Nike Air Zoom Elite 8

The Air Zoom Elite 8 is, without any exaggeration, one of the best performance training shoe out there. It’s lightweight and ideal for neutral runners that want terrific traction on terrains of variable intensity. This shoe features a highly responsive midsole and provides a smooth, cushioned ride. Nike’s potent combination of FlyWire and FlyMesh upper material provides comfort and breathability. In particular, the FlyMesh upper is a major change in this newest iteration of the Air Zoom Elite series. Many features of this particular Air Zoom model are similar to those of Nike’s Air Zoom Pegasus. The results of Nike’s design prowess is a stylish and affordable shoe that will surely please many running enthusiasts.

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Pros & Cons
  • Comfortable and seamless FlyMesh upper
  • Smooth and responsive ride
  • Excellent forefoot cushioning
  • Snug fitting FlyWire construction
  • Cons
    • Inflexible
    • No reflective material for low-light visibility
    • Questionable durability
    • Not suitable for rough terrains.
    • Key Features
      The outsole of the Elite 8 is satisfyingly grippy, albeit on the thin side. This helps to reduce the weight of the entire shoe but it comes at the cost of durability. This part of the shoe features a waffle-like tread pattern common among Nike Air Zoom shoes, with hexagonal lugs that provide the majority of the Elite 8’s underfoot grip. On the sides, crash rails have been added in order to provide comfortable padding and additional traction that supplements the waffle treading. As a result of this design, the outsoles of these Nike shoes can definitely handle several different running surfaces. However, the aforementioned fragility caused by its thin shape will discourage runners from taking it on any runs in high-intensity environments such as hiking trails.
      The midsole of these shoes is primarily made of Phylon material. This is a cushioning material that manages to be impressively lightweight and durable, ensuring running sessions that are smooth and gentle. Near the forefoot area of the Air Zoom Elite 8’s midsole is a different form of cushioning referred to as Zoom Air. The purpose for this material being placed toward the front is to increase the connection between the forefoot and the ground by using a softer material; protection is still provided but to a lesser degree in order to improve responsiveness and energy efficiency. The key takeaway here is that design expertise and high-quality materials come together in order to form a lightweight, comfortable, and decently durable midsole.
      The upper portion of the Air Max Elite 8 features FlyWire technology, ensuring excellent support and a secure fit around the ankle. The rest of the upper is made up of FlyMesh, lightweight material that provides equal parts comfort and breathability. A heel counter secures the back of the foot firmly in place and interior EVA sock liner adds even more support and cushioning. As a result, runners can expect a very light and fluffy ride, which hopefully makes up for the lack of protection and durability. This isn’t to say that these two features are completely absent, just that these shoes aren’t as protective as some other offerings in the realm of running footwear.
      As some of the lightest shoes in Nike’s Air Zoom product line, the Elite 8 weighs in at around 9 ½ ounces. This doesn’t make it the lightest pair of running shoes on the market, nor does it make the Elite 8 the lightest of all Nike Air Zoom running shoes. However, it does demonstrate an incredibly low weight that is definitely convenient for runners looking to avoid any ballast that could tire them during long running sessions or reduce their top speeds. While this decision did result in sacrifices being made regarding durability and general foot protection, the benefits make these shoe ideal for runners interested in speed work such as Tabata-style sprinting.
      Since the Nike Air Zoom Elite 8’s upper is predominantly constructed from lightweight FlyMesh, breathability is not an issue. Thanks to the terrific airflow offered by this material and the incredibly light weight of the entire shoe, sweat should be virtually eliminated. This makes running in warmer climates much more viable. That said, this excellent ventilation does come at a slight cost. Flymesh won’t offer the same protection you would get from a more sturdy and heavy material. However, sticking to low-intensity running environments should keep this from being an issue for the majority of runners.
      Something that should come as no surprise to fans of the Air Zoom line of Nike products is that the Elite 8 is very comfortable. Thanks to the Phylon cushioning material in the midsole, supreme comfort is achieved with lightweight yet thick-feeling underfoot padding. With the aid of a lightweight and naturalistic design style, runners will feel further comfort as the Elite 8 encourages a more natural running stride. With the use of FlyWire and a heel counter on the upper, a secure fit is achieved without the risk of losing circulation. Additionally, highly breathable material prevents uncomfortable consequences of sweat, such as blistering and foot odor. That said, runners with wider feet may experience some discomfort when wearing these Nike shoes and will probably want to order a pair slightly larger than their true shoe size.
      Another common sight among Nike products is an impeccable sense of style, which the Air Zoom Elite 8 showcases in spades. The various color options provide many attractive choices for the fashion-oriented runner. Furthermore, the uncluttered design makes these runnings shoes an excellent choice for casual attire as well as workout apparel. The only problem runners will face in this aspect of the Elite 8 is what color scheme they like the best!
      Understandably, one of the most important features customers look for in their running shoe purchase is durability. When determining the durability of the Nike Air Zoom Elite 8, it seems that runners have experienced both sides of the spectrum. Concerns have been raised about the thin outsole in particular, with some people noting that the forefoot tends to degrade quickly. Others have remarked that these shoes can offer an impressively high mileage, provided that you only use them in low-intensity running environments. For the most part, these shoes are durable and should last long enough for customers to feel as if they received their money’s worth.
