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Trail Running Shoes • August 8, 2023

Nike Wildhorse 8 Review: Be Free, Horsey Ocho, Be Free

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What You Need To Know


11.4 oz. (323 g) for a US M9,

9.8 oz. (278 g) for a US W8

Stack Height / Drop

35.5 mm in heel, 27.5 mm in forefoot (8 mm drop)

Best For

Mid-distance runs across varied terrain

Key Features

Updated outsole, smooth React midsole, comfortable mesh upper

On The Run
Sublime landing comfort Much-improved grip Tends to run long


Introduction to Nike Wildhorse 8

MICHAEL: Howdy internet, it’s Buckaroo Michael here with some thoughts on the latest version of Nike’s trusty (wingless) trail steed, the Wildhorse 8. While I’ve been writin’ ’round these parts for a little while (maybe not really that long), I must say that this is my first time saddlin’ up a Nike trail shoe. Say, why don’t I explain my preconceptions of Nike’s trail line with a little campfire haiku?

The designs are gas

Thinking wet rocks? Try wet socks

React foam, yeehaw

Settle down for a quick tale of how the ol’ Wildhorse, historically the do-it-all trail runner in Nike’s stable, held up to these here preconceptions. And I’ll be darned — Nike may have fixed the outsole. Ya heard right, partner, they’ve got a real rootin’ and tootin’ shoe on their hands here, and at a mighty respectable price at that.

Let’s get into the review of the Nike Wildhorse 8, or as I like to call it by its cowboy nickname, the Horsey Ocho (this isn’t an official Nike nickname, but what do you say, Phil? Call me.).

SAM: Before Michael gets distracted by a shootout with a notorious outlaw carrying a price on his head, I’ll offer up my first thoughts. I’m no stranger to wild horses — my family has camped on Assateague Island on Maryland and Virginia’s eastern shore every year for as long as I can remember. The wild ponies that inhabit that island are perfectly picturesque, standing out in the marsh or along the breakers, but once they’ve destroyed a few screen rooms, kicked open a cooler or four, and charged your aging grandmother, their beauty sours.

After reading past reviews of Nike trail shoes, I started my miles with the Nike Wildhorse 8 (the Horsey Ocho – I’ll get behind Michael’s nickname) expecting an experience not unlike what I’ve experienced with Assateague’s wild ponies – beautiful to look at, but not particularly enjoyable in all, or even most, circumstances. Like Sheriff Michael, I’d marveled at the unmatched design of shoes like the Pegasus Trail 4 and the ZoomX Zegama and heard the horror stories of how badly the outsole fared in wet conditions or how poor the fit was for runners with wider feet.

But things have turned around for Nike Trail, in at least the outsole department — the Pegasus Trail 4 GTX sported a new rubber that surprised us, and they’ve slapped a full Vibram Lightbase tread on the Ultrafly. As for the Wildhorse 8, not only do we get that new rubber from the Pegasus Trail 4 GTX, but a full redesign that does away with the spiky heel cup and gaiter-like cuff from the Wildhorse 6 and 7, has a new upper material that’s similar to what’s found in the Zegama, and reworks the midfoot security. Does all this tame the Horsey Ocho or set it free?

What we like about the Nike Wildhorse 8

MICHAEL: Let’s start things off by talking through the third preconception I mentioned in that haiku, the React midsole. For a shoe with lots of little details that I appreciated, this is certainly the most prominent feature. This midsole is protective, durable, and oh-so-soft on landings. Instead of going on and on here, I’ll reference some previous reviews of the Peg Trail 3 and 4, which according to my fellow contributors, are some of the most comfortable trail shoes we’ve worn here at BITR. On paper, this isn’t a max cushion model, yet it’s still one of the more comfortable shoes I’ve tested in quite some time.

Next up for discussion is looks. While I received the not-as-awesome black-on-grey colorway, there are still great aspects of this to talk about. From the topographical lines to the material choices, it’s a really great-looking shoe. Let the Nike trail team cook; these folks know what is up. Also, I thought there was a noticeable influence from the older Wildhorse models in this iteration. It’s a subtle but cool nod to Nike’s history in trail running.

For someone with a slightly narrower foot, the last of this shoe worked really well. Lockdown through the midfoot and heel is superb, giving the shoe lots of confidence in technical terrain without feeling suffocating. Specific highlights include the gusseted tongue, which features a tough skin underneath the lacing chain. This allows you to really cinch down the lacing through the midfoot and heel without cutting into the ankle or the top of your foot.

