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Nike Pegasus Trail 2 Review

Due to inherent instability, those with fragile, sensitive, or weak ankles should keep their distance
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Price:  $130 List | $129.95 at Backcountry
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Pros:  Comfortable, solid traction
Cons:  Very unstable, heavy, foam is too squishy and not supportive enough
Manufacturer:   Nike
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 27, 2020
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#18 of 18
  • Foot protection - 30% 7
  • Traction - 20% 7
  • Stability - 15% 4
  • Comfort - 15% 8
  • Weight - 10% 3
  • Sensitivity - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Nike Pegasus Trail 2 updates the previous Pegasus Trail 36 but bears so little resemblance to its predecessor that it would be better to consider it a whole different shoe. Its most obvious feature is the thick React foam midsole that gives it the hallmark look of a maximally cushioned shoe. It features a 10mm heel-toe drop, and combined with the very squishy foam underfoot, feels far too unstable for use on technical trails. While this shoe is designed as a crossover shoe that performs ideally on either roads or trails, it is also heavy and bulky feeling, such that it doesn't inspire our best running, no matter what the surface beneath our feet. While the previous version quickly became a favorite, we think this one is a huge miss by Nike, and can't recommend spending the money on it.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Lovers of the Pegasus Trail 36 should not expect anything to be the same as the Pegasus Trail 2, as these shoes look different, feel different, and even have different materials and construction. This new version is Nike's most heavily cushioned trail shoe, with a thick React foam midsole that, in our opinion, is overly squishy and springy. This midsole has no Nike Air pockets embedded within, so it doesn't feel as rigidly supportive or as protective as one might have become used to if you wear a lot of Nike shoes. The foam itself is also not as firm feeling or as protective as the same React foam in the Wildhorse 6. The upper is fairly heavy duty, with a neoprene-like tongue and what they call a "faux gaiter," which is essentially a high collar around the heel and ankle to help keep out debris. The traction is more aggressive than one might expect from Nike shoes, which is interesting since this is a cross-over shoe. To us the shoe feels overbuilt, lacking the low weight and superior protection of most Hokas, while also feeling heavy and unstable compared to the best Nikes.

The old Pegasus Trail 36 on the left (brown) and the newer Trail 2 on the right (black). These shoes bear so little resemblance to each other that it hardly seems appropriate to name them the same thing. Unfortunately  lovers of the old version will probably not love the larger  heavier  less comfortable  and less stable design that is the new version.
The old Pegasus Trail 36 on the left (brown) and the newer Trail 2 on the right (black). These shoes bear so little resemblance to each other that it hardly seems appropriate to name them the same thing. Unfortunately, lovers of the old version will probably not love the larger, heavier, less comfortable, and less stable design that is the new version.

Performance Comparison


The Pegasus Trail 2 are a large shoe that features a ton of React foam cushioning underfoot in a springy and absorptive midsole. They have improved traction and a nice faux-gaiter around the ankle  but are also heavy and not very stable. The current version is not one of our favorite trail runners.
The Pegasus Trail 2 are a large shoe that features a ton of React foam cushioning underfoot in a springy and absorptive midsole. They have improved traction and a nice faux-gaiter around the ankle, but are also heavy and not very stable. The current version is not one of our favorite trail runners.

Foot Protection


For a shoe that has so much foam in the midsole, we are disappointed with the amount of underfoot protection. The React foam is very squishy, such that there is great shock absorption, which is fine for urban trails or bike paths. But on a trail, where we often step on rocks and sticks, a surprising amount gets through to the foot. This isn't a bad thing necessarily, but many options with similar amounts of protection can be found that are lower to the ground, more stable, and lighter. It's only disappointing because it is such a large and bulky shoe.

Running downhill over scree and talus is a great way to test a shoes underfoot protection. Despite having a ton of foam underfoot  we found that it was really squishy and still allowed rocks to penetrate due to its softness  a stark contrast from running in Hokas  which have firmer midsole foam.
Running downhill over scree and talus is a great way to test a shoes underfoot protection. Despite having a ton of foam underfoot, we found that it was really squishy and still allowed rocks to penetrate due to its softness, a stark contrast from running in Hokas, which have firmer midsole foam.

The upper is similarly under-protected, made mostly of mesh but with very few overlays in areas of high wear. While we do greatly appreciate the short collar around the ankle and find that it works reasonably well, we also notice that the toe bumper, a glued-on piece of rubber, doesn't provide great coverage, and we incurred a blood blister in our big toe when accidentally kicking a rock racing downhill.

Traction


The outsole is one area of this shoe that has improved since the last version, with 4mm deep lugs spread out at substantial distances for shedding mud. The lugs have nice sharp cut edges for biting into loose terrain, and also fairly broad flat surface areas for increased friction and grip on hard packed surfaces. Like most Nike shoes, the rubber itself is on the harder side and doesn't stick very well to rock, especially wet rock. While not the most aggressive overall, the outsole works well to grip across most surfaces, and is one of the better attributes this shoe has to offer.

The traction is one key area of this shoe that has improved  with the old version on the left and the newer one on the right. The lugs are around 4mm deep  made of fairly sticky rubber  and have both sharp edges to provide bite  and plenty of surface area for grip on harder surfaces.
The traction is one key area of this shoe that has improved, with the old version on the left and the newer one on the right. The lugs are around 4mm deep, made of fairly sticky rubber, and have both sharp edges to provide bite, and plenty of surface area for grip on harder surfaces.

