18 Best Nike Running Shoes for Men in 2021 to Help You Conquer the Track, the Trail, and Beyond

If you’ve considered hitting the pavement, the track, or the trail this summer, coming across the best Nike running shoes on the market was probably inevitable. The Swoosh is a multibillion-dollar behemoth for many reasons, but none more compelling than the brand’s stellar reputation when it comes to performance footwear. See, before Nike was a global superpower practically synonymous with sports, it was a small-time operation founded by a former college track star and his coach with one eventual mission: Design a better running shoe. Today, the Portland-based operation churns out athletic wear of all types, but sneakers are still its bread and butter, and its running shoes work overtime to uphold that legacy. Nike’s running shoes are some of the best in the world because what they offer—from their cushioning, to their durability, to their energy return—is the opportunity to feel like Eliud Kipchoge, whether you’re an amateur enthusiast looking for a new daily trainer or a hardcore half-marathoner in the market for racing shoes that’ll help you smash your last PB. 

When you buy one of Nike’s racers, you’re buying a product that’s been tinkered with to a fanatical degree: the foam midsoles, the treaded outsoles, the mesh uppers—every detail has been specially engineered for performance at the highest caliber, on long distance trails, 10-second sprints, or meandering uphill climbs. That level of attention is a crucial part of Nike’s story, the special sauce that enables the type of innovation snapped up by the sneaker-wearing masses—and shamelessly replicated by the brand’s competition. Flyknit, Flywire, FlyEase? All meaningless, insider-y jargon until Nike turned them into household terms, simultaneously making the technology they represent industry standard in the process.

There’s no doubt you can find good, even great, models from other brands—the Asics, Brooks, and Sauconys of the world—but it’s difficult to find models that perform well and do it with Nike’s signature panache. So why bother? Because we’ve rounded up the best Nike running shoes available right now. From trail-ready runners to everyday beaters you can wear to jog around the neighborhood, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better place to start your journey. C’mon. Just do it.

The Hybrid Pick

Nike ZoomX “Invincible Run” Flyknit shoe

One of the newest shoes in Nike’s running roster combines Pebax—the same performance foam that makes Nike’s cutting-edge Next% line a favorite among expert runners—with speciality cushioning to prevent soreness on longer, less intense runs.

The Everyday Pick

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 shoe

The Pegasus has been a stable of Nike’s running line since the brand introduced the silhouette in the early ’80s. The latest iteration of the all-purpose training shoe features its now-signature responsive foam and beathable mesh uppers, but also boasts a standout Zoom Air unit for more energy return and a slightly tweaked interior band to minimize slipping while you’re on the move.

The Budget Pick

Nike’s Winflo shoe is an ideal option for casual everyday runners, from its Flywire-enhanced uppers down to its soft cushlon foam. The most recent rendition of the silhouette sees the Swoosh upping the ante via added support at the heel and ankle, along with overlays by the toe box for extra durability.

The Trail Running Pick

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 shoe

Fancy yourself the type of runner who’ll be hitching out of the city and hitting the trails every chance you get? The Terra Kiger is for you. Nike’s best in class trail running shoe offers top-notch responsiveness with slightly less cushioning than some of its counterparts, though it compensates with traction lugs specifically designed to tackle shorter runs on rocky terrains (and any steep hills you encounter on the way back down).

The Record-Breaking Pick

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% Flyknit shoe

In 2019 Eliud Kipchoge made history by running a marathon under two hours wearing these groundbreaking Nikes, and they’ve been widely recognized as the fastest kicks in the game ever since. The shoes positively radiate speed, from the uppers—made using a lightweight, breathable variation of Flyknit the brand calls Atomknit—to the exposed Zoom Air units and the propulsive ZoomX foam. Despite the abundance of tech, it’s as sleek and propulsive as you’d expect for a shoe worn by the world’s greatest-ever runner. If you’re a seasoned marathoner—or simply have dreams of becoming one—this is the model to buy.

The Retro Pick

Okay, okay—this isn’t exactly the most efficient running shoe on the market. (Nor is it billed as one.) But when Nike dropped the Challenger in the ’70s, the shoe’s padded ankles and springy midsoles made it an instant hit among the best runners of the era. Running technology has progressed in leaps and bounds since, but the shoe that helped put Nike on the map—and burnish its running bona fides in the process—still holds up. The silhouette’s old-school charm feels perfect for right now, when borrowing some of its decade’s sporty cool has never looked timelier. For what it’s worth: If you really wanted to run a few laps in these, you totally could. But given the options above, they’re probably best suited to running errands instead.

Plus 12 More Nike Running Shoes We Love

Nike Waffle Trainer 2 shoe

Another retro-leaning silhouette, this one inspired by the type of heritage running shoes that catapulted the Swoosh from humble Portland upstart to global footwear giant.

Nike Gyakusou ZoomX Vaporfly shoe

Nike’s collaborations with Japanese designer Jun Takahashi tend to yield explosive results. This one sees a highlight of the brand’s running selection updated via bold colorblocking and eye-grabbing graphics, but with the style’s technical underpinnings entirely untouched.

Nike Flex Run 2021 shoe

Comfortable, lightweight, and with added pull tabs for easy on-off action, these are the shoes you buy for shorter runs only to find yourself reaching for ’em every chance you get.

Nike MMW Zoom 4 shoe

When Nike tapped Givenchy designer Matthew Williams to put his tactical spin on a classic running silhouette it knew what it was doing: enlisting one of the foremost aesthetes of his generation to imbue a dynamic style with his signature futurism. In technical terms, that translates to a high-tenacity shoe with mechanical plates that promote heel cushioning and forward propulsion. You can’t run a marathon in them, but if you’re looking to turn heads on milder runs these’ll sync up beautifully with your best workout gear and your techiest cargo pants.

Nike Free Run Trail shoe

Proof that all it takes to reinvigorate a perennial smash-hit is a touch of hairy brown suede and a lugged foam sole.

Nike React “Infinity Run” Flyknit 2 shoe (was $160, now 36% off)

Crowd-pleasing kicks in a perennially cool shade of grey.

Nike Wildhorse 7 shoe

Designed to deliver top-notch responsiveness no matter what the elements throw at it, the Wildhorse 7 is one of the sturdiest trail running shoes in Nike’s stable.

Nike Pegasus Trail 3 shoe

Another trail-ready option, this one engineered with added support around the midfoot.

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 shoe

The Alphafly’s younger, hipper cousin is built for slightly shorter races and boasts Nike’s best energy return to date.

Nike Free Run 5.0 shoe

Remember when Nike first dropped its revolutionary Free Run and the entire world freaked out? The same endless versatility that made the shoe an overnight sensation in 2005 makes it just right for casual runners today.

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 FlyEase shoe

Already a fan of the Air Zoom Pegasus 38? Try zipping on (!) a newly updated version outfitted with the Swoosh’s proprietary FlyEase entry system.

Nike React Miler 2 shoe

Stability in spades, no matter how far your workouts take you.

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