Our verdict

At an attractive $85, the Nike Juniper Trail 2 is a budget-friendly gem for those seeking Pegasus Trail features without breaking the bank. Ideal for short to medium runs on gentle terrain, this road-to-trail shoe offers real stability and comfort. However, its affordability does mean some trade-offs, like a subpar traction and less energy return from its firm midsole. Yet in our experience, for beginners or those not focused on speed or technical terrains, these compromises are hardly noticeable.

Pros

  • Great value at just $85
  • Durable upper
  • Can handle road runs if needed
  • Exceptional stability
  • Perfectly suited for heel strikers
  • More cushioning than v1
  • Roomy and comfortable

Cons

  • Grip could be better
  • Might feel too firm and stiff
  • Not ideal for long-distance running

Audience verdict

77
Bad!

Who should buy

We think that the Nike Juniper Trail 2 is an excellent pick for:

  • Beginners looking for their first trail running experience.
  • Those with wide feet seeking a versatile trail-to-road shoe.
  • Road runners desiring a cheap, reliable option for occasional trail runs.

Nike Juniper Trail 2

Who should NOT buy

If firm midsoles and heavier shoes aren't your thing, then the Juniper Trail 2 is not for you. In our lab, its midsole firmness and poor grip were absolute deal-breakers. In that case, a softer, lighter option like Brooks Divide 4 could be a smarter choice.

Also, keep in mind that in its quest for stability, the Juniper Trail 2 compromises a bit on comfort for walking and hiking. If that's a priority for you, we found the ASICS Gel Venture 9 to be a better pick for those activities while still ticking most of the boxes that the Nike does.

Nike Juniper Trail 2

Breathability

Trail running shoes often struggle to achieve optimal breathability because brands need to add thicker, more durable layers that restrict airflow. However, the Juniper Trail 2 manages a respectable 3 out of 5 in our breathability test.

After setting aside our smoke-pumping machine, we examined the cut-in-half shoe under a light. We noticed that the toebox is the thinnest part of the upper, which is where most of the airflow occurs in this shoe.

Under the microscope, we observed a thick engineered mesh without any large ventilation holes, which was expected.

Nike Juniper Trail 2

We always enjoy closely analyzing shoe uppers; they reveal fascinating patterns.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 microscope

During our final inspection of the upper for breathability, we also found an inner fabric designed to enhance comfort and protect the feet from stitching, which impacts airflow.

Considering these factors, a 3/5 is a commendable result.

Test results
Juniper Trail 2 3
Average 3.3
Compared to 83 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

Average breathability can result in decent durability, and that's precisely the case with the Juniper Trail 2 (3/5).

The mesh Nike uses isn't the most comfortable—which is okay for a $85 shoe—but its upside is evident in our Dremel test where it demonstrated impressive resistance, outperforming many other trail running shoes.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Toebox durability
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 3
Average 3.1
Compared to 63 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

The heel performed even better than the outsole, scoring a 4/5 in our Dremel test.

It's pretty clear to us that Nike has prioritized durability above all else, and this focus has definitely paid off.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Heel padding durability
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 4
Average 2.9
Compared to 61 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Turning the shoe over to examine the outsole, we noticed a design that resembles road running shoes, enhanced with some lugs. However, it doesn't quite fit the typical trail running outsole category.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 outsole

It's challenging to label it as a trail-to-road shoe. In fact, it seems more like a road-to-trail shoe.

The durometer test resulted in a 91.4 HC reading, likely an attempt to further enhance durability by using a harder rubber blend.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Outsole hardness
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 91.4 HC
Average 85.4 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
72.5 HC
Outsole hardness
95.0 HC

Outsole durability

Brands often opt for lower quality rubber blends in budget-friendly running shoes to keep costs at bay. While this is understandable, it undeniably affects performance.

