Are you on the hunt for the best Nike running shoes of 2023? Your search is over! Our comprehensive guide offers all the information you need to make an informed decision, no matter your running style or preferences.
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Nike’s Long History With Running Shoes
As Nike has burgeoned into a global behemoth with a diverse range of products spanning across virtually every sport, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the company’s origins were rooted in the production of the best running shoes.
The inception of Nike dates back to the 1960s when Phil Knight imported Japanese Onitsuka shoes and vended them out of his automobile. He then collaborated with his former coach, Bill Bowerman, to lay the foundation of Blue Ribbon Sports, which acted as a precursor to Nike. Bowerman’s preoccupation with refining the footwear of his athletes led to the development of the first Bowerman-engineered design, the 1967 Cortez, which boasted a full-length foam midsole.
In 1970, Bowerman’s curious experimentations with a waffle iron gave rise to the waffle sole, which is still in use today. The introduction of the Air Sole by Nike in 1978, furnished with an air-filled pod in the midsole to absorb impact, marked yet another groundbreaking innovation. Since then, Nike has launched numerous avant-garde products, including the Vaporfly 4% in 2017, which incorporates a full-length carbon fibre plate in the midsole to augment energy return.
Nike has always exhibited an unwavering commitment to producing footwear that enables runners to run faster, farther, and with greater comfort. Presently, Nike stands at the forefront of manufacturing some of the best running shoes available in the market. Our list of the best Nike running shoes of 2023, segregated by type of run or runner, features footwear that has been rigorously tested by both Runner’s World staff and our team of wear testers. The catalogue comprises Nike’s latest innovations, flagship models, and footwear suited for trail runners, beginners, and overpronators.
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1. Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% Flyknit 2
In October 2019, Eliud Kipchoge achieved an incredible feat by completing the first sub-two-hour marathon, all while sporting a prototype of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% Flyknit 2 (what a name) sneakers. It’s difficult to imagine a stronger endorsement for a pair of running shoes than being worn by the fastest marathoner in history.
The oddly shaped sneaker’s design helps propel you forward with increasing force as your speed increases. But even if you’re not a world-class runner, the running shoes’ energy-saving features almost guarantee that you will improve your chances of setting a new personal record.
The latest version of these running sneakeres has undergone some great updates. A thin layer of ZoomX foam has been added under the forefoot air pods, and cushioned heel pods have been integrated into the rear. The outsole material has been made thinner yet more durable. These changes make the shoe more pliable upon impact with the forefoot, leading to improved energy return. Additionally, the back half of the shoe has been reworked, providing enhanced stability for those that need it.
These modifications have elevated the already top-tier Nike running shoe into an even more exceptional piece of footwear. The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% Flyknit 2 is simply the best of the best running shoes of all time. READ OUR FULL REVIEW HERE.
2. Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 3
For runners in search of a comfortable, daily shoe that emphasizes a smooth ride over achieving record-breaking performances, the Nike Invincible 3 should definitely be on your list of running sneakers to check out. Boasting a generous amount of ZoomX foam (just take a look at the picture above) and a spacious footprint, this shoe delivers on the promise of exceptional cushioning and support.
In particular, the Invincible 3’s plush ride makes it a top choice for athletes who enjoy logging long distances during their training. Running shoes generally aren’t about good looks, but the Nike Invincible 3 isn’t bad looking either.
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3. Nike Winflo 9
In today’s market, it has become increasingly difficult to come across a quality pair of Nike running shoes that are cheap or well-priced. In fact, most good running shoes retail for over $140. Fortunately, for those who are new to running or seeking a reliable workhorse for their daily runs, the Nike Winflo 8 is an excellent budget-friendly option.
While this shoe may lack some of the more advanced features found in the brand’s premium models, it compensates with its Cushlon foam, which provides a smooth and comfortable ride. Moreover, the Zoom Air units in the midsole supply an ample amount of responsiveness, ensuring a reactive feel while running.
Lastly, the Winflo offers generous cushioning around the heel and ankle, and its breathable upper mesh and Flywire cables located beneath the lacing system guarantee a snug and secure fit.
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4. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39
The Nike Pegasus has garnered a reputation as a dependable workhorse, and with its 39th iteration, it continues to impress.
