What You Need To Know
- Weighs 9.9 oz. (281 g) for a US M9.0 / 8.5 oz. (241 g) for a US W8.0
- Completely redesigned upper for more secure fit
- Same React midsole and mild stability components
- If you don’t drink Hawaiian Punch with filet mignon then you’re not living life
THOMAS: Last year, Nike introduced the original React Infinity with some lofty promises. There was an emphasis on high mileage durability and a light stability/rockered design that would keep runners injury-free. The shoe looked modern, and we were excited to run in it. I was actually hashtag blessed enough to take my first pair of React Infinity to Nike HQ in Beaverton, Oregon, where I ran on the hallowed Michael Johnson track and the rest of the campus.
They made it a point to show some beat-to-hell pairs in their promotional ads for the shoe, so I muddied them up good to take some authentic Nike real estate home with me. Handing out humblebrags like Oprah over here.
Real talk, the original React Infinity was somewhat polarizing with our audience (and us), because there was a huge, almost universal love for the Epic React line, which was killed off to pave the way for the React Infinity. We’d be lying if we said we’re still not bitter about it.
The React Infinity is chunkier and less graceful through the stride than the Epic React. The upper on the Infinity didn’t help, as we experienced some heel slippage and lateral movement. It just didn’t secure the foot to the midsole well. The aggressive medial arch support was also a bit jarring at first, and while we got used to it, it was a feature that worked for some and not for others.
Good news: some of these issues have been addressed with the just-released Nike React Infinity Flyknit Run 2. Bad news? Well, let’s see if there is any.
BEN: The original Infinity is one of those rare shoes that came with so many claims that the marketing material included legal disclaimers (there was an actual pamphlet in the box when I got mine). It was Nike’s new take on stability and created under the name “Project Run Fearless.” The system is based on using three components – cushioned midsole, rocker geometry, and wide/stable base. The bold claim is to reduce injury, and Nike came in with studies to prove it.
That three-pronged approach was liked by many (including myself), but there seemed to be one missing element – a secure upper. The original Flyknit upper looked nice and was comfortable, but lacked any type of lockdown in the midfoot and heel. Heel slip was the norm. Nike has come back with version 2 and taken aim directly at this deficiency.
THOMAS: I liked the first version, so let’s start there. This isn’t a huge update in terms of overall performance (especially regarding the ride of the shoe). The second version is just a revision to the upper. That said, sometimes that’s all it takes to move a shoe from good to better.
The big difference in this shoe is all about structure. Flywire (yeah, it’s back) is used to support the lace lockdown on both the medial and lateral sides of the FlyKnit upper. There wasn’t a simple way to create a runner’s loop to secure the previous model’s collar and heel. The new version has a more traditional lacing set up, including the second hole at the top for making a runner’s loop. The good news is, you don’t need it. The now padded collar keeps the heel locked in and secure over the midsole.
You may be thinking “Big deal, Nike fixed the upper. So what?”. Let me try to explain why this is a big deal. Picture sitting down at your favorite steakhouse somewhere in a southern state where you can do that (vegans try to play along, pack yerself a flame-broiled Beyond Meat Whopper). The masked waiter arrives with a sizzling filet. As you drool, the waiter returns with a glass of red kids’ wine, aka Hawaiian Punch, to pair with the entree. The steak is delicious because it’s medium rare and also because, again, it’s steak, and you wash the mouthful down with some high fructose corn syrup. Not so good, right? The meal is ruined and Punchy is just dancing away while you’re stuck with a mediocre experience. The upper of the first version is the punch in this scenario.
Now, imagine instead that your meal was paired with a delicious velvety Cabernet. Same steak, entirely new experience. To be fair, the first upper wasn’t dramatically horrible as I made it out be in this example, but hyperbole is the mother of shoe reviews, so here we are. All that to say, the new upper is a much better pairing in this scenario and creates a much better cohesive running experience.
