoe nerds talking about a midsole foam. This explains its failure to resonate with the general public.
Nevertheless, its title doesn’t lie: everybody really does love ZoomX. Despite its micro cult status within the world at large, ZoomX changed the game when it first landed a starring role in the first version of the Vaporfly 4%. Since then, it’s been used in various forms, some to resounding affectation (Pegasus Turbo 2), some to booing and hissing (the garbage recycled version found in the Zoom Fly 5).
But only one shoe fully encapsulated ZoomX in all its bouncy, gooey goodness– the Nike Invincible. Full transparency, we weren’t huge fans of the original Invincible. It was more of a personal preference on our end, but we get why a lot of people absolutely loved it. The upper was extremely comfortable, the midsole was thick and bouncy, the stack height provided protection for long miles on the road. For whatever reason, we just didn’t get along with it. If you did– well, that’s awesome.
We never ended up reviewing the second version either, which was mostly just an upper update. But we wanted to give the shoe another chance with the Invincible 3. Now with an extra 3 mm of stack height, a reworked upper, and a tweaked outsole design, would our feelings remain the same? Or would we fall in love with a daily trainer full of ZoomX the way we always wanted?
MEAGHAN: It’s been two years since I slipped on a pair of Nike Invincible and this version was just as surprising as the original for me. I honestly just forgot about this shoe and how much I enjoyed it. Race day foam in a daily trainer seems like it used to be a rarity, but now nearly every brand has an option. For the recovery properties alone, I am a big fan. Robbe covered the details and updates, so let’s get right to our thoughts.
THOMAS: I have always wanted to like the Nike Zoom Fly. With every new edition, I get excited to try it, only to have my heart sink with disappointment. In short, the Zoom Fly is a beautiful shoe that never feels good on foot (and the last version with recycled ZoomX did nothing to change that).
Similarly, I get overly excited to try the Invincible when it lands for review. First, I love ZoomX foam, and no shoe around has more than the Invincible. Secondly, The shoe is fun to look at– “she’s a beaut, Clark.” While I liked the first version of the Invincible, it could’ve used more stability. I found my knees fatigued as my foot rolled around on the bulbous midsole. When I saw the updated design of the Invincible 3, it appeared the Nike team addressed the issue with a broader base and a less convex midsole. I was anxious to try it out.
ROBBE: I know it’s a popular shoe, even for casual wear, but I never really loved the design of the Invincible. I guess it was just the blocky geometry of it, or the boxiness.. I don’t know. It just never hit right with me. While this version retains some of the aesthetics of the previous versions, I do like the slightly more streamlined look here, especially the channeled-out midsole.
The upper isn’t as plush, so it also looks more like a normal shoe. While I wasn’t in love with the Denim Dan/Canadian Tuxedo/President and CEO of Levi Strauss edition of the men’s launch colorway, I thought the strawberry cream women’s version was a tall glass of Arnie Palmer on a hot summer day.
I think the ride of this shoe is going to be a disappointment to people who loved v1 and v2, but I actually enjoyed it more. It’s slightly firmer than the first two (which is weird, because the midsole stack is higher), so you don’t feel like you’re wobbling all over the place.
The platform is also a bit wider in the midfoot which makes for a more stable ride, which solves the biggest problem we had with the first version. Overall, I enjoyed the ride of the shoe. It does give that nice and responsive bounce that we’ve come to love from ZoomX, though, as I said, it is a touch more firm than the last version(s).
MEAGHAN: I’ll start with the aesthetics, which I feel are a vast improvement from the first iteration. According to the Nike website, I received the pink foam/racer blue/baltic blue/bright crimson colorway, but pink foam would probably suffice as the description. The original version looked and felt a bit more “clunky.”
The upper has been streamlined, with a little less padding around the collar and heel, but still leaves you with a plush step-in feel. I found the shoes fit true to size, with a really nice, wide forefoot – somewhat atypical for a Nike. I did notice some heel slippage walking around (more on that later) but it didn’t really affect me out on the run.
Beneath the foot is what makes this shoe so fun: a full slab of ZoomX that’s light and bouncy. Since the Invincible also comes with a structured upper and full rubber coverage, you don’t get that “race day” feeling, but it’s still a nice and bouncy ride. The extra 3 mm of foam is also a welcomed update. More stack, especially when we’re talking about ZoomX, is always a good thing.
THOMAS: ZoomX is bouncy. The sensation of landing on that big fluffy midsole puts a smile on my face. This shoe is a cruiser that goes easy on the legs. I took it out for an 18-mile run and my legs felt fresh the next day, and ready for an easy recovery run. Despite a small amount of heel lift when walking in the Invincible 3, while running the shoe fit well and I didn’t have any hot spots.
