Thursday, September 29, 2022

Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail Multi Tester Review with 10 Comparisons

Article by Jeremy Marie, Jeff Valliere, Renee Krusemark, Mike Postaski, and Sam Winebaum

NIke ZoomX Zegama Trail (160$/160€)


Introduction


Jeremy: After some teasing, and appearances on social media, Nike finally revealed its latest trail shoe, the long-distance oriented Zegama Trail.


One might question the choice of “Zegama” for the name for a long-distance focused shoe, as this famous race is “only” a 42 kms trail with 2900+ meters of climbing, but it’s one the biggest and hottest event amongst the Skyrunning Series…”Zegama is Zegama” they say.


This is the first foray of the mighty ZoomX foam to the trails, and considering how shoes equipped with this midsole rock the road running world, this grand premiere was clearly awaited.


I was pretty interested to see how Nike could tweak its bouncy, energetic foam to make it work on uneven grounds, rocks, steep descents, especially so without a plate to stabilize it. It turns out that they managed to come out with something quite interesting.



Pros 


Highly cushioned and protective forefoot: Sam/Jeff/Jeremy/Mike P

Very solid non technical trails and dirt roads ultra choice: Sam/Jeff/Renee/Jeremy/Mike P

Snappy very front flex point, needed as rest of platform is rigid and 4mm drop: Sam

Versatile fast ride from smoother trails to even roads, at for  any distance: Sam/Jeremy

All-day comfort: Jeff/Renee/Jeremy/Mike P

Light for the amount of cushioning/protection: Jeremy


Cons

More effective wet grip rubber needed, less lug depth and rubber to reduce weight and smooth ride: Sam/Jeff/Renee/Jeremy/Mike P

Midfoot and rear of forefoot platform is overly rigid, overly stable: Sam/Mike P

More drop, reducing forefoot stack would reduce weight and increase agility; Sam

Foot lockdown can be tricky to dial-in: Jeremy

Narrow forefoot fit: Renee


Stats:

Approx Weight: men’s US9 10.5 oz / 298g 

Sample Weight: 

Men’s: 10.26 oz  / 291g US8.5, 10.22oz / 290g (US9.5), 11.18/11.28oz, 320g/317g (10.5US, 44.5 EU)

11.25oz / 316g (US10),Women’s 8.59oz / 244g (US7.5)

Stack: 37mm heel, 33mm forefoot, 4mm drop

$160. Available now.


First impressions, Fit, Upper

Jeremy: As it’s usually the case with Nike shoes, the Zegama is a looker. Be it the colors, the general design, the branding, the Zegama has a lot of appeal.


Despite looking heavy with its big midsole, the Zegama ends up weighing just a hair more than the Terra Kiger 8, at an acceptable ~317g for what is a much more cushioned and protective ride. And as in the road ZoomX shoes we know how lightweight the foam is compared to EVA and more conventional blends.

The shoe looks like it has borrowed the rear part of the Wildhorse with the ankle collar bringing softness and annihilating any rubbing risk, as well as providing some protection from debris. The collar looks like a mini-gaiter, and is even reminiscent of the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3, as well as more and more shoes nowadays.


There’s a rigid heel counter going up to the gaiter, and the heel hold is very secure, thanks to the combined effect of the sock-like collar and generous padding. 


The heel loop is very handy, and with the stretch of the collar it allows for a very easy entry. Way easier than on a S/Lab Pulsar, another shoe using this kind of heel collar.


Hop to the midfoot and the front (i.e the dark green and blue parts of the shoe) and you feel like you have a Terra Kiger 8 in your hands. 


The same lacing eyelets, freed from the rest of the upper allowing for a nice, never constricting midfoot hold, the same gusseted protective thin tongue, and a light breathable mesh offering some room for the toes at the front. And just like the Terra Kiger, an inner sleeve under the thin engineered mesh limits debris entrance. 


The protective toe cap is suitably large and covers the toes up to the base of the toe nails. 


It’s very soft and pliable, so I won’t rely too much on it to save my nails in case of an impact.



The comfort when stepping in the shoe is remarkable. It’s soft, stretchy, foot-conforming and gives a good first feeling on how the shoe would manage long hours on the trails.


