The Nike Trail running shoes range has been evolving super quickly of the past few years, in terms of design, performance, comfort, and the number of different trail running shoes available (and clothing too, including shorts, running hats, running vests, and sunglasses.
Nike itself needs no introduction as they’ve been manufacturing some of the world’s best running shoes for many years now, but it’s the growth in the trail running space that interests me the most.
Nike Trail’s growth is very much in line with the increasing popularity of trail running as a sport in itself – and for good reason, it’s super fun, plus trail running has other great benefits over road running.
The release of the latest Nike Trail running shoes has come with a bit of confusion surrounding which are the best Nike Trail running shoes for a particular type of terrain, and also for the ability level of the runner who plans to wear them.
In this Nike Trail Shoes buyer’s guide, I’m going to make it super easy for you to choose the perfect pair of Nike Trail running shoes for you, and how you plan to run with them.
MY FAVORITE: If you’re short on time – my favorite all-round Nike Trail running shoes are still the Terra Kiger 8.
To discover the best trail running shoes and the best road running shoes right now, bookmark those two linked posts for later.
All the Nike Trail running shoes in this buyer’s guide offer neutral support, and are available in both men’s and women’s; the features are the same for both, the only difference is the colorways which Nike likes to update regularly. The currently available colorways can be explored using our links below.
There are now 5 different Nike trail running shoes to choose from in the Nike Trail running shoe range, and you should be able to quickly identify the best Nike Trail running shoes for you by clicking our ‘jump links’ below. These links will scroll you down to the best Nike Trail shoes for the category you click.
So, all you have to do is prioritize what you need from your Nike Trail running shoes (by choosing 3 links to click below), then click those links, and whichever shoe pops up the most frequently is the trail running shoe for you!
Nike running shoes generally have medium arch insoles in them – this makes them suitable for most people with average feet but if you do feel you need extra arch support then I would recommend getting yourself a pair of good insoles to help improve comfort and running form.
Best Nike Trail Running Shoes [Jump Links]
- the best overall Nike Trail Shoes
- the lightest Nike Trail running shoes
- the most waterproof
- the best grip in wet conditions
- the best door-to-trail / hybrid Nike Trail shoes
- the best for ultra marathons
- the best for beginner trail runners
- the lowest drop Nike Trail shoes
- the cheapest Nike Trail shoes
- the most breathable Nike Trail shoes
- the best when transitioning from road to trail running
- the best for hiking trails
- the best for racing
1. Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 8
- Nike Terra Kiger 8 – All-Round Best Nike Trail Running Shoes
- Weight: 10.4oz (295g) – for men’s size US 9
- Cushioning: Moderate | Rock plate: Yes
- Drop: 4mm
- Price: $140 at nike.com
To learn more about these great trail running shoes, read my Nike Terra Kiger 8 review.
The Nike Terra Kiger 8 is a lightweight trail running shoe for fast and light trail runs and trail races. Nike has updated the outsole in this latest edition, for improved performance on wet terrain and variable trail conditions.
The Terra Kiger 8 is the most minimal trail running shoe from the Nike Trail running range, it boasts the lowest drop from heel to toe.
They are the only Nike Trail shoes that still use some Air Zoom units (there’s also some React foam in there) in the midsole which is a REALLY good thing, as it means they are very responsive on the trails without the loss of control on technical terrain.
The Air Zoom Terra Kiger 8 is Nike Trail’s second lightest trail running shoe option but feels the most minimal.
The mesh upper is flexible, breathable, and supportive with a snug lacing system that gives you a much-needed comfortable and supportive fit for rocky and technical trail sections.
The Terra Kiger 8 are my favorite Nike all-terrain shoes this season.
2. Nike Pegasus Trail 4
- Nike Pegasus Trail 4 – Best Door to Trail Nike Trail Shoes
- Weight: 9.7oz/275g – for men’s size US 9
- Cushioning: Maximum | Rock plate: No
- Drop: 9mm
- Price: $140 at Nike.com
For a more detailed look read my Nike Pegasus Trail 4 review.
