Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2 Review

[Editor’s Note: This review was conducted by guest reviewer Heather Jossi.]

When I first opened the box with my Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2 ($110) shoes, I was pleasantly surprised by their aesthetics. I’m a sucker for shoes that incorporate a good amount of greys and blacks into the color scheme, mostly to hide the dirt and (not so) occasional blood from knee scrapes that comes with my Colorado mountain running.

Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2 photo 1

The Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2.

The pair I tested was Wolf Grey/Dark Ash/Hyper Jade/Volt in a men’s size 8. A size 9 weighs in at 9.3 ounces, which places them smack in the middle of my near-complete personal Salomon shoe line. These are a neutral shoe with minimal support, so if you’re an overpronator, you may want to look elsewhere.

Upper
Nike uses the Dynamic Fit system, which is a supportive inner sleeve that wraps under the arch and around the midfoot for better arch support and a secure, yet non-restrictive fit. The toe box is seamless, making this shoe one of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. Nike describes the fabric in the roomy toe-box as “open mesh,” but it’s not the mesh you think of. It’s woven quite tightly and I never had an issue with dirt or sand entering the shoe in that area.

The Wildhorse also uses an EVA sockliner and Stobel last. The lacing system is standard; the laces are flat, and their fabric is such that a double knot isn’t required. I found the fit to be secure and very comfortable. If I was a sockless runner, these would be my go-to shoes. The toe bumper has been streamlined from the first edition, resulting in the low height, but combined with the fabric, doesn’t restrict wiggle room.

Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2 photo 2

Midsole
The full length Phylon midsole foam with the Crash Pad and Zoom Air in the heel gives adequate protection for most trail conditions. To me, the ride felt semi-firm to firm, and I liked that the shoe felt responsive. I did find the torsional stiffness to be a bit lacking on canted or deep-grooved singletrack, and I don’t think the shoe has enough protection for me on technical trails, but I’m not always the most nimble-footed runner.

Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2  photo 3

Outsole
Nike uses a variety of substantial and well-thought out tread patterns to give this shoe impressive grip. The placement of the Waffle-pattern square lugs under the forefoot and front of the midfoot gives really good bite into whatever surface you happen to be on. The rear midfoot and heel sport reverse arrow lugs which are perfect for downhill running. Around the outside of the sole are smaller, triangular lugs which really complement the top-notch grip. The Environmentally Preferred sticky rubber allowed the shoe to perform well in dirt and sand. It also provides great grip on wet rocks. I was most pleased with the way they handled snow. I had good traction and they also shed the slush that usually wedges and remains between the lugs.

Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2 photo 1

Opinions
The first time I tried the shoes on, I was impressed by how comfortable they were with and without socks. I felt like I had been wearing them for a few weeks because of how they hugged my feet. I did find that if I wore my standard medium-weight Merino wool socks, these shoes were a tad snug. Knowing that, I’d prefer to have a size 8.5, but with a lighter-weight sock, the size 8’s felt just fine.

This shoe has a 4mm drop (22 heel/18 forefoot), and I really like the way my foot is low to the ground but still feels supported. Even though the toe box is low height, I never felt like my toes were cramped. The toe box is also seamless, which my pinky toes really appreciate! I was pleased with the grip of the shoes and felt secure on all of the surfaces I ran on.

I didn’t have a chance to do any water crossings, so I can’t speak for the shoe’s ability to drain, but my guess is that with the density of the fabric used, there may be more water retention than other shoes on the market that sport more open mesh. I also didn’t get to wallow in mud, so I’m not sure if the shoe will shed that, but honestly, I’ve never found a shoe that didn’t collect four inches of the stuff that you find on Colorado’s Front Range.

For me, this shoe is the perfect for non-technical, rolling singletrack. They aren’t stiff enough for the steep, rocky trails that I frequent, and I prefer a little more rock protection. The Wildhorse 2’s would be great for a trail half, but I’m not sure I could run a full marathon distance without wanting a bit more protection and support.

