7 Best Nike Running Shoes in 2023

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen on
7 Best Nike Running Shoes in 2023
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Nike needs no introduction. The brand offers some of the widest selections of highly-rated running shoes for both beginners and seasoned runners. We are here to help you navigate this massive selection of Nike runners.

We have reviewed over 100 Nike running shoes to help you narrow down the choices. If you are easily satisfied with the best, here are our top picks in different categories.

And if you’d like to learn more about various Nike collections, you may skip to our guide!

Best Nike running shoes overall

Nike Pegasus 40
87
Great!

What makes it the best?

With outstanding ratings in the field and lab, the Pegasus 40 emerged as our best Nike running shoe overall. We got a raw and powerful do-it-all shoe that combines excellent cushioning and a natural and secure ride.

The Pegasus 40 is an absolute workhorse, fearlessly overpowering various terrains with its grippy outsole that defies wear and tear. In the lab, we pushed our durometer against its outsole and it sure is tough: scoring 86.0, this rubber is 7.8% harder than the average. It also showcases remarkable flexibility, allowing for an untamed ride at any pace. Our 90º bend test ranked the 40s in the top 6% of most flexible shoes we ever put our hands and feet on.

There’s an overall cozy fit to it that delighted our feet. From heel to toe, the upper spoiled our feet with ample padding, ensuring a snug lockdown throughout our runs. Underfoot, the foam strikes a perfect balance between energy return and plushness. With a score of 17.6 on our durometer test, it is 29.6% softer than the average road shoe.

However, those looking to shatter personal bests might want to explore other options, as we felt no sign of spark or excitement in the Pegasus 40 ride.

Pros

  • Plush and comfortable upper
  • Breathable
  • Secure lockdown
  • Has enough toe-box space
  • Not overly soft or firm underfoot
  • Good energy return
  • Great grip on most surfaces
  • Incredible durability
  • Perfect for everyday miles and LSDs

Cons

  • A generally narrow fit
  • Heavier than the v39
  • Not a very memorable ride
Full review of Nike Pegasus 40

Best Nike running shoes with wide toe box

What makes it the best?

These kicks are the epitome of recovery days shoes, babying our legs and turning our strolls into a breeze. Add the spacious toebox and there’s none like the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 3.

As we hit double-digit miles, that extra room in the toebox really came in footy. We whipped out our caliper to measure the max width of the upper, and it clocked in at a generous 97.7 mm. While it may be slightly narrower than the average by a mere 0.4 mm, we sure were able to splay out our toes in the front. Oh, and the thin and stretchy mesh was a treat!

There’s a homey feeling to running on these, thanks to the silky ZoomX midsole. We couldn’t help but check its softness with our durometer and no wonder it had us floating on clouds: it ranks among the top 10% plushest shoes we’ve ever studied! Surprisingly enough, this lofty caregiver feels incredibly stable, mostly thanks to the much-appreciated massive platform - our caliper measured the widest part of the heel to be 102.1 mm, effortlessly surpassing the average by 13 mm.

Premium shoes come with a premium price tag. The Invincible 3 sits at $180, an uncommonly hefty price for a daily trainer, so those on a budget might need to look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Way more stable than previous versions
  • Tall stack of impact-absorbing cushioning
  • Good energy return
  • Comfort for the entire foot
  • Thicker, more durable outsole
  • A solid ride that works for more runners
  • Breathable
  • Great for recovery days and long easy runs

Cons

  • Poor grip on wet roads
  • Heel slippage
  • Heel clip can be irritating when cornering
Full review of Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 3

Best Nike running shoes for speed records

Nike Alphafly 2
82
Good!

What makes it the best?

The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2 confirms all the qualities that made the first edition one of the best shoes—for some, the best ever—for racing marathons. It’s still incredibly fast, cushioned, and comfortable, plus it earned some stability and versatility. Overall, we are once again convinced that this is a fantastic performance-oriented choice. That is if money is not an issue.

Pros

  • Great for personal bests
  • Propulsive ride
  • Very comfortable
  • Versatile for short and long runs
  • Amazing lockdown
  • Airy upper
  • More stable than v1
  • Long-lasting
  • Less annoying noise

Cons

  • Expensive for sure
  • Still slightly unstable on corners
  • Hard to slip on
  • Heavier and less magical than v1
Full review of Nike Alphafly 2

Best Nike trail running shoes

What makes it the best?

The Pegasus Trail 4 conquered trails with unmatched stability and raw traction. Its soft cushioning seals the deal, making it our ultimate choice for the best Nike trail shoe.

