Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (2024)

Ask any runner to name three running brands, and undoubtedly Nike will be toward the top of that list. The company’s impact on the sport of running as a whole is undeniable, and Nike’s most significant contribution comes in the way of footwear. Nike shoes have pushed the boundaries of innovation. Not to take anything away from Eliud Kipchoge’s historical sub-two-hour marathon in 2019, but it begs the question: Without Nike, would we still be chasing that elusive barrier?

When you buy a pair of Nike running shoes, you get to experience this innovation with every step. Read on to check out some of the brand’s best offerings for common running shoe categories, such as stability trainers and marathon shoes.

The Best Nike Running Shoes for Men

Jump to:

  • The Best Nike Running Shoes for Men
  • What to Consider
  • How We Tested
  • Our Full Men’s Nike Running Shoe Reviews

What to Consider

Nike is famously one of the first brands to develop women-specific shoes. But the company doesn’t have any shoes specific to men, only unisex designs. As such, we don’t recommend looking for a men’s shoe explicitly when considering Nike for your next pair. Rather, knowing the primary purpose of your ideal shoes will get you closer to what you need. Need more arch support or to stave off overpronation? Check out a stability shoe. Want something snappy for tempo workouts? Try a speedwork shoe.

Before you set your eyes on a particular Nike model, knowing a few essential terms will go a long way in finding the perfect pair of men’s shoes. First, it helps to understand the basic anatomy of a running shoe. They have three main parts: the upper, midsole, and outsole. The upper is the fabric portion of the shoe that goes over the top and sides of the foot and includes the laces, the midsole is the thick layer of foam underneath your foot, and finally, the outsole is the absolute bottom of the shoe and is responsible for grip and durability on whatever surface you’re running.

Knowing whether you’ll primarily be running on roads or trails is essential. The main difference between road and trail shoes lies in the outsole: Trail shoes have thicker outsoles with deeper lugs to enhance grip on softer surfaces.

Now, it’s time to consider what type of running you’ll be doing in the shoes. Each Nike running shoe is best suited for a specific type of running. These include long runs, slow recovery runs, and race day, when every second matters. It can be hard for the untrained eye to differentiate between the different models, but looking at a shoe’s weight can lend insight into its purpose. Typically, the lighter the shoe, the more suitable it is for faster running, like speed workouts or racing. Men’s shoes that weigh 9 ounces and above are likely best for everyday running, long runs, and recovery runs. With that in mind, we vetted every Nike shoe and highlighted the best use case for each of our recommendations.

After speaking with specialty running store owners, physical therapists, and product engineers, we’ve concluded comfort should be the first thing you consider in determining the best running shoe for you. So don’t overlook fit. The rule of thumb (literally) is that you should have a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the front of a running shoe. Regarding width, Nike running shoes generally run on the narrow side, favoring normal to narrow-footed runners.

Magic in the Midsole

At the heart of every running shoe is its midsole, the thick layer of foam that sits underneath your foot. It’s the primary mechanism for how soft or firm a shoe is and is also responsible for that bouncy feeling, often referred to as responsiveness. Nike’s midsoles—including the popular ZoomX, React, and CushIon—are some of the best in the business.

ZoomX is Nike’s highest-performing midsole that features an energetic, aerospace engineer-approved Pebax foam. Nike describes ZoomX as “lighter, softer and more responsive than any Nike foam,” with which we wholeheartedly agree. Nike reserves this midsole for its premium racing and training shoes, such as the Vaporfly Next% 2, Alphafly Next%, and Invincible Run Flyknit 2. You’ll pay a premium price for these shoes, but there’s no doubt you’ll get a premium ride.

If ZoomX is the fun, energetic midsole, Nike React is the steady, durable workhorse. Nike most commonly employs React in its everyday trainers because of the foam’s reliably smooth and durable ride. CushIon, which used to be the headliner in Nike’s top-selling running shoe, the Pegasus, is an older midsole that Nike is largely phasing out of its top models, except in some budget shoes like the Nike Winflo.

Bouncing on Air

Zoom Air is one of Nike’s most predominant innovations, and the company uses it across all shoes in its portfolio, including the majority of our recommendations below. First introduced in 1995, Nike Zoom Air features pressurized bags of air embedded in a shoe’s midsole. This unique-looking technology, as most visibly apparent in the Air Zoom Tempo Next% and Air Zoom Alphafly Next%, surpasses foam’s cushioning properties while reducing weight. When Nike installs Zoom Air in both the forefoot and rearfoot of shoes, the result is a balance of give-and-take energy return, similar to the feeling of a bouncy castle.

