Whether you are in search of the perfect footwear for your morning jogs or are training for a marathon, you know that Nike has something special that can cater to your needs. The leading manufacturer of sports apparel has a fantastic range of running shoes to meet the needs of all types of runners.
Founded in 1964 by track coach Bill Bowerman and businessman Phil Knight, Nike’s inspiring words “just do it” has inspired millions of runners across the world to achieve their full potential. Throughout its existence, the top brand has strived to innovate itself by incorporating the latest technology into their shoe design so that their loyal customers can keep pushing boundaries and achieve their fitness goals.
If you are buying a pair of Nike running shoes for the first time, you may find the task a bit daunting. Since the time the company has been operating, Nike has produced a whole host of new products, one after the other.
We understand how difficult it can be to pick out just a single pair from the plethora of options and models out there. All you need is some crucial knowledge about the manufacturer and the products they make so you can make the best buying choice. To that end, we have created a comprehensive guide that includes everything you need to know about selecting the best Nike running shoes for men.
Buying Guide for Best Nike Running Shoes for Men
In this guide, we will talk about all the facts you need to understand about Nike and the footwear they produce. We will also discuss the different technologies that Nike uses in its products, and about the qualities, you need to consider when you are picking out the best Nike running shoes for men.
Once you have a clear picture of this industry-leading manufacturer of running shoes, we will look at the list of the top running shoes for men made by them. Having knowledge from the guide, along with the list of detailed reviews for the top products in this category, will help you choose the best pair of running shoes for your needs.
Nike Shoe Technology Explained
First things first, let us take a look at the meaning and design principles behind the different types of technology used by Nike. Understanding the jargon will help you go through the list a lot faster, knowing what you are looking for.
Flymesh or Engineered Mesh
Flymesh is the more popular name given by Nike to its Engineered Mesh technology. This is a lightweight mesh construction for the upper part of the Nike running shoes. This technology is similar to traditional mesh construction, but Nike’s Flymesh is noticeably more breathable, flexible and long-lasting.
Engineered Mesh has all the features that traditional mesh has to offer and more. The process of making Flymesh is different from the Flyknit that we will discuss later. Shoes with Flymesh cost relatively less than Flyknit shoes.
Flyknit refers to a specialized woven fabric manufactured by Nike for use in the upper section of shoes. Flyknit is one of the most popular shoemaking technologies used by Nike right now. The material feels like a sock when you put it on your feet.
The knits and yarns are placed strategically around the structure of the shoe to achieve this sock-like feel. The shoe can better support the foot of a runner while leaving it free to move around when they do not need the extra support.
Instead of a lot of glued or stitched panels on the upper, there is a lightweight yarn that creates a massive difference in the overall experience of wearing Flyknit shoes. The material also ensures better fitting, which is very precise. It also provides seamless integration in tightly-knit areas where there is a need for support and the wide-knit areas to allow the right amount of room for necessary movement.
Another amazing thing about Flyknitis that it is an environmentally-friendly construction material. The Flyknit shoe construction produces 60% less waste than traditional stitched construction for shoe uppers.
Keep in mind that Flyknit is the latest footwear technology created by Nike so you can expect Flyknit shoes to be more on the expensive side.
Ten years ago, Nike introduced the Lunarfoam technology. Also referred to as Lunarlon, the material is Nike’s proprietary foam compound. Lunarlon is the lightest, most cushioned and the softest foam compound developed by the brand so far.
Lunarlon is contained within a Phylon foam capsule, which is a harder material that gives the Lunarlon the structure it needs to provide comfort to your feet. Lunarlon is the material to get if you are looking for a soft and cushioned inner sole for your running shoes.
This is the basic foam material used by Nike for making shoes. The Phylon essentially consists of EVA foam pellets that are compressed, heated for expansion, and then cooled down into the form of mold. Over time as you use shoes with Phylon soles, you will see the use of individual pellets through the fine wrinkles formed in the foam after use.
Phylon is more structurally stable and harder than Lunarlon. That is why it is encased in Phylon when it is used in a Nike running shoe.
Cushlon is a mixture of rubber additives and the Phylon material, which makes the resulting material responsive and lightweight.
