7 Best Nike Running Shoes in 2024

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen on
7 Best Nike Running Shoes in 2024
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Nike needs no introduction. The brand offers some of the widest selections of highly-rated running shoes for both beginners and seasoned runners. We are here to help you navigate this massive selection of Nike running footwear.

We have reviewed over 100 Nike running shoes to help you narrow down the choices. If you are easily satisfied with the best, here are our top picks in different categories.

And if you’d like to learn more about how to choose the ideal Nike shoe for you, scroll down to our in-depth guide!

How we test running shoes

Nike is a serious brand. But we are even more serious here at RunRepeat. Equipped with our proprietary shoe testing methodology, we go beyond the vague marketing statements to find out which Nike shoe is truly the best. Here is what we take each shoe through:

  • We purchase Nike shoes with our own funds to stay unbiased while testing every new release.
  • We run test each shoe to get a good feel for its comfort, fit, and performance.
  • We cut, slice, and measure all Nike shoes in our lab to test them on more than 30 different parameters like durability, breathability, flexibility, and others.

Best Nike running shoes overall

Nike Pegasus 40
87
Great!

What makes it the best?

With outstanding ratings in the field and lab, the Pegasus 40 emerged as our best Nike running shoe overall. We got a raw and powerful do-it-all shoe that combines excellent cushioning and a natural and secure ride.

The Pegasus 40 is an absolute workhorse, fearlessly overpowering various terrains with its grippy outsole that defies wear and tear. In the lab, we pushed our durometer against its outsole and it sure is tough: scoring 86.0, this rubber is 7.8% harder than the average. It also showcases remarkable flexibility, allowing for an untamed ride at any pace. Our 90º bend test ranked the 40s in the top 6% of most flexible shoes we ever put our hands and feet on.

There’s an overall cozy fit to it that delighted our feet. From heel to toe, the upper spoiled our feet with ample padding, ensuring a snug lockdown throughout our runs. Underfoot, the foam strikes a perfect balance between energy return and plushness. With a score of 17.6 on our durometer test, it is 29.6% softer than the average road shoe.

However, those looking to shatter personal bests might want to explore other options, as we felt no sign of spark or excitement in the Pegasus 40 ride.

Pros

  • Plush and comfortable upper
  • Breathable
  • Secure lockdown
  • Has enough toe-box space
  • Not overly soft or firm underfoot
  • Good energy return
  • Great grip on most surfaces
  • Incredible durability
  • Perfect for everyday miles and LSDs

Cons

  • A generally narrow fit
  • Heavier than the v39
  • Not a very memorable ride
Full review of Nike Pegasus 40

Best Nike running shoes for marathon/ultra

Nike Alphafly 3
82
Good!

What makes it the best?

Alphafly 3 emerged as the best marathon/ultra shoe in our actual runs and lab results. With unmatched energy, immense comfort, and revolutionary stability, this racer brought us to paces beyond our imagination. It shines in consistency, showing peak performance in longer miles.

We feel like we're flying as we launch forward with every stride. The stiff FlyPlate in the midsole maintains our strong pace from start to finish, while the Air Pods deliver the best energy return once engaged correctly. Proven by our bend test, Alphafly 3 boldly exceeds the average by 144.7%—perfect for smashing PBs.

Its world-class, leg-saving ZoomX foam has a cloud-like yet propulsive sensation, featuring dual-density foams for a balanced ride. The upper layer is a firm 29.3 HA for stability, while the second foam is a soft 18.1 HA for comfort. Further enhancing steady landings are the midsole sidewalls and broad landing base.

Alphafly 3 feels astonishingly light despite being max-cushioned. Our scales confirm its 7.1 oz (201g) weight is 6.1% lighter than the average race shoe. Adding to its airy feeling is the breezy Atomknit upper that scored the highest 5/5 on our breathability test. It guarantees exceptional airflow for hours of running.

Like most race shoes, the Fast Shot outsole prioritizes grip over durability. Heel-strikers should note this wears out faster in the rear area.

Pros

  • Remarkably lightweight despite its broad size
  • Best-in-class breathability
  • Excels in the marathon distance
  • Repositioned Air Pods offer a better ride than the v2
  • ZoomX foam delivers massive energy return
  • Aids in forward momentum, especially when legs begin to fatigue
  • Better than ever for 5K/10K racing
  • Finally smooth transitions!

