Best Nike Running Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Performance
Founded in 1964, Nike has been designing top-of-the-line activewear and running shoes for over 50 years. Sported by professional athletes from every discipline, Nike and its iconic checkmark has become one of the best-recognized brands of today. When it comes to running shoes, Nike has brought more innovation and creativity to the playing field than any other competitor with trademark creations like their Air Max line, Flyknit technologies, and waffle skin outsoles.
With so many styles and technologies from which to choose, we have carefully researched and cultivated a list of the top Nike running shoes, weighing everything from style, flexibility, airflow, comfort, and how supportive they are. We also paid careful consideration to certain specific factors, such as overall weight, versatility, heel-to-toe drop, price, and cushioning.
- Free RN Flyknit
- Air Zoom Winflo 4
- LunarEpic Low Flyknit 2
- Air Zoom Pegasus 34
- Flex RN
- Free RN Distance 2
- Lunarglide 9
- Revolution 3
- Downshifter 7
- Air Zoom Structure 21
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Free RN Flyknit
Nike Free Sole
Single Seam Stitching
Rounded Heel Design
Not True To Size
These running shoes come at a reasonable price considering the strong features and comfortability they bring to the table. With a high focus on breathability and traction, Nike has managed to make a great looking shoe that is also extremely functional.
The Nike Free RN Flyknit offers support in the toe and stretchability on the outside while its lightweight material keeps your feet cool and dry. These Nikes are ultra-flexible thanks to a Nike Free Sole that mimics the way your foot moves through expansion and contraction on every landing and push off. A single seam at the heel makes for a streamline wear, while a rounded heel design allows for natural rolling with the ground on heel strike.
2. Air Zoom Winflo 4
High Degree of Comfort
May Be Narrow
The Air Zoom Winflo 4 is lightly cushioned and uses a Fitsole footbed for additional comfort. Great for those with low to no arch, this neutral running shoe allows for a roomy feel while still offering up a high degree of security. Many runners find their foot fit fits perfectly, with little to no slippage during a run. These shoes are quite light and well ventilated, ensuring your feet stay cool and dry all day long.
With a lower price tag, the majority of runners should find them to be a great fit and you don't have to break the bank in the process.
3. LunarEpic Low Flyknit 2
- Flyknit Technology
- Updated Laser-Cut Pods
- Increased Airflow
- High-traction Sole
- Narrow Fit
The Nike Lunar Epic Low Flyknit 2 has been updated from it's earlier version with laser-cut pods that deliver the kind of comfort and cushioning dreams are made of. Flyknit technologies at the upper bring maximum flexibility and excellent support, while the Lunars' breathable upper construction allows for increased airflow.
Flywire cable gives a customized fit and can be tightened with the laces to conform perfectly with the contours of your foot, it's no wonder these running shoes won the Competitor Magazine 2017 ‘Editor’s Choice’ award.
4. Air Zoom Pegasus 34
Zoom Air Units
Rubber Stripped Sole
Firm Heel Cup
Sizes Run Large
The Air Zoom Pegasus 34 is a responsive and secure running shoe that is packed with enhanced features to ensure your feet feel their best. The Pegasus 34 works with you while you run by utilizing foam cushioning, as well as the Zoom Air units in the forefoot and heel to give you added push.
Complete with rubber stripping along the sole that assists in the heel to toe transition, they also feature Flywire technology for a secure fit everytime. The Pegasus 34 gives you even more security with a firm heel cup that keeps your foot perfectly in place so you never have to worry about slipping or sliding around.
5. Flex RN
- Ultra Lightweight
- Breathable Mesh Upper
- Flywire Technology
- Dual-Density Foam Midsole
- Rubber Traction
- Sizes Run Small
Nike's Flex RN running shoe is a lightweight and flexible choice that is engineered with a breathable mesh upper for ultimate airflow. A super-flexible outsole with rubber pods at the front and back offers incredibly durable traction, while a dual-density foam midsole provides extra cushioned comfort.
