Now in it’s 13th iteration, the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 isn’t a partially sexy neutral trainer, but instead a reliable classic cushioned trainer. All the testers agreed the Vomero 13 to more of a jack of all trades, master of none type of trainer, never standing out in one category, but scoring well across all. As one tester put it, “A versatile shoe for roads, dirt, light snow and treadmill running.”
The Nike Air Zoom Vomero 12 was last year’s Best In (Cushioned) Class winner and with very little updates to the latest version runners can expect a very similar ride from this daily neutral. As one Nike’s most popular cushioned trainers last season’s Vomero 12 saw major updates in the outsole, which greatly enhanced ride quality. Underfoot, the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 offers exactly the same ride at the Vomero 12. While not a practically sexy and exciting shoe, the Vomero 13 delivers a highly cushioned, reliable ride.
With stack heights of 31mm under the heel and 21mm under the forefoot, the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 is Nike’s most cushioned trainer, which surprisingly boost’s more cushioning underfoot then the Hoka Clifton 4. While these high stack height stats result in a push, cushioned ride they also tend to add weight. At nearly 11 ounces the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 tips the scales as one of the heavier shoes tested. Pretty much all our testers found the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 to be one of the softest shoes tested, as one testers noted the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 had, “ample cushioning good for long easy running. If you like a cushioned shoe with minimal ground feel, this shoe might be for you.” The downside, the 10mm drop shifts the strike pattern towards the heel making getting up on the toes more difficult. This combo of high drop with plush cushioning makes the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 ideal for heel strikers.
Small changes can be noticed throughout the upper with the addition of a paper-like overlay that extends just above the midsole and wraps the entire backend. This new overlay served no performance upgrade only cosmetic. Additionally, Nike replaces what were rather thin wire cables in the Flywire Cable lacing system for thicker, more secure cables. A sight upgrade in lacing can be noticed from the addition of these more durable cables.
With the exception of one tester who felt the shoe needed a few miles to break in, all our testers agreed the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 to be one of the more comfortable shoes. Highlighted by a plush cushioned underfoot experience, the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 scored second to the Brooks Levitate in comfort. To help accomplish this soft feel, Nike uses dual density foam throughout the midsole. Full length Lunarlon foam is encompassed with Cushlon foam with strategically placed Zoom Air in the heel and forefoot.
The upper received a few minor updates featuring what Nike called a softer engineered mesh with knit design, which, in reality felt rather thick and scratchy, largely an unnoticed difference from the Vomero 12. A three-quarter bootie connects the bottom unit with the tongue, however is separate from the outer mesh upper. This dual ply design to the upper restricted the Vomero’s ability to vent and lead to overheating. The entry point was well padded and provided a comfortable ring around the ankle while a heavily cushioned tongue allowed for a dead tight lace down without even a hint of pressure.
Most of our testers found the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 to fit on the snugger side and with a fairly narrow waist it may cause issues for runners who need some extra width. The toe box is low volume with very little ply-ability in the upper to allow for extra stretch. This type of build lends itself most ideal for runners with low-volume medium to narrow feet.
Once in the saddle, the dynamic Flywire allows the laces to grab the sides of the upper and securely wrap the upper firmly in place while the padded tongue prevents any undue pressure along the top. A few testers noted how low cut and shallow the heelpiece felt. A deep cutout for the anklebone with high Achilles tab left the ankle exposed and rather awkward feeling.
As expected from such a highly cushioned trainer, the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 isn’t the most responsive shoe of the test scoring well below standout-cushioned counterparts like the Hoka Mach, On Cloudflyer and Altra Duo. As one tester described it, “The foam felt a little “dead/flat” to me and I didn’t get a feeling of popping/bouncing back up after each footfall.”
However while some testers felt the combo of Lunarlon foam encompassed with a Cushlon outer layer wasn’t exactly snappy, others did note for such a high level of cushioning the Vomero 13 did carry a moderate level of responsiveness. It wasn’t so much as quick to pop back, but more like the softness of the midsole didn’t steal the energy.
As one tester put it, “The Vomero is not a fast shoe; it is somewhat sluggish and inflexible. I would not wear this shoe for fast intervals or tempos.” Stats would agree, the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 isn’t suited for up-tempo running. Despite dropping some weight from last seasons model, it’s hard to get a 10.8 ounces (men) and 9.0 ounces (women) shoe with a 10mm drop moving. As speeds started creep up and the tendency to transition to more of a forefoot strike pattern, the 10mm drop become too much.
With virtually no changes in the bottom unit, the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 has a very similar ride to the Vomero 12. Characterized by a soft ride, the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 does what a cushioned trainer should, put plush cushioning between your feet and the ground. Nike uses a dual density midsole combined with their famous Nike Air pockets to achieve this soft ride. All of our testers agreed the Vomero to be smooth and well protected. The Nike Air Zoom Vomero 13 tended to be most comfortable at slower to moderate paced runs, as once the pace approached speeds that required some effort the ride quality decreased and the heavy weight and high drop became more noticeable.
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HOW WE TESTED
Each summer and winter when shoe companies release their latest models Gear Institute receives the top shoes and puts each through an extensive testing process. A team of five male and female testers put each shoe through the test of miles over terrain such as concrete, asphalt, grass, dirt and track. Each shoe is judged on five categories: Comfort, Fit, Responsiveness, Speed and Ride Quality and given a score of 1 to 10, with 10 being perfect.
Testing protocol for road running shoes involves an extensive hands-on process across multiple testers over a period of at least two months. Each tester is avid runner, running over 30 miles per week over varying terrain including but not limited to concrete, asphalt, grass, track and dirt. The testing team is structured with a team lead and several wear testers.