Nike Free is not exactly technology – it is a concept developed by Nike around 2005. The idea behind Nike Free is to create shoes that are so flexible and lightweight that they leave the runner’s feet moving freely and naturally. Of course, the Nike Free line of products did raise a question among some runners.
While the shoes do allow for a greater range of natural foot movement, the runner will not exactly get the experience of running freely on the ground. The natural feel of the ground is still dampened by the cushioning in their soles.
This might be true, but the flexibility of the sole in a Free shoe, along with an open mesh with an unconstrained upper, does give people the sensation of running freely.
Nike Air is pretty much a household name now. In fact, Nike Air is the reason why Nike exploded on to the world stage back in the 80s. The question is: Do you really know what Nike Air is?
The Nike Air line of products mostly involves the use of Cushlon foam for the shoe soles. Cushlon is soft but resilient foam. It is denser but not as bouncy as other foams used by Nike, which makes it heavier than other foal materials.
Nike’s solution for the weight was cutting of areas within the Cushlon foam and filling those areas with plastic bags filled with “Air”, which is not actual air, but a secret gas compound used by Nike. This led to the formation of foam, which has a low weight by substituting most of the density with an effective airbag. The airbags also create a more cushioned sole for your feet to rest on while running.
There are variations within the Nike Air inner sole. Depending on the shoe model, you can have Nike Air bags within the heel, the midsole, or the toe.
The three formats of Nike Air include the following:
- Nike Air: An primitive Nike Air variant, this features medium-sized air bags that can fit under the heel very easily.
- Air Max: The Air Max is a thick and heavily cushioned air bag, which we feel is too unstable for runners to wear.
- Zoom Air: The Zoom Air foam developed by Nike is the perfect thing for low-profile running shoes. Initially developed for use in professional soccer shoes, the ultra-thin Zoom Air features plenty of the best Nike running shoes for men.
Things to Look for When Picking Running Shoes
Finding the best-fitting shoes out of so many choices is not easy, even if you have a complete understanding of the different types of technology used by Nike for developing shoes. Understanding all the jargon is just part of the process. In order to be able to pick out the best Nike running shoes for men, there are certain things you need to be on the lookout for.
Before you even put your feet into a new pair of shoes, here is what you need to understand about its anatomy and everything else.
The upper refers to the part of the shoe above the sole. The upper section of running shoes can be made with a variety of materials, largely consisting of mesh and fabrics glued and stitched together. Modern models by Nike use knitting technologies more than stitching and gluing to get the best single-piece uppers, which can properly support modern runners.
When you are examining the upper of a shoe, you need to check if it has an anatomically fitting shape, which is smooth to the touch on the inside, does not restrict your foot movement or cause any chafing, particularly around the ankles.
The ankle collar is the part of the shoe that wraps the top of the opening while holding down the heel in place right on the sole. Many models use thick padding to get the ankle collar to do a good job, but others mainly rely on the shape of the ankle collar to achieve proper anchor for the back of the shoe on the sole.
A lot of running shoes consist of a heel counter inside the rear portion where your heel rests. This is a semi-rigid cup that houses and cradles your heel within the shoe. Many models of running shoes have eliminated the need for heel counters to allow a fuller range of movement for the foot.
Heel counters are not that essential for shoes since they do not provide motion control for the runner. The fact that they can center the heel improves the runner’s balance and stability while landing can be quite useful. When you are selecting a pair of running shoes, make sure to look for a heel that is able to allow comfortable ankle joint movement.
The saddle is a reinforced section around the arch of the runner’s foot. Also known as the instep, the arch interacts with the saddle. The saddle interacts with the laces to hold the shoe on to the foot securely and comfortably. Designers have worked on and innovated several kinds of overlays, lacing systems and eyelets to make sure that the saddle can adopt any foot shape.
When you are examining a shoe, you need to pay attention to how the saddle feels on the instep. If it is able to hold your foot while providing a secure feeling with no slippage, it will work out well for you as long as the natural doming of the arch is not affected between strides.
The upper section of the shoe, from the end to the front of the eyelets, is called the toebox. This is the part of the shoe within which all the toes are housed, protecting your toes from stubbing through reinforcement.
While considering your options, be sure to examine how the toebox feels. This section should not feel tight on the front of your foot. It should allow your toes to flex in width and length without rubbing your toes.
