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Best Nike Running Shoes for Women in 2021

Nike has been around since 1966 when they started as Blue Ribbon Sports. They have been making high-quality shoes since back then.

But recently they have been spending more time and effort on enhancing their running shoes with innovative technology to improve performance without sacrificing comfort.

Even if you’ve only run in non-Nike shoes, it’s worth adding a pair of the best Nike running shoes for women to your collection.

Our first choice is the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37. It’s designed for female feet, uses a combination of Nike React foam and Air Zoom units, and has a waffle-pattern outsole for better grip.

Here are the top ten Nike women’s running shoes you should be considering.

Top 3 Best and Favorites

 

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37

 

  • Nike React foam
  • Zoom Air bag
  • 10mm drop
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Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14

 

  • Dynamic Fit technology
  • Redesigned midsole
  • Sewn-in tongue
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Nike Air Zoom Structure 23

 

  • Woven heel
  • Heel crash pad
  • Wide base
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Best Overall

1. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37

The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 is one of Nike’s best shoes. It’s an absolute running classic if ever there was one. That “37” means that it is in its 37th iteration. It’s suitable for everyday wear, as well as running.

This classic running shoe continues to improve, showing Nike’s determination to not rest on their laurels.

The midsole features an upgrade with more React foam than ever before. This makes it plusher than previous versions, and with a slightly bouncy feel. The shoes provide a great response. In the forefoot, a Zoom Air bag provides a surprising amount of power for the toe-off.

The tight mesh upper is comfortable but not restrictive. It uses a traditional lacing closure to get your own perfect fit. A midfoot band offers a bit of extra stability.

An unusual beveled heel helps guide the heel in a safe way, keeping proper form throughout your stride. The raised rubber on the outsoles also helps to prevent slipping and makes the shoes durable.

Because of the snugness, some might find that their short socks slide down into the shoe.

PROS:

  • Nike React foam
  • Zoom Air bag
  • Designed for the female foot
  • 10mm drop

CONS:

  • Some may find that the sock slips down especially if they’re low ankle or no show socks.
 

Most Cushioned

2. Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14

If you’re looking for something with plenty of cushioning, the Vomero 14 could be the one for you. The midsole has been redesigned with React foam, to increase its responsiveness underfoot.

When you look at this shoe, you can already see the impressive cushioning in the midfoot and heel. A single full-length Zoom Air unit sits just below the footbed and provides cushioning and rebound.

Your heel will also be very well-cushioned, with foam pods around the heel for both comfort and stability.

The lower-than-average 8mm heel-to-toe drop should mean that less pressure is placed on the forefoot, relieving pain and reducing the chance of injury. To make sure you get the best fit, Nike uses their Dynamic Fit technology to combine Flywire with normal lace-up shoelaces for the most support.

In some cases, the tongue may slip under the shoelaces, as it’s quite short.

PROS:

  • Dynamic Fit technology
  • Redesigned midsole
  • Sewn-in tongue
  • Foam pods in the collar

CONS:

  • Some people may find the tongue to be too short, and that it may slip under the shoelaces
 

Best Stability

3. Nike Air Zoom Structure 23

If you overpronate, you need a stability shoe to keep your foot aligned and protected.

The Nike Air Zoom Structure 23 can be worn daily, and keeps the foot supported and stable. Forefoot and midfoot perforations in the upper provide adequate circulation to keep your feet well-ventilated and moisture-free.

After studying hundreds of runners’ data, Nike has added a crash plate in the heel, which offers cushion and impact-absorption on the foot strike. A foam midsole is soft and airy under the foot, and a Zoom Air unit under the forefoot makes the toe-off more explosive.

Dynamic arch support and a firm but plush midsole give you the support you need to keep your feet in the right position. Nike stays away from the traditional medial post, instead opting for something lighter and more comfortable.

