5 Best Track Spikes in 2024

Zack Dunn
Zack Dunn on
5 Best Track Spikes in 2024
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A well-selected pair of track spikes can be a real performance booster or even help you set a new PB.

We have tested these track spikes to help you buy the best pair. We cited every little detail we discovered and assessed during our lab tests. Whether you are an advanced athlete looking for a premium shoe or a beginner on a tight budget, we’ve got the top picks for you.

How we test track spikes

Here at RunRepeat, we provide you with recommendations for the best track and field shoes based on our very own experiences and observations. We set the process in motion by getting hold of the shoes we wanted to test. We purchase the pairs so that we do not need to gratify anyone, especially brands, by providing a good review.

We then proceed with wearing the shoes in our actual track and field sports and activities. We assess all the things we can notice about the shoes, but we make sure that we spend a good and substantial amount of time on each of them before we finalize our thoughts.

Next up, we collect more usable data by measuring and scoring the parameters of the shoes through our lab tests. We quantify 30+ parameters, one of which is durability. For this test, we use our Dremel tool to apply force on the different parts of the shoes, then we employ our expertise to subjectively discern how durable and abrasion-resistant the shoes are.

By the way, we also split the shoes in half to uncover all the parts of the shoes for us to investigate and take note.

Best track spikes overall

What makes it the best?

We pushed track spikes to the limit and found Nike’s Air Zoom MaxFly as the best track spike overall. MaxFly screams maximum record-breaking speed with its light weight, race-ready fit, and snappy ride. We learned it showed optimum performance in 100-400m events and surprisingly felt comfortable on foot. We believe this premium spike is one of the most advanced of its kind, justifying its $180 price tag.

MaxFly gives one of the most unique rides we’ve ever tried. For a racer, it’s pleasantly cushioned with full-length ZoomX foam and has an Air Zoom unit in the forefoot that launches us forward. The ride feels incredibly energetic because of the stiff Flyplate, culminating in the most comfortable yet fastest spike we’ve raced in. We feel like flying since it’s so light on the foot.

Underfoot, transitions feel smooth and the overall ride feels steady thanks to the highly engineered spike plate. The forefoot has 7 spike pins for reliable traction on the track.

Nike’s Flyweave upper feels high-quality. Together with the laces and slightly padded heels, the fit is spot-on. We’re confident that the lockdown is secure, allowing us to focus on smashing our PBs.

We discovered MaxFly is not for maximum distances and performs best on events 800m and below. We recommend exploring other options for mid-to-long-distance track runs.

Pros

  • Extremely springy ride
  • Snug, performance-oriented fit
  • Propulsion from Flyplate and Zoom Air
  • Premium design and materials
  • Ideal for 100-400m sprints
  • Can be used for hurdles
  • Unmatched comfort and speed
  • Notched laces for secure lockdown

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Requires some adaptation
  • Can feel unstable for some

Full review of Nike Air Zoom Maxfly

Track spikes with the best track feel

What makes it the best?

We bolted through 60m-400m distances in search of the spike with the best track feel—Nike’s Zoom Superfly Elite 2 undeniably dominated this category. Its lack of a midsole gives direct ground connection and its aggressive design feels insanely propulsive, grippy, and race-ready with its fit. This lightweight elite spike unleashed our speed and power beyond our imagination.

It's hard to ignore how close we felt to the track, with only 12.3 mm combined insole and outsole separating us from the ground. Our caliper measured a non-existent drop, further enhancing the barefoot experience, and is perfect for building muscle strength.

The spike feels airy on foot with its 5.5 oz (156g) build, but its energy return makes its presence undeniable. Underfoot, the honeycomb-patterned outsole doubles as a propulsion plate, offering both energy return and traction. We felt steady sprinting through curves as the 8-pin configuration bit the track well.

The Atomknit upper feels light and breathable as it hugs our feet snugly. Our smoke test confirms this with a high 4/5 score for ventilation. Thankfully, the shoe didn’t taper too much and had 75-mm wiggle room for our big toe.

Because of its aggressive nature, we don’t recommend this shoe to amateurs. More advanced and skilled runners will enjoy the full benefits this Nike can offer.

Pros

  • Snug, performance-oriented fit
  • Premium design and materials
  • Ideal for 60-400m sprints
  • Suitable for hurdles
  • Designed for raw speed
  • Notched, Alphafly-like laces
  • Lightweight build
  • Enhances foot strength

Cons

  • Demands superior technique
  • Not cushioned
  • Narrow platform
Full review of Nike Zoom Superfly Elite 2

Best lightweight track spikes

Nike Ja Fly 4
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What makes it the best?

