Are Nike Prestos Good for Running? Exploring Their Performance and Comfort”


Aesthetically, this is definitely one of the more polarizing looks, but are Nike Prestos good for running?

Right after we answer this question quickly, we’re going to:

  • Review the Presto React
  • Review two Nike Presto collabs
  • Give you the history of the Presto
  • Discuss how to spot fake Prestos
  • Answer some of the most pertinent FAQs

Sounds interesting?

Let’s dive right into it…


Are Nike Prestos Good for Running?

If you only want a shoe for your lifestyle wear and running efforts, then yes, the Nike Presto is the right choice for your light running activities.

The Nike Air Presto was originally designed for runners and walkers. However, today’s running shoe standards definitely put the Nike Presto in the lifestyle sneaker category. The Presto is definitely not a true performance shoe and is not suited for pure running purposes. 

Because of this design focus, the Presto lacks the newest technologies found in shoes like the Nike Zoom Fly, for example.

This holds true across all Presto iterations, including the Presto React, Acronym x Nike Air Presto Mid, and Off-White x Nike Air Presto.

If you’re wondering which Presto you can actually do some light running in, the Presto React is slightly better for running thanks to the React midsole material being definitely better in terms of cushioning than

I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of lockdown I found on this shoe. If you zip up the zippers all the way and tie these up tightly, your heel is very locked into the shoe.

Again, the React foam definitely plays a large part in making the Presto React as comfortable as it is and a more runnable option.

But in a world where people run in Five Finger shoes, minimalist shoes, or even completely barefoot, anything could be run in at this point.

So, the Nike Presto could be considered a running shoe if you’re used to running in super minimalist shoes.


Nike Presto

The tagline for the Nike Alpha project is “Imagination Meets Technology”.

I love the fact that this was kind of like Imaginarium sort of feel to these sneakers where they thought of something cool outside the box like a “T-Shirt for your feet”.

The Presto is a really interesting shoe and it’s designed to mimic that barefoot feel with that neoprene material on the upper.

Inside the box, it just talks about overall comfort and they want you to feel like you’re wearing a shirt on your foot.



The outsole is super interesting because a lot of the material underfoot isn’t actually rubber. The black part at the heel is the only rubber on the outsole and Nike calls that BRS 1000.

It’s firm and durable while all the colored section is what they call Duralon which is going to be less durable than BRS 1000 rubber. I think this is like a version of Phylon but with the word “durable”.

Duralon is a little bit of rubber and foam mixed together. What it does is it adds some lightweightness to the shoe, but most importantly, it adds a lot of compression to the midsole because the midsole is thin and you don’t have a lot of cushion in between your foot and the floor.


Nike React Presto


The Nike React Presto is a reworking and reimagining of the classic Nike Presto sneaker. Once considered to be one of the most comfortable sneakers available, the Nike Presto has now been upgraded with a full-length React midsole.

Just like the Nike Huarache, you’ve got the classic neoprene upper which feels very soft on foot, and also the TPU midfoot cage which really keeps you contained.

Overall, the Preso React is just a very comfortable sneaker all around, and for $130, you’re getting a very comfortable shoe that you can get in pretty much any colorway.


Acronym x Nike Air Presto Mid


At $200, this Acronym Mid is a reinvented version of the classic Presto.

Aside from all the smaller changes to the shoe, the most obvious one is of course the height and the collar of the shoe, which makes this a classic mid-cut sneaker.



The shoe has what Nike is calling spacer mesh which is intended to be very breathable and very stretchy.

Found on both the lateral side and the medial side of the forefoot, we have this tape-like material which is supposed to give you added structure and support from a width perspective.

On the front edge of the toe box, we have this TPU toe guard. And then overlaid on top of this, we have this repeating pattern that’s supposed to represent the A for Acronym.

The collar area is constructed out of 3D mesh. At the very top of the front collar, we have this nylon pull tab. Wrapping around the midfoot of both sides of the shoe, we have this midfoot cage.

The very back heel is constructed out of very soft black leather, and then once again we have another nylon pull tab down in the center.

You’ll also notice that the TPU cage wraps around the back heel giving you that added structure around the back of your foot.

Towards the back end of the shoe, you’ll see the famous two zippers, one on either side, and this gives you easier access into the sneaker itself.


Midsole & Outsole

The upper sits atop this full-length Phylon foam midsole. To give you added support and added cushioning, there’s an encapsulated Air unit underneath the heel.

The outsole is predominantly covered in rubber, but of course, we have these grooves running across the width and the length of the shoe giving you added flexibility.


