7 Best Nike Sneakers in 2024

Sheena
Sheena on
7 Best Nike Sneakers in 2024
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Looking for the best Nike sneakers can be downright grueling given the number of options. Well, fret not because we’re here to back you up.

Whether you’re on the lookout for the cheapest Nike finds, the most iconic, or the best one of them all, we’ve got it all here. 

Of course, we have thoroughly tested each one of them, before we highlighted these top picks. This way, our recommendations are based on countless hours of testing - both in the streets and in our lab! 

How we test sneakers

Nike is among the global brands known for their dope marketing campaigns, but who cares about that? What we give you here is a list of top-rated Nike kicks based on our unbiased reviews as experts on the field: 

  • We purchase all the Nike sneakers by swiping our own cards. We do not take part in partnerships and X-deals just to promote a pair of shoes. We value honesty more than free stuff.
  • We made sure that our top picks are backed up by actual reviews and wear tests, so we wear each Nike sneakers both indoors and outdoors. We executed different tasks and errands while in them and we assessed its comfort, durability, and looks, among other features.
  • To make our reviews more comprehensive, we went the extra mile by dissecting the shoes into pieces and measuring over 30 parameters. We do all of this in our lab.

Best Nike sneakers overall

Nike Zoom Vomero 5
96
Superb!

What makes it the best?

Being a running shoe in its past life, the Zoom Vomero 5 delivers comfort throughout our wear tests and stands out with a responsive and enjoyable ride due to its Zoom Air units. It brings an ultra-breathable experience that can handle even the most scorching days and remains light and loose on foot even during long hours. Among the Nike sneakers we tested in the lab, Vomero 5 undoubtedly tops our list.

Without standing too tall, Vomero 5 impressively brings a well-cushioned and comfortable feeling. Our cut-in-half shoe reveals a CushIon foam which measures 28.0 HA, 9.7% softer than average. Two Zoom Air units sit under the heel and the ball of the foot, further making the ride more pleasantly responsive and effortless.

Our strolls feel light and fuss-free thanks to the sneaker’s airy and fluid construction. Our scales reveal it’s 11.1 oz (316g), 21.2% below average. Meanwhile, our bend test confirms it’s as flexible as the average lifestyle sneaker.

Adding to its weightlessness is the ultra-thin mesh upper that prevents any heat and sweat from building up inside the shoe. As our lab confirms with a perfect scoreVomero 5 offers exceptional breathability.

However, the high level of ventilation sacrificed the durability of the upper. This is a concern for those who damage this part of their sneakers quickly.

Pros

  • Nostalgic 2000s aesthetic
  • Excellent breathability for summer
  • Cushioned like a running shoe
  • Lighter than average
  • Very comfy in-shoe feel
  • Flexible and forgiving on foot
  • Wear-resistant outsole and inner lining
  • Better lockdown with a gusseted tongue

Cons

  • Mesh is easy to tear
  • Not for flat feet/overpronation
  • Pricey
Full review of Nike Zoom Vomero 5

Best classic Nike sneakers

Nike Air Max 1
91
Great!

What makes it the best?

Even after countless releases since its debut in 1987, the Air Max 1 is an all-time favorite boasting a timeless silhouette with the first-ever visible Air Max. After extensive lab and wear tests, it remains our best classic Nike sneaker because of its enduring appeal across generations. Notably, it’s one of the rare fashion-statement sneakers that prioritize comfort and durability at an affordable $140 price point.

Our research reveals the Air Max units in the heel and forefoot are not only for show, they make our landings gentler and add some spring to each step. It’s exceptionally cushioned for long hours of wear with its generous 32.3/20.1 mm stack measuring 27.2% softer than the average sneaker, as per our durometer. 

We put the legendary sneakers to the test to see if they are as tough as they look. AM1 shined in all our durability tests, taking the abuse of our Dremel with insignificant damage compared to the average in the toebox (4/5), heel (4/5), and outsole areas (20% less damage). As a closet mainstay, this Nike sneaker prioritizes longevity. Surprisingly, it feels light on foot even with all the foam and protection. Our scales confirm it’s only 13.3 oz (378g). 

