The best Nike running shoes in 2024

Many elite athletes have long favored Nike running shoes and this is evident in their remarkable performances on the world stage. For instance, in 2023, Kelvin Kiptum shattered the marathon world record with a stunning time of 2:00:35 while wearing the Nike Alphafly 3, surpassing Eliud Kipchoge's previous record of 2:02:42 set in the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2.

However, Nike's running shoes aren't solely designed for record-breaking feats; they cater to runners of all abilities. We aren't elite athletes ourselves but know a thing or two about what makes a great running shoe. Our guide aims to help you navigate through Nike's diverse lineup, whether you're a seasoned racer or a novice runner seeking the perfect pair.

Our top recommendation, the Nike Pegasus 40, stands out for its exceptional versatility and affordability for an all rounder running shoe. For any road racing speed demons reading this we recommend the Nike Vaporfly Next% 3 or Nike Alphafly 3for hitting those PBs.

We’ve got plenty more Nike running shoe recommendations such as the best Nike running shoe for trails, recovery runs and beginners. Keep reading to discover our top picks and why they've earned our seal of approval.

The quick list

Best Nike running shoe overall

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 40 on some grass outdoors

(Image credit: Future)
Best Nike running shoe for most people

Specifications

Weight: 261g (M), 218g (W)
Drop : 10mm
Type : Road

Reasons to buy

+
An affordable, everyday running shoe
+
Tweaked fit
+
Cushioned and comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Not all that different from the Pegasus 39

For a shoe to be on its 40th iteration, it must be doing something right and with the Pegasus, you're buying reliability. The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 40 is pretty similar underfoot to the Nike Pegasus 39.

It's still got two Zoom Air units — one under the ball of the foot, and one in the heel, for a responsive feel. It's also had some slight tweaks to the fit to make it more comfortable. 

It’s important to note, this shoe is still, by no means ‘pillowy’ (if you’re after a super-cushioned ride, scroll down to the Nike Invincible Run 3); it’s still got that somewhat firmer snap the Pegasus has always had.

It’ll get you around a marathon, or a 5K with ease and will perform well mile after mile. The 10mm drop is good for runners who don’t want to feel the pavement beneath their feet, but equally don't want a huge wedge of foam between them and the road. 

All in all, this is a brilliant shoe for the runner who only wants one pair of shoes in his or her closet. It's also our favorite version of the Pegasus yet. If you're on a budget, now is a good time to snap up a pair of the Nike Pegasus 39, as they are likely to be on sale now the newer shoes have been released. 

Best Nike running shoe for road races

Nike Vaporfly Next% 3 on grass

(Image credit: Future)
Best Nike running shoe for road races

Specifications

Weight : 184g (M), 150g (W)
Drop: 8mm
Type : Race

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible energy return 
+
Lightweight and comfortable for race day 

Reasons to avoid

-
Outsole is thinner than previous model

From the moment Nike launched its Vaporfly 4% running shoes in 2016, with the claim they would help runners run 4% faster, pretty much every shoe brand out there has experimented with carbon fiber plates.

The Vaporfly Next% 3 is the fourth iteration of the shoe, and it’s become one of the most popular marathon running shoes on the market. The Nike Vaporfly Next% 3 is designed to be more stable underfoot, and you can see this with some of the design changes Nike has made to the shoe.

While the stack and drop are the same, the Vaporfly 3 has a new upper, a tweaked midsole, and a different outsole. Nike say this is to improve stability and increase energy return in the racing shoe. 

The Vaporfly Next% 3 has a redesigned midsole, with more ZoomX foam underfoot. It also has a tweaked upper, which has a lot less structure to the tighter upper on the Vaporfly Next% 2. Finally, the outsole has had an overhaul on the newer Vaporfly Next% 3.

As Nike has added more ZoomX foam to the midsole, it looks as if the brand has removed some weight from the outsole by making it a little thinner. Check out all of the differences between the Nike Vaporfly Next% 2 vs Nike Vaporfly Next% 3 here.

If you’re looking for a shoe that looks and feels fast, and that’ll give you that extra confidence to run a PB, this is it. They are by no means cheap, but if you can afford them, you won’t regret it. 

Best Nike running shoe for recovery runs

Nike Invincible 3 running shoes on a gravel path

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)
Best Nike running shoe for recovery runs

Specifications

Weight: 310g (M), 258g (W)
Drop: 9mm
Type: Road

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable, plush everyday running shoe
+
ZoomX midsole foam is bouncy and responsive
+
A bit more stable than previous versions

Reasons to avoid

-
Similar underfoot experience to past versions
-
Heel clip won’t be for everyone

 Of course, there’s no one shoe for easy miles, but these are some of the most comfortable running shoes Nike has ever made. Think easy training miles when you’re working towards a marathon, or just want to relax and enjoy the view without worrying about your pace.

The Invincible Run 3 is an extremely plush shoe thanks to the ZoomX foam. Yes, that is the same foam used in Nike’s speedier shoes, but in Invincible the ZoomX is responsive and cushioned in a way that’s designed to take some of the load off, rather than propel you to your next PB. 

