Road Trail Run: Nike ZoomX Zegama Trail Initial Review: ZoomX gets dirty!

Despite looking heavy with its big midsole, the Zegama ends up weighing just a hair more than the Terra Kiger 8, with an acceptable ~317g for what offers a much more cushioned and protective ride.

The shoe looks like it has borrowed the rear part of the Wildhorse (which I never ran in) with the ankle collar bringing softness and annihilating any rubbing risk, as well as some protection from debris. It looks like a mini-gaiter, and can be reminiscent of the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3.

There’s a heel counter at the base, and the heel hold seemed very secure during my first run.

I had the same feeling as in the Terra Kiger 8 for the midfoot: it can be quite snug and my recommendation would be not to tie the laces too tight. Considering the Zegama has the same multi-layered construction as the Kiger, with the external mesh, an internal “wing” coming from the laces loops, and then the gusset attached to the tongue, internal volume is drastically reduced, but foot hold is very secure.

I had to stop and untie the laces during the run after ~10kms, and even take them out of the last eyelet (they came laced this way) to feel the difference: I like it that way.

Foot hold and precision did not suffer at all, and the fit was much less constricting.

Plus, the laces being really short (as in…the Terra Kiger 8), doing this gives you some margin.

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

First run initial thoughts

My first run consisted of a ~20 km trail run with some good chunks of ups, downs, hilly  tempo, flat tempo, road stretches…All on very moderately technical forest trails with some roots and rocks.

My biggest question was whether the ZoomX foam would be suitable for trail running, without any plate-based stabilization like in the Vaporfly.

And the good news is that it looks promising. The bouncy character of ZoomX is clearly felt, albeit in a more dense, slightly firmer flavor than in the Vaporfly.

The extensive outsole coverage (and front rock plate)  probably acts as a stabilizer for the foam also, taming it a little bit.

I like that the shoe is just moderately bouncy, as it retains a very predictable character, something that I’ve lost in the Asics Trabuco Max for instance, or the Saucony Endorphin Trail. So you can still bomb downhill thanks to the generous amount of cushioning, but you’re not gonna bounce around like crazy. This totally fits with the way Nike markets the Zegama : a cushioned shoe to handle the most technical terrain with incredible protection.

What the Zegama does better than those two shoes is retaining some flex upfront. Despite the high stack, the outsole and the yellow rock protection plate,and I bet a segmented one as in the Kiger 8, the shoe remains a bit flexible which really helps when climbing.

For sure it’s not a nimble shoe, not comparable to a Pulsar SG or Scott Supertrac RC2, but the goal is different. From this first run, I would not hesitate to take the Zegama for a 80k trail which mixes technical terrain and on easier trails.

I might not have had the most technical ground to test the Zegama – it’s scheduled for the next few weeks in Crete! – but the shoes handled the short steep downhills I’m used to with ease.

What it also handles admirably were those long flat sections, be it on trails or on road. Here the ZoomX foam really shines and gives an incredible boost to each stride, with energy return and bounce – qualities well known on Nike’s road offering featuring the same full ZoomX midsole foam.

The outsole is substantial and clearly helps in stabilizing the ride and taming the ZoomX without extinguishing it at all.

The pattern is multi-directional with 5mm lugs using two different compounds to maximize durability or grip…Something that was already seen on other Nike trail shoes with somewhat so-so results.

I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces on more technical terrain, hopefully wet ones, to see if Nike has managed to find an outsole compound that works well on wet  and how it handles the miles from a durability standpoint. 

Full review is coming soon with comparisons so please stay tuned!

This free sample has been provided by Top4 running and Nike for review purposes.

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