The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% might be the best Nike running shoes at the moment, but this doesn't mean Nike hasn't got any other shoes to offer for road and trail runners. Nike has a long history of designing and manufacturing many of the best trail running shoes as well, just like the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail, the subject of this review.
When you are considering buying new trail running shoes, Nike is probably not the first brand that pops into your mind. You might look at the Inov8 Mudclaw or X-Talon first, or the Salomon S/Lab series, maybe even Hoka One One's EVO Speedgoat 4. But if you are after shoes that can be used not just for trail running, you should definitely consider the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail.
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail is built on the foundation of the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36, which is an excellent road running shoe on its own term, and the trail-version inherited many of its best qualities, as well as added some trail-specific features, too.
How did the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail fare on our trail running trial? Let's find out.
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Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail review: tech
Nike is advertising the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail as the best of both worlds: shoes that can be used on the trail as well as on the road. They are indeed what I would call intermittent-shoes: not quite road running shoes, neither full-fledged trail running shoes.
This is mainly due to the way they were designed: Nike hasn't built the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail from the ground up as trail running shoes, it merely 'trailified' the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36, keeping many of the road running features intact.
For example, the perforated mesh upper does wonders to keep the airflow going inside the shoes; it's not so ideal when you want to keep your feet dry splashing around the mud. Saying that, I found the upper somewhat waterproof and it can definitely withstand some rain, as long as you avoid large puddles.
Underfoot, the Zoom Air units (under the heel and forefoot) provide some bounce and cushioning for softer landings and responsive propulsion. It's not quite like having a carbon plate in the midsole and super thick foam at your heel but in return, your shoes won't look super strange, so there is that. Even more cushioning is provided by the Cushlon foam.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail review: ergonomics
As for fit, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail has a "widened forefoot" area, plenty of room for your toes to move around. I personally prefer a more snug fit but it you don't want feel restricted in your shoes, you will definitely appreciate the roomier toebox of the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail.
The lugs at the bottom are not too protruding but will provide moderate traction on softer surfaces, for when you are doing laps on your park run. As in the case of any trail running shoes kitted with lugs, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail will have less traction on harder surfaces like concrete, since your bodyweight is applied to a smaller surface (the edge of the lugs). In wet weather conditions, this might prove to be more dangerous for non-experienced runners.
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail is well-padded and comfortable to wear, even as an everyday trainer, although I found the collar a bit too-low cut for my heel. I appreciate all runners have different foot characteristics but you can tell the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 was based on a road running foundation: some more support around the ankle would be more beneficial on the trail.
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Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail review: the aesthetics
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail comes in three colour variations and I tested the most conservative black colourway, but if you are after some more style points, choose blue/orange version which is a tad bit more funky.
The soles are chunky, not as chunky as the Hoka One One Carbon X but thick nevertheless. The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail even features the protruding foam tail at the rear, although it is not as emphasised as it is on the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%.
The upper has a low profile and the due to its road running shoe origins, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail can be worn as an everyday trainer too. For added safety, there is a light reflective strip applied to the back of the shoes so people approaching you from the rear can see your legs bobbing. I would probably recommend some more high-vis clothing in darker conditions, though.
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Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail review: the verdict
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail is highly recommended for people who are after good all-terrain running shoes that can even be worn as everyday trainers on occasions. These shoes will perform well on lighter trail runs – when you are not completely off-road – and on the road too, as long as it's not coming down to heavily.
The Air Zoom foam underfoot, combined with the Cushlon sole tech, will cushion your landings and soften impact force too. The lugs will give you a bit of extra traction on softer terrain and the mesh upper will support air flow inside the shoes.
Being an 'jack of all trade, master of none'-type shoe, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail's main appeal is not that it provides the ultimate trail or road running experience; it is the fact that for the money paid for these shoes, you will get a great trail running shoe and a decent road running shoe.
One can say that these might be Nike's best value for money shoes for runners who like to run on all types of terrain.
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