The Nike Pegasus Trail 4 is a high-performance trail running shoe for those running light, or buffed / hard-packed trails.
The 9mm drop forces a more forward-leaning stance which is typical of a running shoe for runners who want to run fast and keep that forward momentum pushing them forward.
The Pegasus Trail 4 is well suited to running fast downhill and they also pack a punch while running uphill due to the aggressive tread on the outsole and that super-cushioned React foam in the midsole
The React foam midsole protects the bottom of your feet from spiky rocks extremely well too.
The Nike Pegasus Trail’s construction is very durable and you’ll be the envy of other trail runners due to how nice the design is.
3. Nike Wildhorse 7
- Weight: 11.14oz/328.4g (Men’s size 10)
- Cushioning: Moderate | Rock plate: Yes
- Drop: 8.0mm (Forefoot: 14.5mm, Heel: 22.5mm)
- Price: $130
The Nike Wildhorse 7 is the ‘Nike Trail’ trail running shoe that will suit many trail runners of beginner to intermediate experience.
It has a mid-range drop from heel-to-toe, good cushioning underfoot, and it really feels like this particular Nike Trail running shoe has been designed for hitting the trails hard, like a work-horse.
The Nike Wildhorse will keep your feet warm while running in cooler temperatures.
Like some of the other Nike Trail running shoes, the Wildhorse 7 also has a rock plate to help protect your feet from sharp rocks and provides a comfortable feeling mid-range drop of 8mm from heel to toe.
The Wildhorse 7 are a great workhorse shoe that will tackle many different terrains and it’s also a great shoe choice for anyone looking for Nike hiking shoes – as they are a great lightweight alternative to more traditional hiking boots.
4. Nike Pegasus Trail 3 GORE-TEX
- Weight: 11.8oz/334.5g (Men’s size 10)
- Cushioning: Moderate | Rock plate: No
- Drop: 9.5mm (Forefoot: 15mm, Heel: 24.5mm)
- Price: $160
The Nike Pegasus Trail 3 GORE-TEX is the waterproof version of the popular Pegasus Trail 3.
It’s actually quite remarkable how Nike has managed to keep the weight down while waterproofing the Pegasus Trail 3.
It’s only 15 grams heavier than the non-waterproof version, and you get full Nike Gore-Tex waterproof protection – that’s impressive.
The upper uses GORE-TEX technology, to provide waterproof protection without sacrificing fit or feel.
This is still a flexible Nike Trail running shoe, is still lightweight, and will keep your feet dry while running through wet trails.
There are also quick-drying properties to help keep them fresh, and ready for your next trail run.
5. Nike Juniper Trail
- Nike Juniper Trail – Cheapest Nike Trail running shoes
- Cushioning: Moderate | Rock plate: Yes
- Price: $70
The Nike Juniper Trail delivers a consistent ride for your off-road runs. It’s built for rocky trails, helping beginners to stay focused on the path ahead.
Tough traction mixes well with a lightweight design so you can keep moving when tackling challenging terrain.
The rubber outsole has tapered lugs on it which gives good traction on rocky roads. It’s also designed to increase efficiency while running up and down hills.
Hi Alistair! This is such a timely post as I have been eyeing up a Nike trail shoe for some time. I have one question though as I have found zero info on this but what is the width of the toe box in each model? I have struggled with the Pegasus in the past being too narrow so wondered how these stacked up? Thanks!
So glad this post helps! 🙂 The toe box for the ‘Pegasus 36 Trail’ has been widened specifically to help with toe splay on the trails, so it should fit better than the standard road Pegasus shoes.
What is the best road /trail/treadmill hybrid shoe
The Pegasus 36 trail for sure!
Would you actually reccoment the Kiger 5 for ultramarathons? Does it compare with the Salomon S/lab ultra?
Sorry for the really slow response here! The Terra Kiger 5 has a less cushioned ride out of all the Nike Trail shoes. I recommend the Pegasus 36 Trail for Ultras.
