If you’ve spent any time buying sports shoes for everything from indoor running to outdoor hiking, you have undoubtedly heard the names Nike and Adidas on several occasions.
These are some of the biggest athletic footwear brands on the market known widely for their quality of shoes and long cultural history, as both brands have made huge impacts popularly even today.
If you had to choose which one to get, though, the battle of Nike vs Adidas running shoes becomes much more difficult of a question.
Both of these top running shoe brands have had some historical strengths and weaknesses in their products, and when you have to purchase a new pair, you should always look out for whichever brand is going to give you what you need.
This article will go over the general histories and traits of each brand, as well as some of the top products you can get from them, to provide you with some insight to make sure you go with the brand that’s right for you.
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A Short History of the Brand
Starting as a retail distributor in 1966, American company Nike started producing its own shoes in 1971 and went into the public market around 1980. It hit massive early success as an American brand thanks to strong marketing and joint ventures with other shoe brands, including Converse and Hurley.
Nike has remained consistent as a sports shoe brand since its inception. It creates products for everything from running to basketball to cleats for soccer and rugby.
One of the factors of early Nike shoes was their lightweight nature, having thick rubber sole patterns to help them maintain traction while not having too much material restricting performance.
This success has led Nike to be just as much a fashion icon as a sports shoe brand. Nike had many acquisitions in the 1980s and 1990s relating to extreme sports and general athletic apparel and teaming with popular athletes like Michael Jordan while doing wide TV advertising to raise the knowledge of the brand.
Materials and Manufacture
Compared to many shoes and outdoor gear brands, it’s surprisingly easy to find out what Nike uses to make their shoes. They generally aim to use polyester, EVA foam, rubber, and certain other synthetic fabrics to make most of their shoes.
They also aim to use recycled materials such as water bottles, for some of their products.
(a pair of Nike women’s running shoes)
Most people will likely know that the manufacturing of Nike products has been a concern in the past. But over the years Nike has focused on reducing their environmental impact and improving their wages and labor conditions.
As for the quality of the shoes, they use strong materials and consistent production standards. It’s unlikely that a pair of Nike shoes will fall apart quickly, but they are hardly the most durable shoes on the market. Of course, this also depends on the specific model you’re going to get from the brand.
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While the current discussion about Nike has been general, it’s time to look at some of the specific running shoes the brand offers, including a fairly standard product and a more premium one that helps show the unique traits Nike shoes can offer.
Nike Men’s Renew Run Shoes
One of the more interesting factors of Nike’s running shoes is their extremely thin nature. Many of their popular stylish shoes are thicker soccer and basketball shoes, but most of their running offerings have very thin synthetic fabrics.
These are one of the less expensive options with a heavy midsole, which provides a large amount of lift similar to a basketball shoe without making running feel uncomfortable or unnatural. It’s also remarkably smooth and fits quite tight on the feet.
Nike Men’s Free RN Flyknit Running Shoe
These shoes are like an “extreme version” of the product above. They feature a thinner knit that’s almost transparent on the side. The real value of these shoes comes in the sole, which is uniquely textured to make street running comfortable and close to your feet.
They’re thin enough to almost feel barefoot, but for the most part, they provide enough shock absorption for your runs and sprints. There appear to be concerns about the longevity of these shoes on the tongue on top, but they still feature some great performance right out of the box.
Nike shoes are relatively low in price compared to other premium brands. They can sometimes be fragile if the material is particularly thin, but the lower price point means they’re easier to replace.
Are Nike Running Shoes Worth the Price?
In a sense, they are on account of how affordable they are. These shoes are not a remarkably cheap product, but they’re inexpensive enough that you won’t feel too disappointed when they eventually break down and provide plenty of sufficient performance when running on paved and indoor surfaces.
A Short History of the Brand
It might surprise you to know that Adidas is significantly older than Nike, originating in Germany in the early 1900s. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the brand would consistently appear at major events from professional soccer to the Olympic Games, is known as the go-to brand for professional play.
This reputation of being the shoes and gear for professionals grew extremely fast after the 1972 Olympics in Munich, where they would continue marketing across the world.
Nike is a strong player in the world of premium sneaker collections, but Adidas partially started it through their connection and line with hip-hop group Run DMC, which led to some of the earlier cases of signed and a limited-run Adidas shoe sold for non-athletic purposes.
In terms of sports, it’s impossible to ignore the continual innovation that Adidas has with the quality of its sports shoes.
The acquisition of Salomon in the 1990s (which will leave in 2006) helped, as Salomon is a powerful player in hiking and winter sports equipment that helped Adidas start improving the already-professional standards their running shoes would fit.
Materials and Manufacture
Broadly speaking, Adidas isn’t too far off from its production styles, comfort, and materials from Nike in a noticeable way. They have similar international factories, a trend that’s common for popular outdoor brands.
Adidas’s materials are further ahead than those of many other sports brands. They continue to use a mix of synthetic materials like polyester and rubber and with a large range of footwear made with 100% recycled materials.
The brand has also worked hard to use certified tanneries for its natural and synthetic leather to avoid producing more waste and greenhouse gasses.
The quality of the shoes themselves shows in this additional care, as there’s great attention to detail across their production lines.
Between unique soles and seamless leather, Adidas makes surprisingly durable shoes that also provide a unique feel than a shoe from your average brand.
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As with Nike, there are a few Adidas sneaker styles that are worth mentioning. One will be typical and standard of the brand, while the other showcases the more unique style that Adidas can often carry.
Adidas Men’s Lite Racer Adapt 3.0 Running Shoe
This comfortable shoe uses a synthetic textile product with a fairly thick rubber sole, but it’s also an impressively thin and stretching material compared to other running shoes. It’s lighter and thinner than most other running shoes, with the breathable mesh fabric fitting quite close onto the skin.
This shoe also features some great heel shaping, making it comfortable to run and sprint. Many of its styles might seem like generic running shoes, but they offer a good level of performance.
Adidas Men’s SL20 Running Shoe
The Adidas SL20 is a great running shoe created with speed in mind. It’s lightweight, it offers good cushioning and the mesh upper is great for breathability and helps keep you comfortable during your runs and sprints.
If you’re looking for a training shoe, Adidas is on a similar level to Nike in terms of prices, being not astonishingly inexpensive but certainly less high-costed than many premium athletic shoe brands.
However, the quality you get with their shoes is significantly high and reliable, with their shoes having a good survival rate thanks to a mildly higher level of care put into their production.
Are Adidas Running Shoes Worth the Price?
Absolutely, and you won’t be disappointed with the shoe unless its features are things that you are actively uninterested in.
They offer significantly more for you with their below-average prices, but going higher on their product list will see the even greater quality and uniqueness that makes them a solid investment.
3. Which Brand Is Better?
Compared to many other brand comparisons, it’s hard to evaluate Nike and Adidas due to their incredibly similar shoes and production styles. Their products are identical in terms of price and style, and neither is going to be an absolute winner.
If you were thinking to base your choice on prices, you’d have a hard time even with this option because the two brands have quite similar prices – an average running shoe from them would cost you around $80 – $120.
So, it seems that we have a draw this time and you have to do a little more practical research by trying a few shoes on at your favorite local sports store depending on the activity you need these shoes for.
Also, it will depend on your style preferences and if you’re a Nike or Adidas person. We prefer Nike designs, for example.
A few considerations that we can make though, based on our research and feedback from customers of both brands, are that Adidas running shoes have bulkier soles in general, while Nike’s soles tend to be thinner. Also, Adidas shoes tend to last longer and provide more cushion due to their soles.