      While the durability of these Nike shoes has disappointed many customers, one aspect in which they do not disappoint is protection. This doesn’t mean that the Air Zoom Elite 8 offers superior protection from rough environments; for that, you’ll want to invest in a pair of trail shoes. No, the kind of protection offered by these shoes is protection from running injuries. The FlyMesh upper with incorporated FlyWire lace overlays secures the wearer's foot to the shoe in a way that prevents any sprains from slippage. In addition, Phylon midsole material provides a truly impressive amount of underfoot protection from repetitive foot striking. Finally, an outsole with emphasis placed on traction help to protect runners from losing their grip on the road and experiencing scrapes or bruises.
      In regards to responsiveness, the Air Zoom Elite 8 provides an experience that is in the middle of the road; not too impressive, but not mediocre. Some runners appreciated the level of energy efficiency offered by the Zoom Air forefoot cushioning, stating that it felt nice and bouncy. Others were less impressed, feeling that the lighter weight didn’t result in a more responsive shoe but rather a less durable one. However, the majority of runners find these shoes to offer an adequate level of responsiveness for standard jogging, track running, and some sprinting.
      These Nike running shoes offer an amount of foot support that would be merely passable in other shoes but manage to be very impressive in the Elite 8 when accounting for its lightweight design. Some of this support is derived from the outsole, where a waffle tread and crash rails provide a stable base for runners to toe off. The reasonable heel elevation ensures that extra support is provided to the heel while still allowing the forefoot to make intimate contact with the ground. Finally, Phylon midsole material and a FlyMesh/FlyWire upper ensure that a secure and molded fit provides support to key areas of the foot. There have been a few runners who were disappointed with the support in the Elite 8 but the vast majority seem to be satisfied.
      Due to the fantastically light weight of these running shoes, some corners had to be cut when designing the Elite 8. Despite having an outsole with enough treading and safety features to ensure excellent traction on varied forms of terrain, the material used for it is far too thin to handle any environment rougher than asphalt. This means that you will be mostly restricted to standard low-intensity track and field running surfaces when using these shoes.
      Due to more recent versions of this shoe hitting the market, the Air Zoom Elite 8 is priced very competitively. This reasonable asking price makes them accessible to the majority of runners looking for a lightweight and comfy running shoe, but something that can hamper that accessibility is a lack of stock for some sizes. It may take some searching if you happen to have feet of a particular size, but the end product is worth the effort.
      Despite being very, very thin, the outsole of the Nike Air Zoom Elite 8 manages to provide an impressive degree of traction. In addition to the waffle-style tread pattern, crash rails on the side accommodate smooth rides and efficient strides. As previously mentioned, these features would have made the Elite 8 ideal for some light trail running. However, due to design caveats regarding weight, this is sadly not the case.
      Due to the lightweight construction of these running shoes, a decent amount of flexibility is offered. Blown rubber used for the outsole provide some give due to the numerous tiny air bubbles and Duralon cushioning adds some responsive flexibility by design. Aside from these features, the Nike Air Zoom Elite 8 is rigid enough to provide great stability, but never to a degree that it feels uncomfortable.
      Nike has managed to successfully strike a balance between flexibility and stability, offering the best of both without sacrificing either. This means that while the Air Zoom Elite 8 is decently flexible, a rigid stability ensures that runners can stay upright and uninjured when moving forward. Thanks to a tight-fitting upper and thin Phylon midsole cushioning, runners’ feet will stay close to the ground and well supported during their training sessions.
      The heel to toe drop of these running shoes is around 8mm. This makes the Elite 8 an ideal choice for runners looking to transition into midfoot or forefoot striking. While the high heel elevation does still allow for comfortable heel striking, a slightly lower than average drop can accommodate an easier transition into this more natural running style. Runners who are already acclimated to a neutral running style, such as the kind commonly found in minimalist shoes and trail shoes, will likely find the heel elevation to be excessive. However, individuals used to standard track and field running shoes should have no complaints in this department.
      Key Features

      • Zoom Air forefoot cushioning

      • FlyMesh breathable and form-fitting upper

      • 8 mm heel drop

      • Phylon midsole cushioning

      • Asymmetrical FlyWire lacing system

      • Rubber crash rail on the sides of the outsole

      Bottom Line
      Nike is known for appeasing the crowds, and this iteration of their popular Air Zoom running line is sure to accomplish exactly that. The Elite 8 provides excellent comfort at an extremely lightweight. Because of that, these shoes are perfect as everyday trainers for runners with neutral feet. If quality is something you are looking for then these Nike runners provide it in spades, with ample cushioning and a smooth ride. Despite some inconvenient durability issues, the Nike Air Zoom Elite 8 is still a solid pick for those looking to run fast and comfortably.
      Where to Buy
      Backcountry Link
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      Road Runner Sports Link
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      By Ryan Sabin
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Jul. 26. 2021

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