PROS:

  • Woven heel
  • Heel crash pad
  • Wide base
  • Zoom Air bag in the forefoot

CONS:

  • They run slightly narrow so you will need to look at ordering a size up
 

Top Value

4. Nike Air Zoom Winflo 7

The Air Zoom Winflo 7 is one of the more affordable Nike shoes, but they are still full of technology that both cushions and supports.

A breathable mesh upper is joined by a tighter woven yarn that supports and keeps the foot stable in place.

A heel counter is a new addition to the updated version, and it helps to keep the foot in place and prevent unnecessary movement that could cause pain or lead to injury.

Cushlon foam in the midsole absorbs shock on the footstrike, and this shoe features two Zoom Air units, which is one of the reasons it’s the top value choice. One Zoom Air unit is in the heel, for excellent impact absorption. The other one—which is larger for extra comfort—is situated in the forefoot.

They may not hold up as well as other models on longer runs, especially if you’re running every day and putting a lot of miles onto them quickly.

PROS:

  • Heel counter
  • 2 Air Zoom units
  • Breathable mesh upper
  • Soft Cushlon foam

CONS:

  • These shoes may not be suitable for longer runs due to durability issues
 

Best Racing Shoe

5. Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%

The Alphafly NEXT% will forever be remembered as the shoe worn by Eliud Kipchoge when he ran a 1:59:40 marathon in 2019.

This shoe is packed with features that make it fast and nimble. But let’s focus on the two that make it different from other running shoes: the carbon fiber plate, and ZoomX foam.

Both of these features are ultra-lightweight and give a revolutionary level of energy return. So much so, in fact, that World Athletics considered banning them for use of mechanical assistance to runners.

In the end, the shoes are legal. And blazing fast. They reduce muscle fatigue, which means you’ll have plenty of energy to sprint to the finish line.

The design of the sole is also unique, being flared out forefoot and heel, giving the shoe a wider base. This provides much-needed stability when you’re running fast and having to go around tight corners.

The upper is made from AtomKnit, which is a lightweight, engineered mesh upper that has a contoured foot shape. This makes it feel like the shoe is hugging your foot, as it holds it securely in place without creating pressure points or hotspots.

Running in the Alphafly NEXT% takes some getting used to, and some people may find that the feel unstable when cornering.

As with their predecessors, the VaporFly line, these shoes have durability issues. Nike’s new ultralight foam is still a couple iterations away from industry-standard durability. But for a high-end race shoe, there is nothing better currently on the market.

PROS:

  • Full-length carbon-fiber plate
  • Nike ZoomX foam
  • Integrated tongue
  • Zoom Air units

CONS:

  • Some may find the shoe slightly unstable when going through tight corners
  • Known durability issues, so save these for race day only
 

Top Everyday Trainer

6. Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2

If you’re an everyday runner, and you need something that’s both durable and comfortable, try the Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2.

It features the latest version of Nike’s Flyknit technology, which combines with Flywire to give you the best support but also plenty of breathability.

A thick stack height is coupled with a rocker-style sole, to provide support from the heel strike through to the push-off. This can enhance your performance, as it helps you to make faster and smoother transitions without fatiguing as quickly.

The plush, rocking midsole uses Nike React technology to provide cloud-like cushioning and comfort. It’s also light and long-lasting.

The base of the shoe is wider than usual, creating a stable platform for the footstrike. There’s also extra rubber on the outsole, to grip better but also to last longer if you’re using it every day or every other day.

Some may find the toe box to be narrow. Nike is known to run narrow, so you may want to look at ordering half a size larger than your usual size.

PROS:

  • A new version of Flyknit technology
  • Wider base
  • Midsole zonal performance
  • Flywire technology

CONS:

  • Some people may find that the toe box is slightly narrow
 

Best Shoe for Rain

7. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 Shield

Running in the rain can be a calming and almost hypnotic experience. But it’s best to run in the rain with shoes that are specifically designed for that kind of weather, to be as safe as possible.

