3 Best Nike Free Running Shoes, 20+ Shoes Tested in 2022

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen on

Ah, yes, the Nike Free Run series… what a concept! It was first introduced in 2004, with its sensational dreamy comfort and a glove-like fit. It was inspired by athletes from Stanford University who have seen Nike’s shoe engineers running barefoot on the school's golf course.

An excellent choice for minimalist and short distance runners, the original Free Run model has evolved over the years punctuated with the newest Nike technology and innovations. If you’re looking to get the latest model or just want to check its recent updates, you’re in for a treat.

We’ve rounded up 20+ of the best Nike free running shoes available. We’ve tested them in the lab and selected our top picks for your browsing convenience.

How we test running shoes

The Nike free run series is the swiss army knife of shoes. We just love all of them for their versatility and all-day comfort. That’s why we’re extra careful with our lab and wear testing to select our top picks for everyone’s consideration. Our approach includes:  

  • Buying all the Nike free running shoes available in the market, using our own money. This is to ensure we remain transparent and unbiased.
  • Cut each model into pieces in our own lab. We then weigh and measure over 30 different parameters of the shoe, from the softness of its cushioning, breathability, and durability, among others.
  • Wear-testing each pair of shoes on the road and in various athletic activities, logging in a minimum of 30 miles or more.
  • Gathering some more information from various sources such as other shoe experts and user feedback from regular people.

Finally, we consolidate all the aggregated data above and make a final calculation using our CoreScore system. An overall rating is given for each model ranging from 0-to 100, showing us which shoe is the best among the others.

Best Nike Free running shoes overall

Nike Free Run 5.0
Nike Free Run 5.0


4.3 / 5 from 12,115 users
86 / 100 from 1 expert


  • Insane lightness
  • Glove-like fit
  • Heel loop
  • Easy lacing system
  • Super breathable
  • True to size
  • Comfotable as an everyday slipper
  • Extremely flexible


  • Short runs only
  • Lack of proper outsole
  • Insole not removable


Ah, the Nike Free Run… Calling this a running shoe is a stretch, but there’s still a vestige of folks out there in the minimalist fan group that likes the slipper-like feel of Nike’s long-running “Free” lineup. The 2021 update steers back toward a less bizarre-looking shoe than we saw in 2020 but continues with the ultralight and ultra-flexible design.
Nike Free Run 5.0 full review

Best value Nike Free running shoes

Nike Free 5.0
Nike Free 5.0


4.5 / 5 from 6,322 users
83 / 100 from 27 experts


  • Form-fitting upper
  • Breathable
  • Comfortable midsole
  • Responsive
  • Natural-feeling ride
  • Impact-absorbing
  • Durable
  • Light


  • Midsole packs out easily
  • Laces flop around


The Nike Free 5.0 performed well for a lot of runners. Most of them welcomed the flexible mid-sole unit, while others adored the comfortable fabrics of the upper. Some of them were able to use it frequently, and they were happy that it looked visually endearing. Though a few had some qualms about some of its components, a lot of neutral runners still appreciated this road shoe.
Nike Free 5.0 full review
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.