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BEST OVERALL

BEST OVERALL

BEST OVERALL

Nike Zoom Pegasus 37

Nike Zoom Pegasus 37
With the introduction of React Foam, Nike improved on a shoe that can do it all: from daily training to tempos and long distance racing. MUST TRY.
With the introduction of React Foam, Nike improved on a shoe that can do it all: from daily training to tempos and long distance racing. MUST TRY.
Jim Coulson
Fast Road and Trail Runner. Career Firefighter.

LONG DISTANCE

LONG DISTANCE

LONG DISTANCE

Nike React Miler

Nike React Miler
If you are looking for a running shoes to comfortably run long distances - while being cushioned and protected - the Miler is best in class.
If you are looking for a running shoes to comfortably run long distances - while being cushioned and protected - the Miler is best in class.
Sarah Dean
5k Runner, Personal Trainer

THE FASTEST

THE FASTEST

THE FASTEST

Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%

Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%
With a carbon plate midsole, light weight and total engineering for speed, the Zoom Tempo Next% is an amazing deal for what it offers.
With a carbon plate midsole, light weight and total engineering for speed, the Zoom Tempo Next% is an amazing deal for what it offers.
Brandon Law
Marathon Runner and Shoe Expert

BEST VALUE

BEST VALUE

BEST VALUE

Nike Air Zoom Winflo 7

Nike Air Zoom Winflo 7
With looks and tech directly coming from the more expensive shoes in the range, the Winflo is amazing value for under $90.
With looks and tech directly coming from the more expensive shoes in the range, the Winflo is amazing value for under $90.
Sarah Dean
5k Runner, Personal Trainer

FOR TRAIL RUNNING

FOR TRAIL RUNNING

FOR TRAIL RUNNING

Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 6

Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 6
Nike quietly keeps improving on a trail shoe that is comfortable and fast.
Nike quietly keeps improving on a trail shoe that is comfortable and fast.
Henry Howard
Ultra runner and certified running coach.

Nike is one of the most innovative running shoe brands out there. While they do stick to some popular models for years (ie the more than 30 years history of the Nike Pegasus), they constantly introduce new technologies and with them, new names and classification.

This article will help you make sense of all those model names, technical jargon and finally understand which of Nike's running shoes is meant for which runner.

Nike Zoom Running Shoes

The first and most popular category is the "Zoom" family of running shoes. Built around the hyper-popular Pegasus, it includes shoes that are meant for both daily training, spadework training and even race day.

Zoom Air is Nike's lowest profile Air unit, characterised by a fast and responsive ride that still proves quite cushioned.

First choice

Nike Zoom Pegasus 37

Weight
9 oz.
Drop
10 mm.
Category
Cushioning

Nike Zoom Pegasus 37

Reasons to buy
  • Versatile consistent cushion for long runs, tempos and intervals.
  • Durable midsole and outsole capable of withstanding many miles.
  • Comfortable lightweight upper.
“The Pegasus 37 is a reliable daily trainer that can do it all. The switch React foam has quite possibly created the best version yet. ”
Recommended for
The Pegasus 37 is a wonderfully Versatile shoe cushioned enough for beginners and has a snappy ride for picking up the pace. This is a do it all kind of shoe that works for any runner.
Jim Coulson
Fast Road and Trail Runner. Career Firefighter.
Read the full review of Zoom Pegasus 37
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike Air Zoom Winflo 7

Weight
10 oz.
Drop
10 mm.
Category
Cushioning

Nike Air Zoom Winflo 7

Reasons to buy
  • Great value
  • AirZoom pods for cushioning and responsiveness
  • Premium design looks great on the foot
“Similar to the Pegasus but with a smaller Zoom unit, the Winflo is a entry level neutral running shoe that is perfect for beginners while they build up their mileage. ”
Recommended for
The Winflo 7 is for neutral runners, looking for a cushioned shoe for the longer run, to be used as a versatile daily trainer.
Aimed at runners looking for a shoe that blends great technology, fantastically sleek, modern looks and a good value price tag.
If you want responsive Zoom foam...
Sarah Dean
5k Runner, Personal Trainer
Read the full review of Air Zoom Winflo 7
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%

