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Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 Review

A sweet, no-nonsense racing flat with great cushion and padding.
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Price:  $120 List | $89.96 at Backcountry
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Pros:  Landing is well cushioned, but feels natural, upper padding feels plush, fair price
Cons:  Limited responsiveness, loose heel, tight toebox
Manufacturer:   Nike
By Ryan Baham ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 7, 2019
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75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Responsiveness - 25% 6
  • Landing comfort - 25% 9
  • Weight - 20% 7
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Upper comfort - 10% 9
  • Breathability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The new Nike Pegasus 35s do an excellent job of building on the 34s without losing much in the update. They still maintain a low profile with an all-business exterior. One of our favorite things about them was the fact that they didn't try to make wild claims about designs or material - it's just a good racing flat with reasonable padding and cushion and you don't have to fork out a huge premium for them. Just about any runner would be happy throwing on a pair and heading out the door to hit the road.

New Version Available

Nike released the Pegasus 36 since our testing period. Check out the details below.

August 2019


Our Analysis and Test Results

Updated Pegasus


The latest version of the Air Zoom Pegasus is the 36, which features a slimmer heel collar, lower profile tongue, and more perforations to provide increased breathability. Compare the Pegasus 36 (left) to the Pegasus 35 we tested previously.


Though the review from here on refers only to the Pegasus 35, we are now linking to the Pegasus 36 above.

Hands-On Review of the Pegasus 35


We spent a lot of time trying to find the faults and feel the performance of the new Pegasus 35s. We were pleased to find very few faults, in fact. We think just about anyone would have a great run in these, but we're here to dive into the details, so you don't find any surprises. Read on to see how they stack up against other top shoes and across our measures!

Responsiveness


Much like the 34s before them, the 35s had awesome responsiveness, though it's not typically an area where racing flats excel. Their light construction requires that they have a good deal of cushioning to dampen the harder smashing that happens at high speeds. That added cushion typically limits the ability of the sole to be as responsive as more rigid, structured soles. That holds true for these too, but they do about as well as can be expected given their natural feel and great comfort.

These padded kicks did well for racing flats, but there were a few other high rollers that might make more sense if responsiveness is essential to you. However, responsiveness is the realm of stability shoes like the unconventional HOKA ONE ONE Elevon.

The new Pegasus 35s were great landers with solid responsiveness  kicking back what each step put into them.
The new Pegasus 35s were great landers with solid responsiveness, kicking back what each step put into them.

Landing Comfort


Sticking the landing can be pretty tough for some designs. Issues tend to be more pronounced when the design anticipates a particular landing style (e.g., heel-strike instead of forefoot), and a runner with a different style wears them. Arguably, the 10mm heel-to-toe discrepancy anticipates a heel-strike. There was concern that the design might not accommodate a forefoot strike, but its thick Cushion ST EVA midsole and Zoom Air units placed along the full length of the foot in the updated 35s made this a super comfortable lander for any style.

Those features earned them a top spot alongside the Editors' Choice and the Brooks PureFlow 7. The Nikes are your best bet for a more traditional ride while the PureFlows have a heel-to-toe drop of just 4mm and a nice plush midsole and ultra-comfortable upper. If you're after less padding, but a very natural feel and a modest heel-to-toe drop of 6mm, take a look at the unique On Cloud X.

The full-length Zoom Air unit gives the midsole a firm  responsive feel.
The full-length Zoom Air unit gives the midsole a firm, responsive feel.

Weight


Perhaps fitting the mythical creature - a flying horse - these sneakers can fly, but earlier versions were as heavy as a horse, almost 10% heavier than the next heaviest racing flats. The updated 35s cut most of that weight, coming down to a competitive 20.8 ounces in men's 11. Their Flymesh upper remains fairly thin, and the slight reduction in upper padding seems to have helped reduce weight.

If weight is a major factor in your decision, there are a handful of slightly lighter trainers that will interest you. On the highly cushioned side, we have the Brooks PureFlow 7 at 20.1 ounces in a men's 11. On the less cushioned side, we have the On Cloud X, at 17.8 ounces, and on the minimalist side, we have the New Balance Minimus 10v1 at 17.2 ounces in a men's 11.5.

The updated 35s come in at just 20.8 ounces  almost 10 percent less than earlier versions.
The updated 35s come in at just 20.8 ounces, almost 10 percent less than earlier versions.

