Our verdict

We found that the Nike Downshifter 12 is a budget running shoe that serves very well as a sneaker too. The shoe's price is one of the lowest on the market and is definitely the most appealing reason to consider it. Yet, that’s not its only pro, we also loved its surprisingly enjoyable midsole and overall in-shoe comfort. And given the fact that it’s made from 20% recycled content, we probably can’t ask for more.

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

Audience verdict

81
Good!
  • Top 27% most popular running shoes

Who should buy Nike Downshifter 12

Get this Nike shoe if you are just starting out your running journey, and you don’t need or want more premium models for your workouts. It’s also a great choice simply as a friendly and very comfortable sneaker, to wear for everyday life.

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Most of all, if saving some money is what you care about at the moment, you can’t really go wrong with this shoe.

Who should NOT buy the shoe

We suggest looking elsewhere if you:

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Nike Downshifter 12 vs Downshifter 11

Nike made a few tweaks to upgrade the Downshifter from its previous version. The shoe's upper has been slightly updated and some subtle tweaks are done on the outsole.

But what really sets these shoes apart, is that the new Downshifter 12 is much softer and cushier. This is confirmed by our durometer measurements as well. We found the Downshifter 12 to be 19% softer than the 11.

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Disclaimer: We take the measurement 5 times to ensure accuracy. The photo shows one of them.

But if you are planning to take the shoe out in the cold, be prepared that it is going to stiffen up. In our freezer test, the Downshifter 12 got 30.8% firmer compared to its room temperature state.

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Airy enough

When it comes to breathability, this shoe sits in the middle. It now sees a higher amount of material in the upper, and this impacts the airflow a little. But on a 1-5 scale where 5 is the most breathable, we gave its breathability a score of 3.

As you can see from our breathability tests, not much smoke or light is passing through the toebox mesh.

Downshifter 12 is a cozy shoe

We really enjoyed the way this Nike shoe fit and felt. The shoe has a soft, generously padded tongue (10.1 mm!) while there’s also a really nice padding in the heel.

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The shoe's heel counter is not very stiff either. In our subjective assessment, we gave it only 2 out of 5, which is nearly the most flexible.

However, people with wider feet probably won't be able to enjoy the comfort of the shoe because it runs too narrow! Just look how tapered the Downshifter's toebox is!

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Despite being wider than average near the ball of the foot (100.2 mm), the toebox gets way too narrow around the toes.

But the good news is that you can get this Nike shoe in wide and extra-wide options to get a better fit.

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Midsole is not lively, yet nicely balanced  

Price aside, another great reason to buy this shoe is its midsole. We have appreciated its softness during our test runs. But we must warn you that it is not overly plush! It provides a pretty balanced and cushioned ride for a shoe of its caliber.

We did lack the energy return of the more expensive models as the Downshifter 12 wasn't really helping to push off the foot.

Beginner-friendly heel drop

The Nike Downshifter 12 comes with an averagely-stacked midsole which is neither too minimalist nor high off the ground. Perfect for someone who is just starting out on a running habit.

We measured the shoe's heel stack at 31.7 mm and the forefoot at 21.7 mm. This is only a couple of millimeters lower than average.

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Disclaimer: We always measure stack height with the insole included.

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The insole in this Nike shoe is 4.4 mm thick, which is the average for running shoes.

Platform feels stable

The midsole on the Downshifter 12 feels soft but it has enough stiffness to create a stable platform to rely on.

Based on our flexibility measurements, the shoe is 19% stiffer than the average.

In our subjective flexibility assessment, we gave the shoe's longitudinal flexibility 3 out of 5. For reference, 5 is the stiffest possible.

Nike Downshifter 12 has a good grip

As seen in the 11th iteration, the traction of the shoe remains reliable on most surfaces.

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Not the lightest choice

If taken as a sneaker, the Downshifter 12 does a good job in this department. However, a weight above 10.6oz (300g) is nowadays quite hefty for a road running shoe, which is averaging 9.5 oz (270g).

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Laces are tricky

In some of our test runs, the shoe's flat laces started to unravel. This made us stop and tie a double-knot for extra security.

Perhaps, round laces would've been a better idea in this Nike shoe.

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Long-lasting rubber  

The previous iteration had an outsole that proved noticeably resistant, and the Downshifter 12’s proved as much as good.

We would rank the shoe's outsole rubber as average in terms of durability based on two factors: its thickness and density.

The outsole component on the Downshifter is 3.5 mm thick which is exactly the average across running shoes.

As for the rubber density, our durometer shows it to be close to the average as well. Only 4% softer.

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A well-designed shoe

Nike tends to infuse style even into its cheapest offerings. For a $70 shoe, we think that the Downshifter 12 has a nice visual appeal and pleasing essential colorways.

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What’s more, considering that this is a budget model, it’s great that they decided to make it more environmentally friendly.

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Just great for your wallet

Even with this slight $10 price increase, the Downshifter 12 shoe remains incredibly cheap but worthy of attention. Considering the comfort that this shoe offers, we find it a great value for money.

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