Nike Wildhorse 8 Uses Forefoot Rock Plate for More Cushion on Rough Terrain

Last updated on February 16th, 2024

Wildhorse 8 mudguard

The Nike Wildhorse 8 is a versatile and multipurpose trail shoe that will bring contentment to the majority of runners. The inclusion of top-notch materials and a fresh appearance in its eighth version will captivate both dedicated trail runners and faithful Nike enthusiasts.

For those who desire a trail shoe that offers a gentler and more comfortable experience, especially when covering longer distances on trails of varying difficulty, these shoes are worth considering.

The Wildhorse 8 is not the ideal choice for runners seeking a lightweight and minimal trail shoe. Moreover, those who tackle particularly challenging terrain should explore alternative options.

Nike's latest Wildhorse design offers a combination of comfort and support. While these shoes may not be known for their speed, they have the potential to accompany runners on any distance they choose to tackle.

The outsole has been enhanced, resulting in improved traction compared to previous versions.

The chevron patterned lugs are designed to improve traction on various types of trails. However, their grip in wet conditions still has room for improvement.

Wildhorse 8 quarter

The 8th edition of the Wildhorse has undergone a complete transformation, both in appearance and design, bearing no resemblance to its predecessor.

In truth, these shoes bear a striking resemblance to their early prototypes, from the time when they were just beginning to take shape.

The Wildhorse 8 comes with a touch of "coolness". The midsole is adorned with topography patterns, and a stitched patch around the heel adds a stylish touch.

For those in need of an extra push, there are checkboxes for 50K, 50 miles, 100K, and 100 miles printed on the outer part of the heel.

The shoe's greatest quality is definitely its comfort. When I step into them, it almost feels like sinking into memory foam, especially in the midsole and heel. I've worn these shoes all day, not just for trail runs, and I can't get enough of them. The React midsole is incredibly forgiving and provides ample support for long runs. Compared to the Wildhorse 7, Nike has increased the stack height in both the heel and forefoot by 5.5 millimeters.

The forefoot stack measures 27.5mm, followed by a heel stack of 35.5mm, resulting in an 8mm drop, which remains unchanged from its previous model. What's intriguing is that the 8s provide a sensation similar to that of a zero-drop shoe due to the exceptionally soft cushioning in the heel.

In exchange for the luxury they offer, these shoes will add some extra pounds to your feet. The men's size 9 weighs about 11.4 ounces, making it one of the bulkier options available for hiking. However, I must admit that I didn't experience a significant contrast in dry weather.

During my initial jog, the path comprised mainly of compacted soil with some challenging rocky portions. Switching from landing on the front part of my foot to propelling myself forward was a seamless and easy process, all while maintaining a consistent speed. The weather was arid, which meant I faced minimal problems with grip.

Wildhorse 8 upper/toebox

I decided to test the Wildhorse 8s in the rain to evaluate their performance. Unfortunately, the outcome was not impressive. The shoe falls behind in two aspects: its ability to grip on wet surfaces and its drainage capability. When I walked on rocks and boulders, the soles proved to be quite slippery. Additionally, once the shoes got wet, they noticeably became heavier. They seemed to absorb every ounce of water I encountered. I would not suggest these shoes for runners who frequently face wet conditions in their region.

Hills and steep slopes pose a challenge for this shoe. I observed that it didn't respond well when I had to descend on rocky or loose dirt surfaces. Due to its cushioned midsole, it felt slow and required more exertion to land accurately. If you frequently run in hilly areas, I suggest you try Hoka's Speedgoat 5 instead.

The Wildhorse 8 boasts several essential attributes that offer adequate safeguarding for practically any kind of trail.

Like many trail shoes on the market today, the Wildhorse 8 incorporates a shielded overlay for the toe box. This provides added protection for the two-layer mesh upper in areas prone to high impact, preventing tears and damage.

The midsole plays a vital role in safeguarding your feet in two primary manners. Firstly, it incorporates a forefoot rock plate that effectively spreads the impact over a wider surface. Additionally, the inclusion of React foam provides your foot with an additional layer of comfort during those arduous miles.

Ultimately, the sturdy and extensive rubber sole serves as a protective shield against sharp rocks, fragmented branches, and any other obstacles you may come across while hiking.

