The first thing you notice when you see a Nike Trail shoe is the colors. Oh, the colors. In a world dominated by earthen browns and dark greens, as if we’re trying to actually hide our shoes on the trails, Nike has always pushed the envelope with bold designs.
Whether you’re talking about the cotton candy pink and sky blues of the Terra Kiger 5, or the volt yellow that has become a Nike signature, there’s no denying it– the shoes just look good, on or off the trail.
That said, choosing a colorway is the easiest– and most fun– part. But how do you choose which Nike Trail shoe is best for you? That’s where we come in.
Whether you’re looking for comfort, responsiveness, aggressiveness (or all of the above), we’re ready to break down which Nike trail shoe will work the best for you.
Made for: Max comfort over long miles and moderate terrain, road-to-trail running
If there’s one Nike trail shoe to top our list, well, this is it. We pegged this as one of the most comfortable shoes ever last year and it’s only gotten better since then. The newest version loses an ounce of weight but still retains ultimate comfort thanks to the large stack of full React in the midsole. For those who don’t know, React is one of Nike’s most bouncy and resilient foams and has been employed over the last several years across its road and trail line, to great fanfare.
On the trail, the React midsole in the Pegasus Trail 4 provides comfort over any distance, without feeling clunky or losing ground feel. The updates in this model include a better fitting upper, more room in the toe box, and a re-formulated outsole pattern that provides better traction than last year’s model.
The result is a nimble trail shoe that feels almost like a slipper on the run. Simply put, it’s a huge win any time you get a shoe that feels like an extension of your foot. But that’s not all! What makes this shoe really shine is the way it transitions to the road. In fact, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this for someone looking for a great road shoe, it works that well.
Taking it a step further, this is an incredibly comfortable walking/casual shoe, which makes it a triple threat.
While we wouldn’t take this on ultra-technical terrain, it holds up well over most surfaces and makes for a great travel companion when you’re looking for a shoe that does it all.
Final note: this model will eventually come in a Gore-Tex version for full waterproofing, something we thoroughly enjoyed this past winter in the Pegasus Trail 3 GTX.
Price: $140Shop Nike Trail – Men Shop Nike Trail – Women
Made for: Faster running over light terrain
While Nike doesn’t have a pure, lightweight racing shoe, the Terra Kiger 8 seeks to fill that gap with a combination of a locked-down upper and React midsole with a Zoom Air unit in the forefoot.
You know how a soccer cleat (sorry, “football boot” for the purists) feels on the foot? That’s how the Kiger 8 feels when laced up. The lockdown is one of the best out there and it makes the shoe feel lighter than its weight on paper (10.5 oz./298 g for a US M9). This year’s version has more room in the toe box, which has always been an issue with certain Nike models, so that was a big plus.
The Zoom Air unit in the forefoot provides an extra pep in the step while the heel in the rock plate gives some protection against things that poke. Of course, we already talked about React, but we’ll mention it again– despite the lower stack (30mm heel/26mm forefoot), it manages to provide solid comfort without sacrificing ground feel over 50K and under distances. Robbe finished out the last 15 miles of a 50-miler in an earlier version of this shoe and found that it provided enough comfort with a bit of extra speed to finish out the race strong.
One caveat– beware of slick rocks and roots as the rubber on this thing is subpar, to say the least. While it works fine in wet dirt (also called mud), the slicker stuff can be downright sketchy. Save this for dry days when you want some extra speed.
Price: $140Shop Nike Trail – Men Shop Nike Trail – Women
Made for: Technical terrain over longer distances
If you’re looking to go beast mode in a Nike Trail shoe, look no further than the Wildhorse 7. Again, the shoe features a full React midsole, but in this case, it takes the stack height a bit higher (35mm heel/27mm forefoot) than its more low-to-the-ground cousin in the Terra Kiger 8. The result is that same type of comfort found in the Pegasus Trail, but with added aggressiveness courtesy of the outsole.
The outsole lugs provide the greatest traction of any trail shoe and perform well in muddy conditions or on technical terrain. A booty-style upper and elastane collar help to keep dirt and debris out of the shoe while providing a snug and secure fit. A rock plate in the heel adds further protection.
While this shoe is certainly made for more aggressive terrain, don’t be shy about buying it as a casual shoe– my wife bought a pair strictly on looks alone (her Strava trail tally is the same as a deep-sea jellyfish, which is to say… zero). Point being– they look really, really good. Something about that midsole that wraps around the heel, while totally unnecessary, just adds to the appeal.
This is the heaviest Nike Trail shoe out there, coming in at 11 ounces for a USM9.0, but it carries it well and is mostly due to that aforementioned heel. Better more protection and support than none at all.
As we pointed out with every other trail model– just be careful on slick surfaces.
Price: $130 (on sale for $89)Shop Nike Trail – Men Shop Nike Trail – Women
While these models are the core workhorses in the Nike Trail stable, we’re super excited to see what’s in store over the coming year. Namely, the Nike Zegama featuring a ZoomX midsole (the same foam used in top-tier racers like the Vaporfly and Alphafly), as well as the Ultrafly, which will also have ZoomX in addition to what appears to be a re-formulated outsole rubber. No word on the release of those shoes, but you know we’ll bring you a review as soon as we can.
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