Refining a running shoe without losing the base audience that made the shoe so popular in the first place is difficult. We runners are a picky lot, and something as simple as a rubbing heel collar for some, or a sliding tongue for others, will send runners to the interwebs lambasting an otherwise fairly benign design change. Given the annual shoe-release cycle that designers, engineers, and wear testers go through, I can’t imagine the pressure they’re under. With resources far greater than most running-shoe companies, Nike could have chosen an array of options to completely overhaul the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 ($140), but instead chose to stick mostly with what has worked on this tried and true model.
That’s not to say that the Terra Kiger 7 has become predictable with this update; quite the contrary. With a clever midsole change and a new outsole, Nike took what was once a trail shoe ideal for 50-kilometer or shorter events and made what we think is a great all-around trail running shoe, especially when it’s time to pick up the pace.
See our Best New Trail Shoes of Spring-Summer 2021 for more recent trail running shoe releases.
Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 Upper
Personally, I struggled with the last two versions of the Terra Kiger, and I have spent a lot of time in every edition of this shoe and reviewed most of them here on iRunFar. See my reviews of the Terra Kiger 5, Terra Kiger 4, Terra Kiger 3, Terra Kiger 2, and the original Terra Kiger—going back to 2014! While the toebox has always had decent width, Nike kept cinching down the profile of this shoe, which created a locked-down fit but fairly shallow toebox. I accommodated this by wearing the thinnest socks possible and keeping my forays in the shoes to under 10 miles. While I don’t have a high volume foot, the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 allows more sock possibilities and also allows for some foot swelling.
However, Nike did keep in the Terra Kiger 7 what made the Terra Kiger 6 a great upper, namely the open mesh, protective toe rand, cushioned tongue, and lacing system that keeps the foot very secure.
Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 Midsole
The biggest changes in the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 take place in the midsole. For those familiar with Nike’s mainstay road shoe, the Pegasus, the same Zoom Air unit was moved from the heel to the forefoot in the Terra Kiger 7. Having long been a fan of this large Zoom Air pod, this change was welcomed. Combined with a larger, full-length dose of React foam, this shoe has a softer forefoot feel and cushioning that stays resilient and doesn’t compress with mileage. I’ve also noticed on rocky terrain that my forefeet don’t feel as beat up and I’m able to wear the Terra Kiger 7 for really any distance I choose. Of course this comes with a cost, and this version weighs in at 10 ounces for a men’s size 9, where the previous edition reportedly weighed in at 9.3 ounces. Honestly, I can’t feel the weight difference when I’m holding both shoes, and I prefer the additional cushioning and protection.
Additionally, Nike has extended the rock plate on the Terra Kiger 7 through the midfoot and heel with segmentation that allows for good flexibility. Again, I noticed this on rocky, technical terrain and ground feel is only slightly sacrificed.
Finally, the shoe has 4.5mm of heel-toe drop with a stack height of 16.5mm in the heel and 12mm in the forefoot.
Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 Outsole
Almost every version of the Terra Kiger outsole has come under fire for basically turning into slick shoes in wet conditions. Salomon’s Contagrip outsole this is not, but I found the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 to have great aptitude on rocky, technical terrain.
While I can’t speak to the outsole’s performance on wet rocks and roots as I live in Colorado and run mostly on clay when it’s wet here, I would encourage runners from other parts of the country to weigh in by commenting. It would seem odd that Nike hasn’t rectified this issue given years of gripes from runners and more than ample resources, so we’d love to know your experiences.
The new outsole pattern is a slight variation of the Terra Kiger 5 and 6’s outsole, but it does seem to dig in a bit more on steep uphill and downhill. I also think that the flared shape on the forefoot (slight) and heel (more pronounced) in these shoes make them feel more sure-footed on technical terrain than predecessors.
Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 Overall Impressions
I can confidently say that the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 is the best iteration of the Terra Kiger that Nike has produced to date. The modest weight gain is mitigated by an improved ride and protection provided by Zoom Air in the forefoot, full-length React foam, and a full-length segmented rock plate. The feel of this version continues to be spry, and this is a trail shoe that loves to bomb downhill especially in dry terrain. The Terra Kiger 7 is really the first time in this model’s seven-year, seven-edition history that I’ve considered the shoe an all-arounder that I would wear for something like a high mountain 50 miler.
Call for Comments
- Are you running in the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7? If so, share your thoughts about the shoe overall.
- Have you also run in past editions of the Terra Kiger 7? What do you think of the updates made to this version?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]