Weight
8.9 oz.
Drop
10 mm.
Category
Cushioning

Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%

Reasons to buy
  • Comfortable upper with no heel slippage.
  • Explosively responsive forefoot.
  • Durable outsole and midsole foams.
  • Somewhat similar ride to the Alphafly.
“The Nike Tempo Next% is supposed to be the replacement for the Pegasus Turbo 2 and a training companion for the Alphafly Next%.    While having a very unique and highly responsive ride, the Tempo Next% rides much firmer than the Pegasus Turbo 2 and a little too firm for easy and marathon paced runs. It's best suited to fast runs below 15 kilometres. ”
Recommended for
If you're a heavier runner looking for a shoe for mainly fast runs and price isn't an issue, get the Tempo Next%.
It has a comfortable upper with great lockdown and a firm but very responsive ride.
Brandon Law
Marathon Runner and Shoe Expert
Read the full review of Air Zoom Tempo Next%
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2

Weight
7.2 oz.
Drop
10 mm.
Category
Lightweight

Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2

Reasons to buy
  • Efficient ZoomX foam
  • Redesigned thin and light upper
  • Highly breathable upper
“The Pegasus Turbo is a lighter weight version of the normal Pegasus that is meant for faster training and track workouts. The midsole is made of ZoomX, the same foam used in the Vaporfly Elite and Vaporfly 4% running shoes. ”
Recommended for
Experienced mid to long distance runners who want to follow in the footsteps of world-class runners should consider this shoe, assuming they're ready to pay the premium price for premium tech.
Frank May
Fast Runner, Triathlete and Engineer
Read the full review of Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike Zoom Vomero 14

Weight
8.90 oz.
Drop
10 mm.
Category
Cushioning

Nike Zoom Vomero 14

Reasons to buy
  • The looks ... wow that's a beautiful shoe
  • Flywire locks your feet in
  • Plush under-heel cushion for heel strikers
  • Very responsive for picking up the pace
“The Vomero is a maximal cushion running shoe for daily training and long mileage running. ”
Recommended for
This shoe is designed for all neutral runners, however it will be see best results in being used by experienced runners logging longer miles.
Michael Mason-D'Croz
Long distance runner, shoe expert.
Read the full review of Zoom Vomero 14
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike Air Zoom Structure 23

Weight
10.2 oz.
Drop
8 mm.
Category
Cushioning

Nike Air Zoom Structure 23

Reasons to buy
  • Wide base with a stable ride.
  • Soft midsole with deep cushioning.
  • Plush, comfortable upper.
  • Zoom Air bag in the forefoot adds responsiveness
“The Structure is the only traditional support shoe that is left in the Nike lineup. It is the stability counterpart of the Pegasus or maybe even of the Vomero. ”
Recommended for
If you're a neutral runner or an overpronator looking for a stable, max-cushioned trainer for recovery or long runs, the Structure 23 is the shoe for you.
Brandon Law
Marathon Runner and Shoe Expert
Read the full review of Air Zoom Structure 23
or buy them here: Men / Women

Nike React Running Shoes

React is the name of one of the new Nike's foam materials for shoe midsoles.

Originally introduced in their basketball shoe line, it has made its way (successfully) in the running shoe line.

The main characteristics of the React foam are a unique combination of cushioning (soft while it compresses on ground impact) and responsiveness (the ability of quickly going back to its original shape).

Although many brands make similar claims about their latest foams, we tested the Nike React running shoes and we agree that this material is a game changer.

