It’s been a while since I’ve been as completely stoked about a pair of door-to-trail shoes as I have been with the new Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 ($140) shoe.
Perhaps it’s because it has been my magic slipper for a recent round of return-to-running protocol on the benign, non-technical trails I’ve been frequenting after a flare-up of heel pain, but I can truly say Nike knocked it out of the park with this shoe.
iRunFar did a thorough Nike Pegasus Trail 3 review in February 2022, where gear reviewer Tom Caughlan discussed some of the history of Nike’s Pegasus line — 40 iterations of Pegasus road shoes thus far! On the trail side, the Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 is the third version utilizing the innovative React foam, and having worn each of these — from the Nike Pegasus Trail 2 forward — I think this is by far the best and most comfortable ride yet.
The iRunFar team likes the Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 so much that we’ve named it one of the top trail running shoes in our Best Trail Running Shoes guide.
Actual specifications on the shoe are hard to come by as Nike isn’t posting them on their site, but according to the representative we spoke with, the women’s size 8 has a heel-toe drop of 8.5 millimeters while the men’s size 10 is 9.5 millimeters. I’m not sure why there would be a difference, but I can attest to the women’s drop being at least 8.5 millimeters, because my posterior chain is completely happy, and it’s rather sensitive to such things. The actual weight is 9.5 ounces (270 grams) for a men’s size 9, which is a bit lighter than the previous models.
What this all really means, is that the well-cushioned Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 is a relatively svelte, higher-drop shoe that is adept at cruising through shorter and longer runs without slowing the pace.
I find the sizing to be very consistent within the Pegasus Trail line, and I wear women’s size 9.5 which is equivalent to my size in La Sportiva, Brooks, Columbia-Montrail, and New Balance. For reference, I wear a women’s 8.5 in Salomon.
Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 Upper
The Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 upper has evolved positively with a newly designed lightweight engineered mesh with larger pores through the front half of the shoe for improved breathability. These are excellent warmer-weather shoes, and should you find yourself dashing through a stream, they dry very quickly as well. I’m not having any difficulty wearing them in our shoulder season either where temperatures vary from 35 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit with some mud and packed snow scattered about.
Nike touts “runner-informed data” driving the fit and feel, and I do find it is an improved fit over both the second and third versions of the shoe. The mesh is very accommodating to my wider forefoot without creating any pressure points, and even my grippy toes are completely comfortable with room to splay and no abrasions from the toebox.
The protective rand along the front of the toebox is now replaced by a much lighter, more flexible, and less protective skin overlay with tiny dots to deflect debris and incursions. A wrap of the outsole adds a bit of structure to the end of the shoe and effectively wards off damage from catching a rock.
Extra lugs here give added traction when you’re running up a hill on your toes. At first, I was a little wary given my penchant for catching my toe on the occasional root or rock, but so far, it’s functioned well given the smooth to moderate trails on which I’ve been running.
At first glance, the upper seems like it might be a bit too flexible and unstructured. Minimal support is provided by thin overlays through the medial and lateral midfoot, but the unassuming Flywire technology is pretty amazing and with the integration between the laces and the midfoot band, my foot remains secure even on rutted and scooped-out trails that overwork the posterior tibialis in most other shoes. The flat laces are easy to secure and stay tied with a simple double knot — no further adjustments necessary.
The fully gusseted and moderately padded tongue is constructed with mesh fabric and is fairly flexible, which allows it to contour easily to the foot while still protecting it from the laces. The tongue doesn’t extend too far up the ankle, so tendons stay happy and range of motion is full. The ankle collar is padded just enough to be very comfortable.
The only out-of-character part of the upper, for me, is the Achilles tendon notch which, though the padding is adequate, almost reminds me of the first La Sportiva Jackal — see our La Sportiva Jackal review for more on that shoe — where it’s actually angled slightly toward the Achilles more than most shoes, thus creating some unwanted friction against the Achilles.