Presto Sizing

From a sizing standpoint, these Prestos only come in full sizes.

I’m a true size 9 slightly on the wider side so I picked these up in a size 9. I got to say that these run a little bit more on the narrow and long side.

So, from a width perspective, they fit me perfectly, but the size 9 from a length perspective was a little bit longer.

Obviously, I wouldn’t go down to a size 8 because that would be way too snug. But just something to consider is that these definitely will have a little bit of extra space in the toe box.

Here’s the Nike Air Presto size chart and sizing guide.



Comfort-wise, just like all other Prestos, these Presto Mids are very comfortable sneakers.

This Phylon foam midsole is very soft and as a result, it will crinkle very easily. But from strictly a comfort standpoint, these feel very good on feet.

The upper is very breathable and very flexible and it’s kind of just like wearing a sock with more added cushioning underneath your foot.

I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of lockdown in these Prestos. If you zip up the zippers all the way and tie these up tightly, your heel is very locked into the shoe.



From a quality perspective, these were kind of lacking. There were some noticeable glue stains and there were some quality control issues with the overlays on the toe guard as well as on the midfoot cage.

I’ve seen other people online complain that there are some stains on the mesh itself.

Overall, I have the sense that the quality on these wasn’t the best and so that’s a little bit disappointing considering these were priced a little bit more on the higher end.


Off-White x Nike Air Presto


These Air Prestos released for $160.


The upper is done in a mesh material, and taking a look at the toe box area, the mesh is very porous, very stretchy, and very flexible.

Overlaid on the top where the tongue normally is, there’s this large piece of foam and there’s this stitching at the top.

Similar to your standard Presto model, there is this midfoot cage that’s found on both sides.

Hanging off the lateral side of the left foot, there is a zip tie that’s found also on all the other models in the collection.

The laces are done in an oval shape and the shoe actually comes with three additional sets of laces.

The back has this Off-White colored nylon strip which helps to hold this black strap that originates from the medial side of the back and wraps around the edge and it’s held together with a piece of Velcro.

Underneath the strap, there’s a semi-translucent TPU heel cup.


Midsole & Outsole

The upper of this Presto sits atop this Off-White colored Phylon foam midsole. One thing that you can’t see with the naked eye is that there is an Air bag encapsulated within the midsole found underneath the heel.

Finally, taking a look at the outsole, this is your traditional Presto outsole.


Sizing-wise, with the Air Pesto model, these only come in full sizes. I wear between a size 9 and a 9.5 in most normal Nike sneakers, but the size 9 fits me perfectly.

These Prestos are a little bit tough to get on around the collar area, but once you get your foot inside, they’re quite roomy, especially around the toolbox.

Overall, in terms of comfort, if anything, the Presto is known to be a very comfortable sneaker and this Off-White Presto is no exception.

These feel very light on feet and very airy with this nice mesh material in the toe box, and the cushioning setup feels very soft underneath your feet.


History of Nike Presto

In 1996, Tobie Hatfield, brother of the legendary creator of Nike and Air Jordan designs, Tinker Hatfield, was employed at Nike as a developer of footwear.

During that period, Nike was undergoing a phase of rapid and groundbreaking advancements, and Tobie Hatfield was eager to seize his opportunity to take innovation to the next level.


First Steps

During a business trip to Korea, Hatfield was in a production meeting for Nike when the group was then given multiple pairs of recently released shoes.

Hatfield recalls the meeting, “When I put the shoe on and stood up, the ankle collar splayed out.”

At that moment, Tobie Hatfield remembered a focus group he recently received feedback from. This group had expressed their desire for a shoe that would offer a flawless fit – a running shoe that could emulate the sensation of barefoot running while keeping the unparalleled comfort Nike is known for.

This marked the beginning of a four-year expedition dedicated to crafting one of Nike’s most revolutionary and innovative footwear offerings: the Nike Air Presto.

The name Presto wouldn’t even be attached to the project until the year 2000. However, back in 1996, Nike was already engaged in the exploration of prototypes for this particular silhouette.


First Prototypes

The first prototype was an underwhelming leather and mesh shoe with one standout feature, the V-notch.

The intention behind this unappealing characteristic was to enhance the fit around the ankle and address the issue of ankle splaying.

Upon the creation of the prototype, Hatfield found himself hesitant to personally test the shoe, as he was concerned about obtaining feedback that might lack impartiality.

So naturally, he asked one of his coworkers to try out the shoe instead.