Complete with innovative Flywire technology that gives customized midfoot security and a rounded heel to aid with natural range of motion, these lightweight running shoes are heavy hitters when it comes to top-of-the-line features.
6. Free RN Distance 2
Partially Woven Upper
Rounded Anatomical Heel
Built to go the distance, Nikes Free RN Distance 2 is a neutral shoe that provides totally cushioned comfort. Complete with Nike's Lunarlon system for added flexibility the Distance 2 is an easy wear. A partially woven upper brings a long-lasting and locked down sense of security, while Flywire cables offer the wearer an adaptable and supportive experience.
Naturally stretchable and lightweight, the Distance 2 is designed with loosely woven fabric at the forefoot, while their anatomical heel is rounded to encourage a more natural range of motion. These running shoes have a little something for everyone.
7. Lunarglide 9
EVA Midsole Casing
Raised Traction Pads
The Lunarglide 9 is engineered with a mesh upper for an airy feel, while Flywire strap-based lacing offers a customized level of security. Ultra-comfortable, the Lunarglide 9 features Lunarlon Foam inside of a firm EVA foam casing. A foam outsole that has raised pods underneath the heel and toes provides added cushion and outstanding grip on any surface.
The Lunarglide 9 won't break your bank but will deliver total comfort and security while you run. Lightweight and plush, these running shoes won't slow you down.
8. Revolution 3
Reinforced Heel Patch
Very little arch support
Nikes' Revolution 3 will have you running in comfort time after time thanks to its outstanding performance-geared design. Complete with a chunky sole that provides the ultimate in comfort and cushioning, it also effectively reduces shock and impact force. The Revolution 3 offers a superior grip pattern and flex grooves for added handling on any terrain, along with reinforcement on areas of high wear for a more durable design. Lightweight and breathable, these have mesh paneling and a reinforced heel patch for all-day wearability.
With minimal no-sew overlays and a soft foam midsole, the Revolution 3 is designed to provide maximum comfort while still offering up a surprisingly low price tag. Even with all of the high-end features, it still manages to sit on the low-end of the Nike price range.
9. Downshifter 7
Ideal for Casual Running
Mostly for Light Workouts
The Downshifter is a lightweight, flexible running shoe with great traction. It features an adjustable arch band for comfort, a perfect fit, and support. The Downshifter 7 has a no-sew saddle at the midfoot for solid arch support in a very flexible runner. You’ll be very comfortable in this shoe without the need for a custom insole.
The full-length outsole on this running shoe is made of rubber for great durability and traction, while the flex grooves that are cut into the sole allow for very flexible movement. The rubber soles offer great traction and durability too if you’re running (or running errands) on concrete or pavement.
10. Air Zoom Structure 21
Not as Comfortable as Prior Models
The 21st iteration of the Air Zoom Structure is a very flexible, comfortable and supportive shoe with Dynamic Fit technology. This is a great running shoe no matter what level you’re at. Jogging through the park on a Saturday morning or training for your next marathon, these shoes will provide you with enhanced performance and support in a very lightweight package.
The tri-star pattern on the sole of this runner expands and contracts with your motion, allowing your foot to move the way it was designed to, from the moment your heel touches down until your toes lift off again. They are a moderate investment but they are also among the best running shoes on the market - designed to perform no matter what level you’re at.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Nike is a world-class footwear manufacturer that prides itself on its specialty customizations for high-performance athletes. If you are going to make superstar athletes and other high performers at the forefront of your business, you need to live up to the implied claim of excellence.
Here’s the rub: performance means something different in every sport and it can mean something different to every individual. If a runner requires more support, a supportive runner will be considered performance. But what exactly is meant by a "supportive runner"?
Depending on your natural gait, you will fall under a certain pronation type which helps describe the way your foot rolls upon landing. Individuals who are underpronators are going to require a higher level of support than individuals who are neutral pronators; just as overpronators will require support as well to avoid injury.
