History of Nike React


In 2017, Nike revolutionized the foam cushioning used in its shoes with the help of athletes. The result became the basis for the extremely popular Nike React running shoe line. But what exactly is Nike React? 

Learn more about the technology behind the shoes and what it took to make these revolutionary running shoes a reality. 

What is Nike React?

Nike React is a foam cushioning technology commonly found in Nike’s running shoes. 

Nike wanted to develop a shoe that would meet runner’s needs. They found that many runners wanted better cushioning, energy return, and durable and lightweight shoes that could withstand their training. 

Once they had an idea of what they needed to create, they turned to the engineers. Mechanical and chemical engineers worked together to create the foam that would be used to form the shoe’s cushion. Nike first tested the foam on basketball players in 2017. After conducting over 2,000 hours of tests on the players, the foam proved to be durable and ready for runners.

The foam was dubbed “Nike React” for the way it responds to your foot. Also, it was lighter and bouncier than other foams in Nike’s line at the time. 

When the first running shoe with the foam was designed, Nike then tested it on runners for over 17,000 miles collectively. The result? Runners reported that Nike React made them want to run more often

Today, Nike React remains one of Nike’s bestselling running shoes. People love the way the foam conforms to unique foot strike patterns, which can reduce injury during workouts or runs. 

A History of Nike React

React Hyperdunk 2017 Flyknit 

Hyperdunk was technically the debut of the Nike React foam. It was one of two basketball shoes to use the technology. This particular model was worn by Draymond Green, power forward for San Francisco’s Golden State Warriors, throughout the 2017 NBA finals. It was considered the most premium of a decade-long line of shoes and was praised by Green after a strong defensive performance.

Jordan Super.Fly 2017

The Jordan Super.Fly 2017 was the second basketball shoe to be released with the React foam. Blake Griffin, power forward for the Los Angeles Clippers, praised the sneaker for its ability to combat critical pressure points with its omnidirectional traction system. It also had a one-piece form-fitting upper for a natural fit. 

React Element 87

The Nike React Element 87 was the first running shoe released with the new foam technology. It was available in two colorways: sail/bone and anthracite. The sail/bone colorway was an instant hit among sneakerheads; the anthracite colorway appealed more to tech fans. Nike later released two more well-received colorways, including an UNDERCOVER collaboration and a deconstructed iteration

Current Nike React Styles

React Vision

Released in 2020, the Nike React Vision running shoe was an exercise in art and innovation. It features a new look for the Nike React cushioning with maximum comfort. It uses the same algorithm from the Element series to make sure that the shoe offers support throughout the sizing. The exaggerated tooling and protruding lugs mean that each step is cushioned with a bit of bounce. In terms of design, the Nike React Vision’s silhouette is inspired by classic running shoes like the Air Span II and Internationalist and exaggerated color remixes. An overstuffed tongue brings top-of-foot comfort to the shoe as well. 

React Phantom

The React Phantom is a slip-on version of a Nike React shoe. The React foam is located in the midsole for this shoe, and the top of the sneaker features a one-piece upper with elastic Flyknit yarn. A tongue and collar make sure these shoes fit snuggly, while a plastic heel clip offers structure. Pull tabs at the tongue and heel means it’s easy to slip these on and off. Today, they are available in a variety of staple and fashionable colorways for a variety of styles and tastes.

React Infinity

The Nike React Infinity was first launched in 2019 and was designed specifically with the idea of making running injuries preventable. It featured a soft, responsive sole with a rocker-like bottom that yielded more fluid traction. This technology also encourages a slight lean forward that, in turn, encourages a runners’ footstrike to move from the heel to the midfoot or forefoot for more forward propulsion. This model is ideal for base-run days and runners who don’t fall into a particular interval or tempo. 

Nike also reported that an independent study conducted in Vancouver found that when compared to the Nike Structure 22 (one of their traditional motion control shoes), the Nike React Infinity Run resulted in a 52% lower injury rate, with the runners confirming they felt less pain in their knees and feet.  

Air Max 270 React

Officially released in 2019, the Air Max 270 React was Nike’s first lifestyle sneaker in this line. The React foam offers the wearer a smooth transition from heel to forefoot. Nike took a new approach to design with this iteration choosing to construct the base of the sneaker as a one-piece upper, with a traditional cut-and-sew aesthetic over it for a nostalgic appearance. 

The original release also featured a variety of colorways, each paying tribute to an artistic movement in its blocking and hues, with the lead launch colorway celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus. Today, these shoes are available in a variety of fashionable colorway options. 

Get Running With Nike React

Think it’s time to upgrade your running shoes? Whether you are looking for a shoe for your morning runs or you are looking to find your next fashionable lifestyle sneaker, a Nike React running shoe can offer you the supportive comfort you need. Snag a pair today at Finish Line.