However, its tightly knit upper sacrificed ventilation. AM1 is more suitable for cold weather with its low 2/5 breathability score.

Pros

  • Historical silhouette (first-ever visible Air Max)
  • Responsive Air Max cushioning
  • Comfortable for all-day wear
  • Very supportive construction
  • Extraordinary durable
  • Lighter than expected
  • True to size and fit

Cons

  • Lacks breathability
  • Really stiff platform
  • Cheap materials (fake leather and suede)
Full review of Nike Air Max 1

Best futuristic Nike sneakers

What makes it the best?

After extensive research and testing of various Nike sneakers, one model stood out as being ahead of its time: the Nike Air Max 270. It's the inaugural lifestyle sneaker from the iconic line and pioneers the exposed air bubble design. With a vast selection of over 100 colorways, it caters to every style and personality.

In our lab, we subjected the mesh upper to rigorous testing to evaluate its durability. Using a power drill with a metallic brush, we deliberately scratched the upper to assess its resilience. Impressively, the AM270 exhibited minimal signs of wear and tear, confirming its toughness.

While most durable uppers sacrifice ventilation, AM270 surprisingly maintains a high level of breathability. Our feet felt fresh during our strolls even if we went sockless due to the neoprene inner lining that feels soft to the touch.

The shoe feels light on the foot, not only in terms of weight but also in terms of flexibility as it barely resisted our foot-bending. This makes it highly versatile and a comfortable place to be in for long hours.

However, its huge 32-mm heel height needs an adjustment period. We almost found ourselves losing balance because the heel was soft. Those who prefer stable support should look for alternatives.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Instantly comfortable
  • True to size
  • Durable
  • Can be worn without socks
  • Flexible
  • Super breathable
  • Sleek modern looks
  • Crazy number of colorways

Cons

  • Heel height might need adjusting to
  • Not the best for standing all day
Full review of Nike Air Max 270

Nike sneakers with the best leather

What makes it the best?

From the basketball scene to the streets and our closets, the Air Force 1 07’s iconic silhouette is everywhere. Its clean, classic look makes it versatile for any outfit or occasion, while its quality and sturdy construction promise stability and durability. Remaining an effortless fashion statement since the 80’s, it’s our top leather Nike sneaker in the lab.

Combining style and purpose, the high-quality upper not only looks good but it’s very protective too. The major panels didn’t melt away in our torch test, confirming the leather’s authenticity. The toebox also proved itself durable in our Dremel test with the highest 5/5 score.

The whole shoe feels structured and the midsole shows unwavering rigidity, holding us firmly in place. In our manual assessments, both the heel and torsional rigidity maxed out stiffness with 5/5. It was relentless even in our bend test, emerging 40.7% stiffer than average.

The shoe’s sturdy construction and moderate stack contribute to our solid footing. The platform has the Air Max unit, wrapped in a 20.9 HA foam, that adds some cushioning. However, these plush elements are inside a solid construction making the overall ride firm, therefore enhancing stability.

The downside of all these tough elements is that AF 1 tips the scales to a bulky 16.4 oz (465g), 16.0% heavier than average. Those who prefer lighter and comfier shoes should look further.

Pros

  • Crisp and classic look
  • Can be dressed up or down
  • Great leather quality for the price
  • Responsive Air cushioning
  • Highly stable and supportive
  • Decent airflow for a leather shoe
  • Reasonably priced
  • Can last for years

Cons

  • Quite heavy
  • Creases easily
  • Not for all-day wear
  • Arduous break-in period
Full review of Nike Air Force 1 07

Best basketball-inspired Nike sneakers

Nike Dunk Low
90
Good!

What makes it the best?

With its classic retro look and all-leather (or suede) build, the Nike Dunk Low evolved from being a basketball shoe to a fashion statement. As its name suggests, it sports a low platform with a grippy outsole that delivers stability in our tests. Among the Nike sneakers we’ve lab-tested, Dunk Low is our top basketball-inspired pick.

