5 Best Nike Trainers in 2024

Sheena
Sheena on
5 Best Nike Trainers in 2024
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Looking for the best Nike trainers can be downright gruelling given the dozens, or should we say hundreds of options. Well, fret not because we’re here to back you up.

Whether you’re on the lookout for the cheapest Nike finds, the most iconic, or the best one of them all, we’ve got it all here. 

Of course, we have thoroughly reviewed and tested each one of them - 100+ Nike trainers and counting - before we can really tell if they’re worthy of your time and money.

How we test sneakers

Nike is among the global brands known for their dope marketing campaigns, but who cares about that? What we give you here is a list of top-rated Nike kicks based on our unbiased reviews as experts on the field: 

  • We purchase all the Nike trainers by swiping our own cards. We do not take part in partnerships and X-deals just to promote a pair of shoes. We value honesty more than free stuff.
  • We made sure that our top picks are backed up by actual reviews and wear tests, so we wear each Nike trainers both indoors and outdoors. We executed different tasks and errands while in them and we assessed its comfort, durability, and looks, among other features.
  • To make our reviews more comprehensive, we went the extra mile by dissecting the shoes into pieces and measuring over 30 parameters. We do all of this in our lab.

Best Nike trainers overall

Nike Air Max 97
89
Good!

What makes it the best?

As a result of hours of lab testing and strolling the streets, we discovered that the iconic Nike Air Max 97 is not just a visual treat but also offers a very light and comfortable ride from sunrise to sunset—with or without socks. Plus, we also found out that the AM97's leather upper has the resilience that permits it to be a year-round fashion staple.

The first time we wore the kicks, we were amazed by the softness of the leather. The foam liner was a chef's kiss, which allowed us to enjoy them for miles even without socks. They are also featherlight, permitting us to move with ease and enjoy every step.

In the lab, we used a metal wire brush attached to a power drill to scuff the side panels. We saw no signs of wear and tear on the mesh and leather material. The sneaker was practically invincible! We also tested how the AM97 handles the elements by pouring water onto the upper. The test revealed that the sneaker repelled a solid amount of water and kept the inside dry.

However, the sneaker is not stain-proof and is not easy to clean either. When the mesh material on the toebox is stained, it is next to impossible to clean it. For this reason, we suggest sneaker fans looking for easy-to-maintain Nike kicks check somewhere else.

Pros

  • Good all-season sneaker
  • Good for sockless wear
  • An identifiable piece of fashion history
  • Fits true to size
  • Near indestructible
  • Lightweight
  • Feels as athletic as it looks
  • Great even for winter

Cons

  • Takes some time to wear in
  • Attaches to stains easily
Full review of Nike Air Max 97

Nike trainers with the best breathability

What makes it the best?

After spending countless hours testing them around town and inside the lab, we have discovered that the net-like weave pattern on the panels of the Air Max 270 is not just for show. The sneaker is constructed with mesh and woven knit materials, providing extreme breathability and keeping the feet fresh throughout the day. In fact, the AM270 is so airy and light that it feels like sandals in disguise, making it our top pick for the most breathable Nike sneaker.

During our stroll around the city wearing the kicks, we experienced supreme breathability. The weave pattern acts like actual gills, facilitating airflow in and out of the sneaker, keeping our feet fresh and comfortable. We also went sockless with the kicks and discovered that the neoprene sock liner felt buttery smooth, perfectly complementing the breathable upper.

Back in the lab, we subjected the sneaker to a stain resistance test to see how it would handle staining. We managed to get the toebox dirty by applying colored chalk to the mesh. However, with just soap and water, we restored the kicks to their pristine condition.

Unfortunately, despite being lightweight, the chunky soles of the Air Max 270 require some time to get used to. With a staggering 32mm heel height, walking initially felt uncomfortable, and we almost tripped over our ankles several times during the process. For this reason, we do not recommend the kicks to people who don't have the time to get used to their new sneakers.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Instantly comfortable
  • True to size
  • Durable
  • Can be worn without socks
  • Flexible
  • Super breathable
  • Sleek modern looks
  • Crazy number of colorways

Cons

  • Heel height might need adjusting to
  • Not the best for standing all day
Full review of Nike Air Max 270

Best classic Nike trainers

Nike Air Max 90
90
Great!

