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2021’s Best Nike Running Shoes for Women (Reviewed & Recommended)
I get it, often with running shoes, brand comes before model.
You love and trust your go-to brand, and know that you can always find the perfect fit and feel.
Is that brand Nike for you?
If you think it might be, this is the list for you.
The following is a list of the best Nike running shoes for women for all abilities, budget, terrain, support and speed requirements, followed by a quick buying guide, of course, because we’d never leave you out in the cold!
Review: The Vomero is a neutral, cushioning shoe that competes with the Pegasus for versatility and comfort. It’s a top of the line long-distance shoe that will cope with miles of training as well as the odd middle distance race.
The combination of cushion and responsiveness is really hard to beat in this model, with Nike’s React foam and a Zoom Air unit for extra-plush cushioning.
The Vomero is also Nike’s answer to heel strikers, with more cushioning in the heel than forefoot and a medium 10mm drop.
Well-cushioned heel for heel strikers.
Durable, responsive cushioning.
Versatile and comfortable.
Not suitable for wide feet.
Not enough cushioning for forefoot strikers.
These are easily some of the best women’s Nike running shoes for 2021, especially if you’re a heel striking distance runner looking for a plush but responsive ride.
Review: The Air Zoom Pegasus is a well-cushioned, neutral but reasonably stable running shoe. It comes in middle of the range price wise but is definitely better than a midrange shoe.
It’s an excellent choice for daily training and longer runs where you appreciate the stability and cushioning.
It’s also pretty lightweight for a cushioned shoe, as well as being flexible, with a 10mm drop. The ‘air zoom’ part of the name comes from a little air pocket in the forefoot that makes it a comfortable ride for forefoot strikers.
Stable for a neutral shoe.
Durable mesh upper.
Some issues with the heel fit for some people.
Reliable without being too fancy, this is a solid choice for runners of all abilities, and one of the most popular Nike running shoes.
Review: Another excellent all-rounder but in a lighter weight and more responsive package, the Epic React Flyknit is easily still one of the best women’s Nike running shoes of 2021.
What really makes this shoe is Nike’s React foam, Nike’s answer to Adidas’ Boost foam. It manages to tick all of the boxes for high-performance midsole technology, increasing durability (directly resulting in more miles per shoe) and providing the perfect amount of comfort and responsiveness.
It’s also another great option for fore or mid-foot strikers with a no lack of cushioning in the forefoot, (although the 10mm drop might be a little high for true forefoot striking).
FlyKnit upper optimizes fit.
Epic React Foam is very durable and responsive.
Cushioned despite being so lightweight.
FlyKnit upper might be too snug for large or wide feet.
A very high performing shoe at a reasonable price, you can’t really go wrong with the Epic React.
Review: The best of the best of what Nike has to offer in terms of technology and performance, the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% is designed to be a fast, responsive shoe for forefoot strikers. It’s the 4%’s successor, so if you’re not quite ready for the price tag of the Next%, the Vaporfly 4% is a great option.
It’s a racing shoe, so it’s not designed to give you 1000 miles before it starts falling apart. But, it lives up to the hype when it comes to running experience, being a uniquely responsive and springy ride.
One thing to bear in mind is that it has a very high stack height (40mm at the heel) which could take some getting used to and could make you feel a little less stable than you want.
Carbon fiber plate in the midsole.
ZoomX foam cushioning.
The most responsive Nike shoe available.
A fast and snappy racing flat with a high stack height and medium drop.
Review: The Air Zoom Structure is a stability shoe that incorporates Nike’s Zoom Air cushioning in the forefoot for a very comfortable ride. The Flywire lacing in conjunction with the engineered mesh and three different densities of foam create a very stable and supportive home for your foot.
These are the best women’s Nike running shoes for plantar fasciitis, creating a structured but well-cushioned environment.
They’re a little heavier than most Nike shoes but that’s usually what you want in a stability shoe, and once you’re running, you don’t notice the weight.
Engineered mesh upper is durable and supportive.
Stable support is ideal for overpronators and flat feet.
Comfortable and suitably responsive cushioning.
Small toe box.
If you like the Pegasus but need arch support, these are the stability equivalent. The Air Zoom Structures are the best women’s Nike running shoes for flat feet.
Review: The Odyssey React Fkyknit is the stability version of the Epic React, incorporating React foam in the midsole and a Flyknit upper. The result is a very snug and secure fit with excellent cushioning, stability and reasonable responsiveness.
Even though the stability is great, you won’t want to wear these if you’re really flat-footed. The arch is quite high and will dig into your feet uncomfortably.
Instead, they’re a great option for overpronators with medium to high arches.
Flyknit upper for a sock-like fit.
Secure and stable fit.
Lightweight and springy.
Great for high arches.
Not suitable for flat feet.
These shoes are a great choice for runners with medium to high arches who appreciate a little support in a responsive package.
Review: Essentially designed to be a faster and more responsive version of the Pegasus, the Pegasus Turbo doesn’t really achieve this and instead is a lighter-weight version of the Pegasus with much softer and slightly bouncier cushioning.
It incorporates ZoomX and react foam into the midsole, both high-end materials. But without the carbon fiber plate of the Vaporfly, the high amount of energy return isn’t there.
