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Best Nike Running Sneakers - September 2019
Nike has long been a trusted shoe brand for running and track and field, even before it was associated to basketball, football, soccer, baseball, golf, tennis, lacrosse, boxing, and skateboarding. The world has come to know its storied history through the design innovations it has introduced through the years, starting off with its first ever product -- the 1971 Nike Cortez running shoe. This was followed by the 1974 Nike Waffle Racer, a lightweight running shoe recognized for its waffle-tread outsole that resembles breakfast pancakes.
Other iconic Swoosh silhouettes that made lasting impressions not only to runners but to sneaker fans too are the Nike Tailwind, Nike Mariah, Air Max series, Sock Racer, and Air Huarache. Nike saw the massive potential of the running shoe profiles parked in its archives and decided to resurrect them with reimagined aesthetics. These former performance shoes may no longer be fitted for serious running but remain extremely popular in the mainstream sneaker market.
What to expect from Nike running sneakers?
- Majority of the re-released Nike running shoes come in stylish, street-appropriate designs in low-cut form. Some of these running-inspired reinterpretations have collars that extend above the ankle.
- Other than the typical lace-up closure system, Nike uses quick-lacing and bungee and toggle arrangements. It also has running sneakers done with a slip-on cut that allows you to glide your feet in and out of the shoes effortlessly.
- Nike utilizes textile, mesh, leather, and the proprietary Flyknit for the upper.
- The variations in colorways, materials, and technologies are vast.
- Nike running-adapted sneakers are mostly lightweight due to its minimal composition and other weight-reducing features.
- From ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) foam midsole, Nike borrows the support and cushioning technologies utilized in performance running shoes such as Max Air, Zoom Air, Phylon, and Flywire in creating comfy Nike running sneakers.
Popular Nike running-inspired shoes
RunRepeat has created a rundown of the best Nike running-inspired shoes based on the reviews of sneaker experts and fanatics. Here they are:
Nike Air Max 97
Originally built for running during the 1990s, the Nike Air Max 97 is one of today’s favorite Nike casual shoes available in tons of colors. What makes this Nike running shoe very distinct then and now is the wavy layering on top and full-length Air Max cushioned midsole that makes this shoe springy. The futuristic aesthetic of the original version had reflective detailing all over that it was marketed by the Swoosh brand as Metallic Silver in reference to the bullet trains of Japan.
An uber-lightweight and seamless version of this is the Nike Air Max 97 Ultra 17 which used welded synthetic materials on the upper instead of the heavily stitched layering. Other updated versions of the Nike Air Max 97 are:
- Nike Air Max 97 CR7
- Nike Air Max 97 Plus
- Nike Air Max 97 Premium
Nike Air Max Tavas
A year after releasing the Air Max queen in 2013 or the highly-favored Nike Air Max Thea that’s exclusively made for the women, the Oregon-based brand launched a male version, named the Nike Air Max Tavas.
Just like the Thea, the Nike Tavas running sneakers are made of no-sew breathable mesh upper with slimmed down sole which makes it one of the lightweight, trend-forward running-oriented sneakers by Nike. The collar, sockliner, and tongue are lightly padded, while the Air Max unit on the heel absorbs shock. Its initial price of $100 is worth every penny since this true-to-size kick isn’t only chic but comfy too.
Nike Air Max 90/1
Taking design cues from its vault, Nike produced a mash-up version of the Nike Air Max 90 and the Nike Air Max 1, the first ever Air Max royalty with a visible Air bubble on the heel. Relabeled as the Nike Air Max 90/1, this Nike running-influenced sneaker copied the upper design of the AM1 and fused it with the AM 90’s midsole composition.
This version was succeeded by other Nike Air Max running sneaker hybrids, adding the likes of Nike Air Max 1/97 Sean Wotherspoon to the category. Though this shoe is relatively quite expensive, many are drawn to it as it pumps up their usual casual outfits.