In the same fashion as the Kiger 8, the Zegama is very dependent on the lacing to ensure a secure midfoot hold. I had to take some time during my first outings to tweak the laces.

Sometimes too tight, or too loose, the sweet spot of secure foot-hold and comfort was tricky to find.


Thanks to my experience with the Kiger, I knew that loosening the laces was the way to go: the upper is sufficiently adjusted and solid to play its role without relying on tight laces.

This is a good thing, considering the high stack of the shoes: it guarantees minimal foot movement on that high platform, helped by the high side walls especially on the medial side.


As I said in my first impression article, during my first run I removed the laces from the top eyelet. This way, only four eyelets (the “loop” like ones) are used, but I found this to work very well for my preferences.


I continued to alternate between this lacing and using the top eyelet, but have had a hard time finding any advantage doing so: my feet are not more securely held, and I feel a bit too much laces pressure.


The toe box is really accommodating, and I feel it’s the same width as the Kiger, but is probably a bit higher, resulting in more volume. Despite wearing mid-weight socks I still had room at the front of the shoe.

I’ve been able to put the breathability of the mesh to the test during my vacation in Crete, with some 35°C / 95F  runs in humidity and couldn’t fault it. I never had hot feet, and moisture wicks quickly. Even after a mid-run rain shower, water has never been an issue and was quickly expelled.

Jeff V:  My first impressions of the Zegama were very positive and while the shoe is for sure maximal, it is a reasonable weight for the substance it provides and feels lighter on the foot than its weight would suggest.  The looks of the Zegama can be a bit polarizing, but I find the black colorway to be classy, but of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  

Jeremy gives an excellent description of the upper, so I will not repeat his description. 


Fit for my narrow, low volume foot is true to size, if perhaps a touch long and a bit on the voluminous side.  While not ideal for fast, technical mountain running, this is advantageous for longer distances, leaving plenty of room for comfort, swelling and splay.  The lacing secures my foot well and had no trouble snugging adequately on the first try.  Security is reasonable and while I felt some flexing and twisting even in moderately technical terrain, I only really reach the limits of the shoe’s upper security and stability when pushing somewhat hard on steeper, more technical terrain.  Slower paces on technical terrain, or quick paces on moderate terrain is just fine and I feel in control.


I had a bit of a different experience from Jeremy with breathability though, finding them to be a bit on the warm side, even in temperatures of around 80 degrees F, though this could be because of the black colorway.


Overall, the upper of the Zegama is exceptionally comfortable and I would say about perfect for long days on your feet.


Renee: Jeremy and Jeff say it all. The Zegama (like most Nikes) is a well-made, good-looking shoe. I agree with their comments about the upper and its security, although I found the toe box restricting. I think runners between half sizes should consider the half size up if they need/want a roomy box. Compared to the Pegasus Trail 3 or 4, the toe box is shallow. With toe socks, no big deal. 

The forefoot upper/midsole interface has notches on both sides, which helps with forefoot flex on inclines. Unfortunately, the “notches” hit the outside of my big toes, and I had blisters on both toes after a 2.5 hour run. 


Breathability is okay. Like Jeff, I found them hot during an 85 degree run. Overall, I thought the upper was balanced between secure and comfortable. My only negatives are the toe bumper and the notches on both sides on the forefoot, which might be a problem for runners with a wide forefoot. If in doubt of sizing, I’d suggest a half size up. 


Sam: The Zegama upper fits true to size with a broad but low toe box similar to the Nike Pegasus and Pegasus Trail 4. 


Comfort up front is assisted by the thin. soft very pliable main mesh with the extensive toe bumper also more pliable than usual in trail or even road shoes. 


Overall the front fit is excellent for me, secure and very comfortable and I usually don’t like low toe boxes.


I found the rear and midfoot hold particularly secure and stable helped by the vertical stability walls of the midsole. I found the rear of the upper combining a quite high knit debris collar, unventilated tongue and gusset quite warm while the soft thinner well ventilated toe area is nicely ventilated. 


Mike P: My first impression when seeing pictures of the Zegama circulating online was that it looked a bit like a mish-mash of the latest Terra Kiger and Wildhorse. The upper, especially in the rear, with the stretch ankle collar, definitely has Wildhorse vibes. I was not super enthusiastic about the shoe, as I’ve found recent Nike trail shoes to be lackluster. The Terra Kiger 7 was a big disappointment for me, after having run in V4 when I started trail running - and which was one of my favorite trail shoes. 


