ShoeGuide's Quick take: This is a running shoe specifically designed to reduce injuries. It is a fantastic choice for a daily trainer and for long distance, straight-line road running. Logging injury free miles in comfort and style might be the tag line. (That's not bad! Maybe Nike will pay us for that slogan... sadly for us, probably not.)
Available for Men
Available for Women
At ShoeGuide, we decided it was finally time to put together all of our thoughts on the Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit, a shoe that has gotten a massive marketing push from the folks at Nike. The big marketing claim, as championed by Nike, is that
The Nike React Infinity Run reduced running injuries by 52% compared to the Nike Air Zoom Structure 22 in a study of 226 men and women during a 12-week run training programme. Our study found that 30.3% of Nike Air Zoom Structure 22 runners experienced an injury, but only 14.5% of Nike React Infinity Run runners experienced an injury.
First, in our view, the Nike Infinity Run is set to be Nike's stability running shoe flagship going forward. Although the technology differs substantially from the old Zoom Structure (a series that ended with the Structure 22), replacing the medial post in the Structure 22 with a new guiderail-like design, the React Infinity Run is replacing the Structure as Nike's "supportive neutral" running shoe.
Then there's the grandiose marketing claims. It seems like every review and YouTube video of the React Infinity Run starts out stating their skepticism of Nike's claims, and, well, we're skeptical too. But that's okay! Even if the marketing claims are a bit hard to believe, it is still a GREAT shoe, particularly for people who are injury-prone or have conditions such as plantar fasciitis or flat feet. In fact, it was one of our top choices for runners with flat feet and for runners with plantar fasciitis.
So even if we believe that Nike's injury study should be taken with a grain of salt, we do believe the Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit is an excellent running shoe.
Read on for all the details about our own testing and experience with the Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit!
New Kick on the Block: Quick Comparisons and Specs
Okay, the React Infinity Run is definitely a completely new model from Nike, but it didn't come from nowhere. The most obvious comparison, in our mind, is to the Epic React.
Then comparison Nike keeps making is to the Structure 22. The reason for these comparisons is simple: the React Infinity shares the React midsole technology with the Epic React and can sort of be thought of as a cushier, softer, more comfortable iteration of the Epic.
Besides Nike's study which compared the Infinity React with the Structure 22, there is also the idea that the Infinity React is going to be Nike's flagship stability shoe going forward, essentially taking that mantle from the Structure line of running shoes.
The React Infinity Run Flyknit comes in at 9.6 oz, putting it a bit on the heavier side, but it doesn't feel heavy when running. (Side note: we really cannot decide which subset of words in the unwieldy name of this shoe we should be using, so we're just mixing and remixing it up as we go along.) It rides like a much lighter shoe, like a 7.5 ounce shoe from our experience. It also has Nike's React foam, which everybody is in love with. It's springy, light, nice, and a pleasure to run long distances in.
In addition to the React foam midsole, there is a nice, tough rubber cover over the entire outsole. It's really tough, and even after putting 100-150 miles into them, it was completely solid and not worn down to nothing like you see in some running shoes.
Further, the React Infinity Run is a big shoe: it has a 30mm heel and 22mm forefoot for an 8mm heel-to-toe drop. That is right around the maximum drop we would recommend for newer runners (since newer runners tend to do better as their lower leg strength is developing with a more neutral, lower drop, type of shoe). So, that puts it in sort of the sweet spot as a shoe that can work for newer runners, but is also definitely a go-to option for more experienced runners, particularly if they are having problems with plantar fasciitis or other foot conditions which might make them more prone to injury.
The Nike React Infinity Run: What is it Good For?
This is an everyday trainer, no doubt. The slightly heavier weight of 9.6 ounces, coupled with the tough rubber cladding on the outsole make it pretty clear that this is meant for day-in, day-out long-distance road running. The flyknit upper should help keep your feet cool, and mostly takes this shoe out of the running for off-road or trail running.
Part of what we here at ShoeGuide liked so much about the Infinity Run was that it was an unapolagetic daily trainer, but it still had a bit of pop to it. So many daily use shoes tend to be, well, a bit boring. You put them on and almost before your feet hit the ground you are already mentally into the slog of a long, dull training run that is more about logging some miles than any real joy. While we wouldn't say these Nike's are speedsters, they do have some zap to them.
A lot of that comes down to the React midsole, which we've already mentioned briefly. This beefed up midsole is very soft, making it particularly useful for long-distances at moderate speeds. It is not a racing shoe, and really isn't ideal for twists, turns, and hills.
