These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (2024)

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  • What to consider when shopping for Nike running shoes
  • How we test
  • Best Nike running shoes for the road
  • Best Nike trail running shoes

If you like a versatile, cushioned running shoe that doesn’t weigh you down and feels peppy enough for faster paces, you should be looking at Nike.

From racing models for elite marathoners to durable trainers for beginners, Nike running shoes continually push the envelope with new technology and innovative designs. The brand was the first to introduce ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) cushioning, setting the modern standard, industry-wide. It also invented many of the special features found in today’s running shoes, including air-filled cells that soak up impact forces and carbon fibre plates that increase energy return.

To help you navigate the brand’s current shoe line-up and cutting-edge shoe technologies, we’ve highlighted the best performance shoes Nike makes below, including models for every kind of running, from racing, to training, trail running and more.

What to consider when shopping for Nike running shoes

Upper

Nike has developed two standout upper designs for its shoes: Flyknit and AtomKnit. Flyknit, found on the Vaporfly and Invincible 3, is a woven upper design where yarn is woven tightly in some areas and more loosely in others. The loose weave allows the shoe to flex with your foot for greater comfort, while the tight weave provides support in key areas where you need it.

AtomKnit, found in the Alphafly and Nike track spikes, is made by stretching and steaming Flyknit fabric to reduce its weight, resulting in a thin, breezy upper that’s ideal for racing.

In addition to its knit uppers, Nike makes a wide array of conventional running shoes with more traditional mesh uppers, such as the Pegasus, which offer good durability for day-to-day training.

Cushioning

Nike makes two cushioning foams that provide support across most of its running line-up – React and ZoomX. The brand is continually iterating on both materials. A new version of React, called ReactX, is formulated to be even bouncier than older versions of the foam.

ZoomX was originally developed for Nike’s racing shoes, but the brand has also started using it in training shoes like the Invincible 3.

React is a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) foam designed to maximise cushioning, energy return, and durability. It offers great impact absorption and a soft feel when landing, but also delivers a springy sensation at toe-off. It's ideal for everyday training.

ReactX, which debuted in the InfinityRN 4 and Peagus 41, is made with an injection moulding process, rather than the compression moulding used in many other midsoles, to generate a bouncier and more responsive cushion. Nike claims that the change led to a 13% increase in energy return, compared to standard React foam. There’s a sustainability benefit, too: ReactX requires less energy to make and results in less wasted material during manufacturing.

ZoomX is Nike’s specialty racing foam. Made with polyether block amide (PEBA), it’s lightweight and offers exceptional energy return, which allows designers to add a thick layer of cushion without weighing the shoe down. It’s formulated for going fast, so you’ll find it in top-tier racing models like the Alphafly and Vaporfly.

Zoom Air units

Nike shoes with Zoom Air feature air-filled bags placed within the midsole of a shoe. They compress on landing, absorbing impact forces, then spring back to their original shape, providing a propulsive feel.

The Zoom Air units work in tandem with midsole foam to provide cushioning and energy return, and they’re used across the running shoe line-up, from the Alphafly racer to the Pegasus training shoe.

Carbon fibre plates

By combining carbon fibre plates with ZoomX foam, Nike essentially created the ultralight racing super shoe. Nike’s top running shoes, including the Vaporfly and Alphafly, feature carbon fibre plates embedded within their midsoles. The stiff plate stabilises the shoe and guides your foot forward through toe-off, which helps you get maximum energy return from the thick foam midsole.

    How we test

    All of the shoes below have been tested, with feedback from RW editors and our wider team of wear testers. To make this guide as helpful as possible, we've focused on performance running shoes that feature the brand’s latest cushioning foams, midsole tech, and upper designs, while making sure to pick models for all kinds of runners, from shoes for trail runners, to beginners and overpronators.

    The expert — Ali Ball, e-commerce editor: I've been specialised in testing and reviewing the latest running shoes, gear and tech for a number of years, both on-staff at Runner’s World and at other media titles. I’ve written more about running shoes than any other kind of gear, and I have firsthand experience running in models from a range of brands, including Nike.