However, a minor predicament arose. The prototype happened to be a size 9, whereas the colleague who was to try it on wore a size 11. In his pursuit of unbiased feedback, Hatfield didn’t mention the size disparity and let the coworker go for a run.

He was aware that his coworker’ feedback was going to be about the size. To his surprise, his colleague had no comments on this matter.

It turned out that the V-notch created so much flexibility that the shoe formed to the larger size needed to fit his coworker.

Here’s what Hatfield had to say about the initial performance test, “Suddenly, there was more give throughout the shoe to flex and bend with every step of the stride of the runner. Instead of the runner’s foot being housed by a rigid construct of leather and mesh, the sneaker responded to their movement.”

Pursuit of The Right Materials

The concept of the Presto continued to be developed over the years but under a bunch of different project names…

The V-notch finally saw the light of day with the release of the Nike Air Gauntlet in 1998. The seamless interior and mesh upper were perfected in 1999 with the launch of the Air Zoom Drive.

But these two elements weren’t enough to perfect the Presto. Tobie Hatfield and his team needed the right material.

There were many questions surrounding the material that would be chosen for the Air Presto we know today. Some of the materials obviously were not going to service the silhouette.

Leather was too stiff and heavy and mesh was limited in stretch and application. The neoprene used on the Nike Air Huarache was designed to trap heat, which was the opposite of what Nike wanted for the Presto.

After months of experimenting with different materials, they finally found it – spacer mesh

Spacer Mesh


Spacer mesh is a material traditionally used in the medical industry and offers the flex and the stretch of neoprene without the heat.

With spacer mesh, they could shape it into the sneaker that they wanted. It was stiff enough to maintain the mold but also stretchable enough so the full V-notch was not required.

Thanks to the spacer mesh, traditional sizings for the shoe were abandoned. similar to T-Shirts, Nike decided sizes would run from extra small (XS) to extra Large (XL).

Now Hatfield and Nike had a shoe, but there was one thing missing – the name…

Pursuit of The Right Name

Ever since they set out to make the shoe, nobody had a name that stuck. It was beginning to be a big problem.

So, instead of delaying the sneaker release any longer, Nike received more than 300 submissions from creatives all of over the country to help with the name.

One floated to the Surface – Presto Magic.

The spacer mesh was magically flexible so much so that it was like a magic trick that would perform and say ”Presto” after. The name stuck and the shoe was ready for the public.

Initial Colorways

13 colorways of the Presto were released all at once, and each colorway had its own animated TV commercial. 12 of those 13 colorways were given the most bizarre names:

  • Abominable Snowman
  • Brutal Honey
  • Catfight Shiner
  • Jack Mackerel
  • Migraine Fly
  • Orange Monk
  • Presto Bill
  • Rabid Panda
  • Rogue Kielbasa
  • Shady Milkman
  • Trouble at Home
  • Unholy Cumulus

The 13th colorway remained unnamed and don’t ask me why because I don’t know. The odd names along with the creative TV ad campaign plus the timing of the 2006 Sidney Olympics made the sneaker an instant success.

Losing Momentum

Strangely enough, the Presto lost its momentum quickly not because it was received poorly, but simply because Nike decided to prioritize a different running sneaker program – Nike Free Run.

Nike Free Run was basically a direct offshoot from the Presto and it took a lot of attention away from the shoe. Eventually, the Free program dominated Nike’s running sector. So the Presto only sat on the throne before being replaced by the other silhouettes.

It would be at least another decade before the Presto would return to the culture with the credit it deserves.

In the meantime though, there were some bizarre moments for the Presto…

Bizzare Moments


In 2001, Nike created a handful of pairs for the legendary rock guitarist Eric Clapton who wore them on his world tour. The colorway featured a cream lace cage that was a tribute to Clapton’s celebrated band, Cream.

In 2008, probably, the strangest collab for the Air Presto line was a pair with the official branding for the Sex in the City movie.


But the best moment for this bizarre decade and a half for Presto history was the follow-up TV spot for the sneaker – Le Poulet En Colere. This translates to angry chicken and was inarguably one of the best sneaker commercials of all time.

In an attempt to get in on the new French trend of the dangerous sport of parkour, Nike convinced one of the sports’ fathers, Sebastian Foucan, to be chased around the city by a chicken. This spot was narrated in both French and English and is a must-watch.

Here’s the video…

Great Collabs

Finally in 2015, Nike began rolling out the OG colorways again and revisiting some of the Olympic-inspired colorways in the summer of 2016. But it wasn’t until September 2016 that we saw the full power of Presto.