When first slipping on the Zegama, a bit of narrowness up front is noticeable. The toebox does feel a bit cramped - especially in comparison to the recent Terra Kiger V7 & 8. On the run it was not an issue though - there’s enough width for me to not feel restricted, but over the top of the foot, the toebox is definitely on the shallow side. Perhaps a bit more height would be more comfortable, but I think they have to make some considerations about strapping the foot down on top of such a big stack.


Fit overall is true-to-size in my US 9.5. There’s perhaps a touch of extra length up front (maybe ¼ thumbs width), but that’s perfect for longer distances. It’s just fine given the narrowish and shallow toebox fit.


One thing I have to note is that I find the stretch ankle collar to be ineffective if you think of it as a gaiter replacement. It’s nice in terms of comfort, but with regular foot and ankle movement while running, it does not maintain the closed wrap of a regular gaiter, so it is not effective at keeping any trail debris out.



Midsole

Jeremy: The star of the show is the thick ZoomX slab, pushing the stack height up to 37mm at the heel with a 4mm drop.


Nike does not give lots of details on the midsole construction, but it looks like a thin carrier, or protective skin has been added on the external parts of the midsole (as in the ZoomX road shoes) in order to contain the soft ZoomX in high impact zones: the green parts visible at the heel and the forefoot. I cannot really see a clear difference except for the color, being by feel while pressing on it and the exposed ZoomX parts. And the visible wrinkles that have started to appear indicate that this is pure ZoomX. The only difference is at the base of the front green part, where the outsole just slightly comes over the midsole forming a very minimal carrier.


The ZoomX used in the Zegama is a different flavor than the one used in its road counterparts. 

Is it as pillowy, soft, bouncy and energetic as the Vaporfly ZoomX? No, and the lack of a plate also plays its role here. But would you want this kind of behavior for a trail shoe? I think the answer is also a no.


The adjustments made to the ZoomX in the Zegama clearly mute its magic, but it makes it way more suitable for running on trails, uneven ground, and with unaligned footstrikes.


The core character of the ZoomX is still here: the midsole compresses nicely, providing an effective protection from the ground and shock while bombing downhill, and has  a very controlled bounce after footstrike.


It makes me think of a bit more dense, bouncier and protective Hoka Torrent, a shoe that I enjoyed a lot at the time.


A thin (yellow) segmented rock plate can be seen through the outsole’s holes. 

It brings just a tad more structure to the forefoot,  but it’s really more of a thin protective skin than a real rock plate. 

Jeff V:  The ZoomX midsole here is massive and provides a very well cushioned, well protected and predictable ride.  For such a deep stack, trail feel is better than one would expect, which I suspect has something to do with the segmented/flexible rockplate.  I do not find the Zegama to be particularly quick, responsive or lively (which I think has somewhat to do with the 11+ oz. weight in my size US10), but instead I find the Zegama to provide a wonderfully protective, reliable, smooth and comfortable all day ride over just about any surface.


Renee: Jeremy and Jeff cover the details. I concur that the ZoomX is not the same as in the fast and light Vaporfly, Alphafly, or even the Pegasus Turbo 2. Instead of being bouncy and fast, the ZoomX is comfortable and protective. I’ll echo Jeff: the Zegama is not a lively or responsive shoe despite what runners might think when hearing ZoomX. The Zegama is a long run, max cushion trail shoe, and the midsole delivers what a runner would need from that perceptive. 



Sam: There is ZoomX and then there is this flavor of ZoomX which was clearly tuned for trail uses. As the others have said, it is firmer than road racing ZoomX with a more stable feel and lots of dense and protective cushioning. Yet , when I ran them on firm surfaces I noted very quick sharp responsive rebound and energy return with my road and flatter trail running very fast.


The geometry at the rear with vertical side walls makes them very stable, almost too stable from heel through midfoot. 


Further forward the main forefoot platform is very densely protected from the combination of a 33mm full stack with extensive rubber underfoot and wrapping up the sides  as well as the rock plate in the mix.


I wish for a bit “less “upfront for more technical trails as things feel a bit rigid, tippy, and not very agile there as the midfoot to near front of forefoot platform is very rigid.  I like a forward flex point and here Nike delivers which kind of saves the day for me in terms of the front of the shoe. 


