Nike is to running shoes like Apple is to smartphones and computers—its marketing and aesthetics put it one step ahead of its competitors. Nike products look nice. Nike ads make you want to buy them. I admit, however, that I didn’t think Nike shoes were that remarkable until I bought Zoom Flys on a whim in 2018 and finally understood that a pair of shoes could make me a teeny tiny little bit faster. (I also bow at the altar of Eliud Kipchoge and if he wears Nike, I wear Nike.)
The sheer volume of running shoes sold by Nike is overwhelming, and let’s be honest, not all of them are best-in-their-class. A lot of them are though. Below, you’ll find the six best Nike running shoes that stand out from the pack.
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Best for Everyday Running: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38
The Air Zoom Pegasus is a boring piece of athletic footwear, which is exactly how you want a daily trainer to be. It’s built with Nike’s springy and durable React foam and has a Zoom Air unit for a responsive ride. It’s an incredibly comfortable shoe with a roomy forefoot and a plush, breathable mesh upper. No matter if you’re a seasoned marathoner looking for a reliable shoe to add to your repertoire or a newbie looking for a great shoe for beginners, the Pegasus is your guy. The shoe is currently in its 38th (!) iteration, but we also recommend the Pegasus 37, especially since you’ll be able to find it at a cheaper price.
Best for Tempo Workouts: Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%
Shoe nerds know that for every carbon fiber racing sneaker a company makes, there’s a less expensive, more durable one in the shadows that’s meant for training. For Nike, that’s the Air Zoom Tempo Next%. It has some of the same features as Nike’s top-marketed marathon racing shoe, the Alphafly Next%, like ZoomX foam that delivers energy return and a Zoom Air pod that makes the cushioning extra-responsive. It has a rubber outsole and doesn’t wear down as quickly as the Alphafly or other lighter weight racing shoes, which makes it a good candidate for marathon workouts. At $200, it’s certainly a pricy training shoe but if you’re willing to invest in your training, it’s well worth the price.
Best for Marathon Racing: Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2
Many Nike-sponsored elites will be racing their fall marathons in the alien-looking Alphafly, the brand’s fastest shoe to date, but we’re partial to the slightly less expensive Nike Vaporfly that’s a bit more versatile and suited for racing anything from a road 5k to the Boston Marathon. Like the Tempo Next%, it’s built around a ZoomX foam with Zoom Air pods, but it’s even more lightweight thanks to a carbon plate and small touches like a lace loop that removes the need for an arch band.
Best for Trail Running: Nike Pegasus Trail 3
Nike isn’t a leader in trail running shoe innovation (for that, look to Salomon), but it does have a few solid options if you’re looking to off-road. I wore the Nike Pegasus Trail to run the Tour du Mont Blanc in 2019, and quite frankly, I find it more comfortable than my current trail shoe, the Salomon Ultra Pro. If you aren’t a trail runner and are just looking for a sneaker with a more durable sole than a standard road shoe, the Pegasus Trail is a great option as it transitions nicely to asphalt.
Best for Stability: Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2
If you overpronate, the best Nike stability shoe for you is the Infinity Run. It has wide forefoot that corrects imbalances in a way that feels natural. A hefty amount of React cushioning and a Flyknit upper keeps things comfortable and breathable.
Best for Max Cushioning: Nike Air Zoom Vomero
Nike shoes are known for speed more than cushioning, but if you’re looking for a recovery shoe from the Swoosh that isn’t as soft as what you’d find in a Hoka, get the Air Zoom Vomero. Think of it as a comfort-focused version of the Pegasus.