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Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail Review

An ideal shoe for well-groomed trails and urban trail running.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $130 List | $119.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Extremely comfortable, quite sensitive, versatile
Cons:  Large heel-toe drop, not a very durable upper, doesn’t drain water well
Manufacturer:   Nike
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 17, 2019
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 25
  • Foot protection - 30% 6
  • Traction - 20% 6
  • Stability - 15% 7
  • Comfort - 15% 10
  • Weight - 10% 7
  • Sensitivity - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Nike Pegasus 36 Trail takes the popular road running shoe and adapts it for trail running by adding trail-specific lugs and a reinforced toe bumper. Due to its unbelievably comfortable fit, we literally couldn't take this shoe off, no matter what activity we were engaged in, and so are happy to award it our Top Pick as the Best Crossover Shoe. Crossover is a term used to describe lighter-duty trail running shoes that are equally at home on dirt as they are on pavement. The Pegasus 36 Trail fits the bill perfectly, with a feature set that is ideal for both running worlds, making it perhaps the best urban trail running shoe that you can buy.


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Pros Extremely comfortable, quite sensitive, versatileVery protective midsole and upper, sock-like fit, grippy traction, lighter than previous versionPrecise fit, very grippy on rock, comfortable upper effectively keeps out debrisIncredible protection for a zero drop shoe, comfortable, sensitive, extremely durable and sticky tractionGreat traction on soft slippery surfaces, extremely comfortable, no increase in price
Cons Large heel-toe drop, not a very durable upper, doesn’t drain water wellExpensive, durability concernsNarrower than average, a bit pricey, not the lightestExpensive, absorbs water easilyMidsole foam compresses out over time, easily collects rocks and debris
Bottom Line An ideal shoe for well-groomed trails and urban trail running.The shoe that best balances foot protection and sensitivity, all while providing an incredibly fine-tuned fit.A well-rounded shoe offering high performance for short or long distances.One of our favorite shoes that is notable both for its zero drop platform and the excellent traction.Our Best Bang for the Buck winner for great comfort and traction with a price lower than the other top scorers.
Rating Categories Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 La Sportiva Kaptiva Inov-8 Terraultra G 260 Saucony Peregrine ISO
Foot Protection (30%)
10
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6
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
Traction (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
Stability (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
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9
Comfort (15%)
10
0
10
10
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7
10
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8
10
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7
10
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10
Weight (10%)
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7
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6
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6
10
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7
10
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5
Sensitivity (10%)
10
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8
10
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6
10
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5
10
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7
10
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8
Specs Air Zoom Pegasus... Salomon S/Lab... La Sportiva Kaptiva Inov-8 Terraultra... Saucony Peregrine...
Weight (per pair, size 11) 21.3 oz. 22.7 oz. 22.3 oz. 20.9 oz. 23.1 oz.
Heel-to-Toe Drop 10 mm 8 mm 6 mm 0 mm 4 mm
Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot) 28 mm, 18 mm 26 mm, 18 mm 17 mm, 11 mm 17 mm, 17 mm 22.5 mm, 18.5mm
Upper Synthetic/mesh Mesh Sock-Like knit Kevlar, mesh IsoFit
Midsole Foam Compressed EVA Duel-density EV EXTERFLOW PWRFOAM, Everun
Outsole Rubber Premium Wet Traction Contagrip FriXion XF 2.0 Graphene Grip PWRTRAC
Lacing style Traditional Kevlar Quicklace Traditional Traditional Traditional
Wide version available? No No No No Yes
Sizes Available 6 - 15 4 - 13 38 - 47.5 4-15 8 - 14

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Nike Pegasus 36 Trail is an adaptation of one of the most popular Nike road running shoes now in its 36th iteration, the Pegasus. It includes a 10mm heel-toe drop with a raised heel counter that is noticeable but also very plushly cushioned with Nike Air pockets and certainly adds shock absorption for heel strikers and those who appreciate less repetitive stress. It has a light mesh upper that breathes well but also absorbs a lot of water when dunked in a stream, with a rubberized toe bumper that is not present on the road versions of this shoe. The outsole is decidedly trail-oriented but with enough surface area on the tops of the short lugs to offer excellent traction and durability on hard surfaces. Most of all, this is one of the most comfortable shoes we have ever run in, and it's hard to find a better endorsement than that. While it isn't the best choice for very technical trail or mountain running, for training on less aggressive surfaces, or if you live in a place where your runs are commonly a mix between trail and urban surfaces, these are an ideal shoe.