The outer sole is the section of the shoe that actually makes contact with the ground when you are running, standing, or walking with the running shoes on. This can be made using a wide variety of materials, consisting primarily of rubber compounds, foams placed in key areas.
The outer sole tells a lot regarding the quality of the shoe material. When you are examining shoes for purchase, check that the material used is durable and that the shoes can provide proper traction. Fast movement while running means you need proper traction, but without the excess weight that might affect your balance while running.
Nike running shoes bend in the foremost part of the shoe, just like your foot itself bends. This helps your feet go through the natural range of movements while running and protect them at the same time. To make the shoe bend like that along with the shape of the foot, a lot of shoes have grooves right below the ball of the feet.
The turning on the toe top is called the toe spring or flex groove. The section cuts away the midsole into a rocker like pattern, which also makes it easier for the foot to roll through its natural movements during the stride. You need to look for a shoe that will allow an ample amount of movement for the toe without hindrance in the toe area with each stride.
Between the part that your feet come into contact with and the part of the shoe that makes contact with the ground comes the midsole. This is the foam material that is designed to cushion the runner from the heavy impact of each stride, guiding it into the next one.
You should look for shoes with a midsole thick enough to feel right at running speeds. It should not be too hard or too soft. It also has to be light so that it does not add too much weight to the shoe.
Heel cushioning is a feature you will find in plenty of running shoes. The midsole material that is designed to take the impact of heel-first strikes on the ground while running is called the heel cushioning. There is a variety of materials used by manufacturers to ensure a softer impact on the heel.
There is a lot of debate about the merits of heel cushioning because the human body is able to naturally cushion the heel while running. If the shoe you are considering features added heel cushioning for softer heel-strikes on the ground while running, you should get something that gives you a balance between stability and cushioning along with ground feel.
Make it a point to note whether or not it feels right when the shoe strikes the ground and it rolls into the next stride easily.
The midsole material designed keeping the impact of the force on your forefoot in mind is called the forefoot cushioning. A midsole with forefoot cushioning will distribute the impact of the force that every stride has on the front of the foot and provide cushioning for everything above your ankle.
When you are deciding a pair of shoes to get, you need to examine the responsiveness of the shoes. It needs to provide a sufficient cushion for the impact of every stride while providing a firm push off the ground for the next stride.
The difference between the height of your heel and the ball of the foot when you are standing with the shoe on is known as the heel to toe drop. The heel to toe drop is responsible for distributing the force of impact to different areas of the foot with every stride, making a difference in your stride.
When you are looking for a pair of running shoes, the actual heel to toe drop does not matter as much as how the shoe feels throughout the stride from the point your feet touch the ground to the point they take off into the next stride. It should reduce the stress you feel in your foot.
Our Top 3 Picks
Best Overall Nike Running Shoes: Nike Zoom Pegasus 36
Best Premium Quality Nike Running Shoes: Nike Epic React Flyknit 2
Best Value Nike Running Shoes: Nike Men’s Legend React
With that, we have provided you with all the essential information you need to know and factors you to consider so you can sift through all your choices and choose Nike running shoes that will best fit your running and lifestyle requirements and goals. To make things even simpler for you, we have gone through hours of research to compile a list of reviews of the top Nike running shoes for men.
By reading these detailed reviews and tallying them against the information above will give you a good idea of which pair will work for you and which one won’t.
Best Nike Running Shoes for Men
First on the list of reviews is a Zoom series running shoe for men made by Nike. The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 looks like a basic pair of shoes. The design of the shoe ensures that almost any runner can have a good running experience and pay a reasonable price for the pair. The Pegasus line has been around for a very long time now, and the Pegasus 36 is the latest model.
Pegasus 36 features an outer rubber sole that spans from the front to the back of the bottom of the shoe and a durable upper section. The shoe has also been crafted to create an anatomically correct fit for an average foot. Much of the design is similar to its predecessors, except for the improvements in the materials used. The weight is relatively the same as a pair of Pegasus 29s.
The Pegasus 36 shoes show how far Nike has come with its Pegasus line of running shoes. The simplicity and efficiency of the design work very well for all kinds of runners out there. The upper is breathable and brings the perfect balance between support and flexibility as it wraps snugly around the foot. The shoe sole is comfortable and supportive, and this is perhaps one of the most durable running shoes we’ve come across.