It is absolutely perfect for provide cushioning and comfort at a relaxed pace on long, mostly straight runs. This is another reason why we think it's ideal for those trying to get some running in with plantar fasciitis. You don't want to be doing anything too fancy, just logging miles to build up some foot strength and promote healing. That's what the Nike React Infinity Run excels at.
Highlights and the Ride Experience of the Nike Infinity React
The materials and overall appearance of the React Infinity Run is similar to the Epic React, maybe a "beefed up" Epic React is a good way to describe it. However, the similarities don't really extend all that much farther.
While both shoes have Nike's React midsole, the version in the React Infinity Run is not made from the same foam as the Epic React or in the lower midsole of the Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2. The foam used in the midsole of the Infinity Run has a lower density, providing a softer ride. In addition to the softer ride, the midsole is also provide deep cushioning.
Other than the sheer size of the midsole, one of the first things you might notice when looking at the Infinity Run is the flare all around the outsole. The midfoot is flared, the heel is flared. There are really two reasons for this: increasing the volume of foam underfoot so that the shoe creates greater cushioning depth, and to create greater proprioception as you're landing. That's just a fancy way of saying that the wider base increases your awareness of where your body is in space and where your feet are. This way you get a firm foot plant on the ground and a more firm foot bedding on every single foot strike.
Because of all of this, rather than calling this a stability shoe, we might be tempted to call it a maximum cushioning running shoe. It really does make long runs much easier on the feet, heels, knees and legs.
Pros and Cons
We've said a lot of nice things about the Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit so far. However, with any running shoe there are going to be pros and cons. Some of these may apply to you, some may not. Here's our quick run down, bullet point formatted list of things to watch out for or features that might be particularly helpful for your running.
- The React Midsole. Everyone loves it, we love, you'll probably love it. We've already talked a lot about the softer React foam in the Infinity Run (as compared to the Turbo 2 or the Epic React), and we've talked about the faster than usual feel from a daily trainer.
- Stability. Well, this appears to now be the flagship stability running shoe in Nike's line up, so it better do a good job on stability! This is also where the Infinity Run really stands out from the Nike Epic React. The flaired out heel and sole provides a lot of lateral stability, and while the foam is very cushioning it avoids the problem some max-cushioning shoes have of letting your foot get lost in the foam. (This is the problem we always have with Hoka's.)
- Improved Fit. This has been a struggle for Nike of late. Many runners haven't been on board with the fit of the flyknit uppers in the midfoot. One of the primary goals of the React Infinity was to improve this aspect of the shoe, and we think they've made big strides. The flyknit upper is much tighter and holds your foot much better than on something like the Epic. The heel fit has also come a long way.
- The Fit. Yeah, we know, we just listed "improved fit" as one of the pros of the React Infinity Run. Well, "improved fit" doesn't necessarily mean it is up to where it could be yet. There is very little structure around the ankle, so if you want a supported ankle area, this shoe is not for you. When going around turns or engaging in any sort of lateral movement within the shoe, you're going to get some movement in your foot because the flyknit is so stretchy. There is no additional webbing material over the midfoot that you see in a lot of running and training shoes that help provide extra structure in the midfoot.
- Marketing. We just can't quite believe the claims Nike is making here about reducing injuries by 52%. I mean, if true, that is just huge. Orthopaedic surgeons are going to be going out of business! Of course, if you read closely that isn't quite the claim they are making. They are saying they did a study (which only lasted 12 weeks) and that the number of runs missed dropped compared to the Structure 22. So, we're still skeptical, and their study may just mean the Structure 22 was a terrible shoe!
- Weight. This is not a lightweight running shoe, and it is not a racing shoe. Of course, that isn't what it was designed for. It's meant to be a long-lasting, heavily cushioned, daily trainer for long-distance road running. While we think the ride feels like a lighter shoe, the fact remains that the Infininty Run is on the heavy side compared to other running shoes in this price range.
Summing it All Up
To be honest, we like the single-mindedness here. Nike didn't try to create a shoe that would do everything for everyone. They set out to create a daily trainer, made for the road, with the specific goal of reducing injuries and providing a soft, comfortable ride. When you limit the number of things you're trying to accomplish with a product, you can accomplish those things in a better, more comprehensive way.
Feel free to check out some of our other running shoe recommendations related to the Nike React Infinity Run:
- Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis – The Best Shoes for Every Runner
- Running Shoes for Flat Feet – How to Find the Best Running Shoes For Flat Feet
- Running Shoes for Women – How to Find the Best Running Shoes for Women
- Running Shoes for Men - Our Picks for the Best Running Shoes for Men
If you want to check availability, see prices, and read what others have to say: