Review of the Nike ZoomX Zegama

Nike ZoomX Zegama

There’s always excitement when Nike releases a shoe with ZoomX foam in the midsole. That’s because soft, springy foam is essential to the success of some of the best running shoesthat means carbon plate running shoes like the Nike Vapor Fly and Alphafly or padded shoes like the Nike Invincible 2.

The Zegama is Nike’s first trail shoe to use foam, and I was intrigued to see how ZoomX would perform off-road, as part of the downside of its softness is a lack of stability.

In the end, the Zegama is a slight disappointment. It is comfortable, and stands out in this respect even compared to the best trail running shoes, but to keep the Zegama stable, Nike took steps that dampen the feel of the ZoomX foam, so the ride is bland. Worse, the outsole doesn’t grip well on wet trails, a common problem with Nike’s trail shoes.

Nike ZoomX Zegama: price and availability

Nike ZoomX Zegama

Nike ZoomX Zegama

The Nike ZoomX Zegama is available now and costs $160 in the US and £144.95 in the UK. This makes it the most expensive trail running shoe in Nike’s lineup ahead of longer lines like the Pegasus Trail and Terra Kiger. My sample for this review was provided by Sport shoes.

Design and fit

The giant midsole is the key feature of the Zegama and the first thing to note is that ZoomX isn’t the only foam used. As with the Nike Zoom Fly 5 road shoe, the Zegama uses a supportive foam called SR-02 to protect the soft ZoomX and create a stable frame around it, due to concerns that a ZoomX-only midsole would be too spongy on uneven ground.

This is fresh ZoomX foam, however, not the recycled version used in the Zoom Fly 5 and Pegasus Turbo Next Nature, and the ZoomX runs through the entire midsole. The heel stack height is 37mm and it is 33mm in the forefoot for a 4mm drop.

It’s a big stack, but even so it’s surprising that the Zegama weighs up to 11.2oz / 317g in a UK 8.5. It’s not particularly heavy for a trail shoe, but it’s heavy for a shoe with a mostly ZoomX midsole because it’s such a lightweight foam.

Nike ZoomX Zegama

Nike ZoomX Zegama

The mesh upper is breathable and has a protective bumper and heel gaiter that wraps around the ankle to reduce the amount of debris that can get inside. There is padding around the heel and this section of the upper is reinforced to improve stability.

Nike has a bad reputation when it comes to the outsoles of their trail running shoes – the rubber used is infamous for its poor grip in wet conditions. The Zegama’s outsole looks the part, with 4mm multi-directional lugs, but while it grips well on a range of dry terrains, as soon as I tested the shoe on a hard, wet surface it became worrying.

I tested an 8.5 in the Zegama, which is half a size down from my normal running shoe size, and the fit was perfect, with a good amount of room in the toe box, even for long races. Nike’s trail shoes often run large for me, so I would suggest going down a half size.

How I tested this shoe

Nike ZoomX Zegama

Nike ZoomX Zegama

I ran 50km in the Nike ZoomX Zegama, mostly at an easy pace on a range of trails, including forest paths, canal towpaths, grass fields and muddy tracks.

The running performance

As a huge fan of Nike’s ZoomX road shoes, I had hoped the Zegama would be an Invincible 2 for the trails, but it was clear after a few steps in the shoe that it wasn’t. It’s firmer and more stable, and those are good things in a trail shoe because spongy mosses and uneven ground can be a recipe for disaster but, still, it would be nice to get some more magic of the Zegama’s midsole.

The ride is undeniably comfortable and those tackling long training runs for ultra-marathons on tamed terrain will enjoy using it. And it’s smooth when you’re on good trails and it’s nimble on uneven ground, although the high stack does make the shoe feel a little heavy when charging downhill on rutted ground.

But overall the ride is lackluster. It reminded me of the Hoka Speedgoat 5, but the Zegama is heavier and lacks the pronounced rocker of the Speedgoat, which makes the ride less enjoyable and smoother. You can run all day in the Zegama and it would protect your legs well, but I would definitely prefer to have the Speedgoat.

Nike ZoomX Zegama

Nike ZoomX Zegama

The Speedgoat also offers excellent grip on wet and dry trails, which the Zegama does not. You will have to be careful on wet ground when using it, especially on rocks or in areas with a lot of tree roots, which it slipped straight through during my runs. The outsole does a good job on a range of dry trails, including loose gravel, but many other trail shoes, including those that use Vibram outsoles, grip better in the wet.

Is the Nike ZoomX Zegama worth it?

Keep it dry, and the Zegama is a great trail shoe for longer runs, though the part-ZoomX midsole doesn’t live up to the expectations created by Nike’s road shoes. The Zegama also looks great, which is a hallmark of most trail shoes from Nike, not a common feature in the world of trail shoes.

However, the Zegama only excels at providing comfort on more challenging trails. While the Zegama is the best nike running shoe for the trails, there are many more versatile trail shoes, such as the Saucony Peregrine 12 and the Hoka Speedgoat 5. The Speedgoat is more comfortable to use even in the Zegama’s favorite terrain, while also being less expensive.

Darryl A. Chapin