This mighty shoe effortlessly glided over wildly uneven ground, crushing rocks and roots in its path. Its grip was absolutely fire on dry terrain, thanks to its aggressive and razor-sharp tread pattern on the outsole. We couldn't resist taking out our caliper to check the lugs, which measured 3.4mm, right at the average for trail running. They were just perfect on those bumpy trails!

While the Trail 4 features lots of cushioning from heel to toe, it's the React midsole that steals the spotlight. It felt super balanced on our runs, providing a smooth and secure ride that effortlessly kept up with our faster paces. Our durometer measurements clocked in at 34.0, a delightful 16% softer than the average 40.5, confirming its brisk and gentle nature.

When it comes to sticky mud, this Pegasus faces its nemesis. Runners seeking a reliable choice for wet and cold conditions might want to explore other options.

Pros

  • Efficient road-to-trail
  • Well-cushioned
  • Stable ride
  • Excellent, secure fit
  • Very breathable
  • Great traction
  • Unexpectedly light
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Not for muddy areas
  • Not for wide feet
  • Could be more stylish
Full review of Nike Pegasus Trail 4

Best Nike running shoes for marathon

Nike Vaporfly 3
89
Great!

What makes it the best?

Nike's latest Vaporfly marks a significant upgrade in the "original supershoe" concept. This third iteration, lighter, swifter, and more stable, is a marathon marvel, yet its softer midsole and gentler toe-off make it less suited for 5K/10K races than its predecessors. Faithful to its roots, it elevates the winning combination of a spoon-shaped carbon plate, a springy Pebax midsole, and a lightweight build. And priced at $250, it remains a high-performance dream for all running aficionados.

Pros

  • Exceptionally breathable upper
  • Outstanding ZoomX cushioning
  • Crafted for marathons
  • Impressively low weight
  • Enhanced stability
  • Plush, cloud-like foam
  • Upgraded outsole for better grip

Cons

  • Not as ideal for 5K/10K racing
  • Uncomfortably large tongue
  • Still too narrow
Full review of Nike Vaporfly 3

Best Nike shoes for easy days/walking

What makes it the best?

The Nike InfinityRN 4 distinctively differentiates itself from its previous model. Featuring a revamped ReactX midsole, it morphs from being simply versatile to being a luxuriously plush, comfort-centric daily running shoe that can handle bursts of speed when needed. Although it leans a bit towards the heavier spectrum and may not offer the best breathability, it stands out as a top choice for runners in search of a durable, cushioned shoe with a unique aesthetic.

Pros

  • All-new ReactX plush midsole
  • Soft and stretchy Flyknit upper
  • Ideal for heel strikers
  • Generously cushioned
  • Excellent for easy runs
  • Feels like running on clouds
  • Durable, long-lasting outsole
  • Reduced carbon footprint

Cons

  • Average-at-best breathability
  • On the heavier side
  • Sizes run notably small
Full review of Nike InfinityRN 4

Best budget Nike running shoes

What makes it the best?

In countercurrent to the average of $130 for a Nike runner, the Downshifter 12 comes at an unbeatable $70. It’s cushioned and comfy, having that touch of versatility that beginners so much crave. All in all, this is Nike’s top budget-friendly kick.

The Downshifter transitions pretty smoothly from heel to toe, providing the needed protection where it matters the most. Featuring a 31.7 mm heel stack and an exact 10.0 mm drop, the midsole feels tailor-made for heel strikers, which is precisely the landing style of most beginners.

Comfort comes in colors in the Downshifter 12, and its tongue is the prime example. With 10.1 mm of padding, it is 4.3 mm thicker than average. And hey, the story continues underfoot. While not crazily plush, the midsole is a delight to step on. Our durometer found it a mere 7.4% firmer than average, striking a remarkable balance between composure and comfort.

In the end, it’s still a budget option. For runners seeking a premium ride filled with lots of pop and fun, investing a bit more might be the way to go.