First choice

Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit

Weight
10 oz.
Drop
8 mm.
Category
Cushioning

Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit

Reasons to buy
  • Incredible cushion to weight ratio.
  • Soft stability without a medial post or overly firm midsole foam.
  • Rocker design provides a very efficient feeling ride.
  • Wider forefoot fit than most Nike shoes.
“The Nike React Infinity Run provides the best cushioning platform on the market with a natural feeling stability due its wider shape.  Nike uses more React foam than ever to create a soft and springy ride that seems to rejuvenate the feet and legs on easy days and long runs. This is a great high mileage shoe to wear in between faster paced workouts.”
Recommended for
The Nike React Infinity Run is a shoe that will have very broad appeal. It has enough protection and stability to work as a great shoe for beginning runners who are just getting into the sport.
Additionally, the protection of this shoe will appeal to advanced and elite runners looking for a...
Thomas Caughlan
Ultrarunner and 10-Year Running Shoe Tester
Read the full review of React Infinity Run Flyknit
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike React Miler

Weight
9 oz.
Drop
10 mm.
Category
Cushioning

Nike React Miler

Reasons to buy
  • Highly cushioned
  • Super comfortable
  • Great for longer runs
  • Reflective panels for dark runs
“The Nike React Miler is a completely new running shoe release designed to give a highly cushioned ride on your longer runs. If you're looking to go for miles on the road, this is an exciting shoe!”
Recommended for
The React Miler is for neutral runners, looking for a plush cushioned ride and abit of help with stability on longer runs.
Sarah Dean
5k Runner, Personal Trainer
Read the full review of React Miler
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike Epic React Flyknit 2

Weight
8.7 oz.
Drop
10 mm.
Category
Cushioning

Nike Epic React Flyknit 2

Reasons to buy
  • Smooth fitting upper
  • Energizing React Foam
  • Modern styling
“Nike’s Epic React Flyknit 2 shoe brings a lot to the table and it all comes together to give runners of all levels a quality daily trainer. It’s a pricey daily trainer, but most will find it’s worth the extra cost.”
Recommended for
Anyone not satisfied with entry-level trainers who needs a shoe that keeps up with fast workouts, long runs, and some daily gym activities should look into this shoe.
Frank May
Fast Runner, Triathlete and Engineer
Read the full review of Epic React Flyknit 2
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike Odyssey React 2 Flyknit

Weight
8.2 oz.
Drop
10 mm.
Category
Stability

Nike Odyssey React 2 Flyknit

Reasons to buy
  • Lightweight
  • Flyknit upper is moderately supportive, yet flexible
  • Soft, responsive cushion
  • Supportive ride in a med-high arch shoe
“The Nike Odyssey React Flyknit 2 is a mouthful to say and is equally packed with potential, offering light stability by way of a med-high arch and med-supportive upper, with a touch of flexibility in the forefoot and a snug, low-volume fit.  When tied with heel-lock lacing, this $120 shoe holds the foot secure with no pinching or excess movement from the flexibly-soft fit; React midsole material does the rest to offer a soft yet light and springy ride.”
Recommended for
Those with low-moderate support needs and med-high arches (or can handle this in a shoe) will enjoy taking Odyssey React out for cushioned long runs and recovery runs; also wear it for up-tempo efforts and long-distance races.
Kristin Lassen
Fast Runner and Stability Shoe Expert
Read the full review of Odyssey React 2 Flyknit
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike Legend React

Weight
9 oz.
Drop
9 mm.
Category
Cushioning

Nike Legend React

Reasons to buy
  • Peppy react foam
  • Inexpensive
“Nike’s Legend React shoe brings the new React foam into an affordable running shoe package while keeping a strong focus on a smooth ride and a smooth fitting upper.”
Recommended for
The Nike Legend React is for the seasoned runner who wants to try out a new generation of foam technology in a daily trainer while keeping a budget in check.
Frank May
Fast Runner, Triathlete and Engineer
Read the full review of Legend React
or buy them here: Men / Women

Nike Racing Running Shoes

There's no denying Nike's recent dominance in marathon racing. We like to think the runners had some credit too - but the sheer amount of victories show the commitment the Oregon brand has towards marathon racing.

One shoe is the clear hero of this dominance - the Vaporfly - but a few other deserve your attention.