Upper Advancements

One of Nike’s most significant influences on running shoes as a whole is how the brand has advanced upper technology. Today’s uppers are lighter, stronger, and breathe better than 20 years ago, thanks to Nike Flywire and Flyknit technology. Flywire helps reduce weight while offering a better fit and foothold by using thinly spun filaments, or “wires,” instead of heavy sewn-on overlays for support. Nike’s best-selling running shoe, the Pegasus 39, features Flywire. Four years after Nike introduced Flywire, the company developed a revolutionary upper material that even more drastically reduced weight while also cutting back on wasted materials during the manufacturing process. Named Flyknit, this ultralight knitted yarn was specially engineered to be lighter, stronger, flexible, and more comfortable than anything on the market.

How We Tested

We at Runner’s World have been testing fresh kicks since 1966, and our (Adam Schram’s and Cory Smith’s) experience reviewing running shoes spans as far back as 2014. We’ll admit it’s easy to get lost in the endless list of new models popping up on Nike’s website—through our own experience and with feedback from our extensive crew of wear-testers and input from Runner’s World editors, we’ve narrowed down the best men’s Nike running shoes for a variety of uses and pursuits, looking at everything from geometry to upper fit to weight—as well as price.

Every shoe we test spends hundreds of miles on feet, as well as an intense gauntlet of lab tests that measures everything from midsole drop—a figure brands don’t always advertise accurately—to flexibility and rebound. For the shoes on this list that don’t have extensive testing notes (or at least don’t have them yet), we relied on our experience with their predecessors’ performances in categories like racing, stability, and tempo training to ensure each model is still Nike’s best offering for a given application.

Our Full Men’s Nike Running Shoe Reviews

Best Daily Trainer

Nike Pegasus 40 Running Shoe

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Pros
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (2)Supple cushioning, but still plenty responsive
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (3)More comfortable upper than predecessor
Cons
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (4)Not Nike’s liveliest foam

Key Specs

Weight10.2 oz.
Drop10mm

Choosing the right daily trainer may be the most important decision you can make as a runner—after all, you’re going to knock out the majority of your miles in one. It needs to cover as many bases as possible: It needs to be comfortable, responsive, decently light, and as durable as possible. The Pegasus line, one of Nike’s best-known, longest-standing shoe families, tackles the do-it-all job in stride.

By maintaining a simplistic silhouette, the Pegasus provides a blank slate for runners with a wide range of fit preferences and running styles. The 40th iteration even has an improved midfoot fit that’s more accommodating to varying arch heights. It’s not Nike’s most energetic shoe—it uses React foam instead of the brand’s lighter, peppier ZoomX foam—but it’s sure to last hundreds of miles without losing its from-the-box feel. That will especially come in handy if you have a high-mileage base-building schedule on the horizon.

Pros
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (6)Roomy fit—a rarity among Nikes
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (7)Plenty of trickle-down tech from the Pegasus
Cons
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (8)Pretty heavy for a road shoe

Key Specs

Weight10.4 oz.
Drop10mm

Nike’s top-shelf shoes are some of the most expensive you can purchase today, but the brand’s best tech trickles all the way down to the lowest level. Take the Winflo, for example, and its hulking chunk of midsole foam that provides a shockingly smooth ride. For a sub-$100 shoe, the level of comfort you get from the Winflo is unprecedented, and the shoe’s roomy interior makes it an especially accommodating option for runners who don’t prefer Nike’s slimmer fits.

Best for Long Runs

Nike Invincible 3 Running Shoe

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Pros
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (10)Rocker sole makes toe-offs smoother
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (11)Huge chunk o’ foam below the heel
Cons
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (12)A bit too sluggish for speedwork

Key Specs

Weight10.9 oz.
Drop9mm

While Nike is most famous for its racing shoes, it offers a few top-notch options for your long, slow days, too. The Invincible, paramount among them, uses a hearty base of rockered ZoomX foam to give you a smooth heel-to-toe transition that guides you into a well-positioned toe-off. It’s not a great shoe for your tempo runs, at least not compared to options like the Zoom Fly, but the consistent bliss you’ll experience landing on the Invincible’s forgiving midsole will make the back half of a 20-miler feel a lot less tortuous.

Best for Road Racing

Nike Vaporfly 3 Racing Shoe

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Pros
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (14)One of the lightest racing shoes available
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (15)Buttery-soft cushioning
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (16)Snappy carbon plate in midsole
Cons
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (17)Upper has no stretch

Key Specs

Weight7.1 oz.
Drop8mm

Most major brands have some form of “super shoe” at the top bracket of their lineups, but no variation of the carbon-plated midsole design goes further back than the Vaporfly. Introduced in 2017, the first iteration aimed to carry elite runners to the first sub-2:00 marathon. Though Nike didn’t successfully break that barrier until 2019 with the Alphafly, the first Vaporfly nevertheless stirred the racing shoe world out of the rut of ultralight racing flats and into a new age of maximalism.