Cons

  • Heel strikers might wear down the outsole quickly
  • The arch could still be a challenge for some
  • The sock-like tongue might not suit everyone
Full review of Nike Alphafly 3

Best Nike shoes for easy days/walking

What makes it the best?

Among all the Nike running shoes we cut open in the lab and wore outside, we discovered InfinityRN 4 is the best for easy days and walking. It has a flexible and uncomplicated feel, making it versatile enough for different activities, while its soft platform adds luxurious comfort for all-day wear. Underfoot is an outsole that feels protective and durable.

InfinityRN’s unopposing midsole allows our legs to rest on days when we want to take it easy. In our 90-degree bend test, it received one of the lowest numbers translating to higher flexibility. It only needed 15.8N force vs. the 29.8N average. It's even comfortable enough to be a walking shoe.

InfinityRN focuses on comfort yet handles our bursts of speed-running well because of the responsive ReactX foam. We can’t help but notice how cloud-like the platform feels. Our durometer registers a 12.5 HA measurement, 47.3% plusher than average.

While the whole build is a softie, the outsole is indestructible. Our durometer shows a 90.4 HC reading, one of the hardest in our lab. This ensures protection and a shoe that will last very long. We barely scratched the rubber after testing it.

All the comfort comes at a massive weight of 11.2 oz (316g). This is 19.1% heavier than the average road-running shoe.

Pros

  • All-new ReactX plush midsole
  • Soft and stretchy Flyknit upper
  • Ideal for heel strikers
  • Generously cushioned
  • Excellent for easy runs
  • Feels like running on clouds
  • Durable, long-lasting outsole
  • Reduced carbon footprint

Cons

  • Average-at-best breathability
  • On the heavier side
  • Sizes run notably small
Full review of Nike InfinityRN 4

Best Nike running shoes with a wide toebox

What makes it the best?

These kicks are the epitome of recovery days shoes, babying our legs and turning our strolls into a breeze. Add the spacious toebox and there’s none like the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 3.

As we hit double-digit miles, that extra room in the toebox really came in footy. We whipped out our caliper to measure the max width of the upper, and it clocked in at a generous 97.7 mm. While it may be slightly narrower than the average by a mere 0.4 mm, we sure were able to splay out our toes in the front. Oh, and the thin and stretchy mesh was a treat!

There’s a homey feeling to running on these, thanks to the silky ZoomX midsole. We couldn’t help but check its softness with our durometer and no wonder it had us floating on clouds: it ranks among the top 10% plushest shoes we’ve ever studied! Surprisingly enough, this lofty caregiver feels incredibly stable, mostly thanks to the much-appreciated massive platform - our caliper measured the widest part of the heel to be 102.1 mm, effortlessly surpassing the average by 13 mm.

Premium shoes come with a premium price tag. The Invincible 3 sits at £190, an uncommonly hefty price for a daily trainer, so those on a budget might need to look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Way more stable than previous versions
  • Tall stack of impact-absorbing cushioning
  • Good energy return
  • Comfort for the entire foot
  • Thicker, more durable outsole
  • A solid ride that works for more runners
  • Breathable
  • Great for recovery days and long easy runs

Cons

  • Poor grip on wet roads
  • Heel slippage
  • Heel clip can be irritating when cornering
Full review of Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 3

Best Nike running shoes for race

Nike Vaporfly 3
89
Great!

What makes it the best?

We lab-tested and ran with Nike’s top running shoes and discovered Vaporfly 3 as the ultimate race shoe. This lightweight marvel holds boundless energy, unmatched speed, and plush comfort. The miles rolled by as Vaporfly 3 took us fast and far effortlessly.

Conquering a race is a tough feat yet Vaporfly 3 makes it more enjoyable with its cushioned platform. Its above-average stack is enough for any footstriker to tackle endurance runs comfortably. The ZoomX midsole feels springy and soft, ensuring an energetic ride. Upon checking with our durometer, it's 29.1% softer than average.

Our toeoffs feel smooth and we’re able to maintain a good level of cadence thanks to the carbon-fiber plate integrated in the midsole. This results in the stiffness needed to smash PBs. In our bend test, it emerged 88.3% stiffer than average! We can’t help but notice how V3 sustains our power for a long time.

V3 feels incredibly light and pleasant on foot. At a mere 6.7 oz (190g), it’s much lighter than the average supershoe (7.5 oz/214g). Adding to the airy feeling is the well-ventilated upper that ensures ample airflow. It received the highest rating of 5/5 in our breathability test.

