10 Best Nike Running Shoes for Roads & Trails

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Nike is a household name everywhere you go—whether you are a serious runner, a casual athlete, or a recreational wearer you have heard the name and/or owned a Nike product. Nike offers a large selection of athletic gear—one of their most successful and popular items being their high-quality running shoes. They create shoes for all athletic uses—from running and CrossFit to everyday shoes—and have a wide selection of availability and different models to choose from. They have shoes that suit all budgets and others that fit specific needs.

All of these options can make it difficult to find the best Nike running shoes for you—which is why we are here to help! We have taken the time to research and review best trail and road running shoes currently available. Our picks address issues associated with runners who spend a lot of time outdoors and love to log in miles. They minimize your risk of injury and provide the stability and support you need when running on poor trail conditions and unpredictable terrain.

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.

Last Updated: June 17, 2018
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By Giselle Killebrew:

Nike has some high quality shoes and products available for all runnsers and athletes. Our most recent update has brought updates to previous models already feature on this list along with the introduction of 3 new additions—one of which is the highly rated Nike Zoom Vaoporfly 4% running shoe.

The Road

Nike Air Zoom Elite 9
  • Nike Air Zoom Elite 9
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Rubber crash rail
  • Price: See Here
Nike Zoom VaporFLy 4%
  • Nike Zoom VaporFLy 4%
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Long Distance racing shoe
  • Price: See Here
Air Zoom Structure 21
  • Air Zoom Structure 21
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Price: See Here

The Trail

Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 3
  • Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 3
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • High-abrasion TPU bars
  • Price: See Here
Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4
  • Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Rock plate
  • Price: See Here
Nike Wild Trail
  • Nike Wild Trail
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Ghillie lacing system
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Nike Running Shoes

1. Zoom Terra Kiger 4

1. Zoom Terra Kiger 4
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.
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Comfort / Stability
The ZTK4 has very firm rubber treads, which helps with stability on uneven terrain. However, this inflexibility does effect the shoes wearability. The shoes are comfortably padded to compensate, 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.

Durability / Quality
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 terrain this shoe can handle whatever you can throw at it.


Cost or value
The Zoom Terra Kiger 4 are a mid to high priced running shoe, but with the quality of the trail shoe you will receive makes it worth it.
Pros

Firm treads provide remarkable traction 

Endures a large variety of environments

Well cushioned 

Zoom air pockets prevent issues with debris, discomfort, and additional wear on the shoe

 

Cons

Sizing issues

Fit may become loose overtime

2. Air Zoom Elite 9

A lightweight running shoe that made our top 10 list due to its responsive cushioning, and supportive tight fit.
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Comfort / Stability
Much like their predecessors, the Elite 9 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.

Durability / Quality
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 or value
These shoescan 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.
Pros

Highly responsive cushioning

Supportive fit

Excellent traction

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

Cons

Toe box is narrow

Shoes run small, order a half size up

3. Nike Zoom VaporFly 4%

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.
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Comfort / Stability
These shoes are very comfortable and stable. They feature a new EVA compound along with a carbon plate. Furthermore, they provides optimal cushioning--unlike many other flat racing shoes. They are highly responsive and are designed for speed.

Durability / Quality
These shoes are pretty durable but definitely not the most durable are 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 or Value
Very expensive, but worth the investment if you are a serious long distance runner.

5. Air Zoom Structure 21

5. Air Zoom Structure 21
The Air Zooms are versatile and can be used for short and long distances easily. They’re massively stable, cushioned, and breathable.
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Comfort / Stability
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. 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.

Quality / Durability
The rubber sole offers a bit more durability as well as 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
These are priced significantly higher. However, they can be found on Amazon for a pretty fair price, and are well worth your money.
Pros

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

Cons
  • May be narrow in the midfoot
  • Sizes may run large

6. Zoom Fly

6. Zoom Fly
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.
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Comfort / Stability
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. The upper is highly ventilated and secures your foot very well. The whole shoe is designed to be responsive as you run.

Like almost all Nike running shoes, it runs small. It also tends to be quite narrow. The break-in process can be quite painful, though after you get them broken in you'll probably notice a substantial improvement.

Durability / Quality
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.
Pros

• Optimized for high performance running
• Smooth stride
• Durable enough for use in multiple marathons

Cons

• Runs small and narrow
• Breaking them in can be painful

7. Air Zoom Pegasus 34

7. Air Zoom Pegasus 34
The Air Zoom Pegasus 34 is part of a long running series of Nike shoes. The AZP serie is a solid example of what Nike has to offer for trail and distance running.
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Comfort / Stability
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.

Durability / Quality
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 or 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.
Pros

Mesh integrated into the design to make it lightweight

Padded for maximum comfort

Durable design made to last for long distance running

Affordable

Cons

Some lacing issues

Some runners thought the shoe was too narrow compared to previous models 

8. Free 5.0

8. Free 5.0
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.
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Comfort / Stability
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.

