Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit review
The Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit is a max cushioned shoe capable of many long, slow miles. It's a lot lighter than other max cushioned shoes such as the Ultraboost 20, Nimbus 22, and Glycerin 17.
So, where does the React Infinity Run fit into the current Nike running shoe lineup? It takes the place of the Vomero as an easy run max cushioned day shoe.
First impressions of the Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit
The new React Infinity Run Flyknit gets the usual Nike massive marketing push, this time claiming that their shoe prevents more injuries when compared to their previous support shoe, the Structure 22.
Looks-wise, the React Infinity Run looks more like an Epic React 3 than a Structure 23.
When first trying in the Infinity Run, it felt very similar to the Epic React but with meatier midsole cushioning and a more forgiving upper.
So can the React Infinity Run take the place of both the Structure 22 and the Epic React?
The new upper is a miss
Nike calls their new React Infinity upper material lofted Flyknit, and it's unlike any upper material they've used before. From afar, it looks like a soft knitted material, but when you touch it, it feels like a rough plastic material.
You can't help but feel like you've been tricked. Nike's Vaporweave that they use on the Zoom Fly 3 and the Vaporfly Next% feel like plastic, but Vaporweave feels smoother and thinner.
The tongue and top part of the heel area are knitted. Gone is the hard plastic heel counter of the Epic React. Instead, there's a soft internal heel counter and a hard plastic rim that wraps around the heel.
You get a heel pull tab at the back for convenience, but 6 months after I got my Epic Reacts, the pull tab snapped. I haven't had any problems with the React Infinity Run pull tab yet.
This new heel setup is a step backward because I experienced heel slip no matter how tight I tied the laces. What makes things worse is that the tongue has a bootie construction, so you can't do a heel lock.
You can also feel the lacing pressure through the tongue because it's so thin. I much prefer the upper of the Odyssey React Flyknit.
It has a lower, more cushioned collar with no tongue slide. It even allows you to do heel lock lacing.
The problems that I had with the original Epic React upper still exist. The collar comes up too high, so you can't wear them with low socks, or the collar digs into your skin.
I have to wear the thickest socks in my cupboard to add a layer of cushioning between my skin and the shoe collar. Going sockless is also out of the question. How a big company like Nike overlooked these issues is a mystery to me.
Wearing thick socks in the React Infinity makes it very hot to wear, especially in tropical climates like Bali.
I actually like the look of the React Infinity Run Flyknit. The large stack height of the midsole makes the shoe look super-cushioned and soft. The swoosh that wraps around is silver and reflective, so it looks like a premium shoe.
There were two launch colours: black & white and this one- white, pink with a yellow collar lining. Black was boring, so I went for the 80’s Miami colourway.
The only problem is that the white part in the forefoot gets dirty and is a mission to clean because the dirt sinks under the plastic lining and gets trapped so you can't wipe it away. Nike says that the upper is three layers!
The toe box is wider and roomier than the Epic React. The knit doesn't stretch, so if possible, try them on before you buy them.
They were true to size for me. I have narrow feet, and if I wear thin socks with them, I can feel my feet slipping around in the shoe.
If I go down a half size, the length won't be long enough, so the fit can definitely be improved.
Generous React cushioning
The React Infinity is the Ultraboost of Nike React shoes. It's the most React foam that they could cram into the midsole.
The cushioning feels more substantial and squishy underfoot. Running and even walking in them feel better than the Epic React. I always thought that the Epic React’s midsole was too firm and rubbery.
The React used in the React Infinity Run is a different kind from the React used in their Zoom Fly 3 and Vomero 14 shoes. It's softer and springier.
Nike calls their React foam their most “complete” midsole foam, but this is the third year they will be using React foam, and the novelty is wearing off.
React doesn't feel as responsive or magical as Nike’s own ZoomX foam. It's also heavy compared to super Foams like Skechers Hyperburst and Reebok Floatride.
Nike takes a page out of the Skechers playbook for a change.
The React Infinity has a U-shaped midsole to encourage midfoot striking or “M Strike,” as Skechers calls it.
The ride of the React Infinity is super soft, so you could call it a max cushioned shoe suitable for long weekend runs of distances over 20 km’s. Nike doesn't say how much more React foam they added, but I estimate it to be about 30% more than the Epic React.
