The 10 Best Nike Running Shoes in 2024 - Running Shoe Reviews

Nike shoes help elite athletes break records and new runners get started.

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The 10 Best Nike Running Shoes in 2024 - Running Shoe Reviews

Nike began in 1962 with University of Oregon runner Phil Knight selling imported running shoes out of the back of his car. The Swoosh grew exponentially over the years and is a global athletics powerhouse in 2024, but running remains a core focus for the brand—and a major factor in its success. Need proof? Just look at the record books. Kelvin Kiptum wore a pair of Nike running shoes to set the new men’s marathon record in fall, 2023. The time he beat, held by Eliud Kipchoge, was also set in a pair of Nikes.

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 fiber plates that increase energy return.

To help you navigate the brand’s current shoe lineup and cutting edge shoe technologies, I’ve highlighted the best performance shoes Nike makes, including models for every kind of running, from racing, to training, trail running and walking.

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Nike has a broad running shoe lineup that ranges from track spikes and racing shoes to everyday trainers and trail shoes. The core of that lineup, represented in the picks below, serve up a cushioned-yet-responsive ride that feels comfortable and lively underfoot. That feeling comes from Nike’s flagship cushioning foams, React and ZoomX (more on those below).

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

Nike has developed two standout upper designs for its shoes: Flyknit and AtomKnit. Flyknit, found on shoes like the Vaporfly and Invincible 3, as well as Nike soccer cleats and some basketball shoes, 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. It’s only used in Nike’s most speed-focused running shoes.

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

Nike makes two cushioning foams that provide support across most of its running lineup – 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 maximize 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. Having tested it in multiple shoes, I love the foam’s balance between softness and energy return—it’s ideal for everyday training.

ReactX, which debuted in the InfinityRN 4, is made with an injection molding process, rather than the compression molding used in many other midsoles, to generate a bouncier and more responsive cushion. Nike claims that the change led to a 13 percent 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, as well as speedy training shoes like the Zoom Fly 5.

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 original concept debuted in the late ‘70s, and Nike has refined it in the decades since.

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

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

That yields a bouncy, snappy feel that encourages fast paces. For the ultimate racing shoe experience, the carbon fiber-equipped Nike models are the way to go.

The models below represent the best Nike running shoes you can buy today. To select them, I reviewed the Nike shoe lineup and talked with a brand representative to learn about its latest shoes. I drew on RW reviews, RW editor feedback, my own experience testing Nike shoes, and my knowledge of the running shoe market to narrow the list down to the pairs below.

To make this guide as helpful as possible, I 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 racing shoes to trail runners.

For even more information, check out our full-length shoe reviews (where available), which have thorough breakdowns on the performance of individual models.

While premium racing models like the Vaporfly grace the feet of elite marathoners, the trusty Pegasus is the running shoe for the rest of us—and it might be Nike’s most beloved running model. The Pegasus line has been around for decades, and it’s a workhorse training shoe that offers some of the brand’s best tech.

The Pegasus 40 features a redesigned midfoot band that better accommodates varying arch heights, and Nike redesigned the way the layers of the mesh upper fit together and added padding to the ankle collar for a more comfortable fit. The sole features React foam and Zoom Air units at the heel and forefoot for a well-cushioned and responsive ride.

The Peg doesn’t come with Nike’s ultra-bouncy and lightweight ZoomX foam, so you might want a different shoe for speedwork days. But for longer efforts and general training runs, the Pegasus offers a smooth ride with enough springiness to keep you surging forward.

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

The Rival Fly 3 is a lightweight, speedy trainer that excels at tempo workouts and shorter runs. The midsole features a combo of Nike’s comfy EVA-based Cushlon foam—now revamped to be softer than the foam used in previous versions of the Rival Fly—and a Zoom Air unit under the forefoot. On top, the Rival Fly 3 has a breathable mesh upper, to keep your feet comfortable even when you’re really hauling, and the shoe is optimized for longevity, too. An overlay over the toes and forefoot protects from scrapes, and generous rubber placements on the outsole boost durability for high-mileage training.

There’s one major downside here: Nike only sells the Rival Fly 3 in men’s sizes. It comes in an extended size range–down to size 3.5–to accommodate some women runners, but it’s not ideal.

Given that, I also wanted to offer a backup option: I’ve recommended the Nike Winflo 10 as a bargain pick in the past, and it’s still one of the best inexpensive Nike shoes. The Cushlon and Zoom Air combo creates reliable cushioning with good energy return for a comfy, peppy ride.

It’s hard to overstate the impact of the Nike Vaporfly. Before its introduction, racing shoes featured minimalist designs with thin midsoles for maximum weight savings. The Vaporfly totally upended the basic tenets of that design with its tall stack height and hefty layer of light-but-bouncy foam cushioning.