After countless tests on track and in the lab, the Nike Ja Fly 4 is our best lightweight track spike. Its grounded and minimalist nature makes it ideal for 60-200m sprints, delivering speed without the harsh stiffness of carbon plates. This spike is highly flexible and lightweight and ensures top speed without being too aggressive.

Underfoot, we discovered an outsole made of 4.5 mm of plastic. Essentially, the absence of the rubber outsole and minimal midsole contributes to its light 5.1 oz (145g) weight and flexibility. No matter how much we twisted the shoe on our manual assessment, it surrendered freely, earning the lowest 1/5 torsional rigidity rating.

Another standout feature is the spike's remarkable connection to the track, which we attribute to the low 11.2 mm heel and forefoot we measured with our caliper. As a true zero-drop shoe, it gives a genuine barefoot experience that develops leg muscle strength.

Interestingly, our bend test tells a different story vs. our twist test. At 33.0N, this Nike resisted more than the average spike (29.1N), providing some propulsion without the harsh stiffness of carbon plates. The grip from the 7 removable pins underfoot also boosts our speed and confidence on the track.

However, the lack of foam means we cannot recommend Ja Fly 4 for distances beyond 400m because the landing impact will feel too harsh on foot.

Pros

  • Lightweight design
  • Removable pins
  • Cost-effective choice
  • Comfortable tongue
  • Enhances foot strength
  • Ideal for 60-200m sprints
  • Notched laces
  • Above-average durability

Cons

  • Limited breathability
  • No midsole
  • Extremely narrow upper
Full review of Nike Ja Fly 4

Best track shoes for beginners

What makes it the best?

Nike Rival Sprint is all about comfort, support, and durability at a very accessible $75 price point, making it our best entry-level track spike in the lab. It’s a non-intimidating spike with a less aggressive, breathable, and flexible build, perfect for newcomers who want to conquer the track.

Starting with the midsole, we measured a steep 3.3 mm drop vs. our almost flat 0.7 mm lab average. The incline gave extra support to our calves and tendons, which beginners still need.

Rival Sprint features a tough 2.8 mm rubber outsole around the rear area and a Pebax plate along the forefoot for snappier toe-offs. The spike includes 6 removable pins that gripped the track excellently during testing. Despite the presence of a plate, this spike is one of the most flexible we’ve ever tested, boosting its comfort. Our bend test reveals it’s 39.9% more flexible than average.

Upon testing the upper, we were pleased with its perfect blend of breathability, comfort, and durability. It scored 5/5 on our smoke test and felt so soft, it’s suitable for going sockless. Even against our Dremel, the toe cap put up a tough fight with an impressive 4/5 durability rating.

However, the shoe tips the scale to a heavy 6.1 oz (174g). If every millisecond counts, we suggest exploring lighter options.

Pros

  • Pebax plate enhances toe-off
  • Highly breathable
  • Premium notched laces
  • Affordable price point
  • Roomy toecap area
  • Suitable for hurdles
  • Provides good stability
  • Slightly cushioned
  • Impressive durability

Cons

  • Noticeable weight
  • Possibly too flexible
Full review of Nike Rival Sprint

Best budget track spikes

What makes it the best?

At only $70, Adidas Sprintstar is the most affordable option among our lab-tested track spikes ($117 average). For almost half the price, it delivers impressive durability and a natural feel. Based on actual tests, this spike suits runners who want to test their leg power and raw speed for 60-400m sprints.

As soon as we stepped on the track, this spike emphasized ground feel, which is a great way to strengthen our legs for shorter sprints. It has a very thin 10.4/8.6 mm heel and forefoot stack highlighting the barefoot experience.

The flexible and plateless midsole moves easily with our feet and keeps it all natural. We noticed the shoe wasn’t too rigid and felt gentle on foot. Our flex test confirms it’s 48.6% more adaptive than average.

What truly blows our minds is how durable this spike is, even for its budget-friendly price! We barely saw signs of wear after extensive testing. Both the toebox and heel strongly resisted our rigorous Dremel, showing promising signs of longevity. Meanwhile, the outsole measures a tough 88.0 HC and is 1.1 mm thicker than average. These results also translate to a longer shoe lifespan.

