Nike's Air Zoom Pegasus 38 Is the Best All-Around Running Shoe

·4 min read
Photo credit: Nike
Photo credit: Nike

It's always best to train with a plan, but every so often, I can't quite figure out how I plan to incorporate running into my fitness routine. For example, when the weather teeters on the brink of rain that never quite comes, I can’t decide if I want to hit the road for a long run, or hit the Assault treadmill for sprint work, or maybe just log a mile or two on the tread.

And it’s on these days that I always reach for my Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38s. Nike’s most versatile pair of all-around running shoes has carried me through all manner of miles over the last few months (and in quite a few other situations too, since it looks so sharp and clean; more on that later).

In the process, the Peg 38s have delivered a solid blend of bounce, stability, and comfort, delivering smooth ride after smooth ride. They’re a workhorse running shoe that delivers on multiple fronts, with a slice of consistent, versatile style, too. And at $120, they come at a price point that makes them even more worth it.

This Year's Pegasus Sneakers Build on Last Year's Redesign

Full disclosure: I’ve long been a fan of Nike’s Pegasus. The Pegasus line has been around for nearly four decades, dating back to 1983. I tried out my first pair of the Pegs in 2017, and found them to be reliable and steady.

Then last year, actually, Nike began making drastic changes to the Pegasus, dropping its ultra-springy React foam into the shoe (instead of the older but steady Cushlon) shifting to a forefoot Air unit, and tweaking the outer design. The end result looked more like some of Nike’s specialized running shoes, and, initially, it made me nervous. But the ride proved steady and responsive.

The Peg 38s build on last year’s innovation, making tweaks to that same design. That means you’re still getting React and Zoom Air in that sole, but Nike makes other tweaks for better comfort above that. The toebox has been opened up slightly; last year’s felt ever-so-slightly cramped and pinched down on the outsides of my feet. The heel also feels a bit tighter, which is a good thing; last year’s Pegs didn’t quite lock down the back of my foot in the shoe.

The running experience is best described as “fluid.” You get oodles of comfort and solid cushioning from the Peg 38s, without sacrificing responsiveness. You can feel the ground in these shoes, and you get to feel explosive with each and every stride.

The Aesthetic is Top Notch

Where the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 sneaker takes the biggest step forward is with the overall look. Last year’s Pegs looked very distinctly like a running shoe, seemingly drawing heavy inspiration from Nike’s hardcore runners. The Peg 38s, however, deliver a more inviting look, looking comfortable as a running shoe, but not out of place as a general workout shoe or a shoe for a leisurely Friday night.

The material feels a bit more plush, and ever-so-slightly softer when you put your foot in, and a more generous tongue completes the look. Nike also delivers a tweaked lacing system; webbing near the lacing leads to a tight-yet-friendly fit. Accented colors, and a stylish outlined Nike swoosh complete a package that strikes a balance between runner sleek and everyman inviting.

These Nike Kicks Perform in Every Running Scenario

I tested the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 sneakers on three different surfaces (track, grass, and my Assault Fitness manual treadmill), and on each surface, the Pegs were steady and snappy. They forefoot offers solid fluidity and freedom to bend while still lending support, and the entire ride is always smooth.

One of the best parts about these sneakers is how they cater to a variety of different running strides. When moving heel-to-toe over a 3-mile run, the Peg 38s performed as expected, easily handling the run with plenty of cushioning. Equally impressive is how they performed when I picked up a sprint stride on my Assault. I could almost “feel” my big toe driving off the ground, a sign of the excellent flexibility throughout the sole of the Peg 38.

The Peg 38s also deliver so much cushioning that landing from just about anything is comfortable and natural. As part of a sprint workout warmup, I ran through high knees, single-leg bounds, and standing broad jumps. That last exercise in particular isn’t one that running shoes always shine in, but each time I landed from a broad jump, I was able to gain my balance easily in the Pegs, and I never once felt as if my heel was slamming into the ground.

The end result is an ultra-well-rounded running shoe that anyone and everyone can appreciate—especially given that exterior design. You can wear the Pegasus 38s in just about any situation, from a treadmill run to a long run outside to a trip to the grocery store, and these shoes can support you. These are perfect generalist running shoes, with plenty of versatility beyond that, too.

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