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Here at Nice Kicks, the majority of our staff and our community are sneakerheads first and runners second (if at all). With that said, the running category is one of the biggest, broadest, and most important in the footwear realm. Keeping fast feet fly and fly feet fast, Nike Running has married style and innovation in a manner that defines our market. For this installment of #20Under20, we count down the best Nike running shoes from the last two decades.
20. Nike Air Max Tailwind 96Cushioning: Air Max Year: 1996 Could a runner be aggressive? Nike said yes. The Air Max Tailwind 96 brought new edge to the alternative AM series offering big cushioning, jagged lines, and slanted branding.
19. Nike Air Max 93Cushioning: Air Max Year: 1993 Sock-like construction made for a snug fit on the Air Max 93. Less denim friendly than other series standouts, the AM 93 was a forward thinking breath of fresh air, focusing on fit over cushioning.
18. Nike KukiniCushioning: Air Max Year: 2000 Tiptoeing the line between genius and insanity, the Kukini made a splash with its webbed cage closure and pool blue base. An Air Max assist in the heel offered a comfortable co-sign, but this silo still stands as only for the brave.
17. Nike Zoome Elite+Cushioning: Zoom Air Year: 2012 In a scene dominated by Air Max, Lunar, and Free, the Zoom Elite+ speaks highly of the tech most loved on hardwood. Cushioning proves on-point despite playing the middle ground, while strong colorways and a Far East collab cater to casual wear.
16. Nike Roshe RunCushioning: Lunarlon/EVA Foam Year: 2012 The Roshe Run is arguably as radical as it is practical. A Sportswear running shoe designed for casual wear? Not too left field when you consider the market. Its superior comfort and fun functionality has wearers championing it everywhere.
15. Nike Flyknit RacerCushioning: Forefoot Zoom/Phylon Year: 2012 While most running shoes are judged by their cushioning, the Flyknit Racer provided a breakthrough in both construction and production. Much like innovative debuts before, we expect this line to get better and better with time.
14. Nike Air PrestoCushioning: Encapsulated Air Year: 2000 If ditching lace necessity and using all-over graphics wasn?t enough, the Nike Presto line aimed to revamp shoe sizing. The series proved popular among amateur athletes and suburban youth, but lacked the staying power or performance benefits of other Alpha Project standouts.
13. Nike LunarEclipseCushioning: Lunarlon Year: 2010 Breathtaking design made the LunarEclipse+ easy on the eyes, but next-level support gave Lunar new life. Sturdy as an Air Max but far more flexible, the shoe stands among the strongest and most durable in the foam-driven franchise.
12. Nike Air Zoom MilerCushioning: Zoom Air Year: 2004 Caged Zoom Air and track spike styling saw the Zoom Miler live up to its name. The shoe was clearly built for speed over steeze, but managed to capture both with no sweat.
11. Nike LunaracerCushioning: Lunar Foam Year: 2009 Relying on the less is more ideal from a performance and aesthetic standpoint; the Lunaracer marked a new speed for Nike running. Much like classics before, these didn't take long to look stunning on the track and in the streets.
10. Nike Air BurstCushioning: Air Max Year: 1994 The Air Max Burst may be the most casually friendly Nike runner ever. Fundamental in design and undeniably classic, the silo was a catalyst in the early strides of the now high tide retro wave.
9. Nike Air Max PlusCushioning: Tuned Air Year: 1998 Tuned Air technology had the freshest debut ever thanks to the Air Max Plus. Uncanny lines, gradient mesh, and amazing color combos made the AMP one of the loudest and most embraced runners from a style standpoint.
8. Nike Shox R4Cushioning: Shox Year: 2002 Nike Shox didn?t have a moment-- it had an era. Though too recent for those that are too cool, the R4 is undeniable from an impact standpoint. The visible technology brought instant nostalgia and novelty, drawing interest from those far outside of standard sneaker circles.
7. Nike Huarache RunCushioning: Encapsulated Air Year: 1992 Visibly comfortable and quietly cool, the Huarache Run was fittingly fresh. The lush low top was a worthy running mate to the Fab 5 favorite and important in its own arena.
6. Nike Air Max 97Cushioning: Air Max Year: 1997 Though recent retros have proved un-impactful, there's no denying the footprint the Air Max 97 left in its year of launch and the path it paved. Its wavy lines and elongated Air are a stamp of the era still seen it today's footwear.
5. Nike Air Max DeluxeCushioning: Air Max Year: 1999 While other models on this list see their spot verified by retro releases and countless colorways, the Air Max Deluxe is almost the opposite. The shoe is yet to receive a second spin despite honing a design that still looks futuristic and functional.
4. Nike Air Max 2009Cushioning: Air Max Year: 2009 The Air Max 2009 was a problem. How so? Sneakerheads were forced to shelve their precious retros in favor of the AM '09s undeniable comfort. The model ultimately revitalized the Air Max line and the industry, pushing the price point for a low top shoe and adding full-length Air to almost everything.
3. Nike Free Run 2Cushioning: Free Year: 2011 Will serious runners ever log major miles in Frees? Probably not. Never the less, the series has captured the masses from soccer moms to celebrity starlets thanks to its ease of wear and supreme comfort. The Free Run 2 proved the biggest breakthrough in the line, offering the most masculine upper with equally impressive unisex appeal.
2. Nike Zoom SpiridonCushioning: Zoom Air Year: 1997 Rarely are cult classics as clean as the Zoom Spiridon. Mostly overlooked on the retro market but far from under appreciated by hardcore Nike running fans, the Spiridon is sleeker than any other model on this list, due much in part to its minimal lines and muted cushioning.
1. Nike Air Max 95Cushioning: Air Max Year: 1995 Surprising? It shouldn't be. The Air Max 95 is more or the less the Air Jordan 11 of running shoes. Retro thirst was quenched only a matter of years after its arrival, with the model being championed as a casual and performance classic in its second run. Its design is timeless and easily identifiable, but its ability to take color makes it more of a chameleon than any of its AM brethren. Share your feedback on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #20Under20
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