Nike Free Runs have been my go to running shoe for the past 5 years. I currently have retired 4 pairs of Free Runs equating to about two-thousand plus miles spent running in this brand of shoe.
I have run through all elements and on all types of terrain to include road, treadmill and trail through the ice, snow, rain and sun.
From marathons to a short sprint workout; I have run all types of distances in this brand of shoe. What I see this equating to is an in-depth understanding and relationship with the intricacies with this line of shoes.
My hope is that this will translate into a comprehensive review of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Nike Free RN 2018 General Info
When I unboxed the new Nike Free Runs 2018s I was excited to see what stayed the same as well as what changed. The overall look of the shoe as well as the fit has and has not changed much… I’ll get to that later.
What I enjoy about the pair I used for this review is the fact that they were not the color of a yellow or orange highlighter. They are cool blue and gray, meaning that you can wear them as a casual shoe… if you are so inclined.
The shoe fits true to size. The toe box is neither tight nor loose. For my foot, this shoe is the baby bear of porridge…fits just right.
Nike states that these shoes are made for the short sprint to the 5k distance due to the minimalist nature of the shoe and the fact that while wearing the shoe it feels like you are running in bare feet.
However, in my experience the shoe is good for longer distances. However, I would recommend that you build up to the longer distances first, so you can acclimate to the minimalist nature of the shoe.
The first run was like being reunited with an old friend. We had been apart for a while but once we got back together it was like no time had passed at all.
The shoe is comfortable and like I mentioned fits like a glove. Nike is boasting a better fit in the 2018 model. Since I did not run in the 2017 model I have to agree that this is an upgrade from the 2016 model.
Nike Free RN 2018 Sole Unit
The first thing that took me off guard was the tread. In your standard running shoe you will see what I call a standard tread…think bike tire.
However (and you can look at the sole picture now) the tread is what I would describe to you as nubs offset by slits and an inverted, ‘Y’ that almost creates what I would equate to a honey comb look.
If you look at past versions of this type of shoe you can see that Nike has never gone with a traditional tread. I get Nike’s intent to redesign the tread but in my opinion, the redesign left traction in the past.
To me this means that I would use these shoes only on the road, sidewalk or treadmill or your neighborhood trails… sorry large pieces of gravel found on mountain trails… the Nike Free Run is not for you.
Living in Colorado allowed me to take it out on the road for some snow and ice trials as well. I never felt stable on the road in the ice as the traction of the Free Run is not designed for running outdoors in the ice.
My recommendation is that the Nike Free Run 2018 be used on soft surfaces and light trails.
The shoe has an 8mm offset which is appearing to be a trend in running shoes these days. Saucony is another brand that I am seeing providing the 8mm offset.
What I want to address here is the idea of a shoe claiming like it feels that you are running barefoot with an 8mm offset.
Here is Nike’s claim. Nike states, “The soft, lightweight sole mimics your foot’s natural movement through its innovative pattern. It expands and contracts with every landing and push-off.
This provides a natural feel and a barefoot-like sensation, kind of like an extension of your foot.” Nike is brags that this leads to an, “all natural movement on runs and walks.”
I had this in mind when I put this shoe through my tests. The sole unit is comfortable. It provided support in the heel through the forefoot. But I never felt as if I was running barefoot.
Just in a well-designed minimalist in nature shoe. I am impressed with the durability of the shoe. It was tough in scrapes and the sole unit recovered well on back to back runs.
Nike Free RN 2018 Upper Info
The upper is constructed out of a material that now includes spandex… yes spandex. The material breathes incredibly well but still creates a feeling of snugness (not tightness) around your foot.
I was a skeptic a first but after I tried the shoe on… it was super comfortable and form fitting. The newly designed laces also help the overall fit.
In past versions of the shoe the laces have been just that laces or laces with some cables to help provide added fit. In the 2018 model, Nike continued to use what they call, “Flywire cables” but now these cables connect to an internal boot.
As you tighten the laces the cables are in turn pulled and you can feel the internal support increase.
The internal boot as I call it or as Nike refers to it as a, “wrap” (which is appropriate as it does wrap your entire foot) adds stability, comfort and fit.
With some shoes on the market that include the heel lock you do not get the same feeling of support that you do with the Free Runs.
In fact some shoes with the heel lock in my experience have caused blisters. I did not have any issues with rubbing or blisters with this heel lock.
Nike Free RN 2018 Conclusions
Overall, I have to say that these are by far the most comfortable shoe in the Free Run family. I was impressed by the fit, the feel, and the performance of the shoe from mile one on. The shoe was responsive and comfortable.
My feet were never left feeling tired after a long run. The mid-sole of the shoe was impressive. It offered comfort and durability all while having a responsive feature in the cushioning.
One of Nike’s claims about the Free Run is that, “Easily worn with your everyday outfit, or packed in a tote or backpack for a quick change, these are the most versatile in the Free RN family. So you can be up for anything.”
I have to agree thoroughly with this statement. I frequently tossed these shoes into my backpack so I could take a lunchtime run and I am wearing them right now. Let’s hear it for casual Friday!
We purchased a pair of Nike Free RN 2018 from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.