7 Best Nike Running Shoes in 2024 (2024)

How we test running shoes

Nike is a serious brand. But we are even more serious here at RunRepeat. Equipped with our proprietary shoe testing methodology, we go beyond the vague marketing statements to find out which Nike shoe is truly the best. Here is what we take each shoe through:

  • We purchase Nike shoes with our own funds to stay unbiased while testing every new release.
  • We run test each shoe to get a good feel for its comfort, fit, and performance.
  • We cut, slice, and measure all Nike shoes in ourlab to test them on more than 30 different parameters like durability, breathability, flexibility, and others.

Road or trail? Choose the right Nike running shoe

About 80% of Nike running shoes are meant for the road. So if you mostly run on pavement, asphalt, concrete, tarmac, treadmill, and the like, this is the type of shoe you need.

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Trail shoes make up only 20% of the brand's running shoe stock. You will need these sturdier models for moderate and technical trails with rocks, roots, mud, and various debris. Nike trail shoes have deeper lugs and enhanced foot protection compared to road shoes.

It’s fine to wear your trail shoes on the road but only for a mile or two as the lugs will make prolonged wear uncomfortable or even painful.

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TIP: For road-to-trail use, choose Nike trail shoes with shallower lugs (3.5 mm or less). And if you frequent muddy and boggy areas, go for at least 4 mm of lug depth.

Nike shoes for daily running, speed training, and breaking world records

What is the most essential factor in choosing an ideal running shoe? Setting your running goals clear.

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A Nike shoe that's meant for racing a 5K distance is going to feel very different from a cozy trainer for slow miles and walking.

Nike shoes for daily running and walking

This category of Nike shoes is perfect for most runners, especially beginners.

Here are the characteristics that make these shoes so favorable for many:

  • well-cushioned (at least 30 mm of heel stack, 32 mm on average)
  • average heel-to-toe drop (8-12 mm, ideal for a beginner’s heel-striking pattern)
  • balanced softness (neither too firm nor mushy)
  • no carbon plates or aggressive rockers
  • average MSRP of $110

The only downside of these trainers is that they are the heaviest of the bunch. The average weight of a Nike shoe for daily training is 9.5 oz (269g) in a men's US size 9.

TIP: Shoes that weigh over 10 oz (283g) are better for slow paces, walking, and heavier runners.

Nike shoes for speed training and competition

If you’re looking for a middle-ground daily trainer which can also go fast, Nike also has a selection of speed training shoes. Lighter, more nimble, and more responsive, these trainers are ready for tempo runs, intervals, and even shorter races (5K and 10K).

They tend to be lighter than daily running shoes (8.8 oz/249g vs. 9.5 oz/269g), have a higher heel stack (34.8 mm on average), and MUCH softer foams (76% softer based on our lab measurements!). Some of these trainers feature the brand's phenomenal ZoomX foam as well as a carbon plate.

TIP: Choose a Nike shoe lighter than 8.8 (255g) if you plan to pick up the pace. Studies show that every extra 100g in a shoe slow you down by 1%.

Elite Nike shoes for competition and speed records

Ever since Eliud Kipchoge shattered the 2-hour marathon record wearing a Nike Vaporfly prototype in 2016, Nike changed the name of the game forever.

Featuring an extra high stack of foam with a propulsive carbon plate embedded into it, the Vapofly showed a nearly 4% improvement in running economy! What's more, the emerging popularity of shoes with similar technologies has led to breaking every men’s and women’s world recordin long-distance road running events since 2017!

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More than a few researchers stated that shoes akin to the Nike Vapofly and Alphafly provide an unfair advantage compared to regular running shoes.

In response, the World Athletics set certain regulations related to heel stack (no more than 40 mm) and carbon plates (no more than one) in competition shoes. The violation of these rules results in disqualification. However, neither Vapofly nor Aplafhy has ever been penalized by the organization.

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Today, these are Nike's most expensive yet most sought-after race running shoes with the following characteristics:

  • an average weight of 7.3 oz (207g)
  • a heel stack of around 37.5 mm
  • extra soft ZoomX foams (40% softer than average)
  • a full-length carbon plate

TIP: Read our comprehensive guide on carbon plates to learn more about their effect on running performance.

Choose the right cushioning in Nike running shoes

Want your future pair of Nike running shoes to feel like it was tailor-made for you? Make sure you get the following parameters right:

  • stack height
  • heel-to-toe drop
  • midsole softness

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Stack height: max-cushioned or minimalist?

The average stack height of Nike running shoes these days hovers around 33 mm.

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It means that a typical Nike shoe comes with a generous amount of midsole foam to protect your foot from hard landings.

But more cushioning doesn't necessarily imply better. Studies show that highly cushioned shoes are more likely to cause leg stiffness and injury, especially in beginner runners. So, if you are new to running, we recommend choosing a moderately cushioned Nike shoe with a heel stack of 30-34 mm.

Even though the era of minimalist running shoes peaked in 2012 and is now officially over, Nike still offers a few options for the fans of the ground feel. These include shoes from the Nike Free and Nike Flex series.