To assess this, we used the Dremel for the last time with this shoe and recorded a 1.1-mm indentation, which is substantial for such hard rubber.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Outsole durability
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 1.1 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 56 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

The outsole thickness is about average at 2.3 mm, a reasonable value for ensuring sufficient durability. This is particularly noteworthy since this shoe hasn't proven to have the most durable outsole on the market.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Outsole thickness
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 2.3 mm
Average 2.4 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.9 mm
Outsole thickness
6.5 mm

Weight

At 10.8 oz (306g), the Juniper Trail 2 is slightly heavier than the average.

However, it feels comfortable while running at easy or moderate paces. But if you're looking for something lighter, check the Saucony Peregrine 13.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Weight
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 10.79 oz (306g)
Average 10.30 oz (292g)
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
7.51 oz (213g)
Weight
13.37 oz (379g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Back in the day, budget-friendly shoes typically featured low-to-mid stack heights, but that's no longer the case.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 heel stack

Since last year, most shoes have been easily surpassing the 30-mm mark, and the Juniper Trail 2 is a testament to this trend.

With a stack height of 34.7 mm, it even has almost the same height of the Pegasus Trail 4 and, wait for it, 8.1 mm higher than the first-generation Juniper Trail.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Heel stack
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 34.7 mm
Average 32.2 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
16.1 mm
Heel stack
42.4 mm

Forefoot stack

The forefoot measures 25.3 mm according to our precise measurements.

This also assures midfoot and forefoot strikers that the shoe provides a good amount of cushioning for muscle protection.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Forefoot stack
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 25.3 mm
Average 24.5 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
15.2 mm
Forefoot stack
33.9 mm

Drop

The difference between the heel and forefoot results in a 9.4-mm heel-to-toe drop.

We believe that anything within the 8-to-10-mm range is a solid choice for accommodating all footstrikes. This seems to us like a wise and well-thought-out decision from Nike for this type of shoe.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Drop
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 9.4 mm
Average 7.8 mm
Compared to 105 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.1 mm
Drop
17.3 mm

Insole thickness

The insole is fairly average, perhaps slightly thinner than usual at 3.9 mm, but it's nothing concerning. We hadn't any discomfort with it, and that's about the best compliment we can give an insole!

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Insole thickness
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 3.9 mm
Average 4.7 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
2.7 mm
Insole thickness
9.8 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Like most budget-friendly shoes, the Juniper Trail 2 doesn't have plush, squishy foam.

With a reading of 27.1 HA on our durometer, you can expect a moderately firm ride. However, this firmness comes with a few benefits, such as added stability.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Midsole softness
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 27.1 HA
Average 22.7 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 82 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
9.1 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
39.0 HA

Midsole softness in cold

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

In cold temperatures, the Juniper Trail 2 turns quite stiff, almost brick-like.

How do we know? We placed it alongside our ice creams for 20 minutes and then re-tested it. The result was 34.8 HA on our durometer, indicating a slight decrease in softness.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Midsole softness in cold
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 34.8 HA
Average 28.2 HA
Compared to 82 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
11.8 HA
Midsole softness in cold (soft to firm)
48.4 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

That's a 28.1% increase, an incredible result for an EVA-based shoe that's also wallet-friendly. We're actually quite impressed with this performance!

Test results
Juniper Trail 2 28.1%
Average 26.4%
Compared to 82 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

As mentioned earlier, the advantage of a moderately firm midsole is enhanced stability.

Considering its tall stature, we were also really pleased with the stable feel it provided during our runs.

Torsional rigidity

Another crucial aspect of the Juniper Trail 2's stability is its mind-boggling torsional rigidity. In fact, we awarded it a score of 5 out of 5.

This stiffness is clearly a deliberate design choice, especially since the shoe doesn't have a carbon plate. Naturally, the trade-off here is a bit of comfort, but this makes the shoe even more attractive to those concerned with stability.

Test results
Juniper Trail 2 5
Average 3.5
Compared to 100 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel counter is stiffer than average, adding to the shoe's less comfortable, stability-focused design. If you have sensitive Achilles tendons, you might want to think twice about this model.