Nike Air VaporMax 97
Another compounded iteration, a blend of two iconic Nike sneakers for running, that’s somewhat polarizing is the VaporMax 97 which flaunts the rolling curves of the AM97 minus the heel-to-toe Air bubble. Instead of the 360-angle Max Air, it carries the outsole design of the VaporMax, a neutral Nike road running shoe with Air-filled rubber-pods on the flipside.
The gaps between the Air pods grant flexibility making each stride ultra comfy. Plus, you can get tons of cushioning from the bottom. This shoe fits just right, so there’s no need to size up or down. Expect to pay a hefty sum since this doesn’t come cheap at all.
Nike Air Huarache
Regarded as one of the best Nike performance shoes launched in 1991, the Air Huarache from Nike remains one of the hottest items under the Swoosh casual sneaker lineup that gets the nod of the style-savvy crowd. What makes it totally unique from the typical Nike lifestyle shoes is its foot-hugging neoprene bootie composition and heel strap.
One after another variation is spun almost every season, giving birth to heaps of upper designs, utilizing a variety of materials and a broad spectrum of colors. Its head-turning form can be tossed between laidback and semi-casual occasions along with tapered jeans or pants. You can bring home this bacon for a reasonable cost.
Some best-selling variations are
- Nike Air Huarache City (high-top)
- Nike Air Huarache Gripp (high-top)
- Nike Air Huarache Drift (low-top)
- Nike Air Huarache Premium (low-top)
- Nike Air Huarache Ultra (low-top)
Nike Air Max 270
The Nike Air Max 270 is one of the trend-forward Nike running-inspired shoes that continues to be adored by the sneaker-loving market. It’s easy to spot the AM 270 in the crowd with its exaggerated Air unit that peeks out on the heel, paired to a well-ventilated knit and mesh upper. This shoe, which happened to be the first Nike lifestyle kick with the Air unit, surfaced during the 2018 Air Max Day and continues to create a loud buzz ever since.
Apart from its killer looks, this Nike running sneaker nailed it in the areas of comfort, lightness, and support. Though it grants an excellent fit, you need to size up as it runs narrow and tight. Though it’s slightly expensive, the colorways quickly disappear from the shelves since it’s one of the much-favored releases by the Swoosh brand. A more streamlined and lighter yet pricier version of this that’s done in a vibrant selection of colors is the Air Max 270 Flyknit.
Nike Air Max 90
One of the classic Air Max silhouettes that continues to charm sneaker fans today is the third item from the series re-released in 2000 -- the Air Max 90 (formerly the Air Max III). This Nike running-influenced sneaker is loved by Air Max fans for its trendsetting form and superb cushioning delivered by the moderately padded world inside and the Air Max unit on the heel. The combination of leather, suede, synthetic material, and mesh keeps its weight down and makes it one of the breathable Air Max designs launched by the brand.
From its most recognizable Hyvent Orange and Infrared hues, the Swoosh label has built heaps of colorways for the Air Max 90, and not to mention strings of designs using a variety of materials. You can store up different shades of this Nike running-inspired shoe for a reasonable price of $120 a pair.
Other well sought-after styles of the Nike Air Max 90 are:
- Nike Air Max 90 Premium
- Nike Air Max 90 Essential
- Nike Air Max 90 Ultra 2.0 SE
- Nike Air Max 90 Ultra 2.0 Flyknit
- Nike Air Max 90 Ultra Essential
Nike Air Max 95
The Air Max 95 came out with an entirely different look. Its creator Sergio Lozano took the human body as design inspiration for this iteration. The alternating shallow wavelike curves on the upper mimic the human skin. And the bulky segmented air-cushioning in the heel and smaller air compressions in the forefoot represent the spine.
The AM 95 is one of the innovative Nike-running-inspired shoes from the mid-1990s that hasn’t lost traction in today’s sneaker market. Over 20 years since it was launched, this shoe continues to dazzle Air Max loyalists through highly-fashionable remakes in a variety of striking color patterns. Though it isn’t as breathable as expected, this running-oriented shoe by Nike is flexible and lightweight. You can grab this at exact fit for a rather high price.
