10 Best Nike Running Shoes for Roads & Trails
The shoes we have included on our list of Top 10 Best Nike Running Shoes are among the best of the best Nike has to offer and we are confident they are all capable of meeting all of your trail and road running needs.
- Zoom Fly
- Wild Trail Cool
- Zoom VaporFly
- Air Zoom Elite 8
- Air Zoom Structure 20
- Zoom Terra Kiger 4
- Free 5.0
- Air Zoom Pegasus 34
- Lunarglide 9
- Air Zoom Wildhorse 4
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Nike Running Shoes for Roads & Trails
1. Zoom Fly
Optimized for high-performance running
Durable enough for use in multiple marathons
Form-based rubber sole to improve comfort
Runs small and narrow
Breaking them in can be painful
The Nike Zoom Fly is based on Nike's Breaking2 project, Nike's attempt to break the 2-hour marathon record. They consulted numerous world champion runners, engineers, coaches, and biomechanics experts as part of the project. These shoes were one of the developments to come out of Breaking2's research.Read more
This shoe uses nice foam cushioning for the sole that uses new materials to remain nice and light. It has a carbon infused nylon plate that offers a nice snap when you run. The sole is a foam-based rubber material for a smooth stride and the upper is highly ventilated and secures your foot very well. Overall, the whole shoe is designed to be responsive as you run.
This is a shoe designed for marathons. The soles are much more durable than you'd expect for their feel. They won't last you forever, but they have a good lifespan that will get marathon runners through several races.
Cost or Value
It’s cheapest of the shoes that came out of the Breakign2 project, which you’ll notice if you try them all out. The primary difference is in the materials. They’re not cheap, but also not the most expensive high performance running shoes on the market. This is a good option for a runner who wants a nice balance between budget and performance optimization.
2. Wild Trail Cool
Well ventilated with mesh sections of the upper
Dual-density Phylon provides comfortable
Outsole durability is strong
Reinforced heel & toe
Ghillie lacing system keeps debris away
Heel pull loop allows you to put your shoes on easily
Some runners had minor durability issues in the upper
Sizes may run small
While not the top of the line, the Wild Trail’s are a solid shoe for the casual trail runner. Here you won’t find fancy technology, pink outsoles or gel contouring, but what you will find is a great shoe that will take care of your feet. It comes with what you’d expect from essentially any pair of Nike kicks: Good design, relatively light, well cushioned, breathable, durable and with just a touch of pizzazz.Read more
This is a comfortable and stable pair of running trail shoes. It has dual density Phylon that gives the shoe more cushion and provides comfort. It breathes well and keeps the sweat away. The tongue and collar are padded for comfort as well.
The upper consists of a Ghillie lacing system which helps to keep debris away. The toe and heel are reinforced for added protection.
Cost and Value
This trail running shoe is actually quite average if not affordable. The overall durability and quality of this running trail shoe are great with only a few minor complaints of the upper wearing. It has flex grooves and gripping lugs that provide great traction.
3. Zoom VaporFly
Lightweight for Increased Performance
Increased cushioning in midsole and heel to increased spring
Mesh material that increases breathability
Not as durable as you would expect
These are definitely the priciest option are list, but if you are willing to make an investment they are definitely worth the cost. They are a top of the line long distance race shoe--so if you are an ultra-marathoner this is the shoe for you.Read more
Comfort and Stability
These shoes are very comfortable and stable. They feature a new EVA compound along with a carbon plate. Furthermore, they provide optimal cushioning--unlike many other flat racing shoes. They are highly responsive and are designed for speed.
These shoes are pretty durable but definitely not the most durable option. They have a rubber outsole and feature lug patterns to improve traction. While they aren't the most durable, they are the best for speed and races. In fact, Eliud Kipchoge ran a 2:00:25 marathon in these!
Cost and Value
These shoes are very expensive but worth the investment if you are a serious long distance runner. They provide stability and comfort but may not be as durable as you would expect them to be.
