Verdict: Pacing it through rocky and off-trail terrain, hands down, the Nike Wildhorse 7 just rocks! It made each of our steps confident and its protection just took everything to a whole new level. For a trail shoe, this is what we consider 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.
It’s a cushioned trail running shoe, but it’s not overdone so don’t expect a “walking on clouds” feeling. It has an insane grip and a rock plate for extra protection on more demanding terrain. It is really chunky, but you don’t really feel so high off the ground.
Who this shoe is (not) for
This shoe is great if you always wanted:
Extra protection (think lugs, semi-gaiters, overlays, rock plate),
A trail shoe that can handle off trails and rocky terrain.
Trail race shoe (look up Terra Kiger models, all the way).
How Nike Wildhorse 7 was tested
This review was written after doing a:
3-mile hike (needed for a break-in),
3-mile run mostly on soft ground and some rocky sections,
14-mile run on mostly rocky terrain.
There was no opportunity to test the shoe in proper mud.
Nike Wildhorse 7 has a crazy good grip!
I haven’t found a situation where the grip failed. Soft ground, branches, dirt roads with tiny rocks, large rocks, this shoe does not disappoint.
I also love how this shoe is all about the grip. Just look at it.
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.
Personally, I’m more into lower stack heights and less protection. But this shoe felt like I could walk on nails or run through blackberry bushes and not even a scratch would be found on it.
Fits true to size
This is my 4th Nike shoe and I always get the same size. Works like a charm for Wildhorse as well.
I also like that my wider forefoot fits in there.
What I did not like is that after 20km my pinkie toes started hurting. Day after this run they still hurt. Maybe not suited for a wide forefoot (at least not on long distances).
Needs some breaking in
There’s a first time for everything? Even for the heel and tongue that are too stiff.
When I put the Wildhorse 7 on for the first time, it felt really weird. I have never had running shoes with such a big and stiff heel padding. It literally felt like pinching.
The other thing that bothered me was the tongue. While it looks great, the shiny part was a bit stiff and I felt the tongue cutting into the skin on my leg.
Because of this, my first activity was an easy hike and not a run. The heel did break in and didn’t cause pain afterward. The tongue softened after 15 minutes of hiking and now it is REALLY good.
The heel area is either too stiff or slippery
What first started as a really stiff heel padding that got softer after the first hike, ended up with heel slipping.
I have no idea how or why this happened. There is the extra lace hole you can use, but when I did that, the tongue was too harsh on my skin. So I needed to get mid-cut socks, instead of low-cut ones. So, there’s a workaround, it’s just not that nice.
Superb midfoot lock
The heel does have some issues, but this midfoot is the best I have ever had the privilege to see and test in trail running shoes.
The tongue is perfectly padded, there’s a glossy overlay that seems to offer extra protection (from the lace bite or for the durability of the upper?),
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.
I wish more shoes had a system like this.
It wants you to run
Wildhorse 7 is not a lightweight shoe. But, if you get over it, you’ll feel it pushing you to run. Especially if you’re a forefoot striker like myself.
This is not a boring shoe. This is not a super-responsive shoe. But I really enjoyed its ride.
Wildhorse 7 weighs you down
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:
They work. They can’t replace the regular gaiters but they definitely keep the debris out! At least most of it.
I never liked how, after the race, people take their shoes off and have clean socks and feet. My feet would always be full of dust and socks unrecognizable. Then I bought my first gaiters and my world has changed.
With Wildhorse 7, even after the dirtiest and rockiest of trails I ended up with only 2 rocks in my shoe. Really good running experience!
Wildhorse 7 is not a summer shoe
While the Wildhorse 7 does breathe, it’s only up to a certain level. I tested the shoe at the beginning of spring, with temperatures up to 61F (16C) and my feet always felt warm. Socks were far from soaking wet after the run, but let me put it like this: I will not run in them during summer.
Plus, they are black which is not going to help with the direct sunlight.
Whether it's a vertical kilometre or an ultra, climbing in the Alps or exploring local mountains, Jovana uses every opportunity to trade walls and concrete for forests and trails. She logs at least 10h/week on trails, with no off-season, and 4x more on research on running and running shoes. With a background in physics and engineering management, she prefers her running spiced with data.