Nike Air Presto
The Presto is a minimalist sneaker built with a textile, bootie-shaped upper, supported by a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) rib cage working as its lacing arrangement. It’s no surprise that others are stacking up different shades of the Air Prestos since it’s available in multiple colorways with a downright affordable price.
Such Nike running-adapted sneaker was launched in 2000 made of weight-reducing materials like neoprene, mesh upper, Phylon midsole, and Duralon outsole. Several years later, this streamlined Nike running sneaker is made even lovelier using various upper designs and provisions, while staying close to the original lightweight form. One of the most recent styles uses stretch mesh, which is more breathable than neoprene but still hugs the feet comfortably in every step.
If you find Nike’s vintage running sneakers desirable, then the old-school Nike Internationalist may be something you’d like. Staying true to its original form, this Nike running-influence shoe kept some of the salient features of the old-school runner that became popular in the 1982 New York Marathon such as mesh, suede, and nylon in strings of eye-catching colorways.
The Nike Internationalist ’s moderately padded tongue and collar grant a comfy and snug fit, while the combined EVA and Phylon midsole provides lightweight cushioning. Its simple aerodynamic shape looks stunning with several casual clothes and sporty apparel which you can wear from the streets to school or relaxed work environment. You can bag this up for an exceedingly low price.
Nike Roshe One
Aside from the Tanjun, the Nike Roshe One is among the lowest-priced running-inspired shoes by Nike, retailed at $75 only. It has been attracting droves of users for its extremely lightweight and almost barefoot composition. Its breathable, flimsy cover hugs the feet snugly which is why you can wear the Roshe One all-day without many complaints.
The dozens of colors available for this style allow you to pick more than a pair for your weekly sneaker stack. The concept of the Roshe One (formerly the Nike Roshe Run) was pulled from the simplicity and close-to-nature teachings of Zen master “Roshi,” where the name of the shoe was drawn from.
Nike Sock Dart
Two years after the Swoosh brand launched the Air Presto, it came out with a similar-looking foot-hugging profile, the Sock Dart that’s loaded with tech features fitted for running. Both the Air Presto and the Sock Dart are modern spinoffs of the1986 Nike Air Sock Racer, a laceless running shoe that was also tagged as a “sock with a sole.”
The minimalist-shaped upper made of knitted material is supported by a TPU midfoot cage that grants a dynamic fit. The full-length Phylon midsole bears all the weight while keeping the feet fairly cushioned. This slip-on which you can quickly pick up at true to size isn’t only lightweight and well-ventilated, but very flexible too. You’ll hardly run out of colors to choose from since the selection is wide for both men and women.
Trailing after the Nike Roshe Run is the Nike Tanjun that bears a straightforward upper arrangement made of mesh looking almost bare without the Swoosh on the side panels. Like the Roshe Run, this Nike-running sneaker comes magnificently light and breathable. The combination of flexibility and support makes it a good pick up for your daily runs especially during summer, which you can easily blend with jeans and tees as well as tank tops and gym shorts.
The Nike Tanjun fits just right, even wide footed wearers can enjoy taking this to the park, mall, and also to the office. You can grab more than a pair of this in different hues since the color options come in dozens.
Other variations of this no-fuss Nike running-oriented kick are:
- Nike Tanjun Premium
- Nike Tanjun Racer
- Nike Tanjun Slip-On
- Nike Tanjun ENG
Nike Air Max Zero
The Nike Air Max Zero surfaced 28 years after the drop of the first Air Max with an easy-to-slip-on bootie construction. Regarded as the One before the 1, this Nike running-influenced sneaker is an interpretation of Tinker Hatfield’s sketch of what could have been the first shoe in the Air Max line if not for its futuristic detailing. Its contemporary aesthetics that delivers lots of comfort is worth every penny which you might want to consider adding to your sneaker pile.
