Article by Jeff Beck, Adam Glueck, and Sam Winebaum
Nike Zoom Pegasus 38 ($120)
Jeff: In a year where we’ve seen a number of manufacturers make very slight changes from last year’s shoe, Nike has a history of doing that with the Pegasus. After last year’s overhaul, this year’s upper refinement follows their established patterns. I’m not being hyperbolic either, the Pegasus 38 is truly an upper refinement, and that’s it. The midsole and outsole seem to be virtually identical to last year, so runners familiar with the 37 already have a good idea of what the 38 will be.
The Pegasus 37 was a polarizing shoe. Some liked its bigger 20 PSI Zoom Air in the forefoot, some didn’t.
Sam: I tested both the men’s and women’s Pegasus 37 in equivalent sizes last year (RTR Review) and much preferred the lighter by 0.35 ounces/ 8g less lighter, softer (React foam and lower PSI Zoom Air) women’s with its less dense upper and smoother run flow. I was interested to see how the 39 evolved.
I immediately noticed my women 38 (left above) weighed exactly the same as my men’s gaining 0.8 oz / 23g over the Peg 37 women’s. Both 38 have the same soft, thicker, air mesh upper unlike with the 37 where the women's upper was considerably thinner and more pliable. According to Nike both 38 are built on a new last with more width and toe box height, so more similar to the 36 than 37. While Nike says nothing changed underfoot, I was curious to see if in fact anything did.
Estimated Weight: men's 9.92 oz / 281g (US9) / women's / (US8)
Samples: men’s 9.67 / 274g US8.5 11 oz / 312 g US10.5
Women’s 9.74 oz / 277g US10D
Pegasus 37 men’s 9.73 oz / 276g US9 10.44 oz / 296g US10.5 8.89 oz / 252g women’s US10D
Stack Height: 23mm (forefoot) / 33mm (heel), 10mm offset
Available now in many colors and also in wide. $120.
Adam/Sam: Comfortably wide toe box, good heel hold
Adam/Sam: Versatile outsole and stable cushioning for a variety of terrains and paces
Jeff: Toebox got wider, upper got softer
Adam: Heel cushion feels great
Sam: Solid value at $120 for a durable workhorse of a shoe that can handle most all training from slow and easy to workouts.
Sam: Protective well cushioned, stable ride
Sam: Far more comfortable upper than 37, yet still Peg secure and locked in
Adam/Sam: Upper is thick which makes the shoe somewhat heavy
Jeff: Shoe got 16g heavier since last year in my size
Adam: Feels a lot harsher midfoot striking than it does heel striking
Sam: Ride is duller, denser, heavier and dated compared to some of its competition.
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.
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 64 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 48 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs.
Adam is a cross country ski racer from New Hampshire.
Along with skiing, he’s a big fan of endurance sports in general and does a lot of running. He’s much faster at skiing, recently participating in the curtailed NCAA’s skiing for Dartmouth College, but can run a 4:43 mile (in trail shoes), 16:59 5k (earlier this week wearing the Sonic 3 Accelerates), and has won a few small trail races you’ve never heard of. His mileage varies depending on how much snow is on the ground, but he trains about 700 hours a year including 1200 miles of running and 4000 miles of skiing and roller skiing. You can follow him at his IG: @real_nordic_skier, his blog: https://adamglueck.wordpress.com, & on Strava https://www.strava.com/athletes/9267222
First Impressions and Fit
Jeff: Welcome to the “tock”! In last year’s RTR Review, Michael so eloquently described Nike’s update cycle of the Pegasus as a tick-tock pattern. Last year we got the tick, which was a very different shoe than the year before, this year we get the tock, which is the result of taking last year’s shoe and refining the upper and the fit. All that being said, the upper fit is much better for me, with a softer feel throughout and a roomier to ebox. They still fit true-to-size, with one of the nicer standard-shaped toy boxes.
