Nike Terra Kiger Review

A common complaint I hear on the trails from fellow runners is that they absolutely love a certain trail shoe but they are not sure that it will keep them comfortable for 50 milers and above. I even find myself saying, “This is a great shoe, but I couldn’t wear it for more than 50k on technical trail,” and then falling back on the older, bulkier mainstays come race day. Many minimalist shoes have a very firm cushioning, especially in the forefoot, and can leave you pretty beat up at the end of a long run. As my feet get older and training gets more focused on back-to-back long days, this often rules out minimalist-feeling trail shoes.

Enter the Nike Terra Kiger ($125).

In my review of the Wildhorse, the Terra Kiger’s slightly heavier-duty big brother, I commented that Nike entered the trail-shoe market with both of these models dialed in. The Terra Kiger further proves that Nike’s bid into the trail running world is as seriously good as their team’s racing at the recent Lake Sonoma 50 Mile.

Nike Terra Kiger

The Nike Terra Kiger.

Upper

The first thing I noticed about the Terra Kiger was a slipper-like fit. I highly recommend sizing up a half or even a full size, and a size 10.5 U.S. worked very well for me with midweight Merino wool socks. Considering that I usually wear a 9.5, this was quite surprising to me, and the only way that I could pull this off was due to the form fit of the upper, which seems to conform to any foot. If you have never tried Nike’s current trail uppers, they feel a bit like a stretchy but durable sock on your foot. Combine this with Flywire which wraps the midfoot and incorporates into the lacing system and the fit is absolutely phenomenal. The fit, in my opinion, is similar to the original Brooks PureGrit as well as the New Balance MT110 with a snug midfoot wrap which opens up to a wide and rounded toe box. The only other shoe that hugs my foot this way is the Salomon Sense Ultra.

Nike Terra Kiger - lateral upper

The Terra Kiger’s lateral upper.

The Terra Kiger has a wrap tongue which also seems to give the foot a very secure feel, and it keeps the tongue in place and debris out. The heel collar and cup are secure but soft, and nowhere on the Terra Kiger is there a hard edge or feeling of plastic. I wouldn’t guess that this is a durable shoe, but after about 170 miles through dirt, rocks, and a lot of snow, my Kigers look pretty fresh and the upper, surprisingly, doesn’t even show wear.

The one criticism I would give the upper is that it stays wet a bit longer than other shows after running through snow or a creek crossing. When wet, the material maintains its integrity and doesn’t loosen up at all, but I did experience colder feet on snowy mountain runs in this shoe than in more traditional trail shoe uppers.

Midsole

The Terra Kiger is made for fast-paced running and racing, and as such it feels light and agile. I found it hard to wear these on easy runs due to the Zoom Air in the heel and forefoot which absolutely begged for a faster cadence. At a svelte 8.3 oz (men’s size 9), and with a low stack height and 4 mm heel drop, I wasn’t expecting the amount of cushioning that the Kiger has. A full-length Phylon midsole, which is one of Nike’s firmer midsole foams, is paired with the aforementioned Zoom Air pods in the heel and forefoot and it simply feels fantastic. For minimalist runners who feel that the New Balance MT110, Montrail Rogue Fly, La Sportiva Vertical K, or the Adidas Adios is too firm then the Terra Kiger may be your ticket. Forefoot runners will really appreciate the Zoom Air in the forefoot and I noticed that my feet were less beat up after long runs in the Kiger than other minimalist shoes.

Nike Terra Kiger - medial upper

The Terra Kiger’s medial upper.

Outsole

What’s missing from the Terra Kiger’s spec sheet is a rock plate. Instead Nike used a full-length outsole with small diamond-shaped lugs. I tried to test the Kiger on fairly gnarly terrain to see if rocks would poke through, but I didn’t have any issues. On dry, rocky, technical trail this is a great shoe for rock hopping and picking your line without worrying too much about protection. On wet rock the Kiger holds its own and in muddy conditions I slid around quite a bit but the one-piece outsole sheds mud fairly quickly. I also really liked the minimally lugged outsole which didn’t seem to get in the way on the technical downhills and kept ground feel very accurate. The outsole is beveled around the heel with additional, smaller diamond-shaped lugs. This seemed to help on cambered and technical trail and I didn’t have any issues with rolling ankles.

Nike Terra Kiger - outsole

The Terra Kiger’s outsole.

Overall Impression

I didn’t want to be impressed with this shoe, thinking that the upper would easily tear or feel sloppy on anything more technical than a crushed gravel bike path. But, the Terra Kiger plays as a minimalist trail runner which babied my feet on long runs better than any other minimalist trail shoe I own. I think that the Terra Kiger will appeal to many trail runners as a racing shoe and a shoe to wear for faster trail running. However, after my initial trepidation about the appearance and feel of a road shoe, I’ve come to accept that it works great for daily training as well, regardless of pace. The Terra Kiger would be a phenomenal crossover shoe for runners hitting the tarmac as well as trails on a typical training run, and it is plenty of shoe for most ultra races up to 50 miles. Due to the very minimal lugs, lack of toe bumper and protective rand, I would not take this shoe on a highly technical ultra-trail race.

