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Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 - Women's Review

A perfectly priced and responsive stunner that is best for shorter distances at rapid speeds
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Price:  $120 List | $83.97 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Breathable, responsive, iconic
Cons:  Uncomfortable tongue and lace combo
Manufacturer:   Nike
By Ally Meller ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 22, 2020
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 15
  • Responsiveness - 25% 8
  • Landing Comfort - 25% 7
  • Weight - 20% 6
  • Durability - 10% 5
  • Upper Comfort - 10% 5
  • Breathability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 (aka, "The Peg") is an updated version of a cult favorite. Feet raring to go slide into this comfy speedster like a glove while the genius outsole architecture provides ample responsiveness. The gentle, hug-like arch cradles the sweet spots and keeps symptoms of plantar fasciitis at bay. The collar design flares, tapers, and touches in just a way to provide space around the tender Achilles tendon without creating heel slippage. Our reviewers don't recommend this shoe for long distances but love it for shorter, pace-challenging jaunts.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

The Pegasus is back and (almost) better than ever! Nike truly nailed it with the aesthetics of this lightweight and breathable superstar. The beveled heel and emblematic color schemes available are just the beginning of what makes this runner a smash hit. Nike created a shoe that magically forms to its owner's foot contours without sacrificing functionality. Highly breathable and responsive, the Peg 36 lacks only in upper comfort.

Performance Comparison


The maiden voyage for the updated Pegasus. These shoes came out of the box ready for action. We are delighted by the nonexistent break-in period.
The maiden voyage for the updated Pegasus. These shoes came out of the box ready for action. We are delighted by the nonexistent break-in period.

Responsiveness


Our reviewers were blown away by how wonderfully responsive the Pegasus has proven to be. The responsiveness of these kicks definitely kept us on our toes. From its maiden voyage to its beat up state a couple months later, this pair propelled us forward and allowed us to push our limits. We loved sprinting workouts in these rockstars, due in large part to the new heel design that frees the Achilles tendon.

This is the shape of speed right here!
This is the shape of speed right here!

Landing Comfort


We acknowledge that the arch snuggling sensation of this pair of Nikes might be too aggressive for some runners and too flat for others. But our reviewers agree, the arch softly cascades underfoot, providing a supportive and comfortable ride. The arch is made up of Cushlon ST foam, which creates the unthinkable… a responsive and cushioned runner! While other shoes outshined the Pegasus in this category, we all agree that the synergy between landing comfort, responsiveness, and breathability culminate in a great pair of shoes.

The arch is soft but high. We loved it but understand that some runners might not.
The arch is soft but high. We loved it but understand that some runners might not.

Weight


Nike chose to decrease the weight this time around by removing the cushioning from the tongue. Unfortunately, we feel that the only thing missing from this shoe is — you guessed it — tongue cushioning to help keep the laces from digging into sweaty and swelling feet. A pair of women's size 7 weighs in at 15.16 ounces (7.58 ounces per shoe), 0.32 ounces lighter than the previous model. The choice to shave off less than half an ounce at the expense of some cushioning isn't necessarily a bad thing for lighting fast speeds logged over relatively short distances. However, the lack of tongue cushion takes these kicks out of contention for being a top distance shoe in our book.

The Peg's decreased weight comes at the cost of upper comfort.
The Peg's decreased weight comes at the cost of upper comfort.

Durability


The mesh that these shoes are comprised of is not the most durable. We aren't necessarily upset about how long their lifespan is, but given the price tag, we wish it was a bit longer. We scored their durability as average and hope that Nike tweaks the next round of the Pegasus to be a bit more long-lasting.

Not as durable we wanted them to be... Insert sad face here.
Not as durable we wanted them to be... Insert sad face here.

Upper Comfort


This is where the 36 version of the Pegasus falls short for us. The tongue is made up of one thin and uncontoured piece of mesh, and we aren't a fan. The drawback is the tongue's lack of cushion. Combined with the unforgiving laces, runners who like a snug upper fit might find the bare bones design to be a bit uncomfortable. The lace fibers are tightly wound, and if this shoe is worn snuggly, they cut into the top of the foot — this is the main reason we don't recommend this shoe for long-distance runs.

All of that aside, we do appreciate the heel collar on this shoe. The taper works with the natural anatomy of the heel to allow full range of motion, skirting around would-be hot spots and providing room without rub. Solid technology there, Nike!

The tongue has no cushion which cuts down on the upper comfort significantly.
The tongue has no cushion which cuts down on the upper comfort significantly.

Breathability


Nary a shoe could compare to the breathability of the Pegasus 36. The uber breathable mesh lacks comfort but makes up for it by allowing the breeze to move through even on the steamiest of track days. The only downside of the exceptional and airy mesh is that mud and water can easily get into the toebox of the shoe. We won't wear this shoe on rainy days, but it is an excellent shoe to have in your collection.

Just look at that breezy mesh...
Just look at that breezy mesh...

Value


The price point for this pair of kicks is fair and to be expected from a reputable brand like Nike. But if you're looking for a versatile shoe, we recommend you keep looking. Because this shoe is highly performing in only some areas, it might not be the best if you're looking for only one everyday runner. We'll pay up to keep this shoe in our rotation, but if it doesn't perfectly suit your needs, we recommend you keep shopping.

Stopping for a stretch break while taking these responsive kicks out for a ride.
Stopping for a stretch break while taking these responsive kicks out for a ride.

Conclusion


We love it, we hate it, it's complicated. Wait, that's actually just how we feel about track workouts. Hot and steamy track days go with the Pegasus 36 like peanut butter goes with bananas. They are a match made in heaven! We appreciate the levity and responsiveness of the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36, but due to its less-than-stellar upper comfort, it isn't our first choice for long-distance days. Overall, we really like having them as a workout specific option, though. When we are ready to kick it up a notch and leave our running buds behind, we grab the Peg and tell our friends to eat our dust!


Ally Meller