Adam: The Nike Pegasus is a do it all shoe that Nike refers to as a workhorse with wings. This is actually the first Nike I’ve run in a while, so I was pleasantly surprised by the fit and versatility of the Pegasus 38. Walking around, the shoe feels like it has firm and responsive foam, excellent heel cushioning and a firmer forefoot. It is also a good looking shoe. I love the two tone white and black with the multicolor pink/blue loops that secure the laces.
Sam: Sleek, low slung and fast looking we also see a fun clash of colors all of it kind of masking the Peg’s utilitarian purpose as a fairly priced, durable, stable and versatile old school trainer-albeit one with Nike’s newer React Foam, a large Zoom Air pod and modern upper. My Peg 37 in both the men’s and the women’s (which I also tested) was considerably more conservative in looks than either men’s or women’s 38.
Trying them on I immediately noted that the new Air Mesh upper was softer on the foot, had more toe box height, and slightly more volume than the Peg 37 the result of a new last (more like the Peg 36’s) and a new “air mesh” in place of the scratchy and kind of rough 37’s. Fit is true to size unlike 37 men's where even at a half size up in the men's and with to much length things felt snug. My women's 37 at true to size was a perfect fit for me due to its lighter upper materials.
We also get a padded tongue instead of an unpadded leather like one and more collars padding.
I particularly noted that the heel hold was both more secure and more comfortable, as was the lace up over the toe padded tongue along with the mid foot hold from the new webbing straps extending to the midsole and finally from a more accommodating toe box with no rough edges but not quite the all business (overdone) lockdown of the 37. I suspect the weight gain of 0.2 oz comes entirely from the upper as I see no changes underfoot
This said at about 10 oz for the “relatively” low 23/33 stack height it is not the lightest shoe on foot with several options with considerably more stack at 10 oz or less and more modern midsole foams out there such as Nike’s ZoomX Invincible Run, New Balance Fresh Foam More v3, and Saucony Axon (RTR Comparison Review) but maybe also without the “workhorse” utilitarian versatility we have here.
Jeff: The Peg 38 upper isn’t a slight change to the 37, it’s a complete rework. This time around we have a different feel to the Air Mesh, making it much softer, more pliable, and thicker than last year’s model. While I didn’t have issues with the texture of last year, when worn head to head (or foot to foot) the 38 has a much more comfortable and premium feel to it. The tongue is completely different as well, this year’s shoe has some nice padding and is gusseted so thoroughly it’s nearly an inner sock or bootie. The shoe continues to use small straps instead of eyelets, and the straps connect to both the outer and inner layers and now all the way to the midsole.
While it is starting to warm up in Denver, it is far from actually hot, so I can’t speak to the shoe’s breathability. All of this upper overhaul does have one detractor - the shoe gained more than a half ounce of weight in my size 10.5. Not a big difference, and when worn A/B with the Peg 37 I can’t tell a difference, but folks who bemoan every gram won’t be happy.
Adam: I didn’t run in the Pegasus 37, so I can’t compare the upper, but I do like this one. The upper is relatively thick, but feels soft with no pressure points and good heel hold. The upper is well padded and feels a bit warm and heavy, but luxuriously comfortable. The laces go through colorful straps that distribute the pressure well over the foot. The upper does seem a little bit overbuilt and heavy, but it’s supportive and durable, so the weight does serve a purpose. The tongue is gusseted so it stayed in place very well. Overall, you don’t notice the upper when you’re running, which means Nike did a good job.
Sam: Jeff and Adam have described the upper well. Comfortable, substantial, and very well held if somewhat overbuilt and dense. The new last with higher toe box height and some more width out of now ofter more pliable material solves the rough snug feel of the 37 for me while maintaining (almost) that characteristic Pegasus super solid lockdown.
I also notice more padding at the heel/achilles collars, a less aggressive achilles tab and we now have a padded tongue. All contribute to a slightly more plush but still very secure fit.
The webbing straps extending to the midsole replace the leatherette loops which extended a short distance down the sides.
I also tested the women’s version of the 37 and now the 38 women's as well as men's. Last year I much preferred the women’s ride (softer React and lower PSI Air Zoom) but also its thinner more comfortable upper which had the men’s weighing a quite massive 0.8 oz more than the women’s at equivalent sizes and widths.