Thank you! This confirmed my next purchase choice 100%!
Glad I could help!! 🙂
Hey would you recommend any of these for long distance hiking(PCT)?
This really depends on whether you’re ok with a trail running shoe that may have less ankle support than a traditional hiking boot. Personally if I were to go with any of these Nike Trail shoes for the PCT, I would go for the Nike Pegasus 36 Trail (or the Gore-tex waterproof version) – They’re both reviewed on the site. The comfort that you’ll get with the Peg 36 Trail over that distance will be much more than the other two shoes.
Also, take a look at our lightweight waterproof hiking boots buyer’s guide (depending on when you’re doing the trail, a waterproof boot/shoe may be a good idea)incase the traditional boot is a better option: https://www.trailandkale.com/gear/best-hiking-boots-buyers-guide/
Will the new Adidas Boa (2020) with the same lugs size knock the Nike pegasus trail over the side as the new best hybrid.
A good question! If I can get hold of a pair I’ll let you know! 😉
Does Nike offer Pegasus 36 Trail equivalent with level 5 cushion?
Not that I know of…
Hi Alastair, thanks so much for this handy comparison! I ordered the Pegasus Trails, then a friend said “Oh, you should have gone for the Terra Kigers because you’ll always be twisting your ankles with the high stack on the Pegs’ sole. What do you think?
The Pegasus Trails are awesome trail running shoes and you shouldn’t have any issues with rolling your ankles as the heel support is very good. The drop is 10mm but truly feels more like 6mm. As a comparison, the Terra Kiger’s are 4mm.
Can you please help. Need the best trail shoe for 100km but have only owned Nike and happy with nike. If you say another brand what do I look for?
I’d personally go for the Pegasus 36 Trail for a 100km race.
I see that the Pegasus Trail 37 is on store shelves. Had you had a chance to try them out yet? I’m curious what you think of them compared to the 36. I am new to trail and am looking to make my first tril shoe purchase. I have a long history with Pegasus as a road running shoe. I have a wide foot which makes the right fit a bit challenging though. Yesterday I brought home the Kiger, the Trail 2 and the Trail 37 all to try around the house to see which is most comfortable. Honestly for me, the Trail 2 is very narrow in the toe box. Anyway, just wondering what your thoughts are on the Peg Trail 37. Thanks for the reviews!
Please disregard my comment regarding a Peg Trail 37 shoe! I misspoke and obviously don’t know what I’m talking about. What I brought home IS the Trail 36. I got confused with the latest Peg running shoe which IS the 37. My mistake. Sorry!
Haha, no worries! I’m quietly hoping Nike releases the peg 37 trail 😉
I’m honestly leaning toward the Trail 36. Being new to the trail scene, I’m wondering how important you think a toe guard of some sort is (like on the Trail 2)?
So far, the Trail 2 is a bit constricting around the widest part of my foot. I have plenty of length at the toe so really can’t size up. Right now the Kiger and the Trail 36 are fitting the best.
It really depends on the technicality of the trails you intend to run and your liklihood of accidentally kicking a rock or root. If you pick your feet up well then you should be fine with the Peg 36 Trail. If you’re worried about tripping and needing a toe cap read this post, it will really help: https://www.trailandkale.com/tips/why-you-fall-over-trail-running/
Thanks! I’ll check that out along with many other interesting and informative posts I’m finding 🙂
I would say the trails I’ve been on are considered moderate in technicality. There are lots of tree roots to look out for and some to navigate over by walking along with a fair amount of elevation gain and loss. Heavily forested. I took a fall a few weeks ago catching my toe on one of those sneaker roots. Took me down hard and landed on a bigger root at my upper thigh/hip. No real damage to skin or bone, just a gigantic bruise. Hurt like hell at the time, of course, but I was able to finish my run (it was an out and back and this happened just before the turn around point!). As a result, I’m being even more aware of picking up my feet to clear those roots!
