Weight: 249g (W), 300g (M)
After a year of rumors, Nike’s first super-trail shoe has dropped, and it’s fast. The Ultrafly Trail is Nike’s first trail running shoe with ZoomX midsole foam and a full carbon flyplate, designed to help runners take on the trails at a rapid pace. For the first time, a Nike trail running show also has a Vibram outsole, with deeper lugs for a grippier run on uneven terrain.
Yet at $250, the Ultrafly Trail doesn’t come cheap. Is it worth the high price? And how does it compare to some of the best trail running shoes and the best carbon fiber running shoes on the market? To find out more, I put the Ultrafly Trail through its paces on the trails. Read my full Nike ZoomX Ultrafly Trail review below to find out more.
Nike ZoomX Ultrafly Trail review: Price and availability
Like all of Nike’s super shoes, you might be waiting a little longer to get your hands on a pair of the Ultrafly Trail. The shoe launches in Europe from July 27 in limited quantities, and will be more widely available on the Nike website and in stores from August.
The shoe costs $250/£230 and comes in sizes US 4 - US 12 (UK 2.5 - UK 9.5) in the women’s shoe, and US 6 - US 15 (UK 5.5 - UK 14) in the men’s. At launch, the shoe is only available in one colorway — white and orange. This is a shoe that’s designed to get muddy, so don’t expect it to look so clean for long!
Nike ZoomX Ultrafly Trail review: Design and fit
The Nike ZoomX Ultrafly Trail fits true to size, but there’s one notable difference when comparing the fit to the Nike Vaporfly Next% 2, or the Nike Alphafly Next% 2 — the Ultrafly Trail has a much wider toebox.
This is by no means a bad thing — you want extra space in the toebox of a trail shoe to prevent your toes from knocking against rocks or tree routes. I wore my normal size in the shoe — a UK 5, which is a size larger than my everyday shoe. Confused? Here’s our guide on how to buy running shoes.
The upper of the Ultrafly Trail is made from Nike’s Vaporweave fabric. It’s thicker than the mesh-like material used on the Vaporfly Next%, and while it is breathable, it’s not overly so, offering a little more protection from muddy puddles and wet terrains. There’s not an awful lot of give in the mesh upper — it’s relatively tough. That said, there’s a lot of room in the toe box, so it’s not sitting too close to your foot.
The Ultrafly Trail has the same lightweight, racing tongue as the other super shoes in Nike's collection, and it sits flat against the foot. There’s a traditional padded collar, offering comfort on longer trail runs and ultramarathons.
The midsole of the Ultrafly Trail is, arguably, where the magic happens. The shoe has Nike’s ZoomX foam — the shoe maker's most responsive midsole foam, used in the Vaporfly, the Alphafly, and the Nike Invinicible 3. As with the latter, the Ultrafly Trail is designed to offer a serious amount of cushioning and comfort on easy running days.
When paired with a carbon fiber plate, the ZoomX foam helps create a bouncy, responsive underfoot feeling — the plate propels you forward, helping you achieve a faster toe-off and quicker stride.
Luckily, the Ultrafly Trail doesn’t feel like you’re wearing your Vaporflys on a trail run. It’s a balanced, yet bouncy underfoot experience. I still felt extremely stable on the run wearing this shoe, I just didn’t have to work as hard to achieve faster paces.
Finally, the Ultrafly Trail is the first Nike shoe to ever feature a Vibram outsole, and it’s a change I hope rolls out to the rest of Nike’s trail running line. A criticism Nike has always faced when it comes to its trail running shoes is that they’re not all that grippy, especially when running on wet terrain. The Vibram outsole is a huge improvement. While the lugs aren’t super deep, they definitely help give the shoe a lot more grip on uneven terrain.
Nike ZoomX Ultrafly Trail review: Run Performance
I tested these running shoes on a number of different trails and terrains — from a forest track to a gravel path. I received the shoes in July, so things weren’t all that muddy and wet, but I was impressed with the grip I got from the Ultrafly Trail. In the past I’ve slipped when wearing the Pegasus Trail in wet weather, and I really hope the Vibram outsole features in more shoes in Nike’s collection in the future.
There’s no doubt about it — the ZoomX foam and carbon flyplate make for an extremely fun underfoot experience. I felt like I was eating up the trails in these shoes, and I appreciated that there was enough underfoot cushioning to allow me to run from my front door to the trails on concrete.
The only downside I found was that there’s not an awful lot of give in the Vaporweave upper. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — you want your foot to stay locked into the shoe, especially when you’re running on uneven ground. But on a couple of runs I laced the shoe up a little too tight and experienced some rubbing around the heel.
While Nike has made efforts to make the shoe durable — you can see this in the tougher outsole and the thick Vaporweave upper — I do wonder how durable any shoe with a carbon plate in the middle really is. I’ve no doubt these shoes would survive an ultramarathon, but would they last for the entire training block? I’m not entirely sure. Time will tell as I do more miles in them.
Nike ZoomX Ultrafly Trail review: Verdict
These are, by far, the most exciting trail shoe I’ve ever tested. The Ultrafly Trail are super fast and super bouncy —if you’re hoping to PR on the trails, these are probably the shoes you want on your feet.
That said, the Ultrafly Trail won’t be for everyone. Firstly, they’re incredibly expensive, and unless you’re racing, you probably don’t need to spend $250 on a pair of shoes to wear on muddy trails.
Secondly, if you’re a trail runner who prefers a firmer underfoot experience, you’re not getting that here. Although the carbon fiber plate offers a certain amount of rigidity, and the shoe is by no means as bouncy as the Vaporfly or Alphafly, the ZoomX foam gives you a decent amount of bounce.
I’m always resistant when recommending a $250 running shoe, but if you can afford it, the UltraFly Trail stands out as an exciting option.