What You Need To Know
- We break down our 8 best Nike running shoes at the moment
- From racing to tempo to slow days to trails, we got you covered
- Any questions? Drop it in the comments. Otherwise, let’s get you educated.
Ahh, new shoe day, there’s not much better. However, if you’re looking to pick up a new pair of Nike running shoes then you might be overwhelmed by the number of options. There are like 90 types of padding, just as many materials, and a whole rainbow of colorways to pick from. We’re here to help you narrow it down with our handy guide to the best Nike running shoes you can get.
The Beaverton brand has come a long way since its early days as Blue Ribbon Sports, going from selling ASICS Onitsuka out of a trunk to breaking the two-hour marathon barrier with Eliud Kipchoge in 2019. While we can’t say you’ll break world records with our picks, you’ll certainly look great and hopefully run a bit better.
We’ve picked our top eight options currently available to keep it simple for us (and for you, too), so let’s hop to it.
Nike Running Shoes 101: What To Look For
Before we actually get into the shoes themselves, it’s time for a bit of a primer. Nike has its own encyclopedia of terms, technologies, and padding, and you’ll need to know at least a little bit about your options before you make a decision. Here are a few of the most important terms:
- React: Sole padding successor to Lunarlon foam, which debuted in the now-discontinued Epic React (R.I.P.). Designed for superior durability and found on the Infinity React and Pegasus lines. Compared to Lunarlon React is lighter, more durable, softer, and more responsive. Making React the most complete everyday foam.
- ZoomX (yes, they’re different): The lightest, most responsive, softest foam in the Nike lineup, originally introduced in the Nike Vaporfly 4%, ZoomX has an amazing 85% energy return!
- Lunarlon: Nike’s previous foam padding before React, was not as durable and had a softer core for cushion and a harder exterior for durability, but she gone.
- Zoom Air: Midsole technology where a Nike Air unit is reinforced by tensil fibers that compress and expand beneath each step, not to be confused with Air Max which has no tensil fibers.
- Flyknit: Lightweight knit upper material that debuted at the 2012 London Olympics, fits snug to your foot like a sock. Breathable, form-fitting, durable upper material made partly from recycled polyester. There are multiple iterations of the Flyknit depending on what the athlete needs, this includes Atomknit in the Alphafly.
- Vaporweave: Upper material made of TPU and TPE plastic, designed to weigh less and absorb less liquid than Flyknit. It’s often transparent, so make sure to wear cool socks.
The Best Nike Running Shoes
• Nike Zoom Pegasus 37
Use: It’s the workhorse with wings | Drop: 10 mm | Price: $120
There’s a reason that the Nike Pegasus is on its 37th iteration – the shoe just works. While the latest version looks quite a lot different than the previous Peg 36, many of the changes are adjustments for the better. With a complete rebuild and switch from Lunarlon to full-length React foam and shrinking the Zoom Air to just the front of the shoe, the Pegasus remains Nike’s go-to daily trainer. It comes off a bit bottom-heavy on slower runs, but the Zoom Air unit counteracts it with a nice pop off the toe.
Our reviewers Robbe, Meg, and Thomas had plenty of great things to say about the feel of the Pegasus 37 as well as the grip, but be prepared to employ some lacing tricks to counteract a bit of heel slippage. They even went so far as to call the Pegasus 37 a “front runner for the 2020 daily trainer of the year.” That said, this shoe has been polarizing for a lot of runners– if you love it though, you’ll really love it. And at $120 it remains a solid bargain in the running shoe world.Shop Pegasus 37 – Men Shop Pegasus 37 – Women Watch On YouTube
• Nike Zoom Fly 3
Use: Speed, glowing in the dark | Drop: 8 mm | Price: $120 on sale!
It’s surprisingly difficult to nail down a pick for a good Nike running shoe when you’ve got the need for speed. It’s not for a lack of options, it’s just tough to track the shoes down in your size. We’re naming the Zoom Fly 3 as our top pick, though you could also opt for the now-retired Pegasus Turbo 2 or the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% if you can find it. The Zoomfly 3 has a wicked combo of React foam and a full length carbon fiber plate the to make this shoe a responsive juggernaught.
It’s somewhat of a technological blend, combining a Vaporweave upper with a plush React foam midsole. Thomas called it the best Zoom Fly model so far, though he also equated it to a Kardashian (think bottom-heavy). Even still, he enjoyed all of the miles he put into it, and you could definitely swing the Zoom Fly 3 for training or race day thanks to the carbon fiber plate.Shop Zoom Fly 3 Watch On YouTube
• Nike React Infinity
Use: Long, slow miles, daily trainer | Drop: 9 mm | Price: $160
The Nike React Infinity is the running shoe you’d get if you melded the Nike Structure with the Epic React. Sure, it looks like the Epic React, but it’s more in the vein of the Structure, and it’s ready for some long, easy miles. Oh, and Nike says it’s proven to prevent injuries … or something like that. The upper is made from a durable longlasting Flyknit.