First choice

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%

Weight
7.4 oz.
Drop
4 mm.
Category
Racing

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%

Reasons to buy
  • Highly cushioned midsole.
  • Very stable ride.
  • Breathable upper with excellent foot lockdown.
  • Explosive responsiveness provided by Zoom Air pods.
“The Alphafly Next% is the flagship Nike marathon racing shoe and is deserving of its premium price.    Light, breathable Atomknit makes its debut while the combination of ZoomX and a stiff carbon plate results in a propulsive ride second to none.     And if that wasn't enough, two giant Zoom Air pods in the forefoot give the Alphafly extra “pop”.”
Recommended for
If you're a runner looking for a highly cushioned race day option which is super responsive and very stable, the Alphafly Next% is a great choice.
Brandon Law
Marathon Runner and Shoe Expert
Read the full review of Air Zoom Alphafly Next%
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%

Weight
8.9 oz.
Drop
10 mm.
Category
Cushioning

Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%

Reasons to buy
  • Comfortable upper with no heel slippage.
  • Explosively responsive forefoot.
  • Durable outsole and midsole foams.
  • Somewhat similar ride to the Alphafly.
“The Nike Tempo Next% is supposed to be the replacement for the Pegasus Turbo 2 and a training companion for the Alphafly Next%.    While having a very unique and highly responsive ride, the Tempo Next% rides much firmer than the Pegasus Turbo 2 and a little too firm for easy and marathon paced runs. It's best suited to fast runs below 15 kilometres. ”
Recommended for
If you're a heavier runner looking for a shoe for mainly fast runs and price isn't an issue, get the Tempo Next%.
It has a comfortable upper with great lockdown and a firm but very responsive ride.
Brandon Law
Marathon Runner and Shoe Expert
Read the full review of Air Zoom Tempo Next%
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next %

Weight
6.6 oz.
Drop
8 mm.
Category
Racing

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next %

Reasons to buy
“Latest iteration of the line that started for the Breaking2 project, the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next % is the shoe that has dominated the marathon world in 2019 and does not seem intentioned to stop for 2020. ”
Recommended for
Any runner who is looking to compete (either against others or against themselves) in a long-distance race.
Ruggero Loda
Founder and Publisher, Running Shoes Guru
Read the full review of ZoomX Vaporfly Next %
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike Zoom Fly 3

Weight
8.9 oz.
Drop
8 mm.
Category
Lightweight

Nike Zoom Fly 3

Reasons to buy
  • Carbon Fiber Plate Midsole is Responsive and Fast
  • Improved Outsole Durability and Traction from Zoom Fly Flyknit
  • VaporWeave Upper Material
  • Cheaper and More Durable than Higher-End Options
“The Zoom Fly 3 is the “affordable” version of the Nike premium distance racing shoes. While this is the tier below the Vaporfly 4% and Next% shoes, the Zoom Fly 3 come with premium Nike running shoe features in a more accessible format.”
Recommended for
The Zoom Fly 3 is best suited for more experienced runners willing to shell out some cash for a premium performance shoe, but not willing to break the bank on the less durable higher end models, and runner's looking for a top end distance training/racing shoe.
Andrew Leibowitz
Running Expert
Read the full review of Zoom Fly 3
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike Zoom Streak 7

Weight
6.9 oz.
Drop
8 mm.
Category
Racing

Nike Zoom Streak 7

Reasons to buy
  • Lightweight
  • Snappy Responsive Feeling
  • Just Enough Cushioning For a Racing Shoe
“The Nike Zoom Streak 7 is a minor update to the previous version of the popular racing shoe. The updates are so minor that the seventh iteration of the Streak still provides a great responsive feeling with similar upper issues to previous versions.”
Recommended for
The Zoom Streak 7 is a great racing option by Nike for runners looking for maximum performance in a lightweight shoe for any racing distance, including up to a marathon.
It is a cheaper option for a race day shoe compared to other Nike offerings.
Andrew Leibowitz
Running Expert
Read the full review of Zoom Streak 7
or buy them here: Men / Women

Nike Trail Running Shoes

Only two trail running shoes in Nike's offering - but they are very well rounded models that can take a lot of beating on different kinds of terrain.

