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Trail Running Shoes • May 13, 2021

Nike Wildhorse 7 Performance Review

nike wildhorse 7

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 11 oz. (312 g) for a US M9 / 9.4 oz. (265 g) for a US W8
  • React midsole on the trails is a heavenly combination
  • Consistently one of the best looking trail shoes on the market
  • Warning: this review contains inordinate amounts of horse puns

TAYLOR: The last time we saddled up the Nike Wildhorse, Joe Exotic was the talk of the town for the first month of quarantine. A year later, we’ve already forgotten that tiger show, but Nike continues to grab our attention with their line of dope trail shoes.

The Wildhorse 7 sports a very similar look to last year’s version which we absolutely loved. Put on your cattle hide gloves because these are hot. Minor updates to the upper allow this shoe to maintain its untamed style and stature. 

MATT: There can’t be a Terra Kiger 7 review without one for the Wildhorse 7. In what seems to be an annual tradition, the newest Nike trail renditions drop hand in hand (or hoof in hoof).

The Wildhorse went through some major changes last year with the 6, and out of the box, the 7s seemed to have made just a few minor tweaks.


The Good

TAYLOR: There isn’t a lot that separates the Wildhorse 7 from its stallion cousin, the Terra Kiger 7. They both contain luscious React foam, a comfortable mesh upper, and a segmented rock plate for protection. One of the main differences between them is that the Wildhorse takes on a few more millimeters of foam (35mm to 27mm total stack) and ditches the air unit. If you haven’t experienced React, you need to. It’s like having three extra saddle blankets worth of cushion. Whether you choose to canter or gallop, the Wildhorse feels like a gazelle underfoot. 

The lack of an air unit is totally fine with me because the Wildhorse is slated to tackle more rugged terrain. The cushion, protective segmented rock plate, and outsole prove to be much more useful and feel more consistent. Overall, it’s a smooth experience over a variety of terrain.

Underneath, the outsole sports deeper lugs that work wonderfully through soft and wet conditions. I tested this shoe through plenty of winter/spring conditions and the outsole showed up and did its job almost every time. Even running on smooth surfaces, like pavement, is very comfortable. 

The back of the shoe received a major overhaul in the last model and is basically duplicated in the 7. A padded tongue and Dynamic Lacing system provide a comfortable, dialed-in fit over the midfoot and toward the ankle. You feel very confident no matter the conditions in the Wildhorse 7.

A firmer foam rises up to wrap the heel and ankle. Its primary purposes are protection and mild support to go the distance. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that this is a stable steed, but it does give more of a supported ride than the Terra Kiger. A light gaiter-like collar brings comfort by rejecting debris. Underneath that, a nicely padded heel collar helps for more comfort and lockdown. 

The new mesh upper enhances breathability and dries pretty quickly. This shoe went through the wringer with our Colorado spring snows. At the same time, this softer airy mesh may lack in durability. 

The toe box is wider on the Wildhorse 7 than most Nike runners. I, along with most people, don’t love the torpedo fit of their shoes, so this is a nice surprise.

MATT: Give me all of the React.

With a chunky helping (35 mm stack) of React foam in the midsole, the Wildhorse 7 provides a very cushy and plush ride. With more of a focus on rough and rugged conditions, the extra cushion protects your feet well along with a rock plate, reinforced heel, and mid-boot cut upper.

The Terra Kiger and Wildhorse are siblings, in a way. They share a lot of the same DNA, but there are specific features mixed and matched between the two that keeps them unique. Aside from the React midsole, the Wildhorse features a booty/sock-like insert and a secure lacing system. When pulled together with the attached tongue, you get a really comfortable and secure fit. Just like the recent Kiger updates, the mesh upper feels more breathable and airy, while the toebox, while not wide, certainly feels more generous than past Nike models.

The Wildhorse is actually a really good mudder. The aggressive lugs, the high boot cut upper, and the added drainage perform really well when plowing through loose and sloppy trails or roads.

