BEST FOR: Everyday minimalist training. THE TEST: The Free was Nike’s original minimalist shoe, and the 3.0, the least cushioned (and coolest-looking) of the series, remains one of our favorites. The famous waffle-sole design left us marveling at the 3.0’s flexibility and what several testers dubbed its “springiness”—it’s considerably softer than the Blade Run and especially responsive at faster tempos. The 3.0 also got high marks for fit: a stretchy heel makes it easy to put on, and the tongueless upper makes it snug. The only minor flaw: the sole’s flex grooves picked up annoying amounts of debris and gravel. THE VERDICT: A lively, forgiving minimalist shoe. 7 oz; 4 mm drop
The Nike Free 3.0 eschews a traditional plastic heel cup in favor of stretchy fabric, which is lighter and more comfortable. Just don't look to these if you need ankle support.