    Best Nike running shoes for the road

    Nike Air Zoom Alphafly 3

    Best for marathons

    Nike Alphafly 3

    These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (11)

    Pros
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (12)Stable ride
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (13)Ideal for racing and speed sessions
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (14)Cushioned and supremely responsive
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (15)Breathable upper and flawless lockdown
    Cons
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (16)Seriously pricey
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (17)Heavier than Vaporfly
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (18)Not for everyday running
    Weight218g (M), 174g (W)
    Heel-to-toe drop8mm

    > Read our full Nike Alphafly 3 review here <

    When the late Kelvin Kiptum set the men's marathon world record in October 2023, he wore a prototype of these shoes. And there surely can't be a better recommendation for a shoe that that. When you run, the shoe propels you forward – the faster you run, the more you feel it. Even if you can't run at world record pace – and who can? – the energy saving will maximise your PB chances over any distance, but particularly the longer races.

    For the latest iteration, Nike has used a continuous outsole for increased stability and an all-new last (shoe mould), fleshed out around the midfoot. These changes make the shoe a lot more comfortable than the Alphafly 2, reducing rubbing through the midfoot and on the Achilles, and give you confidence rounding corners. One of our testers wore these to race a half-marathon and had no blisters or hotspots after, unlike the V2.

    The ride is punchy and light, with more of a tippy sensation on each step than the previous iteration. However, this just adds to the overall liveliness and enjoyment of the ride.

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    Nike Pegasus 41

    Best for beginners

    Nike Pegasus 41

    These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (19)

    Pros
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (20)Softer and more responsive than v40
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (21)Affordable, daily workhorse
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (22)Secure mid-foot band
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (23)Breathable upper
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (24)Uses 43% less carbon than v40
    Cons
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (25)Not nimble enough for speed work
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (26)Lacks the cushioning of maximalist shoes
    TypeNeutral
    Weight251g (M), 297g (W)
    Heel-to-toe drop10mm

    > Read more about the Nike Pegasus 41 here <

    There's a reason that the Pegasus is in its 41th iteration — the 'workhorse with wings' really does deliver. The focus for the latest version has been on upping the shoe’s responsiveness, so there’s a new ReactX midsole which, according to Nike, provides 13% more energy return than the Pegasus 40.

    There’s been a 1mm increase in the stack height, with the Pegasus 41 coming in at 34mm at the heel and 24mm at the forefoot. While it’s certainly not one of the new generation of maximalist cushioned shoes, when you step in to the Pegasus, you do immediately feel that comfort hugging your foot securely in place. The 10mm heel-to-toe drop remains the same and there’s the usual Air Zoom units in the forefoot and the heel to complete the cushioning system.

    The Pegasus 41 offers a solid, stable and comfortably cushioned ride, and it's a shoe that can take a lot of mileage and a lot of pounding on the tarmac. While it may not feel nimble enough to be a speed-day shoe of choice, its durability and comfort make it a supremely reliable everyday training option.

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    Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 3

    Best for road racing

    Nike Vaporfly 3

    These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (27)

    Pros
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (28)Fast and lively ride
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (29)Lighter than Alphafly Pro
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (30)No slappy sensation in newer model
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (31)More comfortable fit
    Cons
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (32)Zero stretch in the upper
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (33)Low durability
    Weight198g (M), 164g (W)
    Heel-to-toe drop8mm

    A go-to for many serious racers, the third iteration of the Vaporfly feels just as lively and fast as the previous two. Nike has overhauled the Vaporfly from the rubber up, looking to make it the lightest yet. One attempt to shave weight came in the midsole shaping, with foam now removed from places where it’s not needed. Gone, too, is the slab of rubber under the forefoot, replaced with a web of diamond-shaped lugs. According to our testers, the new construction eliminates the loud, slappy sensation found in almost all the new super shoes.

    One gripe: the Flyknit upper is extremely thin and breathable, but it doesn’t stretch at all, so take care not to lace up too tightly.

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    Nike Invincible 3

    Best for long runs

    Nike Invincible 3

    These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (34)

    Pros
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (35)Supremely comfortable over longer distances
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (36)Cushioned yet responsive
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (37)Stable ride
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (38)More secure, breathable upper than previous model
    Cons
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (39)Can be slippy on wet surfaces
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (40)May be too cushioned for some
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (41)Not ideal for racing
    TypeNeutral
    Weight310g (M), 258g (W)
    Heel-to-toe drop9mm

    > Read our full Nike Invincible 3 review here <

    The Invincible is a shoe that offers cushioning and comfort in abundance and for anyone looking for a daily shoe that is all about cruising about rather than crushing PBs.