Durability


These solid kicks earn their keep in this category. Excepting only the rugged Minimus 10v1, the Pegasus performs better than any other lightweight racing flat. That longevity makes it especially worth the money. It has multiple layers of mesh, a Flywire support structure that helps spread flex stress throughout the upper, and a thick rubber outsole that will help it last. It could have some vulnerabilities to wear, like the front toe tab coming unglued or tears in the mesh, but those are pretty universal for this shoe style. It's also worth noting that we did not find any serious trends in degradation.

Aside from the above mentioned Minimus, which scored in the top tier, no other racing flats scored higher than these. We think that most runners will be satisfied with the durability of the Pegasus 35s if they desire a racing flat, but if they insist on something that will last a little longer, the New Balance Minimus 10v1 is worth a serious look.

This solid shoe will last a good number of seasons and take a beating in the process.
This solid shoe will last a good number of seasons and take a beating in the process.

Upper Comfort


Comfort is a fickle thing to measure. When we look at this category, we consider padding and natural fit during the gait cycle. It's frustrating finding something that is super padded and feels great in the store only to find that five miles into a tempo run you're annoyed by or chafing from excessive padding. These strike a great balance between those two worlds. They have just enough collar padding to cushion and guard the foot against the heel counter, making it welcoming to the heel and ankle and compatible with miles of sweater percussion and friction. The 35s also improved the heel collar so it sweeps back and away from the foot to accommodate the Achilles tendon and it improves the comfort. The upper, with its Flymesh design and smooth Fitsole sockliner, fits the foot very well, creating a natural feel that makes the miles much nicer as they go by.

Because of their great upper, we ranked these up next to the Top Pick for Lightweight Racing Flat PureFlow 7, which also featured a healthy degree of padding along with a natural fit. These are the only two high scoring lightweight racing flats, with the Top Pick Lightweight Racing Flat On Cloud X a few tiers down, next to most of the other racing flats. The choice between the two top scorers comes down to weight, breathability, and a flatter heel-to-toe discrepancy, where the PureFlow is lighter, breathes better and has a lower drop, and in our view, is the better choice.

The key to the Pegasus 35s' comfort is in the natural-feeling fit and accommodating design.
The key to the Pegasus 35s' comfort is in the natural-feeling fit and accommodating design.

Breathability


This is an area where these could use a little more work. They have better than average breathability, but their competition does better here. They recently re-engineered their Flymesh upper to be more breathable than in earlier versions, but they have a thick sockliner and multiple layers of upper mesh. The outermost layer of mesh is minimally permeable in some parts, particularly on each side of the midfoot.

Most of the other lightweight racing flats did better in this category, with the top of the scale occupied by speedy flats. The Minimus 10v1 earned its place at the top because of its near lack of padding and close-fitting, thin mesh. The On Cloud X got its place because of its single, thin layer of mesh and economical use of padding. The Top Pick for Lightweight Racing Flat PureFlow 7 earned its spot with its thin, seamless mesh upper that ventilated most of the foot. We suggest narrowing your search down to the latter two if breathability is a top concern.

Limited padding keeps heat and moisture retention down while thin mesh allows the upper to dissipate heat and moisture.
Limited padding keeps heat and moisture retention down while thin mesh allows the upper to dissipate heat and moisture.

Best Applications


Their stiff sole and sturdier upper makes them easier to take out to rougher roads, cross-train, and even on trails.

Value


The 35s are excellent and everything a runner could want in a traditional running shoe. However, the price is quite a bit to ask. If they can be found at a good discount, the purchase would be well justified.

Conclusion


As in previous versions, we loved the Pegasus 35s. They're lightweight, offer great comfort, give lots of rebound, and they don't have too much fluff. They're straightforward, traditional speedsters that invite you to jump in and hit the road. They stacked up really well against the competition and came out near the top, but didn't quite have the low profile, lightness, or snap of the On Cloud X or the combination of weight, ventilation, and low profile of the Brooks PureFlow 7. One of its great advantages is the better responsiveness found in its stiff midsole. The firm midsole limits the loss of energy and you feel like you keep your momentum better than with some of the cushier rides. This does come with the drawback that the shoe is a bit heavier than is ideal. Though the Pegasus didn't win any awards, they are a great shoe and will meet the performance expectations of most runners at a solid price.

The Pegasus 35 is everything you want in a traditional running shoe - and more.
The Pegasus 35 is everything you want in a traditional running shoe - and more.


Ryan Baham