What makes it the best?

The Air Max 90 is our pick as the best classic Nike sneaker because of its timeless silhouette that is built like a tank. After extensive testing and research, we found out that the sneaker's durability is accompanied by a versatility that allows it to be worn by anyone, any time of the year.

Available in more than 200 colorways, the AM90 is a lifestyle sneaker that we can pair with almost everything. The athletic kick is characterized by the ventilation holes on the forefoot, which are reminiscent of 90s models. Interestingly, during our 4-day test walk, we found that the perforations are not just for decorative purposes. The holes actually allow for a good amount of airflow, which helps keep our feet fresh throughout.

We also put the legendary sneakers to the test to see if they are as tough as they look. By scuffing the leather with a metallic brush attached to a power drill, we discovered that the sneaker held up pretty great after sustaining only a minimal amount of thrashing. The distressed look, in our opinion, actually amplifies the retro-rugged aesthetic, making it even more rad.

But we also found the Air Max 90 to be narrow-fitting. Our feet felt the added pressure, especially around the toebox which is why we advise sneakerheads shopping for wider-fitting kicks to look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Very durable
  • Breathable
  • The stuff of legends and rightly so
  • Huge amounts of colorways
  • Great price for a statement shoe
  • Fits true to size
  • Quality materials
  • Easy to clean
  • Stain resistant

Cons

  • So stiff it asks for an adjustment period
  • Normal and wide feet find it too narrow
Full review of Nike Air Max 90

Nike trainers with the best durability

What makes it the best?

We spent countless hours researching and testing Nike sneakers to determine which ones offer the best durability. Among them, Nike Air Max 720 stood out not only for being the tallest Air Max sneaker today but also for its remarkably resilient mesh upper and durable chunky soles.

In the lab, we tested the toughness of the mesh upper to see if it lived up to its appearance. Using a power drill fitted with a metallic brush, we deliberately scratched the upper to assess its durability. To our satisfaction, the Air Max 720 showed minimal signs of wear and tear, proving its grit and resilience.

During our four-day field test, where we wore the kicks in various urban settings, the durability of the AM720 continued to impress. The chunky soles exhibited resilience when subjected to pounding on surfaces, including dirt, grass, and pavement. Additionally, the large transparent airbag, which we initially thought to be vulnerable to damage, showed remarkable resistance against abrasions! Made from over 70% recycled materials, the soles proved extremely tough and resistant.

However, it's important to note that despite its groundbreaking 38mm stack height, the AM720 lacks flexibility. Therefore, we do not recommend this shoe for individuals seeking more flexible sneakers.

Pros

  • Revolutionary style
  • Makes you taller
  • Fits true to size
  • Incredible color options
  • Super-airy Jersey fabric
  • Durable upper

Cons

  • Toe box can be tight for all-day wear
  • The shoe doesn't bend
Full review of Nike Air Max 720

Best Nike skate trainers

What makes it the best?

After extensive testing in the lab and on the streets, we confidently declare the Nyjah Free 2 as the ultimate Nike skate sneaker. This Nike SB collaboration with six-time world skateboarding champion Nyjah Houston boasts a highly durable rubber upper, perfect for nailing ollies and kickflips, while the added mesh panels enhance breathability. However, the standout feature is the grooved rubber sole that we discovered to have exceptional traction and responsiveness, ensuring a secure ride.

During our skatepark test, the combination of rubber and mesh in the upper proved effective. The rubber protects against scratches, while the mesh allows airflow. In the lab, we simulated abrasion by vigorously brushing the panels with a metallic brush attached to a power drill. The rubber showed remarkable durability, exhibiting no signs of wear, while the mesh proved more susceptible to friction. 

Another noteworthy discovery about this skate sneaker is the impressive flexibility of the gum soles. When squeezed using a manual bar clamp in our lab, we observed that the deep channel design allowed the rubber to bend nicely. This mirrored our experience, as the gum soles flexed in sync with our feet's movements, whether we were skating or walking.

However, we must caution that these kicks can be challenging to clean, especially the tongue. For this reason, we do not recommend these sneakers to individuals who prioritize easy upkeep.

