I was all over place in my opinions of this shoe throughout the 75 or so miles I’ve run in them. I have loved them, hated them, and then honed in on how they function best for me, to be able to love them again when sticking to that context.
From the first run I’ve liked the feel in the forefoot with its flexibly snug, breathable upper and sensation of the surface beneath.
This connection to the running surface was a stark contrast to the Gel-Kayano, HOKA, and Sequence 9 shoes that I’d been running in prior to trying Odyssey.
At first I didn’t mind the increase in heel to toe drop (12mm) and appreciated that despite this, the shoe seemed to encourage a forefoot strike. I later realized that it was the shoe’s flexibility and “ground feel” that I liked, not the drop.
The Odyssey 2 has the best fit in the heel of any shoe I’ve run in (love this!), with Kayano coming in second and Sequence right on the heels of Kayano.
Coming into the midfoot all three models have managed a secure feel through different technologies with the Odyssey being just a bit more flexible both in heel-toe transition and in the upper’s hold on the foot.
I prefer the tight lock of Kayano and Sequence, but Odyssey’s mesh is softer and more breathable which may be your higher aim, especially if you train in a warmer climate (my feet got hot during treadmill runs in the Kayano last winter).
Odyssey’s toe box is fitted yet flexible, similar to adidas’ Vengeful, and this contrasts the molded-roomy toe box of the Sequence 9.
In back-to-back testing, the Odyssey feels the most similar to Mizuno Wave Inspire but with more of a heel drop and slightly more fitted toe box.
Odyssey 2 is a bit lighter than Kayano and Sequence (thumbs up) but offers less arch support and, I think, overall stability (more on this in the “Sole” section).
The 12 mm drop becomes bothersome for me into longer runs and reminds me of how my calf feels constricted and limited in high heels (sorry, Nike).
I’m NOT saying that this shoe is like running in high heels, just that I’m a fan of working through more range of motion. (I will wear non-stiletto heels—but I don’t want to run in them!!)
Nike Air Zoom Odyssey 2 General Info
Nike does a great job designing shoes that demand attention with unique design aspects that are colorful and also functional, and the Odyssey 2 is no exception to this.
When I first slipped my regular shoe size on, I thought that they were borderline too small, but when I snugged the laces, they were perfect.
The cables in this second version are flat and wide on the lateral side and divided out with two cables per lace, medially, to secure the upper more comfortably than did the version in the first Odyssey.
On our first run together, these shoes told me that they wanted to do some speedwork, so we headed to the track for day two of our adventure in testing.
I later read on Nike’s site that Odyssey 2 is ideal for faster-paced runs, and after trying them out for a variety of workouts, I concur.
The Odyssey line is Nike’s second attempt at a stability shoe with a significant difference from the Nike Zoom Structure being a 12mm drop (versus the Structure’s 10mm).
This established line from Nike is a favorite of our tester with flat feet—might be a shoe to look into if you share those characteristics and preferences.
Nike Air Zoom Odyssey 2 Sole Unit
The sole is firm, offering “stability” in the sense of the medial midsole not collapsing after repeated use which was the biggest failure in early running shoes decades ago before EVA foam became the standard, somewhat alleviating this concern (https://www.solereview.com/nike-air-zoom-odyssey-review/).
However, if you’re like me, you had no idea about this aspect of early running shoes and think about stability in terms of how much the shoe helps to keep your knee from wobbling around, i.e.: collapsing inwards after foot plant, due to overpronation.
I don’t get this kind of form help from these shoes. If that’s your purpose for seeking a stability shoe, I’d try a different shoe and consider having your running form analyzed.
(Shoes help, but working on correct hip and core muscle activation has saved my running this year!) Initially, the Odyssey seems to have arch support for my medium-height arches.
After the sockliner is compressed about six miles into a run, I notice that what I’m feeling is the edge of the heel, which then drops off sharply down to the signature Nike feel in the forefoot.
It is my opinion that a slightly more gradual drop would offer more stability control in the shoe and would cause my arches to feel more supported. (I’d add just a touch more midsole foam posterior to where the head of the first metatarsal makes contact.)
The Odyssey’s Waffle outsole with flex grooves and rubber crash rails encourages the forward motion of the run.
It does collect small pebbles pretty readily though (unlike Sequence 9) which is annoying if your run hops between pebbled and smooth surfaces frequently.
The air pocket in the front (hidden cushion) offers protection enough to keep my feet from hurting on long runs but still not enough for my preference;
There is more shock being absorbed by (more jarring on) my muscles and joints than I’m used to, which would take me out if I hadn’t spent the last seven months going over my running form with a fine tooth comb.
Nike Air Zoom Odyssey 2 Upper Info
Six minutes into a 2 ½ hour run, I tripped on a slight rise between cement slabs (not the shoe’s fault) and sustained a few small tears in the top layer of the mesh (entirely cosmetic…now they’re even more unique 😉 )
Looking at the scuffs did help to emphasize to me the double layer aspect of the flexible upper. The base layer fits like a soft sock; the top mesh cover gives it some form. Together I’d call the fit “flexibly snug.”
This Flymesh upper is interwoven with Flywire cables that wrap around the shoe laces to provide customized lockdown. Even with the Flywires, the fit does seem to loosen as runs approach double digits.
The perfect pocket for my heel, however, remains snug no matter the distance. This heel clip is the most pronounced inside the shoe that I’ve seen, and it also works the best: five stars for a heel with no slippage!
Nike Air Zoom Odyssey 2 Conclusions
It seems like Nike is taking the success of their minimalist shoes and trying to transfer that into the stability shoe market. So far the Odyssey is a noble early attempt at that but isn’t hitting on all cylinders for me.
This shoe remarkably maintains a feel of connection to the running surface while still offering hidden forefoot cushion with the Air Zoom pockets.
The heel clip provides the best heel fit that I’ve felt in a shoe, and the comfortable upper is nicely breathable. The fit feels great for about 4-6 miles into a run at which point the cushioning of the sockliner and the snug fit both begin to break down.
I find this to be an excellent shoe for track interval sessions and short training runs. If a high drop bothers you, this shoe will likely bother you by 6-8 miles into a run, and the midsole was too firm for my preference on two runs over 16 miles.
What brings me back to loving this shoe is using it only for track work, even running my warm up in other shoes so that the ride that Odyssey 2 offers is fresh for its purpose of lightweight speed.
We thank the nice people at Nike for sending us a pair of Air Zoom Odyssey 2 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.