These shoes are perfect for the nimble midfoot striker. I’m still transitioning to the midfoot strike and I’m finding these are great training shoes since they definitely encourage that gait.

Bottom Line
The Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2’s definitely have a place in my line-up of shoes. At $110, the price may be a tad steep, but let’s be honest, shoes that cost less than a Ben Franklin are a thing of the past. I think Nike did a great job in making a lightweight, low-profile, neutral shoe that will give you a comfortable ride and fantastic grip on most trails.

[Editor’s Note: You can also check out our review of the original Nike Zoom Wildhorse.]

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Have you tried the Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2’s yet? If so, what are your impressions of them?
  • Have you worn both the original Nike Zoom Wildhorse as well as this second model? If so, how would you describe the updates made to the shoe?
  • For those of you who’ve run in the range of Nike models, what are your thoughts on the Wildhorse’s place within it?

There are 13 comments

    1. rtockstein

      The kiger also has the zoom air in the forefoot, where the wildhorse only has it in the heel, I believe. The lugs on the kiger are also slightly smaller, I think. There's also slightly less padding in the,kiger. So the kiger is really just a lighter version of the wildhorse. I use the kiger quite often. It's a great shoe

  1. Toddrunzslow

    I have run in both versions of this shoe. They seem to have improved the shoe overall without changing too much from the original. I find these shoes great for my PNW trails that I run on. I have yet to feel a root or sharp rock poke my footbed. They do not drain as well as the original version

  2. ryanghelfi

    the upper on the Kiger is also quite a bit different. The Kiger uses flywire in the lacing system which gives it a pretty secure fit compared to the more traditional lacing system mentioned in the article for the wildhorse. The Kiger also has less of a heel counter (just a tiny bit of firmer regrind material) compared to the more full counter in the Wildhorse. The outsoles of the 2 shoe are different materials actually. The Kiger using a stickier rubber than that of the Wildhorse.

      1. Mic_Med

        So if you were running a long distance race with a mix of terrain, which is the preferred shoe? The Kiger because of the added midsole cushioning?

        1. afvarner

          It really depends on what you want. The Zoom Air in the Kiger doesn't make it feel more cushiony, it makes it feel more responsive. In my opinion, the Wild Horse is a bit more protective than the Kiger and has bigger lugs, so if you want a bit more cushion/protection, go with the Wild Horse. If you want a faster, more responsive shoe and are willing to sacrifice a bit of protection, go with the Kiger

  3. MountainRoche

    The Wildhorse is an amazing shoe. At the World Mountain Champs, Patrick Smyth (10th overall, 1st US), Zach Miller (4th US), and Megan Roche (21st overall, 2nd US) all wore the Wildhorse 2. And I know the team splits about 50/50 on the Wildhorse and Kiger, depending on the race. When Megan and I joined Nike Trail, it was partially because the Wildhorse 2 is the best mix of speed and support of any trail shoe we've tried (which is almost all of them!). Thanks iRunFar for supporting the MUT community!

  4. Mic_Med

    I LOVE this shoe. I own the PI N1 and N2, Salomon Ultras and Mantras, and a multitude of other high priced trail shoes and this is my go-to. It's the most comfortable trail shoe I've ever worn. I wish it had a bit more cushioning in the forefoot but that's an opinion, I knew how much was there going into it. Great, amazing, fantastic shoe.

  5. @neldiogo

    Anyone noticed the changes in the Wildhorse 2 vs 1? I have v1 and loved how the tongue is attached on both sides making it feel like a glove. V2 seems to have gone back to a "traditional" construction were the tongue is free to slide to the sides. I only tested the v2 on a store and when I got home I thought I may have tried a different shoe (like the wild trail wich is a similar cheap version). Also they made the front of the shoe less protective and the upper touches the toes wich didn't happened on v1. Can anyone confirm this changes on v2 of the Wildhorse

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