Thanks to a plate of carbon fiber nestled inside the Vaporfly’s midsole, this shoe’s energy return is unparalleled, even with a hearty helping of pillowy foam underneath. Because the plate stores and releases all the energy of your footstrike with minimal loss, Nike was free to give the Vaporfly an enormous, high-stack midsole that absorbs impacts just as well as many long-run trainers. Better yet, our testers found that the high stack doesn’t necessarily lead to instability: Runner-in-Chief Jeff Dengate wore a pair for the Harrisburg Marathon, a race fraught with sharp turns, and found it “wasn’t a problem at all.”

It’s the best of both worlds: You get the responsiveness of a lightweight racing flat and the forgiving squish of a recovery day shoe, meaning you can keep your strides energized without worrying about all those hard impacts adding up. Just be wary of durability—since the foam is made to compress, it will lose its initial kick far more quickly than the average training shoe.

Best for Speedwork

Nike Zoom Fly 5 Running Shoe

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Pros
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (19)Carbon plate allows for softer and more abundant cushioning
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (20)More durable than a racing shoe
Cons
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (21)All that material translates to extra weight

Key Specs

Weight11.1 oz.
Drop10mm

When many runners think of a speedwork shoe, they imagine something incredibly light and a little bit on the harsh side. The Zoom Fly, in contrast, is quite a bit bulkier, playing to the strengths of a maximalist racing shoe without sacrificing durability. Sure, the Zoom Fly tips the scale at a hefty 11 ounces, which many would consider far too sluggish for a tempo trainer, but that extra weight comes from a considerable layer of midsole foam that takes the edge off the springy carbon plate within.

In essence, this shoe has the same energy return mechanics as shoes like the Vaporfly and Alphafly, but it’s built up a bit more redundantly to withstand the rigors of a training schedule. The upper is especially more robust, rocking an extra layer that makes it feel a little more like a standard shoe—no stretch-free uppers like the Vaporfly’s to worry about here.

Best Stability Shoe

Nike InfinityRN 4 Running Shoe

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Pros
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (23)No clunky traditional support features
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (24)Wide sole for planted footstrikes
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (25)Roomy fit in the toebox
Cons
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (26)Heaviest shoe on this list

Key Specs

Weight12.5 oz.
Drop9mm

Though the newest Pegasus has an updated midfoot band that gives your arch plenty of support, nothing hits the spot for overpronators like a proper stability shoe. Enter the InfinityRN 4: This offering from Nike aims to do away with old-fashioned support systems built into the upper that clutter the fit, instead relying on a wide, rockered outsole to guide your stride without suffocating the upper half of your foot.

Compared to previous versions, the 4 also has a wider toebox, which will come as a relief to anyone who isn’t a fan of Nike’s historically narrow fits.

Best for Trails

Nike Wildhorse 8 Trail Running Shoe

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Pros
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (28)All-rounder design handles rough terrain well without feeling too sluggish
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (29)Durable outsole
Cons
  • Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (30)Latest version weighs a bit more than predecessors

Key Specs

Weight12.3 oz.
Drop9mm

Nike isn’t best known for its trail shoe lineup, but the Wildhorse is worth a special mention. It’s Nike’s do-it-all trail shoe, and it expertly balances rock-gripping traction and mud-loving lugs with plush comfort and sprightliness. It also boasts a rock plate, but only in the front half of the midsole, which keeps the shoe malleable but stops the worst of your local trail’s terrain from hitting you where it hurts.

In our testing, we’ve found we prefer the Pegasus Trail 4 GTX is slightly better for road-to-trail running thanks to its lighter, more road-friendly outsole—but if you’re starting your runs at the trailhead, the Wildhorse will give you one heck of an offroad ride.

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Adam Schram

Adam Schram is an Assistant Editor of Commerce at Runner's World, though you might see his byline on Bicycling and Popular Mechanics, too. A lover of all things outdoors, Adam's writing career comes after six years as a bike mechanic in his hometown of State College, PA. His journalism experience is steeped in cycling and running gear reviews, and he's also a published creative nonfiction and satire author. When he's not writing, riding, or running, you can catch Adam at home mixing co*cktails, watching Star Wars, or trying in vain to do the Sunday crossword. You can check out his latest work below.

Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (32)

Cory Smith

Cory Smith is a running coach and journalist specializing in running and fitness-related content and gear reviews. He is the founder of Run Your Personal Best, an online running coaching business that has helped hundreds of runners achieve personal bests in distances ranging from 800 meters to 100 miles. Cory holds a USA Track & Field Level 1 and 2 Endurance Certification and was the former Head Cross Country/Track Coach at Penn State Brandywine. Over his running career, Cory has held three Maryland state records, was a two-time National Championship qualifier while at Villanova University, and holds personal bests of 4:03 in the mile and an 8:05 in the 3K.

Fans of the Swoosh: These Are the Best Nike Running Shoes for Men (2024)
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