Comparing the uppers of the Pegasus 36 Trail  center  with the other Nike trail running shoes. The Wildhorse 5  with its wide lacing opening is on the left  while the Terra Kiger 5 is on the right. As you can see  the Pegasus has the least amount of protection in the upper  and is most likely to tear or wear down quickly if used in rougher terrain.
Comparing the uppers of the Pegasus 36 Trail, center, with the other Nike trail running shoes. The Wildhorse 5, with its wide lacing opening is on the left, while the Terra Kiger 5 is on the right. As you can see, the Pegasus has the least amount of protection in the upper, and is most likely to tear or wear down quickly if used in rougher terrain.

Gore-Tex Version
Nike also makes the Pegasus 36 Trail in a Gore-tex version for those runners who live in wet climates or like to splash through puddles. Expect to add about $30 to the price tag for the extra water resistance.

Performance Comparison


The Nike Pegasus 36 Trail are the newest addition to the trail running family  and are a supremely comfortable adaptation of their popular road running shoe. They are probably the best crossover option you can buy  suitable for both roads and trails.
The Nike Pegasus 36 Trail are the newest addition to the trail running family, and are a supremely comfortable adaptation of their popular road running shoe. They are probably the best crossover option you can buy, suitable for both roads and trails.

Foot Protection


Despite its 28mm of underfoot cushioning in the heel, we feel as if this shoe is not the most protective that we have tested. The foam, with the Nike Air pockets trapped inside, does a good job of dampening the impact of stepping on sharp objects like roots or rocks, while still allowing a fair bit of sensation to get through. In this way, it supplies a nice balance between underfoot protection and sensitivity, while still also offering a springy bounce in your step as you flow through the running motion.


The upper is minimally adapted from the design of the road-specific version of this shoe, meaning that it is mostly light-duty mesh and does not offer much in the way of either foot protection from kicking rocks, nor many protective overlays that will prevent it from tearing and abrasion. If you commonly thrash the uppers of your shoes, you may consider buying something a bit beefier in that department.

The Pegasus 36 Trail has a fair bit of underfoot protection  especially in the heel where there is a Nike Air pod in addition to an extra 10mm of stack height  which means it protects well against running over rocks and other pointy surfaces.
The Pegasus 36 Trail has a fair bit of underfoot protection, especially in the heel where there is a Nike Air pod in addition to an extra 10mm of stack height, which means it protects well against running over rocks and other pointy surfaces.

Traction


While the lug pattern on the outsole of this shoe is far more aggressive than you would commonly find on a road running shoe, it is conversely much less aggressive than you will find on most mountain running shoes. The lugs are on the shorter side (~3 mm deep), and are arrayed on the sole in a variety of patterns. Multi-directional lugs on both the heel and forefoot do a nice job of providing a sharp edge for grip and bite, while the edges that are most likely to wear down quickly are rounded off, increasing durability. The outside edge of each foot has a row of deeper and more aggressively angled lugs, but we aren't sure that the location of these lugs offers any strategic gripping benefit, and suspect that they are actually more cosmetic in performance.


We found this shoe to be plenty sticky and grippy for the vast majority of trail running, while also having a low enough lug profile to not feel out of place at all on a bike path or dirt roads. That said, the lug's lack of aggression does inhibit their grip a bit compared to the competition when traversing grassy hillsides or engaging in especially slippery terrain like mud or snow.

Comparing the traction on all of the Nike trail running shoes. The Pegasus 36 Trail  blue in center  is the least aggressive and has the lowest profile lugs. The Wildhorse 5 is on the left  with the stickiest outsole on the Terra Kiger 5 on the right.
Comparing the traction on all of the Nike trail running shoes. The Pegasus 36 Trail, blue in center, is the least aggressive and has the lowest profile lugs. The Wildhorse 5 is on the left, with the stickiest outsole on the Terra Kiger 5 on the right.

Stability


The shoe features a firmer but still springy foam underfoot that doesn't actually feel as far off the ground as its 18mm forefoot / 28mm heel stack height would suggest. Despite the 10mm of extra cushioning in the heel generally disposing a shoe to a less stable ride on uneven terrain, we feel that this shoe feels more stable than the other shoes we have tested with a similar heel-toe drop.


While we find the upper to be among the most comfortable that we can imagine, we also concede that it doesn't lock the foot down quite as tight as some alternatives, once again slightly lowering the feeling of absolute stability when running on uneven terrain. All these minor complaints suggest that this is a shoe that performs best when stability will not be a primary concern, like on well-groomed trails.

Running downhill on steep trails will certainly test the stability of a shoe  where lower heel-toe drop and lower stack heights usually perform better. Here testing the Pegasus 36 Trail  with its added air pocket in the heel and fantastic fit that kept our foot securely and comfortably in place  it was reasonably stable.
Running downhill on steep trails will certainly test the stability of a shoe, where lower heel-toe drop and lower stack heights usually perform better. Here testing the Pegasus 36 Trail, with its added air pocket in the heel and fantastic fit that kept our foot securely and comfortably in place, it was reasonably stable.