First choice

Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 6

Weight
oz.
Drop
mm.
Category
Trail

Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 6

Reasons to buy
  • Fast and quick
  • Comfortable
  • Solid protection
  • No detrimental changes from the Kiger 5
“The Nike Terra Kiger was created with speed on the trails in mind. From toe to heel, the shoes are designed to let the runner blaze down dirt trails, paved trails and roads. The more technical the terrain, the less effective the Kigers can be. ”
Recommended for
Henry Howard
Ultra runner and certified running coach.
Read the full review of Zoom Terra Kiger 6
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike Wildhorse 6

Weight
oz.
Drop
mm.
Category
Trail

Nike Wildhorse 6

Reasons to buy
  • React foam midsole gives the shoe a bouncier ride.
  • Integrated gaiter works well to keep out debris.
  • Comfortable well fitting upper.
“The WildHorse 6 is a well cushioned daily trail shoe that has a nice bouncy feel. The shoe is well suited for longer moderately paced runs. A lack of stability and increased weight makes this more of a draft horse versus a thoroughbred limiting it moderate rolling terrain versus more wilder unkept technical trails.”
Recommended for
Jim Coulson
Fast Road and Trail Runner. Career Firefighter.
Read the full review of Wildhorse 6
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike Pegasus Trail 2

Weight
oz.
Drop
mm.
Category
Trail

Nike Pegasus Trail 2

Reasons to buy
  • Soft, breathable upper
  • Built-in faux gaiter prevents debris from entering the shoe
  • Stylish
“The Nike Pegasus Trail 2 is sufficient for road to dirt or grass trails; however, it does not perform well on most other types of trail terrain.While its trail-specific features provide protection, this shoe’s traction and stability are particularly unreliable on rocky or steep terrain making it impractical for any technical trail running.”
Recommended for
Katherine Takai
Long Distance Runner, former Sprinter.
Read the full review of Pegasus Trail 2
or buy them here: Men / Women

Nike Free Running Shoes

Before minimalism was a thing and before barefoot runners started burning their shoes, Nike quietly introduced the Free range with a simple idea: a shoe to add to your training rotation, to stimulate your own foot muscles and balance. So while your daily training and racing shoes might protect you, once in a while you should introduce some extremely flexible shoe so that your feet can train naturally.

First choice

Nike Free RN 5.0 2020

Weight
7.2 oz.
Drop
6 mm.
Category
Lightweight

Nike Free RN 5.0 2020

Reasons to buy
  • Light, breathable upper
  • Highly flexible forefoot
  • Helps improve running form
  • Stable ride
“The Free RN 5.0 is a running shoe designed for short training runs, up to 5km, speedwork and drills. It can also be used for runners looking to work towards the sensation of barefoot running, with the protection of a shoe, and a little support. ”
Recommended for
The Nike Free RN 5.0 2020 is for the runner who wants a specialist trainer that will help them improve their running form and strengthen their legs.
Brandon Law
Marathon Runner and Shoe Expert
Read the full review of Free RN 5.0 2020
or buy them here: Men / Women
Also consider

Nike Free RN Flyknit 3.0

Weight
7.6 oz.
Drop
4 mm.
Category
Lightweight

Nike Free RN Flyknit 3.0

Reasons to buy
“The Free RN Flyknit 3.0 is a running shoe designed for short training runs, up to 5km, or for runners looking to create the sensation of barefoot running, with the protection of a shoe. Released at the same time as the Nike Free RB 5.0, the difference are mainly the upper and the heel drop. ”
Recommended for
The Free RN Flyknit 3.0 is recommended for runners who are used to minimal support when running. If you are not used to this type of shoe, it it recommended that you wear this for your day to day activities first, to get used to the new foot position and minimize risk of injury.
Sarah Dean
5k Runner, Personal Trainer
Read the full review of Free RN Flyknit 3.0
or buy them here: Men / Women

Nike Training Shoes

Runners rarely also run. But running shoes are not the best choice for the gym. Here is Nike's offering for training shoes.

