Our verdict

We found the Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX to excel as a versatile, door-to-trail waterproof option—perfect for both newcomers and seasoned trail enthusiasts. Despite its firm midsole, this model still impresses with a spacious toebox, rugged upper, and seamless road-to-trail adaptability. However, the notable price jump ($45) from its non-GTX counterpart and the lackluster energy return might not appeal to everyone.

Pros

  • Impressive upgrade
  • Top-notch waterproofing
  • Amazing durability
  • Exceptional stability
  • Ideal for heel strikers
  • Spacious toebox
  • Excellent for winter conditions

Cons

  • High price increase
  • Firm ride
  • Grip could improve

Audience verdict

75
Bad!

Who should buy

We're convinced that the Juniper Trail 2 GTX stands out as a top pick for:

  • Those seeking a reliable, stable, and enduring Gore-Tex door-to-trail running shoe.
  • Casual trail runners in search of a shoe that performs exceptionally in damp conditions, offering both protection and comfort.
  • Fans of the Juniper Trail 2, seeking an upgraded model that delivers not just waterproof capabilities but also significant improvements across various aspects.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX

Who should NOT buy

We've concluded that the Juniper Trail 2 GTX might not be the best pick for every runner, particularly due to its midsole. It falls short on energy return and presents a firm ride, which becomes more noticeable on road segments than trails. In our view, the Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX might serve better, offering a plushier experience.

Moreover, we don't recommend this model for those who need a grippy outsole. Our testing revealed that its traction doesn't quite stand out at all. For superior grip, especially for mixed or purely trail adventures, we found the Hoka Challenger 7 GTX (door-to-trail) and the Salomon Speedcross 6 GTX (trail) to be much better choices.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX parts

Breathability

Gore-Tex is a waterproof yet breathable membrane, that works repelling liquid while letting water vapor escape—perfect for keeping your feet always dry.

Yet, our lab tests consistently show GTX footwear tends to lag in ventilation, and the Juniper Trail 2 GTX is no exception, scoring 2/5 in our evaluation.

Our light test revealed the toebox and parts of the medial zone offer some air flow, but the shoe's design prioritizes durability and stability elsewhere.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX micro 1

The GTX mesh is denser and thicker than the regular edition's. Under the microscope, it was clear the GTX version leaves no entry points for water in the toebox.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX micro 2

Upon manual examination, we noted the upper lacks any flexibility, but delivers ample padding and comfort, a noticeable improvement over the non-GTX model, and a needed one based on the significant $45 price increase.

Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 2
Average 3.3
Compared to 71 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

The moment we picked up the shoe in our lab, the robust reinforcements in the toebox were unmistakably palpable. With our extensive experience analyzing hundreds of shoes, we were confident the Juniper Trail 2 GTX would excel in our Dremel test.

True to our expectations, it scored an impressive 5/5, a rare feat that not many shoes achieve. This marks a significant enhancement from the standard version, which only managed a 3.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Toebox durability
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 5
Average 3.1
Compared to 51 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Initially, the heel struck us as quite typical, akin to any daily road trainer you'd find on the market, which tempered our expectations. Yet, the Dremel test reveals all truths!

To our delight, we uncovered another top-tier performance, marking the second consecutive 5/5 rating. This outstanding result cements this GTX upper among the most durable we've encountered in our lab testing.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Heel padding durability
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 5
Average 2.8
Compared to 49 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

As we turned our attention to the outsole, our anticipation was sky-high, keen to see how it would perform. The non-GTX variant had shown only moderate results, despite its tough rubber. Our Shore C durometer testing confirmed a similar hardy composition in this model, with a score of 88.9 HC.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX outsole

The outsole incorporates multiple cutouts to lighten the load and enhance flexibility, though this does compromise its toughness.