Well with the 38 the men’s and women’s uppers are from what I can tell identical as are the weights of both shoes so no advantage for me going to a women’s for weight or fit. One can clearly see the additional toe box width of both the men’s and women’s 38 flanking the women’s 37 below.
I would have preferred Nike use a lighter mesh upper as in the women’s 37 (center above) on both 38 with the padded tongue and new last to save some weight.
Jeff: Deja vu - we’ve React paired with a Zoom Air cushioning in the forefoot, just like last year. It remains a 23/33 stack height, which is a few years removed from being borderline “max cushion” and now is very much the middle of the pack. React has a Goldilocks “Kind of bouncy, kind of firm” quality, unlike it’s more expensive (not to mention lighter and much bouncier) sibling ZoomX, and the result is a very solid, if somewhat unremarkable midsole.
After my first run I did a cooldown jog with the 37/38 on, and then followed it up with a full four mile run and found very little difference in the midsole. On paper React may have gotten slightly softer, but out on the road I could not tell a difference. If there is a change, it is so subtle I don’t believe fans of the 37 will dislike the 38, and I feel that the opposite is true as well - if you didn’t like the midsole of the 37 I doubt you’ll feel any different about the 38.
Adam: The midsole has two distinct personalities. The heel is very plush, and the extending tail makes heel striking extremely smooth. React foam has decent bounce and energy return, but is firm and stable. I never felt like I was sinking into the foam and lacking stability and the firmness makes it direct and responsive, but it’s nowhere near as light or bouncy as something like the NB Rebel V2.
The firmness and responsiveness is a plus in that it makes the Pegasus 38 a decent shoe for light trails, allowing for precise foot placement and stability. The Zoom Air forefoot cushion feels like it provides a strong upward bounce, that works much better with a heel strike. When rolling onto the forefoot, it feels like it gives me some extra vertical energy. When midfoot striking however, I felt that it was a little harsh, as the zoom air rebounded really quickly after impact which felt responsive though lacking in cushion. I would consider this midsole versatile though not particularly special. What it lacks in weight and bounce compared to some dedicated road shoes, it makes up for in stability and response.
Sam: The React midsole geometry remains unchanged from the 37 with the big 10mm Air Zoom pod in the same location. This said, it seems to me the React foam may be slightly softer in the men’s with the Air Zoom not as noticed while standing or running. I do not have my men’s Pegasus 37 with me here to A/B test but from strong recollection I believe this is the case. Yes, if you take out the sock liner you can run your hands over the air unit's ridges beneath and feel it. Yet, while standing and on the run, it is less noticed as a bump underfoot and overall seems a touch softer and more forgiving. Jeff who weighs more than me, and has a mid to forefoot strike (while I am more of a heel striker), feels the midsole is identical, I think something has changed and for the better with a slightly softer smoother flow with the Zoom Air now more of a piece with the rest of the midsole.
Based on the heel feel I think the 38 men’s React foam is very slightly softer than the 37’s while the women’s is now slightly firmer and as far as I can tell the same firmness as the men’s or much closer. The Zoom Air units remain different with the men having more PSI than the women’s, something I detected on an A/B test run.
While I preferred the smoother, softer if a touch less forefoot cushioned ride of the women’s 37 the tables have now turned in the 38 with the men’s having a smoother match between foam and Zoom Air and the women’s 38 Zoom Air at my 165 lbs with the air unit feeling not as well matched to the foam. Note the lower PSI Zoom Air in the women’s Pegasus 37 also felt thinner but I accepted that for its smoother ride and less noticed air unit.
As far as the midsole ride, comparisons done, it is dense and well cushioned. The React foam Zoom Air combination here is exactly what you would expect from a workhorse daily trainer: dependable, stable, protective and consistent if a bit dull.