Pros

  • Supreme fit
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Durable upper construction
  • Breathable
  • Variety of colorways
  • Tight lock with Nike's lace system

Cons

  • Mesh is not as durable as the rest of the shoe
  • Not the grippiest
  • Hard to clean some areas
Full review of Nike SB Nyjah Free 2

Welcome to a journey into the world of Nike trainers. A place where style, innovation, and athletic performance collide.

Whether you're drawn to the simplicity of minimalism or the bold statements of maximalism, when it comes to the best that Nike trainers have to offer, we've got you covered. So, fasten your seatbelts as we embark on a journey into the heart of RunRepeat’s Nike sneaker universe.

Nike Air Max 97 Flat Lay

Jordan-free zone

It’s worth pointing out that in this article we'll be diving into the world of Nike trainers, and only Nike trainers. And because it’s going to be all about the Nike brand, we’ll be excluding Jordans from this one because, although they may belong under the Nike umbrella, Nike and Jordan are two separate entities so we’ll give them each the respect they deserve.

The biggest player in the game

Nike is the number one brand of trainers in the world, capturing over £60 billion in annual total sales


. With sales continuing to soar, there’s no question that for consumers looking for the best trainers to wear, Nike is the market leader.

Nike Air Max 270

They’re SNKRS… IYKYK

Nike compliments their footwear offerings with a lot of in-store or virtual technology. Recently Nike has been launching new releases under their SNKR platform, designed specifically for the up-and-coming sneakerhead generation who just can’t wait to find out what’s coming next. Because IYKYK (‘if you know, you know’).

From the goddess of victory to the goddess of variety

In Greek mythology, the name ‘Nike’ references a goddess who personifies victory. With Nike’s trainers, you can step into the world of triumph and conquer the streets, tracks, or any terrain you encounter.

Just like the goddess herself, Nike's commitment to excellence and success is ingrained in every pair of trainers they create. Whether you're an athlete aiming for the podium or a fashion enthusiast seeking the pinnacle of style, Nike more than likely has something for you.

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Nike tech that just gets it done

If you look at some of the latest offerings in the Nike sneaker catalogue it makes you think that the Nike Marketing department must have an ongoing stoush with their Research and Development colleagues.

You see, the marketing team loves the catchphrase ‘just do it’ and that familiar trademark is regularly seen in Nike’s print advertising and t-shirts globally. It’s a great slogan. But the R&D team seems to take it to the next step, and ‘just did it’ seems to be their motto. From Nike Air to Flyknit, here’s a sample of what they’ve launched so far:

Nike Air

We’ve all seen and heard of Nike Air, but what actually is it? Nike Air technology consists of pressurised air inside a tough yet flexible bag and provides more flexibility and spring without compromising structure. The Air-Sole units maintain their given form with elasticity, reduce impact, and keep the shoe snug and lightweight. Air is found on many of today’s Nike trainers.

Nike-Air-Max-2090-Profile.jpg

Air Max

Nike's Air Max technology is one of the brand's most renowned midsole innovations, which is found in many of their premier sneaker models. Max is all things comfort and style. A larger air-filled unit than standard Air, the Max Air cushions every step to keep you moving easily through all your daily activities. Although now more than 30 years since its first release, it's managed to become a style icon along the way.

Nike Air Max 90

Nike Air Max features:

  1. Exceptional energy absorption: Air Max units excel at cushioning impacts, swiftly reverting to their original shape to provide a responsive and comfortable ride.
  2. Featherweight construction: These air-infused midsoles keep trainers lightweight, ensuring that every stride is energy-efficient and effortless.
  3. Eco-friendly commitment: Nike's dedication to sustainability shines through in Air Max technology. All Air soles incorporate a minimum of 50% recycled materials and are produced using 100% renewable energy sources, contributing to a greener future.
  4. All day comfort and stability: Whether you're tackling the track or getting through your daily grind, Air Max trainers prioritise comfort and stability, making them an ideal choice for everyday wear.

Nike Air Max React 270 Walking.jpg

Zoom (and Zoom Air)

Designed for sports requiring fast foot movements such as running and basketball, Nike’s Air Zoom technology consists of a small, low-profile Air unit with strong, tensile threads inside. These spring-like threads contract and pop up instantly, giving the sensation of jumping off a trampoline.