So anyway, on to the midsole, which is again full React foam. The shape is wide and rockered. While it doesn’t give you the fastest feel through transition, the shoe is exceptionally smooth through the stride. The rubber coverage on the bottom is ample, adding to the traction and durability of the shoe. One of the underrated qualities of the React Infinity 2 is the durability. The React foam maintains a lively feel longer than any other foam I have run in. This shoe can take you way beyond the standard 300 miles of wear. Most lovers of the OG React Infinity (like Ben) easily took the shoe beyond 400 miles, and this should be no different.
BEN: I will also start off by saying I enjoyed the first version. The heel slip didn’t bother me, and the shoe surely gets the job done as a mileage workhorse. It’s a bit heavy and could feel borderline clunky. The rocker performed adequately, but I certainly wouldn’t pick it for a workout shoe. I put over 400 miles on the V1 and it really still felt and looked nearly new.
The new version is the exact same midsole and outsole. The only difference is the upper. Some would call this minor, but I call it awesome. Nike heard the issues and did an admirable job going after them, while still keeping with the design ethos (aka the midsole they made a lot of claims about). The upper now sports a less uniform knit design (reminiscent of the early Flyknit offerings, as opposed to the solid colors on the Vaporfly Flyknit and the Infinity V1).
Aside from the visual changes on the upper, it’s also gone to a partial tongue (instead of a full bootie) and a padded heel collar. These work together to create an excellent fit and great lockdown. Somehow this really transforms the shoe into something even more enjoyable that should appeal to a broader audience.Shop Nike React Infinity 2 – Men Shop Nike React Infinity 2 – Women
THOMAS: It’s somewhat dull. You heard me. Your runs feel good, but there isn’t an exciting feel. You have to work a little harder to pick up the pace in the shoe because there isn’t any pop. The initial colors of the shoe are also a yawn. I went with grey, and still think it is the best looking. That is saying something. Last thing – although not 100% bad – the shoe’s insole is glued in.
BEN: The heel clip/medial support. It’s key to the stability but it’s noticeable and borderline bothersome (pokes into the arch). I hate walking around in them, but it somehow disappears once I start running. That said, since there’s no change to the midsole with this version, if you didn’t mind that sensation in the original, then you’ll be fine with this as well. Quite a bummer that I can’t use them as a casual shoe (I loved the Epic React for this), but at the end of the day, it is a running shoe, and it works well in that capacity (as it should).Shop Nike React Infinity 2 – Men Shop Nike React Infinity 2 – Women
Nike React Infinity Flyknit 2 Conclusion
THOMAS: I like this shoe for a daily/easy mile trainer. It’s as reliable as your grandma’s cast-iron skillet.
It’s not as exotic as the Invincible, which we are testing now. Sneak peek: I thought there wouldn’t be a contest between the React and the full-length ZoomX, but oddly, there is a place for both the Infinity and the Invincible. I don’t think you need both in your closet, but depending on your taste, one of these shoes should get you where you need to be. Long story short, the React Infinity 2 is undoubtedly more stable than the Invincible (and firmer/less bounce).
All that to say, the new upper makes the Infinity 2 a significant update and more pleasurable to run in. My size 10.5 fits true to size and weighs 10.97 oz./311 grams. The weight may contribute to the less-than-springy feel when you’re trying to drop the pace.
BEN: The original was a solid everyday running shoe that lacked a good upper. The V2 is a nice upgrade in that regard. The upper fits true to size with good lockdown and it’s very comfortable. If you liked the original, you’ll probably like this more. If you didn’t like the original on account of the upper, but love that React feeling, then you may want to revisit the shoe this time around. It’s a workhorse shoe that can probably do close to infinity miles, if infinity meant like 500. The hype definitely pales in comparison to the upcoming ZoomX Invincible, but the Infinity 2 is going to be the more stable and supportive option if that’s your thing.
You can pick up the Nike React Infinity Flyknit Run 2 for $160 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Nike React Infinity 2 – Men Shop Nike React Infinity 2 – Women
Thomas is the founder of Big Run Media, Believe In The Run, and the Faster Bastards. His mission is to get everyone running. Life is better when you run and running is always better when you have the right gear.