With many colorways, the Dunk easily became a closet staple for many decades. Other than its aesthetic appeal, its high-quality construction proved to be genuine in our lab. Using our butane torch and leather scratch awl, we checked the upper panels, the top overlays, and the Swoosh logo, which all proved to be genuine as they remained intact. Plus, they serve as an effective shield, rating a high 4/5 durability score in our Dremel test.

Underfoot, we had a really good sense of the ground below for quicker adaptation. Other than its modest stack, it's also a firm 32.0 HA. When combined, these elements deliver a firm and surefooted ride.

Further improving our control is the grippy base, a feature the Dunk inherits from its roots. Even as we walked through slippery surfaces, this sneaker kept us safe.

However, because of its firm platform, we don’t recommend being on foot for hours with this pair. Extended periods of standing and walking require more cushioning for better comfort.

Pros

  • Retro basketball aesthetics
  • Real leather (suede) upper
  • Excellent durability for the price
  • Low and grounded platform (loved by skaters)
  • Very stable and supportive
  • Surprisingly flexible in the forefoot
  • True to size and fit
  • Extra eyelets

Cons

  • Needs breaking in
  • Firm and rigid sole
  • Not for all-day wear
Full review of Nike Dunk Low

Nike sneakers with the best comfort

Nike Air Max 95
89
Good!

What makes it the best?

The comfort that we felt while wearing the Nike Air Max 95 was topnotch. Aside from being made of textile and leather that was soft and shape-conforming, it had laces that enhanced the sneaker’s fit and made us feel secure. We also loved the fact that this shoe was pretty easy to clean. Among all Nike sneakers, this one had to be the best as far as comfort went.

The materials that made up the upper looked stiff and unrelenting. But after a period of time, they all felt soft and were finally able to conform to the shape of our feet, affording us a lot of comfort. 

We also had the laces to thank for the Nike Air Max 95’s amazing fit and clasp around our feet. They were easy to tie and had enough friction to maintain a knot even during the most aggressive movements. 

In the lab, we put dirt, chalk, and some dyes on the textile upper. Of course, these things defaced the shoe. Fortunately, they were easy to remove after just a single wash. If you envision yourself strolling in not so pristine places, then the Nike Air Max 95 might be the most suitable companion.

We have to admit, though, that this Nike Air Max sneaker was a bit on the heavier side. It was quite bulky, too. This Nike sneaker indeed needed some getting used to.

Pros

  • Part of Nike Street Style Heritage
  • Super durable construction
  • Speed lace loops offer great fit and comfort
  • Easy to clean
  • Recycled materials used
  • Best for colder seasons
  • Great lacing for a secure fit

Cons

  • A bit heavy
  • Takes time to wear in
Full review of Nike Air Max 95

Best budget Nike sneakers

What makes it the best?

The Nike Air Max Excee was cheaper than any other from the Air Max line. It debuted at the $90 price point, which was already cheap considering the $110 average. More than its price, the shoe’s attractive appearance and the wide array of colorways that it was available in made it such an impressive, the best even, budget sneaker in Nike’s lineup.

If the Excee already looked great in photos, wait until you see it in person. The vibrancy of the colors was just immaculate and enticing and scene-stealing. We loved the approving looks that we got when we walked around wearing this Nike sneaker.

Aside from its great looks, we also appreciated the fact that it was available in many iterations. There was practically a colorway for every personality that we wanted to portray or represent through our outfits. The Nike Air Max Excee was truly a fashionista’s best friend.

Too bad that the price reduction came with unfortunate drawbacks in shoe quality. This Nike sneaker simply was not the most durable shoe out there. It easily fell apart during our lab tests.

Pros

  • Fits true to size
  • Perfect for sporty outfits
  • Insanely comfortable
  • Cheaper than many Air Max
  • Colors IRL are even better than the ones on the screen
  • Wide choice of colorways

Cons

  • Stiff
  • There's very little airflow
  • Poor durability
Full review of Nike Air Max Excee

Welcome to a journey into the world of Nike sneakers. A place where style, innovation, and athletic performance collide.