Nike-Air-Max-Zoom-Type-On-Feet-2.jpg

Nike Zoom Air trainers are made to deliver lightning-fast responsiveness and are therefore best suited for explosive starts in running, mitigate pronation for enhanced stability, provide a heightened sense of the ground and superior control for field sports enthusiasts, and facilitate quick, agile cuts on the basketball court. 

Nike Zoom features:

  1. High energy absorption: Absorbs impact and quickly springs back to return to its original shape. 
  2. Enhanced energy return – The addition of tightly stretched tensile fibre within the Air unit boosts responsiveness.
  3. Supports aggressive movements and sports: Requires strong impact to compress, making it a stable midsole.

Flyknit

Nike’s development of Flyknit was an innovation aimed at making trainers more lightweight. Manufactured from robust yet lightweight threads, Flyknit weaves a one-piece upper that fits like and somewhat looks like a sock.

Nike Flyknit trainers are best for sporty people and athletic enthusiasts seeking lightweight, breathable, and custom-fit footwear solutions that excel in agility, comfort, and style.

Nike Flyknit features:

  1. Incredibly lightweight: Flyknit's single-layer knit construction ensures a lightweight shoe, perfect for agile movement.
  2. Breathability: Thanks to its absence of overlays and porous design, Flyknit promotes excellent airflow, keeping your feet comfortably cool.
  3. Individualised support: The varied weaving patterns offer adaptable lockdown at different sections of the upper, providing tailored support where it's needed most.
  4. Eco-friendly production: Flyknit is not only a technological marvel but also an eco-conscious choice, generating 60% less waste compared to traditional cut-and-sew manufacturing methods.

Air Force

The Air Force is a now iconic collection of Nike trainers that began with the Air Force 1 model way back in 1982. Air Force trainers are offered in low-, mid- and high-top styles. Originally designed as a basketball shoe, it has now transformed into a street sneaker for everyone.

Nike Air Force features:

  1. Vast options: Nike Air Force trainers offer an extensive array of styles designed to cater to diverse tastes. The iconic high-top silhouette, known for its basketball heritage, remains a perennial favourite. It's the go-to choice for those who crave the classic looks and performance.
  2. Versatility done well: For a more relaxed and versatile appearance, Nike provides low and mid-top variations of Air Force trainers. These options effortlessly complement everyday attire and can be effortlessly tailored to any setting or occasion.
  3. She’s got the look: In terms of aesthetics, Air Force shoes are offered in a wide range of colours, ensuring you can discover the perfect pair to match your unique style.
  4. Moving forward: In recent years, Nike has unveiled a series of exclusive Air Force trainers, a treasure trove for collectors and sneaker enthusiasts. These limited-edition releases boast distinctive colour schemes and design intricacies that set them apart from standard models. Collaborations with renowned designers and pop-culture influencers have also resulted in some very cool one-of-a-kind Air Force trainers. 

When minimalism competes with maximalism

In the world of Nike trainers, design aesthetics can be broadly categorised into two distinct styles: minimalist and maximalist. These design philosophies represent opposite ends of the creative spectrum, each with its unique characteristics and appeal.

Nike Air Max Infinity On Foot

Minimalism keeps it simple and elegant

Simple, classy, and elegant: minimalist trainers are classic designs which are proven to last the test of time. Minimalist Nike trainers tend to focus on the fundamental design principles of simplicity and functionality, which means unnecessary elements are eliminated. The result? Trainers which are perfectly suited to a variety of settings which will work with many different outfits. Here’s what make Nike minimalist trainers great:

  1. Clean and uncomplicated designs: With typically streamlined shapes with fewer overlays, decorative features, or excessive stitching.
  2. Minimal branding: Logos and labels are discreetly incorporated into the sneaker design to maintain a sleek and understated appearance.
  3. Basic colours: Simple colour choices from a limited colour palette means minimalist trainers are easy to pair with various outfits.
  4. Functional performers: Minimalism in Nike design doesn't sacrifice functionality. Instead, it simplifies without compromising performance. The focus is on essential features that enhance comfort, support, and performance, such as well-engineered cushioning and outsole traction.
  5. Subtle elegance: Subtle, purposeful details such as strategically placed fabrics for breathability, refined stitching, or hidden lacing systems that maintain the shoe's clean lines are clever ways Nike has managed to keep their minimalist trainers looking great.