Oh no, thats so annoying, especially as you were at the furthest point from where you started! Hope you heal up soon – and keep enjoying those trails, I love forested routes! 🙂
Alastair, sorry to keep bugging you but I have one more question. I’m wondering what makes the Trail 36 a “trail” shoe? Like I mentioned, I have been a loyal Peg fan for road running for years and the Trail 36 looks and feels a lot like my traditional running shoe. So, what makes it different? It’s hard to find a comparison between the two but I guess I just want to know I’m getting a true trail shoe and not just buying into a label. Does that make sense?
No worries at all! 🙂 So the difference between the road version and the Peg 36 Trail is that the outsole is more rugged and durable, with better grip on trail surfaces. The upper materials also have more durability in areas where you need it, for example you can see there’s a rubberised front bumper and a stiffer material around the heels which helps lock feet in place when running on trails (reduces the chances of lateral ankle roll) – something that’s not considered as important on road surfaces.
I personally love the Peg 36 Trial because it feels like a road shoe yet performs excellently as a trail running shoe. You can’t go wrong choosing the peg 36 trail for trail running, it’s still my favorite trail shoe for a reason. 🙂 If you haven’t read it already, my full review goes into more detail on them: https://www.trailandkale.com/gear/nike-pegasus-36-trail-review/
Thank you, Alastair! I really appreciate your honesty and quick responses to my questions. I did read your other review. I love how comfortable the Peg 36 Trail is… so much like my beloved Peg running shoe (which is probably why I had my doubts for it being a “real” trail shoe). I have a feeling they will win out. The Trail 2 is just too right around my forefoot and feels very long and stiff. The other one still in contention is the Terra Kiger. Planning to try them both on my treadmill tomorrow. Can’t go outside… Oregon is on fire and the air quality is awful! Not to mention my favorite park for trails is closed due to the fire danger 🙁
I hope you find the perfect ones for you! 🙂 Yes, its crazy smokey here in Northern California too!! 🙁 Stay safe out there!!
Hi from the midlands in England. I mostly run up the woods, some slightly muddy fields. Which nike has the longest lugs for grip??? Jack
Hey Jack, I’d say the Wildhorse 6 or Terra Kiger 6 will give you the best ride for those trail situations. TK is more minimal but a great shoe while the Wildhorse 6 has more cushioning underfoot – so the choice there would be how much of a minimal ride you’re happy with. The lugs seem ever so slightly deeper on the WH6.
I have the Peg 36 trail and love them (on my fourth pair!) – thanks for all the feedback Steffanie & Alastair as I was wondering if I should stick with them for my first ultra / trail race as I currently use them primarily on the road and in limited trail capacity. Positive thoughts to you both re: the fires all the way from VA.
Hey Sarah! So glad you’re enjoying the Peg 36 Trails – and thanks for thinking of us both and the current fire situation. The air quality is much better where I am right now thank goodness! 🙂
(Also posted in Wildhorse review, but thought it might be helpful to others in this column.)
I can really relate to your comment about the new ridge of extra padding at the heel not being a plus for the shoe! I had the shoe mailed to me from Nike and the Wildhorse was the most comfortable of the three I received (Trail 2, Terra Kiger 6 and the Wildhorse 6–still waiting for the Peg 36 Trail to arrive). Yes, very comfortable if only I could rip out that extra heel padding! So disappointed that Nike chose to design the heel that way. I went through a few years of intense heel pain if ANY shoe pressed on that Achilles heel area. I had to wear all backless shoes for quite a while and only boots (that didn’t “grab” my heel) in the winter. Not due to running, but a drug that I was on inflamed the Achilles area of my heel! Have not had that problem for several years now, but trying on those shoes brought that pain back immediately so they are going back!! So sad because they are so good looking and fit perfectly in all other areas of my foot! Rejected the Terra Kigers because there is not nearly enough padding in the forefoot for me and the Trail 2s had the same heel problem and were weirdly tight near the toes. I have two pairs of regular Pegasus 37 runners and one pair of regular Peg 36s that are heavenly, so I’m thinking that the Peg 36 Trails might be perfect! They are hard to find! I took a 6 (Women’s) in the regular Pegs so not sure if that translates into a 6 in the 36 Trail, so ordered both 6 and 6.5. Not crazy about what was available—Echo Pink (to use in the dirt??!) and also found Khaki/Blue which might be much better! Can’t wait to find out if those will work! Thanks for all of your information on the trail shoes—very helpful!!