However, some users have complained about the stiffness of these shoes. But it is only a matter of breaking into these shoes before they are fully open and you can enjoy the best running experience that the Pegasus 36 has to offer.
- The upper reduces any chances of chafing in the foot even after long runs
- A snug and comfortable fitting of the upper, which balances support and flexibility
- Durable pair with an excellent outer sole running across the length of the shoes
- Design is similar to the previous model of the shoe with slight changes
- The fabric folds around the heels in a slightly odd manner
As long as it comes to the traditional design for running shoes, the Nike Zoom Structure 22 is the only shoe left in the lineup of the latest products to come out from Nike’s manufacturing line. A lot of models have been made from Zoom technology, but we found the Zoom Structure to be one of the best that Nike has produced so far.
The experience of using the Nike Zoom is incredibly stable and comfortable. The design is also impressive, right at first glance, with the navy blue mixing well with the bright orange swoosh and crimson heel. The 22nd edition of the Structure series, the Zoom Structure 22 has a similar design to the 20th edition.
Nike has made a lot of headway into new and innovative designs for running shoes which look unlike traditional running shoes, but Structure 22 shows that even traditional design can still work very well. The Cushlon and Phylon foams combine to create a good dual density sole. The softer Cushlon reduces the force of impact on the outside while the Phylon supports the instep with every stride.
Using the Flyknit design, Nike created capable uppers for the Structure 22 that help create a snug fit for your feet to lock into the shoes without any discomfort. The shoe material is durable and can withstand everyday use without a problem. The laces are farther up the shoe to allow the rest of the foot more movement within the shoe without compromising on a secure fit.
That said, some users found the soles to be too firm and unresponsive. This is the reason why the shoes are able to perform very well in short- to medium distance runs, but runners who are training for marathons might not enjoy the experience as much.
- Good design with plenty of color options to choose from
- Updated Flyknit upper material that is breathable
- Snug fit around the foot
- Takes some time to break into
- The sole is firm and relatively less responsive
- The heel might feel a little loose for runners with narrow feet
The Nike Winflo Running Shoe 6 is one of our favorites on the list. This pair of shoes features two Zoom units in the forefoot and the heel for shock protection from both heel first and toe first strikes during your strides. This is a budget-friendly pair with a simple design.
The feel and comfort provided by these shoes are actually quite similar to the Pegasus line of Nike running shoes for men. The upper includes a padded heel and tongue, which provide extra support to the runner, but adds some bulkiness to the shoes. The full-length carbon outer sole has a dual-patch design, which offers excellent traction to runners.
The rubber is great in terms of both traction and durability. The Zoom air pocket provides ample weight reduction in the shoe. This means that the bulkiness does not have an impact on the weight you can expect from the best Nike running shoes. These shoes allow for consistent cushioning of the impact with every stride, something that people will love while running over long distances.
The midsole section consists of standard foam, but the sweep up design from the heel is not a standard issue and provides more comfort for the Achilles while running. The tongue is integrated into the sidewalls of the shoe, making it unnoticeable, despite adding bulk to the overall appearance of the shoes. The engineered mesh is not as breathable as the Flyknit, but it provides an ample amount of ventilation for the feet.
- Upgraded upper material from previous models for better breathability
- Sleek and durable outer sole for better traction with long-lasting material
- Heat formed overlays for a better fitting upper
- Upper materials are not as long-lasting as the other models
- The premium look of the shoe does not reflect the feel of the shoe while running
Imagine taking the Nike Pegasus series shoes and making them a lot lighter. That may seem like a dream if you are already aware of the benefits that the Pegasus running shoes provide. The Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 shows that Nike is ushering in a new era of hyper-performance running equipment to give runners an edge over the competition.
The Turbo 2 is a variant of the Pegasus design, essentially upgrading all the best features of the original. Through marginal changes, Nike has made the Turbo 2’s tongue slimmer and lighter. These shoes are made for marathon runners who will appreciate the weight reduction. With moderate traction, you can expect a lot of stability with this pair of shoes.
The Zoom X foam in the shoe is very light, provides excellent cushioning for the feet and is a responsive material. According to Nike, the Zoom X foam gives you an 85% return of force with every stride. The foam feels soft and bouncy because of its efficiency, which explains why you might enjoy running longer distances with the Turbo 2 on in comparison to the already amazing original Pegasus shoes. These are slightly more on the pricey side of the spectrum.
