Sunday, February 23, 2014

Nike Zoom Wildhorse Trail Shoe Review & Second Thoughts

[To help the reader gauge the usefulness of my review, I am a 42 year old male, run 30-50 miles a week both on trail and road and recently ran a marathon in 3:06 and a half marathon in 1:20.  I don't buy a lot of different types of shoes, as I tend to buy the same pair over and over again.]

For the last 12 months I've been running on the road and trail in Nike Free 5.0s.  The Frees are the most comfortable running shoes I've ever worn, but on trails the sole of the shoe gets small pebbles stuck in it, tends to get chewed up pretty quickly and does not have sufficient grip.

However, inertia plays a large role in my buying decisions and I've continued to run in the Frees.  That is until I noticed my running mates, Chris aka "Shoe Geek", Dax, Cameron, and James, among others wearing the Nike Zoom Wildhorse on trail runs.  When Chris informed me that I could get the Wildhorse on for $49.99, the cheap bastard in me overcame the inertia and asked my wife, shopper extraordinaire, to get me two pairs.  My wife first googled "Finishline coupon" and found a coupon online that saved me another $10 bucks.

Brand new
Pink & Blue all the way through
The Wildhorse comes in three color schemes.  The pink, light blue scheme being marked down from $109.99 to $49.99 on Finishline.  I'm assuming the other color schemes were selling better, as most men probably don't want pink shoes.  But at $50, and a little trail dust on them, the cheap bastard in me doesn't mind.

16.7 miles of trail later
The shoes themselves come in at 9.6oz, with 4mm of heel to toe drop.  The heel is at 27.3mm and the toe is at 23.3mm.  The Frees weigh 8.5oz and also have 4mm of drop.  One of the reasons I like Nike is the consistency in sizing.  I've been a 10.5 shoe size since around age 18.  If I order a 10.5 in Nikes, the shoes always fit me perfectly.  When I first put them on, the toe box felt a little tight under my big toe, but I figured the shoes would loosen up a bit and they did.

I first ran 7 miles of trails, with 1300' of elevation gain, in the Wildhorse fresh out of the box.  I had a raw area of skin on my left foot from a blister, but it did not bother me at all during the run - no break-in period required.  These shoes are comfortable, not quite as comfortable as the Frees, but almost.

My next run was 9.7 miles of trails, with 1800' of elevation gain.  On this run, I really appreciated the grip these shoes offer.  Compared to the Frees, these shoes are beefy.  No more feeling sharp rocks through the soles or half-running/sliding down a loose trail.  At the same time, that extra 1.1oz must add a little more padding, especially at the heel.  My feet definitely felt less beat up after my runs.

Until I find something better, I have to give the Wildhorse a 5 out of 5.  Lightweight, comfortable and grippy. What else do you need in a trail shoe?

Second Thoughts

Fast forward a few hundred miles.  The sole of the Wildhorse, like the Tiger, are substandard.  They begin to wear away the minute you start running in them.  At the same time, I have reevaluated my take on the Wildhorse.  The Kiger is much more comfortable and fits my foot snugly.  Whereas when running downhill in the Wildhorse, my big toes tend to rub against the toebox.  This does not happen in the Kiger.  Upshot, I give the Wildhorse a 3 out of 5 and I would not buy the Wildhorse again.

San Elijo Hills Running Club


  1. So far I am liking my pair as well. However, after 180 miles the outer mesh on both my feet is beginning to tear in a couple pressure spots. So far the inner liner is holding up so it may not be an issue. I am a bit concerned though as I usually get at least 400-500 miles put of my shoes.

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