Whether you're drawn to the simplicity of minimalism or the bold statements of maximalism, when it comes to the best that Nike sneakers have to offer, we've got you covered. So, fasten your seatbelts as we embark on a journey into the heart of RunRepeat’s Nike sneaker universe.

Nike Air Max 97 Flat Lay

Jordan-free zone

It’s worth pointing out that in this article we'll be diving into the world of Nike sneakers, and only Nike sneakers. And because it’s going to be all about the Nike brand, we’ll be excluding Jordans from this one because, although they may belong under the Nike umbrella, Nike and Jordan are two separate entities so we’ll give them each the respect they deserve.

The biggest player in the game

Nike is the number one brand of sneakers in the world, capturing over $50 billion in annual total sales [1], selling more than double the amount of footwear compared to its closest rivals Puma and Adidas, combined [2]. With sales continuing to soar, there’s no question that for consumers looking for the best sneakers to wear, Nike is the market leader.

Nike Air Max 270

They’re SNKRS… IYKYK

Nike compliments their footwear offerings with a lot of in-store or virtual technology. Recently Nike has been launching new releases under their SNKR platform, designed specifically for the up-and-coming sneakerhead generation who just can’t wait to find out what’s coming next. Because IYKYK (‘if you know, you know’).

From the goddess of victory to the goddess of variety

In Greek mythology, the name ‘Nike’ references a goddess who personifies victory. With Nike’s sneakers, you can step into the world of triumph and conquer the streets, tracks, or any terrain you encounter.

Just like the goddess herself, Nike's commitment to excellence and success is ingrained in every pair of sneakers they create. Whether you're an athlete aiming for the podium or a fashion enthusiast seeking the pinnacle of style, Nike more than likely has something for you.

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Nike tech that just gets it done

If you look at some of the latest offerings in the Nike sneaker catalog it makes you think that the Nike Marketing department must have an ongoing stoush with their Research and Development colleagues.

You see, the marketing team loves the catchphrase ‘just do it’ and that familiar trademark is regularly seen in Nike’s print advertising and t-shirts globally. It’s a great slogan. But the R&D team seems to take it to the next step, and ‘just did it’ seems to be their motto. From Nike Air to Flyknit, here’s a sample of what they’ve launched so far:

Nike Air

We’ve all seen and heard of Nike Air, but what actually is it? Nike Air technology consists of pressurized air inside a tough yet flexible bag and provides more flexibility and spring without compromising structure. The Air-Sole units maintain their given form with elasticity, reduce impact, and keep the shoe snug and lightweight. Air is found on many of today’s Nike sneakers.

Nike-Air-Max-2090-Profile.jpg

Air Max

Nike's Air Max technology is one of the brand's most renowned midsole innovations, which is found in many of their premier sneaker models. Max is all things comfort and style. A larger air-filled unit than standard Air, the Max Air cushions every step to keep you moving easily through all your daily activities. Although now more than 30 years since its first release, it's managed to become a style icon along the way.

Nike Air Max 90

Nike Air Max features:

  1. Exceptional energy absorption: Air Max units excel at cushioning impacts, swiftly reverting to their original shape to provide a responsive and comfortable ride.
  2. Featherweight construction: These air-infused midsoles keep sneakers lightweight, ensuring that every stride is energy-efficient and effortless.
  3. Eco-friendly commitment: Nike's dedication to sustainability shines through in Air Max technology. All Air soles incorporate a minimum of 50% recycled materials and are produced using 100% renewable energy sources, contributing to a greener future.
  4. All day comfort and stability: Whether you're tackling the track or getting through your daily grind, Air Max sneakers prioritize comfort and stability, making them an ideal choice for everyday wear.

Nike Air Max React 270 Walking.jpg

Zoom (and Zoom Air)

Designed for sports requiring fast foot movements such as running and basketball, Nike’s Air Zoom technology consists of a small, low-profile Air unit with strong, tensile threads inside. These spring-like threads contract and pop up instantly, giving the sensation of jumping off a trampoline.

