Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nike Zoom Wildhorse Review

A lot of trail runners seem to have beef with Nike as a company, but after the release of the Wildhorse and Terra Kiger I started seeing these shoes pop up all over the trails and naturally I was intrigued. My first pair of running shoes were the Nike Lunarglide+2 and I loved them, so when they released this trail and ultra shoe that seemingly appealed to a wide range of runners, I had to see for myself what they had created.
*If you would like to skip all the shoe geek talk, feel free to scroll to the bottom for a summary.


The upper has 3 layers: The inner sleeve that is connected to the tongue and wraps the foot for a custom feel which Nike calls Dynamic Fit (similar to Salomon's Endofit). The supportive overlays which is actually the mid layer that locks the foot to the platform. And the mesh on the outside. While not seamless, the seams are minimal enough that they cause no irritation. The Wildhorse also features a gusseted tongue, by way of Dynamic Fit, and a minimal synthetic leather toe bumper.
I found the upper to be comfortable, but not quite as breathable as I had hoped for due to the dual mesh. However, the inner sleeve and overlays really wrap and secure the midfoot while the toe box opens up providing plenty of room. The tongue is also padded enough to really cinch the laces down without causing pain in the top of my foot, which is more than I can say for most trail shoes I've worn.
While shoefitr recommended I go with the same size as my PI N1's, I didn't find that to be accurate. The Wildhorse runs a little short in my opinion and while I don't mind a tighter fit in performance trails shoes, I did get some rubbing/irritation on my big toe during my last 20 miler in them. So if you like a little more room up front, I would size up at least 1/2 size. 


The midsole on the Wildhorse is a dual density EVA blend of Cushlon and Cushlon ST with a Zoom Air Unit in the heel (I was told by a Nike Rep that the website needs to be updated as these shoes do not feature Phylon in the midsole). Cushlon is Nike's classic long lasting foam with a somewhat high rubber content making it softer and more springy. I'm told that Cushlon ST is a bit denser than regular Cushlon and can be found in more of Nike's low profile shoes. The ST stands for "stability". And "Air Cushion Units" are pressurized air units designed to reduce weight while providing impact protection and energy return, the "Zoom" unit being the most low profile of these. Nike didn't put a rock plate in the Wildhorse assuming that the EVA compound was resilient enough to protect against rock bruising.
The first thing I noticed when I slipped these on was the cushion in the heel. It's superb. The forefoot even feels firm compared to the heel which became more noticeable on longer runs, not so much in a bad way, but I found myself wishing I had a Zoom Air Unit in the forefoot as well (which you can find on the Terra Kiger). As far as the rock plate goes, I landed hard on a few rocks which I could feel through the shoe and I'm a small guy. I would think heavier runners might get some rock bruising on more technical terrain, but for lighter runners it shouldn't be much of an issue.
All in all the ride is cushioned and stable while providing awesome energy return. Never once did the Wildhorse feel flat, regardless of the surface I was on. They even have a surprisingly smooth and bouncy ride on asphalt and cement.


The outsole on the Wildhorse is pretty stout for such a low profile shoe. It has aggressive multi directional "Rubber Waffle" lugs on the forefoot and pyramid lugs for great grip in every direction. The heel is also beveled with a crash pad, which felt a little awkward walking around at first, but later proved to be effective on descents by providing great shock absorption and a smooth transition. I found the grip to inspire confidence on all terrain.


Nike has been around for a long time and obviously knows how to put comfort and performance underfoot. The Wildhorse is no exception. It is a well thought out, low profile trail shoe with a balanced feel and great traction. It's cushioned, stable and has great energy return suitable for almost any terrain. My only criticism is that it doesn't have a rock plate in the forefoot for added protection, which would be a welcome addition in future updates.

Weight: 9.6 ounces  for a men's size 10.

Drop: 4mm differential (23mm Heel/ 19mm Forefoot).

Sizing: Runs small. 

Durability: (will update)

Value: Fair. At $110 They're priced at or slightly below other performance trail shoes in their category.

What are your thoughts on the Wildhorse?

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