The Pegasus 37 Shield uses all the Nike Pegasus technology we’ve come to know and love, with some useful additions—a DWR finish (durable water-repellent) and a Storm-Tread outsole.

The upper repels water and has sealed seams to prevent water from getting in. And yet it’s still made of mesh, so it’s breathable too. Like the rest of the Pegasus models, it Nike React foam makes up the midsole, offering springy energy return on every step. There’s also a full-length Air Zoom unit for extra cushion.

The Storm-Tread outsole was modeled off of a wet-weather tire. You can run safely in the rain or snow, knowing that your outsole is keeping you safe and steady by gripping hard and shedding water thanks to the multi-directional lugs.

PROS:

  • 1/2-length weatherized shroud
  • Storm-Tread outsole
  • React technology and Air Zoom unit
  • Reflective elements

CONS:

  • The tongue is thin and may cause a pressure point
 

Top For Wide Feet

8. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 FlyEase

Women with wide feet may find the unique foot-entry system on the Pegasus 37 FlyEase to be useful. Instead of your traditional lacing system, there’s a zippered opening on the inner side of the shoe that you slip your foot into.

Instead of normal shoelaces, a tensioning cord weaves through bands on the midfoot, and once pulled tight, it’s secured to a Velcro strip near the heel.

This innovative system is useful and quick to use, but some ladies may find that they can’t tighten it enough before they run out of space to hook the Velcro.

The cushioning has been designed specifically for women, with the Air Zoom unit in the forefoot set to a different PSI than the men’s. There’s also Nike React foam in the midsole that delivers an energetic rebound.

PROS:

  • FlyEase entry system
  • Specifically tuned for women
  • React foam midsole
  • Designed for wide feet

CONS:

  • Some people may find that they can’t tighten the tensioning cord enough to get a secure fit
 

Best Quick-tie Shoes

9. Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% FlyEase

This is one of Nike’s latest offerings that’s designed specifically for racing. Even the lacing system is made for speed, using a quick lace system you can do up and undo with just one hand.

The step-in heel starts the speedy process. Just put your foot into the shoe, step down on the heel and slide your foot inside. The heel will lift again and your foot will be snug and comfortable.

From there, you can tighten or release the lacing mechanism with just one hand. The tabs are even labeled for easy use, so just pull the one that says “lock” when you want to tighten the laces and pull the one that says “release” to loosen them so you can step out of them again.

The midsole in this shoe features Nike ZoomX foam, with high responsiveness and excellent energy return. Under the forefoot is a visible Zoom Air unit, which not only cushions the ball of your foot but also propels you forward for a dynamic toe-off.

It also has a carbon plate for extra stability and cushion, plus React foam in the heel so the impact is absorbed before it can jar your heel or your joints.

These racing shoes can run small, so you may want to order your pair half a size larger.

PROS:

  • Lock-and-release lacing mechanism
  • Cushioned heel pods
  • Runner-informed outsole design
  • React technology at the heel

CONS:

  • These shoes can run small, so you may have to order half a size up
 

Top Trail Shoes

10. Nike Wildhorse 6

If you prefer trail running, then you may be interested in shoe more like the Wildhorse. While robust enough for any off-road adventure, it’s still less bulky than many other trail running shoes. It makes for an attractive option for women who are looking for a slightly more feminine trail shoe.

The Wildhorse has a wider toe box to allow for swelling in the feet, especially when doing trail runs that have high elevations or a lot of ascents and descents. The snug woven fit at the heel keeps the foot secure despite the extra space in the forefoot.

The breathable mesh upper keeps air flowing over your feet. It has a bootie-like fit on the ankle instead of a traditional ankle collar, which was designed to keep debris out of your shoes on the trail.

Nike React foam makes an appearance in the midsole, cushioning your feet in a cloud-like softness and offering springy energy return on every step. There’s a little extra cushion in the heel to provide more support and impact-resistance.

