Best Nike running shoes? You mean best running shoes? For many, the two terms are completely interchangeable, especially given the American brand's track record in manufacturing some of the best running shoes of the 21st century, such as the highly controversial Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%, a shoe so energy efficient it made the World Athletics Association revise its rules for running shoes for competition.
As well as the Vaporfly, Nike has plenty of excellent running shoes to offer that deliver support, speed, grip and other desirable features for all manner of runners – that includes some of the best women's running shoes around. Nike also actively promotes its digital running companion app, the Nike Run Club app, so if you have the best Apple Watch, you can keep tab on your shoes mileage and peruse training plans as well.
Which is the best Nike running shoe right now?
Nike never shied away from innovation and its best running shoes have always been the ones that pushed and redefined what we think is possible and acceptable in running. For example, the foam used in the aforementioned Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% was derived from a foam traditionally used in aerospace innovation. The Nike Joyride Run Flyknit uses thousands of tiny beads packed into pods underfoot to create a super soft cushioning system.
The best Nike running shoes for general use is the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37. The Peg 37 features the React cushioning system, another Nike innovation, which is light yet durable, meaning you will be able to use the shoes for longer without the foam deteriorating too much.
For racing, we recommend the new Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%. We would recommend the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% but you can't buy it anywhere, unfortunately. The Alphafly Next% is light – super light, actually – and thanks to the two Zoom Air units at the front, the energy returns are just plain amazing.
If you are after support and cushioning, look no further than the Nike React Infinity Run, running shoes so supportive they are basically autocorrect for your feet. As the name suggests, the Infinity Run also features the React foam so you can count on these shoes to last for longer. Not to mention, they also look pretty fly too.
And if prefer running off the beaten path, you won't find better Nike trail running shoes than the Nike Pegasus Trail 36. Blurring the line between trail and road running shoes, the Pegasus Trail 36 can be used for gravel and tarmac sessions and as an added bonus, they look pretty acceptable as well so you can wear them as everyday trainers.
Best Nike running shoes
As fast as the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% and the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% running shoes are, they were admittedly designed for racing, not for everyday training. They are excellent but not suited for daily training, not to mention the ZoomX foam will wear off pretty quickly if you use the shoes often and just for racing.
There is a Nike running trainer that is supposed to compliment the Alphafly Next% – the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% – but those shoes are for a very niche category of runners: people who are training for long-distance races and would like to run the race in the Alphafly Next%.
For everyone else, we recommend Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 running trainers. These shoes use the React foam that's more durable than the ZoomX yet they still provide good energy returns. Springiness is further helped by the enlarged Air Zoom unit at the front: it is twice as large as previous versions, "delivering more bounce with every step", as Nike puts it.
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 running shoes' upper is comfortable and breathable and helps the shoes remain light, all the while not adding on extra bulk. It is also slightly translucent and, according to Nike, "has the look of speed". You can definitely see your socks better in the shoes.
• Read our full Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 review here
Nike pulled a sneaky one on everyone with the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%. In the middle the red-hot debate about road running shoes caused by the shoes predecessor, the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%, it announced the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%.
And not just announced the shoes but also given the prototype of the Alphafly Next% to Eliud Kipchoge to run the world-first sub 2-hour marathon in them. Needless to say, it sparked even more controversy and generated even more free press to Nike and the running world in general.
Now, the actual Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% is different from the one used for the marathon, but the principles are the same: high-stack ZoomX foam, two Zoom Air units at the front and lightweight mesh upper (AtomKnit). The combination of these elements is a running shoe that makes you look like you're wearing hooves as opposed to shoes but in return, they also make you really, really fast.
The funky-looking sole is the result of engineering and not just gimmick: it fuses together the thick foam at the rearfoot, the integrated carbon plate and the Zoom Air units at the front. Surprisingly enough, it's not the carbon plate that provides the most energy return but the Zoom Air units: tightly stretched tensile fibers are knit inside each unit, making the Zoom Air snappy and responsive.
The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% was designed to help you break your PBs and should you wear them right, you will most likely be able to do just that.
The Nike React Infinity Run promises support and injury-reduction and it delivers on its promise. The updated Flyknit upper is comfortable yet firm and there is no sign of chafing around the rear heels either. The integrated knitted tongue and the lace closure helps the Nike React Infinity Run follow the shape of the foot as closely as possible.
Despite all the injury-reducing protection, a fast tempo is guaranteed by the Vaporfly-like rocker sole geometry that merges landing and take off into one smooth transition. Very little energy is lost and your legs will feel fresher for longer.
For beginners, or people who tend to underpronate as they run, the Nike React Infinity Run will significantly reduce risk of injury. This doesn't mean you can just completely forget about correct running technique of course, but it will definitely help you worry less as you run.
More seasoned runners might find all the extra support a bit much, but even they will appreciate the supreme cushioning and energy return.
• Read our full Nike React Infinity Run review here
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail is highly recommended for people who are after good all-terrain running shoes that can even be worn as everyday trainers on occasions. These shoes will perform well on lighter trail runs – when you are not completely off-road, battling the elements – and on the road too, as long as it's not coming down too heavily.
The Air Zoom units underfoot, combined with the Cushlon foam cushions, will soften landings and disperse impact force efficiently. The outsole lugs will give you a bit of extra traction on softer terrain and the mesh upper will support air flow inside the shoes.
Being a 'jack of all trade, master of none'-type shoe, the main appeal of the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail is not that it provides the ultimate trail or road running experience; it is the fact that for the money paid for these shoes, you will get a great trail running shoe and a decent road running shoe.
One might even say that these might be Nike's best value for money shoes for runners who like to run on all types of terrain.
• Read our full Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail review here
What can we say: the Nike Renew Run is probably your best option if you are looking for inexpensive Nike running shoes for everyday use. The Renew Run might not come packed with the innovation like the top-of the range Nike running shoes but these are decent running trainers nevertheless.
The durable rubber outsole of the Nike Renew Run provides good traction on tarmac. The shoes also feature the Nike Lunar foam, combined with 'dual-density' midsoles, which makes these shoes well-cushioned but pretty heavy. On the other hand, the synthetic mesh upper improves airflow in the shoes and keep your foot secure and comfortable too.