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Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 Review

A classic model that is fast and responsive with great energy transfer and a performance fit upper
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38
Photo: Nike
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Price:  $120 List | Check Price at REI
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Pros:  Responsive, well-balanced cushion and support, performance fit upper
Cons:  Stiff outsole, lacks arch support, tight toe-box, slightly heavy
Manufacturer:   Nike
By Matthew Richardson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 18, 2021
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65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 10
  • Cushioning and Landing Comfort - 25% 6
  • Responsiveness - 25% 8
  • Upper Comfort - 20% 6
  • Lateral Stability and Support - 15% 7
  • Weight - 15% 5

Our Verdict

Stiffness and responsiveness are the standout qualities of the Nike Zoom Pegasus 38, leading to a very supportive feel and a performance-oriented platform. The upper contributes to performance by being snug in the midfoot while narrowing in the toe-box to provide a locked-in feel. Minimal arch support creates neutral foot positioning, which allows for more power transfer and a snappier feel. We wish these features came in a lighter package but acknowledge that this weight provides a nice durable outsole and allows for an attainable price point. Those looking for a stiff natural platform with average to narrow foot volume should consider this classic design.

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Pros Responsive, well-balanced cushion and support, performance fit upperResponsive cushioning, breathable upper, lightweightLightweight, great cushioning, comfortable upperResponsive, light, fast affordableResponsive cushioning, smooth heel-to-toe rocker, durable
Cons Stiff outsole, lacks arch support, tight toe-box, slightly heavyMinimal support and stabilityLess responsive, lacks rubber outsoleMinimal support, lacks cushioning, lacks outsole rubberLoose heel cup, support under heel lacking
Bottom Line A classic model that is fast and responsive with great energy transfer and a performance fit upperExcellent cushioning that provides great energy transfer with an extremely comfortable, performance fit upperThese lightweight shoes have top landing comfort and maximum cushion with a great upperA model that makes you feel quick, fast, and light that provides maximum energy transfer and forward momentumA rockered design with responsive cushioning keeps legs feeling powerful and fresh into longer efforts
Rating Categories Nike Air Zoom Pegas... Saucony Endorphin S... Hoka One One Mach 4 Saucony Kinvara 12 New Balance Fresh F...
Cushioning And Landing Comfort (25%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
Responsiveness (25%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Upper Comfort (20%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Lateral Stability And Support (15%)
7.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
Weight (15%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Specs Nike Air Zoom Pegas... Saucony Endorphin S... Hoka One One Mach 4 Saucony Kinvara 12 New Balance Fresh F...
Weight (per shoe, size 9.5) 10.5 oz. 8.3 oz. 8.1 oz. 7.7 oz. 9.4 oz.
Heel to Toe Drop 10 mm 8 mm 5 mm 4 mm 8 mm
Midsole Material React foam PWRRUN PROFLY PWRRUN Fresh Foam
Sole Rubber Rubber XT-900 Rubberized EVA Foam with rubber inserts Ortholite
Upper Material Synthetic mesh/recycled polyester Engineered mesh Engineered mesh Mesh Synthetic, mesh
Width Options Normal, extra wide Normal Normal Normal, wide Narrow, normal, wide, extra wide
Sizes Available 6 - 18 7 - 15 7 - 14 7 - 15 6 - 20

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Nike Zoom Pegasus 38 fees like it's built for speed with its performance-fit upper design and firm, responsive feel. This is one of the stiffest and most responsive shoes we have tested, which was noticeable when our runs got faster. While not the lightest trainer out there, coming in at 10.5 ounces in a men's size 9.5, this model has ample outsole material and a great fitting upper, which is thicker and more durable than similar competing designs.

Performance Comparison


The Pegasus is one of the stiffest performance-fit models we have...
The Pegasus is one of the stiffest performance-fit models we have tested.
Photo: Matthew Richardson

Cushioning and Landing Comfort


The Pegasus 38 offers minimal cushioning, which reduces its overall landing comfort over extended periods of running time. However, this could be a benefit for those that generally are not looking to push the longer distances or who want a quick and responsive model.

