Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Nike Pegasus Trail 3 Multi Tester Review: a vastly improved upper joins a very smooth, very soft and forgiving yet stable ride! 10 Comparisons.

Article by Jeff Valliere and Renee Krusemark

NIke Pegasus Trail 3 ($130)


Jeff V:  The Nike Pegasus Trail 3 most notably features an improved upper, doing away with the “faux gaiter” neoprene heel collar and instead making the heel collar more traditional and normal for greater heel stability and hold, an issue with the prior version.

Renee: What a difference an upper makes! I wanted to like the Pegasus Trail 2, but I referred to it as “Frankenstein’s monster” in my review. The upper was far too voluminous for my feet, which created stability issues along with its clunky, heavy ride. The Pegasus Trail 3 is identical underfoot, but the improved upper improves so much about the fit and ride. Total win for me!


  • comfortable and accommodating improved upper which is ideal for all day or longer outings, 

  • secure even with accommodating fit, 

  • very smooth and well cushioned midsole that eats up impact and rough terrain under foot, 

  • very good door to trail versatility, 

  • runs lighter than its weight 

  • surprisingly responsive, wide and stable, good traction


  • Wet traction, 

  • Not the most nimble shoe


Approx. Weight: men’s 10.75 oz. /  305g US9 


men’s  11.25 oz  / 321g  US10

women’s 9.26 oz / 263g US7.5

The Pegasus Trail 2 weighed approx. 10.65 oz / 302 g US9

Stack Height: 36mm/26mm 10mm drop

Available now including at our partner Running Warehouse here

Tester Profiles

Jeff runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 

Renee is a former U. S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.

First Impressions and Fit

Jeff V:  I reviewed the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail (RTR Review) in 2019, which I really enjoyed, but found a bit unstable and perhaps thin/tiring over longer distances (at least on moderate to rough trails).  I did not get the opportunity to review the entirely re-worked and re-named Pegasus Trail 2 (RTR Review), but when the opportunity to review the Pegasus Trail 3 presented itself, I jumped at the chance.  

The differences over the 36 at least are dramatic, with more cushioning, a retooled outsole and improved upper (though with all of that, a bit of a weight gain).  The Peg Trail 3 looks identical to the 2 from the waist down, but the upper is completely reworked and a very welcome rework based on the feedback I have received.  

Out of the box, I was impressed with the overall look and build quality of the shoe.  The size of the shoe is on the large size, but not overly so and more assuring that it will be a great long distance shoe with ample cushioning.

Fit is true to size, with a secure heel, secure midfoot and a roomy and accommodating toe box, yet with surprisingly good hold.

Renee: I reviewed the Pegasus Trail 2 for RTR and gave it a decent score. I referred to the shoe as “Frankenstein’s monster” because the parts did not work well together: the shoe was heavy and the voluminous upper created an unstable ride. Yet, the midsole itself felt great underfoot for long runs. 

The changes to the Peg Trail 3 greatly improves, resolving the issues I had with the previous version. The revamped upper is a better fit and improves the ride and stability. Out of curiosity, I requested a women’s 7.5, one half size smaller than the size 8 I tested in the Peg Trail 2. For sizing, if you are between half sizes you could half size down as I did for my narrow foot. The upper (although much more tailored than the previous version) has a good amount of room and flexibility and unlike most road Nike shoes the toebox is not narrow. Oddly enough, my women’s size 7.5 weighs the same as my size 8 Peg Trail 2. 


Jeff V:  The durable mesh upper is well vented with very good air flow.  It is soft and flexible, but has very good structure and security, due to an array of subtle, almost invisible different densities of the mesh.

The tongue is of medium thickness and is an integrated booty style, reminiscent of Salomon’s Endofit, which offers a very pleasurable step in experience, aiding in midfoot comfort and stability.  The top of the tongue has a bit of additional reinforced padding on top to protect from lace bite.

The toe bumper is unique in that it is actually an extension of the outsole that rolls up over the toe of the shoe.  While it is thick and protective, it is simultaneously thin in width, wrapping around the entire tip of the shoe, complemented with a series of small rubberized dots adhered to the mesh upper.  This design does a remarkably good job offering protection, while still being flexible and unnoticeable.

The laces are my favorite type, the woven type with just a bit of stretch and a nice integration with the eyelets which allows for an easy, one and done, snug midfoot lock down.

