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Nike ZoomX Ultrafly Review - The Best Trail Shoe Ever?

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

I’m crossing my fingers that the generous forefoot width of these is a turning point for Nike. Have they realized that a broad, stable base is better on the trails than a narrow, tapered front end?

I’ll have to watch for new Pegasus Trails and Terra Kigers to be sure, but for the moment, I’m just going to enjoy a pair of Nike trail shoes that could almost be described as - roomy? Spacious? Accommodating? Ample? I can’t believe these are words I’m using to describe a pair of Nikes.

I don’t have the specs for stack or drop, but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d put the heel stack somewhere around 35-40mm and the drop in the 6-8mm range (Jason nailed it because the actual stack heights are 36mm/26mm for men and 33mm/24 for women). If I’m in the right neighborhood, that’s a little more cushioned than the Pegasus Trail with a little more drop than the Wildhorse.

For such a lightweight shoe, it’s really impressive that these have an edge-to-edge, full-coverage Vibram Megagrip outsole. Anything else would feel like a compromise, and Nike isn’t asking me to make any compromises with this shoe.

I’ve run in a pair of Vaporfly Next road shoes with the same Vaporweave upper material, and it’s bonkers. Overall, lightweight, breathable, flexible, supportive, water-resistant, and virtually rip-proof. Even the heel cup and midfoot strap (between the tongue gusset and Vaporweave outer layer) have small holes for breathability and drainage.

Maybe - gun to my head - if someone forced me to find a flaw in these, I’d say the material of the laces doesn’t feel as luxe as the rest of the shoes (although even the aglets have a color-matched Nike logo and checkered finish-line flag). I had zero problems with the way they worked though, and I appreciated that the tongue has a thin layer of foam that sits just under the laces. The gussets also keep the tongue and that foam layer right where it needs to be - zero slippage to the side.

I would grab these off the shelf for anything from an off-road 5K to a trail ultramarathon, plus all the training leading up to it. These are obviously high-performance race shoes, and I’d lace them up confidently in any event I was planning to seriously throw myself at. But they’re also comfortable enough for long training runs, which is something I hardly ever find myself writing about performance-oriented race shoes. Typically, the compromises for speed are at the expense of comfort, but not here.

So, Are They Worth $250?

$250 is a steep price tag, but ultimately, I’d say they live up to the MSRP. They’re right in line with the Vaporfly Next 3, which seems like their road-focused counterpart. That’s a lot for a trail running shoe in a vacuum, but it feels like the market has demonstrated that there’s enough demand for shoes at that price point if the tech lives up to its promise.

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