The seamless and weight-reducing upper assembled using textile makes it so distinct from the other Air Max core models. Such a feature allows air to circulate within the shoe which gives you a breezy feeling even if you wear this for long hours. The air packet concentrated just below the heel is a plus factor as it helps in cushioning your feet from impact.
Several other designs popped after the initial drop of the Nike Air Max Zero. These are:
- Nike Air Max LD-Zero
- Nike Air Max Zero SI
- Nike Air Max Zero Essential
Some Nike running-oriented kicks that resemble the Nike Air Max Zero:
- Nike Air Max 180
- Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Moire
The familiar looking Arrowz of the Swoosh brand with a knit-inspired upper and noticeable TPU rib cage is based on the minimalist-styled Nike Sock Dart. It comes in multiple colorways at a meager price of $80. Some of the recognizable features that both shoes have in common are lightweight build, flexible outsole, and the right amount of cushioning that allows you to move comfortably for long hours.
Unlike the more streamlined Nike Sock Dart, the slip-on Arrowz uses laces that offer an adjustable lockdown fit. Its flattering style with a strappy sensation makes it one of the breezy Nike running-influenced sneakers you can use for your everyday grinds and traveling around the town.
Another Nike lifestyle shoe that shares the same silhouette as the Nike Arrowz is the Nike Air Vibenna.
Nike Air Zoom Mariah Flyknit Racer
You can explore the combined positive benefits of Nike’s Flyknit and Air Zoom technologies in one Nike running-inspired sneaker -- the Nike Air Zoom Maria Flyknit Racer. The Zoom Air cushioning, which takes up the entire length of the midsole, offers superb comfort and lightweight feeling, which is worth noting especially if you intend to use this often throughout the day. Another essential feature it possesses is the flexible and breathable Flyknit upper that offers a snug fit and boost in styling.
The use of the seamless Flyknit dictates a higher price than the other textile and leather made sneakers in Nike’s lifestyle lineup, making the Nike Air Mariah Flyknit Racer slightly expensive. Despite the cost, people are still lured into copping this highly fashionable kick since it’s less constrictive than other Nike running shoe models like the Flyknit Racer or Flyknit Trainer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Nike sneakers good for running?
Though there are hordes of Nike sneakers designed after road running shoes, especially those with the Air sole and Zoom Air midsole cushioning, these are not fully equipped for mid- and long-distance goals. Generally, these Nike running-inspired shoes are constructed with such elements enough to provide sufficient cushioning for typical day to day activities.
Are Nike Free shoes for running?
The almost featherweight Nike Free shoes are crafted for running, specifically barefoot training. Its austere designs encourage runners to move naturally and freely due to the flexible reverse grooves on the outsole. Shoes with the Nike Free technology are typically made of simple cuts and available in multiple colorways which you can pair with lots of casual clothes such as jeans, joggers, capris, and cargo pants.
What’s the difference between Nike running sneakers for men and women?
The significant difference between the men’s running-inspired shoes by Nike and those for women lies in the available colorways and sizes. When converting men’s Nike sneakers to women, you need to go up 1.5 sizes, while the width measurements generally remain the same during conversion.
How to get the right fit of Nike running kicks?
- Getting the perfect fit begins from knowing the right size of your feet.
- It is best to get your feet measurement towards the afternoon or evening when it has swollen or gown in size.
- Ideally, it is okay to have a half inch space between the tip of your toes and the forefoot wall of your sneaker and around 1/8 inch at the back of the shoe.
- While it is best to have a bit of wiggle room in the front to prevent your toes from becoming cramped, your heel should not slip as you walk.
Aside from the traditional lace-up systems, are there certain styles of Nike running sneakers available in other closure types?
- Strap closure – Perhaps, the Air Huarache City is the only silhouette in Nike’s running-inspired sneaker that’s built with several adjustable Velcro straps, nearly wrapping the foot at 360-angle.