Pros

  • Unbeatable price
  • Premium softness underfoot
  • Comfy interior padding
  • Above average durability
  • Versatile sneaker/running shoe
  • Simple, yet pleasant design
  • Plenty of colors available
  • Recycled materials

Cons

  • Not responsive
  • On the heavier side
  • Tapered toebox
  • Lacing is not always secure
Full review of Nike Downshifter 12

Comparison of the 7 best Nike running shoes

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Choose the right Nike running shoe: Road or Trail?

nike-road-vs-trail-shoe.jpg

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus (road shoe) vs. Nike Pegasus Trail (trail shoe)

Nike road shoes

Nike trail shoes

Best for: pavement and surfaces with minor irregularities Best for: light and rugged trail
  • lighter
  • more flexible
  • generally responsive
  • more durable
  • aggressive sole
  • enhanced foot protection
  • usually have a stiffer midsole
See all Nike road running shoes Get your Nike trail running shoes here
Good to know: It’s fine to wear your trail shoes on the roads, but only at a minimum distance to avoid knee or foot pain. 

nike-road-vs-trail-outsole.jpg

Nike trail shoes have a more durable, lugged outsole.

nike-road-vs-trail-toe.jpg

The toe bumper is reinforced on the trail shoe.

nike-road-vs-trail-heel.jpg

Nike shoes for daily running vs. competition

Nike offers running shoes for competition and everyday runs. To help you get the right pair, here's the quick comparison between the two:

nike-daily-trainer-vs-race-shoe.jpg

Daily trainer: Nike ZoomX Invincible Run (left), Race shoe: Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 (right)

Daily running shoes vs. competition.png

Nike shoes for daily running

Nike shoes for competition (racing)

Disclaimer: These are based on how each type of shoe performs in general. This does not apply to a specific model that exists. 

If you’re looking for a middle-ground daily trainer that can also go fast, Nike also has a selection of speed training shoes. Lighter, more nimble, and responsive, these trainers are ready for tempo runs, intervals, and even shorter races.

Arch support in Nike running shoes

Depending on the level of support you require, Nike classifies their running shoes into neutral and stability categories.

Neutral

shoe feel_neutral.png

Stability

shoe feel stability.png

  • enough cushioning for shock absorption and more comfortable experience
  • typically flexible and responsive
  • durable enough for everyday run
  • most Nike stability shoes are equipped with Dynamic Support technology
  • softer foam is added on the lateral side for cushioning
  • firmer foam on the medial side for support
 See neutral Nike running shoes See stability Nike running shoes (good for flat feet and overpronation)

Learn more in our in-depth guide on arch support and whether or not you need it. 

Additional features in Nike running shoes

Another factor to consider in choosing the best Nike running shoes is the extra features the shoe offers. 

Slip-on: Without the fuss of laces, slip-on running shoes allow you to simply slide your foot in and out of the shoe in an instant. Some of these models employ Nike's proprietary FlyEase design.

How it works on the Nike Revolution 5 FlyEase

Reflective: Some Nike running shoes also use Nike's reflective element to give additional visibility on low-light running conditions.

Nike-Pegasus-Trail-3-Reflection.jpg

Reflective element on the Nike Pegasus Trail 3

Water-repellent/Waterproof - Some Nike running shoes are equipped with Nike Shield technology, which offers protection from moist and cold weather without compromising breathability. They also have a few shoes equipped with a GTX membrane that gives the feet waterproof protection. See: Nike water-repellent running shoes.

GTX membrane on the Nike Pegasus Trail 2 GTX

Nike Vaporfly Models: Marathon Dominance and Controversy

Nike competition shoes, particularly the Vaporfly models, have shown dominance in major marathons including New York City Marathon, Chicago Marathon, London Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Tokyo Marathon, and Boston Marathon.

In 2018, out of the 12 winners (both men and women categories), 7 were wearing Nike Vaporfly shoes and 10 in 2019.

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The controversy around Vaporfly

A study conducted in 2019 found that the new Nike Vaporfly shoes improved an athlete's running economy by 4.2%. This sparked disputes as researchers and runners think that it confers an unfair advantage

The overall design of the shoe (a combination of the foam layer and carbon-fiber plate) that helps runners run faster ignited a discussion on whether it should be banned or not in competition. But after the World Athletics reviewed all the guidelines, the controversial Nike shoe was given a go for the Tokyo Olympics.

nike-vaporfly-next.jpg

How we test running shoes

Nike is a serious brand. But we are even more serious here at RunRepeat. Equipped with our proprietary shoe testing methodology, we go beyond the vague marketing statements to find out which Nike shoe is truly the best. Here is what we take each shoe through:

  • We purchase Nike shoes with our own funds to stay unbiased while testing every new release.
  • We cut, slice, and measure all Nike shoes in our lab to test them on more than 30 different parameters like durability, breathability, flexibility, and others.
  • We run 30-50 miles a week to provide extensive feedback on each Nike model.

Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.