Such a high-performance shoe comes with a hefty price tag of £260. It’s worth the investment but runners on a budget should look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Exceptionally breathable upper
  • Outstanding ZoomX cushioning
  • Superb choice from the mile to the marathon
  • Impressively low weight
  • Enhanced stability
  • Plush, cloud-like foam
  • Upgraded outsole for better grip

Cons

  • Uncomfortably large tongue
  • The heel is still too narrow
Full review of Nike Vaporfly 3

Best Nike trail running shoes

What makes it the best?

The Pegasus Trail 4 conquered trails with unmatched stability and raw traction. Its soft cushioning seals the deal, making it our ultimate choice for the best Nike trail shoe.

This mighty shoe effortlessly glided over wildly uneven ground, crushing rocks and roots in its path. Its grip was absolutely fire on dry terrain, thanks to its aggressive and razor-sharp tread pattern on the outsole. We couldn't resist taking out our caliper to check the lugs, which measured 3.4mm, right at the average for trail running. They were just perfect on those bumpy trails!

While the Trail 4 features lots of cushioning from heel to toe, it's the React midsole that steals the spotlight. It felt super balanced on our runs, providing a smooth and secure ride that effortlessly kept up with our faster paces. Our durometer measurements clocked in at 34.0, a delightful 16% softer than the average 40.5, confirming its brisk and gentle nature.

When it comes to sticky mud, this Pegasus faces its nemesis. Runners seeking a reliable choice for wet and cold conditions might want to explore other options.

Pros

  • Efficient road-to-trail
  • Well-cushioned
  • Stable ride
  • Excellent, secure fit
  • Very breathable
  • Great traction
  • Unexpectedly light
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Not for muddy areas
  • Not for wide feet
  • Could be more stylish
Full review of Nike Pegasus Trail 4

Best budget Nike running shoes

What makes it the best?

In countercurrent to the average of £140 for a Nike runner, the Downshifter 12 comes at an unbeatable £80. It’s cushioned and comfy, having that touch of versatility that beginners so much crave. All in all, this is Nike’s top budget-friendly kick.

The Downshifter transitions pretty smoothly from heel to toe, providing the needed protection where it matters the most. Featuring a 31.7 mm heel stack and an exact 10.0 mm drop, the midsole feels tailor-made for heel strikers, which is precisely the landing style of most beginners.

Comfort comes in colors in the Downshifter 12, and its tongue is the prime example. With 10.1 mm of padding, it is 4.3 mm thicker than average. And hey, the story continues underfoot. While not crazily plush, the midsole is a delight to step on. Our durometer found it a mere 7.4% firmer than average, striking a remarkable balance between composure and comfort.

In the end, it’s still a budget option. For runners seeking a premium ride filled with lots of pop and fun, investing a bit more might be the way to go.

Pros

  • Unbeatable price
  • Premium softness underfoot
  • Comfy interior padding
  • Above average durability
  • Versatile sneaker/running shoe
  • Simple, yet pleasant design
  • Plenty of colours available
  • Recycled materials

Cons

  • Not responsive
  • On the heavier side
  • Tapered toebox
  • Lacing is not always secure
Full review of Nike Downshifter 12

Road or trail? Choose the right Nike running shoe

About 80% of Nike running shoes are meant for the road. So if you mostly run on pavement, asphalt, concrete, tarmac, treadmill, and the like, this is the type of shoe you need.

Nike road shoes are lighter and more breathable than trail shoes.

Trail shoes make up only 20% of the brand's running shoe stock. You will need these sturdier models for moderate and technical trails with rocks, roots, mud, and various debris. Nike trail shoes have deeper lugs and enhanced foot protection compared to road shoes.

It’s fine to wear your trail shoes on the road but only for a mile or two as the lugs will make prolonged wear uncomfortable or even painful.

Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 flexibility

Nike trail shoes have more durable uppers and lugged outsoles for an aggressive grip.

TIP: For road-to-trail use, choose Nike trail shoes with shallower lugs (3.5 mm or less). And if you frequent muddy and boggy areas, go for at least 4 mm of lug depth.

Nike shoes for daily running, speed training, and breaking world records

What is the most essential factor in choosing an ideal running shoe? Setting your running goals clear.

Nike Vaporfly 3

A Nike shoe that's meant for racing a 5K distance is going to feel very different from a cosy trainer for slow miles and walking.

Nike shoes for daily running and walking

This category of Nike shoes is perfect for most runners, especially beginners.

