The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34 is a jack of all trades type of shoe, designed to please many runners at a reasonable price.
It features a neutral platform with a 10mm offset and weighs a reasonable 10.4 ounces in men’s size 10.
Similar shoes in this area would be the New Balance Vazee Pace or the Saucony Ride.
All of these shoes are not the at the cutting edge of running shoe tech, but have a great set of features designed for all levels of runners.
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34s are just the only one with an air pouch in the shoe (hence the “Air Zoom” part in the name), but I will be referring to them as the “Nike Pegasus 34s” for most of this review to keep things zooming along a little quicker.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34 First Impression
If the Nike Pegasus line of shoes was a person, it would almost be old enough to run for US presidency (34 years old, one year short of 35). That would be an election race I’d love to watch.
It’s rare to see a line of shoes that goes back this far in time, which means that Nike found something that hits a sweet spot with runners. This line of shoes came from the idea that there should be an affordable shoe for runners that remains durable and comfortable and have quality components. It doesn’t feature all the cutting edge tech found in more expensive Nike shoes like the LunarEpic Flyknits, or the absurd ground breaking designs of the Zoom VaporFly Elites. The shoe just is there to give you the tried and tested tech that Nike has to offer right now.
The previous version of these shoes weighed a splash more (10.8 oz vs 10.4 oz), so you’ll see a tiny speed boost if upgrading from the 33s.
The midsole appears to be nearly identical to the predecessor, along with the general layout of the upper. The biggest changes from the predecessor are more numerous holes on the mesh toebox, slightly more hidden flywire on the sides, and a smoother external heel counter wrap.
The last time I laced up in Nike Peagsues shoes was around 6 years ago in the Nike Pegasus 29s. I ran that old pair more than 2,000 miles into the ground before retiring them to my personal hall of fame.
The Pegasus line of shoes pretty much was my shoe of choice before I started testing pairs for this site, so it was a little rush of nostalgia putting on the Pegasus 34s. It still had the familiar outsole design and upper silhouette, but a welcomed sleeker upper and embedded Flywire.
I kept these shoes in my running rotation until they had 50 miles and came back here to let you guys know what I found out.
Nike Pegasus 34 Sole Unit
I think the best way to identify the Nike Pegasus line of shoes is by looking at the outsole. I’m honestly surprised how strong Nike is sticking to their general layout of pods/squares along the medial side of the sole in two patches, and a stripped ‘crash pad’ along the lateral side of the sole. I think this falls under the design philosophy of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, just tweak it a little and see if it sells”.
This layout of the sole keeps it pretty darn durable without making it too heavy. Not as much coverage as the Saucony Freedom Iso shoes, or the Fresh Foam line of shoes from New Balance. Just enough though to keep this shoe pretty durable.
The sole is about as good on the track as it is on the roads or treadmill. Even wet brick sidewalks were no challenge for this sole (which unfortunately becomes a problem for foam-based outsoles like the Nike Free line of shoes).
Above that Pegasus standard outsole is the “Premium Cushlon foam” and “Zoom Air” in the forefoot and heel.
Cushlon foam is a step above Nike’s Phylon (EVA) foam since it has rubber additives to make it lightweight and responsive. The Zoom Air is actually a low-profile airbag put in the shoe to reduce the weight of the shoe a little and to provide a more cushioned pad to land on. It’s very well done, and feels more like a softer foam than an air mattress. If you’re looking for more cushion, you should check out Nike shoes with Lunarlon foam like the Nike Lunar Tempo.
Sitting on top of everything is a pretty standard Nike insole with 5mm of padding (as measured by my calipers) and 1/2mm of breathable neon fabric.
This type of insole was very similar to the ones I had in my Pegasus 29s which lasted 1500 miles before they started to deteriorate little craters beneath my toes. That’s one thing to consider with these types of 2+mm thick insoles.
The squishiness is there for a few hundred miles, and then your foot gradually compresses the foam into a very custom fit for your feet. That’s why it’s sometimes hard to find a new pair of shoes that fit as well as your old pair of kicks.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34 Upper
You can tell by looking at the upper that Nike wanted to provide runners with a low-risk choice for comfort.
You don’t have excessive flexible fabric as seen on their Free Motion Flyknit line of shoes, or a bootie that rides up your heel, or a floppy heel that forms to the back of your foot.
You get adequate flexibility and stability with their Flymesh (engineered mesh) upper that wraps around the entire shoe with just a single seam behind the heel. The mesh is fairly solid, with a few bubble-like openings above the toebox that wrap up the sides of the lacing system for breathability.
The only structure in the upper is within the heel and I find it’s the perfect amount, enough that you could put these shoes on my shoving your feet into the shoe without untying the shoes and not worrying about the heel fully collapsing beneath your feet. The thin wrap around the back of the heel features a few stripes of reflective material which is a great thing to see on daily trainers.
The key features to examine on the upper surround the lacing system. Nike kept their Flyknit system on the shoes from the previous model, but hid most of the supporting strings beneath the engineered mesh. You just see the tops of the loops going around the laces. In that same area where the laces go through the Flyknit loops is a durable clear overlay that strengthens the lacing system. This keeps a clean look to the upper without adding obtrusive fabric overlays.
One last important note about the upper is the fit. The tongue is less like a tongue, and more like the top of an inner toe wrap. This type of upper fit system is becoming more and more common in running shoes, where there are basically two layers to the upper.
The first outer layer holds the logos, cool designs, and laces, but doesn’t fully reach across the top of the shoe since it has a gap for the tongue. There’s then a second layer running behind the lacing system up to the tongue which makes for a much smoother and snugger fit. This keeps the tongue from wandering around and gives the shoe 2x the fabric and extra durability around the medial and lateral sides of the shoe.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34 Final Impressions
Overall? I’m pleased, and I think anyone who ran in Nike shoes before will be pleased with this as a running shoe.
There are a few quirks where tiny rocks get stuck in the outsole, and the back fabric of the heel pills up a little, but the overall function of the shoe stays true to what Nike wants in their Pegasus line: a durable, comfortable shoe for runners at a reasonable price.
If you’re new to running and want a smart shoe choice, or you’re an advanced runner just looking to get a reliable basic trainer, you should take the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34s out for your next run.
We thank the nice people at RunningWarehouse for providing us with a pair of the Pegasus 34 to test. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after more than 50 miles in them