After a long spell without any new offerings, Nike updated their trail shoe lineup for 2019 in a big way. The Terra Kiger has a full redesign for version 5, the Wildhorse has a new upper for version 5 (review coming soon), and the Nike Pegasus 36 road shoe received a brand new trail counterpart that will be the focus of this review.
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail is built on the same platform as the road version, but has a new air mesh upper, durable skins in high wear areas, separate Zoom Air units in the heel and forefoot for stability, and enlarged lugs for trail use. The Pegasus 36 Trail has been one of my most used shoes since it’s release over the summer, and I will share my thoughts in this review having enjoyed them for more than 100 miles of mixed trail use.
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Size, Weight, Fit, and Build
My size 11.5 Pegasus 36 Trails weigh in at a lightweight 10.95 oz per shoe. The size 11.5 is true to size for me, and is the shoe size I wear for the vast majority of my trail running shoes, including the Nike Wildhorse 5.
In the heel, the Pegasus 36 Trail has a unique shape, with a high elf like shoe horn and a narrow fit. The heel is well padded and has a rigid heel counter that keeps my foot locked down on off kilter trails. I have experience no heel slip or blistering with the Pegasus 36 Trail, and I’ve hit more than a few 3000ft+ climbs in warm weather.
The low volume midfoot of the Pegasus 36 Trail is on the narrow side, and provides a very secure and snug fit. Nike uses 4 flywire cables on each side to lock each foot down and provide amazing lock down for faster paced running. I’d hesitate to recommend this shoe for those of you with wide feet. For those with a standard D fit, you’re going to love the precise locked-down fit.
The toebox on Pegasus 36 Trail is a little tighter than my feet like, with the standard tapered toe-box shape that Nike is known for. I’m not sure who is clamouring for these delta shaped toe-boxes, but I’d love to see Nike widen the next version of the Pegasus Trail like they’ve done for the Wildhorse line. The toebox also has a low volume fit, but the flexible mesh used on the upper helps keep things from feeling too cramped up front. A flexible laminate toe guard is used up front for protection from accidental kicks and stubs. It isn’t the most robust toe guard, but it has been surprisingly effective when called upon.
The base layer of upper materials used for the Pegasus 36 Trail consists of an open air mesh, that has been incredible for hot summer days. Even in temperatures approaching triple digits, these shoes allow my feet dry air out and breathe. I haven’t been able to get them soaked, but I would wager they drain and dry very quickly.
The well padded tongue on the Pegasus 36 Trail is fully gusseted and fits much like the endo-fit booties on Salomon trail shoes. Nike uses a really comfortable laminated eyelet overlay that minimizes stitching and makes for a pressure and seam free fit on the top of the foot. Instead of traditional grommets for lacing, Nike uses their flywire technology that provides a lockdown fit without any pressure points.
In use, The upper on the Pegasus 36 Trail has performed well for short and fast days, as well as long grinds and shuffles. The comfort is close to being perfect, if I don’t factor in the fit of the toebox. For runs and hikes longer than 10 miles, the cramped fit up front leaves me wishing for something a little wider. I thought the breathable open mesh of the upper would suffer from durability issues, but I’m over 100 miles now and the uppers show no signs of premature wear.
The midsole of the Pegasus 36 Trail is built on a 10mm drop with 28mm in the heel and 18mm in the forefoot. The Pegasus 36 Trail has an EVA midsole with separate Zoom Air units in the heel and forefoot for responsiveness and and added stability on uneven paths. The EVA midsole on the Pegasus 36 Trail is more firm than on the road version of the Pegasus 36, but still rides much more like a road shoe than a dedicated trail shoe. The ride underfoot is plush, but not squishy like the Hoka Speedgoat.
The Pegasus 36 Trail has no rock plate or forefoot protection other than the EVA midsole and Zoom Air unit up front. This combination works well on all short or smooth runs, but limits my long run use to trails without too many sharp rocks.
In use, I find the Pegasus 36 Trail to be best suited for fire roads and buffed out single track. The midsole on this shoe is just flat out comfortable on most trails. I did a 14 mile trail run on fire roads with 3000ft of vert and my feet felt just as good after the run as they did before. I also recently did a 12 mile trail run with 5500ft of vert on a rocky trail, and my feet were feeling pretty raw and pounded at the end. These two runs help sum up the best kinds of runs and trails for the Pegasus 36 Trail. On smooth trails, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this shoe for any distance. For rockier trails, I would hesitate to recommend this shoe for more than a marathon distance.
The Pegasus 36 Trail has a two piece outsole, with separate technologies used on the lateral and medial sides of the shoe. On the inner medial side of the Pegasus 36 Trail, Nike uses a softer Duralon blown rubber through the inner heel into the forefoot. This softer rubber is for increased traction on smooth and slick surfaces. On the outer lateral side of the Pegasus 36 Trail, Nike uses a firm and durable BRS 1000 carbon rubber. This lateral piece of the outsole doubles as a ‘crash rail’ to maintain the transition and flexibility found on the Pegasus road shoe.
On the medial side of the Pegasus 36 Trail, Nike uses shallow boxcutter shaped trapezoid lugs, and opted for more block-like lugs on the lateral side of the shoe.
In use, the outsole on the Pegasus 36 Trail has performed much better than I expected. When I first saw how shallow the lugs were in person, I thought I would slip a bit on softer and less packed down trails. I’ve been surprised how well the Pegasus 36 Trail handles steep alpine trails at speed, but have hit the deck twice due to a loss of grip underfoot. I think Nike needs to add a few millimeters of lug depth to this outsole or cut down on the surface area of the lugs in the forefoot to make this a peak performer. On the positive side, this outsole lends itself very well to fire roads, smooth trails, and road to trail outings, with a ride akin to the road version of the Nike Pegasus.
The traction provided by the outsole rubber compounds has been adequate, but not great. When I say adequate, I’m comparing the Pegasus 36 Trail to the Nike Wildhorse 3-5, which are ice skates on smooth and slick surfaces. The Pegasus 36 Trail handles these trails much better, but has a ways to go before I feel as confident as when I’m packing Salomon’s wet traction Contragrip. In use, I’ll take a smooth granite slab at speed with confidence. With anything wet, I’m going to be chopping my steps and keeping my center of gravity low.
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The Pegasus 36 Trail comes in at $130, which makes it a high value pick given its durability. If you’re looking for a single shoe that can be used on road and trail equally well, I can’t think of a better option available right now. For my readers hiking trails like Camino de Santiago, this shoe would be a fantastic pick. If on the other hand, you’re looking to add the Pegasus 36 Trail to your running shoe quiver, it will slot in nicely for days on fire roads and buffed out single track. The Pegasus 36 Trail performs admirably on rugged alpine trails, but its lack of a rockplate becomes obvious pretty quickly as the miles add up. Even with this drawback, the comfort and responsive ride of the Pegasus 36 Trail has me reaching for them regardless of where my outings take me.
6 thoughts on “Gear Review: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail Shoe”
Thanks for the great review! I’m wondering in the upper mesh is identical to the regular Pegasus or more robust
No, it’s a little thicker and more durable.
Comfy as a road version. Since it’s impossible to combine grip and durability something had to give, which in this case is this case is the grip, but this is hybrid shoe and it was never designed for techical terrain. Who ever put a pointy heel on this shoes, never took them down a steep descend.
I agree, Ivo.
Would you say going half a size up would be okay? If you would have gone for a size 12 would it have affected your performance that much?
Hi Kris. I think a half size up would have actually been the better fit for me on most days. I don’t think there will be much of a performance hit sizing up unless you have a narrow foot.