The Peg does not have the distinct bouncy rebound of shoes with New Balance Fresh Foam or Fuel Cell as in the $80 more expensive equivalent weight TC which also includes a carbon plate or the same foam with no plate Rebel v2. Neither does it have the springy dynamic feel of Hypeburst and for sure it does not have the extremely energetic bounce of Nike ZoomX or the pleasing bounce of Puma's new Nitro foam. The big top loaded 10mm Zoom Air pod requires strong downward forces to really shine either by runner’s weight or a more dynamic mid to forefoot strike. This is still true of the 38, but tuned down and easier to find with a smoother flow forward and what I feel also as slightly friendliersofter foam back and front.
Jeff: The Peg 38 outsole design hasn’t changed, with the majority of the outsole covered in a few dozen small to medium sized knobs, with a twin rail design along the lateral edge of the shoe. The center of the heel has exposed midsole, but it shouldn’t affect performance in any way. As far as performance goes, it still works very well. There is lots of traction, even in wet conditions, and I have zero durability concerns. The outsole is segmented well enough, so it doesn’t hinder the shoe flexibility.
Adam: The outsole of the Peg 38 definitely contributes to its versatility. It has excellent rubber coverage, and in the places where foam is exposed, it’s recessed enough to not wear down. For a road shoe, it’s remarkably grippy and I’ve taken it on light trails up to a half marathon. The rubber is harder-wearing than a trail shoe which slightly hurts it on wet grip, but for an outsole with excellent durability that won’t immediately wear down on pavement, it is excellent. I have no concern with durability or on road traction with these.
Sam: There are no apparent changes to the outsole design or rubber. We have copious durable coverage, well segmented and decoupled which likely contributes to the Peg’s fairly smooth transitions, stability and comparatively dense and firmer ride. The flex point is behind the air unit so quite far back with a long fairly stiff flex to the front which also contributes, with the outsole, to the front stability and relative if well cushioned firmness of the forefoot.
I concur with Adam the outsole is certainly suitable for light trail use and I have in the past used them in Utah for just that with the Zoom Air adding some front rock protection. In fact, I find the Pegasus a better light trails shoe, dirt road cruiser than road shoe.
Jeff: Smooth and firm, the ride is somewhat muted compared to so many other shoes on the market today. The forefoot airbag can be felt, slightly, but it doesn’t give the Pegasus the same bounce or spring that its more performance based siblings have. As a bigger runner, it won’t occupy a spot as a regular daily trainer (I’ve gotten spoiled by the number of truly cushy shoes around) but I could see more svelte runners logging most of their miles in this shoe.
Adam: Jeff described the ride really well. The Pegasus doesn't feel particularly light and bouncy, but it’ll smoothly cruise at a variety of paces with the React foam in the heel soaking up impacts. I actually prefer the feeling of the Pegasus 38 on dirt and trails where it’s a lot lighter than most trail shoes while still maintaining enough grip, stability, and response for variable terrain. On the road it’s firm without being harsh, but doesn’t feel particularly energetic compared to higher end foams.
The Pegasus 38 is a surprisingly good light trails shoe.
Sam: As Jeff says: a muted ride with substantial protective cushion, stability, and with a measured, non springy or bouncy rebound from the Zoom Air up front. Not exactly exciting or “modern” in ride feel but reliable and consistent for just about any run type. With a now more comfortable and easier flexing upper (the webbing straps and softer more pliable toe box mesh), and my sense slightly softer midsole it handled slower paces more easily than the 37 with less rough upper stiffness in the mix, a less noticeable Zoom Air and potentially a touch softer React adding up to a slightly softer and more pleasant ride
Conclusions and Recommendations
Jeff: The long standing workhorse trainer got a slightly more comfortable upper, and nothing else changed. While I prefer ZoomX to React, the React midsole is still a nice more recent upgrade from the Cushlon that was the Pegasus midsole material of choice for years. The result is a smooth, if slightly firm, ride that offers moderate protection and cushioning. As shoes get more and more expensive, the Peg 38 $120 price tag offers a solid value for lighter runners to log lots of various miles, and heavier runners have a fast/uptempo day shoe.