The forward flex point carved into the midsole is effective for some toe off give at the end of what is a flat rigid platform with quite minimal rocker in the mix.


Mike P: There’s just a big slab of ZoomX underfoot - but as mentioned by others - a much denser variety than those used in their road supershoes. Don’t expect a marshmallowy soft feel here, which obviously would be a bad thing on the trails. Sam also mentions a rock plate in the mix, but I have to admit that I didn’t realize it was there, and I don’t feel it at all. The ZoomX slab is so massive that the sandwiched rock plate goes undetected.


I tend to agree with Sam that the midsole does tend to feel a bit rigid and tippy. You’re really riding pretty high up on that ZoomX slab - I find ground feel to be quite a bit muted. The protection level is incredible - especially under the forefoot. But for me, you definitely lose a lot of feel, and agility as Sam mentions in technical stuff. I think it’s a great easy-moderate trail cruiser if cushioning and foot protection are your priority.


Outsole

Jeremy: An all new lug pattern has been developed for the Zegama. Measuring around 4-5mm their multi-directional shapes proved to be very effective on dirt, loose, soft or dry terrain.

The center chevrons at the front of the shoes work nicely on uphills, and the inverted ones at the heel are as effective on downhills.


On dry rock, the compound grips very well, something that was already noticeable in the Terra Kiger 8.

The midfoot part of the outsole is exposed, but doesn't have any sign of wear after almost 100kms: this part never really touches the ground being a bit recessed compared to the heel and forefoot.


Alas, just like the Terra Kiger 8, the Zegama are one of the slipperiest trail shoes I’ve ever run. Put the tiniest amount of wet on rocks, asphalt, roots and it’s Holiday on Ice under foot.


I can’t understand how Nike cannot listen to endless feedback on the wet grip of their trail shoes, and for many years now, and come up with a decent compound for their outsoles.

Just hope for an absence of rain during your next ultra if you’re going with the Zegama…



Jeff V:  Jeremy nails the outsole exactly.  The lug depth and pattern is effective in loose terrain, whether running uphill, downhill or on the flats and are good to average on dry slabby rock.  I have run through some pretty scruffy off trail terrain and have to say I am impressed at how well they grip, for sure the best lug pattern yet for Nike.  


While I have not been able to test often in wet conditions, just the few times where I have run on wet surfaces indicates that the rubber compound is not up to the task and in fact could be downright dangerous.


Renee: Broken record here: the outsole is not wet terrain friendly. On dry terrain (dirt, woodland debris, and gravel), the lugs and pattern are great. My first two runs with the Zegama were after rain, and I thought the outsole did a great job shedding mud. 

I’m not running mountainous terrain, but I experienced the lack of grip on wet surfaces. While running on a woodland trail (uncleared), I slipped on fallen bark during the rain (moss+fresh rain=slippery). 

I can’t imagine running safely with this outsole on wet mountain or wet hard surfaces without some type of grip component added or sprayed to the bottom. 

Sam: I have not tested in wet conditions. On dry smoother trails the outsole is fine. I do wish Nike used a more wet friendly compound, reduced the lug height somewhat (and weight as rubber is the heaviest material in a shoe) as the lugs are noticed on firmer smooth surfaces which is where the shoe performs best. A less massive outsole with more front segmentation upfront might also help give the shoe a longer flex and more front agility.


Mike P: I was able to test the Zegama in varied terrain, both dry and wet. I was actually quite surprised at how well they performed in dry and loose terrain. In the past I’ve felt like Nike has designed some of their outsole and lug patterns based on aesthetics rather than performance. Looking at the Zegama, I had a similar feeling, but I was proved wrong on the run. The lug pattern grips very well in all manner of dry, rocky, loose, and gravelly terrain.

[Full slippage. I have tested other shoes at the same spot with much better results]


Wet traction on the other hand, is unfortunately the same story from Nike. I tested some stream crossings followed by tentative steps on rocks. I was expecting some slippage, but I was even surprised by how fast my feet slipped out from under me. Definitely a consideration based on your trail conditions.


Ride

Jeremy: My first impressions of the ride of the Zegama were confirmed by subsequent runs in them.