While the base is a bit heavy, it’s all down to the fact that Nike packed as much React as possible into one rocker of a shoe. The midfoot bump can be a bit jarring and the heel slippage is back, but both can be adjusted (or adjusted to). Nike’s Epic Structure Infinity React is a long, comfortable ride that doesn’t shy away from the style department.Shop React Infinity – Men Shop React Infinity – Women Watch On YouTube
• Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%
Use: Speed, Tempo work | Drop: 10 mm | Price: $200 (ouch)
We can’t all be Eliud Kipchoge, pounding out the miles in Nike’s creme de la creme, the Air Zoom Alphafly Next%, but the Air Zoom Tempo Next% is a worthy alternative. Our reviewer, Thomas, compared this shoe to a duck-billed platypus, and at $200 a pair, you could almost buy a real platypus for your money.
Once you get past the eye-watering price and the down under comparison, Thomas and Meaghan both had plenty of praise to offer the Air Zoom Tempo Next% (there has to be a better way to name shoes, Nike). It’s not a shoe for the slower paces, or even races, but the combination of Zoom X, React foam, and a carbon plate, two Zoom Air units make it a fun ride when you get up to pounding the pavement. The upper is good ol’ Flyknit.
• Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%
Use: Race days (especially for half marathon and under) | Drop: 8 mm | Price: $250
The racing shoe du jour on almost any start line, this is the progression of the shoe that changed the game forever (the Vaporfly 4%). Light, fast, and with that guaranteed efficiency boost that will save your legs come those later miles. The carbon-plated midsole gives a pop of the toe for great pick-up during fast efforts and race day, while the high stack of ZoomX foam provides exceptional comfort. The Vaporweave upper combines breathability with hydrophobic qualities that keep the shoe lighter in any conditions.
This shoe is the reason every other shoe company is playing catch-up in the carbon-plated racer game.Shop Vaporfly NEXT% – Men Shop Vaporfly NEXT% – Women Watch On YouTube
• Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%
Use: Breaking marathon records | Drop: 4 mm | Price: $275
Some Nike running shoes are tough to track down, but none so much as the Air Zoom Alphafly Next%. Yes, the name is even longer than its Tempo sibling, but it’s as close as you can get to Eliud Kipchoge’s record-breaking marathon shoe. It looks like an absolute beast, and you’re almost guaranteed to turn heads with the massive, neon green midsole.
The Air Zoom Alphafly Next% stars an Atomknit upper, and ads two Zoom Air units with full-length ZoomX and a carbon plate. What’s the difference between this and the Vaporfly NEXT%? Pull the trigger on this shoe if you’re looking for extra comfort for those later miles in the marathon. You might have to choose between these puppies and putting food on the table though, as the Alphafly Next% will set you back a cool $275… if you can find them.Shop Alphafly NEXT% – Men Shop Alphafly NEXT% – Women
• Nike React Miler
Use: Long, slow miles | Drop: 10 mm | Price: $130
If you want a comfy ride and you’re not as fussy about top-end style, the Nike React Miler is a solid alternative to the React Infinity. It’s a little easier on your wallet without sacrificing ride or stability. The Miler rocks a plush upper that’s more than a little bit busy, but it does the job without the heel slippage of some of the other Nike running shoes. Also, unlike most Nike shoes, this one is more accommodating for those who like a little more room in the toe box. In other words, it feels like a normal running shoe.
The React Miler also reprises the hard plastic heel clip from Nike’s Epic React for some added security. Between the heel clip, the plush upper, and the full-length React unit, the Miler is a solid bet if you want an under-the-radar distance shoe.Shop React Miler – Men Shop React Miler – Women
• Nike Zoom Wildhorse 6
Use: Trails, but preferably dry ones | Drop: 8 mm | Price: $130
Yes, the Wildhorse 6 is a chonky boi, but there’s a good reason for that. It offers the best traction and comfort of Nike’s three trail running shoes, and the style is just unmatched. The colorways may make you hesitate to get the Wildhorse 6 dirty, but the mesh upper is easy enough to clean. Oh, and the React foam is plenty comfortable for pounding the trails.
The Wildhorse 6 weighs approximately as much as a small pony (10.6 oz./297 g for a US M9.0), but it’s a great overall pick for less-technical trails or hikes (we say this because we think Nike’s trail traction is far inferior to other shoes out there). You’ll also turn heads as you gallop on by, so make sure that you’re ready for the extra attention.Shop Wildhorse 6 – Men Shop Wildhorse 6 – Women
• Honorable Mentions
If you can still somehow find either the Nike Epic React 2 or the Nike Pegasus Turbo 2, do yourself a favor and snatch up a pair, as these may be our two favorite non-racing Nike shoes. Both lines have been discontinued, but they’ll always remain legends in our book.
How We Make Our Picks
We get a lot – and we do mean a lot – of running shoes through the doors here at Believe in the Run, so all of our picks come directly from our own two feet. However, we also consider overall shoe reviews from average users and our own Believe in the Run community, and we can only really recommend shoes that you can currently buy. Otherwise we’d probably tell you to track down Mercury’s winged sandals for a truly unmatched ride.