Nike-Air-Max-Zoom-Type-On-Feet-2.jpg

Nike Zoom Air sneakers are made to deliver lightning-fast responsiveness and are therefore best suited for explosive starts in running, mitigate pronation for enhanced stability, provide a heightened sense of the ground and superior control for field sports enthusiasts, and facilitate quick, agile cuts on the basketball court. 

Nike Zoom features:

  1. High energy absorption: Absorbs impact and quickly springs back to return to its original shape. 
  2. Enhanced energy return – The addition of tightly stretched tensile fiber within the Air unit boosts responsiveness.
  3. Supports aggressive movements and sports: Requires strong impact to compress, making it a stable midsole.

Flyknit

Nike’s development of Flyknit was an innovation aimed at making sneakers more lightweight. Manufactured from robust yet lightweight threads, Flyknit weaves a one-piece upper that fits like and somewhat looks like a sock.

Nike Flyknit sneakers are best for sporty people and athletic enthusiasts seeking lightweight, breathable, and custom-fit footwear solutions that excel in agility, comfort, and style.

Nike Flyknit features:

  1. Incredibly lightweight: Flyknit's single-layer knit construction ensures a lightweight shoe, perfect for agile movement.
  2. Breathability: Thanks to its absence of overlays and porous design, Flyknit promotes excellent airflow, keeping your feet comfortably cool.
  3. Individualized support: The varied weaving patterns offer adaptable lockdown at different sections of the upper, providing tailored support where it's needed most.
  4. Eco-friendly production: Flyknit is not only a technological marvel but also an eco-conscious choice, generating 60% less waste compared to traditional cut-and-sew manufacturing methods.

Air Force

The Air Force is a now iconic collection of Nike sneakers that began with the Air Force 1 model way back in 1982. Air Force sneakers are offered in low-, mid- and high-top styles. Originally designed as a basketball shoe, it has now transformed into a street sneaker for everyone.

Nike Air Force features:

  1. Vast options: Nike Air Force sneakers offer an extensive array of styles designed to cater to diverse tastes. The iconic high-top silhouette, known for its basketball heritage, remains a perennial favorite. It's the go-to choice for those who crave the classic looks and performance.
  2. Versatility done well: For a more relaxed and versatile appearance, Nike provides low and mid-top variations of Air Force sneakers. These options effortlessly complement everyday attire and can be effortlessly tailored to any setting or occasion.
  3. She’s got the look: In terms of aesthetics, Air Force shoes are offered in a wide range of colors, ensuring you can discover the perfect pair to match your unique style.
  4. Moving forward: In recent years, Nike has unveiled a series of exclusive Air Force sneakers, a treasure trove for collectors and sneaker enthusiasts. These limited-edition releases boast distinctive color schemes and design intricacies that set them apart from standard models. Collaborations with renowned designers and pop-culture influencers have also resulted in some very cool one-of-a-kind Air Force sneakers. 

When minimalism competes with maximalism

In the world of Nike sneakers, design aesthetics can be broadly categorized into two distinct styles: minimalist and maximalist. These design philosophies represent opposite ends of the creative spectrum, each with its unique characteristics and appeal.

Nike Air Max Infinity On Foot

Minimalism keeps it simple and elegant

Simple, classy, and elegant: minimalist sneakers are classic designs which are proven to last the test of time. Minimalist Nike sneakers tend to focus on the fundamental design principles of simplicity and functionality, which means unnecessary elements are eliminated. The result? Sneakers which are perfectly suited to a variety of settings which will work with many different outfits. Here’s what make Nike minimalist sneakers great:

  1. Clean and uncomplicated designs: With typically streamlined shapes with fewer overlays, decorative features, or excessive stitching.
  2. Minimal branding: Logos and labels are discreetly incorporated into the sneaker design to maintain a sleek and understated appearance.
  3. Basic colors: Simple color choices from a limited color palette means minimalist sneakers are easy to pair with various outfits.
  4. Functional performers: Minimalism in Nike design doesn't sacrifice functionality. Instead, it simplifies without compromising performance. The focus is on essential features that enhance comfort, support, and performance, such as well-engineered cushioning and outsole traction.
  5. Subtle elegance: Subtle, purposeful details such as strategically placed fabrics for breathability, refined stitching, or hidden lacing systems that maintain the shoe's clean lines are clever ways Nike has managed to keep their minimalist sneakers looking great.