First choice

Nike Metcon 6

Weight
12.6 oz.
Drop
4 mm.
Category
Training

Nike Metcon 6

Reasons to buy
  • New, lightweight, breathable upper
  • Solid feel under foot due to dual density foam
  • Fantastic support for lower body joints with lifting, building on solid base
  • Flywire lacing gives locked down snug fit, whilst wide toe box gives toes room to move around
“This is Nike's best shoe for the gym. From weight lifting to classes, HIIT, and treadmill running the Metcon can do it all. ”
Recommended for
The Metcon 6 is for people serious about their fitness and their strength training, who are looking for a shoe that can handle all exercises thrown at it.
If you want something you can lift, interval train, and go for short sharp runs in, this is the shoe for you.
Sarah Dean
5k Runner, Personal Trainer
Read the full review of Metcon 6
or buy them here: Men / Women

An explanation of Nike running shoes technologies

Understanding the meaning and design principles behind the tech names will help you navigate through the catalog faster. Here’s an overview.

Upper technologies

Flyknit

Nike running shoes Flyknit Detail

Flyknit is a special woven fabric that makes the upper of a shoe feel like a sock, by placing yarns and knits strategically around the structure in order to support the foot of the runner when needed and leave it free everywhere else.

Flyknit running shoes are lightweight: a light yarn replaces multiple stitched or glued panels. Flyknit also allows for extremely precise upper fit, being able to seamlessly integrate tight-knit areas where support is needed and wide-knit areas to allow for flexibility.

Flyknit is environmentally friendly as it produces 60% less waste than traditionally constructed running shoe uppers.

This technology is Nike’s latest, so expect to pay a premium for Flyknit shoes.

Most notable examples of Flyknit shoes are the Flyknit Racer (as the name implies, a fast and light shoe for racing distances all the way to the marathon) and the Nike Free Flyknit (an extremely flexible and lightweight running shoe to strengthen and train the muscles in your feet).

FlyKnit Loft

FlyKnitLoft
FlyKnit Loft is a FlyKnit variation which is breathable and durable. It has 3 distinct layers which help keep the foot secure. It has a smooth, plastic-like feel and does not stretch.

FlyKnit Loft is used on the Infinity Run.

AtomKnit

AtomKnit

AtomKnit is a new, more advanced type of FlyKnit material. The difference between AtomKnit and FlyKnit is that AtomKnit is steamed and stretched. AtomKnit is extremely lightweight, very breathable and does not absorb water.

AtomKnit is only used on the flagship shoe, the AlphaFly Next%.

VaporWeave

VaporWeave

VaporWeave is an engineered, woven mesh with a smooth, plastic-like feel which is light and strong. Its main advantage is that it doesn’t absorb water so during a race, the shoe will not absorb sweat and weigh you down. VaporWeave is very breathable but doesn’t conform to the foot so creasing may occur.

VaporWeave is used on the VaporFly Next% and the Zoom Fly 3.

Engineered Mesh or Flymesh

Nike running shoes engineered mesh flymeshEngineered Mesh (sometimes called “Flymesh” by Nike) is a lightweight mesh construction that is – compared to traditional mesh fabrics – more breathable and is at the same time both more durable and flexible.

Engineered Mesh features more prominent perforations than traditional mesh. It is a completely different construction than the previously mentioned Flyknit and shoes with Engineered Mesh usually have a lower price-point.

Engineered mesh is used on the Pegasus 37, Miler, Vomero 14, Downshifter 10 and Winflo 6.

An overview of Nike running shoe sole and cushioning technologies

Midsoles of running shoes are made of foam. Each company has their own trademark foam mix that tries to achieve the following: be as lightweight as possible, be soft in order to absorb the impact with the ground, be elastic (in order to compress on impact and release propelling you forward), be durable (foam does deteriorate with use, so all foam materials need to be engineered to maintain its characteristics for a decent amount of time).

