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Road Running Shoes • October 27, 2020

Best Nike Running Shoes Right Now

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 alphafly next pods

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 ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit

nike zoomx invincible - medial

Use: Daily training with some ZoomX pop | Drop: 9 mm | Price: $180

A plate-less Vaporfly. That’s what a lot of people expected the ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit to be. While not entirely of that ilk, this shoe has a few similar characteristics packed into a daily trainer. The most prominent feature of this shoe is the full-length, nearly 37 mm (heel) ZoomX midsole. This is the first time we’ve seen Nike stack that much of their hyper-responsive midsole into a non-racing shoe. It’s super bouncy and easily one of the most fun rides out there. But buyer beware, by no means is this a stability shoe. If you’re a runner who requires a little extra support, steer clear of this shoe.

The ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit does sport a small heel clip, however not as large as the one in the React Infinity Flyknit 2. That being said, the more neutral runners out there will be fine in it, combined with the wider-than-normal platform. The upper is Flyknit, as the name suggests, and everything about it screams comfort. It’s silky soft and breathes incredibly well. The heel collar and counter boast a generous amount of cushioning that helps to lock your foot in place over the midsole. The tongue is a nice surprise in that while on the thicker side, we don’t mind because it’s straight-up plush. All of this and a $180 price point may still seem steep. But this is certainly one of the more unique Nike experiences we’ve had in a while.

Shop ZoomX Invincible – Men Shop ZoomX Invincible – Women Watch On YouTube

• Nike React Infinity Flyknit 2

nike react infinity 2 - stack1

Use: Slow and comfy long miles with a pinch of stability | Drop: 8 mm | Price: $160

The React Infinity Flyknit 2 is fairly similar to the original, save for a drastic overhaul above the midsole. The new upper is still Flyknit, but with much more structure thanks in part to some added Flywire (side note: Flywire is one of Nike’s most important innovations, stop taking it off of shoes). With this addition, the upper is able to fit better over top and lock your foot into the heel. Speaking of the heel, we see more padding in the counter, which also helps to nearly eliminate the heel slippage we saw in the previous model.

As far as the ride, the React Infinity Flyknit 2 features one of the most popular midsoles in the game right now. The React foam is very forgiving on the legs. It’s one of our favorite foams for long runs because of its soft-but-springy build. The heel clip in the back provides most of the stability, as it keeps the back of the shoe on the straight and narrow. While without a traditional medial post, the React Infinity Flyknit 2 does a fantastic job of keeping things from getting too squirrely out on the roads.

Shop React Infinity FK 2 – Men Shop React Infinity FK 2 – Women Watch On YouTube

• Nike Zoom Pegasus 38

nike pegasus 38 - outsole

Use: It’s the workhorse with wings | Drop: 10 mm | Price: $120

I mean, at 38 years of Peg, what is there to say about this shoe? The Nike Pegasus 38 is still one of the most reliable daily trainers out there. As Robbe puts it, this shoe just works.

Our biggest problems with the Pegasus 37 have been fixed in the 38, namely in the upper. The once shallow toe box has been given some extra volume and the heel slippage is gone. Nike went so far as to build this shoe on an older last that’s similar to the Peg 36 (Editor’s Note: I miss you, Flywire). The tweaks to the Pegasus 38 really allow the midsole to shine.

Speaking of which, the midsole is essentially the same as that of the Peg 37. The combination of React foam throughout and a forefoot Zoom Air unit is what truly makes this shoe so versatile. There’s enough cush to save your legs from the everyday pounding, but the responsiveness is there when you want to pick up the pace. The drop and weight are essentially the same as last year, so there are still some components of this shoe that stay tried and true. This workhorse gives everyone wings at a bargain $120 price point.

Shop Pegasus 38 – Men Shop Pegasus 38 – Women Watch On YouTube

Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%

Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next - feature

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.

Shop TEMPO NEXT% – Men Shop TEMPO NEXT% – Women Watch On YouTube

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2

nike vaporfly next 2 - laces

Use: Race days (especially for half marathon and under) | Drop: 8 mm | Price: $250

While other brands have begun to make up some ground on Nike, everyone is still miles behind Vaporfly Next%. This update doesn’t change anything underfoot. It’s still the king of the marathoners, with an ultra-responsive ZoomX midsole that not only shaves minutes but also saves legs on the back 13.1. Oh, and of course the carbon plate that really puts this shoe over the top.

The redesigned mesh upper is much more breathable than the Vaporweave of old. It excels at allowing air to actually cool your feet, and in turn your body, for max efficiency. It’s not as snug as the OG’s upper, instead forming nicely around the foot. There’s also a little bit more padding in the tongue. Overall, this is a more comfortable Vaporfly.

Despite an upper that underwhelmed Thomas and Meaghan, the Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2 is still the best carbon racer on the market, if not number 2 behind the shoe below.

Shop Vaporfly NEXT% 2 – Men Shop Vaporfly NEXT% 2 – 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 7

Use: Galloping around your local singletrack | Drop: 8 mm | Price: $130

The aptly named Wildhorse 7 is the trail shoe that wants to do cool shit while looking cool. It’s the rebel, in a way, of a trail shoe market that often lacks style or swag. Granted, it sometimes comes at the expense of limiting the adventures the Wildhorse can go on.

Nike brings 35 mm of React foam to the trails, making this shoe feel more like a gazelle underfoot. The Swoosh’s signature everyday foam performs incredibly well out in the backcountry and in the mountains. A new mesh upper enhances breathability and fits much better than the previous model. This shoe also dries very well, a plus for those who actually experience moisture on their trails. According to Matt, this shoe loves the slop, and its mother was a mudder. “Its mother was a mudder?” What’d I just say?

Shop Wildhorse 7 – Men Shop Wildhorse 7 – Women

Honorable Mentions

nike pegasus turbo 2

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.


Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Doug Moreno says:

    It helped me alot to know about running shoes by Nike. Thanks for the information you shared.

    1. Robbe Reddinger says:

      Thanks for reading!

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