TRUE FREEDOM

If you want to get as close to barefoot as possible, the Nike Free RN5.0 is a great way to experience the benefits of this running style without wearing your feet out.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

NIKE FREE RN 5.0

Running shoes come in several shapes and sizes for different types of feet, running gaits, and support levels. While some prefer running on thick foam soles, others may like to keep things as simple as possible. And the simplest style is barefoot running. If you’re not ready to actually go shoeless on your next run, then the Nike Free RN 5.0 is a nice entry point to experiencing how this method of running can benefit you.

AESTHETICS

The Nike Free RN 5.0 is designed with minimal uppers and a thin-stretch mesh, which is combined with a minimal asymmetrical lacing system. This was created to make the shoes feel as light as possible, almost like a second skin. The new outsole design gives it an almost ninja-like appeal that some may like.

CONSTRUCTION & FIT

While the foam cushioning in the new Nike Free midsoles appear softer due to its “fluffy” appearance, it is in fact firmer than last year’s model (closer to that of the original 2004 model to promote a more barefoot-like feel underfoot), and is flatter and lower to the ground, delivering greater connection and more natural range of motion than before. The new lacing system is also designed to help relieve pressure on the instep as you run. The shoe as a whole, while not as snug as some Nike Flyknit off erings you may be familiar with, gives you a snug enough feel that makes your feet feel connected to the ground.

PERFORMANCE

Running in the Nike Free RN 5.0 can feel strange at first if you’re not used to the flatness of the shoe. This year’s 5.0 features an even smaller off set than before at 6mm for the 5.0 (4mm if you opt for the 3.0 variant), and lovers of minimalist running will probably like the feeling underfoot.

Its newly designed sole feels very natural as you move, thanks to the shape of the outsole and numerous grooves that cut through every possible angle. You may not feel comfortable at first if you’re used to thicker, bouncier soles on your usual runners, but the foot-to-ground contact is great as it makes you more conscious of your foot strike and gait. Just don’t expect to be clocking serious miles in these; they’re designed for shorter runs.

People are usually in two camps for these types of shoes: you either love them or hate them. If you’re already familiar with how Nike Free feels and want to experience their most updated offering, then it should be a pretty clearcut decision whether or not to get these shoes. If you’ve never experienced barefoot running but want to give it a shot, the Nike Free RN 5.0 should help ease you into it.

$159, available online and at Nike retail stores.
 
"IT IS DESIGNED WITH MINIMAL UPPERS AND A THIN-STRETCH MESH, WHICH IS COMBINED WITH A MINIMAL ASYMMETRICAL LACING SYSTEM. THIS WAS CREATED TO MAKE THE SHOES FEEL AS LIGHT AS POSSIBLE, ALMOST LIKE A SECOND SKIN."