As fall hit in 2016, a collaborative trio of Air Prestos dropped with the apparel brand, Acronym. The German company is known for using highly technical fabrics on forward-thinking silhouettes, experimenting with drapes and shapes.

Nike let them go all out with the Presto. They completely shifted hyperfuse support for seemingly aesthetic reasons. The sneaker sold out instantly and still continues to demand a lot of money on the resale market.

But the second major hit of the Presto came in the fall of 2017 when they dropped as part of the Off-White founder Virgil Abloh’s The Ten collaborative collection.


An incredible design that features an upper that took four years to design. The seamless interior reveals the layers of foam that make the spacer mesh work.

Everything that Tobie Hatfield and his team developed so carefully over four years was completely turned on its head. The design is stunning and is darn near perfect.

All in all, as the fashion world continues to blur the lines between a functional running shoe and a street-style accessory, the Nike Air Presto has earned itself into the Sneaker Hall of Fame.

Its innovative and futuristic look makes it look like it was released yesterday. It’s crazy to think that this shoe came out in 2000. The Nike Air Presto was and still is ahead of its time.

Real vs Fake Nike Air Presto

Spotting fake Nike Air Presto from genuine ones involves careful scrutiny of details. Pay attention to factors like the quality of materials, stitching precision, logo placement, and overall build. Compare the suspicious pair with official images and verify the seller’s credibility.

Here’s a video to help you spot real Prestos from fake ones…

Nike Air Presto – FAQs

Is the Nike Air Presto a running shoe?

The Nike Air Presto was originally designed for runners and walkers. But now it aims more at providing a comfortable and casual lifestyle experience rather than being solely intended as a performance running shoe.

However, the Presto React is versatile and can be used for light running or various daily activities, but it’s not a specialized high-performance running shoe.

Are Nike Air Presto good for working out?

Nike Air Prestos can be suitable for light workouts and casual activities due to their comfortable and flexible design.

However, for intense and specialized workouts, it’s advisable to opt for shoes specifically designed for athletic performance to provide better support, lateral stability, and durability. The Nike Metcon is one of the best on the market.

Is Nike Air Presto comfortable?

Yes, the Nike Air Presto is generally known for its comfort. It features a stretchy upper material that conforms to the shape of the foot, a decently cushioned sole unit, and a snug fit that provides a comfortable and lightweight feel for everyday wear or activities.

However, comfort can also be subjective, so it’s recommended to try them on personally to ensure they suit your preferences.

Do Nike Prestos have arch support?

Nike Prestos are generally known for their minimalist design and lightweight construction. While they do offer some level of arch support due to their cushioning and sole design, they might not provide as much arch support as more specialized running or athletic shoes.

If you require substantial arch support, it’s recommended to consider using custom insoles or shoes specifically designed for that purpose.

What are Nike Prestos meant for?

Nike Prestos are designed primarily as versatile and comfortable sneakers. They are intended for various purposes, including casual wear, light athletic activities, and urban lifestyle. With their lightweight construction and flexible design, Nike Prestos offer a blend of style and comfort suitable for everyday use and low-impact activities.

Are Nike Air Presto waterproof?

Nike Air Presto shoes are not inherently waterproof. They are designed primarily for comfort and flexibility. If you’re looking for waterproof sneakers, you might need to explore other Nike models like the Air Presto Mid Utility which is specifically engineered for water resistance or waterproofing.

Do Nike Prestos have good grip?

Yes, Nike Prestos typically offer good grip due to their well-designed outsoles and traction patterns. However, the grip level might vary depending on the surface you’re using them on. It’s always a good idea to try them on yourself to assess their grip performance for your intended use.

What is the difference between Nike Air Presto and Presto Fly

The Air Presto Fly presents a somewhat bulkier and more structured interpretation of the classic Air Presto model. While maintaining the original midsole and overall form, this edition adopts a conventional lacing system and a contemporary, bold design approach.

So there you have it. 

In conclusion, Again, are Nike Prestos good for running? While Nike Prestos offer comfort and style for everyday wear, they may not provide the optimal support and cushioning required for serious running activities. For dedicated runners, considering specialized running shoes would be a more suitable choice. However, you can do some light running in them and be still fine, but nothing crazy!

See you in the next one 🙂

About Eric Barber

Eric Barber is a happy father of two little angels, a husband, and a runner. He eats, sleeps, and dreams anything foot related: running shoes, walking shoes, sneakers, you name it. It all started when Eric was a shoe store specialist watching and fitting people's feet day in and day out.

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