There’s something liberating about a shoe that has a sock-like entry.
Even though many slip-on shoes come with laces, the bootie construction often allows the lacing to be set in a fixed position. In other words, the wearer does not have to tie the laces every day. Having said that, a fixed lacing position works better on some shoes than others.
For example, models like the Nike Air Presto and Space Hippie 01 have an elastic heel collar. So all you have to do is to leave the laces in a semi-secure position, and then use the shoe as a slip-on.
Most Nike shoes with a slip-on entry are not performance running shoes, so not having a high level of fit security isn’t a deal-breaker.
Most slip-on shoes are walking or casual footwear at best, with skate shoes being the only exception. Besides walking and casual-wear, skate shoes can be used as originally intended.
Then there are true Nike slip-ons like the Nike React Phantom Run Flyknit 2. The upper does away with the lacing altogether, and relies on a stretch upper and elastic midfoot cords to secure the foot.
There are a couple of traditional slip-on silhouettes in the Nike catalog, and both of them are skate shoes.
The Nike SB Zoom Verona and SB Chron 2 are classically-styled skateboarding shoes that seem inspired by a similar style from Vans – the maker of the original skateboarding slip-on.
Lastly, Nike sells many laced shoes without an elastic upper. Those would be the likes of the Nike Free Run 2 and Air Huarache.
Solereview recommends: Nike React Phantom Run Flyknit 2
If we had to pick just one Nike slip-on shoe from this guide, it would be the React Phantom Run. It’s based on a similar form factor as the popular React Infinity Run 2, so the cushioning comfort is derived from the high-volume React foam midsole.
However, there are two notable areas of distinction. The midsole doesn’t have the stiff rims from the Infinity, and instead relies on a pair of smaller heel clips for support.
The second difference is the slip-on Flyknit upper without the laces. The foot is secured by the elastic knit upper and the bands running over the midfoot. We think the overall design deftly straddles the fine line between performance and athleisure.
There’s ample cushioning and upper grip to make the React Phantom Run Flyknit versatile enough for short runs. Needless to say, the shoe is also an excellent casual sneaker and walking shoe.
Solereview recommends: Nike SB Chron 2 Slip on
Even if you don’t skate, you can’t go wrong with this basic $60 slip-on.
The design is old-school as it gets; the Chron 2 uses a vulcanized (aka Autoclave) construction to fuse the upper with the rubber side-wraps and outsole. The rubber outsole is flat, but has a textured geometry for durable traction.
An elastic gore allows a smooth entry into the shoe and helps with the upper fit. The interiors aren’t bereft of comfort; the foam-backed collar provides both grip and fit comfort.
It’s worth mentioning that the footbed is made of Nike’s Solarsoft EVA foam. The SB Chron may be a traditionally designed autoclave shoe, but contemporary bits like the performance foam insole infuse it with modern-day comfort.
Those were our two top picks from Nike’s assortment of slip-on shoes. There are many other Nike models with a slip-on entry, so here they are – in our preferred order.
1) Nike Air Presto
We remember the Air Presto’s inaugural year with nostalgic fondness. It was advertised as ‘T-shirts for your feet’, and was sold in XS, S, M, L, XL sizing.
Even though Nike no longer sells the Presto by alphabetical sizing, the modern reissue is a replica of the original model – down to the stretchy mesh upper, plastic midfoot cage, and soft midsole.
When the Air Presto was first released, nothing came close in fit and ride comfort. More than two decades later, it still holds up. The soft bootie upper has an elasticated entry and pliable heel to create a comfortable slip-on experience.
The embedded Air unit inside the soft foam midsole makes the Presto a plush everyday sneaker. The articulated outsole is made of soft blown rubber that enhances the underfoot experience.
2) Nike SB Zoom Verona Slip
There are a couple of reasons why the Zoom Verona slip-on has a $15 upcharge over the similar-looking SB Chron 2.
Even though both skate shoes share a nearly-identical design language, the Verona Slip has a Zoom Air bag under the heel. Also, most of the Verona’s upper is made of suede leather, thus making it more comfortable and durable than an all-canvas construction.
Like the SB Chron, the Verona is a true slip-on. The elastic gore on the sides of the tongue allows easy entry and works together with the padded heel collar to deliver a secure grip.