Jeff’s Score 8.78 out of 10
Ride: 8 (50%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 9.5 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)
Adam: The Pegasus 38 is a remarkably versatile shoe, with a plush upper featuring good toebox room, and with a slightly firm midsole/durable outsole combo that makes it feel equally at home on light trails as on the road. If you need one shoe for a reasonable price that will last a long time and work decently everywhere, then the Pegasus 38 is a good choice.
Adam’s Score 8.33 out of 10
Ride: 7.5 (50%) Fit: 9 (30%) Value: 9.5 (15%) Style: 9 (5%)
Sam: I score the Pegaus 38 slightly higher than last year's men’s but lower than last year’s women’s. The ride is reliable and protective but somewhat dated and dull and the weight at just under 10 oz is up there for the stack. I wish Nike had gone with a lighter upper as they did with the women’s 37 to get the weight down towards 9 ounces. It seems they wished to continue to convey and deliver a feeling of rugged durability with the men’s and now women's upper's well with a more generous fit but all the customary Peg security and hold, something which I think can be achieved with lighter materials.
The Zoom Air React combination now seems slightly less aggressive in its contrasting feel between Air and React which is a positive. No question the Peg is a great value at $120 in terms of expected durability and for its just about any run including from intervals to trails versatility. It is also a good choice for the high school runner as a durable any season single trainer. This said it really doesn’t shine in any one category preferring to continue as a reliable, durable, won’t get you in trouble option for general run training.
Sam’s Score: 8.96 /10
Ride: 8.7 (50%) Fit: 9.2 (30%) Value: 9.5 (15%) Style: 8.5 (5%)
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
Pegasus 37 (RTR Review)
Sam: I prefer the men’s 38 now with a more accommodating less rough fit and what I sense as a slightly smoother integration of the Zoom Air/React combination. I still think the lighter women’s 37 is a better option for me given its smoother ride, lighter weight if somewhat less cushioned forefoot than either the men’s or women’s 38.
Jeff: I’m with Sam, the upper improvements are very nice. Sure, there’s a slight weight gain, but it’s only noticeable on the scale, it hasn’t changed the running dynamics at all.
Nike ZoomX Invincible Run (RTR Review)
Sam: Nike is for sure providing a super exciting trainer option with the Invincible. All ZoomX foam. It has nothing else in the mix so no plates, no Zoom Air, and not even a lasting board. The Invincible is a far more exciting ride. It is more cushioned, bouncier, softer, more flexible way up front with a much more noticeable energy return. It is about the same weight and $60 more than the Pegasus which should give pause. Not as stable with a somewhat narrower and lower front of the upper it may not be as “safe” an all around workhorse training option for some but it sure is a blast and more fun than the Pegasus.
Jeff: The Invincible has become one of my favorite running shoes of all time, but it isn’t a great shoe for all. If you like soft and bouncy (that you can still run quickly in) then it’s hard to go wrong with the big slab of ZoomX, but if you are looking for a more traditional trainer, stick with the Pegasus.
Salomon Sonic Accelerate (RTR Review)
Adam: The Pegasus 38 actually feels extremely similar to the Sonic 3 Accelerate. They both have firm, responsive midsoles, durable outsoles that feel good on light trails as well similar price tags. The Sonic 3 Accelerate feels better for me midfoot striking and at faster paces, while the Pegasus is more cushioned. Similarly, the Sonic 3 Accelerate has a lighter more breathable upper, but the Pegasus is more plush and durable. If you’re going faster, I’d recommend the Sonic 3 Accelerate, if you want more cushion and versatility, I’d go with the Pegasus.
Saucony Ride 14 (RTR Review)
Sam: These are close rivals as single shoe in the quiver general daily trainer. They weigh almost exactly the same at 9.9 ounces and have near identical stack heights and 10mm drop. While Pegasus of course has a combination of React and Zoom Air, the Ride has a single slab TPU/EVA midsole. Both have similarly comfortable secure and quite dense uppers. While the match up gets closer this year with the Peg 38 , I lean towards the Ride 14 in this match up as I prefer the more flexible, segmented front outsole of the Ride which provides a better combination of slow pace stability and flow and faster pace response from its big thick rubber outsole chevrons up front.
