Nike React Infinity
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Nike React Infinity Performance Review

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 10.6 oz./301g for a US M10.5
  • Replaces and melds the now-retired Epic React and Structure lines, with stripped-down stability components
  • A nice easy day shoe with just the right amount of React cushioning
  • Likely to last for all your running odysseys and/or attempts to get back to your darling Penelope

JEREMY: If you were walking by and heard some dudes talking about the “Nike, Epic, Odyssey, and Infinity,” you might mistake them for the local chapter of the Dead Poets Society, discussing the merits of Greek mythology. It turns out, it’s even worse—just a bunch of Nike stans nerd-ing out over the newest React family member.

“Did y’all hear about the new Nike Ares coming out?”

“Nah, but the siren song of that new Gore-Tex Poseidon model is calling to me.”

“True, true, but what about the React Infinity claiming to prevent running injuries? If that’s for real, that’s as ill as the Iliad.”

This is the attention-grabbing claim Nike included in their press release regarding the new React Infinity shoe. They claim that an external study by the British Columbia Sports Research Foundation (BCSRF) on 226 runners training for a half marathon over 12 weeks in the React Infinity had a 52% lower injury rate than those training in their previous motion control shoe (Structure 22), with injury being defined as missing 3 days of training or more due to pain.

Marketing machine speak? Proven science? Honestly, does anyone actually care? Either way, without the actual study released it’s hard to dive into the legitimacy of this conclusion, but it certainly sounds encouraging!

Nike React Infinity side

THOMAS: Imagine a thin-yet-muscular, bearded, tattooed guy walking towards you. Now picture him in boat shoes. Now motorcycle boots. Now the Nike React Infinity. Burnout, outlaw, or just a marathoner? How much does your perception of the man change simply based on his footwear?

Now let’s segment it further. Picture the same guy wearing Nike Vaporfly, HOKA Speedgoat, On Cloudflow. Personal best seeker, a trail runner, and a triathlete. The shoes bend the mind.

Where am I going with this you ask? I don’t know, I just started rambling. I think I was going to say something about how the React Infinity “looks” like a running shoe should, and for me, when a running shoe looks right, it usually feels right. Clearly our reviews follow the scientific method. Let’s see if that hypothesis holds up.

ROBBE: Wow, what is going on. We’ve somehow gone from epic Greek literature to burnouts in Speedgoats. Too much unregulated CBD up in this office. No further words from me, let’s keep this train rolling right off the rails.

Nike React Infinity back

The Good

JEREMY: First things first, this is not the Nike Epic React. Or even the Odyssey React. This is the new Structure (like, the Structure line is no more), and it is designed to be an everyday training shoe for easy running and a bunch of miles.

Unlike the Epic React, this shoe features a full tread outsole for traction in slippery conditions- this is welcomed by me and fellow runners I’ve seen nearly wipe out into the Baltimore harbor from the low-traction Epic Reacts. Keep those antibiotic kits handy, kids. For me, the new tread does the job, providing good traction on rainy days and slippery conditions.

The base is big, with wide and thick React foam extending down and out from the upper to the base of the forefoot and heel. Yes, it provides extra stability, but also comes along with a little weight.

Finally, the Flyknit upper is more rigid than the previous iterations of Flyknit shoes, designed to hold your foot in place, especially while turning or cornering. I thought it did a great job holding my foot in place throughout the runs, with no real slippage on turns or corners. I even took these shoes out for a 2-hour long run through ice, snow, and slush without a single fall which was really impressive. If I attempted that same run in the old Zoom Fly 2’s or Epic Reacts, there’s a strong chance I would have broken a leg. While I’m not recommending the React Infinity for your next mountaineering adventure, they did hold their own in some pretty nasty conditions.

The wide base of the forefoot and heel makes this shoe feel incredibly stable, while the weight of the shoe is hardly noticeable once you get into a rhythm. While this shoe doesn’t control your motion like traditional stability shoes, the wide base seems to provide sufficient stability on its own.

The midsole is thick with extra foam and the rocker design with both the toe and heel curving up off the ground really lets you get into a groove, where each step feels smooth. I found myself picking up the pace and progressing as runs went on from this effect. 

THOMAS: The new Flyknit over the toe box/vamp isn’t as soft as the Flyknit used on the Epic React. It feels tougher, scalier, more breathable. The Flyknit in the tongue and heel counter is similar to the Epic React. Where it gets a little weird is the fish scale iridescent heel counter overlay that extends all the way to the sides of the midfoot. I’m assuming this helps add support to the shoe upper. It is right over the rigid “U” shaped clip that gently controls the stability over the heel of the React midsole. Overall, the upper works and runs true to size, but there are some shortcomings.

