Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Nike Free RN Distance 2

- published February 2017

87

2017

RATINGS

Fit
7
Comfort
8
Responsiveness
9
Ride Quality
6
Speed
7
GEAR INSTITUTE RATING
87

SHOP

MSRP
LOW PRICE
$120.00
Support Gear Institute. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links above, a portion of the sale helps support this site.

THE GOOD

  • Highly responsive energy return
  • Comfortable secure fit in uppers
  • Great flexibility throughout

THE BAD

  • Uppers run hot in warm conditions
  • Road contact surface subject to rapid wear
  • Debris collects in underside grooves

THE VERDICT

The Nike Free Run Distance 2 is a shoe for efficient neutral runners who love the natural feel and motion of the Free series, with more substantial construction that accommodates everyday training. True to its Free series roots, this model is an outstanding option for midfoot strikers who want a minimalist feel without compromising speed or mileage. Its primary drawbacks are underfoot grip and durability due to the lack of any outsole rubber. 

FULL REVIEW

Fit
Sizing on the RN Distance 2 is true to size in length, with a slightly curved last and wide toe box across the metatarsal heads. The upper is a free-floating, form fitting mesh bootie that is locked down with a completely separate external overlay that secures the midfoot and rearfoot quite well. 

Comfort
The form fitting upper rides like a sock, moving and flexing comfortably with your foot throughout the range of motion. The external overlay is a solid layer, which leaves only the toebox area for extensive ventilation, so the RN Distance 2 rides warmer than other shoes in our testing. Moderate padding around the heel and ankle collar feels just right for wrapping and cradling the rearfoot. Underfoot cushioning is quite impressive considering the relatively low platform on this shoe. 

Responsiveness
Midsole construction is the clear strength of the RN Distance 2, and highlights Nike’s advanced technology in both of the materials that stand between your foot and the ground. The thin layer closest to the foot is Lunarlon foam, Nike’s softest and lightest midsole compound. The thicker layer is auxetic, which means that it stretches in both a lateral and sagittal (front to back) direction with impact; the deep triangular cutouts allow this multi-directional expansion. When the material undergoes impact, elastic return is generated from all directions, creating a more energetic response. Our testers were impressed with the quick response and bouncy feel of the RN Distance 2.  

Ride Quality
The auxetic cutouts on the underside create a highly flexible midsole with full movement in all directions; it also picks up small rocks and gravel like a vacuum, which can sometimes detract from the smooth rolling feel from heel to toe.  The 4mm midsole drop favors midfoot strikers, but heel strikers will still appreciate a nice transfer of momentum from heel to toe.  There is no outsole rubber at all on the bottom of the shoe, which compromises traction in wet conditions, and our testers who pronate mildly report that the midsole compound scuffs down relatively quickly with higher mileage, eventually causing mild asymmetries to be accentuated. 

Speed
The RN Distance 2 isn’t the lightest model in our test group – although it’s close - but the secure fit and very strong midsole performance make it a shoe that’s easy to run fast in. It has an excellent cushioned feel for its platform height, and combines the minimalist feel with enough protection to let you hammer the pace. 

How We Tested It

The shoes in this test covered approximately 80 miles of running in Monterey County CA, predominantly on asphalt and all-weather track surfaces, in wet and dry conditions, with about 20% of mileage on dirt roads.  Longest single run was 24 miles.  

For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our other lightweight road running shoe tests, road running shoe tests, trail running shoe tests, and other related running gear tests

The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.

About the Author

Donald Buraglio

Donald Buraglio

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

Shop for the Nike Free RN Distance 2

MSRP
LOW PRICE

$120.00
Support Gear Institute. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links above, a portion of the sale helps support this site.

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
MSRP
LOW PRICE
$120.00
Support Gear Institute. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links above, a portion of the sale helps support this site.

RATINGS

Fit
7
Comfort
8
Responsiveness
9
Ride Quality
6
Speed
7
GEAR INSTITUTE RATING
87

Specs

  • Heel Height: 20mm
  • Forefoot Height: 16mm
  • Heel Drop: 4mm

Weight

9.6 oz

Weight

Manufacturer's Stated Weight

8.8

Jump To