Nike Zegama 2 Review

An in-depth review of the Nike Zegama 2 trail running shoes.

By on June 6, 2024 | Comments
Nike Zegama 2

The Nike Zegama 2. All photos: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

The Nike Zegama 2 ($180) has some notable changes from the original design. The update keeps the original shoe’s soft, energetic ZoomX foam in the midsole while adding a layer of SR-02 foam to improve stability. Further, it incorporates a Vibram Megagrip outsole rubber for better traction and a smooth engineered-mesh upper that’s designed to be more supportive and durable.

When the first Nike Zegama launched in 2022, it was the first trail running shoe to feature Nike’s bouncy ZoomX midsole foam. I got a pair in June 2023, and I still haven’t forgotten that first run on a locals’ favorite eight-mile loop called the Wolfslug, which involves a pleasant mix of gradual climbing, punchy powerhiking, and a long, non-technical descent on a gravel road. Propelled by the ZoomX foam, I bounded up the climb in a state of pure bliss. On the descent, I appreciated how the plush cushion eliminated any discomfort from the road’s rocky surface and how these shoes gobbled up miles like Zach Miller with that banana at the Courmayeur aid station during the 2023 UTMB.

Nevertheless, I had two gripes with the original model. One, it was less stable than other cushioned shoes, like the Hoka Speedgoat 5 (review), and I noticed it aggravating my heel and Achilles tendon on technical trails. Additionally, it didn’t grip as well as my other favorite trail running shoes, especially on wet rocks and creek crossings. The good news is that Nike has addressed both of these issues in its updated design.

With this update, the shoe saw a slight bump in weight, but a U.S. men’s 9 still comes in at an actual weight of 10.8 ounces (305 grams). The shoe keeps the original model’s 4-millimeter drop. A U.S. men’s 10 has 36-millimeter and 32-millimeter total stack heights at the heel and toe, while a U.S. women’s 8 has stack heights that are one millimeter less across the board.

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Nike Zegama 2 Upper

Nike Zegama 2 - lateral

A lateral view of the Nike Zegama 2.

The engineered-mesh upper on the Nike Zegama 2 is one area where the shoe got a key update. Shifting away from the perforated mesh of the original model, the second version boasts a smooth and sturdy single-layer mesh that gives an impression of durability. I’ve put about 200 trail miles on my first pair of Nike Zegamas, and the uppers show no significant wear. While I’ve only got about 75 miles on the Nike Zegama 2 so far, I am impressed that the upper still appears like new. My hunch is that smooth mesh with smaller perforations will hold up even better than the original because it will resist snags and abrasion — though I’ll need more time in these shoes to be certain. Finally, the new upper equals its predecessor in both breathability and overall comfort.

The shoe features the same stretchy ankle gaiter and heel loop as the first iteration. While the ankle gaiter is primarily designed to keep rocks and debris from getting inside the shoe, I’ve found its biggest benefit is added durability. I tend to scuff the inside of my shoes’ heel collars and quickly form wear spots, and the built-in gaiter helps reduce the wear rate on this part of the shoe. It’s also worth noting that while the original shoe had a thin, laser-cut tongue, the new version has a padded, moderately cushioned tongue. I expect this to be welcome news to runners who prefer to have a bit of cushion at the top of their foot.

Interestingly, Nike specifically states that the new version offers a wider fit than the original model. Here, I would disagree. In a side-by-side comparison with one foot in each shoe, the new version has an undoubtedly snugger fit. It hugs my foot and locks it into place, while the older model leaves a little wiggle room, especially around the forefoot and midfoot. The new design also has less volume in the front — in fact, one of our testers could not use it because it was too tight. Since I have a long, narrow, and medium-volume foot, it fits me like a glove, though I still prefer the slightly roomier feel of the original.

During testing, I was surprised by how long it took to break in this shoe, and I suspect that its hug-like fit was part of the reason my feet felt tingly after 90 minutes of running, even after more than 40 miles in the shoe. As such, based on my experience with both versions of the shoe, I would not recommend the updated version for runners with a wide or high-volume foot, especially those who tried the first style and decided it was too snug. On the flip side, runners with narrow feet or those who prefer a really locked-down fit might discover this shoe as their new favorite.

Nike Zegama 2 Midsole

Nike Zegama 2 - medial

A medial view of the Nike Zegama 2.