Every Nike running shoe that we evaluated took into consideration how much support the shoe is able to offer you, helping you to make better decisions for your pronation type. If you underpronate, overpronate, have high arches, or simply like more support, then you want to select a shoe that ranks highly in this area.
Having the correct amount of support is a vital way you can ensure that you don't end up causing a running-related injury during activity. The proper amount of cushioning, arch support, and heel support will go a long way to keeping you performing at your best.
Your pronation type doesn't simply dictate what type of support you need in a running shoe, it also plays a big role when it comes to flexibility as well. The flexibility of a shoe refers to how much it allows your foot to follow its natural movement without hindering how you roll and splay. Some runners prefer highly flexible models, while others tend to opt for motion control shoes that help align the foot with each step.
Flexibility can be felt in both the rearfoot as well as the forefoot, and some Nike models feature certain technologies to help enhance overall flexibility. One of the most prominent technologies you will see is Nike's flex grooves, which not only enhance flexibility but increase support at the same time.
Increased flexibility will certainly give you a much more natural foot splay, and this can help you balance better during your runs. So whether you are an underpronator, or have a neutral gait, a flexible running shoe can be extremely comfortable and beneficial.
No one wants to engage in any activity with sweaty, over-heating feet. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it can be extremely distracting and even dangerous. The more your foot sweats, the more likely it is to slip around inside your shoe, and this can ultimately lead to a running related injury.
Nike excels at creating uppers that enhance breathability, which is why we considered it as one of our top criteria features. From mesh to flyknit, Nike utilizes a variety of different materials that help bring in cool air and release the build up of heat.
Nike’s Flyknit technology is used in virtually all of their running shoes. It is a knit design, their own innovation, that allows for heat to escape the shoe while allowing cooler air in. This keeps feet dry and cool, which is an essential comfort feature in any athletic shoe.
While not all models are available in a Flyknit option, most of their running shoes do utilize an open air mesh. With strategically placed ventilation holes, the mesh does a wonderful job of ensuring you are less sweaty by the end of your run.
Comfort is a pretty self-explanatory criterion, given that one of the top things people look for when buying footwear is a comfortable experience. Shoes that rub against your ankles, bite into the top of your foot, or simply don't fit as needed are not going to be pulled from your closet very often.
Although we made sure not to include shoes that were uncomfortable, we did rate each pair in relation to each other so that you could get a good idea of which ones really came out on top. Not only did we look at general comfort though, but we also took a keen interest in some of the technologies Nike uses in order to enhance comfort to a higher degree.
One thing that Nike has become the master of is incorporating air into their designs. As far back is 1979, Nike has been developing the technology to lighten their athletic shoes and still provide cushioning with air which weighs absolutely nothing. Air is incorporated in a number of ways in the midsole to lighten the shoe, provide cushion and improve shock absorption. This all results in a “lighter than its size would suggest” shoe that feels extremely comfortable on foot.
The main focus when it comes to running shoes is always going to be on their performance, but that doesn't mean you can't look great while doing it. Though style is extremely subjective, we wanted to ensure that we selected shoes that had a bit more versatility in terms of their appearance.
Many of the shoes on our list can be taken from running on streets to walking them. Casual outings, low-key dates, and trips to the grocery store can all be accomplished in the same pair of shoes. We know that serious runners keep their shoes dedicated to only that, but for those of you who are more casual or don't feel like owning a lot of pairs, style can be a significant factor.
Multiple colorways is always a bonus when it comes to shoes, as it allows you to have some say in how they look. For those who prefer to keep it simple, you can opt for black or white which ensures a more muted appearance. If you like to really stand out, there are neon options and multi-colored pairs that will certainly add a significant pop to your outfit. Night runners can also benefit from colorways as well since some models are available in an option that glows in the dark which can enhance visibility.
