This shoe is designed for trail runners that plan on going fast for shorter distances on easy to moderate terrain. In addition, casual trail runners that want a stylish shoe to take in the woods on occasion.
This shoe is not built for highly technical terrain or runners that plan on logging higher distances. They may also lack the plush cushioning that some runners are looking for.
The Terra Kiger is the longest tenured trail shoe in Nike’s lineup.
In the 9th edition, they stick with the React foam in the midsole which delivers a smooth, responsive ride. Other than a price of $150 on Nike’s website, it’s difficult to find specifications of this shoe.
A google search shows websites weighing the shoe somewhere between 10.1 and 10.3 oz in size 9. This results in a 0.7 oz drop in weight from the Terra Kiger 8s. Nike also reduced the Heel-toe drop from 6mm to 4.5mm.
Runners looking for a comparable trail shoe might want to check out Saucony’s Peregrine 13 which is also built for faster paces. The Peregrine has more cushion than previous versions and are still lighter than the Terra Kiger.
I recently tested and reviewed Nike’s other long standing trail shoe; the Wild Horse 8. The two models turned out to be quite different, yet both offer attractive features depending on the runner or situation.
The Wild Horse comes with a bit more protection and cushioning which naturally make the shoe heavier than the Terra Kiger. They feature a wider footprint and I’d recommend them over the Terra Kiger for runners that plan to log marathon or even ultra-marathon distances.
I’ve known about the Terra Kiger for years, but this is my first experience running in them. From what I’ve seen and read, they’ve made great strides to improve their lineup and compete in the trail shoe market. My initial inspection of the shoe resulted in what we’ve come to expect with Nike. A quality built, attractive shoe that people want to wear.
Slipping into the shoes for the first time, they felt compact, snug, and “racier” than trail shoes I’ve owned in the past. I couldn’t wait to put them to the test.
My first run was on a trail that consisted of grass, packed dirt, sections with smaller rocks and loose leaves. There were also some small elevation changes. The Terra Kiger’s took the terrain in stride. I was able to quickly pick up and put down my feet with accuracy and without slowing down.
I was not able to run in the rain with these shoes but I did wear them through a creek several times on a run to see how they handle draining and traction when wet. First, running in the soaked shoes proved to be a non issue. They drained especially well, and I did not notice “sloshing” or “squishing” after being in the water. With the conditions I was presented, there were no problems with traction. I’ve read other reviews that state the wet traction of the 9s are much better than the previous model.
The feel of the midsole was lively and responsive. React foam is the material that Nike uses in this model as well as the Pegasus Trail 4 and Wildhorse 8. Compared to other midsole technology in different brands, React is more spongy and flexible.
A thicker React midsole, like that of the Wildhorse 8 will feel plush and cushioned. There is less React midsole in the Terra Kiger 9 which results in a firmer feel. Outside of React, Nike recently released Zegama Trail shoes which use ZoomX technology. (Go check our review for our impressions of the new Nike trail shoe).
I immediately took notice of the thin, mesh upper. Nike claims this material is stronger and more flexible than regular mesh, but only time will tell. One misstep on a branch or rock could lead to a significant tear. Underneath the mesh upper there is a midfoot saddle/liner that appears to be more durable. This material also helps to lock in your foot and minimize movement within the shoe.
A thin rubber overlay wraps around the front of the toe box. This is built into the mesh and when comparing the feature to the previous model, the Terra Kiger 8s design looks superior. The rubber skin in the 9s covers less of the toe box than it did in the 8s and it’s thinner than before.
When it comes to trail shoes and rock plates, I almost always prefer shoes that include a full-length rock plate over ones that do not. There are no details on Nike’s website about this, but from what I’ve read elsewhere, the Terra Kiger 9s have built in rock plates in the forefoot and heel.
I noticed this immediately on my first run in the shoes. We have very rocky trails here in PA and this shoe falls short on protecting a runner’s feet from the pounding of rocks, tree roots and other objects protruding from the ground. In areas or trails without these terrain features, the sole protection should do just fine.
Other than lack of protection, my second biggest concern about this shoe is durability. The shoe should hold up to mild trails with no problem. As soon as you get into more technical terrain, which includes rocks, roots, or downed branches, I’m not sure the shoe will last for as long as runners may hope.
The exposure of the mesh upper in the toe box may increase chances of tearing. Not to mention the ultra-thin outside mesh will generally be more susceptible to wear and tear as runners log miles.
Keep in mind, these shoes are for faster paced, shorter distance runs. The shoes do run a bit on the narrow side, but they were not restrictive for me. This gives them a nimble feel and helps with navigating single-track trails. I had no problem picking up the speed and in fact, these shoes got better the faster I ran.
Nike removed the midsole Air Zoom pockets in the forefoot and heel for a more responsive ride. This drops the shoe closer to the ground which should give runners a more connected feel of trails underfoot.
Overall, the comfort and fit of the Terra Kiger’s are just right for what they were made to do. I could see runners utilizing this shoe for runs up to a half marathon distance. Runs longer than this might leave one wishing for more cushioning.
The upper hugged my foot and provided a secure feeling which is a “must have” on trails. This helped with locking in my heel which resulted in no chance for blisters.
Nike was spot on with the purpose of Terra Kiger 9. They accurately describe what the shoe should be used for so that runners can make an informed decision.
Nike redesigned the Terra Kiger from the ground up. The fresh look still delivers on speed, responsiveness, and the right amount of comfort for the job. They are a no frills, purpose-built trail shoe that comes with unquestioned quality from Nike.
Designed to be light and low to the ground, runners will enjoy picking up the pace on trails. The outsole provides the right amount of traction for runs on loose dirt, gravel and through meadows and fields.
Nike has added to its trail shoe lineup over the past few years, but I think the Terra Kiger will remain a staple into the future.