Nike has steadily been moving away from big bulky models while slowly moving toward light, lean models with good kick. That's how we'd describe the Nike Revolution 5. The upper is stripped down, so it feels more natural — almost to the point of being minimalist — but there's a healthy layer of padding along the collar and underfoot to keep you running in comfort as the miles pass by. It's an affordable running shoe meant for the average runner putting in a few shorter runs a day, but you'll still be in good shape on serious endurance runs.
Nike Revolution 5 Review
Cons: Lower durability, sole sometimes squeaks, plush tongue may feel hot
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Nike Revolution 5 is a good as all-around shoe. They excel at shorter distances but work well at mid- and long-distances too. We broke them down across our performance measures to see how they stacked up against the rest of the field.
Leaner running shoes tend to have limited responsiveness. Nike even touts the Revolution 5 as a minimalist model, so you can expect it to be more on you, less on the shoe. There isn't much to the upper to improve responsiveness or provide stability. The knit textile upper is slightly tougher than regular mesh, so it does tend to limit the flex that would happen in the upper, reducing the energy that would otherwise be lost. The heel is also well designed to limit slippage and keep the shoe adhering to your foot as you run. It feels nice and allows you to really open it up without getting that flip-flop-falling-off feeling.
Nike describes its midsole as a soft foam, yet it's exactly because it's not an especially soft foam that it has any degree of responsiveness. It's a firm stack, and it kicks back to keep you bounding. This is another reason we prefer it on shorter runs. It's not a super plush model, so it doesn't absorb as much impact as the big, heavy maximalist models. Of course, that's a determination each runner will determine for themselves, but in general, cushier midsoles are more forgiving on long runs, and firmer midsoles, like the Revolution 5, are better for short fast runs.
The outsole is even designed to improve responsiveness by shedding water away and improving traction. These did seem to perform that task, but we didn't notice any substantial improvement over most shoes on the market. Not only that, but the design of the outsole has some other issues that concern us. We'll discuss that a little more down in durability.
These hit a nice medium between plush and firm. The thick stack under the heel certainly provides a lot of material between your foot and the ground, saving the knees and other joints. Yet the foam is actually quite firm. Perhaps that's because of the way Nike married the rigid rubber outsole to the softer foam midsole. Because the outsole is so dense and rigid, the landing is stiffer. Still, it's not unpleasant, but it might keep you limited to shorter runs. We preferred these on runs up through the 3-mile mark. We were still great at 5 and 6 miles. 10 miles… kind of stiff.
A pair of men's size 11 weigh in at 22.5 ounces. It's right about in the middle of the cohort, and it's reasonable to expect them to come in at that weight. Their toughish upper just isn't going to be as light as some feather track shoe, but we suspect you're not going to notice it. That extra padding in the tongue and collar also has a weight, though they don't go overboard. It's a nice balance. We suspect much of the weight is coming from the fat heel stack and tougher outsole. We think they're worth the trade-off, but certainly there are much lighter shoes out there if that's what you prefer.
The big point to cover with the Revolution 5 is the outsole. First off, the outsole is almost entirely covered by a tough rubber for protection against abrasion, piercing, and other traumatic attention. Generally, that's a good thing. However, there are a few oversights in the design.
We experienced this, and also found a handful of complaints echoing the same: the sole can squeak. The outsole also has a tendency to come unglued. There are two etiologies here: tranches of shoes with low-quality glue or coverage; the rigidity of the outsole set in large, uniform segments against a material with much lower density and rigidity — the midsole. Long sections of uniform outsole rubber make up the three outsole segments. The section that sees the most flex, under the forefoot, is the outsole segment that tends to come off first. The two different materials likely have trouble bonding, but there's also limited segmentation, making it harder for the tension to dissipate without prying the two materials apart. We hope Nike will look into this and address it so the next model can be even better.
Moving on, you can expect a quasi-minimalist model like this to have an upper with just a few inherent vulnerabilities. And yes, its wide covering of mesh does reduce its ability to fend off sticks and knicks, but it's slightly closer to a canvas toughness than the usual mesh that covers most shoes. Still, it generally lacks reinforcements and other protective structures that you might find in the bigger stability models.
We don't have any concerns, and neither did we find in research or testing that the midsole would wear down. We expect most runners will get quite a few miles out of these. The only concerns with the shoe are in the outsole, which seems to be hit-or-miss. And that issue can likely be handled through a customer service process, though no one wants to build that into their buying and use process.
The knit upper on the Revolution gently hugs the foot without squeezing, though you can still get a good deal of lock-down with the laces. The overall design is pretty ideal. The collar and heel cup are shaped to keep the foot locked-in without needing to suffocate your ankle with laces. That's helped along with a slightly supple tongue and a thinnish layer of collar padding.
The toebox is just barely larger than snug. It's wide enough to allow your toes to splay as you land and take off, but no more. The inside also has a sculpted feel, lending a little more to the minimalist credence touted by Nike. We don't dispute that the shoe feels light and natural, nearly minimalist, but at the end of the day, it's still a reasonably padded, thick-soled standard running shoe that rides a lot more like a standard shoe than a minimalist model.
As we've mentioned elsewhere, the mesh upper has more of a canvas quality to it. That's ideal for improved durability, but it makes it less breathable. The trade-off here is that it's also a little more protective in the cold and wet. Good luck finding a similar shoe to stay warm and dry in when it's cold and rainy. As far as its limitations, if you're running in really hot, muggy conditions, you'll probably wish you didn't have a big, thick tongue with pillowy padding. That said, your heel might be warm, but your toes should be cool enough. This is a much better shoe for mornings, evenings, and more arid climates where you're not going to have a quart of sweat sloshing around your feet within 45 minutes.
The Revolution 5 is discounted compared to most other running shoes, but in return, you get less durability and might end up needing to replace them before you'd like. If you're a serious runner or put in more than 15 miles a week, you might want to look at something that will last longer, but your average runner should see a few good seasons out of these.
After putting in quite a few miles in the Nike Revolution 5, we're pleased they made our list, and that we discovered them. They occupy a nice niche of affordability in the sea of high-performance shoes that carry with them the expected price tag. Of course, that doesn't come without its expected drawbacks. These won't last as long as a lot of those premium shoes or hit quite as hard, but they're still good shoes, especially if you're not a nit-picker. You get a solid ride with a sturdy midsole that kicks it back while your foot rides around in cushy padding. Our preferred runs in these were in the 3-4 mile range, but they were serviceable on longer runs too. The average runner looking to get into a decent padded running shoe without a serious financial hit will enjoy these.
— Ryan Baham