Jeff: I’m with Sam, the folks at Saucony got the Ride 14 right. They are very similar in a number of ways, but I think Saucony’s PWRRUN midsole material works better for me than Nike’s React (even though PWRRUN is firmer and I’m usually one for plush).
New Balance 880v11 (RTR Review)
Sam: Another very close match up with nearly identical stack height, 10mm drop but 0.2 oz lighter. I give a slight nod to the 880v11 for its more flexible and agile forefoot, if a bit thinner and less cushioned than Pegasus’s and for its secure but for me slightly easier fitting upper. The Pegasus would be a better choice for heavier runners or mid to forefoot strikers able to really depress and use the front air while the 880 is a better choice for lighter runners and heel strikers.
Puma Velocity Nitro (RTR Review)
Sam: A direct competitor with a nearly identical stack height of 35/24 vs.33/23 for the Peg, the Velocity weighs 9.13 oz so about 0.8 oz less than the Pegasus. It has a livelier, softer and bouncier nitrogen infused EVA midsole with a stabilizing heel plug of EVA and a plastic clip. The Velocity is equally as almost as stable as the Peg and has a snappier further forward flex and softer front feel. It’s outsole has almost the light trails worthy grip of the Pegasus with its engineered mesh upper thinner and more pliable as well as more breathable. In this match up I lean towards Velocity.
Skechers GO Run Ride 9 (RTR Review)
Sam: Modern (Ride 9) vs more traditional (Pegasus) daily trainer match up here. 0.6 oz lighter with the same heel stack but 4mm more at the forefoot the Ride 9 has a lively single slab of Hyperburst, a more flexible flow, and a lighter yet equally secure upper. The Pegasus has a more versatile outsole and is a bit more stable. For a do it all trainer (with less light trails capability) nod to the Skechers.
Jeff: This is the perfect example of good vs great. The Pegasus 38 is a very good shoe, but the lighter weight, much more lively ride, and more cushioning make the GRR9 a great shoe in my eyes. No question, go with the Skechers.
ASICS GEL-Cumulus 23 (RTR Review)
Sam: Another very close comparison with a 35/25, 10mm drop the Cumulus gives you a couple more millimeters of stack for a small 0.2 oz weight penalty. It’s ride is softer and more forgiving and while it does not have the pop of the Pegasus front air and React or the any run versatility of the Pegasus if you are seeking a more mellow daily trainer ride the Cumulus is for sure to be considered.
Saucony Axon (RTR Review)
Sam: The $100 Axon has considerably more stack height of cushion at 38/34 and is l0.6 oz lighter. Axon has a rigid rocker profile, is not quite as stable due to its high stack and light upper but it more cushioned and plush in underfoot feel. More cruiser than workhorse, as the Peg is for me, its focus is less about versatility but smooth comfort and moderate paces.
Puma Liberate Nitro (RTR Review)
Sam: A bit of a strange comparison but if your tastes in a daily trainer lean light, 3.5 ounces lighter than Pegaus at 184g, the Liberate is a great option or a good complementary speed shoe to the Pegasus as an option currently not in the Nike line up with the disappearance of the Peg Turbo. With a 28/18 stack height it is not a great distance from the Pegasus’s 33/23 stack height for how much lighter it is. The thoroughly modern Nitro foam goes a long way to making that difference up with a lively, well cushioned bouncier ride. While not having the full coverage outsole of the Pegasus it has plenty of grippy rubber.
New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel 2 (RTR Review)
Adam: The Rebel V2 features the best foam New Balance has, their autoclaved Fuel Cell foam, which is shared with the RC elite 1 and 2. It is significantly lighter, more bouncy, and faster feeling than the Pegasus but also due to the softer foam, a lot less stable and versatile. I wouldn’t advise taking the Rebel V2 on trails, and its durability won’t be as good. If you want a fun, fast, reasonably priced road shoe, the Rebel 2 is a great pick. If you’d prefer something firmer and more stable, or with the versatility and durability to venture onto trails or gravel or whatever else you might find, the Pegasus is a better option.
EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
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