While I did not review the Peg Trail 2, I thought the heel collar/counter looked a bit shaky, over-thought and under-built.  The Peg Trail 3 however now has a very conventional heel counter that is secure, stable, semi flexible and moderately padded.

Overall I find the upper to be wonderfully comfortable for any length or duration run. It  is also a joy to just wear as a day to day shoe. The Peg Trail 3 has a very secure fit in the heel and midfoot, but never constricting, as the lacing and design give plenty of leeway for various size feet or use preferences.  Roomy toe boxes don’t always work for my slim foot and preference for technical off trail, but in this case, the toe box works for me as I found a very nice balance of breathing room and security.

I find security to be for sure adequate for fast running over moderately technical terrain.  While not built for really steep and technical terrain, I found that they performed surprisingly well with just a little bit of finesse.  I would not pick the Peg Trail 3 for technical runs, but I like knowing that if I end up on technical terrain, these shoes can handle it reasonably well.

Renee: Jeff covered all the details. As compared to the previous version, the upper is a complete game changer. The change to a traditional heel fit (no more faux gaiter) allows for a more secure fit, which helps because the shoe is not light. The upper fits a lot like a road shoe, with just enough material changes here and there to create an “overlay” quality that runners are used to having in a trail shoe (I echo Jeff’s thoughts). 

The security is fine for mellow trails, but not tight enough for fast efforts or steep technical terrain. That’s not really the use of the shoe anyways. I do think the shoe can handle a varied trail terrain that features a small amount of more technical surfaces. 


Jeff V:  The Nike React foam midsole has a light, soft, deep cushioned feel, without feeling overly soft, spongy or unstable.  They are refreshingly soft with a nice energetic rebound and a very smooth transition. The Peg Trail 3 runs much quicker than its weight and size would suggest.  Whether I am running on softer trails, hard rocky terrain or even pavement, my legs feel surprisingly fresh afterwards, so I typically reach for these on my more moderate runs, longer runs or recovery runs. They are also a great pick for long downhills.  While there is no rock plate in the mix, I find them to be adequately protective underfoot no matter how rocky.

Renee: Everything Jeff wrote. The React midsole is awesome here. The midsole provides comfort for easy/recovery runs and cushion for long runs. The soft (yet never spongy) ride also provides some rebound for quicker paces. For performance runs (faster paces), the high drop and heavy weight start to wear on my legs, but for easy to moderate paces, the midsole works great. The shoes feel the same underfoot as the previous version. 


Jeff V:  The outsole of the Peg Trail 3 is very appropriately suited for road to trail use.  With broad, somewhat rounded, widely spaced, ~4mm lugs, the outsole rolls along nicely on pavement and hard surfaces, with the lugs going hardly noticed and providing a nice amount of surface contact.

The rubber is somewhat firm, which integrates very well with the midsole without feeling at all slappy and has a reasonable amount of flex for contouring over rocks and roots.

Road performance is very good for a trail shoe and even good for any shoe, road or trail.  Traction is surprisingly good given the broad and somewhat dull shaped (at least not very pronounced) lugs and I feel very confident on most terrain, though have not surprisingly felt a bit of sliding on really steep, loose gravelly or off trail chaff.  Grip on dry rock and slab is generally good, with no really notable issues that I have found.  I have unfortunately not been able to run them in wet conditions, so cannot provide very reliable commentary here, but with just a few short tests getting them wet around creek crossings and such, grip seemed to be moderate to good.

After ~40 miles of hard use, durability thus far is very good, with only very minor wear on the forefoot lugs where I toe off.  I expect the outsole to last for many many miles.

Renee: The outsole works well as a road to trail hybrid shoe. The lugs are shaped and spaced well for gravel running; the traction is decent and prevents any small rocks from being wedged between lugs. Likewise, a bit of mud will slide off quickly. The grip in deep mud is not great, but no worse than any other trail shoe with similar sized lugs. The outsole is the same as the previous version, which I did not fully trust on slippery surfaces. Overall, the outsole works for the shoe’s purpose: road to light trail. 


Jeff V:  The ride is outstanding, as the Peg Trail 3 provides a very smooth, very soft and forgiving ride, yet a stable one. I find runs lighter than the size and weight would suggest.  Response is surprisingly good as well and I found myself wearing them when I didn’t plan to go fast, yet then easily found myself going fast without really noticing it. They climb well, descend well, are great on the road, dirt roads and cruiser singletrack.