Although it’s arguably been eclipsed by the newer, more feature-rich Alphafly line, the Vaporfly remains the most popular choice for marathoners, including elite runners. As the label on the heel proudly states, it’s the original “super shoe,” and it’s still going strong.

The latest model, the Vaporfly 3, is a top-to-bottom overhaul with all kinds of revisions to make it lighter, boost its energy return, and increase its stability. Like previous versions, the shoe features Nike’s top-tier ZoomX foam and an embedded carbon fiber plate for stiffness and energy return.

The forefoot outsole rubber is 2mm thinner, allowing a 2mm increase in forefoot foam for increased cushioning. Nike also scooped out some foam on the sidewall and a channel at the bottom of the shoe to shave off weight. In addition, the medial side of the midsole is shaped to resist compression, which helps the shoe feel less wobbly when cornering.

The wide-open mesh design of the Flyknit upper promotes great breathability, but be warned: The Flyknit weave does not stretch, so be careful how tightly you tie your laces. Even so, the Vaporfly offers an ideal combo of low weight, cushioning, and energy return, and it’s a superb pick for racing.

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

The Alphafly is the pinnacle of the Nike running shoe lineup, and occupies a vaunted place in the running world. In 2018, elite marathoner Eliud Kipchoge wore an earlier version of this shoe when he (unofficially) became the first person to run a marathon in less than two hours. Kipchoge also used his Alphaflys while winning his second Olympic marathon gold medal.

Still not convinced? Consider the Alphafly’s design, which showcases all of Nike’s best running shoe technology. The upper utilizes AtomKnit 2.0, an ultralight version of the Flyknit weave, for maximum weight savings and breathability. Like the Vaporfly, the midsole features a thick layer of lightweight, propulsive ZoomX foam, and an embedded carbon fiber plate for snappy responsiveness. But the Alphafly gets something extra: Zoom Air units under the forefoot for even more energy return at toe-off.

The current model, the Alphafly 2, features thinner outsole rubber and more ZoomX foam at the forefoot. In our testing, we found the shoe created smoother transitions, felt more responsive, and also moved more quietly. If you want the best of the best for your next race, this is it.

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

The Nike Zoom Fly line serves up the same basic tech found in the brand’s top-shelf racers, but in a more affordable, training-oriented package. The midsole contains the winning combo of propulsive ZoomX foam and an embedded carbon fiber plate. Together, they create a snappy feel underfoot that helps you push the pace.

In contrast to the ultra-thin uppers found on the Vaporfly and Alphafly, it features a durable double-layer mesh upper, which makes it more suitable for grinding through a training schedule.

The Zoom Fly 5 adds a slightly widened midsole at the forefoot and heel for improved stability. Although it’s significantly heavier than the Vaporfly and Alphafly, it offers a similar springy feel underfoot, and it's a great training counterpart to those shoes (you can save the pricier models for race day).

But it doesn’t have to be a trainer: With its premium cushioning and carbon fiber plate, it makes a solid value-oriented pick for longer races as well.

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

Think of the Nike Streakfly as a shrunk down, streamlined version of the Vaporfly. While it isn’t quite as minimalist as an old-school racing flat, it’s Nike’s lightest racing shoe, and it’s designed to propel you through shorter races up to a 10K.

The relatively thin midsole is made of a full-length layer of ZoomX foam for a plush-yet-springy ride, and instead of a carbon fiber plate, Nike embedded a short PEBA plate at midfoot. The plate helps stiffen the shoe a bit and stabilize your foot as you run.

The thin knit upper creates good breathability and saves weight. It’s also reinforced at the forefoot, and foam pods at the heel for a secure fit. Offset lacing keeps the shoe snug on your feet, even when you’re hauling.

The only drawback? In our testing, we found the thin layer of ZoomX foam couldn’t quite handle heel strikes—the material compressed and then bottomed out, creating a jarring sensation. If you’re a heel striker, you’ll likely want to choose a different shoe.

Buy Men’s Buy Unisex

Nike designed the Invincible 3 as a max-cushion shoe that can keep your feet and legs happy on long-distance runs. The main highlight is the midsole, which features a generous helping of ZoomX foam for excellent shock absorption and springy energy return to help you keep your pace when fatigue sets in.

The sole is wider at the forefoot for added stability, and has an overall rocker shape, following a design trend that seems to be all the rage across brands like Hoka, Saucony, and Asics. The rocker sole encourages smooth transitions from touchdown to toe-off so you can roll through your stride efficiently.

As shoe brands develop lighter, softer foams and create shoes with tall stack heights, the rocker shape becomes more important: It promotes smooth, rolling transitions from landing to toe-off, even on shoes with thick midsoles.