4. Air Zoom Elite 8
Highly responsive cushioning
Good ventilation allows your feet to breathe easily
Great grip on a variety of surfaces
Heel counter comfort your foot
Rubber crash rail assists in transitions
The toe box is narrow
Shoes run small, order a half size up
A lightweight running shoe that made our top 10 list due to its responsive cushioning, and supportive tight fit. Its lightweight feel makes it a suitable brand to help you meet your running targets and make significant improvements on track.Read more
Much like their predecessors, the Elite 8 provides a great amount of responsive cushioning during your run. Its flymesh upper provides ventilation which allows your feet to breathe easily. The Flywire cables allow for a supportive tight fit. It's a lightweight shoe and has a heel counter that helps support your heel while you run. It's made with a Phylon midsole which provides cushioning.
This is a durable and quality made running shoe. It has a rubber crash rail on the outsides of the outsole which allows for great transitions. The outsole has a hexagonal pattern that helps provide excellent traction.
Cost and Value
These shoes can be pricey, but you are paying for the brand name and the quality that comes with that. It's pretty fair to say you won't be disappointed.
5. Air Zoom Structure 20
Flymesh upper allows feet to breathe easily
Increased stability thanks to triple-density Dynamic Support System
Cushioning for responsive toe-to-heel movement
Heel counter adds support
Supportive glove-like fit
Provides good traction on a variety of terrains
Crash rail allows for smooth transitions
Deep flex grooves increase grip
May be narrow in the midfoot
Sizes may run large
The Air Zooms are versatile and can be used for short and long distances easily. They’re massively stable, cushioned, and breathable guaranteeing you increased performance on the track.Read more
The Air Zooms offer excellent comfort while running, walking or any other sports activity that you may be into. Containing dual-density foam in the midsole and Nike’s Zoom unit decoupled crash pad in the forefoot provide the wearer with a smooth, supportive ride. Some of the runners suggest that these are ideal shoes for those who have flat feet.
The rubber sole offers a bit more durability as well as a grip to the shoe. These really do not seem to have many issues regarding the overall quality. It provides good traction on a variety of terrains, and its deep flex grooves increase grip while you run.
Cost and Value
These are priced significantly higher. However, they can be found on Amazon for a pretty fair price, and are well worth your money. Its upper mesh materials allow your feet to breathe easily. It has a triple-density Dynamic Support System that provides support like no other. Additionally, its heel counter adds support to your run. It has a nice supportive glove-like fit.
6. Zoom Terra Kiger 4
Firm treads provide remarkable traction
Endures a large variety of environments
Zoom air pockets prevent issues with debris, discomfort, and additional wear on the shoe
Fit may become loose over time
The Zoom Terra Kiger 4 does what it does very well. The ZTK4 is not optimized for road running but is perfectly designed for tackling even the toughest of trails. It offers a combinationRead more
The ZTK4 has very firm rubber treads, which helps with stability on uneven terrain. However, this inflexibility does affect the shoe's wearability. The shoes are comfortably padded to compensate for this and have air pockets placed in the construction of the toe and heel. These air pockets also provide stability when dealing with rocks or other obstacles you might run into (or step on) while trail running.
The Zoom Terra Kiger 4 has been tested by the runners in all sorts of trail environments and performed more than admirably. From cold to wet, to steep and mountainous terrains, this shoe can handle whatever you can throw at it.
Cost and value
The Zoom Terra Kiger 4 is a mid to high priced running shoe, but with the quality of the trail shoe you will receive makes it worth it. You will have a high performing shoe that increases your run time and performance.
7. Free 5.0
Dynamic Fit System provides a secure, responsive while retaining comfort
Very flexible for a barefoot-like run
Beveled heel for a more natural-feel run
Hexagonal flex grooves provide great traction
Comes in a huge variety of stylish colors
Doesn't offer much arch support for those who need it
Sizes run small
The Free 5.0 makes the best of Nike list for quite a few reasons. It’s especially unique in that Nike used it to introduce many beloved new features like the Dynamic Fit System and a shoe designed for a more natural running experience.Read more
Although they look a lot lighter than what they are, they still aren’t heavy shoes. Nike returned the padded tongue in the Free 5.0, which, for some, is big for comfort. Although they are stable and fairly comfortable, according to many customer reviews, they may not be so great for long-distance running. These are probably not ideal for those with flat or wide feet.