The shoe is bouncy, but not too much so, keeping a predictable behavior that is dense, protective, and stable, thanks to the wide platform (wider than the Kiger), and which is a must for such a high stacked shoe at 37mm at the heel and 33mm at the forefoot.

For sure, it is on rolling terrain the shoe really shines. It flows easily thanks to some flexibility upfront, and this is where the ZoomX can best express its qualities.


Sure it's not a nimble shoe, but it’s not designed as a Skyrunning light fast racer. The Zegama is all about leg protection, rapidly cruising on moderately technical and mellow trails during longer runs and events and it excels at this.  The ride is smooth, easy-rolling and it entices going long.


Of course, given the quality of the midsole, the foothold and the stability of the shoe, downhills are a blast with the Zegama. I never feared rolling an ankle or losing control despite the bounce and the stack.

Jeff V:  I am once again in full agreement with Jeremy, but at least for the running I have done in them, I have only found them to be moderately bouncy, but only when I am feeling at my best.  


The ride is very predictable, protective, stable and ideal for all day running at moderate paces or just an every day training/recovery shoe.  I find the sweet spot to be moderate to less technical cruising for hours on end, but can easily handle the occasional surge of speed or uptempo.  Of course they are a dream bombing long downhills that are semi to less technical.


Renee: Again, I’ll echo Jeremy and Jeff. Despite the ZoomX midsole, the Zegama is an all-day comfort cruiser, and not a bouncy, speed shoe. The ride is stable and comforting, but can be dull and heavy on flat terrain. Despite feeling inflexible in hand, the notches on both sides of the forefoot help with bend while running uphill on trails or rolling hills. 


Unfortunately, those notches made the forefoot too narrow for my feet and I had hotspots that developed into blisters. While these could be a road-to-trail shoe, they work best on actual trail or rolling terrain. I thought they ran great on hilly gravel roads with about 100ft of gain per mile. Anything flatter than that, and the weight and lack of bounce make the ride dull.


Sam: Highly protective underfoot and rear stable from its stack and geometry ZoomX in the mix delivers a very predictable ride with some clearly felt sharp quick energy return. The ride is not soft that is for sure but it is forgiving and has a touch of trail appropriate bounce. The rear and front stability of the shoe is a bit overdone and takes away some agility but for long smooth hours on moderate trails this is one fine reliable ride.


Mike P: The Zegama is an absolute mileage hog in dry and moderate conditions. Think - summertime in the American West. The cushioning is 100% protective underfoot, so you can go as long as your legs will take you. I agree with Jeff V and Renee in describing the Zegama as a comfort cruiser. 


I find a quite distinctive flex point at the front of the toe box. Renee  pointed out those notches in the midsole foam - I find that the shoe flexes even a little bit in front of that point. Behind the base of the toes, it feels like one giant slab of foam underfoot. Not much flexibility there, and it also makes them feel a bit back weighted to me (as a forefoot striker). I think they would likely work a little better for heel strikers as you can land more directly on the giant slab of foam, and roll forward into that forward toe flex.

 

Conclusions/Recommendations

Jeremy:  The Zegama is a hit for me, and my being always more inclined towards lower stacked trail shoes. The shoe weighs almost the same as the Kiger 8 while offering much more cushioning, an equal foothold and welcome stability. I can clearly see bringing the shoe to 100K races and with no hesitation. 


It excels on mellow trails and rollers where the finely tuned ZoomX midsole brings its qualities to the trails: some bounce, protection and energy return, but it’s far from being limited to that. Except for very mountainous, technical terrain, the Zegama works well everywhere. You just have to get used to the behavior of the midsole.


On road stretches, despite the big firm lugs, the shoe works properly thanks to its bouncy nature. It’s never harsh, the thick midsole giving loads of comfort and still working very naturally - remember that the shoe stays quite flexible. 


The Zegama could have been even better if the outsole was finally at least acceptable on wet surfaces. 