Quality / Durability
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
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.
Pros

Dynamic Fit System provides a secure, responsive while retaining comfort

Very flexible for a barefoot-like run

Beveled heel for more natural-feeling run

Hexagonal flex grooves provide great traction

Comes in a huge variety of stylish colors

Cons
  • Doesn't offer much arch support for those who need it
  • Sizes run small

9. Lunarglide 9

9. Lunarglide 9
A lightweight running shoe that offers a lot of stability and support, is ventilated, and provides a good amount of traction while you run.
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Comfort / Stability
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.

Durability / Quality
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.


Cost or value
The Nike brand can be a bit on the pricey end, but the end result is worth it.
Pros

Well ventilated and allows your feet to breathe easily

Dynamic Support platform provides stability

Inner sleeve and sockliner provide comfort

Lunarlon midsole foam helps absorb shock

Pressure-mapped outsole provides great traction

Flex grooves provide flexibility

Flywire cables provide good support

Cons

May be a little snug on the heel

Sizes run small

For The Trails

What brings customers back every time, though, are features that all of these models share: they’re flexible and responsive, allowing for a natural running experience. They’re comfortable and offer support whether it’s from a large heel for heel-strikers or cushioning technology that gives you a great push-off. All of these models, of course, come with breathable mesh so you can avoid hot feet.

1. Zoom Terra Kiger 4

1. Zoom Terra Kiger 4
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.
Expand to see more
Comfort / Stability
The ZTK4 has very firm rubber treads, which helps with stability on uneven terrain. However, this inflexibility does effect the shoes wearability. The shoes are comfortably padded to compensate, 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.

Durability / Quality
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 terrain this shoe can handle whatever you can throw at it.


Cost or value
The Zoom Terra Kiger 4 are a mid to high priced running shoe, but with the quality of the trail shoe you will receive makes it worth it.
Pros

Firm treads provide remarkable traction 

Endures a large variety of environments

Well cushioned 

Zoom air pockets prevent issues with debris, discomfort, and additional wear on the shoe

 

Cons

Sizing issues

Fit may become loose overtime

10. Air Zoom Wildhorse 4

10. Air Zoom Wildhorse 4
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.
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Comfort / Stability
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 / 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.

Protection
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.

Cost or value
These shoes are moderate price and a great durable option for all trail runners out there.

4. Nike Wild Trail Cool

4. Nike Wild Trail Cool
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.
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Comfort / Stability
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.

Durability / Quality
The overall durability and quality of this running trail shoe is great with only a few minor complaints of the upper wearing. It has flex grooves and gripping lugs that provide great traction.

Protection
The upper consists of a Ghillie lacing system which helps to keep debris away. The toe and heel are reinforced for added protection.

Cost or value
This trail running shoe is actually quite average if not affordable.
Pros

Reasonably priced

Well ventilated with mesh sections of the upper

Highly versatile

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

Cons

Some runners had minor durability issues in the upper

Sizes may run small

The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation Of the Best Nike Shoes For Roads & Trails:

There is specific criteria we used to measure the performance and quality of Nike running shoes. These metrics were used to create this top ten list. Below we explain the metrics used:

feet-breathe

How breathable are these shoes?

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.

How do these shoes protect the feet?

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.

Do they provide enough flexibility?

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.

shoes-in-grass

What type of traction do these shoes offer?

The amount of traction you need from your running shoes is determined by the terrain on which you run, and the environmental conditions in which you run. Trails and slippery conditions require greater traction and grip than do paved surfaces, like roads.

running-in-snow

Other Important Factors To Consider When Selecting The Best Nike Shoes For Roads and/or Trails:

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.

running-kids

Tips on Finding the Right Running Shoes:

Below we have listed some additional features to keep in mind when finding the right running shoes for your training needs.

Brand

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.

sore-feet

Toe Box

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.

Orthotics/Insoles

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.

running-leap

FAQ

In order to help you make an informed decision, we have gathered a collection of frequently asked questions that will hopefully be helpful in your search.

Q: Do Nike sizes typically run small, average, or large in length?

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.

Q: When should I look at a running trail shoe with a rock plate?

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.

Q: What’s so special about the Nike brand anyway?

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.

Q: What’s the purpose of the “Air Zoom”?

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.

Q: Is there a difference between the men’s and women’s models of Nike?

Not usually. They are actually exactly the same in providing functions except for size, width, and color options which of course vary by gender.


Here are some sources we used while conducting our research:

Sources

  1. Rei co.op, Running Shoes: How to Choose, Informational site, Aug 29, 2016
  2. Competitor, Running 101: How To Select The Best Pair Of Running Shoes , Informational running site, Sep 09, 2014
  3. Competitor, Top 5 Shoe Buying Tips For Runners, Informational running site, Nov 18, 2014
  4. Road Runner, How do I know what amount of cushioning is right for me?, Informational running site,
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