Nike UltraFly Review: Men's Trail Running Shoes

Last updated on February 16th, 2024

Nike UltraFly on feet

The UltraFly trail is undeniably one of the best running shoes, although its niche application, specialization, and steep cost may pose challenges when attempting to persuade the majority of runners.

Nike UltraFlyPriceReleaseStyleRetailer
Trail Running$260YesDX1978-101Nike
ProsCons
No plate harshnessLack of flexibility
Vibram outsoleHigh price tag
Fast door to trail, gravel roads, and smooth trailSoftness impacts stability
HeelToeHeel DropWeight
38 mm29.5 mm8.5 mm286 g

For those runners who possess the financial means and are in search of a shoe specifically designed for race days on smooth trails and woodland paths, all while ensuring maximum comfort.

However, it is not suitable for runners in search of a race day shoe that is adaptable and can withstand long distances.

The realm of shoe technology has undeniably advanced throughout the years, particularly with the emergence of the super shoe.

Unquestionably, the advancement has predominantly favored the road shoe industry, but now it is gradually expanding its influence into the realm of trail running.

Until now, the company renowned for its exceptional racing shoes has been noticeably absent from the world of super trail racing footwear, despite the presence of models from Saucony, The North Face, and Hoka.

Nike has recently introduced the UltraFly trail shoe, marking their debut in the Ultramarathon trail super shoe market. This innovative footwear showcases a complete ZoomX midsole, which is encased in a snug outer fabric for enhanced stability and safeguarding.

Inside the shoe, you'll find a FlyPlate made entirely of Carbon fiber, serving both as a means of propulsion and protection. However, the most anticipated improvement comes in the form of a Vibram MegaGrip outsole, designed to offer reliable traction in any situation.

Nike has taken a significant leap forward by embracing a new approach. For a long time, they adamantly stuck to their in-house rubber, which, those who have owned Nike trail runners can confirm, didn't quite deliver in terms of outsole performance.

The trails await us, and the burning question remains: how will all of this manifest in that realm? Let us delve into the depths and uncover the answer.

Nike UltraFly and socks

In my quest to test every trail shoe, I make it a point to explore diverse terrains and trails. It didn't take long for me to discover the boundaries of the UltraFly trail shoe.

Before we proceed, allow me to clarify something: this shoe is specifically intended for race days and is best suited for smoother, non-technical terrains such as compacted dirt paths, fire roads, and well-maintained trails. It is precisely due to this design that many runners experienced great achievements while wearing these shoes at the Western States race.

This shoe is certainly unsuitable for traversing technical terrain or uneven trails.

I had an intense desire to sprint swiftly across this particular landscape, yet my abilities fell short. Join me, my companions, as I unveil both the positives and negatives.

Nike Ultrafly Trail experience

I believe there is no better form of protection than having a full length carbon plate beneath your feet.

The Vibram outsole, with its full length, not only safeguards the midsole foam but also fortifies the foundation of my foot, acting as an extra shield of protection.

The upper, however, tells a completely different tale.

The Vaporweave mesh boasts a soft and pliable texture, creating a breathable and cozy feel. However, it lacks the necessary level of protection when encountering rough surfaces or sharp objects that would otherwise pose a threat to my feet.

The shoe features a protective bumper overlay at the toe, indicating that there may be additional safeguards for the Vaporweave material. This extra layer of defense seems to offer slightly greater toe protection compared to that of a flip flop.

Nike Ultrafly Trai climb mountain

The true test of longevity lies in the hands of time. Nike has ingeniously safeguarded its ZoomX foam by enveloping it in a resilient fiber coating, shielding it from any potential harm caused by scratches or punctures that would undoubtedly hasten its demise.

Nonetheless, it remains true that ZoomX, in all its ZoomX glory, has a tendency to wear down and show signs of wear and tear more rapidly compared to other foam materials. However, I am pleased to report that my test pair has endured approximately 70 miles of running and has maintained its integrity splendidly.

Please take note that while the VaporWeave upper, though thin in construction, has remained intact without any signs of damage such as rips, tears, or snags, it is important to consider that most of these miles were covered on less challenging trails.

