A Jack of All Trades and Master of Almost All! 10 Comparisons

Approx. Weight: men’s 9.75 oz  / 276g (US9) ::  women’s 8.2 oz / 232g (US8)

Pegasus Trail 3 men’s 10.75 oz. /  305g US9 

men’s:  10.25 oz  /  290g US10  (v3 same size 11.25 oz), 9.22 oz / 262g US8.5

30-32 mm heel (measured) / 20.5 mm forefoot (spec. 9.5 mm drop men, 8.5mm drop women)

Available now. $140

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

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 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.

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Renee: The Pegasus Trail 4 is revamped from its predecessor. Calling the Peg Trail 4 “better” or “worse” than the previous version will depend on a runner’s need/use for a trail shoe. Gone is the heavy, max cushion, all-day cruiser. The newest version is lighter in weight, more secure in the upper, and lower to the ground. At first I thought the high drop and low forefoot stack would be uncomfortable on single track trails, but that was not the case. The upper is very secure, thanks in part to the Flywire lacing. The hold and security are much more dialed in than the Pegasus Trail 3. While the upper has a “road shoe” look, the security is trail friendly, aside from a lack of toe bumper. For sizing, I suggest true to size. While the upper is secure, I did not find it uncomfortable or too tight and the toe box is roomy enough for the average foot width. Runners between half sizes could go either way, depending on use. I ran in a women’s size 7.5, the same size as my Peg Trail 3. The heel cup is firm and sits high on my ankle, similar to a road shoe. I had some issues with rubbing on my heel during a speed workout, and for a trail shoe, I’d prefer a rounder, lower sitting heel hold. For road running on smooth terrain, the heel cup shape and hold works better. As a road-to-trail shoe, the Trail 4 upper strikes a decent balance. 

Jeff:  I really enjoyed the Pegasus Trail 3, but only used it for the most easy runs and primarily casual use, as it is just so darn soft and comfortable, not particularly quick, agile or inspiring to run in.  

The Peg 4 however clearly looked different out of the box and the feel/purpose of the shoe was immediately clear the moment I slid my foot into them, this is a real running shoe.  The upper materials are thin, streamlined and are well ventilated with the Flywire lace up once and done with never the need to second guess tension or having to retie.  

I have to say that between the React midsole (more on that later) and the upper, this may very well be the most pleasing and comfortable shoe I have ever put on my foot.  

The toe box is just right, with a bit of give to it for maximum comfort, with enough room for swell and splay, but not overly so and provides just enough to not feel too loose or out of control.  

The midfoot wrap is sublime, with no pressure points or tension, just a nice cozy warm hug sort of feel.  

The heel counter is so perfect, secure and comfortable, I never really thought of it once and had to go put the shoes on in order to type this sentence.  

Fit is very true to size and again, the fit and comfort here is perfect for my low volume foot, I had to keep them on to get through this sentence, as sizing is so good I never questioned it.  I do think that the shoe’s fit is versatile enough however that it can accommodate a wide range of feet.

This Peg 4 is intended (and works best) for more moderate to less technical terrain, as the upper is not robust or protected enough for steep, rocky, technical terrain, but I of course run that terrain for testing purposes and I was surprised at how well they performed.  I would not pick the Peg 4 for running fast on the steepest, most rocky trails, but if you happen to find yourself there, they will for sure do the job.

Sam: Low slung, kind of unassuming and with a road shoe vibe the Peg Trail 4’s only outer visual cue of trail capabilities is its tightly spaced aggressively lugged outsole with its front stabilizing side wrap and broad front rubber toe bumper. 

The toe box (and upper) made of is a very dense, almost shiny mesh with very little stretch and with many, many ventilation holes. Beyond the stout very front rubber outsole bumper, there is no stiffening to speak of around the sides, just some 3D printed overlays for a touch of upper protection there and a tiny bit of structure. In fact there is less front side bumper structure than the road Peg 39 has. 

The toe box width is broad for a trail shoe and low to help hold the foot upfront. The fit is true to size and comfortable up front and all over.

The trail “part” of the upper really starts at midfoot. We have not only the return of Flywire cords linking down to the midsole but a dual longitudinal eyestay with the laces running through the central pliable overlay and then through the Flywire which run in 3 dual hole entries through another soft overlay to the midsole. 

And on top of that, or inside that we have a stretch gusset tongue. None of the materials (overlays, tongue, gusset, laces) are stiff or thick and working together the mid foot wrap is as Jeff says outstanding in its security and comfort.

