Nike Free Run vs. Reebok RealFlex

Close to a year ago I switched from the standard running shoe to the new light, flexible running shoes that mimic barefoot running. My first choice was the Nike Frees, of course!

Nike Free Run: 
Nike Free Run
I love the flexibility of this shoe and it is very lightweight. It did take me time to get used to the pull on nature of the shoe followed by the lace up. I went through two pairs of these shoes, with each lasting me close to 4 months of running. The sign of replacement need was the outer edge of the sole. It is Nike+ compatible and my plan was to buy a 3rd pair and you can even customize your own pair now! This had the fun appeal for me. Additional notes: Even though I laced up tightly, I was always able to just slip out of the shoe at the end of a run. I always purchased an insole to replace the Nike one.

Reebok RealFlex: 
Reebok RealFlex
I had seen multiple ads for this shoe and was intrigued that it was similar in nature to my favorite shoes, the Nike Frees. When I was recently in the store looking at new shoes, I even picked up one and loved the flexibility, design, and weight. However, I was still compelled by having a Nike+ compatible shoe. Then the salesman came up and saw I liked the light weight running shoes. He expressed that the RealFlex was quite popular, very similar to the Free Run, but more cushioning. Honestly, I liked the design of the sole a bit more as I felt it enabled a little more traction. My one mental hurdle though was my Nike+ sensor. When I asked the salesman about this, I was informed that yes, they sell the holders you can attach to your shoe and there is a $6 model and $10 model in stock. Very important for a Hawaii runner. I tried on the RealFlex and was immediately impressed by the way it shifted my stance into a position I feel will have a positive impact on my running and injury prevention for my "weak point". I purchased the shoe and although it has only been my running shoe for 2 weeks, I am happy. Time will tell how it holds up and scores overall but I look forward to putting more miles on my Reebok RealFlex. Additional note: I lace up tight at the start of the run and at the end, I have to unlace to take the shoe off.

If you are looking for a minimal running shoe, either the Nike Free Run or Reebok RealFlex have proven to be good contenders from my point of view. They are in the same price range so that doesn't even need to be a factor for consideration. Try them on and see what you think and stay tuned for further updates on the durability of the RealFlex.

Related Reading on Running Shoes:
Reebok RealFlex Revisited
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10th edition
Columbia Drainmakers
What's In a Shoe?

{Addendum 1.10.13: Since writing this post I have run in many types of shoe. I am a firm believer that running shoes are not one size fits all. We all have our own preferences, and it may change, but at this point in my running career, Saucony Cohesions are my go to!}


  1. Anonymous6:20 PM

    hello! just found your site by searching reviews for the real flex, just bought my first pair today! you described what i felt perfectly, my lower body feels perfectly in line to move. it's funny because i went to DSW in search of some comfortable everyday shoes, and the athlete in me just couldn't resist the athletic gear. go figure. :)

  2. Just a beginner runner, but I'm interested in trying either the Vibrams or the new Innov8 "barefoot" shoes. I've heard good things about both, but I do love the idea of having the Nike+ too. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  3. I bought this shoes a week ago, it's very comfortable!

  4. Anonymous12:26 PM

    I currently have two pairs of shoes, and my response is to Chavygirl-I have a pair of Pearl Izumis and a pair of the Vibram.
    While many people run in the Vibram, or even barefoot completely-the main purpose of the shoe is to help correct your form. From everything I've researched, the shoe wasn't actually made to be run long distances in.
    It is a matter of FEELING your form. My form is horrible as a newbie runner and I went to a running class. I could understand what they were saying-my left shoulder dropping, horrible heel strike on my left foot etc, but it wasn't until I ran in a pair of Vibrams that I could feel what they were saying.
    I liked my pearls and now that I have better running form I really love them

  5. I was running in the Kinvara 2, but have had some ball of the foot pain. The longer I ran the worst it got. I loved the Kinvara,but just not enough padding for me. I'm in the process of getting a miminal shoe but with a little more padding in the ball of the foot. I looking at the Saucony Triump 9 or the cortana. After awhile I start to get so confused with all the selection of shoes. Glad you found another miminal shoe to run in.

  6. Anonymous2:32 PM

    I'm thinking I'm going to get the frees

  7. Anonymous2:08 AM

    hi there, thank you for your review and comparison made on nike free and reebok realflex. i recently bought a pair of reebok realflex, did try on a nike free, but awas impressed with flexibility and 'agility' of the realflex

  8. Hey i have the Real flex i love the feel in the run and how comfortable this shoes are, but i want to try new shoes, and also i want to try out nike + thanks for the review, i run evryday, unless i have a lot of job or homework my longest run was the half marathon i guess, and im looking in a running shoe comfort ligthness, and cussioning.

  9. Anonymous3:18 PM

    What kind of Realflex do you have? Speed, Optimal, Transition, etc.?

  10. Anonymous12:31 PM

    Best shoes ever i got realflex cushrin smoth flex there way better than starter i got the neon.green so soft

  11. I still love the Frees. BUT...I've been wearing the Brooks Pureconnect...wow! Jury is still out on the Brooks as far as long distance, but the Frees were great for 2 half marathons. Nike had a sale plus an additional 20% off.


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