- Efficient and useful Zoom X foam for better responsiveness
- Highly breathable upper for better ventilation and comfort over long runs
- Lighter and thinner upper for a better experience over long distances
- Pretty expensive compared to the original Pegasus model
- Upper material is not as durable as compared to the amount you will pay for these shoes
The Nike Epic React Flyknit 2’s name should tell you how many different things have come together to create this model. From the Flyknit upper to the thermoplastic React foam, there is a lot to like about the Epic React Flyknit 2.
This is a very lightweight pair of men’s running shoes made by Nike with a 10 mm heel to toe drop. The React foam really makes a world of difference when you wear these shoes for running. The experience is springy, but the kind of bounce that can help you launch into the next stride without causing misbalance.
The heel stack and the forefoot of the product are pretty sizable, which allows the runner to make a strong impact with the ground, but the force of the impact is smartly distributed across the outer sole. The design of the sole is simple. Consisting mostly of the React foam, there is only the plastic block surrounding the heel counter.
The upper is made using Flyknit, which makes the experience of running with these shoes even better in combination with the React foam. The shoe feels a little tight at first, but give it a little bit of time to break in, and it makes a very comfortable fit for runners. Your feet may feel tighter initially, due to its updated design to make the pair more form-fitting for a runner’s feet.
- Modern design aesthetics, which make it look and feel good
- React foam is quite efficient and energizing for a runner over long distances
- Smooth fitting upper with a form-fitting design
- Very breathable Flyknit upper
- A lot pricier than baseline running shoes with similar features
- Not as durable as a lot of the other models reviewed
If you want to experience the epic feel of the React foam but at a more affordable price, the Nike Legend React might just be the pair you are looking for. The React foam is the main aspect of the Nike Legend React. The Air Zoom Pegasus mentioned earlier capitalizes on a good reputation as a line of running shoes with time-tested tech. But, there is one thing that the Air Zoom does not have which the Legend React boasts, the innovative new foam.
The design may seem a little simple to look at, which is nice to see in a pair of Nike running shoes for men. The neoprene-like material on the inner side of the tongue gives these shoes a very decent fit before you even tie the laces. The experience of using the shoes is very responsive, as you can expect from the React foam. This is great for runners that have heavier landing while taking long strides.
The backside of the heel is rounded and raises slightly off the ground while the midsole remains flat. This can make you feel like there is a slight slump in the back of the heel if you are landing on your forefoot. The outer sole provides plenty of traction for runners to capitalize on over long distances.
The upper does not feature Flyknit, which might come as a disappointment to some runners. The lower pricing of the model makes up for it, making the best possible shoes within a reasonable price range. The heel of the Nike Legend React may feel funny to some runners, but this is an amazing pair of shoes with great features and the price tag it has.
- React foam provides better responsiveness and efficiency for runners
- Comfortable overall design, which makes it ideal for long-distance running
- Fairly affordable pair of running shoes
- Upper durability is not as good as some of the other models reviewed on the list
- Tongue material can affect the breathability of the shoes
- Forefoot strike runners might feel the heel to be a little odd
Nike’s Free Run models have long been a popular choice among runners who need to go over long distances through different kinds of terrain. From marathons to short sprints, these shoes can provide any runner with a pretty decent experience. The overall look and feel of these shoes are similar to its predecessor. The tread on the outer sole is what might come as a bit of surprise. The outer sole tread resembles more of what you can expect to see on a bike than on a pair of running shoes, but that is the very quality, which enables this pair to perform well on a variety of terrain.
If you want to buy running shoes only to use on the sidewalk or the road, these shoes will be perfect for you. While you can use them on trail runs, you will find any debris or rocks quite uncomfortable. Nike claims that the shoes will give you the sensation of running barefoot, but our experience tells otherwise.
There is plenty of mobility within the shoe for natural foot movement, but the cushioning eliminates the natural feel of barefoot running. This is the most comfortable model in the Free Run line of shoes made by Nike so far, and a respectable entry on the list of reviews.