Jeremy’s score: 9.17 /10

Ride: 9.5 Fit : 9.5 Value: 9 Style: 9 Traction 8 Rock protection 9


Sam: Nike enters the ultra game with the big stack height (37/33) low drop Zegama and largely succeeds. I think they overdid it a bit with too much rear stability and too much protection (deep midsole, rock plate, and big rigid front platform) and particularly so at the front of the shoe reducing its versatility. I think toning down these elements or giving the geometry more of a rocker design, as except for the front flex it is rigid, would better surface the clearly highly energetic if currently on the firmer side ZoomX ride here. These changes might make the Zegama yet more versatile and a top top big and long trail shoe contender for me. If the platform and outsole stay the same, I do think slightly softer Zoom X would improve the ride and give the shoe more rebound sensation.


I have no issues with the upper fit and comfort and especially like the toe box area’s broad and secure if low fit but do think the rear upper is a bit overdone and also warm.


It’s weight at 10.5 oz / 298g is very reasonable for the stack height, extensive rubber and upper but could be lower with tweaks to the midsole geometry and outsole 


As currently built I will continue to gladly run the Zegama on any of the Park City trails which tend to be well built and smooth, for hikes and for door to trail runs as I found its sharp quick rebound quick and predictable and its consistency and comfort very good. 

Sam’s Score: 9.13 /10

Ride: 9.3  Fit : 9.4 Value: 9.2 Style: 9  Traction 8 Rock protection 9.5


Jeff V:  The Zegama for me will fit into my rotation as a daily trainer/recovery shoe, where I am looking to stick to more moderate trails at moderate speeds.  While I find them to perform reasonably well in technical terrain at slower speeds, I will generally try to avoid such terrain in them and especially if conditions are wet.  That said, if you find yourself in technical terrain during the course of a long run or 100 mile race, foothold, stability and dry traction are sufficient to get you through with a bit of care.

Jeff’s score: 9/10

Ride: 9.5 Fit : 9.5 Value: 9 Style: 8.5 Traction 7 Rock protection 9.5


Renee: The Zegama is a great choice for a max cushion, all-day trail shoe when speed is not a factor. The forefoot flex uphill is better than it looks, thanks to the notches on both sides of the forefoot. Unfortunately, those notches made the forefoot/toebox too narrow for me. 


Runners with a wide forefoot or a need for a wide forefoot might have issues. If between half sizes, choosing the larger size might help. Overall, the forefoot fit is a bummer for me because the shoe is otherwise a great choice for a distance shoe (20-30 mile training runs or an ultra race). The outsole is great on dry dirt and gravel, and it sheds mud fairly quickly. Of course, the outsole does not grip wet surfaces well which may be a deal breaker for many runners.

Renee’s Score: 8.9/10 (-.8.0 narrow/shallow toebox, -.30 outsole)



Mike P: The Zegama is a step up for me in relation to Nike’s recent trail offerings. “Trail” ZoomX is solid, but not a game-changer, and (dry) traction has been improved quite a bit.  I will definitely be paying more attention to their trail models going forward. That being said, I just don’t find much to distinguish the Zegama from other options. 


For me, it’s really a cruiser shoe for limited, dry terrain. In those circumstances I’d prefer a more balanced shoe such as the Ultraventure 3 or even the Mafate Speed 4. As I mentioned earlier, the Zegama would likely be better suited for dedicated heel strikers, and anyone looking for absolute cushion and protection underfoot. It’s top of class in terms of insulating your feet from impact.

Mike P’s Score:  8.1 / 10

Ride: 8 - Smooth, cruisy, for easy miles

Fit: 8 - Toebox shallow, but perhaps necessary since you’re so high off the ground

Value: 8 - Limited to slower, longer distances in moderate terrain. But should be very durable

Style: 9 - Nike tends to make good looking shoes, although the black/white is “meh”

Traction: 7 - Excellent in dry/loose, but still the wet issue

Rock Protection: 10 - Doubtful anything will penetrate through ZoomX + rockplate

Smiles 😊😊😊


10 Comparisons

Nike Terra Kiger 8 (RTR Review)

Jeremy: Weighing the same, the Kiger can be seen as the nimble, lower stack, technical cousin of the Zegama. It all comes down to preferences, but the Zegama is much more cushioned, just a bit less agile, has better grip on everything dry, and can handle longer distances.

Renee: The Terra Kiger 8 is more agile and has better ground feel. The flex and responsiveness is much better in the Kiger 8, although I thought the forefoot lacked cushion for long runs. The Zegama is much more comfortable for longer efforts. The notches on the forefoot of the Zegama made the toebox a bit too narrow for me, an issue I do not have with the Kiger 8. I suggest similar sizing. 