I particularly like what I would call a “trail style” tongue. Lightly padded it has a more rugged outer mesh than most road shoes. Plenty of lace protection, no slip and ties into the rest of the wrap just right. 

The sockliner appears to be an EVA type with some stickiness to it with a textured top fabric layer. The board below is a rubbery material and not rigid. 

To the rear we have well padded collars and a semi rigid top of the heel counter which down low, about an inch up becomes rigid. The raised midsole side walls into which the front of the heel sit far down stabilize the rear upper at the ground while the pliable upper also has some give over terrain. 

Overall It’s a great trail upper as it should be for purpose but maybe a touch overbuilt in support to the rear for pure road purposes and a touch under structured up front for trail purposes but the compromises if any are minor and it is quite amazing a single upper can serve so many run purposes so well.

Midsole

Sam: The midsole is Nike’s React foam with no air units or rock plates in the mix. It is by a long margin the softest and most energetic React foam I have run, although I did not run Peg Trail 3.  It is our understanding (not confirmed by Nike) that React foam is a Dow Infuse EVA/ Olefin copolymer blend.  Add more Olefin and you get a softer, more rebounding feel and clearly that is what Nike did here. 

It is considerably softer and more energetic than the regular Pegasus 39’s React foam with also in its mix the air units which firm things up and provide sharper response. It is closest in feel to Salomon Energy Surge foam (also a Dow Infuse foam) as found in the S/Lab Pulsar noting that the Pulsar Trail and Trail Pro have a lower layer of considerably firmer foam while S/Lab Pulsar has none and neither does the Peg Trail 4. 

The foam feel is wonderful here with plenty of shock protection and lots of rebound although one must not think this is a deep, deep highly protective midsole set up due to the quite low 31-32 mm heel and about 22mm full forefoot stack height but there is still plenty of cushion.

The high foam sidewalls, the upper, and the outsole provide enough stability for moderate trails while nothing gets in the way on road.

Renee: The React foam works well for comfort and responsiveness. The forefoot stack height is not enough for long runs for me, unless I’m mixing in slow or “hike” paces on a single track trail. As a road shoe, I’d need more underfoot for 15+miles, particularly if I’m running a decent pace with even forefoot landings. The midsole itself feels the same as the Peg Trail 3, but with less stack height underfoot, the Peg Trail 4 feels firmer underfoot and provides less cushion for me. The React foam in the Terra Kiger 8 initially feels softer under the forefoot, but with the rock plate and outsole lug pattern, the Kiger 8 starts to feel firm under the forefoot at faster paces. Overall, the midsole feels good for short to mid distance runs at all paces. 

Jeff:  Sam sums up the midsole perfectly.  I find the midsole of the Pegasus 3 and 4 to be equally soft from a comfort and cushioning standpoint, but the Peg 4 has infinitely more rebound and is much more “contained” with better structure than the Peg 3 as Sam says from the high sidewalls.  

To say that the Peg 4 is fun, responsive and quick is an understatement, as it is easy and joyous to move along fast in this shoe, although they do not demand it either and are just as at home jogging or walking.  Versatility meets performance meets comfort is the name of the game here. 

I find protection/cushioning here to be adequate for long days on varied terrain, which in part is somewhat aided by the sturdy outsole.  Rock protection, while not bulletproof, is good enough that I never noticed it to be lacking, never found myself being careful through the rocks or taking any zingers.  Simultaneously, ground feel and contouring over the terrain underfoot is surprisingly good.

Outsole

(Top Pegasus Trail 3, bottom Pegasus Trail 4)

Renee: The outsole is basically a road shoe tread with deeper “lugs.” The rubber has good grip, and the success of the traction will depend on the surface and terrain. I ran on a soft, somewhat muddy and wet dirt track and found the lugs sufficient for traction. I purposely ran over more roots than I needed to as to test the protection and traction and I felt protected and secure on the inclines and declines. Mud and small pebbles easily get wedged between the lugs on the lateral sides, which is not an issue with the outsole on the previous version of the shoe. On dry dirt and gravel, including flat and rolling terrain, the outsole worked well. 

Jeff:  For most of my running, I found the outsole to provide sufficient traction, both from a tread depth/design perspective and a rubber composition perspective.  I was able to test on all of my usual terrain here in Colorado, steep, rocky technical terrain, off trail, moderate gravel trails, dirt roads, paved roads, rocky slab, etc… and found them to be good, though on certain steep rocks, I did not feel 100% confident, so would say they are good, but not great for this.  

While I did not get to run in them on a truly rainy day, the few times I found some short sections of wet terrain, I was also not convinced that they would hold well.  That said, I never had any real issues, but just enough of a “feeling” to slow a little if traction was iffy.  

