Nike Zoom Wildhorse trail shoes- REVIEW

This is a first impressions review because I only ran 6 or 7 miles in these over two separate runs.

I got these to counter my minimalist trail running shoes so that my achilles, calves and arches can rest a bit. (Side note: you should really be careful not to push yourself too hard/long in minimalist shoes or you can injure yourself!) The Nike Wildhorse shoes are much more supportive and cushioned than the New Balance 00, 10, and 20 series shoes, and certainly more supportive than my Mizuno Evo Feruses , but not as supportive as the really heavy trail running shoes like the ones from the Salomon brand (e.g. these ).

Out of the box, they felt narrow at the base of the toes. Nikes have a tendency to be more narrow than other brands. However, their minimalist shoes like the Free 3.0 and even Free 5.0 do not seem follow this tendency. The Wildhorses were narrow, though, to the point that I felt the need to stuff the toe box with some golf balls, particularly where the first metatarsal (big toe) joint is. This helped a lot and I felt confident enough in the fit to take them for a trail run.

First impressions: cushy! The heel and forefoot are nice and squishy, despite the lugs. They are very sole-heavy– the top material is a light mesh like the Free shoes, but the midsole and sole are very solid and stable. This is pretty  much what I was looking for. The lace fit is such that it is nice and tight in the middle of the foot across the top, but not very tight closer to the ankle or near the toes. As such, my heel doesn’t seem as secure as in some of my other shoes and the front of the foot feels more “slidey” as well. Mind you, this is not grotesquely so…I am just trying to be as thorough as possible in my report! This fit (or lack thereof) really isn’t because I wasn’t tightening the laces enough- I tried tightening in various ways and just couldn’t get a sweet spot between uncomfortably tight and too loose.

In my warm up walk up the trail, the shoes felt reallllly comfortable. However, the lack of foot hugging meant less stability running up/down the rocky trail. On steeper descents, it definitely seemed like my foot was sliding towards the front, which would mean angry toes and toenails after a while. I also felt my ankles and lower leg muscles having to compensate for the heel movements to keep my feet stable on the terrain. It seemed like more work to keep stable, but in return I got extra bounce and momentum from the cushioned sole.

The lugs are fantastic. I felt very gripped on a variety of surfaces, even somewhat slick, mossy boulders. The side to side flex of the last is wonderful. The laces never came undone, which is very important in sketchy trail running!

I decided to take the insole out and compare with the Mizuno Wave Evo Ferus and Brooks PureDrift insoles. You can see that the Nike Wildhorse (leftmost insole in the photo) is the most narrow. Despite the pronounced arch component, the thin insole doesn’t provide much arch support. Interestingly, the Mizunos felt the most supportive in the arches because the middle of the insole was raised like a speed bump from the outside (pinky toe) to the inside (big toe) edge along the arch.

Overall, I don’t think these fit my needs for nimble, stable trail running. These would be just fine for more casual trails (flatter terrain without really zigzagged, narrow paths) and casual road wear. I think this is a better fit for people with narrower feet and longer toes who wear relatively thick socks. I have a pretty skinny heel so the average person might not have the same heel slip feeling. IMG_8861 IMG_4962 IMG_7584 IMG_2044 IMG_2682 IMG_8529 IMG_8645