Here are the characteristics that make these shoes so favourable for many:

  • well-cushioned (at least 30 mm of heel stack, 32 mm on average)
  • average heel-to-toe drop (8-12 mm, ideal for a beginner’s heel-striking pattern)
  • balanced softness (neither too firm nor mushy)
  • no carbon plates or aggressive rockers
  • average MSRP of £120

The only downside of these trainers is that they are the heaviest of the bunch. The average weight of a Nike shoe for daily training is 9.5 oz (269g) in a men's US size 9.

TIP: Shoes that weigh over 10 oz (283g) are better for slow paces, walking, and heavier runners.

Nike shoes for speed training and competition

If you’re looking for a middle-ground daily trainer which can also go fast, Nike also has a selection of speed training shoes. Lighter, more nimble, and more responsive, these trainers are ready for tempo runs, intervals, and even shorter races (5K and 10K).

They tend to be lighter than daily running shoes (8.8 oz/249g vs. 9.5 oz/269g), have a higher heel stack (34.8 mm on average), and MUCH softer foams (76% softer based on our lab measurements!). Some of these trainers feature the brand's phenomenal ZoomX foam as well as a carbon plate.

TIP: Choose a Nike shoe lighter than 8.8 (255g) if you plan to pick up the pace. Studies show that every extra 100g in a shoe slow you down by 1%.

Elite Nike shoes for competition and speed records

Ever since Eliud Kipchoge shattered the 2-hour marathon record wearing a Nike Vaporfly prototype in 2016, Nike changed the name of the game forever.

Featuring an extra high stack of foam with a propulsive carbon plate embedded into it, the Vapofly showed a nearly 4% improvement in running economy! What's more, the emerging popularity of shoes with similar technologies has led to breaking every men’s and women’s world record in long-distance road running events since 2017!

Nike Vaporfly 3 Drop

Nike Vaporfly 3 cut in half

More than a few researchers stated that shoes akin to the Nike Vapofly and Alphafly provide an unfair advantage compared to regular running shoes.

In response, the World Athletics set certain regulations related to heel stack (no more than 40 mm) and carbon plates (no more than one) in competition shoes. The violation of these rules results in disqualification. However, neither Vapofly nor Aplafhy has ever been penalised by the organisation.

Nike Alphafly 3 Drop

Nike Alphafly 3

Today, these are Nike's most expensive yet most sought-after race running shoes with the following characteristics:

  • an average weight of 7.3 oz (207g)
  • a heel stack of around 37.5 mm
  • extra soft ZoomX foams (40% softer than average)
  • a full-length carbon plate

TIP: Read our comprehensive guide on carbon plates to learn more about their effect on running performance.

Choose the right cushioning in Nike running shoes

Want your future pair of Nike running shoes to feel like it was tailor-made for you? Make sure you get the following parameters right:

  • stack height
  • heel-to-toe drop
  • midsole softness

Nike Winflo 10 heel stack

Stack height: max-cushioned or minimalist?

The average stack height of Nike running shoes these days hovers around 33 mm.

Nike Winflo 10 Heel stack

We measure the stack heights of each Nike shoe following the rules set by World Athletics.

It means that a typical Nike shoe comes with a generous amount of midsole foam to protect your foot from hard landings.

But more cushioning doesn't necessarily imply better. Studies show that highly cushioned shoes are more likely to cause leg stiffness and injury, especially in beginner runners. So, if you are new to running, we recommend choosing a moderately cushioned Nike shoe with a heel stack of 30-34 mm.

Even though the era of minimalist running shoes peaked in 2012 and is now officially over, Nike still offers a few options for the fans of the ground feel. These include shoes from the Nike Free and Nike Flex series.

nike-flex-experience-run-11-on-feet.JPG

These shoes are incredibly lightweight (7.5 oz/212g on average), flexible, and feel almost like being barefoot. But as a beginner, you must be aware of the adjustment period that comes with this type of footwear.

Because of the different biomechanics involved in these shoes, we highly advise taking it slow with minimalist shoes if you've never worn them before.

Heel-to-toe drop: mind your strike pattern

Drop refers to the difference in thickness between the shoe's heel and the forefoot. It lets you know how steep is the slope inside the shoe.

Nike Pegasus 40 drop

An example of a 9.7 mm drop in the Nike Pegasus 40

The average heel-to-toe drop in Nike running shoes comes in at 9-10 mm, which is ideal for most runners and beginners as well. When in doubt, just go for a drop between 8 and 12 mm.

But why are there Nike running shoes with a lower drop?