ROBBE: I’m not sure what’s happening, but the opening in the upper is crazy long. As in, I could not get my foot locked into the shoe. I tried heel-lock-acing. I tried retightening the laces multiple times over multiple runs. I tried wearing thicker socks. Nothing worked. I was getting constant heel lift, my foot was sliding all around, I basically had to nix these for a long run because I just couldn’t do it. And the shoe was true to size– length-wise it fit the same as every other Nike I’ve ever tested.
I’m also not the first person to point this out, I’ve seen plenty of Instagram comments confirming the same thing. Granted, that may not be your experience, but just saying what happened to me. And for me, I don’t think I can wear it anymore.
The upper is not nearly as plush as the first couple versions. While I don’t think it’s bad, it’s just a bit stiff and kind of just… there. I don’t think it’s a dealbreaker, but if you’re used to that ultra-plush feeling of the Invincible 1 or 2, you’re not going to find it here.
Again, the midsole is a touch firmer upon landing. For me– not bad. But I know some Invincible superfans are not going to be pleased.
Also, it gained like a half-ounce of weight.
MEAGHAN: As noted above, I did have some heel slippage in this shoe. It wasn’t enough to prevent me from running in it, but it’s definitely noticeable, and we’ve heard from several other people this was an issue.
Also, despite being described as a neutral trainer, this shoe feels more in line with a stability shoe. Between the structured upper, wide platform and full rubber coverage on the outsole, there’s just a lot going on. Even though this version was trimmed down a bit from the original, I think Nike could take it down one more notch.
THOMAS: Unlike Meaghan, I did experience some heel lift in the Invincible 3. It wasn’t a problem, but for many runners it will be. The biggest issue for me was a general clunky feeling. In trying to describe it to Meaghan, I said that the shoe felt like an Alphafly with a flat tire. The ZoomX midsole does have rebound, but it doesn’t feel like it’s helping you move faster through your stride, cushion without that forward pop.
This weight doesn’t hep: my size US 10.5 weighs 11.4 oz./326 g. That makes the Invincible 3 one of the heaviest in the max cushion division.
ROBBE: Overall, this just isn’t the Nike shoe for me. While I think the ride of the midsole is pretty enjoyable, the heel slip and inferior fit of the upper is a dealbreaker for me. I wanted to love this shoe, because I know when Nike hits it right, they really hit it right. But I can find other max cushion options that fit the bill better (see: Asics Superblast, New Balance SC Trainer, Adidas Prime X Strung). Or I can just hold for the Vomero, which will also have ZoomX and seems very promising.
While everybody might love ZoomX, some of us just want it on race day when the whole world is watching. We’ll stick to the lords known as the Flys.
MEAGHAN: The Nike Invincible 3 is a solid update and great daily trainer. The shoes offer plenty of cushioning and support for those easy days and long runs. If you enjoyed previous versions of this shoe, I think you’ll be very happy with the updates.
THOMAS: We rank shoes on our videos on a light scale that mimics a traffic light. Green is good, yellow is okay, red is is a pass. The Invincible 3 is a solid yellow. If you are a Nike fan, this is the max cushion shoe for you. If you aren’t looking for a nike specifically, options I would consider for this category are the Asics Gel-Nimbus 25, Asics Superblast, New Balance SC Trainer, New Balance More v4, Adidas Prime X Strung, and the On Cloudmonster. All those have been some of our “green light” shoes with lots of cushion.
You can pick up the Nike Invincible 3 now for $160 by using the shop links below.
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Robbe is the lead copywriter and editor for all things Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. Appreciates mezcal and New York Times crosswords. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.
All-time favorite shoes: Nike Epic React, Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 Runshield, Asics Metaspeed Edge+More from Robbe
Meaghan signed up for her first marathon three weeks before the race, because it was $10 more than the half she planned to run. She learned everything in running the hard way. Now a USATF & UESCA certified run coach, she loves encouraging friends to go for big goals as she continues to chase faster times. She enjoys a hot cup of coffee, a cold martini, and making bagels for friends and family.
All-time favorite shoes: Nike Alphafly Next%, New Balance SC Trainer, Asics Superblast.More from Meaghan
As the founder of Believe in the Run, Thomas’ goal is to help runners pick the shoes and gear that will make their running experience the best that it can be.
All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Kinvara 2, Hoka Clifton 1, Nike Alphafly Next%More from Thomas