Mike P (10.0): The TK is certainly more agile and balanced than the Zegama. But I find it a bit too flexible - especially laterally in the forefoot. The lug orientation doesn’t seem right to me - I can almost feel the vertical rows through the midsole and the grip is not that great. Zegama has much better grip and feels much more cushioned, although it is back-weighted in comparison to the Terra Kiger. I didn’t care much for the TK, so I give the edge to the Zegama - you can get many more cruiser, comfortable miles out of them.


Nike Pegasus Trail 4  (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Peg 4 is not quite as built up, cushioned or protective, but is not far behind and in my opinion is lighter, more agile and more responsive.  The Zegama has better dry traction, but neither has good wet traction.  The Peg 4 has the edge in comfort, but the Zegama is not too far behind.

Renee: What Jeff V. said. The Peg 4, despite being a road-to-trail shoe, has better agility and responsiveness than the Zegama. Both outsoles are not great on hard, wet surfaces. I wore a women’s 7.5 in both shoes and had no fit issues with the Peg Trail 4, while the Zegama forefoot felt too narrow. 

Sam: The Pegasus Trail is more conventional riding with more front flexibility and agility and less protection and cushion overall. It’s React midsole is softer and bouncier but for me less “reactive'' than the Zegama sharp rebounding ZoomX. It is a better shoe for shorter daily runs, really on just about any type of trail or road. it would lag the Zegama for longer runs.

  

Salomon S/Lab Genesis (RTR Review)

Sam: The Genesis is considerably softer, bouncier and less stable. Compared to Zegama it has considerably more flexibility and ground feel but less front protection and cushion. Its upper is not as secure but for long long runs or adventures may prove more foot splay accommodating and breathable. At $200 it is not as solid or versatile a value as the $160 Zegama


Saucony Xodus Ultra  (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Xodus is lighter, much more responsive, agile and has a little better traction.  The upper however is less secure than the Zegama and is not quite as competent when the going gets rough.

Renee: The Xodus Ultra is lighter and the midsole is both softer and more responsive. The upper might be more flexible, but I had no issues with security. Neither have great ground feel, although I thought the Xodus had better a forefoot ride and it offers a rock plate. 

Mike P (9.5): Xodus Ultra toebox is much more spacious than the Zegama, which also provides a better ground feel for me. The XU is less cushioned, but still protective enough with its flexible rock plate in the mix. It’s also more balanced, and therefore more versatile in a wider variety of terrain. It's really a do it all trail shoe, whereas the Zegama really has only one sweet spot - long distances in dry/moderate terrain.


Saucony Endorphin Trail  (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Endorphin Trail is heavier, stiffer, firmer and closer to a low top hiker, where the Zegama has better cushion, more bounce and is much more comfortable and runnable.

Renee: What Jeff V. wrote.

Jeremy: Couldn’t agree more with Jeff V…and even as a hiker, the Endorphin trail is way too snug for me and I’d choose the Zegama for this task any day.


Saucony Endorphin Edge  (RTR Review)

Renee: The Endorphin Edge is a lighter, more responsive shoe. For performance, the Endorphin Edge is my choice. The Zegama will offer more comfort underfoot, but for runners who do not need max cushion, the Endorphin Edge might work better for short fast efforts and ultra distances. 

Mike P (9.5): These shoes are not in the same class. The Endo Edge offers explosive response and propulsion, whereas the Zegama just cruises. Not much overlap here. The Endo Edge offers something you don’t find in many trail shoes, whereas the Zegama is just one of many options for moderate terrain.


New Balance Trail More v2  (RTR Review)

Renee: Very similar shoes in my opinion. Both are high stack, max cushion trail shoes. Neither are very flexible underfoot, but the Zegama works better for inclines and declines. The Vibram outsole on the Trail More v2 is more trail friendly, although it’s also heavier and more cumbersome on uneven surfaces compared to the Zegama. 


Hoka Torrent 2 (RTR review)

Jeremy: A very close comparison for me, the Torrent was a shoe I appreciated a lot at the time. The Zegama is more cushioned, and in a bit more dense way, is more stable despite the higher stack and its fit is way more secure.