The quality of this shoe is okay, but not as good as the more expensive models. There seems to be something to that. Some customer reviews say they aren’t very durable when used for continuous running or high tempo activities, but seem to work pretty well with jogging and casual wear.
Cost and Value
You can find some very different price tags on these, all depending on where you are shopping. However, they tend to fall into that lower cost shoe category. With the affordable price and durability guaranteed, you definitely have value for money.
8. Air Zoom Pegasus 34
Mesh integrated into the design to make it lightweight
Padded for maximum comfort
Durable design made to last for long distance running
Some lacing issues
Some runners thought the shoe was too narrow compared to previous models
The Air Zoom Pegasus 34 is part of a long-running series of Nike shoes. The AZP series is a solid example of what Nike has to offer for trail and distance running.Read more
The Air Zoom Pegasus 34 is designed with a Nike engineered mesh to make it both lightweight and to give it a sure fit. The AZP 34 also contains pocketed air sections on the toe and heal for more comfortable and impact sensitive cushioning. Some runners have seen some issues with the narrowness of the Pegasus 34, as well as some issues with the lace length and maintaining a tight tie during use.
Many runners have praised the Air Zoom Pegasus 34 for having a remarkable durability in terms of extensive use. The AZP 34 was designed for long distance endurance and that is exactly what the shoe design is great for. It should be noted, however, that the Air Zoom Pegasus 34 has been said to have signs of increased wear when used for other athletic activities.
Cost and value
The affordability of the Air Zoom Pegasus is really what earns it a place on this list. These shoes are a quality Nike product for a more modest cost, providing reliability within a lower price range.
9. Lunarglide 9
Well ventilated and allows your feet to breathe easily
Dynamic Support platform provides stability
Inner sleeve and sock liner provide comfort
Lunarlon midsole foam helps absorb shock
Pressure-mapped outsole provides great traction
Flex grooves provide flexibility
Flywire cables provide good support
May be a little snug on the heel
Sizes run small
A lightweight running shoe that offers a lot of stability and support, is ventilated and provides a good amount of traction while you run.Read more
The overall comfort of this shoe seems to be satisfying to most runners. There are mixed reviews about the arch support with some runners saying it works wonderful and others stating it hurts. The Lunarlon midsole foam helps absorb shock while you run. It is well ventilated and will allow your feet to breathe easily. Its Dynamic Support platform provides stability. It has flex grooves that provide flexibility and allow for a more natural run. Additionally, the Flywire cables provide good support.
There were no reports of wear and tear on the Lunarglide 9. This shoe is made of quality and will last you a long time to ensure you track your running progress accurately.
Cost and Value
The Nike brand can be a bit on the pricey end, but the end result is worth it. This is more or less the standard procedure for Nike shoes, so this should come as no surprise.
10. Air Zoom Wildhorse 4
Zoom air to improve responsiveness during step
Highly breathable Mesh
A rockplate lining on the forefoot
Dynamic fit to improve comfort
Slightly costly to some users
One look at these shoes and you can see they are itching to tear up some rocky trail, give them their wish and take them for a spin! Sturdy, strong, durable and light, the Wildhorse 4’s will back you up every step of the way.Read more
There are no complaints of comfort with Wildhorse 4's; just like their predecessors, the Air Zoom Wildhorse 3, you can rest assured that your feet will enjoy your run. It has Dynamic Fit technology that provides great support. It is well ventilated and allows your feet to breathe easily. The Phylon midsole provides added support to the heel, although some runners did feel some discomfort in the heel area.
Durability and Quality
This is a quality and durable trail running shoe that will last a good amount of time. You can expect to get about 300-500 miles out of it. It has a waffle outsole that provides great traction, and lugs on the outsole that also provide a great grip.
