Running in Nike’s new-look trail shoes: Wildhorse 5 – Runner’s World (UK)

Running in Nike’s new-look trail shoes: Wildhorse 5  Runner’s World (UK)

The Nike Wildhorse 5 has substance to match the style and its multi-terrain creds make it a great road-to-trail option.

The RW Takeaway: The Nike Wildhorse 5 has substance to match the style and its multi-terrain creds make it a great road-to-trail option. Some concerns remain, however, about the shallow toe-box.

  • The colourway will definitely turn heads
  • The grip and rock plate protect the feet over long miles
  • Great option across different terrain – runs well on trails and tarmac

Price: £104.95

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Type: Training / Racing

Weight: Men’s (9.9oz), Women’s (8oz)


The background

Nike are perhaps the most iconic road shoe brand in the world. The company’s Next% adorn the feet of Eliud Kipchoge and Mo Farah, among many others elites and aspiring amateurs. Check the start line of any big city marathon and it’s Nike’s shoes you’re likely to see more than any other brand. On the trail, things are a little different. A few years ago, Nike’s elite trail team notched up a set of impressive results, but its off-road shoes have remained slightly under-the-radar. That’s now likely to change – and not just because the colourway of the Wildhorse 5 is jazzier than John Coltrane. In truth, the look of these shoes is likely to be as divisive as Marmite (other colourways are available, see below) but there’s also substance to match the style.

First impressions

A bit like turning up for Sunday league football in a pair of bright white boots, turning up to a trail race in the Wildhorse 5 is something of a statement. But how do they perform? I took them out on a 28-mile trail run along the North Downs Way to find out. The route started in the small Kent village of Otford, which gave me a chance to check out how the Wildhorse 5 performed on the roads. Answer: very well, indeed. The Zoom Unit, the same as can be found on the excellent Nike Zoom Streak road running shoe, felt poppy and responsive on the pavements, making the Wildhorse a strong option if you’re looking for a road-to-trail shoe.

Some never-ending steps followed, which slowed me to a hike. The shoes were not to blame for this, I should add, but they are a decent hiking shoe – which is worth considering if you’re doing an ultramarathon, in which all but the fittest runners spend a significant amount of time hiking (and sobbing). There’s a decent amount of cushioning underfoot – along with a rock plate – but there’s also a firmness that feels responsive while power-hiking the hills.

Following the flat, dry trails east in the direction of Rochester – that Mecca of off-road running – the shoes were in their element. On slippier, gnarlier terrain, the grip might not quite hold up. But on flat-packed trails and stony sections, the Wildhorse had neigh bother at all (sorry).

If, like me, you have narrow feet and thin ankles, it’s worth tying the Wildhorse tight as I experienced a little bit of heel slippage after running 10 miles in them. The real issue for runners, though, may be the shallow toe box. This makes the Wildhorse feel smaller than they actually are and results in a slightly claustrophobic fit. I should add that, after 28 miles, I still had all my toenails intact, so it’s not a big deal, but it might become one if you were running, say, a 50- or 100-miler in them.

The North Downs Way has plenty of steep descents, and the shoe provided ample grip on these. There’s also a nimbleness to the Wildhorse that encourages a quicker pace. Crossing the Medway bridge at about halfway, my feet still felt good and I had absolutely no hotspots, which is a shame as I was getting tired and would have liked and excuse to stop.

Another long road section provided the Wildhorse a chance to show-off its multi-terrain credentials. It really does perform excellently on both trails and tarmac. The weight, too, occupies a nice middle ground. At 9.9oz (men’s) and 8oz (women’s), it’s lightweight without feeling flimsy.

Onwards to Blue Bell Hill – and with the sun going down, the challenge of negotiating the trail in low light. Again, the show provided excellent grip on the winding, undulating trail. I’m proud to say its wearer took zero nosedives while wearing them.

At the end of the 28-mile run, in Detling, I was tired and slightly dehydrated, but my feet were still in pretty good nick. Some doubts remain about the shallow toe box, but everything else about the shoe is hugely impressive. It may look flashy, but the Wildhorse 5 is much more than just a show pony.