I noticed this particularly in the first 50 miles of wear, but I found it responded well to manual manipulation, forcing it to bend out and away from the tendon. Now that I’m at 150 miles in these shoes, the left one is completely comfortable, and the right one is nearly there. I haven’t read one other comment stating this, so perhaps it’s just the shoes I received.
The heel counter itself is well-structured but still pliable, which makes for a very comfortable ride even when the trail gets a little sideways. I appreciated the level of support it provides over some of the rockier trails I ventured out on — it keeps me nimble and agile, but secure. A very helpful pull loop is attached to the upper heel, which assists with pulling on the shoe if that’s something you prefer.
Lastly, the insole seems more substantial in foam height and arch support than prior versions. My foot has appreciated this very much. Whereas most companies seem to be minimizing this very key aspect of comfort, I feel like Nike stepped it up here. This — coupled with the way they’ve constructed the midsole foam to rise up medially and laterally along the upper/midsole junction — provides next-level support to the foot, thus enhancing the feeling of stride efficiency regardless of the pace. It really is one of my favorite aspects contributing to the overall joy of running in the shoe.
With ample colorways available in the Nike React Pegasus Trail 4, there’s bound to be one that speaks to you.
Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 Midsole
Though the React foam technology has been used in both the second and third versions of the Nike Pegasus Trail, there’s something about the ride in the Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 that seems like an improvement. It may just be the perfect blend of foam compliance and resilience, but for me, it feels like no energy is wasted with each footfall. The smooth, responsive cushioning lets me glide along on the quarter mile of pavement and the mile of crushed gravel that take me to the rolling, relatively smooth singletrack.
I feel at ease with this midsole in how it responds through the gait cycle. The stack height is well within my comfort zone, and I find that it’s protective enough on the smooth-moderate terrain that I don’t mind the lack of a rock plate. If Nike wanted to expand this line to more technical trails, a rock film might be helpful, but given the door-to-trail focus, it’s perfect as is.
At 150 miles of use and counting thus far, the midsole provides as comfortable of a ride as it did out of the box, and the React foam remains wear-and-tear-free and without any compression creases. If you haven’t had a chance to test this foam out for yourself and if your primary trails aren’t super technical and mountainous, it’s worth trialing these.
Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 Outsole
The Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 outsole is another place I believe this shoe has helpfully shed some weight as compared to prior iterations. Gone is the single layer of rubber and in its place, a completely new and varied 4-millimeter lug pattern, with cutouts to improve flexibility and conformability to the trails.
Again, these trail running shoes aren’t targeted for highly technical trails or significant snow, ice, and mud, but I’m finding the multi-directional lug pattern to be an improvement over the Pegasus Trail 3, especially on short, kicker uphills, skittery downhills, and the sand-over-hardpack dirt surfaces I’m commonly on.
The grip is reasonably effective all-round in the seasonal transition where it’s balmy in the low country, but the mountain trails are completely snowy. I find they perform adequately on the short stints of roughed-up packed snow in the shady places, but I definitely ease up in the presence of greasy mud as they just don’t have much purchase.
The outsole rolls smoothly over dirt roads, which makes me thankful for the Pegasus’s road shoe heritage, but the protection and stability remain true to the light-moderate trail category.
Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 Overall Impressions
I wear the Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 almost every day right now because it is perfectly designed for the non-technical singletrack, and occasionally moderate rocky segments I’m frequenting. I haven’t found another shoe with that ideal balance of cushioning and energy return that facilitates such an easy stride even as I work to get my fitness and paces back.
It’s not a big mountain shoe or one I’d attach a traction device to, but for low country days, it’s really hard to beat. I definitely appreciate the lighter-weight feel of this version as well as the improvements made in the upper and outsole.
There’s just something about the way the midsole supports the foot and integrates with the upper that stands out and makes the Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 my favorite version of this shoe model yet. The whole iRunFar team likes the Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 so much that we’ve named it one of the top trail running shoes in our Best Trail Running Shoes guide.
Call for Comments
- Have you run in the Nike React Pegasus Trail 4? What were your impressions?
- Have you tried any of the previous versions in the Pegasus Trail line? How do you think this latest iteration compares?
[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!]