Monday, April 12, 2021

Nike Wildhorse 7 Review

Article by Jeff Beck

Nike Wildhorse 7 ($130)


Every runner has that shoe, the one that they loved, only to see it change dramatically a year later into something that no longer worked for them. It’s the roll of the dice any time a model gets an overhaul - will it be better or worse? Luckily for Wildhorse 6 fans, the Wildhorse 7 does not deviate far from last year’s model in almost any regard. Unfortunately, that means that most of my complaints from last year (RTR Review) are still valid, with one interesting change.


Nice wide toebox

Upper holds the foot well

Heel pull tab is actually functional!

Minimal changes from last year, so fans of the 6 get more options


Toebox has low ceiling

Segmented rock plate seems to be non-existent

Solid rubber outsole doesn’t allow flex

Gaiter upper doesn’t block sand or small rocks

Tester Profile

Jeff is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup, and as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 30 miles per week on roads and trails around Denver, CO (and sometimes on the treadmill when the weather gets too much for a Phoenix native). Jeff only got into running in his 30s, as a result his career PR's are 4:07 for the marathon and 5K at 23:39. Jeff has finished several ultra marathons, from 50K up to 50 miles, and is still debating if he wants to go down that road again.


Weight: men's 11 oz / (US9)  /  women's 9.4 oz / (US8)

  Samples: men’s 11.7 oz /333g (US10.5)

Stack Height: 35mm heel / 27mm forefoot, 8 mm drop

Available now. $130  

First Impressions and Fit

A year ago I thought the Wildhorse 6 update was both a step forward and a step back. Going to React midsole from a dated Phylon and Zoom Airbag forefoot was an upgrade on paper, but I found that the softer midsole and slab of rubber outsole combined to leave the runner very unstable. I immediately pulled out last year’s shoe and did a side-by-side comparison to find it is so close to last year’s shoe, it might as well be a color update - the update is subtle. I found it still fits true-to-size lengthwise, with a solid foothold.


Nike stuck with a borderline open mesh upper for most of the shoe, with a thicker, more built up material around the heel to the midfoot on the medial side of the shoe. Visually, the most striking element is still the sock-like collar put in place to act as a built in gaiter, but fit and feel is dominated by the textured rubber toe bumper. 

It is very protective, but also incredibly limiting, creating a low ceiling over the toes. The tongue has nice cushioning, preventing any kind of lace bite, and it is so well gusseted it more resembles an interior bootie rather than just a few strips of material keeping the tongue planted. There’s no extra support around the heel besides the thicker mesh, but it doesn’t feel flimsy by any means.


A year ago, Nike brought the Wildhorse into the 21st century by giving the shoe React instead of Phylon. That gave the shoe a softer ride, but it wasn’t a perfect result, and this year’s shoe seems virtually identical underneath the foot. 

However, last year’s shoe had a segmented rock plate that you could even see (it’s the red coming through the holes at the front of the shoe), but I was underwhelmed with its performance. This time around, Nike is still claiming it has a segmented rock plate, but it is no longer visible, and the rocks I aimed for on each of my runs stung in a way that said there probably wasn’t a rock plate in the midsole. I’m happy that Nike did away with the segmented rock plate, but I would have preferred they fill in the gaps, instead of removing it altogether (especially since the 7 gained a little weight from the 6). 

The Wildhorse 7 still has the built up heel the 6 introduced, which gives the shoe a slight bucket seat feel, but that’s about it. 


The outsole remained one giant slab of rubber, covering the entire bottom of the shoe. Nike stuck with a few dozen large chunky lugs, that provide decent traction on dry dirt, but aren’t confidence inspiring when conditions get wet. Testing the 6 a year ago on dry Phoenix desert trails, I found the inflexible outsole contributed to the shoe’s instability. This year I’ve been testing on frequently muddy and snowy trails near Denver, and found about the same, with less positives. I had a number of near panic steps when I encountered mud that was even remotely sloppy, the outsole just doesn’t have the grip to contend with those conditions. The solid outsole might be the shoe’s biggest downfall - only adequate traction but it makes the shoe run like a trail behemoth such as the Hoka Stinson, except the midsole can’t live up to that expectation.


