Summary

We spent 9.7 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

9 reasons to buy

  • Many people considered the Nike Free RN 2018 to be a comfortable running shoe for their daily activities.
  • Numerous purchasers lauded the lightweight nature of this running companion.
  • A lot of reviewers welcomed the light and breathable upper unit.
  • The heel section of the upper firmly secured the foot in place, according to some testers.
  • The sizing scheme followed expectations, most people reported.
  • A handful of people liked the various color schemes that were available for this model.
  • Several runners stated that the forefoot section was broad enough to accommodate the natural spreading of the toes.
  • The Nike Free RN 2018 didn’t look awkwardly bulky or fat, according to one user.
  • According to several users, the silhouette looked fashionable enough to be used for casual walks and regular non-strenuous activities.

4 reasons not to buy

  • Traction wasn’t very efficient on wet surfaces, some people noted.
  • Small stones tended to get stuck in the grooves of the outsole, most consumers complained.
  • Part of the collar came up too high, according to a tester. He commented that it rubbed against the skin of his ankle uncomfortably.
  • A purchaser felt some shin pains while running in a pair of the Free RN 2018.

Bottom line

Many people were appreciative of the Nike Free RN 2018. This neutral road shoe received praise for its appealing looks, various colorways, its secure upper, and its lightweight disposition. Conversely, some weren’t too keen on its wet-surface traction while others complained of stones getting stuck between the flex grooves. Suffice it to say that most of the shoe-enthusiasts who have tried the year 2018 iteration of the Free RN were happy with its performance and construction.

Facts

Rankings

A top rated Road running shoe
A top rated Nike running shoe
Top 3% most popular running shoes
Better rated than the previous version Nike Free RN 2017

Expert Reviews

91 / 100 based on 10 expert reviews

  • 80 / 100 |

    The comfortable minimum

    More photos

    Shoe shopping is made easier when you find a good-looking pair of fresh, new Nikes posted for sale for half of their retail price. When I saw these Nike Free RNs, I jumped on the offer and went immediately to pick them up from a local seller.

     

     

    At first glance, I was confident that I had made a bold choice (as far as looks go, at least). The shoes’ minimal design was complemented wildly with a bright neon pattern over a greenish-blue knit.

    To me, this seemed to be an ideal trainer that would snuggle up on my feet and enable me to put in short-distance runs on the regular.

    When I first slipped the shoes on, I was doing so blindly. I had no idea if they had a neutral support structure or if it was the right heel-to-toe drop for me. But, they fit and felt great! It turns out that they were indeed a great find.

    Contrary to the belief of many, I feel that Nike’s runners fit true-to-size more often than not, and that was the case with this pair.

    Style

    It is easy to tell that this shoe was designed with the intention that the wearer would feel as natural as possible on their feet. Aesthetically, this translates to a minimal design covering a construction that is built for what I might call “thin comfort”.

     

     

    My wife always comments that it looks like I’m “wearing two pairs of socks” when I put them on because the uppers are made of a thin knit material that flexes and pulls just about as much as a pair of socks would.

    I haven’t used these shoes solely for running. When I wear them out in public, I can’t say that I get a ton of compliments on them.

    However, I feel great in themboth from a confidence standpoint and from the perspective of my level of comfort.

    Performance

    As a running shoe, the Nike Free RN 2018 is a tricky one to judge. I have a lot of criticisms for it—most notably that the design is a bit too minimal for me, and that the soles don’t provide much cushion at all.

    I do also have a lot of praise for the shoe; walking around in them feels comfortable, and they hug tight but not overbearingly on my feet when I run.

     

     

    Though I’m conflicted in how I want to critique this shoe, I overall have had a positive experience with them in over 100 miles’ worth of runs with them.

    Here is a full list of what I feel are the pros and cons of wearing them on runs:

    Pros

    • Flexible upper that still hugs tight
    • Minimal design that is easy to slip on and off
    • For the intent and purpose of this model, it does provide a “natural” feel

    Cons

    • The “natural” feel (to me) isn’t anything to write home about
    • There is little cushion in the sole of the shoe
    • Minimal amount of response/no propulsion
    • The outsoles wear quickly (discussed below)

     

    The Nike Free RN 2018 has become a staple running shoe in my short-distance diet simply because it is just good enough. I long for the day when I can make these a pair of walking shoes and never use them for running again.

    That doesn’t translate to “this is a bad shoe”, necessarily. I just personally think that there are probably better options out there if performance is your top priority.

    Durability

    I haven’t been impressed by the durability of the Nike Free RN 2018. Though the comfortable upper knit is still strong and flexible, making it as comfortable as the first day that I put the shoes on, other parts of the shoe have not held up so well.

    The greatest visible example is the outsole. Nike has used this thinnish material often in many of their low-profile shoes, much to the chagrin of the shoes themselves.

     

     

    I’ve only logged a little over 100 miles in these shoes, and those outsoles have worn themselves out (or torn off completely).

    The midsole has kept its shape well, but I fear that I will lose traction fast as that outsole wears itself thin.

    I don’t see myself using these shoes for more than 50-100 miles’ worth of running, and since I have a new pair on the way, I don’t even plan to use them that much.

    Lasting impressions

    These Nikes don’t hold a special place in my heart, but they have helped take the tension off my primary pair of running shoes, and for that, I must thank them!

     

     

    They look stylish, and they really are comfortable for daily use, but I’m ready to retire them from their duties as running shoes.

    Conclusion

    The Nike Free RN 2018 isn’t a shoe you should consider if you want something responsive or cushioned, because it doesn’t provide either (and was never intended to do so).

    Perhaps I’m just not a “natural feel” type of shoe-wearer. Yet, I really feel that from an objective standpoint that these shoes are best used casually.

    As a running shoe, they leave me wanting much more.

  • 91 / 100 | Believe in the Run | | Level 5 expert

    Overall, the react foam holds up. Its great in this shoe as it was in the Epic React.

  • 92 / 100 | Seth Fowler | Level 4 expert

    Overall, the Nike Odyssey React is definitely a solid brother to the Epic React. The main selling point of the Epic React was the react cushion and the good thing is that they didn't change it up for the Odyssey.

  • 89 / 100 | Road Runner Sports | | Level 4 expert

    First and foremost there's a new stretch material in the upper. It is a circular knir and spandex which really gave me a better fit and a more antural movement.

  • 100 / 100 | Running Shoes Guru | | Level 3 expert

    Overall, I have to say that these are by far the most comfortable shoe in the Free Run family. I was impressed by the fit, the feel, and the performance of the shoe from mile one on.

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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.

jens@runrepeat.com