In this Nike Invincible 3 review, I'll try to find the answer to why these max-cushioned running shoes are so popular. The Invincible series from Nike has an almost cult-like following, with many running shoe testers openly admitting they are obsessed with them. What generates such a response from seasoned reviewers? I was determined to find out.
Not surprisingly, I was pretty happy with the first iteration of the shoes, the original Nike ZoomX Invincible Run. In my review, I said, "The ZoomX delivers yet again and proves that it's one of the best midsole foams being used in running shoes: it's soft but without being unstable; it bounces but doesn't lose energy in the process." In fact, I featured the shoes right at the top of T3's best running shoes guide for quite a while. I might have to swap it out for the third iteration soon...
Nike Invincible 3 review: Price and availability
The Nike Invincible 3 was released on January 2023 and is available to buy now directly from Nike UK, Nike US and Nike AU for a recommended retail price of £170/$180/AU$260. This is on par with similar max-cushion shoes, such as the Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 and New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12. The shoes are also available to buy from third-party retailers like SportsShoes.com.
Nike Invincible 3 review: What's new?
Three key areas have been updated since the Invincible 2. The new Flyknit upper uses layers of yarn to provide runners with "lightweight, supportive and breathable performance", Nike explains. It's said to be strong and durable, with billow cables in the midfoot area to add stability and support.
The rocker shape of the midsole has also been reworked to support the three phases of a runner's stride. It offers flexibility when your foot rises off the ground, a smooth ride when your foot is moving forward and cushioning at ground contact.
Finally, there is now more foam underfoot. Coupled with the wide, exaggerated shape at the forefoot, the Nike Invincible 3 review offers more cushioning and stability than its predecessor.
Nike Invincible 3 review review: Fit and ergonomics
The Nike Invincible 3 has a 9 mm drop, with 40 mm of foam under the heel and 31 mm under the forefoot. This makes the shoes race-legal, although it's not a race day shoe as such. The shoes weigh 337 grams/11.9oz (men's UK 10.5), which isn't terribly heavy from a max cushioned shoe but is far from being extremely light.
As for comfort, expect your feet to be pampered when running in the shoes. A tremendous amount of foam has been placed between you and the ground, which helps to cushion the impact force generated by continuously pounding the tarmac but is detrimental to the ground feel – an understandable trade-off.
I found the heel counter to be ever so slightly looser than I like; despite the padding around the ankles, my heels moved up and down when I ran in the shoes (the runner's knot lacing approach does help alleviate this issue to some degree). The billow cables in the midsection do an excellent job keeping the shoes on your foot without applying too much pressure.
I love the forefoot area of the Nike Invincible 3, as it allows my feet to spread. Or, at least, it doesn't compress my toes too much. I found the Hoka Clifton 9 almost unbearably tight (regular width), but the Invincible 3 is spot on. The wide landing platform and the industrial amount of cushioning are as good as you'd imagine – if that's the sort of thing you're after.
Nike Invincible 3 review: Running performance
Writing about the running performance of the Nike Invincible 3 gave me the biggest anxiety before I started writing this review. I enjoyed running in the shoes; they are super comfortable, both under (foam) and over (upper) your feet. There is a reason Nike didn't change the ZoomX foam since its inception: it's almost perfect in terms of energy return and impact force reduction.
However, I found the Invincible 3 a bit... sluggish. The shoes are bulky and not as light as the Vaporfly series. Clearly, my brain can't comprehend how shoes featuring the ZoomX foam can be anything but lightning-fast. I absolutely adore the Nike ZoomX Streakfly and the Nike Alphafly 2 – blisteringly fast running shoes – and I can't accept that training shoes with so much ZoomX underfoot can be slow.
I have the same issue with the Nike ZoomX Zegama; it promised speed but was too chunky to deliver. Of course, I had to keep in mind that with the Invincible 3, the emphasis is on cushioning and stability; from that perspective, the shoes perform exceptionally well. It's impossible not to land correctly, thanks to the wide midsole platform.
Nike Invincible 3 review: Verdict
The Nike Invincible 3 is the perfect solution if you're after a stylish daily cruiser for long, slow miles out on the road. You get more ZoomX underfoot, a wider midsole platform and a more comfortable (yet equally as stable) upper compared to the Invincible 2.
If you like max-cushion running shoes and especially if you prefer Nike trainers over other brands, you'll be happy with the Invincible 3. Considering the mileage you put in these kinds of shoes, your old Invincible 2 is likely due for an upgrade anyway.
However, the shoes are bulky and somewhat heavy, which might make them less ideal than other general-purpose daily trainers, of which Nike has many. I'd recommend spending some time finding the right fit, too, as the roomy upper might feel too loose for those with narrow feet.
There aren't many shoes I'd recommend for recovery runs more than the Nike Invincible 3. The price is steep, but if you're happy to wait a few months, I'm sure there will be plenty of discounts at third-party retailers.
Nike Invincible 3 review: Also consider
Speaking of general-purpose running shoes, one of the best (not max-cushion) Invincible 3 alternatives is the Peg 39. It's a brilliant and reasonably-priced daily trainer that enjoys moderate tempo sessions the most, thanks to the addition of an extra Air Zoom unit and more React foam. You can get them for around half the price of the Invincible 3. Read my full Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 review for more deets.
You might also want to consider Puma's Velocity Nitro 2. It might not be as stylish as the Nike, but this plush daily trainer helps you stay more visible, even in low-light conditions and is sold for peanuts these days. Read my full Puma Velocity Nitro 2 review now.