This outcome suggests the outsole leans more towards enduring wear than maximizing traction—a sentiment that resonated with our test runs. Clearly, it's not in the same league as Vibram or Continental.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Outsole hardness
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 88.9 HC
Average 85.2 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 94 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
72.5 HC
Outsole hardness
95.0 HC

Outsole durability

In our last Dremel challenge, we pushed the outsole to its limit.

Post-test, we observed a 0.9 mm indentation—fairly good! However, we were somewhat disappointed, expecting a tougher rubber that sacrifices grip to yield a more impressive performance.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Outsole durability
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 0.9 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 44 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

The outsole came in at 1.9 mm of thickness, striking a good balance for this shoe—doesn't add a lot of heft yet provides ample material between the midsole and the lugs for durability.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Outsole thickness
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 1.9 mm
Average 2.4 mm
Compared to 94 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.5 mm

Weight

Weighing in at 10.3 oz or 293g on our scale, the Juniper Trail 2 GTX impressively shaves off 4% of the weight compared to its standard counterpart, an exceptional feat.

Gore-Tex models typically carry a 5-10% weight penalty, yet this shoe defies that. This also sheds light on Nike's $45 premium for this GTX version.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Weight
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 10.34 oz (293g)
Average 10.37 oz (294g)
Compared to 94 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
7.51 oz (213g)
Weight
13.37 oz (379g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Our caliper measured the heel at a generous 34.5 mm, cushioned enough to comfortably accommodate even the heaviest heel strikers on rugged trails.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Heel stack
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 34.5 mm
Average 32.2 mm
Compared to 94 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
16.1 mm
Heel stack
42.4 mm

Forefoot stack

Our measurements of the forefoot revealed a thickness of 24.3 mm—perfectly suitable for short to medium distance runs. Yet, for long runs exceeding 2 hours, forefoot strikers might seek additional foam.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX forefoot cushioning

In such cases, we suggest opting for a more cushioned option, like the Hoka Speedgoat 5 GTX.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Forefoot stack
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 24.3 mm
Average 24.3 mm
Compared to 94 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
15.2 mm
Forefoot stack
33.9 mm

Drop

The advertised 9-mm drop aims to cater to various footstrikes, typical of shoes in the 8-10 mm range.

Through our meticulous measurements, we discovered an actual drop of 10.2 mm, which almost feels the same as 9 mm. However, like many entry-level models, it slightly favors heel strikers.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Drop
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 10.2 mm
Average 8.0 mm
Compared to 93 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.1 mm
Drop
17.3 mm

Insole thickness

The insole, at a slightly lean 4.1 mm thickness, sits within the typical range, raising no red flags in our lab. 

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Insole thickness
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 4.1 mm
Average 4.8 mm
Compared to 94 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.

Transitioning to the midsole, a heads-up from the get-go—it presents a firm ride, clocking in at 30.3 HA. Far from plush, the EVA-based foam, especially when coupled with the lugs, delivers a ride firmer than anticipated.

This isn't a downside, as many runners appreciate this firm feel, which also translates to added stability. However, our role here is to ensure you're informed with real data, so you don't end up with gear that misses the mark on your expectations or needs.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Midsole softness
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 30.3 HA
Average 23.6 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 70 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
9.4 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
39.0 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

Subjecting the Juniper Trail 2 GTX to a 20-minute freezer test, we observed a mere 12.8% decrease in the foam softness—a good outcome, particularly for a shoe designed with winter conditions in mind.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 19.8%
Average 26.6%
Compared to 70 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

Shifting our focus to stability, the shoe's firmness indeed translates into a notable advantage in this department.

Beyond just the midsole, Nike has integrated various design elements that significantly enhance stability, culminating in what we consider a remarkably steady ride. Let's analyze them.

Torsional rigidity

We initiated our evaluation with the torsional rigidity of the Juniper Trail 2 GTX, assigning it a score of 4 out of 5. This indicates a certain rigidity, albeit with a touch more give than its non-GTX counterpart.

Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 4
Average 3.5
Compared to 88 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

With the updated upper, the heel counter's stiffness has become slightly more pliable, earning a score of 3/5 from us.

We see this as a significant and positive adjustment, especially considering we felt the 4/5 rigidity of the non-waterproof version was a tad excessive.

Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 3
Average 3.2
Compared to 86 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

A key factor in the Juniper Trail 2's stable ride is its midsole width. Our caliper measurements revealed a notably wide dimension at 114.4 mm, enhancing (again) the shoe's overall stability.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 114.4 mm
Average 111.8 mm
Compared to 94 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
102.1 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.0 mm

Midsole width in the heel

Exploring the heel, we encountered a generously wide area at 94.3 mm, ideal for heel strikers and even suitable for those with slight stability requirements.

However, a wide midsole always introduce a trade-off—the shoe sacrifices some nimbleness, making it more adept for easy, non-steep trails.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 94.3 mm
Average 89.5 mm
Compared to 94 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
77.2 mm
Midsole width in the heel
109.3 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Regarding flexibility, the shoe ranks as fairly standard, a feat achieved through the strategic outsole cutouts we identified before in this same lab review.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX outsole

Without these cutouts, our 90-degree bend test might have classified this shoe alongside more stiff, plated trail models like the Endorphin Edge.

Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 21.7N
Average 28.8N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 94 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
10.5N
Stiffness
54.5N

Difference in stiffness in cold

After a 20-minute lab test, the GTX model of the JT2 showed minimal change in stiffness—merely a 7% uptick!

Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 16.1%
Average 36.5%
Compared to 91 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
102%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

The outsole sports a modestly rugged appearance, akin to a rugged road shoe.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX lugs outsole

Our findings align—its 2.7-mm lugs clearly gear this shoe only for easy terrain, making it an ideal door-to-trail GTX shoe.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Lug depth
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 2.7 mm
Average 3.5 mm
Compared to 94 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.7 mm
Lug depth
5.8 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Exploring the toebox, we eagerly took measurements, especially after feeling the roominess during our initial run with the Juniper Trail 2 GTX—a surprising feature for any Nike kick!

True to our sense, at 100.5 mm, it offers ample room, making it an excellent option even for those with moderately wide feet.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 100.5 mm
Average 98.8 mm
Compared to 94 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
92.0 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
104.9 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

Our subsequent measurement unveiled the toebox's tapering, a crucial aspect in assessing overall roominess.

Impressively, at 81.7 mm, the shoe maintains its generous width, consistently offering the same spacious feel as our initial findings suggested.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 81.7 mm
Average 78.7 mm
Compared to 56 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
70.5 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The tongue boasts a different design compared to its non-GTX counterpart. Now it's tailored for waterproofing, yet it retains the gusset, which we deem crucial in a shoe like this.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX Both sides (semi)

Comfort

Tongue padding

The dual foam layers create an exceptionally cozy tongue (8.8 mm) for the instep.

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX laces

We favor traditional lacing systems, yet this is what we got.

This design allows for snug lace tightening without compromising comfort!

Nike Juniper Trail 2 GTX Tongue padding
Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX 8.8 mm
Average 6.4 mm
Compared to 94 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Tongue padding
12.2 mm

Heel tab

We discovered a handy, finger-loop heel tab, ingeniously crafted to facilitate effortlessly sliding our feet into the shoe—a small yet significantly convenient feature!

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

Removable insole

We took out the insole as its not glued, so it allows for easy replacement with custom orthotics or preferred sockliners from other models, thanks to its standard size and thickness.

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

Misc

Reflective elements

The Juniper Trail 2 GTX impressed us with its cool reflective elements, a crowd-pleasing feature that's part of the $45 price hike, enhancing visibility and safety on the trails.

While the standard $85 version lacks these elements, we're hopeful and excited to see them incorporated across all versions in the forthcoming v3—adding that extra layer of safety for every trail runner.

Test results
Juniper Trail 2 GTX Yes