The midsole is made of that sweet sweet energy-returning, lightweight React foam. Nike spreads the midsole out wider in every direction (except for the midfoot) to give the runner a stable base. Pair the wider outsole with a rocker shape, put it all together, and you have a shoe that reportedly will keep runners on the road by eliminating shoe-related injuries.

React shoes feel fresh with tons of miles on them; as far as foams go, React retains a bouncy soft feel longer than any other foam we have reviewed. The Epic React had hardly any rubber on the outsole, and aside from minor wear and tear, we had runners reporting well over 500 miles in the shoe (like Robbe). So with the almost full-coverage rubber on the outsole of the React Infinity, I don’t imagine anyone will be complaining about the durability of these trainers.

Although I would not call the React Infinity a fast day shoe, I did have a good 10-mile run that ended up being a tempo effort run. Ideal use for the Infinity is as a daily trainer, lots of easy miles in comfort. She falls into the midweight zone for daily runners at 10.6 oz./301 grams for a size 10.5, but in the lightweight range for stability shoes.

The weight is around the same as the New Balance 1080 v10 and the ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite. All these shoes have a similar ride and feel. If you asked me which you should get, I’ll ask you which brand you like better, that’s how similar these models are. I love running in this type of shoe for the majority of my miles.

 

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ROBBE: The last two Epic Reacts were some of my all-time favorite shoes, so I was excited for the Infinity React. Let’s talk looks— surprise, Nike made a beautiful shoe (although I wish the men’s version had the same pink stability clip as the women’s).

While this shoe weighs about 20% more than the Epic React, it really isn’t felt on the run. Granted, I’m finally recovering from a year-long injury, so my miles were relegated to easy miles in the 4-7 range. In any case, the shoe provides a nice, comfortable ride, and I feel the weight is entirely appropriate for what the shoe is meant to do.

I love React foam, it’s bouncy and responsive and is just the right firmness for me. The React Infinity has more of it than the Epic React, so it is softer, but not mushy in the way that I found the Pegasus Turbo 2 to be. I really enjoyed this shoe for my easy efforts, and my legs felt great post-run.

While I loved the nimble feel of the Epic Reacts, I definitely rolled my ankle more than once in them. So the wide base of the React Infinity is appreciated, but be forewarned, it is wide. Probably a little too much for my personal liking. The React Infinity no doubt provides that extra security you won’t find in the Epic React, or even the Odyssey React, for that matter.

MEAGHAN: The guys covered A LOT. So, I’ll keep my comments relatively short. I agree with Jeremy that the traction on these shoes is pretty great. Ever since I ate $h*t running around the harbor in my Vaporflys a few weeks ago, I’ve turned into a big sissy and avoid any and all potential slippery terrain. These shoes have helped me get over that fear, a little.

The shoes are comfortable and fit true to size. I really like the wide outsole and overall secure feeling these shoes provide.

Shop Nike React Infinity

 

Nike React Infinity outsole

 

The Bad

JEREMY: I honestly don’t have many complaints about this shoe. My only comments would be that I would not recommend them for longer runs or fast runs as the weight (11.4 ounces in men’s size 11.5) and design (bottom-heavy and wide) is not conducive to either of these. Since these are advertised as every day/easy day shoes that isn’t really a fault, but rather just a warning that the weight and width of the shoe become more apparent in these situations as a negative.

THOMAS: Heel lift and a sloppy ankle collar. C’mon Nike, this is 101 stuff. The heel lift isn’t extreme but the sloppiness in the back of the Infinity is the difference between goodness and greatness. The rigid “U” shaped clip might be the blame, there is no place to flex other than in the toes. This makes the shoe counter lever and drop the heel. I tried thicker socks to remedy the situation, it helped, but it did not cure it.

ROBBE: First off, I’m literally crying that the Epic React is retired. My bank account will also be weeping after I snatch up any remaining pairs out there. Such a sweet and simple shoe that was there for me every time I needed it over the last two years.

Part of the stability is a mound under the inner arch of the foot. It is very weird at first, but after 10-15 miles it basically molds to your foot so it’s not as obtrusive. I actually ended up kind of liking it, but I put this in the bad because it’s a bit jarring at the outset.