To keep you safe and secure on your feet, the rubber outsole has abrasion-resistant materials on and around the heels, and sticky rubber in the forefoot for extra traction. Thick lugs across the sole allow you to run on any surface and in any weather conditions safely.

And when you’re done, if your shoes are muddy or wet, you can pull them off using the heel tab and hang them up to dry! The one thing that some runners may not like is that the insole is not removable in this shoe.

PROS:

  • React foam midsoles
  • Firmer foam around the heels
  • Woven heel fit
  • Combination of high-abrasion rubber and sticky rubber outsole

CONS:

  • The insoles of these shoes are not removable
 

FAQs

History of Nike

Nike was originally called Blue Ribbon Sports, where running shoes were being designed and developed by Bill Bowerman, a track-and-field coach, and his former student Phil Knight. The first-ever Nike shoe—the Cortez—was being sold to runners from the trunk of a car.

In 1978, they changed the name from Blue Ribbon Sports to Nike, and two years later they went public. From their start making custom running shoes for University of Oregon athletes, Nike then decided to focus on creating and developing shoes for basketball and dance. Streetwear shoes came later.

They have maintained their roots as running shoes. A deep passion for developing the best running shoes is driven not only by technology, but the feedback they get from runners.

This feedback has helped to design running shoes like the Vaporfly, ZoomX Vaporfly Next%, and the Nike Pegasus. Nike is innovative and uses technology to create running shoes that not only allow a runner to beat their personal best, but that help to reduce the risk of injury.

How much do Nike running shoes cost?

Before the prices, a story: Nike started secretive work on the VaporFly 4% in 2014. The shoes debuted them at the 2016 Rio Olympics (all 3 podium places in the men’s marathon ran in them). And in 2019, Eliud Kipchoge wore a later version, the AlphaFly NEXT%, to break the 2-hour marathon barrier. It took Nike 5 years of going through different carbon technologies, foams and proto-types to deliver the shoe that helped Eliud make history.

When you purchase a Nike shoe, you can rest assured that many hours have been spent designing a shoe that will help you achieve your goals. However, you do pay for this technology, and depending on the features of the shoe, the prices are quite widely spread.

You can get department-store-level trainers in the $50 range. Generally though, Nike running shoes cost between $100-$150. If you want the same shoes Eliud and all (and we really do mean all) of the top marathoners wear, be ready to part with $300 or more.

How do Nike running shoes fit?

Nike is known for designing shoes to fit snugly, and you often have to buy a half size up from your normal shoe size for a more comfortable fit.

But Nike does have shoes that are available in wide or extra wide, for individuals who have wider feet. Models such as the Vomero, Pegasus, and Structure all offer wide options.

Nike shoes do have a high heel-to-toe-drop, which varies depending on the shoe that you’re looking at. For example, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 has heel-to-toe-drop of 10 mm, while the AlphaFly NEXT % is 8 mm.

How should I clean Nike running shoes?

When you’ve fallen in love with a particular pair of Nike shoes, you want to make sure they stay clean and in good condition. After all, you’ve invested in a high-performance shoe!

It’s important to note that Nike recommends that you don’t put your shoes in the washing machine or tumble dryer. Nike also recommends cleaning your shoes with mild-soap. Don’t use products like bleach.

The best way to clean your Nike shoes is by following these steps:

  • Use a dry, soft-bristled shoe brush to remove dirt from the entire shoe—don’t miss a spot
  • Mix a mild laundry detergent with some water
  • When washing the laces, massage them to get the dirt out. Once they’re clean, rinse them and dry them with a soft cloth
  • Dip the soft shoe brush—or old toothbrush—into the detergent, and brush the midsole and outsole gently
  • Dry the midsole and outsole with a soft cloth
  • To wash the uppers, use the diluted detergent and gently brush the upper. You can also use a soft cloth to blot and remove the dirt
  • Air-dry the shoes at room temperature
The Wired Runner