Pacing it through rocky and off-trail terrain, hands down, the Nike Wildhorse 7 just rocks! It makes the steps confident and its protection just took everything to a whole new level. For a trail shoe, this is what is considered comfortable. It's not pillowy soft but has enough give to keep the foot cushioned and strain-free. All of this, however, comes at the price of heft.
Trail race shoe (look up Terra Kiger models, all the way).
Nike Wildhorse 7 works best on moderate runs
Moderate is like the middle name of the Wildhorse 7. Not for anything too technical, or too long, or too fast.
It shines on runs that are 5-15 miles long. It can take you further, but you will feel the weight. Regarding the terrain, experts agree it's great for soft ground or, as one very experienced runner has said, "smooth rolling dirt trails or bridle paths."
Nike Wildhorse 7 has a good grip in dry conditions
As long as you don't take the Wildhorse 7 over the technical terrain, you are good.
No wonder, given that the lugs are 4.2mm long! The average depth of lugs in our lab is 3.4mm.
This all applies to the dry conditions. When it comes to the wet surfaces, a runner commented "hard and wet conditions are a different story." Experts agree that Nike should "throw on a Vibram outsole."
Wildhorse's performance in the mud is a completely polarizing topic. Comments go from "a really good mudder" to "the biggest problem I found was with mud and the shoe's inability to clear it and grip." So, keep that in the back of your mind.
Grip first, protection next
What you can also notice just by looking at the shoe is that it will keep your feet safe.
There are lugs and dots and dimples all over it. It screams trail and it screams it can do it. It can!!
It’s high-stacked, it has protective overlays on the upper. On the inside, there’s a rock plate so your feet don’t feel beaten up after the run. It offers a "very cushy and plush ride" as a trail runner has said.
Talking about high-stacked, the lab numbers confirm it is a bit higher than the average:
26.2mm at the forefoot, while the average is 24.1mm
33.5mm at the heel, while the average is 32.9mm
A cherry on top? "You still have ground feel", as an avid trail-running-shoes tester has said.
No reports of heel slipping or sliding within the shoe. As one almost-professional runner said, "the lockdown is ah-may-zing."
The tongue is perfectly padded, there’s a glossy overlay that seems to offer extra protection,
Laces have a perfect length and don’t untie during running,
Upper in the midfoot area is really good, nothing is lacking, nothing is out of place.
Not for technical terrain
The grip will fail you on wet sections.
Rock plates don't offer enough protection. An expert perfectly summarized this: "Nike claims that there still is a segmented plate in there but the sharp rocks on the trail have proven otherwise."
It's not stable enough on such terrain. According to reviews, the shoe feels unstable and sloppy when running over rocks and obstacles. One expert even said, "I find my foot really wanting to roll around." The shoes simply do not offer a lot of confidence in that regard.
Our lab numbers have confirmed the non-stability claims by looking at the base of the shoe: the width of the midsole at the forefoot is 105.7mm (the average: 111.8mm), while the width of the heel is 88.5mm (the average: 89.1). Even though it looks bulky with all the lugs on the sides and the heel, the Wildhorse 7 does not have such a wide base after all.
True to size but not for wider feet
Getting the right size is a no-brainer. What also works is fitting a bit wider forefoot in there.
For reference, the width of the Wildhorse's forefoot is 98.2mm which is very similar to the average width of 98.8mm. It goes on to say that the upper does have a bit of a give.
However, wide-footed runners might not be able to do longer (15km+) runs in this shoe due to swelling.
Might need some (very short) breaking in
There’s a first time for everything? Even for the heel and tongue that are too stiff. Padding on the inside of a heel is big and stiff. It literally feels like pinching but only at the beginning.
The tongue looks great and is so thick (5.8mm, while the average in our lab is 6.2mm) it prevents the lace bite but the shiny part is a bit stiff and might cause cutting into the skin. Advice: don't wear low-cut socks on the first run.
The heel did break in and didn’t cause pain afterward. The tongue softened after 15 minutes of hiking and became REALLY good.
Great for cold temperatures
First, because it's not the most breathable shoe out there. Second, after spending some time in the freezer, the difference in flexibility (at room temperature vs freezer), the Wildhorse 7 scored at 22.5% which is less than the average change of 31.3%.
This means you won't have to "break it in" at the beginning of the winter run if the shoe was stored in a cold place.
Feels a bit stiff
There was one report of the Wildhorse 7 not being flexible enough due to the insane amount of rubber at the bottom and the sides.
To check this, we looked at the lab numbers. The flexibility of the shoe at room temperature was 31.1N, while the average is 30.8N, which makes it almost averagely flexible. However, both of the manual tests scored 4 out of 5, meaning that the shoe is rather stiff - both torsionally and longitudinally. This confirms the experience of runners, we are used to trail shoes being a bit more flexible after all.
The ride is average in a good way
This is not a boring shoe. This is not a super-responsive shoe. But people enjoyed it a lot.
50% of the reviews praise them, 50% hate them. Of course they can’t replace the regular gaiters but they keep the debris, at least most of it, out. So one expert would say that on his long-slow-distance run there were "no rocks getting into the shoes," while the other one said that the gaiter "collects dirt as opposed to repels dirt and keeps it out of the shoe."
On the very plus side, the gaiters, along with the great lockdown, allowed an avid runner to comment that the shoes "feel kinda like slippers."
Wildhorse 7 feels heavier than it is
Not trying to compare it to its versatile (Pegasus) or race (Terra Kiger) buddy, but to get the sense of the weight, check out the weight overview:
the average weight across all trail shoes in the RunRepeat database: 10.5oz 298g.
Given that the Wildhorse 7 weighs really close to the average (299g compared to 298g), it might be that it feels heavy due to its looks and balance, rather than it being actually heavy.
Also, it's a consensus: nobody likes the heel bulk and the weight that the extra foam and lugs add to the shoe. Experts wish these were removed so that the weight of the shoe could go down.
Wildhorse 7 is not a summer shoe
While the Wildhorse 7 does breathe, it’s only up to a certain level. A runner tested it in spring, with temperatures up to 61F (16C) and her feet always felt warm. Her socks were far from soaking wet after the run, but she did say she will not run in the Wildhorse during summer. Plus, they are black which is not going to help with the direct sunlight.
Nike Wildhorse 7
Flexibility of the shoe (N)
Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 20 min) (N)
Flexibility of the shoe (% of change)
Lace slip test with the knot (N)
Longitudinal flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest)
Torsional flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest)
Thickness - Tongue (mm)
Width Upper - Forefoot (mm)
Width Upper - Heel (mm)
Lace Stretch (1-5 scale, 5 being the most stretchy)
Flexibility of the heel counter (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest)
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.