Back in 1964, Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight teamed up to create Blue Ribbon Sports, a sneaker brand that has grown immensely from its humble roots into what we know today as Nike. Bowerman and Knight initially sold Onitsuka Tiger shoes that they imported from Japan. After tweaking the outsole in a waffle iron, Bowerman experimented with athletes at the University of Oregon to figure out what worked on running shoes and what just didn’t. Nike was officially born in 1971 and now holds eight registered patents on its designs. While Nike pushes forward some of the most innovative and technical gear in the sportswear market today, its bread and butter are running shoes.
Bowerman was a track and field coach for 23 years at the University of Oregon and Knight was one of his runners, so the two worked together to design sneakers that would help track athletes shine during competitions — and feel good on their days off, too. Bowerman tinkered with shoes to make the spikes perfect for his athletes, using them as guinea pigs for new models. One of the first official sneakers was the Tiger Cortez. What was considered revolutionary from a performance standpoint has now become a universally recognized lifestyle sneaker. Nike has continued to push the boundaries of running with new technologies and materials every year.
Nike’s come a long way from putting outsoles in the waffle iron, and the brand now boasts a plethora of sneakers that are built to help you tackle speed, performance, agility and more. Whether you’re new to running or can rattle off your top three sneaker models and numbers, this is the complete list of Nike’s current running shoes.
The Nike Renew Arena look bouncy thanks to an exaggerated Renew foam midsole. You’ll find traction along the bottom only where you need it. This model comes in four colors.
Offered in just two colors, the Nike Revolution 4 is a very basic supportive and comfortable sneaker. It’s one of the more affordable Nike sneakers, and design-wise, it’s a very safe choice for beginning runners.
The bold swoosh on the side of the Zoom Strike 2 looks fast. It comes in three low-profile colors (a mix of black and white). There’s a Zoom Air unit underfoot, and Flywire cables in the upper to help you find your perfect fit.
This low-profile running sneaker has two separate Zoom Air units underfoot, so you feel supported with each step. The foam inside the midsole is Cushlon — basically a step down from the React foam.
If you’re looking to ease into racing and don’t want to spend a ton of money on fast shoes, try the Air Zoom Streak 7. An engineered mesh upper is breathable, and the high abrasion rubber outsole keeps you from slipping on sharp turns and track loops. It’s one of the lighter sneakers on this list, and one of the least expensive.
Part of the Nike Zoom Family launch in 2019, the Pegasus 36 is built for training days. A sleek engineered mesh upper and slim heel collar create a look that screams fast.
The Air Zoom Structure 22 features engineered ventilated mesh that hugs your foot to the shoe, so you feel supported. There’s a Zoom Air unit (imagine an airbag underfoot) that provides a responsive feeling with each step and Duralon blown rubber in the forefoot.
If you like the Epic React, but want a bit more support in the upper, check out the Odyssey React Flyknit. You’ll still get the React foam feel at a slightly lower price and a smooth ride.
The Zoom Vomero 14 has a Zoom Air unit that runs from heel to toe combined with Nike React foam so you’ll feel a bit of a kick to your runs. The mesh upper protects and supports your forefoot.
If you crave a lightweight sneaker with a lot of bounce, try the Epic React Flyknit 2. With over 15 colors to choose from, the React foam shines in its original package. Your toes will rule the roost — in your shoes — as you experience a lot of spring.
If you’re looking for a sneaker that you can wear on the run and then walk around all day long in, the Nike Epic Phantom React Flyknit is for you. This laceless sneaker slips right on your feet and thanks to the React foam and TPU heel piece, you’ll find these are surprisingly supportive and super comfortable.
Spend enough time at run clubs, and you’re bound to see a pair of these speeding around a track. Some runners find them to be a more comfortable alternative to the Zoom Fly Flyknit thanks to the translucent, stretch-weave upper. There’s also a carbon-infused nylon plate in the midsole, plus Lunarlon foam to mimic the feel of the 4%, just at a slightly lower price.
We reviewed these when they first came out last year and found them to be the perfect mix between a race day sneaker and a training shoe. Pull these on if you like the Pegasus 36 but want something with a little added boost from ZoomX foam, the coveted foam found in the NEXT%.
The Zoom Fly features the same carbon-infused nylon plate as the Zoom Fly SP paired with a Flymesh upper so you’ll feel the wind on your feet as you speed through races. React cushioning underfoot makes for a super bouncy and responsive feel.
If you’re ready to race but don’t want to shell out $250 for one of Nike’s more elite running shoes, the Zoom Fly Flyknit is a viable alternative. It’s basically one rung down from the Nike 4% Flyknit — at a much lower price — and it includes a carbon fiber plate for a snappy feel.
When athletes like Galen Rupp and Eliud Kipchoge pull these on, you know they’re built for speed. These coveted sneakers feature ZoomX foam and a carbon fiber plate to help you get the most energy return from the race path you’re on. The Flyknit upper is breathable and stretchy, giving your toes more room to move around. Note: Opt for with the NEXT% shoes below if you like to have more structure in the forefoot.
Part of the Nike Zoom Pack Family for 2019, the NEXT% sneakers are the updated 4% but with more foam. The weight stays the same, though. Long story short, these are the shoes you want to run your fastest, especially during distance races like the half marathon or full 26.2. The shoes launched in April for $275.
The Nike Free sneakers have always been the go-to shoes for athletes who like to feel the ground. The previous models had a low-profile look to them, and for anyone who was a fan of the barefoot running movement, these made sense. Nike updated these shoes in 2019, and they now feature a more modern look.
The 3.0 Nike Free running shoe lends itself more to training days since there are no laces. The Flyknit upper, combined with a more supportive yarn, helps keep your feet in place. The heel-to-toe flex grooves on the outsole move in every direction, so it feels like barefoot running.
The previous iteration of the Nike Free sneakers isn’t quite as vibrant as the 2019 version. You feel like you’re quite low to the ground (compared to other sneakers on this list). Offered in all black or all grey, this flexible shoe will work as you move from the treadmill to the weight room.
There are three colors of this beloved trail running sneaker. Now in its fifth iteration, the Terra Kiger 5 has Nike React foam and a super sticky outsole to help you keep your grip on slippery rocks and moss.
The bold, vibrant colors of the Wildhorse are similar to the ones the Terra Kiger has; both make for unique looks on the trail. The rock plate helps protect your toes from awkward rocks, stones and sticks, and the breathable multi-layered upper keep things light and airy, even during the humid months of summer.
We tested the latest models from Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Under Armour, Nobull and more to find the perfect gym sneaker for you. Read the Story
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