Shop Wildhorse 7 – Men Shop Wildhorse 7 – Women nike-wildhorse-7

The Bad

TAYLOR: I wish we had a “for-better-or-worse” section for some shoes. To love or hate these minor updates is really up to personal preference. 

I don’t typically like the shape and fit of Nike’s offerings. So if you don’t either, it might be best to look at other brands for a well-cushioned shoe with more toe-box volume. I can only run on this shoe for just over an hour before I really feel the narrowness of the shoe. 

The Wildhorse 7 isn’t terribly heavy (11.9 ounces for a men’s 10.5), but there are pretty easy ways to trim some fat off this shoe. A prime example is the heel. I mean, it’s rad and all but how much does it offer in terms of performance? It also creates a slight imbalance that is noticeable after testing the Terra Kiger. As a midfoot striker, I find my foot landing a little differently after miles start to pile on. I even popped on a couple of other similarly cushioned shoes for a standing comparison and the imbalance was even more noticeable.

As with the Terra Kiger, the outsole’s rubber compound needs an overhaul for Nike’s trail line to truly run free. As mentioned, the lug pattern provides ample grip in soft and wet conditions. Hard and wet conditions are a different story. Wet rocks that litter the trail during this time of year really highlight the outsole’s inadequacy compared to even an “average” outsole rubber. We’ve said it before, but swallow your pride Nike. It’s okay to be a team player and throw on a Vibram outsole. 

While the fit and ride are nice for easy to moderate trails, it’s not a “rugged terrain” shoe as Nike suggests. Splashing in some more technical terrain will be fine. This isn’t really ready for long days above treeline or rambling over trails that are saturated with roots and rocks. My midfoot often slid back and forth on tighter turns and quick lateral steps. Could you use this as an all-around shoe? Sure. I’m just saying if you’re often finding yourself on heavy technical terrain, there are much better options.

MATT: I love the colorways of the Nike trail line as a whole, but this offering for the Wildhorse 7 feels like a miss. It seems a bit childish, like a kid’s Lego edition colorway.

I experienced the same issues in this shoe as I did in last year’s model. I just dont get the added foam bulk around the outer heel, combined with the boot cut height of the upper.

In theory, the shoe looks like it should provide even more stability around the ankle area but it really doesn’t once you get rolling on the trails. The shoe is delightful to walk around in, but I’ve had more close calls nearly rolling and ankle in the last two versions of the Wildhorse than every other trail shoe combined.
Additionally, I struggle to get an air-tight heel lock with these shoes. Out on the trails, I was very frustrated with the amount of heel slippage.

And then there’s the elephant (or Wildhorse) in the room: Nike still hasn’t addressed their mediocre outsole. Buck up and throw some Vibram rubber on this shoe because as of now, any wet rock or root is bad news for this shoe.

Shop Wildhorse 7 – Men Shop Wildhorse 7 – Women nike-wildhorse-7-side

Nike Wildhorse 7 Conclusion

TAYLOR: The Nike Wildhorse 7 will take you to the Wild West and beyond. This is a solid option for a general trail shoe with glorious cushion, decent protection, a little bit of grit, and a whole lot of style. It works best on the easy to moderate trails, but can certainly hang for short stints over technical terrain.

MATT: The Nike Wildhorse 7 does a lot right. If you live out West where the terrain is packed and dry, this could provide you with some cushy fun miles. Unfortunately for the rest of us who encounter wet, rocky, root-filled trails on the daily, this shoe isn’t worth the trouble of slipping and sliding around your local singletrack. 

You can pick up the Nike Wildhorse 7 for $130 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Wildhorse 7 – Men Shop Wildhorse 7 – Women

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Jared says:

    I’m not a runner, but more of a 14er peak bagger and switched to trail running shoes a few years ago as I really enjoyed the lighter weight and breathability. I have had the Nike Terra Kiger 5 and Pegasus 6 I think. The treads wear flat or close to on them after only 12-15 peaks (~120 miles) and a little wearing around town. I’m going to try the Lone Peak 5’s this summer to see how their tread holds up. I would be interested to know your guys’ recommendation for more of a peak bagging hobby that involves mostly granite aggregate.

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