The midsole incorporates the rocker geometry we’ve seen in Nike’s faster shoes, but with no carbon fiber plate, this is far more gentle. The Flyknit upper is robust, built to help you feel supported over all that bouncy foam and the molded tongue is plush and cushioned, almost like those netball trainers you wore at school. 

The third iteration of the shoe sees some tweaks to the heel grip, which is designed to keep the foot in place as you move. The design has also changed — Nike has moved away from the rubber-ring of ZoomX foam surrounding the foot, and instead, has positioned the foam more strategically around the forefoot and the heel.

The upper is also slightly thicker. In a way, this shoe feels more grown up. That said, it's still incredibly fun and incredibly bouncy. However, if you're a completely neutral runner, now is the time to save your money and buy the Nike ZoomX Invincible 2. It's also worth checking out our Nike ZoomX Invincible 2 vs Nike ZoomX Invincible 3 face-off here. 

Best Nike running shoe for beginners

Nike Infinity Run 4 running shoe on a running track

(Image credit: Future)
Best Nike running shoe for beginners

Specifications

Weight: 352g (M), 281g (W)
Drop: 9mm
Type: Road

Reasons to buy

+
More environmentally friendly
+
Supportive shoe for overpronators
+
Improved outsole

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Expensive

For the past few years, the Infinity has been Nike’s everyday running shoe, designed to give runners a decent amount of support underfoot. When Nike released the first iteration of this shoe, it came with the caveat that it would help runners avoid injuries.

Now on its fourth version, the shoe has had a major redesign and has gained a whole new midsole foam. The midsole of the Infinity Run 4 features Nike’s new ReactX midsole foam, designed by Nike to be more environmentally friendly.

Nike says the ReactX foam cuts down its carbon footprint by at least 43% compared to the Nike React foam used in the Infinity Run 3. Nike says the ReactX foam increases energy return by 13%. 

The shoe still has the same rocker geometry we’ve seen in past versions but is slightly squishier underfoot than the Nike React midsole foam. It’s still nowhere near as soft as the ZoomX foam used in the Invincible 3, but it does feel softer underfoot than the React used in the React Infinity 3.

During testing, however, I did find that the Infinity 4 felt less cushioned in the forefoot than the Infinity 3. If you’re a fan of the Infinity line, or you’re looking for a super-stable, easy running shoe, you’ll enjoy running in the Infinity Run 4.

That said, if you’re a faster runner, or you want a shoe you can wear for long runs and tempo sessions, the Infinity Run 4 feels a little clunky. It’s obviously an excellent move from Nike to focus on their carbon footprint, but the ReactX needs a little tweaking, as it loses its responsiveness in this shoe. 

Best Nike running shoe for trails

Nike Pegasus Trail 4 on some grass

(Image credit: Future)

5. Nike Pegasus Trail 4

Best Nike running shoe for trails

Specifications

Weight : 290g (unisex)
Drop : 9mm
Type : Trail

Reasons to buy

+
A good road-to-trail shoe 
+
Roomy toebox 
+
Very comfortable underfoot 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the grippiest outsole  

The Nike Pegasus Trail 4 is the best trail running shoe to buy if you’re running from your door to the trails. It’s got all the comfort of the classic Pegasus road shoe, but with a grippier outsole to cope with muddy terrains. It looks great too, not that you’ll care once it’s covered in mud. 

Unlike its road cousin, the Pegasus Trail 4 doesn’t have a forefoot Zoom Air unit, although it does have the same React foam midsole for a responsive, cushioned underfoot feel. Forget everything you’ve ever heard about trail running shoes — this totally replaces that old-school stiff midsole with something far plusher.

You won’t feel the stones or the tree roots underfoot, you’ll bounce over them. The main difference between this and the road version is the outsole, which has a pattern designed to mimic mountain bike tires for a good grip on slippy terrains. 

The main drawback with this shoe is the outsole, which some runners find just isn’t grippy enough on wet and muddy terrain. If you’re running on lighter trails, you should be fine in the Pegasus Trail 4, but if you’re off on a more technical adventure, you might be disappointed. 

Best Nike running shoe for trail races

Nike Ultrafly Trail outsole

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)
Best Nike running shoe for trail races

Specifications

Weight: 300g (M), 249g (W)
Drop: 8.5mm
Type: Trail

Reasons to buy

+
Bouncy, responsive ride
+
Vibram outsole huge improvement 
+
Wide toe box

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive 
-
Durability yet to be tested 

After a year of rumors, Nike’s first super-trail shoe has dropped, and it’s fast. The Ultrafly Trail is Nike’s first trail running shoe with ZoomX midsole foam and a full carbon flyplate, designed to help runners take on the trails at a rapid pace.

For the first time, a Nike trail running show also has a Vibram outsole, with deeper lugs for a grippier run on uneven terrain. I tested these running shoes on a number of different trails and terrains — from a forest track to a gravel path.