A heel drop below 8 mm is more suitable for runners with a forefoot/midfoot striking pattern. That's why you will find it in the brand's speed trainers and minimalist shoes.

You can find out more about the effect of drop on running performance in our extensive research.

Midsole softness: is softer always better?

Having tested hundreds of shoes in our lab, we can confidently state that Nike running shoes are about 15% softer than average.

nike-pegasus-40-durometer-foam.JPG

We apply an HA durometer to the shoe's half-cut midsole to measure its softness.

Getting a Nike shoe nearly always equates to a plush underfoot experience from the first step down to the last mile of your run.

While soft shoes do a great job of reducing the load on a runner's body, overly plush cushioning can do more harm than good to:

  • beginner athletes who have not developed proper foot and ankle strength yet
  • runners with flat feet and overpronation who need more support
  • heavier runners whose shoes tend to bottom out quickly

We believe that most runners will benefit from a balanced type of cushioning within the range of 15-25 HA durometer measurement.

A lower HA number indicates softer foam and vice versa.

Seasoned athletes in search of plush foam for recovery runs, marathons, or even ultras will benefit greatly from Nike's famous ZoomX cushioning. Used in the brand's elite speed trainers and competition shoes, it is not only soft but also has some of the best energy return properties on the market. Its advantages over standard EVA foam have been confirmed in multiple studies.

A lower HA number indicates softer foam and vice versa.

Do Nike running shoes have arch support?

Unlike New Balance, ASICS, and Brooks who announce their stability shoes loud and clear, Nike hasn't put such a big emphasis on supportive footwear.

99% of Nike's running shoe selection is targeted at people with neutral pronation. So, if you happen to have flat feet or excessive inward rolling of the ankles (aka overpronation), Nike is not your best bet. If you are not sure about your case, have a look at our comprehensive guide on pronation.

Our lateral stability tests show too much wiggle in Nike running shoes

For those who need just a touch of support, we have put together a selection of Nike shoes which a bit stiffer and wider platform to help mild overpronation.

Shoes with a higher score for torsional rigidity and heel counter stiffness (5 is the stiffest) and wider platforms provide better stability and support.

There is some good news too. In 2023, the brand revived its Structure series by releasing a 25th edition after a few years of pause. It is specifically designed as a stability shoe.

Make sure you get the right size and fit

In most cases, we found that Nike running shoes run true to size compared to other popular athletic brands. But we always strongly recommend consulting the brand's size chart before ordering a Nike shoe online.

Nike Vomero 17 toebox

Ideally, we also advise taking precise measurements of your foot length before getting a new pair of shoes. You might be surprised to find that your feet have grown!

Nike Vomero 17 Toebox width at the widest part

We measure each Nike shoe's toebox in both the widest part and near the big toe to see if the tapering is aggressive or not.

Nike Vomero 17 Toebox width at the big toe

Of course, we also try each pair on to give you more insights into the fit of each model.

For many years, Nike has been notorious for a narrow fit, especially in the toebox. But recently, this trend has been changing for the better. Here are some examples of Nike running shoes with wide toeboxes.

Summer or winter? There is a Nike shoe for both

In our lab, we perform a thorough breathability check on each Nike running shoe.

We start by filling the shoe's upper with smoke and observe how well it passes through the fabric.

This test is followed by a transparency check against the light and a more detailed look at the material through our microscope.

nike-zoomx-streakfly-microscope.JPG

All tests considered, we give each Nike shoe a final breathability score from 1 to 5, where 5 stands for most breathable. For hot summer runs, go for shoes with a score of at least 4.

And if you set out to conquer winter runs, you will need a warmer, less breathable shoe (score: 1-2). Waterproofing is only necessary if you regularly run in rainy weather, deep puddles, or snow/slush.

How to know if a Nike running shoe is waterproof? Road shoes will have the word "Shield" in their name. It is the brand's proprietary water-resistant treatment. Trail shoes will have the "GTX" abbreviation or "GORE-TEX" added to their names. This is the world's most famous waterproofing membrane.

Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX

Additional features in Nike running shoes

As a nice bonus, some Nike running shoes offer extra features for added convenience.

Nike FlyEase 

Without the fuss of laces, Nike's proprietary FlyEase design allows you to simply slide your foot in and out of the shoe in an instant. No need to kneel or use both hands.

How it works on the Nike Revolution 5 FlyEase

Reflective elements

Some Nike running shoes also feature reflective elements to give additional visibility in low-light running conditions.

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.