Nike Pegasus 39 vs Pegasus 38 — which should you buy?

a photo of the peg 39 vs the peg 38
(Image credit: Future/Jane McGuire)

The Nike Pegasus is a brilliant everyday running shoe, designed for daily miles. It’s a workhorse and could get you around everything from a 5K, to a marathon. While it might not be the fastest running shoe on the market, it’s responsive enough to allow you to pick up the pace when you need it, and is a good running shoe for beginners, and those clocking out longer miles alike. 

For a shoe to be on its 39th iteration, it must be doing something right, but if you’re struggling to choose between the new Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39, or saving your money on the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38, I’ve put the two shoes head to head below. As well as looking at the similarities and differences between the two shoes, I’ve weighed up the pros and cons of both. Both shoes made it onto our list of the best Nike running shoes and the best running shoes to shop right now, but which is best, and which should you buy?  

Nike Pegasus 39 vs Nike Pegasus 38: Price and availability

Both the Pegasus 38 and the Pegasus 39 costs £109/ $120, and are available in sizes US 6-15 (UK 5.5-14) in the men’s version and sizes US 4.5-12 (UK 2.5-9.5) in the women’s.

As the Pegasus 39 launched in April 2022 and are still not widely available, you’re unlikely to find it discounted anywhere just yet. By contrast, as the Nike Pegasus 38 is now last-seasons stock, it is likely to be on sale at a number of different retailers. That said, even at $120, the shoe is cheaper than other popular everyday running shoes such as the Adidas Ultraboost 22, and the New Balance 1080v12

Winner: Nike Pegasus 38. If you’re looking for a good-quality everyday running shoe without the price tag, opt for the Pegasus 38. 

a photo of the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)

Nike Pegasus 39 vs Nike Pegasus 38: Design and fit

Both the Pegasus 38 and the Pegasus 39 have similar designs, with the same React midsole foam, a comfortable, durable upper, and a light grip on the outsole, designed for running on concrete rather than trail. That said, during testing we found that the Pegasus 39 came up a little bigger than the Pegasus 38. 

The Pegasus line underwent some big changes with the Nike Pegasus 37, when Nike added React foam to the shoe for the first time. Fans of the shoe struggled with the fit, which had a slightly shallower heel, causing rubbing. It appears it’s third time lucky for Nike, and the Pegasus 39 fits more true-to-size than the Pegasus 38. 

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 review

(Image credit: Nike)

The upper of the Pegasus 39 is more stripped-back than that of the Pegasus 38 — there are fewer overlays, and the upper feels slightly more breathable. Nike says it has placed engineered mesh throughout the upper, which is stronger and more flexible than regular mesh. There’s also “Flywire technology,” which is a band of wires that wrap around the midfoot of the shoe from the laces to keep the foot in place.

The tongue of the Pegasus 39 is still padded, and there’s a good amount of cushioning around the collar of the shoe.

a photo of the flywire on the Nike Pegasus 39

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)

Winner: Nike Pegasus 39. All-in-all, we found the Pegasus 39 a better fitting shoe.

Nike Pegasus 39 vs Nike Pegasus 38: Performance

Here’s where things get a little different — during testing, I found the Pegasus 39 had a lot more ‘pop’ underfoot than the previous iterations of the shoe. Nike has added a second Zoom Air unit to the heel of the Pegasus 39; the 38 has a forefoot unit for a responsive toe-off, but the Pegasus 39 has both a forefoot Zoom Air unit and a second in the rear of the shoe. This gives the Pegasus 39 more of a snap and a little more energy return. 

Although both shoes are fantastic for easy miles, the Pegasus 39 definitely has enough bounce to pick up the pace during tempo sessions, whereas the Pegasus 38 just felt a little heavier underfoot. Talking of weight, the Pegasus 39 is lighter — the women’s US 8 weighs in at 231g, compared to the 235g in the Pegasus 38. Obviously this is a marginal difference, but combined with the double air unit, the shoe definitely feels faster. 

a photo of the back of the Nike Pegasus 39

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)

Neither shoe feels overly plush underfoot — the React foam isn’t particularly soft, especially compared to the Zoom X foam used in the Nike Invincible Run 2. That said, I’d argue the firmer midsole gives the shoe a certain versatility that you want from an everyday running shoe 

Winner: Nike Pegasus 39. When it comes to underfoot feel, the Pegasus 39 just feels more exciting. I’m not sure whether this is due to the lighter weight, or the second Zoom Air unit, but it’s springier underfoot. 

Nike Pegasus 39 vs Nike Pegasus 38: Which is best for you? 

During my testing, I found the Pegasus 39 to be a huge improvement on the Pegasus 38 both in fit and feel underfoot. Compared to similar shoes in the price range, such as the New Balance 1080v12, or the Brooks Glycerin 19, I’d argue that for a cheaper price tag, you’re getting a much more versatile shoe in the Pegasus. 

It’s still definitely best suited to easy miles but has enough snap to cope with faster sessions, although quicker runners might find it a little hefty. Again, this is a brilliant bigger shoe and has enough durability to last for miles. 

That said, if you’re looking for the same durability and responsiveness of the Pegasus without the price tag, the Pegasus 38 is still a decent choice for training miles. 

What do we know about the Nike Pegasus 40? 

If Nike follows it's usual tradition of releasing a Pegasus in the spring, we can expect the Pegasus 40 to be released around April 2023. As this will be the 40th iteration of Nike's most popular running shoe, we can expect a big fanfare, and perhaps some big changes. 

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.