When I heard rumblings that Nike would release a trail shoe with ZoomX late last year, my first thought was, “Well, I guess I’m buying it.” My second thought was, “I guess I should find some trails.” Well, I did and I did.
Enter the Nike Ultrafly. Nike’s first foray into a plated trail running shoe – featuring a full-length wrapped ZoomX midsole, a Vibram outsole, and a (not-so-new) Vaporweave mesh upper.
This has been a fun shoe to test and has made my runs more enjoyable (more on that below), but it comes with quite a hefty price tag.
Release Date: August 17, 2023
Weight: Men’s 10.1 oz., Women’s 8.8 oz.
Drop: 8.5mm – Sizing: True to size
While a lot of readers have experienced ZoomX in Nike’s road and track racing shoes, the ZoomX on the Nike Ultrafly doesn’t really make a difference until you hit softer terrain. It’s soft, springy, and supportive. As I’ve said in prior reviews, the true test of a shoe is when I don’t think about it, and for the most part, I wasn’t thinking about this shoe when I was out on the trails. I attribute much of that to the ZoomX.
The wider toe box and lockdown across the whole shoe are great. So great, in fact, that I wonder why more of the Nike line can’t be as dialed in as this shoe?
I’d anticipate that the Nike Ultrafly will pull in a lot of non-trail runners (me). And for that reason, I have found a lot of enjoyment in my test runs because I was exploring new areas, different terrain and not defaulting to my usual routes and mileage. While I don’t see this leading the pack as a daily runner on the road, it’s not shabby, so while the price is high, I can easily argue that you’re getting a more versatile shoe than what it may seem on the surface.
Let’s face it, $260 is just insane. I was anticipating $220 when I heard the rumors and even that would have given me pause. While I know people will eat this up (as I write this on release day, inventory is scarce – but we all know how that game goes). I think committed trail runners (who admittedly have more experience than me in trail-specific footwear) will reach for other shoes at a lower price point that feature a lot of similar benefits.
You can see our full list of the best trail shoes here.
The blatant absence of a tongue loop for the laces to slot through and keep the tongue secure is a huge gripe. In all my runs, the tongue would end up bunching at the base of the laces because it would slip down. To mitigate that, I have to tighten the laces more than I would like to keep the tongue up.
To my point above about pulling some non-trail runners into the mix, I think Nike went conservative with the lugs as I don’t see them being as effective for technical terrain or extreme ascents or descents.
Nike Ultrafly Summary
To me, the Nike Ultrafly is what I expect a Pegasus Turbo or regular Pegasus could and should feel like. The ZoomX shines on softer terrain and in combination with the subtle Flyplate – the comfort off-road is enjoyable. The general fit and finish of the shoe are great (why do I feel like Nike trail shoes are always made better?) and I love the launch colorway because what’s more fun than getting a clean shoe nice and dirty?
Outside of the price, my nitpicks aren’t showstoppers, but the price is solely dictating my rating. If you’re a pragmatic spender, I would recommend finding some discounts or dusting off any gift cards you might have laying around.
If you’re not worried about price and want to jump into something new and exciting from Nike, I’ll green-light you all day because it’s a fun shoe.