Is the Nike ZoomX Zegama the Vaporfly of trail running shoes?

The Zegama is the first Nike trail running shoe featuring the ZoomX foam

Nike ZoomX Zegama review
(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
T3 Verdict

The Nike ZoomX Zegama might not be as disruptive as the Vaporfly ZoomX NEXT% was back in the day, but it's a decent trail running shoe, offering plenty of cushioning, stability and style for runners who prefer traversing uncharted territories.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Feels stable and durable

  • +

    Ankle gaiter helps keep debris out of the shoes

  • +

    Looks stylish - doubles up as gorpcore sneaker

  • +

    Extra cushioning helps keep the legs fresh, even on difficult terrain

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    ZoomX foam is muted due to all the extra trail-specific protection applied to the shoes

  • -

    Foam might not be heavy, but the shoes are far from being lightweight

  • -

    Even Nike has alternative trail shoes for cheaper (e.g. React Pegasus Trail 4)

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What is the Nike ZoomX Zegama? Named after the famous Basque high-altitude trail running race and using the renowned ZoomX foam, my expectations of the shoes were high, to say the least, especially considering how good Nike trail running shoes used to be (and still are, to be fair). Not to mention, the Zegama looked pretty cool in the pictures, something I don't mind at all...

Another reason for my excitement was that we haven't got any Nike shoes listed in the best trail running shoes roundup; not because I didn't want to include any, but more because I didn't get the chance to thoroughly test the most recent models. And, to be 100% honest, I was all too busy reviewing the best running shoes (the road running variety), of which there are many.

Without spoiling my own review, let's just say there is a spot reserved for the Zegama in the trail shoe roundup, but it's not the top spot. The shoes have a lot going for them, but I expected a bit more responsiveness from shoes that carry the 'ZoomX' moniker. Let me explain.

Nike ZoomX Zegama review – Price and availability

The Nike ZoomX Zegama was launched In August 2022 and is available to buy now at Nike US (opens in new tab), Nike UK (opens in new tab) and Nike AU (opens in new tab) for a recommended retail price of $160/£145/AU$200. This makes the shoes more expensive than the latest iterations of other popular trail shoe franchises such as Saucony's Peregrine, ASICS' Gel-Trabuco and Hoka's Speedgoat, all of which sell for approx. 10% cheaper at RRP.

The shoes are also sold through third-party retailers such as sportsshoes.com (opens in new tab).

The Zegama is a new franchise from Nike, so there is no predecessor to speak of. However, Nike has many trail running shoes worth considering, such as the Air Zoom Terra Kiger 8 (opens in new tab), Wildhorse 7 (opens in new tab) or the React Pegasus Trail 4 (opens in new tab), all cheaper than the Zegama, but none using the ZoomX foam. The Terra Kiger is your 'all-purpose' trail shoe, while the Wildhorse is best suited for rocky, unforgiving trails. And the Peg is the Peg.

Nike ZoomX Zegama review

"It's chunky, sure, but thanks to the light ZoomX foam, the Zegama is far from being too heavy."

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Nike ZoomX Zegama review – Fit

The ZoomX Zegama is a well-padded and comfortable shoe. It's chunky, sure, but thanks to the light ZoomX foam, the Zegama is far from being too heavy. You get a nice big wedge of ZoomX underfoot, especially at the rear, meaning you won't feel every rock or root on your path.

The lug pattern is also slightly different than your usual trail shoe: Nike calls this a 'diverse' pattern. At the front, the chevrons are pointing forwards, while at the back, they are backwards. Two smaller sections, located on the sides at the front, have yet another pattern, with straight lines pointing inwards at an angle.

The upper features overlays "stretched across the toe for extra durability", Nike says, and the ankle gaiter is said to keep trail debris out of the shoes. The gaiter provides a sock-like fit, which is nice, especially when you're tackling more rugged terrain, as the collar doesn't rub your ankles sore.

The Nike ZoomX Zegama has a 4mm drop (37 mm under the heel and 33 mm under the forefoot) and weighs 334g/11.9oz (US 11/UK 10 model). The stack height is tall. As you can see, the stack height is considerable, although not unusual from shoes using the ZoomX foam.