Nike SB Nyjah Free 2 Wear test review

Maximalism goes big and bold

If minimalism is retro chic, then at the opposite end of the spectrum are the modern-day big and bold protagonists.

Nike Air Max 270 Sneaker on feet review

Because if you want to make your presence felt, some Nike maximalism trainers will have that immediate effect, and here’s why:

  1. Real eye-grabbers: Maximalist Nike trainers have vibrant and complex colour schemes. These trainers often feature a multitude of colours, patterns, and gradients, creating eye-catching and attention-grabbing visuals.
  2. Over-the-top design: When you want your trainers to stand out from the pack design elements such as oversized icons, embroidered Swoosh logos and colourful patterns that cover large parts of the sneaker. These details might be a bit over-the-top for some, but it does make your trainers stand out and become a fashion statement in their own right.
  3. Multiple materials: Combining and layering multiple materials into the one sneaker can create an impressive and unique aesthetic, one that other trainers can’t easily replicate.
  4. Chunky soles: Oversized soles not only provide extra cushioning and support but also contribute to the shoe's distinctive look. See also our guide to the best platform trainers.
  5. Bold branding: Unlike minimalism, where branding is understated, maximalist Nike trainers proudly display prominent logos and branding elements. These logos can be oversized and placed prominently on the shoe's upper or sole. You’ll know they’re Nike.
  6. Insta influence: It wasn’t so long ago that fashion-forward products would rely on sports people to help sell. These days Instagram influencers have taken over, as Nike streetwear trainers has become a niche of its own.
  7. Big time collaborations: Nike frequently releases limited-edition and collaborative trainers that might become collectors items some day. These special releases often feature unique design elements and capture the spirit of pop culture, music, art, or other creative influences.

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A peek into the Nike crystal ball

So what’s coming for the Nike brand in the future? Well, the truth is there are glimpses of what the future holds already. From customization and individualization, we can expect to see Nike continue to push the boundaries, which is great news for sneakerheads.

As for the iconic minimalist designs we see today? Aside from the occasional refreshment and modernisation, they’re likely to remain relatively untouched.

Expect the big and bold designs of today to be bigger and bolder tomorrow.

Nike Air Max 2090 Durability Photo

Big Nike tech coming soon

As for technology, Nike has toyed with integrating smart systems into their trainers but so far none of the ideas have lasted the test of time… yet. Behind the scenes you can be sure they’re working on some sort of smart technology now, that we will all be wearing years later.

It’s easy to envisage something that integrates with your cell phone and smartwatch via either bluetooth or ANT+, and maybe even uses AI to make your day easier. We don’t know for sure, but it is fun to imagine and even more fun to see things come true. Watch this space.

Frequently asked questions

Where are Nike shoes made?

Nike utilises a manufacturing technique known as ‘contract manufacturing’ which means that rather than Nike owning and operating all of their factories, instead they contract production out to specialised factories who tender for their bid. Most factories are located in Asian countries such as Vietnam and China.

How do I pronounce ‘Nike’?

The correct way to say it is ‘Nai-kee’ (rhymes with ‘spikey’). If you’ve got friends that insist on saying it as if it rhymes with ‘Mike’, maybe they’d appreciate Adidas more.

How does Nike sneaker sizing work?

Nike trainers run true-to-size and we have a dedicated area for Nike sizing - check it out here.

Nike Air Max React 270 On Feet.jpg

References

  1. Statista: (Consumer Goods & FMCG - Apparel & Shoes) Nike's global revenue 2005-2023
  2. Statista: (Sports & Recreation - Sports & Fitness) Footwear segment revenue of Nike, adidas & Puma 2010-2022
Author
Sheena
Sheena
Sheena is a wordsmith turned sneaker addict. Her sneaker fixation intensified as her passion for writing grew. A hands-on mom of two sweet yet spunky kids (plus three dogs and two cats), she finds solitude in leafing through shoe catalogues to find the next "it" sneaker. Scrutinising hugely popular and underrated kicks is her favourite pastime.