Firm cushioning can feel fatiguing later into longer efforts.
Firm cushioning can feel fatiguing later into longer efforts.
Photo: Matthew Richardson

We found ourselves having to stay more on top of our form in this shoe, which has its pros and cons when making extended efforts. Despite this model's traditional 10-millimeter heel-to-toe drop, it remains fast and agile, and the subtle cushioning worked really well for us.

Responsiveness


While the Pegasus 38 lacks the luxurious landing comfort of other cushier models, there is no lack of responsiveness. The firm and responsive footbed leads to a quick and agile feel where each footstrike loses minimal energy. Forefoot/midfoot landings are ideal on this model, with little help to toe-off if your running style is less aggressive.

The Pegasus provides great responsiveness with maximum energy...
The Pegasus provides great responsiveness with maximum energy transfer when running fast.
Photo: Matthew Richardson

This design can lead to some harshness when the running becomes more relaxed, though. Those who are less concerned with speed and more concerned with overall comfort should consider a different model from our lineup. But those looking for stiffness and rigidity with each step should consider this model for its high marks in this category.

Upper Comfort


As with the performance nature of the last category, the upper was no different. This upper has a nice performance fit that feels solid and snug, and the toe box is a bit snug but not constricting. The midfoot feels locked down, and the heel cup is well designed with no space for movement. There is little arch support, and generally, the shoe feels flat across the sole.

Performance fit upper may a bit tight for those looking for a...
Performance fit upper may a bit tight for those looking for a roomier feel.
Photo: Matthew Richardson

Breathability is about average compared to the other models we tested. While not as thin and lightweight as some models, the Pegasus 38 feels durable and well made. This upper compliments the style of this model very well. Those that desire a roomier toe box should probably stick with a different model. Those with a narrow to average foot volume would be well suited for this upper. If you plan on using the responsiveness to your advantage, then you will be glad about Nike's upper design.

Lateral Stability and Support


The stiffness of this model contributes to the feeling of stability, but there is a lack of support outside the stiffness, even with the 10-millimeter drop. Minimal arch support is offered. Those looking to take advantage of the performance qualities will most likely find the support suitable.

Moderate stability and support but lower stack height keep this shoe...
Moderate stability and support but lower stack height keep this shoe grounded.
Photo: Matthew Richardson

Weight


At 10.5 ounces in a men's size 9.5, this is one of the heavier responsive trainers in our lineup. With this weight comes a more durable upper and durable outsole, though. These added features are worth their weight, and we did not find this to detract from the performance of this model. The weight is not high enough to feel heavy and does not disrupt a fast turnover. Spending a few extra dollars will increase the premium materials, which will often decrease weight but also, in turn, decrease durability. The Pegasus 38 has a great middle-ground of cost and weight.

The nice durable outsole is great for both roads and natural surfaces.
The nice durable outsole is great for both roads and natural surfaces.
Photo: Matthew Richardson


Value


The Pegasus 38 is one of the less expensive models we tested but has comfortable, durable materials and performs well. Some weight savings could be gained by spending a few extra dollars, but overall this model is a great price for a performance package.

Conclusion


If you are looking for a performance fit model that excels when you start to really try to push the pace, then this shoe could be for you. Durable materials at a reasonable price should be additional reasons you get this model. Those that like a little more toe-box room and a less performance fit should check out some of our other reviews. If you are less concerned about speed or need a more supportive cushioning experience, we'd also send you in a different direction. If you are out to run fast and smooth in a classic trainer, definitely think about the Pegasus 38.

Nike Zoom Pegasus 38 excels at quick turnover and providing great...
Nike Zoom Pegasus 38 excels at quick turnover and providing great durability.
Photo: Matthew Richardson

Matthew Richardson

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