As with the original, the biggest story with the Nike Zegama 2 is its use of ZoomX foam in the highly cushioned midsole. You can find the same foam in the brand’s highest-performing racing shoes, including the Nike Alphafly 3, Nike Vaporfly 3, and Nike Ultrafly (review). Nike says the ZoomX foam is lightweight, responsive, and provides the highest energy return of all its shoe foams. On this point, I agree. This foam is what gave me the bouncy, effortless feeling on that first run in the original version — and left my legs feeling like the hilly, eight-mile run had taken nothing out of them. However, the trade-off with this plush foam is a less stable ride, something I noticed with the first iteration and which led me to stop wearing the shoe on technical trails.

This is addressed in the Nike Zegama 2 with the addition of a layer of SR-02 foam around the ZoomX foam for increased protection, durability, and stability. SR-02 is a type of EVA foam that’s stiff, firm, and dense. When I took the new version out for a spin, I immediately noticed the difference, even before I realized that Nike had changed the midsole. The downside of this change is that it has less of that bouncy, energetic feel. The benefit, however, is that the shoe feels decidedly more stable. While I miss the rebound of the first Nike Zegama, I feel more confident taking the newer version onto steep and technical trails.

It’s also important to note that, as I briefly mentioned above, it took me a long time to break in these shoes — nearly 50 miles. In addition to the upper, I think the reason for this includes the firm SR-02 midsole foam. While my initial experiences with the Nike Zegama last June could be described as fun, carefree, and joyful, this new shoe required patience. On the one hand, although I immediately noticed the shoe felt firmer and less bouncy than its predecessor, it wasn’t uncomfortable on shorter runs. However, when I wore the shoe for longer periods, I noticed that my feet started to feel achy, hot, and tingly after about 90 minutes — and I was surprised how long this experience persisted. Finally, after putting 60 or 70 miles on them, I stopped having any discomfort on longer runs, even up to two and a half hours.

Nike Zegama 2 Outsole

Nike Zegama 2 - outsole

The outsole of the Nike Zegama 2.

Perhaps the most noteworthy update to the Nike Zegama 2 is the addition of Vibram Megarip to its outsole. I mentioned above that the first version did not grip well on wet rocks and could be downright treacherous in creek crossings. Many other brands use Vibram Megagrip for the outsoles of their trail running shoes — including Altra, Hoka, Topo, New Balance, Scarpa, and others — and for good reason. This rubber compound has proven its performance on both wet and dry rocky terrain and trails.

Aside from the rubber, the new outsole features a lug pattern similar to the original. The multi-directional design helps the shoe grip steep trails and loose surfaces, whether you’re going up or down. During testing, I noticed the shoe’s improved performance on steep trails at Smith Rock State Park in Oregon, where small, loose rocks can act as ball bearings. Even on these challenging trail surfaces, I remained upright and could confidently trust my footing.

Nike Zegama 2 Overall Impressions

Nike Zegama 2 - top

A top view of the Nike Zegama 2.

The Nike Zegama 2 is a maximally cushioned trail running shoe that’s ideal for runners who are putting in long miles, though it can also serve as a comfortable daily trainer for any distance on a mix of trail, gravel, and roads. While I’m only 75 miles into this shoe, it’s proving to be a durable design so far — notably, the upper shows almost no wear. The previous version of this shoe is also in good condition after 200 miles, so this gives me additional confidence in this one.

While this shoe took about 50 miles to break in, it’s gotten more comfortable with time, and I have no complaints about its performance. It is worth noting, however, the shoe is firmer and much less bouncy than its predecessor. However, it’s also more stable.

The biggest limiting factor for the Nike Zegama 2 is its fit. This shoe is ideal for people with narrow and low-volume feet, and those with wide feet or high arches may find it too constricting. Although Nike states that the new shoe is wider than the previous version, I found the opposite to be true. Finally, it’s not the lightest shoe. The Hoka Speedgoat 5, by comparison, weighs 20 grams less. However, I’ve never experienced the Nike Zegama 2 as clunky or cumbersome, and I think it would be a great choice for ultrarunning, as long as you like the fit.

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Call for Comments

  • Have you tried the Nike Zegama or Nike Zegama 2? What are your thoughts?

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Alli Hartz

Alli Hartz is a member of the gear review team at iRunFar. She’s been writing about outdoor gear, outdoor adventure, and adventure travel for 10 years. Aside from iRunFar, Alli contributes gear reviews and adventure stories to Switchback Travel, Travel Oregon, and other outlets. She also works as a ski guide during the winter season and has dabbled in run-skiing on the Cascade volcanoes. Alli is based in Bend, Oregon, where she loves to run from her front door up into the Three Sisters Wilderness.