Nike Wildhorse 8 Review
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Nike Wildhorse 8
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|$180 List||$129.95 at Backcountry|
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|$99.95 at Backcountry|
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$79.00 at Amazon
|Pros||Incredibly comfortable, good cushioning, high stability||Unbeatable fit, fantastic underfoot protection, doesn’t absorb much water, very stable||Protective upper and midsole, great energy return, lightweight||Ultra-stable platform, stiff and supportive, deep lugs||Affordable, stabile, ample foot protection|
|Cons||Heavy, clunky at times, lacks sensitivity||Expensive, hard to get on foot, must wear above the ankle height socks, hard to stuff laces into garage||Stiff on advanced technical terrain, lacks sensitivity||Lack of ground feel, relatively heavy||Stiff and rigid in technical terrain, lacks sensitivity|
|Bottom Line||For long days on trail blending hiking and running this is our go-to pick if you've been hesitant to try zero-drop models||The finest shoe for technical terrain that gives a feeling of confidence at speed||If you are looking for Hoka that has a more instantaneous response, this is our favorite for long runs on moderate to buffed terrain||A classic shoe with a stiff platform that is firmly rooted in long-distance trail running||Built for beginners, this model is great for those looking for an entry point into trail shoes without spending top-dollar|
|Rating Categories||Nike Wildhorse 8||Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3||HOKA Torrent 3||Brooks Cascadia 16||Brooks Divide 3|
|Foot Protection (25%)|
|Specs||Nike Wildhorse 8||Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3||HOKA Torrent 3||Brooks Cascadia 16||Brooks Divide 3|
|Measured Weight (per pair)||23.5 oz (size 10)||20.5 oz (size 9.5)||19.3 oz (size 10)||22.5 oz (size 9.5)||20.8 oz (size 10)|
|Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot)||36 mm, 27 mm||26 mm, 18 mm||23 mm, 18 mm||29 mm, 21 mm||20 mm, 12 mm|
|Heel-to-Toe Drop||9 mm||8 mm||5 mm||8 mm||8 mm|
|Lug Depth||4 mm||4 mm||4 mm||5 mm||Not Available|
|Upper||Engineered mesh||Anti-Debris mesh with sockliner||Mesh||Engineered mesh||Synthetic mesh|
|Midsole||Nike React foam||Energy Save PU foam with Profeel Film rock protection||EVA||2mm Brooks DNA LOFT v2 foam, Ballistic Rock Shield||EVA|
|Outsole||Wet traction rubber (mitton rubber), high-abrasion, high-regrind rubber||Salomon Contagrip MA||Rubber||Brooks TrailTack rubber||TrailTrack Rubber|
|Lacing Style||Traditional||Quicklace with garage||Traditional||Traditional||Traditional|
|Wide Version Available?||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Sizes Available||6 - 15 US||4 - 13 US||7 - 15 US||7 - 15 US||7 - 15 US|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Wildhorse 8 is our recommendation for users that want zero-drop comfort without the zero-drop. At the upper end of our lineup at 9mm, this model provides all-day comfort without having to be accustomed to 0mm. A roomier toe box and midfoot allow for comfort that we haven't seen in a Nike before. This shoe can tackle it all, but the roomier fit may hinder some confidence in technical sections, especially at speed. We see this as a direct competitor to other zero-drop models by providing a thru-hike style fit while being great for all-around trail usage.
Out of the box, there is a substantial amount of stiffness throughout the length of the shoe. The added rock plate is partially responsible. The outsole rubber is also very stiff, increasing the initial rigidity. Luckily, the react midsole is soft and well-cushioned. This combination allows for increased landing comfort while providing a good blend of energy return and protection underfoot. Having the highest stack out of any of the models we tested, providing a wide platform limiting ankle torque was crucial. This high stack gives plenty of distance between you and the ground, limiting foot fatigue for consecutive days on the trail.
Stiff and substantial outsole rubber makes the Wildhorse 8 excel in a wide variety of conditions. With less rocker, more of your foot is in contact with the ground; this provides consistent pressure creating more balanced traction. We aren't huge fans of the v-shaped tread design, which feels more suitable for rolling traction than running. It provides more surface area contact, so it's nice on consistent trail types such as all-dirt, all-road, and all-rock. But on blended surfaces, we prefer smaller aggressive lugs over larger ones. When using less force to push off, this isn't really a deal breaker, and it continues to support that this shoe is excellent for long days where you will blend various styles (hiking, trotting, running).
It's no surprise, given the stack height and stiffness, that the Wildhorse 8 has minimal ground feel. With a heel measurement of 36mm, this is the highest stack in our lineup. As we've discussed, this is adequately adjusted for by providing a wider platform, but this is less noticeable in usage than on paper. We'd recommend slightly overlooking the stack as we found this model to still be well-supportive in technical terrain. However, extremely off-camber rocks or side hilling will cause a substantial amount of torque on the ankles. Combined with the hard outsole rubber and stiff rock plate, the Wildhorse doesn't provide as much agile confidence as lighter, more grounded models. We'd recommend this model for more dedicated trail usage and less so for off-trail activities.
The wider platform of the Wildhorse 8 allows for increased stability on most moderate terrain. As mentioned above, steep and technical terrain that is off-camber will feel less secure, given the high stack. The increased stiffness of the outsole also contributes to a stable ride. We found that when our foot was allowed to naturally lay flat, there was a substantial amount of rigidity and support through our ankles and knees. For boulder field hopping or grass side-hilling, we'd recommend something with less stack, especially for long outings or if this is your primary terrain choice. As with any gear, your purpose and use case will determine what's best for you.
After our extensive testing, the overall comfort of both the upper and landing is our favorite aspect of the Nike Wildhorse 8. Its wide platform and roomier upper make this a great all-around model which excels over a wide variety of terrain. The upper is both breathable and protective and provides a snug fit without feeling cramped or constricted. Given this, the upper is more breathable and becomes appealing the longer it's on your foot. This wouldn't be our first pick for racing or advanced technical terrain, but for long-distance or thru-hike style outings, we could easily see ourselves picking it.
At 23.5 ounces for the pair, this is one of the heaviest shoes in our lineup. Luckily Nike has made this worthwhile by providing great comfort. For faster running, the pickup feels a bit slow, and following through also leaves quickness to be desired. But, the comfort of the upper, cushioning, and durability of the shoe all help make weight less of an issue. While this isn't a weight we strive to use every day on our training runs, there is a clear use case where we'd recommend this model.
Should You Buy the Nike Wildhorse 8?
If you have been interested in Altra's but have hesitated with the zero drop or don't prefer zero drop, we'd recommend this model. Users blending hiking and running will find an appreciation of this shoe. If you are sticking on the trail, even technical ones, you should find the Wildhorse right at home. If you are tackling off-route, social trail-type outings or doing extended technical sections of trail, we'd recommend something else.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
Users looking for high comfort but a more dedicated fast-running shoe should consider the Saucony Peregrine 13. This has more noticeable soft cushioning with a slightly slimmer fit, lower drop, and super comfortable upper. For people wanting maximum technical ability and ultra comfort, see the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3.
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