    The upper is where most of the work has been done between version two and three, and the previously thicker, less breathable Flyknit has been replaced with a more breathable and less sketchy Flyknit upper that helps lock the foot into place and gives the shoe a more secure feeling.

    The comfort comes from the large chunk of ZoomX foam couple with an oversized footprint. These shoes really are at best when used for easy running all the way up to some tempo work. They’d be ideal for marathons too (and beyond), if your aim is to finish rather than race for the line with your heart jumping out of your chest.

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    Nike InfinityRN 4

    Most stable

    Nike InfinityRN 4

    These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (42)

    Pros
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (43)Nicely cushioned
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (44)Ideal for easy runs
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (45)New water-repellent liner
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (46)Better energy return than v3
    Cons
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (47)Heavier than previous iteration
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (48)Firm, rather than plush, ride
    Weight310g (M), 244g (W)
    Heel-to-toe drop8mm

    > Read our full Nike InfinityRN 4 review here <

    It might not be categorised as a traditional stability shoe, but the InfinityRN 4 nevertheless is almost one by stealth. There is no traditional (though increasingly obsolete) stability medial post in this shoe. Instead, there's a clip running around the outside of the heel to keep you stable, and under the forefoot, the midsole is wider. These features unite to offer stability and support, without being intrusive, heavy or clunky as can be the case with some stability shoes.

    As with the Pegasus above, the midsole in the latest iteration is made of Nike’s React X foam, which gives you 13% more energy return compared with Nike React foam. There’s also a rocker geometry in the shoe for a smoother transition during footstrike. Extra padding around the heel and ankle keep you supported too, and there's a new water repellent liner to the front of the toe box.

    Overall, the React InfinityRN creates that rare thing – an everyday running shoe that both offers an unobtrusive ride to neutral runners, but also enough support for mild overpronators when they need it.

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    Nike Vomero 17

    Best for everyday training

    Nike Vomero 17

    These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (49)

    Pros
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (50)Plush ride
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (51)Excellent grip
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (52)Versatile enough for tempo
    Cons
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (53)Cushion 3.0 foam less bouncy than ZoomX
    Weight272g (M), 220g (W)
    Heel-to-toe drop10mm
    TypeNeutral/road

    The Vomero is one of Nike's cushioned daily trainers, chiefly designed for easy and long runs. It’s always offered a plush ride, but the latest iteration also benefits from Nike ZoomX in its midsole – the same Peba-based state- of-the-art foam in its supershoes.

    This ZoomX is sandwiched with a layer of Cushion 3.0 – a traditional material that’s certainly less bouncy than the ZoomX, though still soft. Together they add up to a feeling of nicely balanced responsiveness, even at slower paces, while the cushioned tongue and smart lacing system provide supreme comfort. Yet despite all the plush details, the Vomero is no heavyweight, weighing in at 272g (M).

    The waffle patterned outsole offers excellent grip on the road, while the shoe fits true to size with ample room in the forefoot. Though positioned as an easy-run shoe, the Vomero is light and versatile enough to handle some up-tempo running, too.

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    Nike ZoomX Streakfly

    Best for 5k and 10k races

    Nike Streakfly

    These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (54)

    Pros
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (55)Impressively light, springy ride
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (56)Feels stable
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (57)Offset lacing eases pressure on foot
    Cons
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (58)May be too low stack for some
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (59)Lacks the speed of full carbon plate
    Weight185g (M), 155g (W)
    Heel-to-toe drop6mm

    Designed for 5K and 10K efforts on the roads, the Streakfly is a lightweight racer built for speed. It's almost an old school racing flat, but with a 2022 update. The minimal heel collar and thin upper shaves weight, while offset lacing eases pressure on the foot. Our testers enjoyed the ‘barely there’ feel, but also felt there was enough support to mean no stability issues, even when cornering at pace.

    The midsole is made from the same light and responsive ZoomX foam as the Vaporfly, although with a much lower stack height, and instead of a full-length carbon plate, the Streakfly has a Pebax plate (similar to that on modern track spikes) under the midfoot. The result is a super-light, low-profile, springy ride to appeal to the traditional racing flat lover, but with more protection from the cushioning on the midsole. For lighter runners, they could also work as a half marathon racer.