For a shoe of its weight and size, it doesn’t feel all that well cushioned, and the lack of rockplate or thicker midsole prevents the shoe from being a trail cruiser that can roll over anything you’ll find - and it is a heavy enough and lumbering shoe that isn’t nimble enough to avoid every rock on the trail.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The Wildhorse 7 could be more accurately called the Wildhorse 6.1, and unfortunately it remains a largely underwhelming shoe. 

It doesn’t lean hard into what it tries to be - that is a well cushioned trail crusher. It isn’t wide enough to give a stable base, it isn’t cushioned enough to dull the rocks, and the rock plate used to be segmented, and now seems to be not there at all. The upper holds the foot reasonably well, but the toebox is borderline painful it is so low, and the sock-like upper around the heel is underwhelming as is the de facto gaiter. The outsole doesn’t allow any flex, so when you step on a large rock you are off-balance immediately, and it leaves something to be desired in the traction department. 

This shoe excels on smooth dirt trails with minimal technical obstacles, which is a very low bar to clear. That all combines to create a shoe that is perfectly adequate at a time when so many others are absolutely incredible, but even when not compared against the performance of the other world class trail shoes out there, it’s an underwhelming shoe on its own.

Your Score 6.05 out of 10 

Ride: 6 (30%) Fit: 7 (30%) Value: 5 (10%) Style: 7 (5%) Traction: 6 (15%) Rock Protection 4 (10%)

7 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 7 (RTR Review)

Editor’s Note: Jeff did not review  the Kiger 7 but all indications from our reviewers say that if you are looking for a well cushioned, versatile all around trail runner (from Nike or anyone else) the significant updates, and especially its now more cushioned ride deliver big time.

Nike React Wildhorse 6 (RTR Review)

Virtually the same shoe, the 6 weighs slightly less, has a segmented rock plate (compared to the apparently missing rock plate in the 7), and a pull tab on the heel that isn’t functional. Both have wide but low toeboxes, though the 6 toebox might be a little higher. The 6, which can be still be found for less, would be the better call.

ASICS Trabuco Max (RTR Review)

ASICS came out of nowhere to deliver a true trail cruiser with good traction , protection, and a fun ride and modern geometry. Really the Trabuco Max feels like what the Wildhorse wishes it was. Doesn’t matter what your terrain is, go with the ASICS.

Brooks Caldera 5 (RTR Review)

The Caldera 5 has a higher stack and a slightly more narrow fitting platform, with a toebox that’s much more accommodating. Neither one has incredible traction, but the Caldera is much more at home on trails .

New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail (RTR Review)

New Balance’s trail cruiser might not be the best for technical trails , but the Wildhorse’s off road capabilities pale in comparison. The Wildhorse toebox is wider, but its low ceiling makes it effectively smaller than the NB. It’s the midsole/outsole/ride that sees the New Balance win in a landslide, with a midsole thick and protective enough to not need a rock plate to keep your feet feeling good after many miles.

Nike Pegasus Trail 2 (RTR Review)

Billed as Nike’s road to trail shoe , the Peg Trail 2 is also excels on the dirt compared to the Wildhorse. Neither shoe has great rock protection, but the Peg upper is much more comfortable, the shoe is more stable, and the ride is much more fun. If you have to have a Nike trail shoe, definitely look closer at the Pegasus Trail .

Saucony Peregrine 11 (RTR Review)

Saucony’s daily trail trainer, the Peregrine doesn’t have as high of a stack, but it provides more rock protection and much more traction - and the upper fits better as well. Peregrine is much more at home on technical trails , but I’d also favor it for mild trails too. 

Saucony Xodus 10 (RTR Review)

The Peregrine’s big brother, the Xodus has similar levels of incredible traction, with a solid upper, and a softer ride with even more underfoot protection. Sam’s unbridled enthusiasm for the Xodus 10 was intriguing, and it lives up to the hype. No comparison here, the Xodus is one of the most well rounded running shoes on the market today, the Wildhorse 7 is one of the most underwhelming ones - so it’s the opposite ends of the spectrum for these.

Topo Ultraventure Pro

I enjoyed the original Ultraventure, just hoped for a little more rock protection and that’s what the Pro gave us. The shoe had some minor issues, mostly about foot hold, and it wouldn’t be my first choice for technical trails - but for long easy miles on mild trails there are few better shoes out there. Better cushioned, better toebox, better traction and rock protection, it’s the Ultraventure Pro by knockout.

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. No other compensation was received by RTR or the authors for this review from Nike. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
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1 comment:

Jeff said...