You’re very welcome – I’m glad you’ve found all the information useful 🙂
p.s. by the sound of everything you mentioned, you’re going to love the Peg 36 trail! Enjoy! 🙂
Hey Alistair, I’ve been leaning towards the peg 36 trail for a while and particularly because they’re on sale at the moment. The trails I run are mostly through soft sandy dunes and some hard compact dirt. I’m also looking at the Salomon Sense Ride 3s. Have you tried those and if so how would they compare? Also would you recommend a lower drop for sandy conditions?
Hi Gene – where are you based? It sounds dreamy with the dunes! 🙂
Yes I think a lower drop shoe would be especially good for sandy conditions, and perhaps a shoe with a wide outsole to help distribute your weight and reduce the effect of sinking into the sand – this should help you ‘float’ on top while running. I haven’t run in the Sense Ride 3 but my experience with the original shoe is that it is quite similar to the Peg 36 Trail but don’t take my word on that as it was a long time ago. I always recommend going for the Peg 36 Trail right now, they’re my current favorite trail shoes. You may need gaiters with them for your sandy runs though.
Hey Alistair, great post and really helped me in my choice of next shoe. I run in the UK on wet muddy trails, have also had issues with rolling my ankle, but i do like a cushioned shoe. Should i go for the Terra Kiger? What do you think? I run Nike road salomon speedcross trail.
Hey David, glad I could help! The Terra Kiger is a great shoe but it does have a bit more of a minimal feel than the Speedcross, which I personally like but if you’re planning long distances you may want a bit more cushioning, like in the Wildhorse for example.
Alistair, this is a great and really useful comparison. I currently have P36trail and love everything about them except there is too much room in the toe box. I have a narrow foot. Any recommendations of which would be more narrow?
Any experience with the Juniper trail? Looks like the Wild Trail from a few years ago that fit me well.
Thanks Mike, glad it helped you out! I’d say the Terra Kiger feels the most narrow of all of them. I don’t have any experience with the Juniper Trail, unfortunately!
This post has been super helpful! Now that spring is around the corner, I wanted to invest in a new pair of running shoes. I typically stick to road running, with occasional trails and muddy terrains. I find that with my regular running shoes, the treads wear off fast and the shoe becomes useless. This year, I decided to explore trail shoes. I’m currently debating between my road running shoes, or the Pegasus 36 Trail and the Terra Kiger 6 trail. Would love your opinion!
If you can get hold of the Pegasus 36 Trail still then definitely try to get a pair as they are very good on road surfaces too! You’ll find the Terra Kiger 6 a little less cushioned ,with a more minimal feel – not something that’s desirable when running on roads. An alternative shoe thats worth looking at if you plan to run 70% or more on roads is the On Cloudultra – it works very well on hard road surfaces as well as light trails.
Any recommendation for a trail shoe that will work well in cold winter temps too (i.e. warm and good traction on packed snow type trails, slippery-ish asphalt, as well as regular trails year round)?
Not as worried about water proofing necessarily, as I tend to run in the winter when it’s cold and dry.
But water proofing would be nice if it would let me run through shallow creeks (I.e. quick 10-20 second crossings – would be cool to do, unless the waterproof shoes totally aren’t intended for that …haha, figure it doesn’t hurt to ask)?
Thanks for your help!
A great all-round trail running shoe worth trying for what you describe would be the Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX or the non GORE-TEX version if waterproofing isn’t important to you. Good waterproof running shoes can be used through shallow crossings so long as you don’t completely submerge them and let water in around your ankles! 🙂
This post on the best trail running shoes should be helpful: https://www.trailandkale.com/gear/best-trail-running-shoes-buyers-guide/