So, if you’re looking for a lightweight trail shoe with great flexibility, ground feel, and agility with a surprising amount of cushioning for the longer distances, the Terra Kiger is a must try. Just remember to size up!

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Have you run in the Nike Terra Kiger? If so, what do you think?
  • If you’ve worn ’em, do you think you could wear them beyond 50k?
Tom Caughlan

is iRunFar’s Minimalist Gear Editor. Tom’s passion for trail running and specialty running retail experience shine through in all of his highly technical reviews, which do range outside minimalist shoes.

There are 35 comments

      1. @roschtatoschta

        Thought so too at first, but at one point it says "If you have never tried Flyknit uppers […]. Combine this with Flywire which wraps the midfoot and incorporates into the lacing system […]". So no mixup.

        1. TomCaughlan

          @roschtatoschta-

          I should have clarified further, but you figured it out. The upper is Flyknit- like stretchy material. Its not the one piece sewn upper of the Nike Free Flyknit. The flywire is part of the lacing system in the midfoot to complete the midfoot wrap. Now, this isn't the flywire that many of us are used to released early on in Nike spikes, such as the zoom victory. This is more of a taut, but pliable, elastane which Nike first started using with the Zoom Elite 6 in 2012.

          1. srspillman

            But I don't think the upper is actually Flyknit. Nike's website says it's engineered mesh and never mentions Flyknit, plus the upper looks very different from Nike's Flyknit shoes. Nike really pushes the Flyknit technology, so I'm pretty sure this shoe would be called the "Flyknit Terra Kiger" if it had a Flyknit upper.

            1. TomCaughlan

              You may be correct, and I realize the discrepancy on the Nike page. I'm getting my info from talking to a rep who used the term "flyknit- like". I don't know how else to refer to this upper material because it does have the stretchiness/ foot hugging fit that it seems only the flyknit uppers have.
              I don't mean to misrepresent here, I'm just trying to accurately describe the material. I appreciate you guys catching me and keeping me honest! If I could take factory tours and watch these shoes being made, I would love to ;)

    1. TomCaughlan

      These are photos of the TK. They may look a little weird due to the coloring of the red rock and sunrise. Sorry.

  1. Hone805

    I love this shoe. It is basically a Free with protection. It is also great mountain shoe for people that don't like to wear socks. I have had zero rubbing of any kind even on long and steep technical stuff.

    I am super picky with what I put on my feet and this is the best shoe I have worn since they discontinued the NB790s. Of course I am older now and need a little more cushion.

    -Hone

  2. Toddlikestorun

    I've put about 300 miles on this shoe, and it is still looking like it did the first week I bought them. I run 90% on super technical trails on Vancouver Island, through mud, snow, and water. They work really well in all conditions, except for really slick mud(I've yet to wear a shoe that doesn't slip in mud). I've never felt a rock or root poke through the bottom either. This is by far the best trail shoe I've ever worn. Plenty of cushion for a 50 miler

  3. @Watoni

    On a somewhat contrarian note, I wanted to like these but found that they did my calves no favors. I do not think it was due to the drop since I have run 50 or 100 milers in 4-5mm drop shoes that weigh about the same (La Sportiva Helios). They do feel fast and seem to have cushion, though. I returned them in the end and got another pair of Helios.

  4. @randallwise

    My favorite shoe (on my 3rd pair) is the discontinued MT110. It fits my foot absolutely perfectly but, as you mentioned, on higher mileage runs and as I get older and fatter, there's just not enough underfoot. I've had my eye on these for a bit and your review compels me to try some. Problem is NOBODY carries them. Every running specialty store I've called said they dropped the line because they didn't sell. Amazon.com has limited sizes. Only site I've seen with a size 14 is runningwarehouse.com or directly from nike.com

    1. Ken_Z

      Running Warehouse (.com) has crap-tons in all sizes (as you noted). But I've had really good service from Running Warehouse, so I wouldn't hesitate to buy from them.

      -break break-

      Nice review; these are now on my list to try. My favorite 50/100 mile shoe (Asics gel fuji racer) ever so slightly modified their instep/arch area in the latest version and it no longer works well for me. Argh. I'll have to give these a try. But damn, they're pricey!

    2. @randallwise

      For some reason my post was truncated. I had also written I'm a size 14 in some shoes and 13 in others. It's difficult to find shoes to try on and run on a treadmill. I prefer to hit a retail store and run on them but with my funky feet and differences in shoes, it's not always that easy.

      My biggest concern is that I'll get these TK's and fall in love but then, like the perfect MT110, not be able to get them any longer.

  5. TomCaughlan

    @randallwise-
    Expect a review of the upcoming MT110 v2 in the coming weeks. I will say that the Terra Kiger is a more than worthy compromise, especially if your forefeet get a bit sore after a few hours in the MT110 (as mine tend to). The forefoot cushioning of the Terra Kiger is rather luxurious for 8.5 ounces and the toebox is MT110-like.