Adding to this security, the ‘saddle’ (created by little side wings that help prohibit lateral translation through the midfoot) provides a nice touch of support for the otherwise soft and slightly squirmy midsole. This is an all-mountain-ready shoe, and I am happy to say it fits, grips, and rips like one. Wait, speaking of grip…

Last but oh-so-definitely not least, we have the outsole. If you’re a frequent passerby of our trail reviews here at BITR, you might be thinking to yourself, “Hey Michael, are you sure you meant to include this in the good section of the review? Wait, does this mean Nike…”

Yes. That’s right. Nike actually fixed its outsole. After several intentional runs in wet conditions, purposefully standing on wet rocks, and nervously descending muddy, slick trails with lots of roots, I can confidently say this is a reasonably performing in-house outsole. To be clear, it’s not the best I’ve ever tested, and it’s a little ironic Nike finally came out with this stuff right as the Ultrafly dropped with a full Vibram outsole, but that’s beside the point. Overall, I’d say the performance is somewhere between Altra’s MaxTrac and Saucony’s PWRTRAC, which is pretty decent company, all things considered.

Is it a little unfair to companies like Saucony and Altra that I’m talking so much about the largest sportswear company in the world finally making its shoes do what other they’ve been doing well for decades? Yeah, probably, but it’s still great that Nike fixed this stuff. And while it’s a little more particular to the Wildhorse, I have to mention that the deep chevron lugs are gnarly and totally fit the aesthetic and function of this shoe. So even though it’s not really special for basically any other trail shoe company, I’m gonna call it a win here for Nike.

SAM: The Wildhorse 8 doesn’t stray from Nike’s stable of very (dare we say, Ultra?) fly trail shoes. While I, like Michael, am not as much a fan of the Black/Spring Green/Olive Flak/White colorway we received, it’s still a beautiful shoe. The topographic detailing on the midsole and heel cup is especially great.

All that Nike design goodness hides what might be the most comfortable shoe I’ve put on all year. The heel and forefoot are shaped well and hold your foot as they should without being too tight, but it’s the midfoot fit of the Wildhorse 8 that puts it a hoof (ahem) above.

There are lots of trail shoes with great lockdown, but there aren’t many with great lockdown that also feel as fitted and comfortable as a casual shoe. Somehow, the Wildhorse 8 has worked this out. At least part of the reason is tongue construction – the Wildhorse 8 has a wide, lightly padded tongue with an abrasion-resistant top. As Michael said above, this allows you to cinch the laces tight without affecting comfort. The rest is the midfoot saddle that holds your foot in place without pinching or tightness. This might not be a full technical trail crusher, but with this midfoot security, it does just fine when the rocks get big and the switchbacks are extra twisty.

As someone who tends to prefer a medium-firm midsole, especially in a trail shoe, I had doubts about how I’d like the squishy React midsole featured here, as drawn to it as I was by the topographic lines etched along its side. My worries were totally unfounded because even if this isn’t what I prefer, I can’t think of another midsole that provides stability, shock absorption, energy return, AND comfort quite the way this one does. On top of that, I’ve put almost 50 miles on this shoe with absolutely no degradation. The rumors are true, and React is great.

This looks to be the year that every Nike Trail review includes a requisite, “these outsoles used to be trash, but now they’re good.” The new rubber blend, a mix of high abrasion and mitton rubber, is perfectly adequate in all terrains and conditions. I did a little dance-shuffle on every wet rock I found at a notoriously slick stream crossing on one of my usual routes and had issues even forcing this shoe to slip. The lug pattern works well in softer ground, and I had no visible durability issues, even with some road running thrown into my test miles. I’d say it’s on par with or better than Saucony’s PWRTRAC outsoles.

Shop Wildhorse 8 - Men Shop Wildhorse 8 - Women

What we don’t like about the Nike Wildhorse 8

MICHAEL: My only real knocks on the Wildhorse 8 are relatively minor. The fit ran slightly long for me in the toe box but is nothing to really complain about. I would just say that if you find yourself in between sizes you might consider going down a half-size.

Also, Nike bills the Wildhorse 8 as a quick, light shoe. Well, it’s not, but that’s totally okay, especially for what the Wildhorse is really suited for — daily runs and mileage in varied terrain. But with that in mind, I do think it would be really nice if the shoe featured a 4 mm drop instead of an 8 mm drop. It’s definitely a total preference thing, but I think the ride would lend itself more toward the do-it-all aesthetic for daily training.

