Nike instituted many changes into the fifth version of its Terra Kigers, making them faster and more durable.
I had put about 40 miles on the Kigers before strapping them on for my first 100K, which included some very technical rocky terrain, a half-dozen stream crossings and some muddy sections.
The Nike Terra Kiger 5 is light (9.9 ounces for men’s size 10), which allows the runner to accelerate quickly and confidently. Yet it is also more protective and durable than others in its class.
The Kigers performed extremely well on the flat sections, allowing me to push the pace when I felt like it. However, it does not perform as well in mud or during the rocky sections in my 100K.
At those times, I wish I had a shoe that was built more for technical terrain. Still, the Kigers proved to be durable — they came out of that punishing race ready for the next run.
Overall, Nike instituted a sizeable overhaul to the Kiger 5s. Among the changes:
• A new seamless upper that delivers comfort without compromising breathability and durability.
• Nike React foam replaces the Phylon foam used in the previous version. The React foam is designed to deliver a responsive and energized running experience — and it delivers.
• The midfoot now features a sticky rubber pod for added traction and durability to the outer sole.
Changes made to the Nike Kigers have increased their protection from previous versions. In addition to the rubber pod mentioned above, a rock plate has also been added.
The rock place is in between the midsole and outsole to provide underfoot protection on rough running surfaces.
While my legs took a pounding during the rocky sections of the 100K, the Kigers protected my feet more so than I would have thought.
I didn’t experience pain, injuries or blisters from the rocks that I had to traverse during much of the second half of the race.
While the speed of the Kigers was not a surprise, their ability to protect my feet was a welcome relief. I found them to be more protective than other trail shoes that also prioritize speed.
I was pleasantly surprised about the durability of the Kiger 5s. After my race, the shoes did not look or feel like they had just put in 62 miles, and more than 100 total.
The midsole had a similar feel to when I first put the shoes on my feet.
Same goes for the upper. I could easily see myself putting in more than 400 miles, possibly 500, depending on the ruggedness of the terrain.
So how did Nike accomplish that? The Kiger 5’s forefoot and heel are made of high-abrasion rubber. On the bottom, Nike increased the size of the lugs and placed them in a slightly different pattern.
These changes allowed me to navigate easily through dirt trails, paved segments and grassy sections without issues.
Rocky trails do provide some challenges. But the Kiger’s arch nemesis is clearly mud.
The size of the lugs gives them a chance to secure the feet in mud but I found myself more unstable than in other shoes. They did handle the minor creeks easily and dried fairly quickly.
Responsiveness & Speed
As mentioned, the Kigers are among the speediest and most responsive trail shoes that I have worn. The changes Nike made while keeping the Kigers slimmed down is impressive.
Give credit to the lightweight React foam, which Nike uses in some other models. It offers a soft and long-lasting cushioning, while boosting responsiveness with a high-energy return.
Knowing this and how well the Kigers perform, I will be (hopefully) saving enough miles on them to trot them out for a faster ultra distance or marathon trail race later this year.
Comfort and Fit
The Nike Terra Kiger 5’s upper has a new perforated mesh material that gives the foot a breathable and flexible wrap.
In addition to the mesh, there are skin overlays which work together to secure a comfortable fit and experience.
The lacing system is designed to give runners a snugger fit in the midfoot. Nike still utilizes a six-eyelet construction with ghillie style lacing like the Kiger 4, but has eliminated the Flywire cables.
I found the lacing system to be helpful, quick and easy and provide a comfortable fit.
The rest of the Kiger 5 upper is fantastic. There are two layers of mesh around most of the shoe. An engineered mesh outer layer, that is quite open, lightweight, but still very strong feeling.
It doesn’t have much stretch to it at all. The inner layer, closest to the foot is very soft and thin, leaving little to get in the way or cause any blister issues.
Also noteworthy is the construction of the tongue. It is simply engineered to seemingly part of the upper.
There is an overlay to provide some shape and stiffness to the tongue, which keeps is secure. So simple yet so effective.
I did find the heel counter to be a little stiff, especially in the early miles. Not a deal-breaker by any means but notable nonetheless.
The Nike Terra Kiger 5s have come in with a lot of hype and attention by some well-known ultra athletes.
Putting that marketing and hype aside, these are the real deal, especially for those wanting to put the hammer down on fast trails.
I have been very pleased with my experience with the Kigers. They are meant for speed, pure and simple, and are challenged with technical issues such as mud and rocky sections.
Still, the Kigers know what class they are in — fast shoes that runners can use in trail marathons, 50Ks and other ultras where the trail conditions allow for speed.
In fact, the Kigers are at the top of the class.
We purchased a pair of Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 5 from running warehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.