3) Nike Free Run 5.0
After an extended hiatus, the Nike Free is back in the performance running game. This snug fit of the Free Run 5.0 secures the foot over the soft and flexible midsole.
This time, the narrow forefoot and cord-assisted lacing give the Nike Free a performance-oriented fit that reminds us of the 2013-14 Free models. The snug upper and cushioned ride make this shoe versatile enough for everyday runs (of up to 10K) and athleisure wear.
Included with the soft collapsible heel is a padded, sock-like collar that makes slipping into the shoe a breeze.
4) Nike Air Max 270
The Nike Air Max 270 and VaporMax took over once the reign of the Air Max 2017 ended. Based on anecdotal evidence, even the Vapormax doesn’t seem to be as popular as it once was. The only modern Air Max model we see everywhere is the 270.
The large Max Air bag and molded heel clip are mated to an EVA foam midsole to make the 270 a comfortable lifestyle sneaker. Say what you will; having a large visible Max Air bag under your heel is childish fun.
An asymmetrically-laced upper provides the required levels of lock-down, and the rear includes a slip-on collar and a soft, padded heel.
5) Nike Free Run Trail
Ah, the years of 2004-05 bring back fond memories.
The trail-inspired version of the original Nike Free had the same slip-on fit as the latter, but with a reinforced upper, midsole, and outsole.
Even though the midsole had deep grooves for flexibility, the sidewalls had a raised profile for a higher level of support. The outsole had rubber lugs under the forefoot for durability. It was a terrible trail shoe though; the generous grooving was a magnet for small rocks.
Instead of the all-mesh upper of the standard 2004 Nike Free, the Trail model had a perforated Suede exterior over the sock-like mesh upper. Since this reissue is a faithful recreation of the vintage Free Run Trail, everything is the same as the 2005 model.
It’s a comfortable athleisure slip-on sneaker with ample cushioning for daily casual use. The slip-on entry is not elastic though.
6) Nike Air Huarache
Believe it or not, the Nike Air Huarache was originally a performance running shoe.
When the Huarache was first released in 1991, things were very different. Running shoes had just made the jump from board-lasted construction to a strobel or slip-lasted design (like the Huarache).
What made the Air Huarache special at the time was the lack of a stiff heel counter – something that was a part of every running shoe that existed at the time.
Instead of an internal heel stiffener, Nike used a rubber strap over a soft slip-on bootie. The contemporary version is a truthful reproduction of the original Huarache, so the upper has a slip-on collar for accessibility.
Other things that worked in 1991 are also functionally relevant in modern times. For example, the EVA foam midsole and Nike Air unit turn the Huarache into a comfortable lifestyle sneaker.
7) Nike Free Run 2
If you have slim or narrow feet, this vintage Nike Free Run 2 is for you. When it was first released, its small point of entry was a contentious issue.
However, once the feet are inside, the slip-on upper does an excellent job of keeping the foot locked in over the flexible midsole. The latticed suede overlays and toe-bumper also make the interiors narrow.
This being a Nike Free product, the midsole benefits from the flexible construction that results in versatile everyday comfort.
8) Nike Space Hippie 01
Shoes that use recycled content aren’t new; they have been around for a long time. Nike has a history of using the ‘Regrind’ outsole (a rubber material with recycled content) in many of its products.
The Space Hippie 01 is avant-garde, even by Nike standards. By that, we’re not referring to the brand’s claim that the shoe is made of at least 50% recycled content.
It’s the misshaped design that sets the Space Hippie apart from the rest of the shoe industry. Okay, maybe the Asics Kayano 5-inspired Balenciaga runner is similar at a conceptual level, but the Space Hippie is light years apart.
It’s almost as if the Space Hippie was built as a claymation model; the speckled and lumpy midsole looks like it’s kneaded out of clay. On a completed unrelated note, the Oscar-winning Laika studio (of Coraline and Kubo And The Two Strings fame) is funded, albeit indirectly, by Nike money.
We’ve digressed more than we should have. The reason why this shoe exists here is not due to its avant-garde design, but because of its slip-on upper.
The Flyknit upper has a stretch bootie with a secure yet comfortable fit. The firm dual-density midsole provides an adequate level of underfoot comfort.