The Air Zoom Vomero 14 is still the Cadillac of cushion. Just don’t call it slow.
The Vomero is the Nike you buy for maximum cushioning, and until recently, you did so knowing you’d be breaking in a spongy Lunarlon foam slab that felt about as lively as the fish you promised your mom you’d take care of when you were 8. Impact protection was the focus—not fast or sexy. That’s no longer the case: The totally revamped Air Zoom Vomero 14 keeps the cush but packages it in a responsive shoe that feels alive underfoot, thanks to a redesigned midsole. The shoe now uses React foam to deliver more energy return than Lunarlon, and rather than burying separate forefoot and heel Zoom Air units beneath a layer of foam (as Nike did in the Vomero 13), the company layered a single, full-length air unit just beneath the footbed. (We cut one in half to check—it’s there.)
The design makes the air cushioning more evident and provides a firm underfoot feeling, relative to older Vomeros. Wear-testers gave the shoe high marks for cushioning and traction; the shoe felt planted on every surface we encountered. The upper is also new: Foam pods line the heel collar to cradle the foot, and the bottom half of the padded tongue is sewn to the upper for a 360-degree secure fit. Some testers took issue with the collar’s stiffness and the fact that the tongue doesn’t extend above the upper, irritating the occasional ankle. Those were minor gripes on an otherwise highly rated shoe. The Air Zoom Vomero 14 is a well-cushioned, grippy shoe that’s more responsive than a trainer of its substance should be. In other words, Nike supercharged its Cadillac.
New foam and redesigned air chambers headline the Air Zoom Vomero 14’s redesign. Nike started using React foam in basketball shoes in 2017; it claims the material returns 13 percent more energy than Lunarlon. And because the air chamber is now directly beneath your foot, you don’t feel the shoe starting to form depressions beneath your foot’s pressure points. “(There was) lots and lots of cushion that did not seem to deflate after 30 miles,” one wear tester said. The upturned heel, similar to Nike’s Air Zoom Pegasus 35, contributes to a smooth heel-toe transition. “It was not a squishy, slow feel,” one wear tester said. “But more like an initial soft heel impact that rolled my foot forward.”
There’s a fair amount of inherent support within the Vomero’s foam-and-air midsole; the arch isn’t high but you’ll feel its presence nonetheless. One tester who usually runs in the Brooks Adrenaline GTS, a shoe with more stability, said his transition to the Vomero felt seamless. That said, it’s still a neutral shoe and there’s no medial posting or high-density foam to speak of.
A Stiff Collar and a Snug-Fitting Upper
The new Vomero’s Flywire cables peek out of the upper as they meet the laces, offering a glimpse of the shoe’s “Dynamic Fit” system, which combines the wires with foam in the tongue. The resulting fit is snug but stretchy; overtightening the laces also pulls the Flywire taut (thus constricting the midfoot). The toe box isn’t that roomy, but it stretches well and none of our testers said they needed more forefoot real estate. Four foam pods encircle the heel collar and cradle the foot well, though, so there’s no need to crank down the laces to keep your heel locked.
The tradeoff is that the collar is rather stiff and a couple testers said they wished the foam pods and tongue padding were softer. The tongue stops at the top of the collar, so too-tight laces can cause irritation at the front of the ankle. If you tend to wear your running shoes tight, try a slightly looser fit with the Air Zoom Vomero 14 and let the new fit system do its job.
Nike’s React foam is aptly named: Paired with the air unit (approximately 4mm thick), the shoe’s cushioning reacts to varying impact forces. The Air Zoom Vomero 14 feels squishy and plush when you’re walking or running slowly, but firms up and becomes more responsive as you pick up the pace. It’s not as springy or responsive as a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) midsole, like you’ll find in Adidas Boost shoes, but Boost feels less forgiving: The constant high-rebound effect fatigues the legs more than the Vomero’s reactive ride. I still prefer TPU shoes for faster efforts—a couple testers noted the Air Zoom Vomero 14 wasn’t the quickest trainer they’d tried—but I use the Vomero to preserve my legs on easy days and long runs. For that, it’s plenty quick.
The outsole consists of two rubber strips: Small ridges form the lateral tread and there are hexagonal lugs on the medial side. The on-road traction is excellent; it was the shoe’s highest-rated attribute among testers. The lugs probably aren’t deep enough to excel in serious mud, but for the urban environment or gravel paths, the outsole bites down with each step.
There’s one more thing to note about the new Vomero and it’s probably the first think you noticed: The shoe looks fast. That tapered, upturned heel and those streamline foam haunches let on that this isn’t another bulky, squishy-yet-dead-inside trainer to be worn out of obligation rather than excitement. The redesigned midsole backs up the aesthetics, and that makes the Air Zoom Vomero 14 a livelier shoe for logging serious mileage.
We put each shoe through real-world usage and a battery of mechanical tests in our lab to provide you with objective—and exclusive—data. In addition to a shoe’s weight, we measure sole thickness (everything that sits between your foot and the road), how well the foam cushions your stride, and the flexibility of the forefoot. All this is taken into account in our reviews of each shoe.