There are also flex grooves worked into the outsole, one running the length of the shoe, one diagonally bisecting the back of the heel and two more small grooves on the lateral side to provide a nice level of flexibility.  Durability of the outsole is proving to be average.

Sam: The outsole is clearly for multi surfaces and  multi purposes. All the lugs regardless of shape are 4mm in height. By making the lugs more angular, Nike gets more grip on trail and by tightly spacing them with broader pads at the forefoot they make the road ride very smooth, with the decoupling line for sure assisting,  if not quite road shoe smooth or quiet but very close. 

This substantial, quite firm all one density rubber outsole also plays a key role in not only protecting the toes up front but stabilizing the soft React foam with of particular note the firm triangle at the medial mid foot and the wrap up of the outsole up front. 

It is needed as we have not only soft foam but a relatively low front stack height. The shoe flexes at the end of the side wrap up sections with the front moderately stiff. I wonder what more front flex would do to help with very front upper stability/lack of structure on more tech trails as it is a bit shaky. 

I had one run on moderately technical low angle trails with lots of roots and rocks and protection was adequate and more of the ground conforming type than a protective impenetrable platform which a plate or more front stack would provide. 

I notice specs of color in the rubber making me think there is recycled content in the outsole but Nike has as of yet not confirmed this one way or the other. 

Ride

Renee: I’m not always a fan of high drop shoes, especially trail shoes, but with a secure upper and flexible forefoot, the Peg Trail 4 is fun on single track. While the drop for the women’s shoe is reported to be 8.5mm, it feels more like 10mm to me on foot. I’m not running mountain or wet rock, but while bouncing around on dirt and tree roots, the shoes felt great and I didn’t notice the high drop as much I did with the Peg Trail 3. On rolling gravel hills, the shoes worked well too, aside from small pebbles wedged in the outsole lugs. On soft surfaces or trail efforts with a variety of paces, the Peg Trail 4 is comfortable for a few hours. On harder surfaces, they work best for me at short to mid distances. I ran a 7 mile speed workout on flat dirt/gravel, and my forefeet were a bit sore (briefly) afterward. I spent twice as much time on a single track trail going slow, and had no issues. The forefoot stack height is not enough for me to use the shoes on long runs, especially if the surface is hard. Otherwise, the shoe can handle any other daily miles.

Jeff:  The ride of the Pegasus 4 is exceptionally smooth, soft, comfortable, compliant, energetic and responsive, performing as well on the roads as well as on most trails.  Versatility is amazing here, as the Peg 4 is as adept at running sub 6 minute pace on the road, as it is for slower running or even walking, pushing uphill trail climbs, bombing fast mountain descents.

Sam: A most versatile pleasing ride here. Plenty of moderate trail stability and agility with lots of soft rebound that the upper and outsole keep in good control. Taken to smooth surfaces and pavement the smiles continue with a flexible energetic ride with the deep lugged outsole a felt presence but not in the way in terms of flow, noise or excessive firmness. Seriously, the Peg Trail 4 is for me Nike’s best all around road daily trainer of the moment, not over opinionated (firm stiffer Peg 39 and  overly soft not very stable Invincible Run 2) and that is before we talk about its excellent trail manners.  Overall the ride reminds me most of the ASICS Fuji Lite 2 (soft midsole, stout agile outsole) and via the foam part the Salomon S/Lab Pulsar SG understanding the much lighter Pulsar sits on a considerably narrower heel platform.  

Conclusions and Recommendations

Renee: The newest version of the Nike Pegasus Trail is no longer an easy, recovery or all-day cruiser shoe. The Trail 4 is secure and relatively lightweight as a daily trainer  road-to-trail shoe. The lower stack and more secure upper make the Trail 4 a better “trail” shoe as compared to the Peg Trail 3. Without a rock plate and without more spaced, aggressive lug treads, the Peg Trail 4 (like the previous version) is a mellow to moderate trail option. Anyone who liked the Pegasus Trail 2 or 3 as a long run shoe or easy day shoe might want to buy a discount pair. For runners looking for a daily trainer from road-to-trail or mellow trails, the Pegasus Trail 4 is a good pick at $140. I find the Pegasus road shoe (versions 37-38) to feel chunky and unflexing underfoot, and I don’t have that issue with the Trail 4. 