Lastly, the two-part upper design looks and feels super cool, but I do think it breeds some concern for durability. The outer mesh is pretty porous, and while it feels tough it does have the potential for getting hung up on thorny bushes if you frequent that sort of thing. Also, if you run in sandy terrain, this upper could lend itself to getting sand or fine dirt in between the mesh and the inner upper material. I don’t like sand; it’s coarse and gets everywhere. Never mind, I probably shouldn’t include that joke.

SAM: It’s over, Michael. I have the high ground.

I also have very little negative to say about this shoe. At 11.4 oz. (323 g) for a US M9, this is neither a quick nor a light shoe, but to the shoe’s credit, the narrow base does make it feel pretty nimble. Since this is a traditional engineered mesh, it holds onto water weight once it’s been saturated, making it even heavier.

The toebox of this is wider than some Nike shoes but still runs a little narrow. If you need toe splay over longer distances, the Wildhorse 8 won’t provide it.

The insoles aren’t removable, which isn’t awful and doesn’t affect me in the least, but if you like slipping aftermarket insoles into your shoes you won’t be able to here.

Shop Wildhorse 8 - Men Shop Wildhorse 8 - Women

Nike Wildhorse 8 conclusion

MICHAEL: The overall comfort and exceptional fit of the Wildhorse 8 really solidify what this shoe is going to excel at; long, daily mileage in varied terrain. With all the comfort of a max stack shoe and minimal drawbacks related to instability or a large footprint, as well as having lighter weight than shoes of comparative comfort (although this shoe is a little on the heavier side), the Wildhorse is a great companion for runners who frequent slow-going, difficult trails, or beginner runners looking for an awesome-looking, affordable, and versatile option for their first trail shoe.

Every buckaroo needs a trusty, affordable, and good-looking steed to conquer the wild west of trail running, and the Wildhorse 8 is exactly that.

SAM: In Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, the character Rawlins says, “A good looking horse is like a good looking woman… They’re always more trouble than what they’re worth. What a man needs is just one that will get the job done.” Sure, maybe he was talking about real horses, not Nike Trail shoes, but the Wildhorse 8 proves Rawlins and his misogyny wrong: you can have a good-looking horse that also gets the job done. It’s the Nike Wildhorse 8. Maybe the shoe is a little heavy, but at $130, you really can’t beat the looks, comfort, and performance for the money.

This is a great shoe for anyone looking for comfort and reliability on the trail for anything up to ultra distances and who likes proving fictional cowboys with antiquated views on gender wrong. It sets itself apart with a soft underfoot feel that manages to be protective, cushioned, and stable with the impression of a moderately low stack. The Horsey Ocho will help tame your next trail, and unlike a real wild horse, it won’t kick your cooler open and eat your lunch.

You can pick up the Nike Wildhorse 8 for $130 (or $70 during their back to school sale) directly from Nike using the buttons below.

Shop The Shoe

Shop Nike Wildhorse 8 Men
Shop Nike Wildhorse 8 Women

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michael bio photo
Michael Loutzenheiser
Southern Trail Reviewer

An engineer living with his wife and cat in Birmingham, Ala., Michael loves chill morning runs in the neighborhood, but especially enjoys soaking up long miles of technical southeast singletrack. Occasionally, he’ll get a racing itch and actually string together some “organized” training for a trail race or FKT. In his free time, Michael enjoys books, backpacking, and hanging out with friends.

More from Michael
Shoe Size


Fav. Distance

Half Marathon (Trail)

  • 4:48

  • 1:16

    Half Marathon
  • 16:45

Sam Edgin
Mid-Atlantic Trail Reviewer
  • Instagram
  • Strava

Sam lives in Baltimore with his wife and two kids and spends his days fixing espresso machines for Ceremony Coffee Roasters. He runs with the Faster Bastards when he can, races ultras, and has been working on completing the AT section by section. He thinks the best days are made of long miles on nasty trails, but that a good surf session, a really stunning book, or a day of board games are pretty all right too.

All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Xodus Ultra, Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3, Altra Lone Peak

More from Sam
Shoe Size


Fav. Distance


  • 6:15

  • 1:40:39

    Half Marathon
  • 21:30

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