On the upper, the Flyknit material is constructed with breathability zones in high-heat areas to keep your feet cool, and compared to Nike’s race-oriented models, it features a beefier design that’s more durable, so it can withstand high-mileage training routines. The Nike Invincible 3 is perfectly plush, making it great for long runs—or runs of any distance, if you want a soft, bouncy ride.

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

To create the Pegasus Trail 4 Gore-Tex, Nike revamped its beloved Peg trainer to make it better suited to off-road terrain and wet conditions. It’s a standout in the Nike Trail lineup, and an excellent choice for road-to-trail runs that include a mix of pavement and dirt. Plus, the Gore-Tex upper offers extra protection from light rain and splashes.

The versatile design features a full-length React foam midsole for a smooth, well-cushioned ride with good energy return. On the bottom, the outsole utilizes a sticky rubber compound in the forefoot for strong traction off the pavement, but the cleat-like lugs on the outsole are small and flexible enough for road running as well. The upper incorporates a Gore-Tex membrane to ward off light precipitation, and a soft, stretchy fabric at the ankle blocks dirt and debris.

After more than a few rainy runs I found the Pegasus Trail 4 Gore-Tex shines for its comfy ride across all kinds of terrain. It locks you down in the dirt, but doesn’t create lug feedback on pavement. Plus, it keeps your feet dry and warm, too.

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

The InfinityRN 4 offers a supportive feel without traditional support tech, like firm medial posts in the midsole. Instead, this trainer features a wide sole with a rocker shape, curving upward at the heel and toe, which gives it a stable ride and helps your foot transition smoothly from landing to toe-off. The newest revision also adds ReactX foam cushioning, which is more sustainable and delivers increased energy return, so you get a little extra pep with each stride.

On top, the InfinityRN 4 has a breathable Flyknit upper with an internal midfoot wrap for a secure fit. Nike tweaked the design to create a roomier toe box this time around, so your toes will have more room to splay, and helps you get more stable footing.

I took the InfinityRN 4 on a few test runs around my neighborhood last summer, and I really enjoyed its wide, rockered sole design. The shoe felt stable and planted, and it easily transferred my momentum forward with each step. Despite the hefty weight on paper, it never felt clunky on my feet. The Flyknit upper also created a snug fit, especially around my ankle and heel. It’s a great pick for runners who appreciate a secure, stable shoe for daily training.

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

The Motiva is a clean-sheet design aimed squarely at beginners or anyone who mixes walking and running in their workouts. To create it, Nike pulled data from activities uploaded to the Nike Run Club app and solicited feedback from over 1,000 athletes. The result? A shoe with a strong emphasis on comfort at any pace, including walking, jogging, and running.

The highlight here is the shoe’s thick midsole. It’s made from Cushlon foam, and the material is sculpted in a wave pattern on the bottom; the waves are designed to compress with each step for a supremely soft ride. The sole also has a rocker shape for gentle transitions from heel to toe, and unlike many other Nike shoes, it’s relatively wide, so you get an accommodating fit.

In RW testing, runners appreciated the Motiva’s plush cushioning, although some testers felt the shoe was a bit unstable. Despite that shortcoming, it’s definitely worth considering if you’re just starting out with running or you prefer a well-padded shoe for walking.

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

Are Nike shoes only for elite runners?

Although the brand gets lots of attention for its premium racing shoes, Nike makes a variety of running models suitable for all kinds of runners and running disciplines. The Winflo, for example, is a great pick for runners who are just starting out.

Will Nike racing shoes make me faster?

Nike claims its Vaporfly and Alphafly shoes improve running economy: Their thick, springy foam midsoles and stiff carbon fiber plates work together to help your muscles expend less energy as you run. A 2017 Nike-funded study found the Vaporfly improved running economy by 4 percent.

More recent research suggests those benefits may only apply to very fast runners, though. In an independent 2023 study, athletes running in Vaporflys at a 9:40 mile pace saw a running economy boost of less than 1 percent, and some runners actually had worse running economy while wearing the shoes. 

We’ll need to see more research before we treat it as a fact, but it’s possible that these shoes actually do make you faster, or at least do so for elite athletes.

Are Nike racing shoes better than those from other brands?

Since the introduction of the Vaporfly, many other running shoe brands have developed their own “super shoes” with the same basic formula: A thick midsole made of lightweight, responsive foam with an embedded carbon fiber plate. One 2022 study compared super shoes from Nike, Saucony, Brooks, Asics, and others, and it found the Alphafly and Vaporfly (along with the Asics Metaspeed Sky) offer the largest boosts to running economy.

That said, you should start by looking for a race-day shoe that fits your feet and stride. It doesn’t matter if a shoe design can improve your running economy if you can’t stand to wear them.

Michael is a freelance writer with years of experience covering gear and the outdoors for Runner's World and other publications; when he's not writing, he's usually biking, hiking, and running in the mountains around Los Angeles, where he lives. 

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