Renee’s score: 9.2/10  (-.20 forefoot/stack height not always great for long distances ,-.20 lateral outsole pattern traps pebbles/mud, -.40 high/stiff heel cup)

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Jeff:  The Pegasus Trail 4 is a contender for best shoe of the year, definitely at the all time top of the heap in the door to trail and overall versatility category.  I think the Peg 4 is a jack of all trades shoe and master of almost all.  I can easily see racing in this shoe, be it longer distances, shorter distances, road, trail, moderate technical, training on recovery days, up tempo days or just a casual shoe for a neighborhood walk.  They are also as comfortable, or more comfortable than any shoe I have ever worn, are stylish, well constructed and just a joy to wear.

Jeff’s Score:  9.8/10

Ride: 10 – soft, supple, energetic

Fit: 10 – best fit and most comfortable of all

Value: 10 – for all that you get here, $140 is a very fair price

Style: 10 – beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I find them to be quite sharp (they look much better in person

Traction: 9 – so far so good on my usual terrain, uncertain about wet traction though

Rock Protection: 9 – not bulletproof, but I never have any issues, even on rocky, technical trails

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Sam: Jeff says it right: a jack of all trades and master of almost all from road to just about any trail but more technical for me largely due to the thinnish forefoot and quite unstructured (for a trail shoe but not a road shoe) toe area. 

Smooth with a pleasantly soft stable rebound the ride is just delightful here on any surface and  particularly firmer ones.  The upper is secure, comfortable and adaptable to foot shapes.  The sub 10 oz weight is great in a trail shoe with a stout outsole and upper, in fact well within what I like in terms of weight for a daily road trainer.  And the Peg 4 is also a great road trainer with its capabilities there in the “middle” miles of training, so not ideal for the super fast workouts or for some longer runs due to the thinnish forefoot. But.. in comparison to the regular Peg 39 the forefoot is far more forgiving here and will take me much further.

Nike, trail division of all places, has put together from elements common to other models: React, Flywire, etc…a most versatile shoe, and for me their most pleasant and middle of the road model for either trail or road. It stands in quite sharp contrast to their other more “sharply” opinionated road trainers which for me suffer in versatility. While I would not select it first for either road speed work or technical trails for everything else in between it is outstanding fun and highly capable.

Sam’s Score as a “trail” shoe: 9.5 /10

Ride: 9.7  Fit: 9.7 Value: 9.7 Style: 9.2 Traction: 9.2  Rock Protection: 8.7

Sam’s Score as a “road” shoe: 9.44 /10

Ride: 9.4  Fit: 9.3 Value: 9.5 Style: 9.5

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Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Nike Pegasus Trail 2 or 3 (RTR Review)

Renee: Both the Pegasus Trail 2 and Trail 3 were heavier, higher cushioned shoes (the upper of the Trail 3 felt much more secure to me as compared to the Trail 2). Overall, I think the Peg Trail 3 and Peg Trail 4 have different purposes. I don’t like heavy, slow shoes, but the Pegasus Trail 3 was a great shoe for long easy runs. In contrast, the Pegasus Trail 4 is now a lighter, faster shoe better suited for shorter, more nimble runs. The sizing is similar. 

Jeff:  Echoing Renee, the Peg 3 is heavier, slower and more geared toward slower running or casual use, where the Peg 4 is lighter, quicker, equally cushioned and has better fit, traction and is much more fun to run in.

Nike Terra Kiger 8 (RTR Review)

Renee: The Terra Kiger 8 is slighter heavier and offers a rock plate for underfoot protection. The Kiger 8 is more trail than road-to-trail, although I think the grip of the rubber on the Pegasus Trail 4 is better than the TK8. The outsole lugs of the TK8 avoid trapping mud or debris, unlike the Pegasus Trail 4. Both shoes have a forefoot feel that lacks for longer runs. I prefer the heel shape and hold of the TK8 for trail running along with its lower drop. For true road-to-trail running, the Pegasus Trail 4 is my pick; for trail I would prefer the TK8. Sizing is similar. 

Jeff:  I find that the Peg 4 blows the TK8 out of the water in all regards.  Is is lighter, more comfortable, more responsive, has better traction and greater versatility, offering outstanding performance on both road and trail.

Nike Zoom Pegasus 39 (RTR Review)

Sam: Similar fitting uppers, similar stack heights but different results on the run. The addition of front and rear air units firms up the ride considerably as does firmer React foam in Peg 39. Thinner feeling upfront, more responsive and snappy the regular Peg 39 is not nearly as forgiving or fun. Yes, a better choice, maybe, for faster short runs and the track and if you like a firmer ride but otherwise Peg Trail 4 for everything else for me.