Renee: I agree with Jeff. The ride is great. I enjoyed the ride/midsole of the Peg Trail 2, and the Peg Trail 3 has no changes in that regard ASIDE from the more secure fit of the upper. I found the Peg Trail 2 to be unstable on even somewhat tame gravel country roads because of the weight+high drop+voluminous upper. Even though the shoe maintains its high drop and heavy weight, the upper drastically improves the ride. Underfoot, the midsole and ride are great for easy recovery runs or mid distance and long runs. The ride works very well for making the shoe a rotation favorite for back-to-back long runs.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Jeff V:  I was pleasantly surprised with the overall performance, comfort and versatility of the Peg Trail 3.  While I had no real reason to be skeptical, I was surprised at how light they ran, how responsive they felt and how comfortable, accommodating and secure the upper is.

With such comfort and deep cushion, the Peg Trail 3 is ideal for long distance training and even racing, best suited for moderate to mellow trails, door to trail, but is also secure and stable enough for reasonable stints of technical trails or off trail.  Traction is adequate for most trails , but it struggles a bit on the most steep, loose and technical off trail.  On most trails that I ran in dry conditions, I never had any issues with grip.

I think the cushioning and comfort are the most notable advantages of the Peg Trail 3 and my legs always feel surprisingly fresh after running in them and are one of my first picks for runs when I know I’ll be on less technical terrain and want to baby my legs a bit.  They are also a first pick for just day to day use, as they are just so remarkably comfortable and easy going, not to mention they look sharp.

Jeff V’s Score: 9.4/10

Ride: 9.8 Fit: 9.5 Value: 9.5 Style: 9.5 Traction: 8.5 Rock Protection: 9

Renee: Like Jeff, I am pleasantly surprised by the Pegasus Trail 3. The changes to the upper from the previous version drastically improved the overall ride for me. While I have no reason to doubt Nike shoes, I have not really enjoyed a Nike shoe aside from the Next% and the Turbo 2. Sure, the Pegasus Trail 3 is heavier than I would like, but it runs lighter. I agree with Jeff, the shoe is ideal for distance training , especially back-to-back long runs when comfort is needed. Runners who do not like overly softer/spongy midsoles should enjoy the ride. Best for moderate, buff, or road to trail runs, the shoes can handle some technical terrain . I would like the weight in a women’s size 7.5 or 8 to be closer to the 8.9 or 9 oz range. At times, the high drop bothered me, but for moderate terrain, it rolls forward comfortably. 

Renee’s score: 9.4/10 (-.35 weight, -.25 high drop/outsole best for mostly moderate/buff terrain)

10 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Nike Pegasus Trail 2 (RTR Review)

Renee: I reviewed the Peg Trail 2, and the Trail 3 is much improved because of the changes to the upper. Otherwise, the shoes are unchanged. Oddly, my size 7.5 in the Trail 3 weighs the same as my size 8 in the Trail 2. Overwhelmingly, I would choose the Trail 3 over the previous version because the upper fit is more secure without compromising on roominess and comfort. 

Nike Zoom Kiger 7 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  While neither shoe is particularly light, the Kiger 7 runs a bit more quick and agile, with more pronounced lugs that give it a bit better grip in rugged terrain.  The air pod in the forefoot of the Kiger 7 is very distinct and noticeable (in a good way).  I would pick the Kiger for more medium length runs or shorter (though still good for long runs too), slightly more geared toward rougher terrain and the Peg Trail 3 for door to trail and moderate to easier trails and any distance.

Nike Pegasus 37/38 (RTR Review)

Renee: The current road versions of the Pegasus do not work for me. I find them chunky underfoot, which I think is caused by the high drop and somewhat unflexing, stiff ride under the mid/back of the foot. The forefoot spring is better in the road version, but overall the Pegasus Trail 3 is not identical to the road version. I find them very different shoes and rides. Runners who do not like the road version should not use that as a reason to avoid the trail version. 

Brooks Caldera 5 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Caldera 5 is a very close competitor with deep cushioning, a very comfortable upper and lower profile outsole that aids in its competency for door to trail.  The Caldera 5 has a bit more dialed in fitting upper, with slightly less wiggle room, but with better foothold, which for me is an advantage, particularly for running faster speeds.  The Peg Trail 3 though feels a bit more relaxed such that those looking for a bit more wiggle room for longer runs, or have more voluminous feet may appreciate.