As Thomas said, there is some heel slippage, especially with thinner socks. I’ve seen some people say they went down a half-size, but it wasn’t an option for me. My toes are already less than a thumb width from the front in this sizing (which is the size I’ve worn in every Nike ever). I also felt there was too much room in general in the forefoot, on account of the extra-wide last of the shoe. Also, like Thomas said, the heel collar gets a little largemouth bass-like, which I never had a problem with in the Epic Reacts. In general, I just could not get a good lockdown, and there isn’t much room for variation with Nike’s rigid lacing structure.

Despite the extra room, there is no love for wide footers in this shoe, which isn’t exactly shocking since Nike has never been a friend to cavemen.

Regarding the mad width of the forefoot (a quarter-inch wider than the Epic React), if you’re one of those people who clips your calf from time to time when coming through your stride, expect a lot of that with this shoe. Start training your core now.

Final note: this isn’t really good or bad, but what’s really crazy about this shoe is that the midfoot is actually more narrow than the Epic React, which was already crazy narrow. For my size 7.5, the React Infinity measured a mere 2.25 inches (5.7 cm), while the Epic React was a touch wider at 2.4 inches. All that to say, if you’re a Sasquatch, you won’t be wearing this shoe, but hopefully, you’ll be enjoying some Jack Links beef jerky, so it’s a half-win.

MEAGHAN: After 2 miles in this shoe, I was certain they were not for me. As Robbe noted, there is a mound under the inner arch of the foot that is VERY apparent. My flat feet were not pleased with this situation for the first several miles. I did, however, get used to the feeling underfoot. I’m not sure I love it, but it’s no longer a real issue.

Also, as the lads noted, there is major heel slippage with thin socks.  So, don’t wear thin socks.

Shop Nike React Infinity

 

Nike React Infinity puddle

Nike React Infinity Conclusion

THOMAS: The Infinity lands in my sweet spot for style, feel, and performance. With the React midsole and the near full-coverage rubber on the outsole, you will get your money and miles’ worth out of these babies. Additionally, if you pop a hole in the new Flyknit over the toes, then you have military-grade toenails that need to be registered as a weapon. If Nike’s claims hold up and you can avoid running-related injuries, you will be enjoying many miles together.

JEREMY: If you’re looking for a comfortable shoe to wear for easy mileage, this is your shoe. Personally, it’s already become a well-cushioned staple that I would reach for on almost any non-workout or long run effort. This shoe is designed to replace the Nike Structure as their new stability workhorse option and is more or less a beefed-up version of the Epic React. The injury prevention claims will be hard to convincingly substantiate, but maybe the next time someone tells me that running is bad for my knees I can say “It’s 52% less bad for my knees in these shoes. It’s science.”

ROBBE: Would I buy this shoe? At $160 it’s not absurd, especially since I have every expectation the shoe will last 500+ miles based on past Epic React performance. Would I wait for better colorways? Probably. I think the white slays, but the grey and black look like third-degree dad palettes. A crimson is dropping around the release dates which looks much more palatable.

I will say, I will probably reach for this shoe on a lot of my easy days in the 5-12 mile range. It’s more firm than the Pegasus Turbo 2, which I feel takes extra effort to run in for shorter efforts, but whose lighter weight pays off better on long runs.

Lastly, this is a nice move away from the traditional stability shoes that are now becoming more of a junk science. Nike’s not stupid, and they know this is the trend. Away with the thick medial posts, rigid plastic counters, and foot brackets. If a shoe feels good, run in it.

Is this a suitable replacement for the Epic React? Hell no. Dear Beaverton Santa Claus, please bring me a no-frills, lightweight shoe that can do anything that’s asked of it. In the meantime, I’ll keep things easy in the React Infinity and burn holes through the soles of my current Epic Reacts.

MEAGHAN: I feel like the Epic React Infinity is just the Epic Reacts with a stability feature. So, if you liked the Epic Reacts you’ll probably warm up to these just fine. I keep thinking I don’t love this shoe, yet, I find myself lacing them up over and over for my easy day runs. Has Nike convinced me these will protect me from injury? Maybe. Or maybe I just dig the aesthetics.

You can pick up the Nike React Infinity for $160 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the link below.

 

Shop Nike React Infinity

 

Nike React Infinity lateral

 

Jeremy is a Microbiology and Immunology PhD candidate working in a Baltimore-based lab. Winner of the 2019 Baltimore Marathon, he is currently running way too many miles and road racing with a focus on the marathon.

Robbe is the Senior Editor/Review Manager for BITR. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and two sons and runs with the Faster Bastards when he’s not MAF training. His favorite race distance is the marathon and his favorite beer is anything but Blue Moon.

Meaghan is the co-founder of Big Run Media and Believe in the Run. She’s often found tearing up the promenade on Baltimore’s waterfront early in the morning.

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