React Foam

ReactFoam

React is a styrene-based material which is a synthetic rubber. It is lightweight, durable and resistant to temperature changes. React doesn’t have sink-in softness but has a dense, rubbery feel with a noticeable spring.

React Foam is used in the Pegasus Turbo 2, Odyssey 2, Vomero 14, Zoom Fly 3, Infinity Run, Terra Kiger 6, Miler and Pegasus 37.

Nike ZoomX Foam

ZoomX

ZoomX delivers Nike Running’s greatest energy return. It is featherlight, cushioned, springy and great at preventing foot fatigue. ZoomX is quick to compress and snaps back instantly.

ZoomX is used in the VaporFly Next% and AlphaFly Next%.

Fly Plate

FlyPlate

FlyPlate is a light carbon-fibre plate which delivers a snappy sensation with every stride. It provides a propulsive feeling to increase your pace.

FlyPlates are used in the AlphaFly Next%, the VaporFly Next% and the Zoom Fly 3.

Cushlon

Cushlon is a mix of Phylon and rubber additives that makes it lightweight and responsive.

Nike Air

NIKE_Air
Everybody knows Nike Air. That’s how Nike got big in the 80s in the first place. But do you exactly know what Nike Air is ?

Nike running shoes in the “Air” category often use Cushlon foam in their soles. Soft and resilient, this foam has 2 limitations: it is quite heavy (as most foam is) and it is not as “bouncy” as many runners expect their shoes to be.

The solution? Cutting off areas of the Cushlon-foam-made midsole and filling them up with plastic bags filled with “Air” (Nike’s secret gas compound). What this achieves is to reduce weight (by replacing the heavy foam with a very lightweight “airbag”) and to increase cushioning (being these airbags softer and springier than the Cushlon foam).

Depending on the shoe, you can have Nike Air bags in the heel, the toe, or both.

Air bags come in 3 formats: Air, Air Max and Zoom Air.

  • Nike Air -> the most common, medium sized air bags that fit well especially under the heel.
  • Air Max -> very thick and highly cushioned bags of air. In our opinion too unstable for proper running, mostly used on lifestyle shoes.
  • Zoom Air -> the thinnest units, ideal to fit in low-profile shoes. They were initially developed for soccer shoes, where normal Air bags would not fit inside the ultra-thin sole

Nike Free

nike-free-alt-closure-run-sqdrnbl-hypbl-cybr-free-flex-1-610x406

Nike Free is a concept. Started around 2005, the idea was to create a shoe that is so flexible that leaves the foot completely free to move in the most natural way.

Some people object that the Frees are still very cushioned shoes, therefore preventing the runner to have a true feeling for the ground below them.

While this might be true, the extreme flexibility of the Free sole unit, combined with very open-mesh and unconstrained upper make for a treat.

What do the numbers next to a Free shoe mean?

Nike abandoned the use of numbers in the Nike Free line in 2016, when they completely revamped the category.

Originally Nike Frees came in different versions, depending on how flexible they were. Their flexibility was ranked on a scale that goes from 1.0 to 10.0, where 1.0 means “bare feet” and 10.0 is a traditional running shoe.

In 2016, with the coming of the new auxetic construction, the Nike Free range is completely new and the numbers are gone. We’ll go through the line and the models in a minute. Keep reading!

Nike Free Auxetic Construction

Nike Free Auxetic Construction

The new principle behind the Nike FREE line of running shoes is called “auxetic design”.

When your foot hits the ground, it expands both in length and width. Picture bouncing a ball on the floor: it squeezes and deforms because of the impact, then the opposite happens while it bounces back.

Nike engineers were looking for a way to design a midsole so that it would expand in both directions during the foot strike. The issue is that most materials, when stretched in one direction, become smaller in the perpendicular direction. Again think of an elastic band. If you pull it to stretch it long, it will most likely become narrower in the middle.

The auxetic design, characterized by the triangular cuts you see in the picture, allows the sole to do that. A stretch in one direction will equate to a stretch in the other.


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