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These shoes are incredibly lightweight (7.5 oz/212g on average), flexible, and feel almost like being barefoot. But as a beginner, you must be aware of the adjustment period that comes with this type of footwear.

Because of the different biomechanics involved in these shoes, we highly advise taking it slow with minimalist shoes if you've never worn them before.

Heel-to-toe drop: mind your strike pattern

Drop refers to the difference in thickness between the shoe's heel and the forefoot. It lets you know how steep is the slope inside the shoe.

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The average heel-to-toe drop in Nike running shoes comes in at 9-10 mm, which is ideal for most runners and beginners as well. When in doubt, just go for a drop between 8 and 12 mm.

But why are there Nike running shoes with a lower drop?

A heel drop below 8 mm is more suitable for runners with a forefoot/midfoot striking pattern. That's why you will find it in the brand's speed trainers and minimalist shoes.

You can find out more about the effect of drop on running performance in our extensive research.

Midsole softness: is softer always better?

Having tested hundreds of shoes in our lab, we can confidently state that Nike running shoes are about 15% softer than average.

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Getting a Nike shoe nearly always equates to a plush underfoot experience from the first step down to the last mile of your run.

While soft shoes do a great job of reducing the load on a runner's body, overly plush cushioning can do more harm than good to:

  • beginner athletes who have not developed proper foot and ankle strength yet
  • runners with flat feet and overpronation who need more support
  • heavier runners whose shoes tend to bottom out quickly

We believe that most runners will benefit from a balanced type of cushioning within the range of 15-25 HA durometer measurement.

A lower HA number indicates softer foam and vice versa.

Seasoned athletes in search of plush foam for recovery runs, marathons, or even ultras will benefit greatly from Nike's famous ZoomX cushioning. Used in the brand's elite speed trainers and competition shoes, it is not only soft but also has some of the best energy return properties on the market. Its advantages over standard EVA foam have been confirmed in multiple studies.

A lower HA number indicates softer foam and vice versa.

Do Nike running shoes have arch support?

Unlike New Balance, ASICS, and Brooks who announce their stability shoes loud and clear, Nike hasn't put such a big emphasis on supportive footwear.

99% of Nike's running shoe selection is targeted at people with neutral pronation. So, if you happen to have flat feet or excessive inward rolling of the ankles (aka overpronation), Nike is not your best bet. If you are not sure about your case, have a look at our comprehensive guide on pronation.

Our lateral stability tests show too much wiggle in Nike running shoes

For those who need just a touch of support, we have put together a selection of Nike shoes which a bit stiffer and wider platform to help mild overpronation.

Shoes with a higher score for torsional rigidity and heel counter stiffness (5 is the stiffest) and wider platforms provide better stability and support.

There is some good news too. In 2023, the brand revived its Structure series by releasing a 25th edition after a few years of pause. It is specifically designed as a stability shoe.

Make sure you get the right size and fit

In most cases, we found that Nike running shoes run true to size compared to other popular athletic brands. But we always strongly recommend consulting the brand's size chart before ordering a Nike shoe online.

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Ideally, we also advise taking precise measurements of your foot length before getting a new pair of shoes. You might be surprised to find that your feet have grown!

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We measure each Nike shoe's toebox in both the widest part and near the big toe to see if the tapering is aggressive or not.

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Of course, we also try each pair on to give you more insights into the fit of each model.

For many years, Nike has been notorious for a narrow fit, especially in the toebox. But recently, this trend has been changing for the better. Here are some examples of Nike running shoes with wide toeboxes.

Summer or winter? There is a Nike shoe for both

In our lab, we perform a thorough breathability check on each Nike running shoe.

We start by filling the shoe's upper with smoke and observe how well it passes through the fabric.

This test is followed by a transparency check against the light and a more detailed look at the material through our microscope.

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All tests considered, we give each Nike shoe a final breathability score from 1 to 5, where 5 stands for most breathable. For hot summer runs, go for shoes with a score of at least 4.

And if you set out to conquer winter runs, you will need a warmer, less breathable shoe (score: 1-2). Waterproofing is only necessary if you regularly run in rainy weather, deep puddles, or snow/slush.

How to know if a Nike running shoe is waterproof? Road shoes will have the word "Shield" in their name. It is the brand's proprietary water-resistant treatment. Trail shoes will have the "GTX" abbreviation or "GORE-TEX" added to their names. This is the world's most famous waterproofing membrane.

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Additional features in Nike running shoes

As a nice bonus, some Nike running shoes offer extra features for added convenience.

Nike FlyEase

Without the fuss of laces, Nike's proprietary FlyEase design allows you to simply slide your foot in and out of the shoe in an instant. No need to kneel or use both hands.

How it works on the Nike Revolution 5 FlyEase

Reflective elements

Some Nike running shoes also feature reflective elements to give additional visibility in low-light running conditions.

7 Best Nike Running Shoes in 2024 (2024)
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