Whatever it is you like, the style of the shoe can be that final factor to consider when you're stuck between a couple of pairs and aren't sure what to opt for.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Sure, style is great, but what good does it do you when the shoes kill your feet?
Try to focus more on your personal needs before the funky look of the brand's shoes. Know your feet, then cover all of the points that give you the right amount of comfort, stability, support, and then style.
While you want a breathable running shoe, also consider where you're running. If you're in an area that is cooler, wetter, or going out during the winter months, sparsely knitted uppers that you can almost see through might not be the greatest choice.
Other Factors to Consider
While we could talk all day about the different technologies Nike has crafted over the years, we have instead opted to highlight some of the newer features and incorporations that have taken Nike's running shoes to the next level.
Flyknit Uppers - The introduction of knit uppers has been a game changer in terms of comfort, security, and weight. Significantly lighter than prior uppers, Flyknit is made from a finely knit yarn that is almost elastic in structure. The top of the shoe is almost seamless can be slipped on similar to a sock, which then makes it hug against your foot for a more secure and custom fit.
Flywires - If you're looking for extra support without the extra weight, you may want to check out shoes that feature Nike's Flywire. Located on the sides of the shoe, these thin bands bring an extra degree of support that typically would have needed a cage or other hefty system.
Zoom - As the name would suggest, Nike Zoom is designed to help you increase your speed in a more dynamic way. While it won't suddenly make you the fastest runner to hit the track, it will give you the support you need to up your running game. With air-infused cushioning, Nike Zoom gives you better striking power and propels your forward with increased bounce.
With Nike being such a powerhouse of a brand, it is generally safe to assume that their shoes are typically pretty good quality overall. Stitching is often done correctly, materials are well-sourced, and the overall construction is more or less solid.
But not every pair of shoes is created equally, even when they come from the same brand, so we made sure to check as many reviews as possible in regards to the overall durability. Running shoes aren't always the cheapest footwear to buy, and you will be putting a lot of miles in to these things, so making sure that your shoes can keep up with you is vital.
It goes without saying that price is generally a big factor in to which pair of shoes a person ends up buying. While some of us may be able to spend without thought, the majority of people want to make sure they are getting great value for their money every time. Running shoes can range significantly in price, and for a good pair you are looking at spending a decent amount. We wanted to make sure that we highlighted shoes across the proce spectrum, without simply focusing on the most expensive pairs that Nike has to offer.
A high price doesn't always equate to a positive experience, and sometimes a less exensive shoe or older model is a better option than something newer or more pricey. With the goal of having a little something for every budget, we made sure to find the shoes that really did have the highest overall value, instead of the highest overall price.
Frequently Asked Questions
People who have bought them tell of the comfort, lightness, and sturdiness they get from wearing them. “It feels like I’m walking on a cloud,” one reviewer said. Another reviewer said that he doesn’t suffer from the pain in his feet when he runs in one of Nike’s running shoes.
Your running shoes should last anywhere from 300 - 500 miles. This is only a rough estimate based on average runners. If you drop your heels hard, pronate or supinate heavily or are of a heavier built, they may not last as long.
Well, you don’t just throw ‘em in the washer and dryer, that’s for sure. First, you get rid of the excess dirt by using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Secondly, you dip a sponge in a mixture of warm water and laundry detergent, so you can clean the dirt out. Third, you use a dry sponge or cloth to remove the excess detergent. And finally, you let it dry at room temperature.
Yes, there are. The Air Pegasus is one of Nike’s running shoes that helps people who have high arched feet, while the Air Zoom is one that help those with flat feet. If you're unsure of what model is best suited for your foot type, you can always look at articles specifically tailored to people with flat feet or with high arches.
Yes, you can; however, be mindful that certain shoes on our list were designed for a specific purpose, meaning you may not get optimal performance when trying to use one shoe for a different activity or sport. Also, wear and tear from any activity will decrease the lifespan of the shoe, so it might make sense to have a specific shoe for each activity or sport.