Wildhorse 8 pull tab

I've covered more than 60 miles with the Wildhorse 8s. Up to this point, I'm genuinely satisfied with their durability, particularly when subjected to the harsh conditions of Pennsylvania's wooded and rocky trails.

Runners who opt for the Wildhorse 8 need not worry about their durability during lengthy races, including ultra-marathons.

During my numerous runs, I have made a deliberate effort to confront obstacles head-on rather than evade them. My aim has been to subject my shoe to more punishment than the average runner. Remarkably, the upper and midsole remain almost unblemished. The sturdy outsole displays only minimal signs of wear, as one would anticipate with trail shoes. However, there is nothing to suggest that the shoe is deteriorating prematurely.

The Wildhorse's endurance is enhanced by Nike's React midsole, which plays a crucial role in its longevity. This innovative material is both pliable and incredibly durable, enabling it to withstand the rugged terrain's harsh treatment without any visible signs of deterioration.

Wildhorse 8 laces

Do not be mistaken, the Wildhorse 8 is far from being a racehorse bred for speed. If you desire a fast shoe, consider the agile and sleek Terra Kiger 9, another Nike creation.

Nike suggests that the Wildhorse is ideal for enduring and moderate-paced runs over extended distances. They specifically recommend these shoes for challenging trail runs, which involve endless miles and rough terrain that are too tempting to resist.

While the majority of my runs were done at a comfortable pace, I did make an effort to push myself and try running at faster speeds. It required a considerable amount of exertion to increase my pace and sustain it throughout the run.

The primary reason for this is the presence of the incredibly comfortable pillow-like padding. Additionally, when running at higher speeds, stability became a concern.

I put the shoes to the test on trails filled with sand, and I was pleasantly surprised by their performance on the loose gravel as well. The shoes' wider base prevented me from sinking in when I pushed off or landed, which greatly reduced the amount of energy I had to exert.

Wildhorse 8 outsole

I really admire Nike's design of the upper forefoot saddle and lacing system in the Wildhorse 8. The upper offers ample space, while the saddle effectively stabilizes the forefoot and prevents excessive shifting.

The tongue and saddle are seamlessly integrated, eliminating any concerns about the tongue shifting downwards or sideways.

Nike employs a lacing mechanism known as Dynamic Fit. A strip of bonded fabric extends along the tongue, through which the laces interlace. Ensuring a secure fit is effortless, evenly distributed across the entire foot. After lacing them up, the shoes remained comfortably snug throughout the entire run, eliminating the need for readjustment or retying.

The React midsole of these shoes is incredibly flexible, allowing them to easily adjust to my stride from the very beginning. Thanks to this feature and the lacing system, I consistently achieved a secure heel lock with every wear.

Wildhorse 8 heel/sole

Finding a shoe that surpasses the comfort of the Wildhorse 8 is quite a challenge for me.

This shoe is equipped to tackle a wide range of trails. However, if you intend to run on trails with steep inclines, rough terrain, or frequently encounter wet conditions, it would be wise to explore other options.

The durability of the React midsole guarantees extended endurance on trails, allowing you to conquer more miles. Regardless of whether you're a novice or a seasoned marathoner, the Wildhorse 8 is a shoe that should definitely be in your consideration.

While I found the Wildhorse 8 to be quite enjoyable, I would suggest dedicated trail runners to contemplate the Hoka One One Speedgoat 5 or Salomon Ultra Glide 2 instead. These alternatives feature a sturdier upper that offers increased longevity. It is my hope that Nike will address this issue in their upcoming update.

  • Price: $140
  • Style: DR2686-006
  • Color: Light Carbon / Cosmic Clay / Black / Light Orewood Brown
  • Usage:
  • Constructions & Features:
    • outsole combines high-abrasion rubber and mitton rubber
    • React foam technology for a smooth and responsive ride
    • a midfoot saddle to keep foot contained and secure for lateral movement and landing
    • rock plate in forefoot to offer more cushion on rough terrain
    • chevron patterned lugs to improve traction on various trails
    • topography patterns midsole
    • a shielded overlay for toe box to protect the two-layer mesh upper
    • Dynamic Fit lacing system
    • weight: 348 g (Men's size 10)
    • heel drop: 9mm
Wildhorse 8 react midsole