The Nike Zoom Pegasus 39 is both stiff and responsive compared to other running shoes that we tested, 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 a neutral foot positioning, allowing for a more natural and 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. Runners looking for a naturally firm platform with average to narrow foot volume should consider this classic design.Editor's Note: Our testing team updated this review on October 12, 2022, to reflect version 39 of this classic Nike Air Zoom Pegasus design.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 Review
Cons: Stiff outsole, lacks arch support, tight toe-box, slightly heavy
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|Pros||Responsive, snappy feel, performance fit upper||Responsive cushioning, breathable upper, lightweight||Lightweight, great cushioning, comfortable upper||Responsive, fast, lightweight, affordable||Stable, supportive, comfortable upper|
|Cons||Stiff outsole, lacks arch support, tight toe-box, slightly heavy||Minimal support and stability||Less responsive, lacks rubber outsole||Minimal support, lacks outsole rubber||Stiff, heavier, less breathable|
|Bottom Line||A classic model that is fast and responsive with great energy transfer and a performance fit upper||Excellent cushioning that provides great energy transfer with an extremely comfortable, performance fit upper||These lightweight shoes have top landing comfort and maximum cushion with a great upper||This affordable ultralight model allows for maximum turnover which provides a snappy and quick feeling||If you're looking for a supportive and stable shoe with a comfortable upper, this is the model for you|
|Rating Categories||Nike Air Zoom Pegas...||Saucony Endorphin S...||Hoka One One Mach 5||Saucony Kinvara 13||Brooks Adrenaline G...|
|Cushioning and Landing Comfort (25%)|
|Upper Comfort (20%)|
|Lateral Stability and Support (15%)|
|Specs||Nike Air Zoom Pegas...||Saucony Endorphin S...||Hoka One One Mach 5||Saucony Kinvara 13||Brooks Adrenaline G...|
|Weight (per shoe, size 9.5)||9.5 oz||8.3 oz||8.0 oz||7.3 oz||10.4 oz|
|Heel to Toe Drop||10 mm||8 mm||5 mm||4 mm||12 mm|
|Midsole Material||React foam||PWRRUN||PROFLY+||EVA||EVA|
|Sole Rubber||Rubber||XT-900||Rubberized EVA||Rubber||Rubber|
|Upper Material||Mesh||Engineered mesh||Engineered mesh||Engineered Mesh||Mesh|
|Width Options||Normal||Normal||Normal||Normal||Normal, Wide|
|Sizes Available||6 - 18||7 - 15||7 - 14||7 - 15||7 - 15|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Nike Zoom Pegasus 39 feels like it's built for speed with its performance-fit upper design and firm, responsive feel underfoot. This is one of the stiffest and most responsive shoes we tested in our review of men's running shoes, which was noticeable when we picked up the pace on our training runs. While not the lightest trainer out there, coming in at 9.5 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 many similar competing designs. This model is very similar to the prior Pegasus 38 version, but our scales show it a full 1 ounce per shoe lighter than the previous edition.
Cushioning and Landing Comfort
The Pegasus 39 offers minimal cushioning, which reduces its overall landing comfort over extended periods of running time. However, this could benefit those who generally are not looking to push the longer distances or who want a quick and responsive model.
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. Due to a lower stack height than other models, our feet were low to the ground giving us confidence through the ankle when making tight turns or cornering.
While the Pegasus 39 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 foot strike loses minimal energy. Forefoot/midfoot landings are ideal on this model, with little help to toe-off if your running style is less aggressive.
However, this design can lead to some harshness when the running becomes more relaxed. 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.
The sizing of this upper is built with performance in mind and like all Nike shoes, it tends to run a bit snug, perfect for hard running but not amazing for all-day use. The toe box is a bit tight 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.
Breathability is about average compared to the other models we tested. While not as thin and lightweight as some models, the Pegasus 39 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 to use the responsiveness to your advantage, 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. A lower stack height provides less ankle flexion when cornering than the thicker models we tested but this is still a performance-oriented shoe. Minimal arch support is offered. Those looking to take advantage of the performance qualities will most likely find the support suitable. If you struggle with stability issues we would suggest something with slightly more width to provide a better platform for your ankles.
At 9.5 ounces in a men's size 9.5, this is one of the heavier responsive trainers in our lineup but comes in a full 1 ounce lighter than the previous version 38. 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 39 has a great middle-ground of cost and weight.
Should You Buy the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39?
If you are looking for a performance fit model that excels when you start to really try to push the pace, then this contender could be for you. Plus, durable materials at a reasonable price should be additional reasons you get this model. Nonetheless, if you are out to run fast and smooth in a classic trainer, definitely think about the Pegasus 39.
What Other Running Shoes Should You Consider?
Runners who want a little more toe-box room and a less performance fit should check out some of our other reviews, like the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3. This award-winning option offers excellent cushioning with great energy transfer and an ultra-comfortable performance fit upper. We think it will meet most runners' needs. Those looking for something ultra-plus should consider the Hoka Mach 5 or the Hoka Clifton 8, both of which have softer materials and wider platforms. If you need something even more stable and supportive, we'd recommend checking out he Brooks Adrenaline 22.
— Matthew Richardson
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