Instead, it remains a very soft shoe with good responsiveness but that will likely be too slow for actual racing. It’s still an excellent choice for longer training, up-tempo and recovery runs.
Lightweight and responsive.
Very soft cushioning.
Some long term durability issues.
Expensive for what you get.
If you like the Pegasus but appreciate a cushy ride, this could be the shoe for you.
Review: The Winflo is a lightweight, cushioned, neutral shoe, similar to the Pegasus but at a slightly more affordable price point and slightly less stability.
It’s another great option for heel strikers with an Air Zoom pocket in the heel to complement the Cushlon EVA midsole. It doesn’t have quite the same responsiveness as some of Nike’s higher-end models, but it’s a solid ride with reliable durability.
Versatile shoe that will cope with road and light trail runs.
Good value for money.
Good heel cushioning for heel strikers.
Open mesh upper is very breathable.
Slightly lacking in responsiveness.
And excellent option for entry to mid-level runners looking for quality on a budget.
How to Choose Between Different Nike Shoes?
Nike offers a wide range of running shoes to suit every runner’s preferences.
They have different kinds of foam to offer different kinds of cushioning, some more responsive than others.
They have engineered mesh uppers and Flyknit uppers, offering different kinds of structure and fit. They offer neutral and supportive shoes, cushioning and racing shoes.
There really is a wide range of options to choose from, so it pays to understand some of the lingo and what that will mean for the performance of your shoe.
Here’s a quick guide to get you started:
Flyknit uppers are Nike’s way of trying to make their running shoes fit and feel like a sock with a sole.
For most people, it works really well and leads to a very secure and snug fit. However, it’s not as durable as the mesh options, and isn’t ideal if you have issues like bunions and need a little less snugness in certain areas.
Flywire technology refers to the cables that connect to the laces and run around the sides of the shoe to the sole, so that as you tighten your laces, you don’t just cinch the top together, but actually tighten the whole upper section of the shoe.
This makes for a very secure and supportive lacing system.
ZoomX is Nike’s latest and greatest foam. It was first used in the Vaporfly, Nike’s top tier racing shoe, and was derived from materials used in aerospace technology.
It’s the lightest weight and most responsive of all Nike’s foams, and also the most expensive. It is very impressive, and amazing to run on, if you can afford it.
Launched in 2017, React foam was Nike’s answer to Adidas’ famous Boost cushioning. It’s designed to provide cushioning, responsiveness and durability in a lightweight package.
It sounds simple, but it’s actually really hard to achieve, and Nike have done it.
Usually, a well-cushioned shoe will end up feeling spongy and slow, and a responsive shoe will feel firm. React foam allows for both cushioning and a good amount of energy return for a lightweight, snappy ride.
But, perhaps the main drawcard of React foam is its durability. While foam often breaks down and gets compressed, signaling an end to the life of your running shoe, React foam lasts a whole lot longer so your 500 mile shoes might become 1000 mile shoes.
And, it still manages to be lightweight.
Lunarlon was Nike’s go-to foam option before they developed React. Lunarlon is a very lightweight and comfortable EVA foam forming the midsole of many Nike shoes, but it doesn’t have the responsiveness or durability of React.
It’s still a very high-quality foam and more than adequate for daily training, distance and recovery runs, and it comes at a more affordable price.
Cushlon foam is a step down from Lunarlon forming the basis for the midsole of Nike’s entry-level shoes.
Now that you understand a bit of the lingo, it’s a case of deciding on a few more factors:
Budget – how much can you afford to spend?
Support – do you need arch support to prevent overpronation?
Terrain – are you a road, treadmill or trail runner?
Speed – are you looking for something for long runs or short snappy runs and races?
There is something to suit all requirements in the list above, from the Vaporfly Next%, Nike’s most expensive and highest performance shoe, to the Winflo, an entry-level and affordable option but still of reliable quality and performance.
Interested in a wider range of brands after all?
No problem! We have a list of the best running shoes for women from all of the best running shoe brands, so you’ll have an excellent starting point to browse for your next running buddies.
Do you have problem feet?
If you’re actually here because you have problems such as bunions or shin splints, you might be better off looking at our articles dedicated to those problems.
The Nike Pegasus is an excellent option for shin splints, providing a nicely cushioned but stable ride. But there are loads of other options worth considering if shin splints are a problem for you, so be sure to have a read of our list of the best running shoes for shin splints before you go.
As for bunions, the Nike Lunarglide is a great option. But, many Nike shoes run a little narrow and if bunions are a problem for you, you’ll be looking for extra space, and if possible a bunion window.
Maybe you’re actually more into working out or doing CrossFit than specifically running?
If that’s the case, running specific shoes may not be the best option.
Running shoes are designed for forward motion and don’t love lots of variety in side to side movements or quick turns.
They’ll cope with it for a while, but they won’t perform as well or last as long as shoes designed specifically for the task. And, running shoes are expensive! Do your wallet a favor and keep your expensive running shoes just for running!
Michael is a fitness expert and professional home/garage gym builder. His tutorials, guides, and reviews are backed up by his own experience and will definitely help you achieve your goals. He also loves putting mayo AND ketchup on the pizza for some reason!