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Why trust us
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 runners.
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 various Nike collections, you may skip to our guide!
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.
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 $180, an uncommonly hefty price for a daily trainer, so those on a budget might need to look elsewhere.
The Alphafly Next% 2 is our top choice from Nike to obliterate marathon PBs. With its unrivaled speed and forgiving ride, no other shoe comes close on race day.
Out in the field, these shoes were brutal, constantly urging us to kick it up a gear. The extremely stiff carbon plate inside the midsole ignited us with a springy and propulsive toe-off. Back in our lab, we locked the tip of the shoe and bent it 90º. It fought back with a remarkable 69.7N, placing the Alphafly v2 in the top 4% when it comes to stiffness.
These shoes were like a breath of fresh air for our legs, keeping them lively and starving for an outstanding amount of miles. Its ZoomX midsole scored an exceptional 19.1 on our durometer, 23.6% softer than the average! Also, this velvety foam isn’t one to be fazed by the cold, as it firmed up a mere 8.5% after 20 minutes in the freezer, while the typical shoe becomes 26.7% firmer.
We recommend saving it for races over the half-marathon distance only, where its true potential shines brightest, as its 240 grams (8.5 oz) feel a tad heavier than the average racing shoe.
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.
When it comes to those grueling middle distances, there's no beating the Vaporfly NEXT% 2. This feathery demon breathes speed and exudes energy, bursting onto the scene as one of the fastest shoes of our time.
We crunched the numbers but it was our feet that sealed the deal. The Vaporfly 2 feels lightning fast! Featuring a truly inflexible full-length carbon plate within the midsole, it provides an extra efficient and powerful toe-off. Our 90º bending test revealed a hefty 83.7N resistance force, catapulting this Nike marvel to the forefront as one of the stiffest kicks we ever tested, sitting 127% above the average.
Its premium ZoomX foam has mastered the symbiosis of comfort and bounce like no other. Pushing our durometer against it proved its soothing soul, being 20.8% softer than average. Our every stride enacted an immediate and vibrant reaction, keeping our legs feeling fresh as we kept pushing our limits. Plus, weighing only 196 grams (6.9 oz), it seamlessly melded with our feet right from the start, allowing for maximal performance.
Heel strikers might want to look away though, as the platform of the Vaporfly v2 feels quite narrow and unstable. Further measurements with our caliper confirmed a midsole width of 74.9 mm at the heel, 14.2 mm below the typical running shoe.
Sunday mornings at an easy pace is a common denominator between many runners, and that’s where the Infinity Run Flyknit 3 fits. With a superb lockdown game and straight-out-of-the-box comfort, the Infinity emerges as the ultimate Nike for easy runs or casual walks.
An efficient yet unobtrusive fit is a must for all-day kicks, and the Infinity embodies that. The foot-hugging art seems to have reached its pinnacle with this shoe, with the thick upper and the extra padding around the ankle locking our feet in heavenly comfort. Just take a glance at the colossal tongue! From our measurements, it’s a substantial 2.1 mm thicker than average.
Each of our footfalls dissolved into the midsole, which came out as ultra-plush from our durometer—38.0% softer than average to be more precise. Besides, adding to the overall comfort, the toebox feels immense. With 98.6 mm at its widest, the Infinity fairly exceeds the average 98.0 mm toebox width.
However, there’s no way around it, the Infinity 3 hits the wallet. With a price of $160, this shoe goes far into the more expensive side of Nike’s lineup, with the average sitting at $130.
In countercurrent to the average of $130 for a Nike runner, the Downshifter 12 comes at an unbeatable $70. 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.
Disclaimer: These are based on how each type of shoe performs in general. This does not apply to a specific model that exists.
If you’re looking for a middle-ground daily trainer that can also go fast, Nike also has a selection of speed training shoes. Lighter, more nimble, and responsive, these trainers are ready for tempo runs, intervals, and even shorter races.
Arch support in Nike running shoes
Depending on the level of support you require, Nike classifies their running shoes into neutral and stability categories.
enough cushioning for shock absorption and more comfortable experience
typically flexible and responsive
durable enough for everyday run
most Nike stability shoes are equipped with Dynamic Support technology
softer foam is added on the lateral side for cushioning
Water-repellent/Waterproof - Some Nike running shoes are equipped with Nike Shield technology, which offers protection from moist and cold weather without compromising breathability. They also have a few shoes equipped with a GTX membrane that gives the feet waterproof protection. See: Nike water-repellent running shoes.
Nike Vaporfly Models: Marathon Dominance and Controversy
Nike competition shoes, particularly the Vaporfly models, have shown dominance in major marathons including New York City Marathon, Chicago Marathon, London Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Tokyo Marathon, and Boston Marathon.
In 2018, out of the 12 winners (both men and women categories), 7 were wearing Nike Vaporfly shoes and 10 in 2019.
The overall design of the shoe (a combination of the foam layer and carbon-fiber plate) that helps runners run faster ignited a discussion on whether it should be banned or not in competition. But after the World Athletics reviewed all the guidelines, the controversial Nike shoe was given a go for the Tokyo Olympics.
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 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.
We run 30-50 miles a week to provide extensive feedback on each Nike model.
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.