Nike SB Nyjah Free 2 Wear test review

Maximalism goes big and bold

If minimalism is retro chic, then at the opposite end of the spectrum are the modern-day big and bold protagonists.

Nike Air Max 270 Sneaker on feet review

Because if you want to make your presence felt, some Nike maximalism sneakers will have that immediate effect, and here’s why:

  1. Real eye-grabbers: Maximalist Nike sneakers have vibrant and complex color schemes. These sneakers often feature a multitude of colors, patterns, and gradients, creating eye-catching and attention-grabbing visuals.
  2. Over-the-top design: When you want your sneakers to stand out from the pack design elements such as oversized icons, embroidered Swoosh logos and colorful patterns that cover large parts of the sneaker. These details might be a bit over-the-top for some, but it does make your sneakers stand out and become a fashion statement in their own right.
  3. Multiple materials: Combining and layering multiple materials into the one sneaker can create an impressive and unique aesthetic, one that other sneakers can’t easily replicate.
  4. Chunky soles: Oversized soles not only provide extra cushioning and support but also contribute to the shoe's distinctive look. 
  5. Bold branding: Unlike minimalism, where branding is understated, maximalist Nike sneakers proudly display prominent logos and branding elements. These logos can be oversized and placed prominently on the shoe's upper or sole. You’ll know they’re Nike.
  6. Insta influence: It wasn’t so long ago that fashion-forward products would rely on sports people to help sell. These days Instagram influencers have taken over, as Nike streetwear sneakers has become a niche of its own.
  7. Big time collaborations: Nike frequently releases limited-edition and collaborative sneakers that might become collectors items some day. These special releases often feature unique design elements and capture the spirit of pop culture, music, art, or other creative influences.

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A peek into the Nike crystal ball

So what’s coming for the Nike brand in the future? Well, the truth is there are glimpses of what the future holds already. From customization and individualization, we can expect to see Nike continue to push the boundaries, which is great news for sneakerheads.

As for the iconic minimalist designs we see today? Aside from the occasional refreshment and modernization, they’re likely to remain relatively untouched.

Expect the big and bold designs of today to be bigger and bolder tomorrow.

Nike Air Max 2090 Durability Photo

Big Nike tech coming soon

As for technology, Nike has toyed with integrating smart systems into their sneakers but so far none of the ideas have lasted the test of time… yet. Behind the scenes you can be sure they’re working on some sort of smart technology now, that we will all be wearing years later.

It’s easy to envisage something that integrates with your cell phone and smartwatch via either bluetooth or ANT+, and maybe even uses AI to make your day easier. We don’t know for sure, but it is fun to imagine and even more fun to see things come true. Watch this space.

Frequently asked questions

Where are Nike shoes made?

Nike utilizes a manufacturing technique known as ‘contract manufacturing’ which means that rather than Nike owning and operating all of their factories, instead they contract production out to specialized factories who tender for their bid. Most factories are located in Asian countries such as Vietnam and China.

How do I pronounce ‘Nike’?

The correct way to say it is ‘Nai-kee’ (rhymes with ‘spikey’). If you’ve got friends that insist on saying it as if it rhymes with ‘Mike’, maybe they’d appreciate Adidas more.

How does Nike sneaker sizing work?

Nike sneakers run true-to-size and we have a dedicated area for Nike sizing - check it out here.

References

  1. Statista: (Consumer Goods & FMCG - Apparel & Shoes) Nike's global revenue 2005-2023
  2. Statista: (Sports & Recreation - Sports & Fitness) Footwear segment revenue of Nike, adidas & Puma 2010-2022
Author
Sheena
Sheena
Sheena is a wordsmith turned sneaker addict. Her sneaker fixation intensified as her passion for writing grew. A hands-on mom of two sweet yet spunky kids (plus three dogs and two cats), she finds solitude in leafing through shoe catalogs to find the next "it" sneaker. Scrutinizing hugely popular and underrated kicks is her favorite pastime.