Stability


The stability of this shoe is our number one gripe, and ankles were rolled twice that we can remember during testing, with many other near misses. Many factors play into the instability, with the high 10mm heel-toe drop ensuring that the foot does not land on a flat platform while also keeping the heel raised high in the air. The thick foam stack also elevates the foot off the ground significantly. The worst culprit, however, is simply the lack of support from the foam itself — we found it to be so squishy that it can collapse either inward or outward, inducing the dreaded ankle roll at worst, or by simply throwing you off balance in an unpredictable way. Nike seems to have even recognized this propensity, as evidenced by the midsole splaying outward many millimeters all around the heel. We wish this feature was enough to compensate, but at one half marathon trail race that we wore these for, we felt we had to be extra deliberate not to hurt ourselves bombing downhill when we instead wanted to be confident enough to go all out.

Shown here is the way in which the midsole foam  especially underneath the heel  has a propensity to collapse and buckle in unpredictable ways when landing on uneven surfaces. This effect threw us off balance multiple times  and also induced a couple of ankle rolls. With a 10mm heel toe drop and a ton of foam underfoot  this is indeed a very unstable shoe.
Shown here is the way in which the midsole foam, especially underneath the heel, has a propensity to collapse and buckle in unpredictable ways when landing on uneven surfaces. This effect threw us off balance multiple times, and also induced a couple of ankle rolls. With a 10mm heel toe drop and a ton of foam underfoot, this is indeed a very unstable shoe.

Comfort


Like the vast majority of Nike shoes we have worn, these are indeed comfortable, which is noticeable the first time you put them on. The upper is sewn well with no seams or creases to rub the foot, and the shoe fits well. However, it is nowhere near as comfortable as the previous version, which we considered to be perhaps the comfiest trail shoe we'd ever worn. The fabric feels hot and heavy like there is simply too much of it. The tongue, despite having extra padding sandwiched into its neoprene like fabric, doesn't completely succeed in eliminating the feeling of the laces looping over the top of the foot.

Check out the "Faux-gaiter" collar around the heel and ankle  designed to help keep out debris out on the trail. We like it  and think it works well. Its also very soft and flexible  so isn't even noticeable resting against the heel. You can also see the neoprene-like tongue material which we found to be hot and not super awesome at protecting the top of the foot from the laces.
Check out the "Faux-gaiter" collar around the heel and ankle, designed to help keep out debris out on the trail. We like it, and think it works well. Its also very soft and flexible, so isn't even noticeable resting against the heel. You can also see the neoprene-like tongue material which we found to be hot and not super awesome at protecting the top of the foot from the laces.

In terms of fit, we feel it fits true to size and is of average width. While the forefoot may be slightly on the narrow side, the flexible mesh fabric allows the foot to expand a bit if needed, and the shoe doesn't feel tight or narrow like many others.

Weight


Our pair of men's size 11 shoes weighs in at 24 ounces even, which ranks it up there with the heaviest shoes in this review. Compared to the previous version, which we had at 21.3 ounces, it has gained nearly three ounces overall, which should put to rest any idea that this shoe will feel even remotely the same.


It's hard to consider running on roads or bike paths in a heavy shoe, and is only acceptable for trails if the increase in weight has a corresponding increase in foot protection to justify it. Unfortunately, the heaviness of this shoe negatively impacts the performance for both types of terrain in a way that simply doesn't make sense to us.

The scale doesn't lie -- these shoes gained close to 3 ounces per pair  and are now one of the heaviest in our review. It's really hard to justify running on either roads or trails in such a heavy shoe when so many better performing options exist that weigh a lot less.
The scale doesn't lie -- these shoes gained close to 3 ounces per pair, and are now one of the heaviest in our review. It's really hard to justify running on either roads or trails in such a heavy shoe when so many better performing options exist that weigh a lot less.

Sensitivity


Many maximally cushioned shoes have so much dense foam underfoot that there is almost total dissociation from the trail itself. This is not the case with the Pegasus Trail 2, as the foam cushions the repetitive impact of running, but does not seem to cushion exceptionally well the blows from rocks or roots underfoot. While some sensitivity is appreciated, it can also be accomplished in a lighter and more nimble shoe than this one.

Despite the amount of underfoot cushioning  this shoe still remains mildly sensitive to what you are stepping on  a nice bonus for those who like to stay in touch with the trail beneath their feet.
Despite the amount of underfoot cushioning, this shoe still remains mildly sensitive to what you are stepping on, a nice bonus for those who like to stay in touch with the trail beneath their feet.

Value


The price of this shoe is the same as all the other Nike trail shoes — basically average for a trail runner these days. While there is nothing wrong with the price tag in our minds, we found the shoe to be low performing and caught in a no-man's-land of not performing especially well for any given purpose. We have a hard time, then, suggesting that it would be a good value purchase.

Running downhill into a smokey late summer sunset wearing the Pegasus Trail 2.
Running downhill into a smokey late summer sunset wearing the Pegasus Trail 2.

Conclusion


The Nike Pegasus Trail 2 is the classic example of a poor re-do of what was already a pretty solid shoe. With a massive increase in weight and a corresponding loss of stability, performance, and comfort, we have a very hard time understanding what the goal of the shoe is. Nike's other two trail running shoes fit right up there with the cream of the crop, and we suggest you look in that direction long before you consider spending your money on this shoe.

Enjoying the yellow aspen leaves on a fall run on a southern Colorado trail while putting in the miles in the Pegasus Trail 2.
Enjoying the yellow aspen leaves on a fall run on a southern Colorado trail while putting in the miles in the Pegasus Trail 2.

Andy Wellman