10 Best Nike Trail Running Shoes in 2021

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen on
10 Best Nike Trail Running Shoes in 2021

Nike is a household name in the running world. Although it’s better known for its road running shoes, Nike doesn’t cut corners when it comes to its trail shoes. They’re sturdy, traction-ready, stable, and responsive, helping you can blaze through the trails with no sweat. 

Because there’s so much hype over Nike trail running shoes, we tested them out ourselves, and ended up picking the best models from five different categories. 

These shoes have been tested meticulously, and we are confident they can help you run the gnarliest terrain with ease.

How we test Nike trail running shoes

We have our independent shoe testing lab to help us identify which shoes are good and bad. And with the data we’ve gathered, our aim is to help you. To do so, we strictly execute the following during our tests: 

  • Buy all shoes with our own money to prevent bias-filled reviews
  • Run in them for 30-50 miles  
  • Slice each shoe into pieces 
  • Measure them in 30 different parameters like breathability, sturdiness, cushion, etc.
  • Rank them against other shoes through our CoreScore

The CoreScore is a rating from 0-100 that gives you an idea of how good or bad the shoe is. It is generated based on thousands of expert and user reviews. 

Best overall

We love the road version of the Pegasus so much, we need one for the trails. And here we are with the best one yet - the Pegasus Trail 3.

The Pegasus line has been hailed as THE workhorse. Even better, it’s THE comfortable workhorse - which is why runners (including us) can’t get enough of it. And with the Pegasus Trail 3, nothing changes in the comfort arena. It’s still as great as its road sibling. 

It only gets better in stability. In our lab tests, we’ve measured that the base is so wide at 116mm in the forefoot and 92.6mm in the heel, it’s hard to lose your step in this trail monster. 

Of course, we wouldn’t be calling the Peg a “trail monster” if not for its durability. This shoe is extremely tough, its outsole measured 86HC in our rigidity test. For context, the average shoe is only 79.2HC. 

True to its Pegasus roots, it stays nice and versatile. If you want a road-to-trail shoe, or a shoe you can walk to the park while catching a break from the trails, it won’t fail you. 

And if there’s one thing that makes the Nike Pegasus Trail 3 incomparable, it’s the unmatched comfort. Simply, it’s everything trail-ready minus the stiffness.

See our full review and facts

Best off-trail

The Nike Wildhorse 7’s spot on this list is unquestioned. Without a doubt, it’s the grippiest Nike trail shoe we’ve ever put on. 

It’s obvious, the real show stopper here is the outsole. It’s so well-lugged, it sticks fantastically on dirt roads, rocky trails, and soft grounds. There’s no other shoe that made us go stable AF! 

Speaking of stability, the upper is something else. It doesn’t just lock the feet in place, it provides solid structure to maintain a wobble-free ride. Even when cornering, we were confident and surefooted as ever. 

And who could forget that rock plate? It does one heck of a job shielding feet from the harshness underfoot. Seriously, we even felt like we could run more miles. Even better, our feet and legs didn’t need recovery. 

The Nike Wildhorse 7 may not be plush, but its job is to keep your feet well-protected and your strides steady. And with its performance, we can truly say it delivered amazingly!

See our full review and facts

Best waterproof

We aren’t lying when we say that we are a huge fan of the Pegasus line. This list is enough proof. 

If you’re looking for a shoe that’s going to keep your feet dry during wet conditions, and warm during the cold, we can’t recommend the Nike Pegasus Trail 2 GTX enough. 

To really see how “impermeable” it is, we ran through rain and puddles in the Pegasus Trail 2 GTX. And it didn’t let us down. No water seeped in the shoe at all. And when we took it off, our feet were completely dry. 

Waterproofness is not the only reason to buy this shoe. Its ride is also one to beat. It’s superbly bouncy, we had so much fun running in it! 

Even more, it’s a shoe that’s built to keep the feet protected. And protected, we were. It didn’t just dampen the ruggedness underneath, it also absorbed shock impeccably. Seriously, we didn’t even need a rock plate. 

And to seal the deal, the Nike Pegasus Trail 2 GTX is one heck of a solid shoe. After 100 miles of rough wear testing, it’s been the absolute best. No scratches at all.

See our full review and facts

Best lightweight

It’s versatile and above all, it’s extremely light. It’s no wonder why the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 made us swoon over. 

At 10.4 oz, it’s not light on paper. But when laced it up and logged some miles, we were beyond astounded with its barely-there feel. It didn’t drag our feet down, and more importantly, it made us forget about it on the run. 

There’s more. The cushion is second to none. Despite it not being a max trail runner, it didn’t leave something to be desired. Our feet were comfy and protected, they never felt tired. It’s even good to go straight from the box. Because it’s so feet-friendly, there’s no need to break it in. 

And if you’re looking for a shoe that’s alive, this is THE shoe. The midsole is crazy responsive, we were bouncing from one step to another. 

It may skimp on weight, but it sure doesn’t when it comes to protection. The rock plate did terrifically when we ran through rocky terrain. Our feet didn’t feel any sharpness poking underneath. 

To wrap it up, the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 is a surefire winner in blending both durability and grip. We hammered it on mud, dirt, tree roots, and rocks, and it’s been nothing short of a star.

See our full review and facts

Best budget shoe

“What? $85 for a trail shoe? Get out of here!” 

That’s us before running in the Nike Air Max Torch 4. We just couldn’t believe that for such a price, you could already get a solid trail shoe. 

And if you’re one of the cynics, this shoe will change your mind. Whether it’s on moderate or technical trails, this shoe is more than capable. The outsole is a champ that bites so well on all terrain, slips and missteps aren’t even in its dictionary. 

Protection is also a strong point of the Air Max Torch, and the toe bumper is the one to give thanks to. When we ran into some rocks and roots, our toes did not end up bruised. 

Toe bumper aside, there’s also loads of cushion underfoot. It tones down the harshness beneath. Even better, it keeps the feet cozy. Our legs and feet were fresh from the first mile down to the last. 

Ultimately, the Nike Air Max Torch 4 is a great pick if you want a high-performance trail shoe that won’t break the bank.

See our full review and facts

For such featherlight weight, the Nike Juniper Trail packs so many trail-ready features we weren’t expecting. 

If it's a great-value shoe you’re after, nothing beats the Juniper Trail. Through our runs, hikes, and walks, this shoe kept our steps comfortable and stable. 

The comfort mainly comes from the upper. It’s so soft and flexible, it was like a second-skin wrap. With its lockdown, our feet were very supported too. We never felt like they were sliding off the shoe. 

The cushion also takes comfort to a whole new level. It swallowed all the impact in each step, our feet had NO issues with strain at all. 

When it comes to strength, this shoe killed it! It’s built like a tank, it survived all the harsh and heavy pounding we threw at it. After clocking up 50 miles, it remained bouncy and unbruised. 

Overall, the Nike Juniper Trail is a budget shoe that screams trail-ready. Even better, it’s got what it takes to go against the more expensive trail shoes on the market.

See our full review and facts
Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.