Live Science Verdict
The Nike Invincible 3 is one of the bounciest and most enjoyable cushioned shoes available, but its lack of stability can make it hard to use at times.
Springy ZoomX cushioning
Not very stable
Heavier than Invincible 2
Loose fit at heel
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The Nike Invincible 3 mostly sticks to the blueprint of the first two versions of the shoe, with its star feature being the ZoomX cushioning used in the midsole. This is the same soft and springy foam used in Nike’s top racing shoes, the Vaporfly and Alphafly, but in the Invincible it’s there to create a comfortable and fun ride for easy training runs, rather than to help propel you to PRs.
One concern that has surrounded the Invincible since the first edition is that this ZoomX midsole is not all that stable, especially without the carbon plate you have running through it in the Vaporfly and Alphafly. With that in mind Nike took steps to make the Invincible 3 more stable by adjusting the upper, midsole and heel counter on the shoe.
Weight: 11.1oz/316g (US 10)
Heel stack height: 40mm
Forefoot stack height: 31mm
These updates do increase stability, but this is still not the Invincible 3’s forte, and although it is a uniquely springy and enjoyable shoe to use at times, at other times the instability is enough of a concern that we’d rather use other cushioned shoes.
If that wobble isn’t a worry for you, then the Nike Invincible 3 is one of the top cushioned shoes available, which earned it a place in our guide to the best running shoes. It’s best used for easy and long runs at your slower paces, being a little too heavy and awkward to be ideal for faster training sessions, but it has a little versatility thanks to the bouncy midsole.
Nike Invincible 3: How we tested
We’ve run around 50km in the Nike Invincible 3 across six runs. Most runs have been on the road, with a couple on the treadmill, and most have been easy runs in line with the shoe’s purpose, though we did test out its speed with a tempo 5K during a long run. We’ve also tested the original Nike Invincible and the Nike Invincible 2, so we can compare the new shoe to its predecessors.
Nike Invincible 3: Build and cushioning
Like the original Nike Invincible and the Nike Invincible 2, the key feature on the Nike Invincible 3 is its midsole, which is made from the soft and springy ZoomX foam also used in the Nike Vaporfly racing shoe.
There is more ZoomX than ever crammed into the Invincible, which has a higher and wider midsole than its predecessors, standing 40mm tall at the heel and 31mm at the forefoot, which is 1mm higher than the Invincible 2 across the shoe.
The extra width is needed to increase stability because of the squishy midsole foam, but more foam does mean that the Invincible 3 is the heaviest Invincible yet at 11.1oz/316g in a US 10, compared with 10.7oz/303g for the Invincible 2 in the same size.
Every generation of the Invincible has had a large plastic clip running around the heel to increase stability, but with the third version this clip now partly sinks into the midsole foam to cradle the back of the foot more securely.
Nike Invincible 3: Design and upper
Nike has redesigned the Flyknit upper on the Invincible 3 to be more supportive around the midfoot and generally less stretchy. These changes aim to lock the foot down more securely and reduce any lateral movement in the midfoot while running, which helps with stability.
There is a little less padding around the collar of the shoe, and the changes here can make the fit less secure at the back of the Invincible 3 compared with the previous versions. We still found that the shoe fit well in our normal running shoe size overall, but the heel is a bit loose and some runners have found that it rubs the skin. Heel-locking your laces will help, but this is not a problem we had at all with the Invincible 2.
There are currently four colors available of the Invincible 3, and you can also create a customized pair using the Nike By You service.
Nike Invincible 3: Outsole
Nike has made small but useful updates to the outsole of the Invincible 3, which has a waffle design with slightly deeper lugs than on past versions of the shoe. This increases the grip it provides in wet conditions, and will also boost durability. We’ve found that the outsole lasts well on past versions of the shoe and have seen no undue wear and tear on the Invincible 3 so far, and it has gripped well on wet pavements.
Nike Invincible 3: Performance
The ZoomX midsole in the Nike Invincible 3 delivers a comfortable and enjoyable ride that really is unlike anything else on the market, aside from the older models within the Invincible line itself. The cushioning compresses significantly to soften your landings, before springing back up to bounce you on your way.
That springy feeling is ever-so-slightly more muted in the latest version of the shoe, partly because it’s a little heavier, but also because of the adjustments Nike has made to increase its stability by moving the heel clip lower and making the upper fit more securely in the midfoot.
This is a trade-off many runners will be happy to make as the Invincible has always been a shoe with stability concerns because of the soft midsole. However, while the new shoe is an improvement on this front, it’s still not very stable, and at times we’d hesitate to use it, or completely avoid it, for fear of aggravating niggles.
If you’re a runner who overpronates the Invincible 3 is not going to be the best option, and if you often run on uneven terrain then a more grounded and stable shoe will probably suit you better.
In the right conditions, however, the Invincible 3 is an incredibly enjoyable shoe to use for relaxed runs because of its bouncy midsole, and that springy ride does mean it can handle some speedier running as well, though it’s certainly most suitable for easy runs because of its size and weight.
Nike Invincible 3: should you buy?
Despite the stability concerns we have with the shoe, the Nike Invincible 3 is one of the best max cushioned running shoes you can get thanks to its impressively comfortable and bouncy ride. If you are a neutral runner and like a soft ride, it’s a great option, though we do slightly prefer the older Invincible 2 if you can still find that shoe.
If you need a more stable shoe or prefer a firmer, more grounded ride in your cushioned shoe, then the Invincible 3 is one to avoid. It’s a love it or hate it kind of shoe, and the wobbly midsole does mean it’s not always a suitable pick for regular training.
Nike Invincible 3: User reviews
The Invincible 3 has an average rating of 4.4 stars out of five from 110 reviews on the Nike website, with runners hailing how comfortable it is and noting that it is a little more stable than the previous versions of the shoe. Some runners did note the added weight as a negative though, and several did say that the new heel design was a little loose so the shoe rubbed during runs.
Nike Invincible 3: Alternatives
The Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 is another max-cushioned neutral shoe that has a more stable ride than the Invincible 3 while still being very comfortable. The New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4 is another highly-cushioned shoe that has a stable ride, though its midsole isn’t as lively and bouncy as the foam in the Invincible 3 or Gel-Nimbus 25.
There are also more traditional cushioned shoes with lower stacks than the Invincible 3 like the Adidas Ultraboost Light, Brooks Glycerin 20 and Saucony Triumph 20, that are more stable and a bit more versatile for daily training.
If you can find the Nike Invincible 2 in a sale somewhere then that would also be a good alternative, since we actually prefer how it feels underfoot to the newer model.
Nick Harris-Fry is a health and fitness journalist who has been writing for Future brands such as Coach and Live Science since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him the chance to indulge his other passion—testing new gear, including a wide range of the best running shoes.