Of course the Torrent was around 60g lighter for my US10.5 and this, combined with the stack, makes it way more nimble and agile no matter the terrain. Traction in the Torrent is way better - but the outsole durability was really poor: mine wore out after 400kms - as did the mesh.


If going longer than 50-80km, I think the Zegama is a safer bet given its protection, but what you gain on this front, you lose on nimbleness and agility.


Mike P (9.5): Again, these shoes are not in the same class. The Hoka is lighter, less cushioned, and much more agile and versatile. Efficient runners love them for long distances as well. 


Topo Ultraventure 3 (RTR Review)

Mike P (10.0): For me, very similar shoes that work best in light to moderate terrain. I give the Zegama the slight edge in moderate+ terrain, as foothold is a bit more secure up front. But they also feel a bit more unstable, being so high off the ground. The UV3 is also quite high, but being so wide up front, they feel more stable for me. The UV3 toebox is so wide though that the foot can tend to slip forward a bit in steep downhills. Not an issue in flat or rolling terrain though. The Topo is also limited by its shallow-lugged outsole. The Zegama grips much better in loose terrain.


Hoka Mafate Speed 4 (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): The Mafate Speed 4 simply brings more to the table than the Zegama. Profly cushioning is equal to the ZoomX of the Zegama, although it feels a bit lighter and softer. The MS4 is much more flexible, balanced, and agile. It’s great for long distance all-mountain runs in mixed terrain where the Zegama may struggle. Zegama’s ZoomX foam is denser, so it’s a bit more protective underfoot, but the MS4’s balance and flexibility is more desirable. Perhaps the Zegama would have an edge in hard-packed cruiser miles, but the MS4 definitely outclasses it in the mountains. The MS4 outsole also grips better than the Zegama in dry/loose stuff and also works in wet terrain.


Saucony Ride 15 TR (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): An interesting comp, depending on how you view the Zegama. The Zegama is overall more versatile on the trails, with a bit more moderate terrain capability. It can cruise just as well as the Ride 15 TR. But… if you view the Zegama as a shoe limited to dry and more moderate terrain - then you should think about the Ride 15 TR. Stack heights and cushioning are about equal, but you save about 1.5 oz with the Saucony. That weight difference is felt, as well as the Saucony feeling more flexible and less back weighted. I’m a big fan of the Ride 15 TR and continue to log a lot of easy trail miles in them.



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Tester Profiles

Jeremy MARIE, French, 40y/o. Running since 2013 and quickly transitioned to trails, focused on ultras since 2015 : TDS, Maxi-Race, “100 miles du Sud”, 90kms du Mt Blanc, GRP 120kms, Some shorter mellow races (Saintelyon 45kms, Ecotrail Paris 45kms…) with always in the mix road and flat running, but not many road races. Recovery/easy runs ~4’45/km - 4’30/km. He has an un-official marathon PR of 2h54 (solo)  and 10K PR of 36’25. He does few timed road races.

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.


Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better.  He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 11 year old daughters to the outdoors.  Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years.  He is a little over 5’9” and ~145 lbs.


Mike Postaski currently focuses on long mountainous ultras - anywhere from 50K up to his favorite - 100M. 5'10", 138 lbs, midfoot/forefoot striker - he typically averages 70 mpw (mostly on trails), ramping up to nearly 100 mpw during race buildups. A recent 2:39 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 - 9:00/mi. In 2022 Mike won both the Standhope 100M and IMTUF 100M trail ultras within a 7 week period - both extremely rugged Idaho mountain races. Mike's shoe preferences lean towards firmer, dense cushioning, and shoes with narrower profiles. He prefers extra forefoot space, especially for long ultras, and he strongly dislikes pointy toe boxes.


Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 65 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 will be Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he is lucky, 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, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes
 
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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Zegama is not full ZoomX. Believe In The Run and many other reviewers says the ZoomX is encased with the SR02 carrier (EVA) foam. Similar setup to what Derek mentioned in RTR’s review of the Vomero 15.

Zak said...

Seems like a very generous review given the shortfalls of this shoe.
A lot of the description sounds like it could apply to the Dynafit Ultra 100, a cushy, springy shoe that suffers from being unstable when terrain gets technical (but it has a nice, low profile and grippy lug pattern at least.) Also, doesn't Craft make a good shoe for moderate gravelly trails/roads?