Unfortunately, because of the absence of a propulsive midsole, we experienced leg fatigue faster. We found that this spike is not suitable for sprints beyond 400m.

Pros

  • Excellent track grip
  • Ultra-padded tongue
  • Unbeatable value
  • Removable pins
  • Ideal for novices
  • Exceptional ground sensation
  • Solid durability

Cons

  • Zero cushioning
  • Poor ventilation
  • Requires strong feet
Full review of Adidas Sprintstar

Why use a track shoe

Here are some of the distinct components of a track and field shoe that make it more efficient for the sport than other types of athletic shoes:

features.png

  • Lightweight and breathable: Track and field shoes are light and airy because of the thin mesh upper that usually accompanies them. usually have a rigid upper construction to provide a snug fit.
  • Snug fit: Aside from a thin mesh, the upper of track shoes have a rigid structure to provide a snug fit and keep the foot in place.
  • Minimal midsole: Unlike other cleat-type footwear such as those for football and soccer, track shoes usually have a midsole that is thin and minimal. It acts as both underfoot cushioning and impact absorber.
  • Spike pins and spike plate: Some track shoes use spike pins. These are small pointed attachments on a plastic plate that aid in gripping the track surface. Spike pins vary in type, size (pin width), and number depending on the event it is used for.

Spike pins.png

Track shoes vs running shoes: 3 key differences

Although track-and-field as a sport includes running events, the shoes used for those are different than the typical running shoe. Each shoe has its particular design and purpose, which we can differentiate through the following:

  • Weight: Track and field shoes are significantly lighter than running shoes. They use fewer materials and are relatively smaller in figure because they intend to boost the athlete’s momentum.
  • Cushioning: Track spikes for running events are thin and minimal. On the other hand, running shoes are plush and substantial as their focus is on underfoot cushioning and arch support.
  • Overall appearance: The most noticeable difference between track shoes and running shoes is the use of spikes. Track shoes for running use spike pins to make the forefoot higher and promote better traction.

Track and field shoe categories

The various events within the track-and-field sport are distinctive from one another and, as such, require the use of different shoes. Here are the types of track spikes and the notable qualities of each one:

Running events

Running
Sprints Mid-distance Long-distance
Sprints.png Mid distance.png long distance.png
  • lightweight
  • little-to-no cushioning
  • around 7-8 spike pins
  • little-to-moderate amount of cushioning
  • more tapered forefoot compared to sprint spikes
  • around 6 spike pins
  • most flexible of all running track shoes
  • around 4-6 spike pins (to keep the shoe lightweight)

Jumping spikes

Jumping
Long-jump / Triple-jump High-jump Pole vault
long jump.png high jump.png pole vault.png
  • has an extra layer of cushioning for protection
  • usually flat in the heel area for more stability and power during the jump
  • uses a sturdy upper material for durability during varied movements
  • has a midfoot strap to keep the foot in place during run-up and take-off
  • employs spikes in the heel for increased support and traction
  • underfoot structure is the most rigid among all jumping track shoes
  • heel area is more padded compared to other jumping shoes

Throwing events

Throwing
Javelin / Shot put / Discus throw / Hammer throw
Javelin.png Shot put.png Discuss throw.png Hammer throw.png
  • Throwing shoes are versatile and can be used in any of the sports included in the throwing events
  • These shoes do not use spike pins as throwing events include circular and pivoting motions that do not require the additional grip
  • Slightly bulky, to keep the athlete firm on their position without unnecessary movements
  • Has a smooth (but not slippery) outsole to allow for a fluid spinning motion

Frequently asked questions

Are spike pins important in track shoes?

There is no absolute rule that track and field shoes should be used with spike pins. Additionally, not all track shoes are used with spike pins. When used accordingly, spike pins improve traction and support.

Are socks important?

You might be hesitant to use socks because track shoes are intended to fit snugly on its own. Socks are not important. Many athletes prefer not to wear socks because it makes the fit of the shoe too tight and the movements uncomfortable.

Author
Zack Dunn
Zack Dunn
I race distances between 800 meters and 10K whether it be on the track, the roads, or on cross country courses. My typical training consists of easy days, long days, workouts (fartleks, tempos, interval training, etc.). My typical training paces range from 7’30 a mile on easy days to sub-5 minutes a mile on fast interval days, and with many paces in between. I run anywhere from 40-60 miles a week. My personal bests are 2:00 for 800m, 4:30 for 1600m, 9:50 for 3200m, 15:57 for 5K, and 34:10 for 10K.