Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Nike Pegasus Trail 3 Review: A very smooth, very soft and forgiving, yet stable ride! 8 Comparisons.

Article by Jeff Valliere

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.


  • 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 

  Samples: men’s  11.25 oz  / 321g  US10

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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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

8 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Nike Pegasus Trail 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  While I did not review the 2, the heel collar has been completely re-worked to provide a more secure and stable ride.  Otherwise, the midsole and outsole are the same.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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'.

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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!