Renee: Like Jeff, I agree that the Caldera 5’s upper is more dialed in for technical trail running and it manages to be comfortable on mellow surfaces as well. The foot hold is better in the Caldera 5 whereas the Peg Trail 3 upper is looser so more suited to easier paces and smoother terrain. I found the forefoot of the Caldera 5 to be narrow and I stopped running them. For that reason, I would choose the Peg Trail 3. I wore a women’s size 8 in the Caldera 5 and a 7.5 in the Peg Trail 3. 

Hoka Speedgoat 4 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Speedgoat 4 has not seen an update in several years and there is a reason why.  It is very well cushioned, has a secure and comfortable upper, is stable, reasonable weight and a very versatile outsole that excels on just about any terrain or condition underfoot, from gravel paths to all mountain use (with very very good longevity too).  The Peg Trail 3 is comparatively much more relaxed in fit and intended purpose, but overall more comfortable for very long days with that extra room in the forefoot and cushioning that is similarly deep, but a bit softer and more forgiving.

Renee: I agree with Jeff (again!). The Speedgoat 4 is the better choice as a trail shoe and will have better performance in terms of traction and speed. The Peg Trail 3 is more comfortable for mellow surfaces and easier paces. I wore a women’s size 7.5 in both. My small toe felt cramped in the Speedgoat whereas the Peg Trail 3’s toebox is roomy. 

New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail v1 (RTR Review) and More Trail v2 (RTR Review)

Renee: The NB Trail More 1 and 2 are different shoes, so I encourage readers to read the RTR reviews of both shoes. The Trail More 1 was relatively light weight for a max cushion trail shoe whereas the Trail More 2 is heavier with a more secure/trail ready upper and a more trail ready Vibram outsole. I liked the Trail More 1 better than the Peg Trail 2, but with the improved upper on the Peg Trail 3, I now think it’s a more comfortable shoe than the Trail More 1 or 2. For technical terrain for runners who like high stack shoes, the Trail More 2 might work better, but overall I prefer the lighter more comfortable Nike Pegasus Trail 3. 

Saucony Xodus 11 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Xodus 11 has a more robust outsole for more technical trails, coupled with a more secure upper, while the Peg Trail 3 has a more relaxed fit, less aggressive tread and a midsole that is softer, more comfortable and a bit more energetic.  Both shoes are worthy of all day adventures, Xodus for more rugged terrain and Peg Trail 3 for the more mellow trails.

Salomon Sense Ride 4 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Sense Ride 4 has a superior upper and outsole in my opinion, but the midsole with Optivibe is much more firm than the Peg Trail 3.  This can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on the terrain and the runner though.  I feel more confident on technical trails in the SR4, both because of upper security and because of traction.  Not to mention the more firm midsole is a bit more stable and predictable when the going gets rough.  Peg Trail 3 would be my choice however for longer days on more mellow terrain.

Topo MTN Racer 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The MTN Racer 2 has superior traction and all mountain capabilities, though with a roomy forefoot that has remarkably good foothold.  The cushioning in the Peg Trail 3 however is softer and more plush, with a more relaxed upper, so better for longer days on less technical terrain.

Renee: The MTN Racer 2 is a faster, lighter shoe with a more generous toe box and a more secure heel and midfoot fit. For faster, shorter efforts on mud or technical type terrain, I would choose the MTN Racer 2. For long cruising efforts, I would choose the Trail 3. I wore a women’s size 7.5 in both. 

TNF Vectiv Enduris (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Vectiv Enduris has a much more distinctively rockered ride and more firm cushioning and a more secure upper, where the Peg Trail 3 might better accommodate foot swell and feel more soft and plush for longer days.  Both handle similar types of terrain equally, both good in moderately technical terrain, excel on smoother terrain and can handle a bit of tech when pressed without too much extra care.  Traction is comparable and both are good door to trail.

Jeff Valliere runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes by Running Warehouse and Nike. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by Following RoadTrailRun News Feed
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and currently preferred shoes

RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores below.
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!

Available Now!
USA  Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns
Available Now!
EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE


Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook: RoadTrailRun.com  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun


Greg S said...

How lazy is Nike for not upgrading their outsoles for the past 10 years it seems. They are terrible on anything slick, like putting life in your hands slick. I just don’t get it

unrockbar said...