- Bungee cord lacing – The Nike CK Racer, Nike Aptare SE, and Nike Shox Gravity are built with bungee laces, an elastic cable typically used in running shoes, to help secure the feet in place. This cord is paired to a toggle device that serves as a locking mechanism. This quick-lacing system allows you to slip on and off your shoe without the need to tie any shoelaces.
Which Nike running sneakers are slip-on types?
- Nike Current Slip-On
- Nike Roshe Two
- Nike Roshe Two SE
- Nike Air Max Plus Slip
- Nike Air Pegasus 89 Tech Print
- Nike Tanjun Slip-On
Are there Nike running kicks offered in mid-top?
- Nike Tanjun Chukka
- Nike Zoom Talaria Mid Flyknit
- Nike Internationalist Mid
Which Nike running sneakers are built with the brand’s innovative technologies?
Nike Air Max – Each of the sneakers from the Air Max line delivers a sufficient degree of cushioning. Such springiness produced by the Air sole unit makes walking more comfortable versus the Nike shoes made of conventional foam systems.
Nike Zoom – Nike Zoom or Zoom Air is another innovative Swoosh cushioning mechanism placed in the midsole that’s made to deliver speed and sprightliness. It comes with a pressurized air with forcefully stretched tinsel fibers that absorb impact as these compresses and expands. Some of the running-inspired shoes by Nike with this feature are the Nike Air Zoom Mariah Flyknit Racer and Nike Air Zoom Spiridon.
Nike Flyknit – Nike modified the traditional knitting process using a more advanced and precisely engineered one called the Nike Flyknit. This innovation, which was first used on Nike’s performance running category, makes shoes formfitting and lightweight. Two famous Nike running sneakers that utilize such key feature is the Nike Flyknit Trainer and the Nike Air Zoom Mariah Flyknit.
Nike Shox – Another ground-breaking cushioning system introduced by Nike is the Shox. This comes in cylinder-shaped, spring-like foams crafted to disperse impact across the heel. Some examples of Nike running-inspired sneaker with this element is the Nike Shox NZ and Nike Air Shox Gravity.
Nike React – The Nike React is another breakthrough cushioning technology that protects the feet against impact and delivers better energy return in a lightweight format. This unique foam unit that’s cushy yet stable, soft yet springy was first used in basketball shoes and was eventually applied to running shoes. Two best-selling Nike running-oriented sneakers that involve this kind of technology are the Nike React Element 87 and Nike React Vapor Street Flyknit.
What are the cheapest Nike running sneakers from its much-sought list?
Most of the best Nike running shoes are priced above $100. The prices go as high as $160 to $190 depending on the makeup of the shoe. Those infused with Nike technologies are typically within the expensive range such as the Nike Air VaporMax 97, Nike Air VaporMax Plus, Nike Air Max 97, Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Flyknit, among many others. Those within the budget-friendly range are the following:
- Nike Tanjun, $65
- Nike Classic Cortez,$70
- Nike Roshe One, $75
- Nike Darwin, $80
- Nike Juvenate, $85
- Nike Dualtone Racer, $90
- Nike Loden, $90
- Nike Roshe Two, $90
- Nike Air Max Thea, $95
What are the other brands that sell running sneakers?
- New Balance
You may check out our list of best running sneakers here, and how they’re ranked by experts and users.
15 best Nike running sneakers
- Nike Tanjun
- Nike Shox R4
- Nike Air Max Motion 2
- Nike Air Max 270
- Nike React Element 55 SE
- Nike React Element 87
- Nike Air Huarache
- Nike Air Max Plus
- Nike React Element 55
- Nike Air Max 720
- Nike Air VaporMax Plus
- Nike Air Max 200
- Nike Air Max Axis
- Nike P-6000
- Nike Air Max Oketo
A score from 1 to 100 that summarizes opinions from users and experts. The average CoreScore is 78. More...