ASICS Fuji Lite 2 (RTR Review)

Renee: For sizing, I wore a women’s size 8 in the Fuji Lite 2 and a women’s size 7.5 in the Peg Trail 4. Even with the sizing difference, the shoes weigh about the same, with the Fuji Lite 2 being slightly lighter and running lighter, in my opinion. The Fuji Lite 2 offers enough cushion and comfort for 20+ mile runs while still being a fast, nimble shoe. The outsole is grippy with enough space between lugs to avoid trapping mud. As a trail shoe, I much prefer the Fuji Lite 2, although for road running some runners might prefer the higher drop of the Peg Trail 4. 

Sam: The Fuji Lite 2 is a very close comparison as it too has a soft and rebounding midsole and a stout outsole. It weighs 0.4 oz less and has more forefoot cushion stack. Its upper clearly leans more road than the Peg Trail 4’s. In the match up as a door to trail shoe the Peg 4 pulls ahead here slightly due to its upper support. 

Inov-8 ParkClaw G 280 (RTR Review)

Renee: The ParkClaw G 280 is another road-to-trail shoe with a somewhat high drop (8mm). Neither the PC G 280 nor the Peg Trail 4 offer a lot of forefoot cushion and both have a decent amount of forefoot flex. As a trail shoe, I prefer the PC G 280, namely because of the lug pattern and the heel shape/hold. Unfortunately, I thought the PC G 280 sizing ran short and it has a shorter/shallow toe box. For sizing, I wore a women’s size 8 in the PC G 280 and a women’s size 7.5 in the Peg Trail 4. Even in a half size longer, the PC G 280 toe box felt shorter and more shallow as compared to the Nike. 

Sam: I agree with Renee’s take here in particular her comparison of toe boxes.  I also find the React midsole more dynamic. 

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar SG (RTR Review)

Jeff:  The Pulsar is lighter, more nimble, much more compact, perhaps a bit more responsive and perhaps a little better traction.  However, for longer distances, longer downhills, more sustained time on hard surfaces and especially going fast, the Peg 4 has much more cushion and overall substance underfoot to take the edge off.  The snug glove like fit of the Pulsar is amazing for shorter, more technical running, but the Peg 4 upper is much more relaxed for all day comfort.

Sam: As Jeff says about comfort and distances. The Pulsar has a narrow heel platform limiting its range but at almost 2.75 oz / 78g lighter with nearly equivalent cushion stack and feel there is really no contest if you want to go fast and nimble and really on any terrain plus road. 

Saucony Xodus Ultra (RTR Review)

Jeff:  A close one here, as they are close in weight, price, stats and versatile purpose, but I’ll give the slight edge to the Peg 4 for the superior and more secure (though still relaxed) upper.

Craft Pro Endur Distance (RTR Review)

Sam: The Nike gets the upper nod in this match up with a more all of a piece secure and comfortable one although the Craft is not “bad”.  Both have similar high rebounding foams with the Pro Endur having a full PEBA midsole so yet more energetic and light for stack. The Craft has a higher stack height and is more cushioned especially at the forefoot yet shares a similar ground conforming feel. While it leans more road I have enjoyed it tremendously on trail where deep lugged traction is not as vital as its thick (and yes also soft foam stabilizing) outsole is not as heavily lugged. It comes down to uppers (and to a lesser extent t here..rare for me and while I prefer the Craft ride the Nike wins in a lean for door to trail  

ON Cloudvista (RTR Review)

Renee: Like the Peg Trail 4, the Cloudvista is a road-to-trail shoe with a somewhat high drop (7mm). The Cloudvista is heavier, although it runs light with great forefoot flex. Both have comfortable and secure uppers. The Cloudvista “speedboard” can be felt under the midsole, which was annoying for me while running. I wore a women’s size 8 in the Cloudvista and a women’s size 7.5 in the Peg Trail 4 and found the length similiar. 

Skechers Razor TRL (RTR Review)

Renee: The Razor Trail is a lighter shoe with a fast yet cushioned midsole (I love Hyberburst). Neither shoe is meant for technical trail, although the Peg Trail 4 has a much more comfortable and secure upper and a more aggressive and grippy outsole. Overall, I prefer the Razor Trail because of the weight and midsole, but for security and grip on trail, the Peg Trail 4 is better. I wore a women’s size 8 in the Razor Trail and a 7.5 in the Peg Trail 4. The length is about the same and the Peg Trail 4 has a roomier toebox. 

Jeff: The Razor Trail is lighter, faster and more responsive, however durability is questionable and the Peg 4 has better protection and foothold for more technical terrain.

Pegasus React Trail 4 is available at our partners below

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