Comfort


In the opinion of our head tester, who has run in hundreds of pairs of shoes to complete these trail running shoe reviews, these are some of the most comfortable shoes ever made. All other converts/zealots we have talked to with these shoes agree that they are really comfortable, especially in contrast to the newly updated versions of Nike's other trail running shoes, which are not as comfortable as past versions. The shoe fits perfectly to size and is also right in the middle of the wide/narrow spectrum, and should appeal to the widest variety of foot shapes.


The upper is not overly padded and yet hugs the foot perfectly while also not feeling too tight. The minimal padding around the ankle opening and over the Achilles tendon area of the heel is very comfortable, and the light mesh upper breathes well. Our only complaint when it comes to comfort is that in our water testing, this shoe absorbs and holds more water than almost any other, so you may consider a different option if you are one who likes to run through streams.

Showing the nearly seamless upper on the inside and a perfectly flat  unpadded tongue. The upper of this shoe is easily the most comfortable you will find  a large reason why we loved wearing it so much.
Showing the nearly seamless upper on the inside and a perfectly flat, unpadded tongue. The upper of this shoe is easily the most comfortable you will find, a large reason why we loved wearing it so much.

The high padding along the back of the Achilles tendon region makes the shoe very easy to slide on  almost acting like a shoe horn  without causing the heel cup to squash down and develop creases over time  a nice addition.
The high padding along the back of the Achilles tendon region makes the shoe very easy to slide on, almost acting like a shoe horn, without causing the heel cup to squash down and develop creases over time, a nice addition.

Weight


Our pair of men's size 11 US shoes weighed in at 21.3 ounces on our independent scale. This is the exact same weight as the lower profile, but more protective, Nike Terra Kiger 5.


This weight falls near to the middle of the spectrum compared to other shoes that we have tested and reviewed here. They aren't by any means the lightest shoes you can buy but are also quite a bit lighter than the heaviest. Anecdotally, they feel light and nimble on the feet while running.

Weighing in at 21.3 ounces per pair of men's size 11  these shoes are right about average when it comes to an everyday trainer.
Weighing in at 21.3 ounces per pair of men's size 11, these shoes are right about average when it comes to an everyday trainer.

Sensitivity


When compared to underfoot protection, this shoe strikes a nice balance that is tipped ever so slightly towards being sensitive rather than clunky. The underfoot foam is rubbery and springy feeling, negating some of the impact of stepping on rocks, while still allowing for a pleasant amount of trail feel. As a shoe designed for less rugged trails, this emphasis on sensitivity is refreshing, and frankly a joy to experience.


The sole is fairly flexible, easily molding to the terrain that you step on, and lacking the stiff feeling of a rockplate underfoot. If you appreciate a sensitive ride but don't want to sacrifice shock-absorbing foam to get it, this could be a great choice for you.

Despite its added air pocket and firm foam underfoot  this shoe retains a fair amount of sensitivity  allowing a good bit of trail feel to migrate through the midsole to be felt by the foot.
Despite its added air pocket and firm foam underfoot, this shoe retains a fair amount of sensitivity, allowing a good bit of trail feel to migrate through the midsole to be felt by the foot.

Value


These shoes retail for roughly the average price of trail running shoes these days. While this amount has been creeping upwards in the last few years, we still think these shoes present good value due to their excellent comfort. To be sure you feel the same way, be sure that you are buying these shoes for the right reasons, and if you are in the market for a more aggressive shoe that can routinely handle the most rugged terrain, check out the other trail running shoes by Nike instead.

Cruising trails through the alpine tundra in Colorado  the Pegasus 36 Trail is the perfect choice for runs like this -- collecting miles in beautiful locations.
Cruising trails through the alpine tundra in Colorado, the Pegasus 36 Trail is the perfect choice for runs like this -- collecting miles in beautiful locations.

Conclusion


The Nike Pegasus 36 Trail is a newly released trail running shoe that we think is the best option for crossover applications, awarding it a Top Pick for that purpose. Urban runners who like to mix it up on roads, bike paths, dirt roads, and fast and flowy trails will love the incredible comfort and sensitive ride this shoe provides in a nicely cushioned package.

Relaxing on the top of the mountain! Some unnammed point in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado on a perfect fall day  looking out at the 14er Mt. Sneffels  center left. While these shoes wouldn't be our number one choice for ridge scrambling and tundra running  they certainly got the job done!
Relaxing on the top of the mountain! Some unnammed point in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado on a perfect fall day, looking out at the 14er Mt. Sneffels, center left. While these shoes wouldn't be our number one choice for ridge scrambling and tundra running, they certainly got the job done!


Andy Wellman