The latest version boasts double Zoom Air units in the midsole, providing a more responsive and bouncy ride. The toe box has also been expanded for a roomier fit, while a deeper heel cup ensures a secure and comfortable fit around the heel. A plush-feeling mesh and added padding on the tongue enhance the overall comfort of the shoe.
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 sneaker delivers a cushioned and stable ride, making it perfect for high-mileage runs and regular use on hard surfaces. While it may not have the agility of a speed-day shoe, its durability and comfort make it an outstanding option for everyday training.
5. Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 3
The Vaporfly has solidified its position as a popular choice for competitive runners, and the latest version – the third iteration – retains the same liveliness and speed as its predecessors.
Nike has implemented a comprehensive redesign of the shoe, with a focus on achieving a lighter weight. One strategy involved removing foam from areas where it is unnecessary, resulting in a lighter midsole on the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 3.
Additionally, the forefoot no longer features a slab of rubber; instead, a series of diamond-shaped lugs have been incorporated.
6. Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 3
The Nike Infinity Run 3 breaks the mould of traditional stability shoes yet still manages to deliver noteworthy support. Rather than relying on a medial post, this shoe employs a clip around the outer heel and a wider forefoot midsole to achieve stability without excess weight. Its durable and responsive React foam midsole, featuring rocker geometry, helps create a seamless foot strike.
The updated upper offers improved breathability, as well as a secure fit, with extra padding at the heel and ankle for added support. All of this culminates in a shoe that provides a comfortable, unobtrusive ride for neutral runners while also providing ample support for those with mild overpronation.
The Infinity Run 3 defies convention to become a versatile and reliable everyday running shoe that most runners will enjoy.
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7. Nike ZoomX Streakfly
The Streakfly is a sneaker designed specifically for road running races of 5K and 10K distances, and it’s been crafted with a focus on speed. Think classic racing flat but updated with modern features for 2022.
The shoe’s design elements, such as the minimal heel collar and thin upper, help to shave off unnecessary weight. Offset lacing further reduces pressure on the foot and ensures a comfortable fit. Testers found the Streakfly to have a barely-there feel, yet it still provides ample support even during high-speed cornering. The midsole features the same responsive and lightweight ZoomX foam that’s found in the Vaporfly but with a much lower stack height.
Unlike the Vaporfly, the Streakfly doesn’t have a full-length carbon plate but rather a Pebax plate similar to those used in modern track spikes that are located under the midfoot. This design choice results in an incredibly lightweight and low-profile shoe that delivers a springy ride. Traditional racing flat enthusiasts will appreciate this shoe’s design, which offers extra cushioning protection from the midsole.
Furthermore, these shoes could also be suitable for lighter runners who are in search of a half-marathon racer.
8. Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% Flyknit
The Air Zoom Tempo Next% serves as a versatile alternative to the Alphafly Next%.
What sets it apart is its unique dual midsole foam, with firmer and more durable React foam in the rear and softer and more responsive ZoomX foam in the front. The outsole has also been reinforced with additional rubber for added durability. The midsole features a full-length composite carbon plate, while Air pods are strategically placed under the balls of the feet to provide exceptional energy return.
Unlike some carbon-plated shoes that can feel unstable due to their rebound effect, the Tempo Next% boasts a forgiving composite plate and a wider forefoot that adds to its stability and peppy feel.
These Nike running shoes are an excellent choice for faster training runs and also work well on race day.
9. Nike Zoom Fly 4 Premium
The Zoom Fly is a training shoe designed to complement faster racing models like the Vaporfly and Alpha Fly. It boasts a carbon plate that provides increased energy return and rapid turnover. Still, it also has more cushioning than most racing shoes, making it durable enough for frequent training sessions.
The shoe’s sock-like fit allows for easy on-and-off wear, and its midfoot flex ensures natural foot movement.
10. Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7
Nike’s top-of-the-line trail shoe, the Terra Kiger, is an excellent choice for those looking to tackle singletrack and shorter runs on rocky trail runs.
The latest version boasts an improved grip with multi-directional rubber lugs, making it even more suitable for dry terrain. Similar to its previous models, the shoe includes features such as a rock plate, a padded tongue, and midfoot lacing for a comfortable and snug fit. Its cushioning system consists of React foam and a Zoom Air unit located in the heel, providing excellent responsiveness.
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Of course, all these sneakers and more are available online at Nike.com.