Our verdict

The Nike Flex Experience Run 12 remains a top pick for anyone seeking a natural, minimalist feel without going full zero-drop. We loved the flexibility for both walking and running, and how it effortlessly doubles as a gym shoe. While the cushioning might feel a bit too firm, and the outsole does show wear, we think its incredibly low price and overall comfort make it a great choice for various runners, especially beginners wanting a versatile, do-it-all shoe.

Pros

  • Flexible, natural-feeling ride
  • Enhanced ground feel
  • Roomy, comfortable upper
  • Super affordable price
  • Still lightweight
  • Ideal for gym workouts
  • Beginner-friendly

Cons

  • Minimal, firm cushioning
  • Unsuitable for long runs
  • Limited outsole durability

Audience verdict

70
Bad!

Who should buy

We think the Nike Flex Experience Run 12 is an awesome option for budget-minded runners seeking a versatile, comfortable shoe. Here's why:

  • Those seeking a flexible shoe for occasional runs and everyday wear will love how easily it doubles as a sneaker and its roomy upper.
  • If you're not prone to rapid outsole wear, this shoe offers a comfrotable ride at a very low price.
  • Runners searching for a minimalist feel without committing to a zero-drop will appreciate the Flex Experience Run 12's 6-mm offset.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12

Who should NOT buy

We loved how flexible and versatile the Flex Experience Run 12 is for everyday use, but there's no denying its outsole feels pretty fragile.

If durability is a major concern for you, we think the Adidas Ultraboost 1.0 is a great alternative. It offers a similar height and comfort level, but with world-class outsole made by Continental. And if you seek an authentic zero-drop experience, the Merrell Trail Glove 7 is the one for you.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12

Also, we believe the Flex Experience Run 12 won't be the best choice for anyone seeking a highly cushioned ride. If you're after a budget-friendly shoe that gives you both decent cushioning and flexibility, we think the Nike Winflo 10 offers a better, softer ride.

Breathability

Right off the bat, the mesh on the Nike Flex Experience Run 12 looked super thick, and we were worried it'd feel like a sauna on our feet.

After our lab tests, those fears were mostly confirmed—this shoe just doesn't breathe that well. We gave it a 3/5, which means it's passable on milder days but don't even think about these for those sweltering summer runs, especially if you get this black colorway.

A quick trick that we use to judge breathability is the light test—holding the shoe up against a light. In this case, the Run 12's thick mesh pretty much blocked everything, confirming what we felt just by using them.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 microscope

Diving deeper with our microscope, we saw a thick engineered mesh with no room for air to pass through. It would be awesome to see Nike add some ventilation holes, but at a $75 price point, we understand why they went with this less airy design.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 mesh

Don't expect luxurious comfort here like in a $150 shoe. But for $75, it really does the job!

 

Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 3
Average 3.8
Compared to 234 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

The trade-off with a less-ventilated upper? Well, you often get a boost in durability! Fewer ventilation holes in the mesh means fewer potential breaking points.

We believe that's the main reason this shoe earned a better-than-average 3/5 in our durability test.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Toebox durability
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 3
Average 2.4
Compared to 168 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Our Dremel test in the heel revealed that the heel padding was even more durable than the toebox!

After putting it through the wringer, we were amazed to find almost zero damage—this impressive level of toughness earned it a perfect 5/5 score for the v12!

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Heel padding durability
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 5
Average 3.2
Compared to 164 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Now it's time to dive into the lab for a truly unique outsole test. Forget that classic rubber outsole, this one uses treated EVA foam instead. In other words, the same foamy midsole material, but toughened up a bit.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 outsole

The outsole has numerous cutouts to enhance flexibility—more on that later.

Our durometer revealed an astonishingly low 60.3 HC reading—super soft for an outsole, but really hard for a midsole. Honestly, it feels more like a super-firm midsole than anything else. We're excited to hit it with the Dremel and see how this wild setup holds up!

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Outsole hardness
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 60.3 HC
Average 80.5 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 285 running shoes
Number of shoes
52.1 HC
Outsole hardness
93.0 HC

Outsole durability

Well... this didn't go well, but honestly, we weren't surprised. The material underfoot just isn't that tough. The Dremel tore through it effortlessly, leaving a pile of white midsole debris in its wake. The damage was brutal, a teeth-grinding 5.0-mm indentation.

Of course, the Dremel test is geared toward those tough rubber outsoles that +99% of running shoes have, so the results are a bit biased here. Regardless, one thing's for sure—this shoe won't last long if you go off-roading, and even pavement might wear it down pretty quickly.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Outsole durability
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 5.0 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 146 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Weight

A major perk of ditching a traditional outsole and going for that sleek, low-profile design is a lightweight build.

But even with that in mind, the Flex Experience Run 12 could stand to lose some ounces—8.5 oz (241g) feels a bit hefty for such a thin misole!

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Weight
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 8.50 oz (241g)
Average 9.38 oz (266g)
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Running shoes are getting thicker every year—and even the Nike Flex series is following the trend. That's why we found a bigger stack height in the v12 (25.9 mm) than in the Flex Experience Run 11 (24.1 mm).

Nike Flex Experience Run 12

Despite the change, the experience (no pun intended) remains the same, offering a natural, grounded ride. However, it's starting to push the limits—as it approaches that 30-mm threshold, we'll need to carefully consider how much thicker is too thick for this type of shoe.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Heel stack
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 25.9 mm
Average 33.7 mm
Compared to 304 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
45.7 mm

Forefoot stack

The forefoot also grows 2 mm from the latest version, now measuring a full 19.9 mm.