It's much more cushioned than the Epic React, and when compared to the Structure 22 is like chalk and cheese. It's no surprise that the React Infinity is not as snappy and responsive as the Epic React and Structure 22.
The React Infinity feels best on long slow runs at 6 minutes per kilometre or slower.
Ride transitions are velvety smooth due to the outsole rubber covering the entire outsole and the one-piece midsole.
Nike React Infinity Run is stable for a neutral shoe
The midsole flares out both in the rearfoot and forefoot like the “wings” of the New Balance Propel to add stability.
The plastic clip that wraps around the heel acts as guide rails to keep the foot centered.
There is a prominent arch that I felt the first time I wore the shoe because I have flat feet. This is something which I never felt in the Epic React or the Structure 22.
The more I ran in the shoe, the more I got used to it, and now I don't even notice it.
The shoe is very flexible for such a large stack height and flexes in the forefoot.
There is a high toe spring to help roll you forward, but the flexible forefoot mutes the rocker effect because the shoe bends instead of rolling you forward.
Just an ordinary insole
A thin insole is glued down to the strobe lining but only in the front of the insole to prevent it from sliding around. Like the Epic React, the insole is thin, so all the cushioning is contained in the midsole.
The React Infinity Run has a full coverage blown rubber outsole, which is what the Epic React always should have had.
I thought that Nike refrained from adding rubber to the outsole of the Epic React because it made the ride feel softer. However, the React Infinity Run feels soft even with a full-contact rubber outsole.
The slits in the forefoot outsole rubber make the shoe even more flexible. Dirt and sand get trapped in these slits, so be mindful of where you run.
The midsole scrapes on the medial side under the arch. I wish they had extended the rubber right to the edges.
The U-shaped midsole works well at changing the strike zone from the outer heel edge to a more central area of the shoe.
The rubber used on the outsole is of average durability. I want Nike to use the hardened rubber that they use on the Pegasus outsole.
The React Infinity Run’s outsole grips well on both wet and dry surfaces.
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit vs. Nike Epic React 2
The Infinity Run has a better upper but suffers from heel slippage, which the Epic React 2 doesn't have.
The Epic React 2 has a really constricting, painfully tight upper. I prefer the softer, max cushioned ride of the Infinity Run, so I choose the Infinity Run.
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit vs. Nike Structure 22
The Structure 22 has the better upper because it doesn't have heel slippage, but the midfoot overlays peel off after a while. It has a very firm bordering on hard midsole with a Zoom Air unit in the forefoot, which you can hardly feel.
The Structure 22 is a rigid, stiff shoe. I prefer the bouncy, cushioned ride of the Infinity Run, and is the overall better shoe.
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit vs. Nike Odyssey React Flyknit 2
The Odyssey React has a more snug-fitting upper with better heel lock down.
It has a more versatile, responsive ride, but transitions are not as smooth as the Infinity Run because its outsole is not full contact. I still prefer the Odyssey React.
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit vs. Nike Zoom Fly 3
Both shoes have React midsoles, but their rides are worlds apart. The Zoom Fly 3 feels more like firmer Lunarlon foam, whereas the React Infinity Run is soft and squishy.
The Zoom Fly 3 has a Vaporweave upper that doesn't stretch and a firm arch that pokes into your foot. The React Infinity Run wins hands down.
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit vs. Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14
The Vomero 14 has the better upper but rides way too firm to be a max cushioned shoe. The Infinity Run has a midsole that the Vomero 14 should have had.
I choose the Infinity Run any day of the week.
Final thoughts on the Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit
Even if the upper problems are fixed, the React Infinity is incapable of replacing the Structure 22 or the Epic React.
Overpronators will who love the Structure’s firm; stable midsole will find the React Infinity too soft and slow. Lovers of the Epic React will find the React Infinity not responsive enough.
Even though I like the super soft midsole of the React Infinity, when it comes to max cushioned cruisers, I prefer the Saucony Triumph 17 and the ASICS Gel Cumulus 21 because they both have better uppers and more durable outsoles.
When it comes to React shoes, I prefer the Nike Odyssey React. It has a more comfortable upper and feels more nimble. It's overall more versatile than the Infinity Run.