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Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail review

7 expert score
0 user's score
As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples. We purchased this pair at Running Warehouse with our own money.
Review written on 25th November by Henry Howard Ultra runner and certified running coach.
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Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail Verdict

The Nike ZoomX Zegama will be a solution to medium length trail races for some runners while others will relegate the shoe for shorter, dry training runs. This marks the trail debut of the same bouncy ZoomX midsole foam Nike uses in its Alphafly and Vaporfly road shoes. Do note that the Zegama doesn’t have the full ZoomX package in the midsole, as it would cause stability issues on the trail.

The pros

  • Built for speed
  • Bouncy ZoomX midsole
  • Solid push-off and responsiveness

The cons

  • Handles water like the Titanic
  • Tight, uncomfortable heel
  • Needs a plate, carbon or otherwise


Rating breakdown

Comfort
6.0
Build quality
8.0
Upper
9.0
Sole unit
7.0
Landing
6.0
Transition
8.0
Toe-off
8.0
Traction
6.0
Durability
8.0
Value / Price
8.0

Facts / Specs

Brand
Model
ZoomX Zegama Trail
Type
Weight
11.3 oz (320 g)
MSRP
$160.00

Heel
mm.
Toe
mm.
Heel drop
8 mm.
Carbon plate
No plate

Size/Fit

Sizing
True to size
Heel fit
Tight
Midfoot fit
Tight
Toebox fit
Normal

Cushioning & ride

Type of cushioning
Balanced/plush
Amount of cushioning
Highly cushioned
Stability
Some stability
Flexibility
Medium

Trail specs

Rockplate
Not present
Traction
Average Traction
Water resitance
Poor

Best for these distances

Regular training  
Long, slow training runs
Speedwork on flat surfaces  
Short trail races (up to half marathons)  
Marathon and 50k trail races
Ultra distances, 50 miles and greater

Best for these terrains

Moderate trails
Technical trails
Rocky areas
Muddy areas
Through creeks and streams
Through snowy or icy sections
Dirt trails  
Paved trails
Through grassy sections  

Who should buy the Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail ?

The Zegamas are intended to be for those wanting to speed down easy to moderate dry trails.

The cushioning and midsole work well to provide decent push that will give runners in races up to and including a trail marathon the boost they need for a good performance. It can also be used by trail runners looking for an extra step during their midweek speed workouts.

Who should not buy the Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail ?

The Zegama shoes do not handle water well, and are suspect over ultra distances. If you enjoy galloping through water crossings, running long events or playing in the mountains on technical trails, these are not for you.

Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail Introduction

Picture of Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail

Straight out of the box, the Nike Zegamas (11.3 ounces in a men’s size 10.5; 9.3 ounces for a women’s size 8) command attention with their vibrant color scheme. But serious trail runners don’t buy trail shoes based on color.

The Zegamas are appealing because of the ZoomX midfoam technology, protective skins and mesh at forefoot, and wider outsole that brings Hoka to mind.

Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail Impressions

Picture of Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail

Let’s be clear about the ZoomX foam in the Zegamas. It is not the same as what is found in the road super shoes. The road shoes have a plate that adds to the speed, which is not found in the trail shoe.

The ZoomX foam is known for its lightness, cushiony feeling and responsiveness. In the Zegamas, I found the shoes to be light and responsive but overall they are stiff. Most of that stiffness is back in the ankle where a gaiter helps prevent trail debris entering the back of the shoe. But it comes at a cost of being stiff and uncomfortable.

When compared with other Nike trail shoes like the Terra Kiger and the Wildhorse, the Zegama is wider and offers more cushioning.

Hoka fans would have no trouble transitioning or trying the Zegamas. But for me, I’d stay with options like the Hoka Challenger, Tecton X or Torrent for my trail runs on lesser technical terrain.

As capable as the Zegamas are on flat, easy trails, they are not a solution to more highly technical — and especially — wet trails. The Zegama has a unique lug pattern for Nike, which works well to grip dry dirt trails and grassy cross-country courses.

However, if you add water — like while navigating rocks criss-crossing a creek — the Zegama is not to be trusted.

Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail Protection

Picture of Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail

That mistrust boils down to the Zegama’s inability to provide secure footing on wet surfaces. That’s a pretty crucial “must” for trail shoes, regardless of whether they are intended for handling speed sections or gnarly terrain.

I found myself slipping more on wet rocks and other obstacles than with any of the dozens of trail shoes I have worn in the past decade or so of my trail running journey.

Other facets of the shoe do protect the runner’s feet. Among them: protective skins across the toes; a firmer outsole carrier that protects the foam and the aforementioned ankle gaiter.

Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail Durability

Picture of Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail

The back half, including the gaiter and enormous stack, remind me of the Wildhorse. Like that other Nike model, these shoes appear to be pretty durable.

After knocking out my 50 miles of testing, the shoes did not display any concerning signs of wear.

It is worth noting, however, that I kept those half-dozen or so runs to easy to moderate terrain. That’s what the Zegama can handle. If you decide to bring these out to more rugged terrain, expect to see the issues related to durability arise more quickly.

Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail Responsiveness & speed

Picture of Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail

The Zegama is built for speed. Period.

I tested it out on mostly flat trails, including the local high school cross-country course. Under dry conditions, the shoes responded quickly, allowed me to maintain if not speed up around curvy sections and overall held their own against other trail shoes built for speed.

The comfort, cushioning and ZoomX technology all work well to deliver on the quickness promises from Nike.

Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail Comfort and fit

Picture of Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail

Think of the Zegama as wearing tight skinny jeans, with a fidgety belt and a flowing Hawaiian shirt. The back of the shoe grips you tightly, much like skinny jeans. The Zegama’s tight fit is to keep the heel secure and protect the foot from trail debris.

Meanwhile, up front, the mesh and cushioning combine for a more comfortable feeling with good vibes. That said, the protection up front is not to be dismissed. It will work just fine.

And the belt? That’s like the middle of the shoe where the laces come together. It may take some finagling to get the laces properly set, much like trying to find the best fit between two belt holes. Once you find that sweet spot on the shoe, the laces will secure the foot without taking away any comfort. You may need to try removing the laces from the top eyelet.

Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail Conclusions

Picture of Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail

There is a lot to like about the Nike ZoomX Zegama. It definitely will help the runner on mild to moderate dry trails. If that is your jam or sounds like a race you are training for, the Zegama would be a solid option.

But for those who seek more challenging terrain, or perhaps have had heel issues in the past, the Zegamas might not be the best option.

It will be interesting to see Nike’s future versions of the Zegama to see if they can properly address the issues cited here. If not there are other options for those seeking a fast trail shoe. Among the comparable ones:

Nike Terra Kiger 8: Its Nike brethren, the Kiger, is a more nimble, lower stack, slightly more technical cousin of the Zegama. The edges in cushioning go to the Zegama but I would opt for the Kiger if my goal were to go fast on easy to moderate trails for a marathon distance or less.

Hoka Torrent 2: Somehow Nike out-cushioned Hoka in this comparison.

However, the Torrent is noticeably lighter, much more nimble and just as speedy.

This is a tougher call for me. It would depend on other details like the actual race or training run distance, terrain and expectations of necessary speed. Both should be able to handle similar situations while giving the runner a good boost.

How does the ZoomX Zegama Trail compare?

Nike Terra Kiger 8
Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail
Altra Outroad
Expert score
8
7
8
User score
Retail price
US$139.95
US$159.95
US$139.95
Shoe type
Weight
9.9 oz
11.3 oz
10 oz
Heel Drop
6 mm
8 mm
0 mm
Recommended for
Racing, speedwork
Daily training
Cushioning type
responsive/balanced
balanced/plush
responsive/balanced
Cushioning amount
Little cushioning
Highly cushioned
Medium cushioning
Flexibility
rigid
medium
medium
Stability
some stability
some stability
some stability
Sizing
true to size
true to size
buy half size bigger

Why you can trust us

As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples from companies.
We purchased this pair of Nike at Running Warehouse  with our own money.

This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about our policy.

Reviewed by Henry

This review was written by Henry Howard on 25th November.
Henry Howard has come a long way since a teacher called him "molasses" during a fifth-grade track and field event. Now living and running in Indiana, he has completed more than a dozen marathons and is a regular age-grouper in shorter distances.

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