Nike ZoomX Zegama review

"The Nike ZoomX Zegama is designed for long-distance trail runs – ultra distances, even."

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Nike ZoomX Zegama review – Running performance

The Nike ZoomX Zegama is designed for long-distance trail runs – ultra distances, even. Its massive stack of responsive ZoomX foam is supposed to help you keep going mile after mile, at high altitude, or just at sea level, whatever type of trail you prefer or life throws at you.

My initial run in the Zegama was a mixed terrain 15k which included a section in a dense-ish forest, dirt paths and road. As you were, my ankle nearly went within the first kilometre, thanks to a hidden root under the fallen leaves, but thanks to the lugs on the shoes, I managed to keep my balance relatively well.

I didn't fall, and that's the main thing!

It doesn't make sense, I know, but I expected a Vaporfly-like running experience, only on the trail, while using the Zegama. There is so much ZoomX underfoot, I thought, 'hey, the shoes will be soft as butter and will move forward easily.' But the Zegama isn't the Vaporfly.

The Zegama is a trail running shoe with reinforcements, rubber lugs, added protective zones and so on, which means it will be heavier and less bouncy than a road running shoe. And it's indeed a perfectly adequate road running shoe. It's supportive, somewhat responsive and has a decent grip.

My issue with the Zegama is that even Nike has trail shoes that are better suited for off-road running for cheaper, such as the Pegasus Trail, so unless you're a long-distance trail runner, the Zegama isn't for you. If you like to run marathon distances off-road, you will appreciate the shoes, I'm sure. The rest of the lot is better off with a different model.

Nike ZoomX Zegama review

"The Zegama is a stylish trainer that performs well off-road and provides a delightful running experience, no matter the distance."

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Nike ZoomX Zegama review – Verdict

The Nike ZoomX Zegama is an exciting concept, and, more importantly, it introduces the ZoomX foam in the Nike trail running range, which in itself should be enough of an incentive to check the shoes out.

There are more features to admire than 'just' the ZoomX foam, of course, including the diverse lug pattern that applies different lug shapes to different areas of the outsole, an internal heel construction for added support and stability, the engineered mesh upper with reinforced areas for protection and the built-in gaiters to block out dirt and debris.

Is the Nike Zegama the best Nike trail running shoe? It isn't, but it fits into the Nike trail lineup nicely, offering an option to those who prefer to run a lot in one go off-road. If you prefer parkruns or only dabble with trail running, there are cheaper options available for you, even from Nike, so choosing the Zegama might be a bit of an overkill.

This isn't to say others won't benefit from using the Zegama for trail running, especially if money is no objection. It's a stylish trainer that performs well off-road and provides a delightful running experience, no matter the distance. 

Nike ZoomX Zegama review – Also consider

Thanks to its lightweight design, updated lug pattern and Soft PWRRUN cushioning, the Saucony Peregrine 12 is an excellent trail shoe for both grip and speed. No wonder it currently occupies the number one spot in our best trail running shoe guide!

The Hoka Speedgoat 5 is a fantastic, slightly lighter upgrade to the Speedgoat 4 with a new, sock-like mesh upper made from recycled materials, excellent midsole rebound, great traction and grip from the Vibram Megagrip sole with Traction Lugs and a secure, snug fit for multi-terrain use and more muddy and technical (rocky, uneven) trails.

Finally, the Asics GEL-Trabuco 10 is a great-looking, robust trail running shoe designed for those who would like a slightly stiffer, more supportive shoe to help with overpronation. The FlyteFoam midsole provides good padding for longer runs, and the AsicsGrip outsole is great on varied terrain, from mud to rocks.

Matt Kollat
Fitness Editor

Matt is T3's Fitness Editor and covers everything from smart fitness tech to running and workout shoes, home gym equipment, exercise how-tos, nutrition, cycling, and more. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar (opens in new tab) and Fit&Well (opens in new tab), and he collaborated with other content creators in the past, such as Garage Gym Reviews (opens in new tab). When he isn't working out, he loves roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment, including microphones, cameras and more.