- Lightweight and flexible
- Upper material is lightweight and breathable
- The shoe keeps your foot locked in place
- Traction is not as good as you would expect from running shoes on slick surfaces
The Nike Speed Rival’s 6th edition running shoes stand between traditional design and minimal running shoes. They are not completely flat and provide an ample amount of cushioning for your feet. The outer sole of the Speed Rival 6 is made using carbon rubber with pentagonal lugs. This allows runners to feel a good amount of traction when moving running on a variety of surfaces.
The hexagonal plate in the midsole provides a little rigidity for support, but it also creates a slight snap on the takeoff with each stride transition. The Zoom Air in the heel provides plenty of cushioning for the heel-first strike runners while the Cushlon protects the forefoot strikes. The shoe is responsive and not too firm.
The upper looks a little odd on the foot since it looks fat, but the overall fit of the shoe is great for your feet. You might experience a little difficulty if you have narrow feet, but adjusting the tightness with laces might just do the trick. This is a pair of simple and effective running shoes with a reasonable price tag. Suitable for running long distances, marathon running trainers might want to give this a go.
- Responsive cushioning to make running more efficient
- Very reasonably priced for all the features it has
- Shank in the midsole helps run faster
- Durable running shoes
- Runners with narrow feet will not like the fit of these shoes
When it comes to the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%, there are no predecessors you can draw comparisons with since the shoes have been completely redesigned. A new kind of EVA foam compound, perfectly fitting upper and Zoom X foam makes this a very comfortable and incredibly responsive running shoe for men made by Nike.
These running shoes can be categorized as running flats with a minimal heel to toe drop, providing a stable running experience. The full-length carbon plate helps runners with both propulsion and stability. While walking around in the Vaporfly, the shoes might feel like they have a sloppy fitting. When you start running, you can see that flexibility will turn into great support for your feet.
The outer sole consists of a high abrasion-resistant rubber that covers the heel and the forefoot to minimize the impact of both forefoot and heel-first strikes. The lug patterns work well with the durable outer sole to give runners excellent traction on a wide range of surfaces. The upper of the Vaporfly redefines what a form-fitting running shoe should feel like. The breathable mesh fits perfectly around the individual’s feet for a comfortable yet secure fit while running.
- Zoom X foam gives incredible cushioning and responsiveness for better running experience over long distances
- Durable outer sole and better lug design gives the runner superior traction over a variety of surfaces
- The supporting shank in the midsole makes propulsion more efficient
- The price tag may be too high for a lot of people
The 7th edition of the Nike Zoom Streak, this pair is a continuation of a popular racing shoe with minor updates on the design. The Streaks were always considered to offer better traction to runners, but the Streak 7 makes traction even better. The design of these shoes gives it an aggressive look and the feel of putting them on makes it seem like they are made for racing.
Under your feet, the shoes will feel very snappy and responsive. The plastic plate in the midsole can help propulsion and provide support to the arch. Even though the cushioning in these shoes is relatively minimal, the overall design does not cause a lot of fatigue over long distances. Marathon runners considering these shoes, however, should limit using them for training because cushioning ultimately does matter over longer distances.
The outer sole of these shoes are made with rubber that helps provide good traction even on slippery and wet surfaces. The upper, when laced down, can give you a very secure fit. The engineered mesh is not as durable as Flyknit, but it is a very breathable material that makes this pair of shoes easy to wear for longer workouts.
- Snappy and responsive underfoot feeling, making running more efficient
- Lightweight shoes that help reduce the overall fatigue over long distances
- The best balance for a running shoe between cushioning and responsiveness
- Upper is still not a big improvement from its predecessor
- The shoes are not as durable as most of the others featured on this list
If you are still unable to narrow down the choices, here are our top three picks, based on different factors, so you have an easier time deciding which one is worth investing your money in.
Best Overall Nike Running Shoes
The Nike Zoom Pegasus 36 is our best overall pick for Nike running shoes for men because this pair balances everything, which includes comfort, durability, responsiveness, and price, all in a single package.
Best Premium Nike Running Shoes
If you are willing to spend a fair bit of money to get a pair of shoes that has the latest technology, the Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 could be the best option for you.
Best Value Nike Shoes
For all the runners looking to benefit from some of the most important features in terms of performance without having to pay too much, the Nike Men’s Legend React is a very reasonable pair to consider.
With this, we are confident that you will be able to pick out a pair of Nike running shoes that can best suit all your needs.