This ensures a bit more cushioning for midfoot and forefoot strikers—a welcome change since that stack height remains comfortably low by today's standards, dipping even below the 20 mm mark.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Forefoot stack
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 19.9 mm
Average 25.0 mm
Compared to 304 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
36.9 mm

Drop

These measurements reveal a balanced 6.0-mm heel-to-toe drop. We think it's the sweet spot for this shoe! It keeps that moderately-natural running feel without going full zero-drop, but isn't so steep that the shoe feels awkward even when you're just out walking.

In our opinion, this medium drop hits the mark for comfort and versatility in the Flex series.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Drop
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 6.0 mm
Average 8.7 mm
Compared to 304 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

The insole is right around average thickness at 4.4 mm, so it should feel similar to what you're used to in most running shoes. Plus, the soft material adds a touch of extra comfort both walking and running.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Insole thickness
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 4.4 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 300 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
7.3 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Now, let's dive into the midsole. The Flex Experience Run 12 sticks with a basic EVA foam—no bells or whistles here. But hey, for $75, you can't really expect fancy tech like ZoomX.

Still, we wish the midsole felt a bit softer. We got a 30.6 HA firmness rating on our Shore A durometer, meaning this shoe leans toward that firmer ride some runners love. That said, even with its low-profile design, it'll be tough to bottom out this shoe due to that firmness, and that's a plus.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Midsole softness
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 30.6 HA
Average 21.4 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 232 running shoes
Number of shoes
8.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

While its less-than-airy upper might not be ideal for summer, this shoe is a surprisingly solid pick for winter walks and runs! Even better, our lab tests revealed that the EVA foam gets just 13.1% firmer in chilly temperatures—an awesome result considering EVA usually stiffens up significantly in the cold.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 13.1%
Average 25.5%
Compared to 231 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

One major bonus of that firm, rock-solid ride? Incredible stability—this Nike absolutely delivers in that department!

Even better, we discovered some cleverly designed midsole sidewalls that hug the sides of your foot, helping to guide your stride forward rather than letting it roll laterally. Extra features like this one are a delightful surprise you usually only find in much pricier running shoes...

Torsional rigidity

Every Nike Flex shoe lives up to its name, being designed to be super flexible. Multiple cutouts in the outsole allow for plenty of bend and twist, which is exactly why this shoe earned a perfect 1/5 score.

That ultra-flexible feeling is exactly what we were looking for!

Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 1
Average 3.2
Compared to 283 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

Of course, the upper follows the same flexible, comfy philosophy. The heel counter practically folds on itself with even light pressure—another clear-cut 1/5 score for us.

Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 1
Average 2.8
Compared to 267 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Now let's shift our focus to the midsole—and wow, this forefoot boasts some surprising width!

Our digital caliper clocked it at a whopping 117.6 mm. This generous width adds to the stable feel we loved on the run, and opens up the possibility for a delightfully roomy toebox as well.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 117.6 mm
Average 113.7 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

We measured the heel at 88.6 mm. This falls right around average, with maybe a slight lean toward narrow, nothing worrisome though.

With that 6-mm drop and the wider forefoot/slightly narrower heel design, the Flex Experience Run 12 definitely favors those with a midfoot or more natural running strike.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 88.6 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Using a force gauge, we measure how much pressure it takes to bend the shoe to a clean 90-degree angle. We only needed 6.8N!

This is one of the most remarkably bendy shoes we've ever tested. Seems clear to us that the Flex Experience Run 12 is the Simone Biles of running shoes.

Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 6.8N
Average 29.2N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 287 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

We tossed this shoe in the freezer for a 20-minute cooldown, just to see how it holds up in chilly weather.

It does get noticeably stiffer (48.9% to be exact, at 10.1N of force), but it still bends and twists easily, so you likely won't even feel the difference while running or walking.

Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 48.9%
Average 35.9%
Compared to 287 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Given those big midsole measurements and our comfy experience running in them, we were expecting a roomy toebox.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 upper

With a generous 102.5 mm width at its widest point, this shoe clearly prioritizes comfort. If you have medium-width feet, expect fantastic spaciousness, and even wide-footed runners should find a great fit.

However, the Flex Experience Run 12 might feel too loose and unstable for those with very narrow feet. A snugger, yet flexible option like the Brooks Hyperion Tempo would be a better pick.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 102.5 mm
Average 98.4 mm
Compared to 305 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The big toe area doesn't quite match that generous width from the previous test. Our measurements show a more average 77.7 mm here.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 77.7 mm
Average 78.2 mm
Compared to 179 running shoes
Number of shoes
60.4 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.5 mm

Tongue: gusset type

This is a budget-friendly shoe, so it features a simple, non-gusseted tongue.

That definitely opens the door for discomfort during those speedier runs, even though we didn't personally experience that firsthand.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 None

Comfort

Tongue padding

Our next stop was checking out the tongue padding.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 tongue

It measures a respectable 4.0 mm, offering some cushioning without adding unnecessary bulk to the shoe.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Tongue padding
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 4.0 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 302 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Heel tab

While that finger-loop heel tab adds a dose of practicality we love, design-wise, it kind of looks like an afterthought!

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Heel tab
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 Finger loop

Removable insole

Good news, the insole is removable, so if you prefer a different one, it's easy to swap thanks to the shoe's standard dimensions.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Removable insole
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

Sadly, there's not a single reflective element to be found on the Flex Experience Run 12. However, considering its affordable price tag, we can't really fault it for skipping on premium features.

Nike Flex Experience Run 12 Reflective elements
Test results
Flex Experience Run 12 No