Cost or value
The protection of the Air Zoom Wildhorse 3 is really amazing. It has a rock plate that helps protect you from debris, high-abrasion TPU bars that protect your feet from debris, and its sticky rubber forefoot is great on wet surfaces. These shoes are moderate price and a great durable option for all trail runners out there.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Breathability is a very important quality to look for in running shoes. It keeps your feet ventilated, cool, helps wick moisture away, and prevents skin ailments (like blisters and hot spots). Breathable shoes are usually made of lightweight mesh or other synthetic fabrics that allow for air flow.
Although you may not realize it at first, you need to make sure your feet are protected from the elements and debris while out on a run. Protection from impact and potential injury is also important. Different materials, levels of cushioning, and shoe frameworks supply varying amounts of protection. To choose the proper amount of protection, you have to consider the terrain on which you will be running as well your running form.
A shoe that moves with your foot as your run allows you to run more naturally. Flexibility also contributes to increased comfort. Some materials are more flexible than others and this was taken into consideration when building this list.
Terrain is a very important quality when evaluating shoes because you would be given specifics on your shoe's performance. The outsole, material and sole determine the perfect terrain for a shoe, however, most Nike shoes are built to last. this means that a tough shoe made of the best material would be a perfect fit for a rough terrain and improves on its durability. Also, you need to determine terrain to know if you have bought yourself climbing or running shoes, which goes a long way to save you some money.
It’s important to know what type of shoes you need in order to make the best possible decision for your feet. What type of terrain will you be running on? What kind of feet do you have? Are they flat, wide, with a high arch? What type of cushioning is best for you?
Road Running Shoes
These are made to run on pavement. They are typically lightweight and flexible. Most provide cushion and/or absorb shock when your feet hit the ground.
Trail Running Shoes
Hitting the trails? Trail shoes are made for trails and rocky terrains with mud or water. They typically provide an amazing tread for great traction, along with underfoot protection and/or reinforcements.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Whether you are looking to run on the trail or the road, it's important to have a pair of running shoes that work for you, rather than against you. Do you know what it's like to run with sweaty feet? It can lead to moisture build-up, odors, irritation, and inhibit your ability to run at your full potential. Empower your runs by looking for footwear that is made from ventilated materials and focused on increasing breathability.
Picking out the right running shoe takes knowing the terrain and the outsole. Reason being, each shoe is intentionally designed for certain environments and terrain. For example, running shoes with traction features and added durability on the outsole are better for trails, or rougher terrains. Before purchasing your next pair of running shoes, take the time to figure out where you plan to run. Understanding your running habits can help highlight the best shoe for you.
Other Factors to Consider
Below we have listed some additional features to keep in mind when finding the right running shoes for your training needs.
Shoe brands, just like with clothing brands, have their own unique fit. Be sure to try on any pair of shoes in which you are interested to make sure you purchase the correct size.
When to Try Them On
Try on a potential new pair of shoes when your feet are a little swollen. This is usually in the middle of the day or at night. You need to make sure your shoes fit comfortable when your feet are at their most tired.
Although you don’t want to wear shoes that are too big, you do want some room for your toes to move. Purchase shoes that have a toe box wide enough to splay your toes out naturally. Having ample room for your toes also helps prevent blisters and irritation.
If you wear any type of shoe insert, make sure you bring it along when trying on new pairs of shoes. The insert will affect how the shoe fits, so you need to make sure the shoe fits well and is comfortable with an orthotic or insole you use while running.
Frequently Asked Questions
Typically, Nike shoes run anywhere between a 1/2 size too small and a whole size too small so make sure you order up when selecting your shoe. It’s also a good idea to measure your foot and compare your measurements to the measurements listed.
If you run on trails and no matter how much cushion you have in your shoes and you still have pain, you may want to consider looking at a running trail shoe with a rock plate.
They are one of the most well known running shoe brands for a reason. Their shoes are durable, functional, and have style. You are paying for a well-made shoe that will be worth the investment.
Nike came up with the term “Air Zoom” which is just another way of saying zoom air units that provide a spring in your step.
Not usually. They are actually exactly the same in providing functions except for size, width, and color options which of course vary by gender.
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