If you’re a trail runner you probably wouldn’t consider the Nike Free 7.0 v2, first produced in April of 2010, as a trail running shoe. It does have a small toe guard, but that’s about all that might clue you in that the shoe could work on the trails. After 157 trips up and down my favorite very technical mountain trail, I now believe it is a usable alternative to other trail running shoes I’ve had in the past (mostly Terra Kiger). But, maybe they’re not for you.
Finding the ultimate trail running shoes was proving very difficult from here in Thailand. First off most of the shoes I find in the stores are cheap China rip-offs. They replace rubber with cheap foam. The stitching is ridiculously sub-par. The price is the same as the authentic trail running shoes. These shoes are available in all the sports stores, in the outlet malls that are supposed to have authentic items from major OEM’s like NIKE, ADIDAS, SOLOMON, etc. I usually just check two things in these stores – the stitching, and whether there is real rubber on the bottom of the shoes. The rubber they replace with plastic or foam, it’s very easy to feel the difference. Rubber is grippy. Foam and plastic are slippy. The stitching is also usually a very obvious clue. Nothing on decent shoes is single-stitched. On fake shoe rip-offs – there are places where single-stitching is evident.
I first found these trail running shoes by Nike called the Nike Free 7.0 v2 in a Big C store in southern Thailand. Of course, they just had Thai sizes which stop at a men’s 9 (US Men’s 9). But, when I tried it on at the store, though the length was insufficient, that size nine was almost big enough in the toe box for me. That’s just what I was looking for because I have a wide-forefoot and need a big (wide) toe-box.
The sole is very flexible and has grooves cut into them to allow a lot of foot flexing. The heel is more stable, but still allows some flexibility. The foam is pretty soft, and the shoe fits very comfortably – everything is soft and feels good. The drop looked slight – later I found it to be 7.0 mm, not bad, and a good fit for my feet because I was coming off a bigger drop and wanted to ease down into a lower drop shoe. I wasn’t ready for a 2mm or no-drop, so I thought I’d break my Achilles’ in slowly with these 7.0mm drop shoes first.
I went home, got online and ordered a size 11 at eBay and waited for them to arrive. It is always a risk when ordering shoes online. Heck, if I’m in a shoe store I try on twenty different shoes before I choose one. I didn’t have a good expectation that these shoes would fit when they arrived, but I hoped. When they came in the mail I tried them on and immediately jumped back onto eBay to buy 2 more pair of the same shoes in the same size! They fit perfectly. I didn’t even know whether they would work well on the trails I had in mind for them, but I didn’t care. Finally, I actually had trail running shoes that fit.
I wore the first pair – the blue and black you see in the video – over the next 5-6 months. I ran up and down a 6 mile long very technical mountain trail with them as well as running on the flat concrete at the park about the same number of times. Add to that about 20-25 trips up 1,256 steps up another mountain and that was what it took to destroy the outside of the toe-box area. All in all, after paying $120 USD for them (the high shipping cost to Thailand got me), I got around 1 workout per dollar. Not bad at all, and I’m super-satisfied with that. These are no doubt the best trail shoes I could have found for my feet with the scant resources I had.
If you need a wide toe-box and you run up trails and want something minimalistic, but not ridiculous like Vibram 5-Fingers – get a pair of these Nike Free 7.0 v2’s. They are lightweight, strong, flexible, and very stable if you’re a forefoot striker. There is absolutely nothing in the heel for stability except the sole – which is flared a bit. I have not twisted my ankles at all in these shoes and that is REALLY saying something because with my New Balance running shoes I wore on the trail prior to this I twisted my ankles regularly.
You might look at the tread of these shoes and laugh. You might think they couldn’t possibly be used for a technical trail. I have to tell you, they are perfect for the very rooty, sandy, rocky trail that I run on a few times a week. I can’t use a tread that has the real grippy arrow things like the new Solomons because I’ll be hanging up on roots and rocks too much. These have just the right amount of grip so I can go fast over the hard-packed dirt, sand, rocks, or roots. Probably if I had originally started running my trail in Solomons with the grippy tread, and then tried to switch to these – I’d have balked. Having done it the other way, I know I couldn’t run in a trail shoe with a very grippy and knobby tread.
Nike Free 7.0 v2 Trail Running Shoes Specs:
Sizing – These run true to size. I take between a 10.5 and 11. I bought the 11 men’s and it fits perfectly for length.
Toe Box – These run wide. If you need a wider shoe – get this, you will probably be very happy with it.
Stability – Great. The sole flares out at the forefoot and heel to give added stability. It works incredibly well for forefoot strikers on the trail.
Durability – Average to good. I got 100+ workouts – very hard workouts – out of these shoes. I’m very satisfied.
Price – $60-90 on Ebay. Hard to find elsewhere.
Colors – Red/Grey; Blue/Yellow; Blue/Black; White/Orange; Grey/Black; White/Black; and sorry I didn’t pay attention to women’s colors other than remembering there is a Teal/Blue.
Availability – You will probably have a very hard time finding these shoes as they are from 2010. Still, there are some on Ebay and some in places like Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam if you happen to be traveling Asia and want to pick up some cheap shoes.
Nike Free 7.0 v2 Review Video:
Again, MOST PEOPLE will like the Nike Terra Kigers better. Find them HERE >