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    Nike Winflo 11

    Best for under £100

    Nike Winflo 11

    These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (60)

    Pros
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (61)Decent amount of cushioning
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (62)Breathable mesh upper
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (63)Secure and snug fit
    Cons
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (64)Not as light as pricier options
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (65)Midsole foam lacks responsiveness
    TypeNeutral
    Weight325g (M), 262g (W)
    Heel-to-toe drop10mm

    Now we are at a point where it's increasingly difficult to find a pair of good running shoes for under £100, the Winflo 11 are a great budget option for new runners or those looking for a reliable workhorse for regular runs at a pocket-friendly price.

    Sure, you won’t get the lighter, more responsive foams or carbon plates of some of the brand’s racier, more pricy options, but the Cushlon 3.0 midsole is still pretty soft and smooth riding, and the full-length Zoom Air unit offers some responsiveness.

    The latest iteration has a more spacious forefoot and wider heel to provide a better fit for all foot types. The mesh upper has been enhanced to provide even better breathability, too, and the Flywire cables under the lacing provide a secure and snug fit. There’s also a smoother, softer lining inside the shoe to enhance overall comfort, and softened tongue padding.

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    Best Nike trail running shoes

    Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX

    Best for road-to-trail

    Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX

    These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (66)

    Pros
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (67)Ideal for most surfaces
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (68)Lively, responsive and smooth ride
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (69)Comfortable over long distances
    Cons
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (70)No underfoot rock plate
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (71)limited added toe coverage
    Weight278g (M), 224g (W)
    Heel-to-toe drop9.5mm (M), 8.5mm (W)

    Don’t let the GTX fool you into thinking this is some kind of extreme model for only the severest conditions and most technical terrain. It’s actually a true road/trail hybrid, with a React foam midsole that feels great on the pavement. And, though the GTX distinction suggests ankle-high waterproofness, the material only reaches to the top of the laces. The gaiter collar is instead a stretchy fabric, preferable for shielding against trail debris and light drizzle. Though not suited for deeper stream crossing, this construction does breathe easier.

    The GTX version has other differences aside from the waterproofness in the upper. The outsole uses a different, stickier rubber to the non-GTX version. It performs wonderfully well on all surfaces and, in further evidence of the Peg GTX’s road-to-trail multitool creds, especially so on the road.

    Off the road, it’s at its best on harder packed less technical trails, grass and dirt paths, providing a lively, responsive but smooth and nicely cushioned ride. The traction isn’t quite aggressive enough when things get really steep or slippy. Protective elements are also dialled down compared to the most extreme trail models, with no underfoot rock plate and limited added coverage at the toe, but unless you’re tackling something really extreme there’s enough to keep you safe and comfortable.

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    Nike Zoomx Zegama 2

    Nike Zegama 2

    These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (72)

    Now 20% Off

    Pros
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (73)Responsive ride
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (74)Capable of handling moderately technical terrains
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (75)New Vibram outsole
    Cons
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (76)Could be better at handling wet conditions
    • These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (77)Upper lacks breathability
    TypeNeutral
    Weight320g (M), 262g (W)
    Heel-to-toe drop4mm

    > Read our full Nike Zegama 2 review <

    Named after a mountain race in northern Spain, the Zegama is Nike’s most technical trail shoe. In recent years, Nike trail shoes haven’t been known to tackle the world’s hardest mountain tracks, but the Zegama impressed. The midsole is made from ZoomX – the same stuff used in the Vaporfly and Alphafly racing shoes. On its own it’s too fragile for very technical trails, so it’s enclosed in a more durable carrier foam for better longevity. The result is a cushioned and responsive ride.

    The first iteration of the Zegama lost points for its outsole, which offered very little grip, particularly on the muddy trails most of us encounter in the UK. So, the Zegama 2’s new Vibram MegaGrip outsole is welcome news indeed. It offers significantly more traction across a wide range of off-road conditions, from muddy trails to gravel to sand.

    The upper is built to handle rugged ground. However, we did find that the Zegama runs hot. The result of this, at least for one of our testers, was the development of hotspots under both feet.

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    These are the best Nike running shoes for every type of runner (2024)
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