The Vibram Litebase outsole has consistently demonstrated its durability, making it a widely preferred choice. I can confidently vouch for its long-lasting performance.

This Nike sneaker eliminates any worries about traction and the long-lasting quality of the outsole.

Nike Ultrafly Trai running speed

Nike has successfully transformed a lively, cushioned, and lightweight foam into a suitable option for trail running, to some extent.

By incorporating the aforementioned dense fabric, the ZoomX material has been compacted along the sidewalls. This innovative technique maintains the firmness of the sidewalls while simultaneously ensuring that the center remains resilient, responsive, and pleasantly soft.

In the meantime, the Flyplate serves as both a framework and a driving force. This results in a relatively steady surface, equipped with profound responsive padding, enabling a seamless and propelled forward movement, facilitated by the plate.

The shoe provides a lively and seamless running experience, although it lacks the level of dynamism I had anticipated. Nonetheless, I discovered that the Ultrafly excels as a superb option for navigating non-technical trails, dirt roads, and particularly the transition from indoors to the trail.

At higher speeds, they truly shine, thriving in a more upbeat and consistent rhythm rather than a rapid and prolonged pace. This is particularly evident on flat surfaces and undulating landscapes. However, they also perform admirably at any speed, without any unpleasantness caused by the structure.

Here lies the dichotomy of this footwear - a tale of both triumph and downfall. Alas, this shoe is ill-suited for the treacherous paths of technical terrain.

With its roomier fit, more cushioned foam, and limited lateral support, this footwear proves to be quite unsteady during scrambling, making sharp turns, or running on uneven surfaces. If you're not careful and end up rolling your ankle a few times like I did, you'll be left with excruciating soreness that persists for days afterward.

I had high hopes of conquering challenging terrains with these shoes, but unfortunately, they took me in the opposite direction. Rather than giving me the confidence to tackle difficult terrain, they made me slow down and meticulously consider where to place my feet.

After numerous arduous climbs, I came to the realization that the plate provided no extra thrust and instead encountered a slight issue with my heel slipping.

Nike UltraFly Comfortability and fit experience

When placed on the recommended surface as described earlier, the UltraFly trail shoe provides an incredibly pleasant experience.

The shoe offers a smooth and invigorating experience, boosted by the plate, which effortlessly enhances speed without any harshness or challenging activation. This makes them enjoyable for faster paces, ensuring a lively ride.

The greater breadth of these shoes ensures excellent stability while walking and provides a remarkably seamless experience when maintaining a steady, controlled pace. Upon wearing them, I observed that they accurately matched my usual shoe size, although my toes were slightly closer to the shoe's front than my personal preference. However, I believe this concern may be attributed more to my own foot shape rather than the design of the Nike brand.

Utilizing the Vaporweave upper found in its predecessor, the Vaporfly, the UltraFly boasts a weightless and well-ventilated design.

The upper portion of the shoe prioritizes long-lasting comfort rather than providing a secure fit for challenging and steep terrain. Unfortunately, it tends to become loose and extremely difficult to tighten properly. In my experience, I struggled to secure my feet tightly, almost feeling as if they were being constricted.

Nike UltraFly shoes photos

Upon slipping my feet into the UltraFly Trail, my heart yearned for an intense affection towards it, especially considering the inclusion of the remarkable Vibram outsole.

The shoe is an excellent choice for navigating smoother trails, particularly dirt roads and transitioning from indoors to the trail. Nevertheless, its limited adaptability and hefty price of $260 make it a difficult product to endorse in my opinion.

If you're not concerned about the cost and you're not exclusively interested in trail running, then these shoes are perfect for you. They offer exceptional comfort and you'll thoroughly enjoy how they perform, particularly on pavement.

Nike has a lot of work ahead to transform the UltraFly into an exceptional trail racer, despite its positive attributes. However, I have full confidence that they will rise to the challenge. I am eagerly anticipating the path they choose to take and the impact it will have in bridging the divide for an outstanding trail running shoe.

So, if you are interested, you can open the Nike offcial online store to find your size and take it home.