For the latest on the Nike Pegasus Trail, check out our Nike Pegasus Trail 4 review.
You have to give it up for a running shoe like the Nike Pegasus, which will unveil its 40th version this year. While there are several other longstanding models on the market with an outstanding reputation, most don’t have even close to half that many years of research and development involved to keep the model relevant in a rapidly changing industry over the past five years.
The Nike Pegasus Trail, now in its third iteration, had fairly inauspicious beginnings among the hardcore trail crowd. With Nike’s other models being the Kiger for light and fast duty, and the Wildhorse for long and burly runs, the Pegasus sometimes felt like a more heavily lugged road shoe that would only be warranted for mellow road-to-trail runs.
However, in the Pegasus Trail 2, Nike utilized soft and highly resilient React foam, which dramatically changed the ride of the Pegasus Trail and completely differentiated it from its road shoe heritage. With the Nike Pegasus Trail 3 ($130), the brand builds on a successful blending of cushioning, ample traction, and great durability to create an excellent all-around trail shoe that can handle ultramarathon distances. The shoe’s actual weight is 11 ounces (314 grams) for a men’s size 9, and 9.3 ounces (263 grams) for a women’s size 7.5.
Nike Pegasus Trail 3 Upper
The simple monochromatic color of the Nike Pegasus Trail 3 belies what is actually a pretty nuanced upper construction. A well-padded and gusseted tongue wraps around the midfoot, providing a surprising amount of lockdown.
The lacing eyelets are heavily reinforced with a durable rubber that feels bombproof; this all flows into a generous toebox, both in width and depth, which is comprised of tough dual-density mesh, and toecap and rand reinforcements in high-wear areas.
The heel feels moderately structured with a heel collar that is thin but plush, and it really hugs the heel on steep uphills. The heel also features a handy pull loop, and for whatever reason, this one seems functional to me.
Overall, the Pegasus Trail 3 upper is aesthetically pleasing with a classic running shoe look and terrific durability. The upper on my test pair looks basically brand new after around 100 miles on mostly dry and dusty trails.
Nike Pegasus Trail 3 Midsole
Did I mention that I’m a fan of Nike’s React midsole foam? I first experienced the magical qualities while running in high-mileage road shoes, like the Nike Infinity Run. What I’ve noticed about this midsole, is that in traditional stack heights of less than 30 millimeters or so, the midsole is unremarkable.
But when you pump up that volume to around 36mm, which is the stack height of the Nike Pegasus Trail 3, the ride turns really plush and protective. It also seems counterintuitive to run in a trail running shoe with that high of a stack height and a heel-to-toe drop of 10mm. However, I didn’t have any issues running on semi-technical terrain in this shoe.
While I wouldn’t wear the Pegasus Trail 3 on a highly technical and rocky course, it worked great for the mild to moderate terrain I find myself on most days. I didn’t have any issues with off-camber terrain or ankle rolls, and the aforementioned midfoot lockdown kept me secure on downhills.
One area I could criticize in the Pegasus Trail 3 is the weight. With this shoe’s road genetics, you would think it would be a bit lighter than 10.9 ounces for a men’s size nine. For comparison, the Hoka Speedgoat 5 weighs about the same, while the Salomon Ultra Glide, which has about the same amount of underfoot protection, weighs a full ounce less.
I’ve come to learn that the ride of a shoe on the trail is much more important to me than the weight, especially for ultra distances. While I understand the physics and energy savings of featherweight shoes, I’d much rather have useable feet, which is usually the limiting factor for me in ultras.
Nike Pegasus Trail 3 Outsole
The outsole of the Nike Pegasus Trail 3 is simple but effective. It has about three millimeters of sticky and durable rubber, which grabs the trail well in dry conditions, and the multidirectional nature of the lugs seems to provide adequate grip both ascending and descending.
With the stack height of the Pegasus Trail 3 and the durability of React foam, I don’t feel it’s necessary for this shoe to have a rock plate. It would add weight and likely ruin ground feel.
Nike Pegasus Trail 3 Overall Impressions
The Nike Pegasus Trail 3 is a simple and surprisingly enjoyable trail shoe that has become a regular part of my rotation. It is fairly agile for being a highly cushioned shoe. Outside of highly technical or muddy terrain, the Pegasus Trail 3 is a durable all-day trail shoe that I would definitely lace up for the start of an ultra.
Additionally, if you’re a runner who frequently runs on the road to get to the trail and need a hybrid shoe, then the Pegasus Trail 3 is one of the best I’ve tested. Combined with a fairly modest price tag by today’s standards, this is a trail shoe that will work great for most runners.
Call for Comments
- Are you running in the Nike Pegasus Trail 3? If so, share your thoughts about the shoe overall.
- How does this version of the model compare to its predecessors?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]
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Check out our Best Trail Running Shoes article to learn about our current favorite trail running shoes!