Nike Zegama 2 trail running shoe review | So much cushion!

Nike is king on the pitch and the track, but how does their latest shoe stack up against tough trails?

from Nike
RRP  £164.99
Nike Zegama 2 trail running shoes posed for review

by Oli Reed |
Updated on

Nike running shoes are a big deal, and so are Vibram soles. So what happens when these two mega footwear brands combine forces to make the all-new Nike Zegama 2 trail running shoes? Our testers have been hitting local trails hard over the past few weeks to find out.

Every time a new Nike shoe drops, the running world sits up and takes notice. The American brand has been making trail running shoes since 1984 and as well as the original Zegama, we're also big fans of the Kiger 9, the React Pegasus Trail 4 and the hugely popular ZoomX Ultrafly. The latter was the first Nike trail shoe to incorporate the Vibram Megagrip outsole, so we were excited to hear the same technology had been added to the Zegama 2 when it was released at the start of May.

But having said that, the first thing that struck us when we opened the box was the level of cushioning in the Zegama 2's ZoomX midsole. It's no exaggeration to say that if you pinch both sides of that midsole with your thumb and finger you'll feel them sink into the squishy foam, so you can probably already imagine how they feel to run in.

But how does the Nike Zegama 2 shape up when you hit the trails? Our editor Oli and running guru Milo have both been using them to run, hike, camp, and cycle over the past few weeks, so let's jump into our full review.

NEW DROP

Pros

  • Excellent cushioning
  • Great grip on slick surfaces
  • Durable reinforcement around pressure points
  • Good flex in the midsole

Cons

  • Extended heel won't be to everyone's taste

Design and features

Nike Zegama 2 features

In terms of aesthetic design, the Nike Zegama 2 is a shoe that stands out from the crowd. So far we've spotted 4 different colourways across the men's and women's versions and all are eye-catching. The kaleidoscope of colours and multiple panels might not be for everyone, and we weren't totally sold when we first pulled set eyes on them, but they've slowly started to grow on us.

In terms of features, let's start with that ZoomX midsole. Nike describes it as their lightest and most responsive foam yet, and we'll happily admit that we love it. It's soft and springy, offering great comfort and energy return as you run or walk. You'll genuinely feel like you're bouncing along the trails. Not every runner loves a high slab of midsole like this, but in our opinion your joints will breathe a huge sigh of relief every time you plant your foot in the Zegama 2.

Nike Zegama 2 show midsole

Despite the high stack, the stability feels good as you run too. One of our testers took one look at these shoes when they landed in our office and questioned whether they looked like "ankle breakers", but after a few weeks of use we're happy to report it doesn't feel that way. The midsole also curves up slightly at the edges, wrapping around your foot to add a bit more security.

On to that Vigram Megagrip outsole. We love it. Not only have Nike added some serious credibility to the Zegama range by introducing Vibram as the outsole partner, but in our opinion it's upped performance levels too. According to our tape measure the lug depth is around 4mm, arranged in a v-shaped design that faces forward at the front of the shoe and backwards at the rear.

Nike Zegama 2 Vibram outsole

In terms of testing conditions, we've switched between heatwaves and monsoon-like rain recently, so we've had plenty of chance to see what the Zegama-Vibram combo is made of. And so far it's very hard to pick fault with. The grip on wet grass and mud is decent, and we've been very impressed with the way it sticks to wet rock.

We've had a few reports of the previous model (the Zegama 1) outsole skidding on wet rocks, but so far the new and improved Zegama 2 has stuck fast and proved very reliable. There's also plenty of bend and flex in the outsole, so it almost feels like it's moulding to the ground as you run. The lugs do tend to gather a bit of mud, but because they aren't too deep it tends to drop away as you continue moving rather than continually piling up on the bottom of the shoe.

Nike Zegama 2 design upper

The upper is mostly constructed of a thin, ventilated mesh that offers excellent airflow and breathability. There's an internal heel counter at the back for stability, a thin layer of overlay/toe bumper at the front to protect your toes, a small ankle gaiter to keep out debris, plus a U-shaped section of padding that cradles the rear of the foot.

We've found that the different elements of the Zegama's upper work nicely together as a complete package. The traditional lacing system locks the foot down well, the forefoot area feels roomy without being quite as gappy and spacious as something like an Altra shoe, and in general we've found the fit to be very good.

Performance and comfort

Nike Zegama 2 lacing

It's very hard to pick faults in either the comfort or performance of the Nike Zegama 2. One of our testers, LFTO editor Oli, is very precious about the levels of cushioning he needs from trail running shoes (something to do with a baby slide and multiple leg breaks, don't ask), and he's given this shoe a glowing report. Mostly as a result of that spongy ZoomX midsole.

In our opinion, this is a great shoe to mix between road and trail. There's a printed sentence on the side of the midsole (see below) stating 'Designed and tested for relentless forward progress, Nike Trail Mountain Division' but we wouldn't say this belongs in the same company as the best fell running shoes in terms of mountain performance. Although the Zegama 2 is more than comfortable on tarmac, it really comes into its own once you hit the trails. We've tested it mostly on mud and grass, and the grip has been superb. We've even skipped across a couple of wet logs and stepping stones and the traction has held up there too.

Nike Zegama 2 midsole

The cushioning is interesting. As you can see from the images above the bulk of padding is centred around the heel and the middle of the foot, which gives it a back-weighted feel. This helps create a rolling sensation as you run, with your momentum rocking forward with every stride. So whether that's for you will come down to personal opinion. But we like it!

We like fit of the upper too. Not too roomy, with the laces doing a nice job of locking the foot in place. The lightweight mesh upper won't offer much in the way of protection around your forefoot, but the breathability is impressive. This certainly isn't a shoe that'll leave you with sweaty feet.

Sustainability

Nike Zegama 2 laces

Nike have never been top-of-the-list when it comes to transparency over their eco-friendliness. And yet again, we've got another shoe with very little technical information available alongside it. The shoe doesn't use recycled material, but it is certainly sturdy in construction. The leather wraps on the sides of the laces also adds durability, and the midsole foam is the same stuff they use when building actual bridges, so, you can expect these shoes to really last, which is worth noting.

As a brand, Nike make several key pledges around reusing plastics, yarns and textiles, and around the reduction of waste, fresh water and greenhouse gas emissions. But unfortunately, they aren’t great at explaining how these programs feed into individual products or technologies at point of sale. Could do better.

Price and competition

Nike Zegama 2 heel

At £164.99, these are fairly pricey for what you get, in terms of raw performance. The Zegama 2 is a great shoe if you're prioritising comfort over most other performance aspects, but take another super-stacked, soft-foam-midsole option like the Hoka Challenger 7, and you can get all the same pillowy comfort for £40 less.

You'll also find as-good or better grip on the Saucony Peregrine 14, which clocks in at £155. But, if you're really invested in hitting the trails with that classic swoosh on the side of you're foot, than this is your best option to date.

Verdict

Nike Zegama 2 forefoot

The Nike Zegama 2 is supremely comfortable and provides more traction than it's relatively short lugs had led us to expect. The soft mesh upper conforms nicely to the foot, and the dynamic, squishy foam midsole gave us a luxurious experience over hard packed trails and the odd pavement. Get it if you want an all-rounder for summer.

How we tested

Milo Wilson and Oli Reed Gear Testers

These shoes were tested by Oli Reed, our fearless lead editor, and Milo Wilson, our roving nutcase / trail running reporter. Oli took them to task at a few local park runs (he's almost as competitive as his son, who tested our best kids' running shoes), while Milo earned a new PB on his local 10k which goes on and off road. We quickly realised these were best used as a hybrid trail shoe.

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