Nike React Infinity Run FlyKnit - Women's Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Nike created the React Infinity as a light and fast road running shoe. The Flyknit technology has been upgraded from that of their prior kicks to be stronger and more secure. The amount of material used to build the shoe was also decreased in hopes that runners will feel more connected to the foam of the shoe and the pavement beneath them. Unfortunately, for us this was an ill-fitting design.
We wanted to be overwhelmed by the responsiveness of this shoe but were, instead, left wanting more. This React Infinity is designed to be highly responsive and speedy, but if your feet aren't shaped to perfectly fit this shoe, the result falls short. The wide base and strange structure created an overall feeling of imbalance and thus a lack of coordination in our testers. The awkward fit and subsequent clumsiness caused it to score significantly lower than our other contenders in this metric, and overall.
Just as with responsiveness, we really wanted to be wow-ed by the excess foam that this shoe boasts. The cushioning of the heel is average, but the narrow midsole knocks a few points off of our landing comfort rating. Our feet felt as though they were spilling over the narrow midfoot sole, and that sensation became highly distracting on long runs. All of the foamy, cushioned goodness of this shoe resides in the sole, and for that we are thankful! This generous foam helped redeem the score of the React Infinity a bit, but not by much. Bottom line, the landing comfort of these kicks is enjoyable on warm track days but is unfortunately outpaced by quite a few others in our review.
As far as running shoes are concerned, we believe weight should be considered on a secondary basis after metrics like comfort and responsiveness have been accounted for. Still, weight is one of two categories in which these Nikes scored above average (albeit only slightly). This React Infinity weighed in just slightly below our average road running shoe weight (7.51 oz. per shoe, women's size 7). The lighter weight is what makes it a useful choice for sprints and short track workouts.
While they pared down the materials in some aspects, Nike kicked up their foam game a few notches by increasing the heel stack and outsole. These components add to the durability of the shoe but also play into our sense of underwhelming responsiveness. Nike also increased the outsole rubber to extend the life of the React Infinity. The soles of these bad boys definitely held up despite the miles of abuse they endure. The Flyknit mesh seems to be more tightly bound than other Nike roadrunners; our reviewers were pleasantly surprised with the amount of life left in these shoes when testing wrapped up. These shoes seem to be in it for the long haul, despite their shortcomings.
The serious lack of upper comfort in the React Infinity is disappointing. Nike made a bold choice to design a super-light shoe without upper comfort. What were they thinking? The laces cut in as you tighten them, yet the collar remains loose and likely to create blisters. The Flyknit design sounds good in theory but, in practice, it creates a one-size-fits-all upper shoe that does not, in fact, fit all. This is our lowest scorer in the upper comfort category, outshined by each and every other shoe we tested.
Because the React Infinity boasts a Flyknit mesh across the entire upper portion, the airflow in this pair is breezy and delicious. We subtracted a point when scoring though, because the narrow frame doesn't allow quite enough room for swelling, sweaty toes. That said, we would still recommend these runners for hot and steamy track days.
Expensive and underperforming? No, thank you. We feel as though the price tag reflects the brand here, not the shoe's performance. Other Nike runners outperform these puppies by miles despite the upgraded foam structure on the React Infinity. We don't think this pair of shoes is a worthy investment, unfortunately. If you want a long term running sidekick, route your resources to a pair of shoes elsewhere.
We're going to give these shoes a big, fat no. Their redeeming qualities are slim, and we didn't love running in them. The Nike React Infinity Flyknit are best for short, fast workouts, but they aren't comfortable enough to really go the distance. These kicks are incredibly stylish, so if your priority is just looking good, you'll love them. They aren't as uncomfortable as a trendy pair of heels, but they fall somewhere between that and an actual distance running shoe. We find the unusual shape to be uncomfortable and awkward, so this isn't a pair we want to keep in our collection. If you're more concerned with looking good than performing well, this is the shoe for you.
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