Test results
Juniper Trail 2 4
Average 3.2
Compared to 98 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Our measurement of the midsole width in the forefoot came in at 113.7 mm, which is good enough to maintain a stable ride. We believe Nike might have considered going even wider, but that would have added too much weight to an already heavy shoe.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 113.7 mm
Average 112.1 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
102.1 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.0 mm

Midsole width in the heel

Considering that this shoe is primarily aimed at running beginners, it's logical to prioritize heel width to please rearfoot strikers.

Nike Juniper Trail 2

With its heel-to-toe drop, rigid heel, and this specific width measurement, the shoe is an ideal choice for heel strikers.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 95.0 mm
Average 89.7 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
77.2 mm
Midsole width in the heel
109.3 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

The Juniper Trail 2 is quite stiff torsionally, but in our 90-degree bend test assessing longitudinal stiffness, it scored low at only 22.5N. While this might seem at odds with the torsional test results, it's a typical outcome for shoes without a carbon plate.

Test results
Juniper Trail 2 22.5N
Average 28.1N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
10.5N
Stiffness
54.5N

Stiffness in cold

Similar to our midsole softness test, we repeated the procedure after a 20-minute stint in the freezer. This time, the Juniper Trail 2 required us to apply 36.8N of force.

Test results
Juniper Trail 2 36.8N
Average 38.0N
Compared to 103 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
11.9N
Stiffness in cold
92.1N

Difference in stiffness in cold

This represents a 63.1% difference, which, while not ideal, is in line with what we expect from an entry-level, EVA-based foam. So, there are no real complaints from our side, but this one will feel like a mud block underfoot in the coldest days of the year.

Test results
Juniper Trail 2 63.1%
Average 35.1%
Compared to 103 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
102%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

Targeted at beginners and those looking for a versatile trail-to-road shoe, Nike smartly chose to use short, 3.1-mm lugs.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 outsole

Due to this design, it may not excel on technical trails, but it will provide decent traction in most other environments.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Lug depth
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 3.1 mm
Average 3.6 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.7 mm
Lug depth
5.8 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

The toebox is surprisingly spacious for a Nike shoe, measuring 101.3 mm. Considering Nike's recent releases, such as the racing-focused Ultrafly, and based on our thorough analysis, it seems we might soon stop associating Nike with narrow designs!

Nike Juniper Trail 2 toebox

This is a welcome change, signaling that the world's most popular brand is finally accommodating those with wide feet.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 101.3 mm
Average 98.8 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
92.0 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
104.9 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The big toe area is exceptionally roomy, measuring 82.0 mm, which is quite remarkable.

This might even be excessive for some, as those with narrow or even medium-sized feet could find it overly spacious, feeling like there's too much room in the toe cap.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 82.0 mm
Average 79.0 mm
Compared to 68 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
70.5 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

A gusseted tongue in a $85 trail shoe? That's truly impressive and definitely deserves applause. This feature enhances the lockdown and makes a noticeable difference in the overall fit and comfort.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 Bootie

Comfort

Tongue padding

The tongue really steps up its game too. It's super padded at 9.4 mm, rocking not just one, but two layers of foam. So you'll be able to tighten the laces as much as you like!

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Tongue padding
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 9.4 mm
Average 6.4 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Tongue padding
12.2 mm

Heel tab

At the back of the shoe, there's a cool finger loop heel tab that really adds to its overall look!

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Heel tab
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 Finger loop

Removable insole

The insole is removable, and thanks to the roomy design of the Juniper Trail 2, you can expect almost any third-party insole to fit comfortably inside the shoe.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Removable insole
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

Oh boy, no reflective elements on a trail running shoe... we're not fans of that.

If it's about cutting costs, Nike should maybe ditch the heel tab and throw in some cool reflective pieces on the upper instead!

Nike Juniper Trail 2 Reflective elements
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 No