Nike vs. Adidas running shoes

Footwear

Nike is the global market leader in footwear with sales in excess of $24 billion, while Adidas is a close second with annual footwear sales of $15 billion.

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Nike vs. Adidas

With summer right around the corner, running season is in full effect. Whether you’re a former track and field star, a marathon machine or simply a jogger looking for some cardio, your shoes are the most important factor to keep you running safely and efficiently. With all the footwear choices on the market, two brands stand above the rest in reputation, standard and sometimes price: Nike and Adidas. 

Running shoes are designed to be lightweight, shock-absorbing, fitted and comfortable and are usually in the $60-$120 price range. Good running shoes provide stability, lift and energy return, all of which can make you faster and more comfortable while you sprint. Runners are designed to propel you forward as you race for a finish line or build up your steps.

Both Nike and Adidas are well-known for high-quality footwear, but there are a few factors you should consider before you lace up and hit the trails.

Nike running shoes

Based in Beaverton, Oregon, Nike is the most popular footwear brand in the world, with a strong foothold in major sports leagues and athletic wear in general. Nike shoes are ubiquitous in music and culture, and their hype can be felt around the world. As far as running shoes, Nike has a rich history of innovation since the company was founded. It has produced hundreds of different running shoe models, including the iconic Air Max line and Air Pegasus collection and they continue to improve upon their designs every year. 

Nike running shoes are considered some of the most comfortable and durable on the market, and they also make runners faster and more efficient. Recently, Nike came under fire for producing a shoe that might make runners too fast to beat competitively — the Vaporfly. The shoes feature a stiff carbon-fiber plate stuffed between two layers of Nike’s ZoomX foam, which is softer, lighter and more responsive than other cushioning. The result is a shoe that the company claims is the fastest they’ve ever built. 

But speed isn’t everything. Among the many Nike running shoes to choose from, the company offers options for different purposes, like daily running versus competition, or variable terrain such as flat surfaces versus light and rugged trails. 

What you’ll love about Nike running shoes

  • Ultra-comfortable foam inside and out
  • Breathable mesh
  • Made from lightweight materials
  • High impact absorption
  • Advanced shoe technology

What you should consider about Nike running shoes

  • On the expensive end of the price range
  • Some models are too narrow, potentially creating blisters
  • Minor size inconsistency

Top Nike running shoes

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37

This top-tier running shoe is the result of years of model development and shoe technology advancements, with Nike’s signature React Foam providing ultra-light comfort and shock absorption. The Pegasus is a good choice for the experienced runner.

Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Nike Men’s Air Max LTD 3

Nike Men’s Air Max LTD 3

If you’re more of a jogger and want to move with style, the whole Air Max series from Nike is fashion-meets-function. Available in a wide array of colorways, the LTD is durable and comfortable while appearing more like a casual sneaker.

Sold by Macy’s 

Nike Downshifter 

Nike Downshifter 

For the runner on a budget, the Downshifter is a solid choice for beginners. Both comfortable and breathable, this is a good shoe for kicking off your workout.

Sold by Amazon and Kohl’s

Adidas running shoes

Adidas is one of Nike’s primary competitors in footwear and athletic gear, and it’s a company with a long and rich history. The Bavaria, Germany-based company was originally a small athletic shoe factory, founded in 1924 by brothers Adolf and Rudolf Dassler. After a severe falling out between the two, Rudolf left to form Puma, while “Adi” Dassler renamed his brand Adidas. As the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe, its products have become largely associated with European football and American soccer, but Adidas is still a major player in the United States.

Adidas running shoes have their own legacy of excellence: legendary Olympic runner Jesse Owens won his four gold medals while wearing Dassler’s spikes. The company is respected for innovating footwear to the specs of athletes from every sport, and its running shoes are known for both comfort and durability. It’s one of the closest rivals to Nike and its Jordan brand, with other athletic companies like Asics, New Balance and Under Armour. Adidas’s most popular line of running shoes is its Boost series which continues to win over runners worldwide. 

What you’ll love about Adidas running shoes

  • Highly durable and comfortable
  • Boost cushioning is soft and absorbs shock
  • Many made from recycled materials
  • High energy return
  • High-rated arch support

What you should consider about Adidas running shoes

  • High prices for top-tier shoes
  • Generally heavier than competitors’ shoes
  • Longer break-in time
  • Some size inconsistency

Top Adidas running shoes

Adidas Ultraboost 21

Adidas Ultraboost 21

The company’s most popular running shoe line is the Ultraboost series, which are consistently flexible and durable while promising increased energy return. The outsole is stretchable, light and made to increase traction in wet and dry terrain.

Sold by Adidas and Amazon

Adidas SolarBoost 3

Adidas SolarBoost 3

The SolarBoost 3 is the best Adidas running shoe for long runs, staying comfortable and flexible over longer periods. The only downside is that it’s too heavy for speed runs.

Sold by Adidas

Adidas Adizero Pro

Adidas Adizero Pro

These are Adidas’s best shoes for competitive running, offering more speed than some of their heavier options. 

Sold by Adidas and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Should you get Nike or Adidas running shoes?

Ultimately, the most important factor when choosing between Nike and Adidas is the right fit for your foot, which means trying on a few of each. If you’re a competitive runner, Nike has the advantage with its lightweight speedsters. Both brands have their own distinct styles, so it could take your personal preference, Swoosh or Three Stripes, to break a close tie.

 

Matt Fleming writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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