Thanks for the review Jeff! How does the toebox compare to the Kiger 7? I find the Kiger toebox to be wider than my Peg Trail 2, do you feel the same for the new one? Also, how would you compare it to the Cascadia 16? Thanks!

Robbie said...

Great, informative review as always. Looking to add trail shoe for buffed trail to my more technical Xodus, how does Trail 3 compare to similar-use light trail shoes released lately such as the Saucony "Mad River TR2", Asics "Trabuco 9" or Hoka "Torrent 2" and "ATR 6"?

Unknown said...


I have not ran with the Mad River TR2 or the Trabuco 9. I do use the Torrent 2 and have ran with the ATR5. You might also consider the ASICS Fuji Lite 2, which is light weight and has enough comfort for 20+ mile runs (for me anyway). Here are my comparisons to those shoes:

Torrent 2: The Torrent 2 is a much light, quicker, and nimble trail shoe with a much lower drop. I would not place these shoes in the same category. Although the Peg Trail 3 runs lighter than its literal weight, the ride is not as nimble or quick in any regard as compared to the Torrent 2. For long runs on buffed, non-technical terrain, I would choose the Peg Trail 2 for the general comfort. Generally, I trust the Peg Trail 3 for distances greater than 20 miles as compared to the Torrent 2, although efficient runners can use the Torrent 2 for ultras. The Torrent 2 works for buffed surfaces and technical terrain. Overall, for trails, the Torrent 2 is a great shoe and a clear winner between these two shoes. For easy cruising efforts, the Peg Trail 3 might have a slight advance.

ATR5: I did not run with the ATR6 because the 5 was not working for me. As compared to the Peg Trail 3, the ATR is much lighter (lower drop of course) but it still has the cushion and stack for long runs. The distinct Hoka rocker did not work for my stride or foot landing and I found the midfoot to be too narrow.

Fuji Lite 2: The Fuji Lite 2 has enough cushion for long runs and its light weight makes it a great choice for races of any distance on basically any trail-type surface. Overwhelming, I would pick the Fuji Lite 2 as the better shoe, although I would save my Fujis for quality runs and use the Peg Trail 3 for easy or recovery miles.

Good luck!

Jeff Valliere said...

Hi Robbie,

For less technical trails, of the shoes you list, I think the Pegasus Trail 3 would be the best of the bunch, followed by the Challenger ATR 6, but that is if you preferring max cushion. Of those two, ATR 6 for faster running, Peg Trail 3 for more casual stuff (one of THE most comfortable shoes I own). For shorter more spirited runs, Torrent 2. Saucony MR TR 2 is a fine shoe, but I like it more on technical terrain than I do less technical, but does both well (if it means anything to you though, I have not continued to run in Mad River since I reviewed last year, but continue to use the others).

Robbie said...

@ Renee

Greatly appreciate your reply. I always enjoy reading your perspective as you run (very) long distances on gravel roads (and I’m sure lotsa asphalt, too). Fab HM and marathon times, too!

From your experience, it seems like the Torrent 2 might be, in some ways, quite similar to the Xodus I have, being better at technical trails/vertical than buffed-out trails and wet/snowy roads, though can do both.

I did read (and re-read) your team’s glowing review of the Fuji Lite 2 when it was published, noted many great aspects of the shoe, but wondered if it had enough forefoot cushion with 18mm/14mm (I’m 185-190lbs), though Flytefoam can be terrifically bouncy and soft. I’ll return and give your review a deeper dive.

Thank you.

@ Jeff

Envy the Colorado trails and mountains you call home! Your yearly vertical #’s (and pace up) are astonishing!

Great, succinct summary. My one pause with the Trail v3 is, it seems, widely criticized traction on wet surfaces (and the 10mm drop might take some getting used to). On my shortlist for this winter.

Have you run in the Fuji Lite v2?

Thank you.

Jeff Valliere said...

Thanks Robbie. It is rarely ever wet here, I think since May or June, I have only had the opportunity to run in the wet 2 times (and unfortunately not in the Peg 3, so can't really comment accurately).

The 10mm drop has not been an issue, but I am rarely ever bothered or sensitive to drop (unless it is 0, which I don't care for).

Have not reviewed the Fuji Live v2, unfortunately.

Thanks for reading!

Chris said...

I tried a pair on today in my normal size 10 (Salomon, Hoka, Saucony) and they felt short. Felt like the 1/2 size small Nike trail shoes of yesteryear. Does anyone else find they run short?