I received the shoes in summer, so things weren’t all that muddy and wet, but I was impressed with the grip I got from the Ultrafly Trail. In the past I’ve slipped when wearing the Pegasus Trail in wet weather, and I really hope the Vibram outsole features in more shoes in Nike’s collection in the future. 

There’s no doubt about it — the ZoomX foam and carbon flyplate make for an extremely fun underfoot experience. I felt like I was eating up the trails in these shoes, and I appreciated that there was enough underfoot cushioning to allow me to run from my front door to the trails on concrete. 

Best Nike running shoe for marathons

Nike Alphafly 3 running shoes

(Image credit: Future)
Best Nike running shoe for marathons

Specifications

Weight: 218g (M), 174g (W)
Drop: 8mm
Type : Racing

Reasons to buy

+
Fast, efficient ride
+
Lighter than past Alphaflys
+
Comfortable over long distances

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than other carbons shoes
-
Heavier than the Vaporfly 3

The Nike Alphafly 3 is the shoe that Kelvin Kiptum used to set the world record at the Chicago Marathon in 2023, but it’s not just a great option for elites, it’s one of the best carbon plate running shoes for anyone and particularly good for long distance events.

While the stack height is the same as the Vaporfly 3, the Alphafly 3 is wider and feels more cushioned underfoot, while still having the ‘tip-forward’ feeling of the Vaporfly that pushes you onto your toes. The Air Zoom pods under the forefoot add extra pop to each step, with the carbon plate and ZoomX foam in the midsole also helping to create a propulsive and efficient ride.

The Alphafly 3 is not quite as bouncy as the original Alphafly or Alphafly 2, but it's lighter and has a faster transition from heel-to-toe because of the new continuous midsole design, and we rate it as a more effective racing shoe overall as a result. 

Like the Vaporfly 3, the Alphafly 3 is an excellent option for races at any distance, and we enjoyed doing 5Ks and 10Ks in the shoe, but the way it helps you lock into a pace for long periods makes it especially good for the marathon. It’s a toss-up which Nike racer is better overall, with the Vaporfly having the edge for short events and the Alphafly being our top choice for the marathon, but both are extremely good shoes for all distances.

How to choose the best Nike running shoes for you

When it comes to choosing the best Nike running shoes, you'll need to think about how you run, how far you're going, and the type of surface you prefer to do your miles on. There's no one-size-fits-all with running shoes, but certain shoes will be better designed for the type of run you have in mind. 

For example, if you're looking to go fast on race day, you'll probably want to look at Nike's shoes with carbon plates and ZoomX foam, designed to give you more efficient energy return as your foot hits the ground.

If you're into trail running, a road shoe isn't likely to have enough grip, so you'll want a running shoe with deep lugs to ensure you don't slip as you clamber over rocky or muddy terrains. 

Finally, getting the shoe that best suits your running gait is important. Nowadays, running brands are moving away from 'neutral' and 'support' shoes, but some shoes will offer more structure if you do overpronate when you run.

The easiest way to test this is to head to a running shop and have your gait analyzed, but if that's not an option perhaps get a friend to video you, or look at the tread of your old shoes to see which part has worn away fastest.  

How we test the best Nike running shoes

We run in them! Our team of dedicated experts head out in all conditions and put each shoe through it's paces, literally. From sprint sessions on the track to gentle miles on the treadmill, we do our homework so you don't have to. 

When testing a pair of running shoes, we look for how comfortable the shoes are to run in, and how they feel underfoot. We also look at how well the shoe copes with different sessions  —  some shoes will be great on a long run, but feel heavy during a speed session.

Of course, Nike is one of the leaders in the market and are always innovating. During testing, we also look at the size and fit of each shoe and anything that makes the shoe particularly impressive, such as carbon plates, or ultra-lightweight midsole foams.

FAQs

What is Nike's fastest running shoe?

The Nike Alphafly 3 is Nike's fastest running shoe for marathons, as it was worn by Kelvin Kiptum when he set the world record at the Chicago Marathon in 2023. The Nike Vaporfly 3 is also a contender for the title of Nike's fastest shoe though, and is a better option for 5K events than the Alphafly 3.

Will Nike running shoes make me faster

Nike's groundbreaking Vaporfly and Alphafly shoes are touted for their potential to enhance running efficiency. Engineered with plush foam midsoles and rigid carbon plates, these shoes aim to reduce muscle fatigue and optimize performance. 

But what does the research say? Well, one study published in 2017, funded by Nike themselves, found that Vaporfly boosted running economy by 4 percent. 

However, independent research carried out on the performance of Nike running shoes revealed that the benefits were more marginal for runners at slower paces and some even had worse running economy while wearing the shoes. 

Research continues into the benefits of super-shoes, but the real-world evidence certainly suggests that most runners do benefit from using the best carbon plate running shoes for races, but to different extents.

The bottom line is, while speed is important in running, it's not the sole factor to consider when choosing the right pair of running shoes for you. Look for a shoe that adequately supports your foot type and running style, while also prioritizing comfort

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy. 

With contributions from