Nike Air Structure Triax Trail Running Shoe

Posted in Gear Reviews, Outdoor Gear, Trail Running by Brig Graff - 07.24.2008

I’ve been running my old shoes way past their breaking point. They were Adidas, so they didn’t have air — which to me has always been a downfall. I like the everyday wearability of pure EVA or foam-like midsole shoes, like Adidas makes (oh sure — they may call it Adiprene or something special, but it’s really just tricked-out foam or a variation on EVA). However — the problem with EVA or foam-ish midsole shoes is that they lose their absorption much more quickly than any other kind of midsole. EVA not so much as some cheaper foam-ish materials, but still much more quickly than an air bladder. So I’ve decided that I only really want to do foam/EVA midsoles if they also have an air bladder in them. Or, I could do an EVA-only midsole if I’m in a racing shoe that I want to be super-light for just a few uses until it is tossed.

You may say, what’s lighter than air? Well, foam or EVA is because with air you have to have a heavy plastic bladder to contain the air. Okay, then why is it that you want Nike air instead of an EVA or foam-only midsole? Because have you ever been running in an Adidas shoe for a few times & then noticed all the compression wrinkles in the midsole? That’s because all the air bubbles in the foam-like material are being popped — so pretty soon the midsole is all wrinkled and it loses all its absorption. Then your joints are just pounding the ground.

I learned this the hard way. In college I ran on non-air shoes for a while and ended up with a misalignment of the patella (kneecap). It was very painful, and when I went to the orthopedist (also a runner) he asked how much I ran. I said about 50 miles per week. Then he pointed to my shoes and said, “Not in those wrinkly things I hope?!” I confirmed, and he told me there are three main things you have to balance when deciding on picking up some good running shoes for everyday use:

1) Not having air under your heel will allow your heel to drop down into the midsole a bit and give it more of a stable cup to sit in, however..

2) That comes at a cost of more wear and tear on your joints — so he recommended sacrificing some heel cup stability to have enduring cushioning (as long as it doesn’t pop, an air bladder has just as much cushion 30 days later as when it was purchased — whereas a foam- or EVA-style midsole will have lost a ton of absorption through wrinkling).

3) The third consideration is fit — and though Adidas seem to have a wider forefoot which I like, it’s not worth risking joint injury.

Nike running shoes seem to come a bit narrower than other running shoes, and as such I usually have to purchase them a half-size larger than my skate shoes or other brands of running shoes. With some dress shoes and casual shoes I go with a 9.5 for a snug fit, but I can’t do that in Nike. In Nike shoes I almost always get a 10 and it fits just as closely to the foot as a 9.5 in other shoes. It’s also slightly narrower than something like an Adidas running shoe.

For durability, I suppose the best combination would be a polyurethane midsole with an air bladder. But I have seen some old Nike’s with polyurethane midsoles and they are way too heavy in my opinion. So I think the best is a combination foam or EVA midsole with an air bladder under at least the heel (if not the ball of the foot too).

And that’s the combination that the Nike Air Structure Triax has. There are also two key features of the Air Structure that I really would like to point out:

1) It has very sturdy support (harder material) under the inside portion of the heel — so it’s great for most runners, including those who tend to pronate. But beware if you supinate — these things will pitch you out onto the outside of your heel even more.

2) Since it is not a pure road running shoe, but rather is a trail running shoe, the Nike Air Structure Triax comes with a Gore-Tex liner — which is heavier and much less breathable than the lightweight mesh-style uppers of road running shoes such as the Nike Air Pegasus. This is great in wet or cold situations — such as you often find when trail running. And it is also a more durable upper than more ventilated road running shoes. But I wish it came with a fabric such as eVent which is still waterproof but has much better breathability than Gore-Tex.

I noticed the ventilation of the Nike Air Structure Triax to be in stark contrast to the exceptional breathability of the Vasque Aether Tech Softshell trail running shoe. Also, I preferred the BOA-style lacing of the Vasque shoe to the traditional laces of the Air Structure. But I really liked the waffle-style sole of the Air Structure, which has good grip but wide channels to clear the mud readily.

All in all, the shoe is a great option for trail running if your foot can fit a Nike. If you are a particularly wide foot, you may want to look elsewhere. And because of the limited breathability, I wouldn’t recommend this shoe as your summer road running shoe by any stretch. This is better as an Autumn or early-Spring trail runner.

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12 Responses to 'Nike Air Structure Triax Trail Running Shoe'

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  1. Brig Graff

    I had some Asics Gel shoes and I really liked them a lot — better durability of absorption, but more of an Adidas-style fit and a softer step than air. Asics Gel is a great option, if Nike air doesn’t work for you.

  2. Jason Mitchell

    Hmmm… great thoughts, Brig! I tend to keep my running shoes around way past their usable lifespan because the uppers still look nearly new. But, the foam cushioning is beat to a pulp.

    I’m not a fan of Nike Air shoes. For some reason, Nike shoes don’t really fit my feet so well and they seem too bouncy. What do you think about other longer-lasting absorption options like Asics Gel? Seems like a more durable cushioning option than traditional EVA, but not quite as boing boing as Nike’s Air chamber can be.

  3. David Sweeney

    I run about 2-3 times per week for about 30 min each time. I’m 98kg heavy and a former discus thrower who is trying to keep fit. These Nike shoes are definitely the most solid comfortable shoe I have ever worn. They feel a little heavy especially when orthotics have been added, but they give tremendous support under the heel and are really comfortable. Usually after a run, I am keen to get my trainers off as soon as possible as your feet feel tired, but not as much with these guys, so well done Nike. Before now I’ve usually worn Asics Gel Kayano or Adidas.

    This is all probably useless information, but happy running anyway!!

  4. Brig Graff

    Not useless at all —- I have felt the same. I run in the mornings, and I often find myself wearing the shoes all day long afterwards. Definitely a good, versatile shoe in my opinion.

  5. Jim

    Nike Air Structure Triax GTX shoes are absolutely the best shoes I have ever put on my feet. I have sub talor problems in my left foot and plantar fascitus in my right foot and since waring these babys it is like these problems never existed.

  6. Brig Graff

    Thanks for the comment, Jim — I have really enjoyed mine. But lately I’m getting the bug to try out the Vibram Five Fingers with some Injinji socks…hm, maybe that’s too core for my taste. But it may be worth a try, since everyone says that those shoes cut down on injuries and is more zen. I dunno…

  7. Tony

    with same feelings.Thanks for your professional details description of the nike running shoe.I have got one lunar glider when I was online shopping.I really love may take the interest here

  8. polynesian_metal

    You’ve absolutely described what I experience in Adidas. A great, lightweight and well fitting shoe that wears out pretty quick. Still looking around for the holy grail of trail running shoes and saw these on a guy at the gym. First thought, how can he be wasting these great shoes inside a gym weight training, second thought, I gotta try on a pair of those!

  9. Brig Graff

    Polynesian_metal — yeah, they have been a great shoe for me. I’ve been getting into some Vasque and Patagonia trail running shoes lately, which have midsoles that seem to hold up a bit better than Adidas foam. Still, I’ve loved these Nikes.

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