    1. @randallwise

      Great, looking forward to the review. Why did NB get rid of the minimus last? That large toebox with the great midfoot and heal fit is perfect for my foot. So much so I've purchased 3 pair of the MT110 (have been my daily runners and racers for 3 years), minimus walking shoes, MT10 leather casual shoes, and minimus cross trainers for gym and lifting. The only pair of minimus that sucked for me are any version of their road shoes. So, on to other brands I've looked.

  6. runninandgunin

    Although this is a fantastic fitting shoe, the outsole tends to wear down prematurely, something that will be corrected in the update. I disagree with the need to size up, both pairs i own have fit true to size….the WildHorse is a whole 'nother story.

  7. @Beverelli

    I'm interested in the comment about some shoes not being as good beyond, say, 50 miles. What are some examples of shoes which are good for 50+ mile races? HOKA of course, but any other favourties out there?

    1. danger9916

      i concur. so often a review will recommend a certain shoe as either great for short distances or great for distances up to 50 miles but very few reviews are for shoe that is ideal for 100 miles. i think after 50 miles it's all personal preference. there are some that can run a hundred barefoot and others that use light hikers. my first 100 i ran in the vasque mindbender, pretty close to the light hiker end of the spectrum. my second hundred was in the mindbenders for the first half and the pearl izumi N1's for the second half. i think my next long race will be a mix of the PI N1's and maybe something similar to these Nike's, or the La Sportiva Helios, or the PI N2's.

  8. KurtDecker

    I also have really liked running in both the Nike trail shoes. I think I am on my 3rd pair of TK's and 3rd Wildhorse! Both are a great training shoes as well as racing shoes in my mind and I look to use these for the Black Hills 100 miler in late June. I like the forefoot air in the TK but find myself maybe liking the more full fit of the Wildhorse a bit better overall. I can tell you at my running store people have found them to be great shoes. Welcome back into trail Nike!!

  9. @nmwied

    quick ? Guys. Having run in both the wildhorse and TK which has a wider or more comfortable toe box? Also do the wildhorse and TK size the same? I am a 10.5 in the lunar racer, so I was wondering. Thanks and great review.

      1. rmsquires

        This is contradictory to my own experience trying on both shoes in size 13. The TK has drastically reduced toebox height compared to the WH

  10. @mikebige

    I like everything about this shoe except for one thing. It feels like there is a lump under the ball of my foot. Its as if the footbed in the front of the shoe is scooped out and my toes are hanging off a ledge (its not that dramatic but want to give a visualization for the way it feels). I suppose my feet just aren't lining up with the contours.

  11. @cpetrien

    I swapped to this shoe off the Salomon Sense Ultra 2… the Sense is a killer shoe but wears out a little quick. I've since done a couple of hundred k's in the this shoe in Southern California on hard pack, rocky baked out tracks – it needs a little rock plate or something to beat the sharp jabs, otherwise it's a lovely shoe. And i never thought i'd say that about a Nike shoe.

  12. Hone805

    Quick update. I now have around 200 miles on the shoes. They are super comfy but I am extremely frustrated that the traction is almost completely worn out. I have pairs NB110s that still have a lot of traction left with 600+ miles on them. Until they fix this I can not afford to buy another pair of these. When I run the steeps in need lugs that are durable. Bummer.

  13. ahmedredah21

    Hi. Do you know the exact measurement of your feet from heel to toe? Im planning to buy these exact same shoes online but I dont know which size would fit me. Hope you dont mind sharing it with me. So i can compare it with mine and hopefully help me decide on which size to buy. My foot measures 26.8 cm by the way. The nike shoe size chart says that im size 10 US but i dont know of that is reliable. Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you very much

  14. JaketheMince

    Hey, Tom. I'm curious to know if the TK babied your foot so well because of the Zoom Air in the forefoot. I keep reading that the WH is the more protective of the two, but your review of the TK emphasized its ability to keep your feet from feeling beat up.

    First, was the TK, indeed, easier on your feet than the WH?
    Second, are you a forefoot striker? (I am.)

    I'm just trying to determine which of the two would be better for me, personally. I was kinda hoping it would be the cheaper of the two, but, if it turns out that you prefer the TK BECAUSE you are a FF striker, I may have to bite the bullet.

    Oh, I was also wondering if you had the same water retention problem with the upper of the WH as you did with the TK.

    I'm ultimately trying to decide between one of these Nike models and the Montrail Fluidflex II. All three seem to have won your approval. Any insight you could offer that might help me a make a decision?

    Thanks for the reviews.

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  16. joehrn0

    Im 59 and after 25yrs. running I have never had a shoe that I can honestly say "love this shoe". that is until now.the terrakiger is adone deal, settled," end of searching for" shoe. trail or road. It has revolutionalized my form turnover and speed.Joe Horn KCMO

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