These shoes are for trail runners who want to go fast and prefer less-technical terrain. Ideally, the runner sticks to a half marathon distance and below, but under the right conditions the Kigers might be able to handle a trail marathon.
If you are a trail runner who regularly enjoys exploring the mountains or favors longer, technical trails, this is not the shoe for you. For runners who live in areas where trails can get muddy from time to time, it would be best to use the Kigers when trails are dry, and other options for when mud is present.
The Nike Terra Kiger 8 boasts all the improvements from the revamped Kiger 7.
For example, its midsole maintains a thick React foam layer, an Air Zoom unit at the front is protected by a rock plate while another safeguards the heel.
On the downside, the Kiger 8 (10.9 ounces for men’s size 10) is just about as heavy as it predecessor, continuing a trend for the model.
I last reviewed the fifth version of the Kigers, which were a full ounce lighter. An ounce may not seem like a big deal on the surface. However, when you consider how many thousands of steps are being taken over hours, the increase is notable.
Nike did make some changes to the Kigers (30mm heel, 24mm front) including to the upper mesh. The upper now has an airy mesh with an underneath layer to keep debris away.
The new Kigers are an improvement over the fifth edition that I am most familiar with.
However, those who have and use the Kiger 7 will see limited changes. For those who loved the 7, the 8 will work well for you. For those who aren’t fans of the previous version, there are not enough changes here to change your mind.
Let’s start with the uppers. There is a thin mesh that works well with the lacing system to secure the runner’s feet. Think of the mesh as a safety net, securing the foot in place.
The gusseted tongue is easy to wedge into place, where it will stay throughout your run. At the front of the shoe, the toe bumper offers protection from rocks and other trail hazards. At the rear of the shoe, the heel and ankle collar have been updated since the 7s.
I found this to be rather rigid. While designed to protect the back part of one’s foot, Nike’s design added to the harsh feel of the shoe. Some runners may embrace the idea of protection over comfort, but I would prefer to have more comfort in my trail shoes.
Just like my experience with the Kiger 5s, I would expect the 8th iteration to be durable throughout the course of its lifetime.
Its durability won’t be seen in longer runs (20+ miles). But I see it more in the sense that the shoe will hold up, as long as the runner keeps it to low-grade to moderate trail experiences. If half marathon trails that are easy to moderate are your jam, the Kigers could very well prove to be a good option for years to come.
The Kiger 8s continue their tradition of being among the speediest and most responsive trail shoes.
The shoes offer good energy return and can respond quickly when darting around obstacles in the trail or turning a corner.
The Kigers are at their best on flat and fast dirt and grass trails. However, for runs on crushed stone or paved surfaces, there are better options.
For a shoe that is built for being nimble and speed, I found the lack of comfort to be offsetting initially. It took longer to break in the Kigers than I usually find with Nike and other trail shoes.
Once I was able to get them broken in, everything else fell into place. I was able to push my paces with the shoes, navigate windy paths with ease and bound through easy trail sections. I do really like the mesh for comfort. It is pained with an inner sleeve that provides even more comfort and even protection against rubbing against another part of the shoe.
However, runners who wear the Kigers in hot conditions may find that these could create a hotter sensation for the foot.
It is a bit of a tradeoff after all. Nike chose to provide a more comfortable shoe that protects against debris, loose pebbles and dust settling in the shoe. I will gladly take those traits over the potentially negative aspect of a shoe that gets too hot to quickly.
Since the Nike Terra Kiger 8 is remarkably similar to the 7, it should be no surprise that its fans will still embrace the new version.
While the improvements are subtle, Nike was starting out from a good place with the Kiger. It’s a fast shoe that is roomy yet offers a secure fit and improved traction. Its responsive performance, underfoot protection and trail feel are also what make it a great option for fast and flat runs.
In comparison with some of its competitors, the Terra Kigers do have a foothold on a niche,
The Hoka Speedgoat 5s beat the Kigers for durability, protection and the ability to traverse challenging trails. However, the Kiger has the ability to be a faster shoe than the Speedgoats. Another Hoka model, the Torrent 2, is lighter than the Kigers and an excellent choice for a speed adventure. However, it is not quite as advanced as the Kigers when it comes to durability and protection.
The Brooks Caldera 6 shares some similarities with the new Kigers. The Caldera has more cushioning while the Kigers have more get-up-and-go.
All in all, Nike knew what it was doing with this version. A barely revised update maintained all the qualities Terra Kiger fans came to expect while making a few minor but positive adjustments. For those looking for a fast trail shoe, the Kigers remain a good option. Just don’t expect them to help you traverse highly rocky, rooty and muddy areas with the same grace that they do on a smooth dirt trail or grassy area.