I admit, I approached the Nike Kiger 9 ($150) with a healthy dose of skepticism. Nevertheless, after slipping them on and taking my first steps, I was pleasantly surprised by their remarkable comfort. This initial experience shifted my perspective, and I eagerly began testing them on the trails.
Even though Nike is renowned as the world’s largest running shoe brand, I’d never actually experienced a pair of their trail running shoes prior to this testing experience. Back in my high school days, I was all about Nike track spikes though! Considering their global dominance in the footwear industry, it’s safe to assume that they possess significant expertise in the realm of trail shoes, even boasting a dedicated team of experts exclusively focused on perfecting their trail running footwear.
The Nike Kiger 9 weighs in at 10.16 ounces (288 grams) actual weight for a men’s U.S. size 9, and has a 4.5-millimeter heel-to-toe drop.
Nike Kiger 9 Upper
The upper on the Nike Kiger 9 is exceptionally lightweight and minimalist, making it feel as if it effortlessly melds with your feet, all the while delivering ample cushioning on the trails. Crafted from engineered mesh, which is notably sturdier and more flexible than conventional mesh, it also serves as an effective barrier against dirt intrusion.
While testing, I felt like the shoe did a good job of keeping debris from making its way into the shoe, but one drawback of the upper construction was its inability to dry out quickly. I got caught in a rainstorm, and after the rain stopped, the shoes didn’t dry out at all during the remaining run.
The midfoot band adds an extra layer of stability and support, effectively reducing any unwanted foot movement inside the shoe. My foot felt secure and supported in the Nike Kiger 9, but I do wish the toebox area was slightly wider. My feet felt like they were testing the structural integrity of the mesh. That being said, I did not incur any blisters while running in this model.
The tongue on the Kiger 9 isn’t a full sock-like tongue like you’ve seen in other brands’ shoes like those of On or Salomon, but rather it acts like a no-show sock. The lower part of the tongue is connected to the upper, adding further protection from debris entering the shoe. The tongue is constructed with light padding, for additional comfort. While testing, I didn’t notice any hot spots or pain around the tongue and laces.
And I’ll note, I do like this style of laces — nothing complicated, just stretchy laces that don’t come untied while running.
Nike Kiger 9 Midsole
The midsole of the Nike Kiger 9 is the most surprising part of the shoe for me. Photos of the shoes led me to believe the shoe would be heavy and stiff. Not the case. The midsole is constructed of the soft, yet strong, Nike React foam. This technology represents a featherweight, long-lasting foam, designed to provide an effortlessly smooth and responsive ride.
After some extensive research, Nike has integrated a complete React midsole in the Kiger 9, while eliminating the forefoot Air unit that was found in previous models. Nike claims this adjustment allows you to experience an even closer connection to the ground, all while preserving both comfort and speed.
I will confirm that the shoe was incredibly comfortable. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it felt plush, but it’s getting there. I found myself choosing to wear these shoes casually because they were so comfortable.
The EVA rock plate was perfect for moderately technical trails, though I would hesitate to take these on super rocky trails where stabby rocks are just dying for you to step directly on them.
Nike Kiger 9 Outsole
The outsole of the Nike Kiger 9 is fairly robust. It features multi-directional lugs, which came in handy on climbs and descents. I felt pretty confident going up and down hills, even jumping around from one big rock to another. I didn’t worry about losing grip or sliding — and I didn’t do either of those things with the Kiger 9.
The grippy rubber is notably absent in the middle of the outsole, revealing the comfortable Nike React foam that my feet enjoyed so much. This saves some weight on the shoe, and I didn’t notice any dip in protection from rocks, nor did I wish I had more traction on the shoe. Nike did move from a standard high-abrasion rubber in the Kiger 8 to their Nike Grind recycled rubber compound in the Kiger 9.
Although the Kiger 9 provided me with a sense of confidence and stability during my trail runs, I did venture onto some doubletrack and paved bike paths as part of my testing. Despite not being as fast as road shoes, I found that these shoes still maintained a sense of speed, even on less demanding terrain. In other words, the lugs didn’t prove to be bothersome or obstructive when I ventured off the trail.
Nike Kiger 9 Overall Impressions
I was pleasantly surprised by the Nike Kiger 9; they definitely exceeded my expectations. Based on the cushioning and construction, and after some extensive testing, I think this shoe would be perfect for trail runs and races under six hours, and it feels like a great all-around trail running shoe. Just getting into trail running? Try the Kiger 9.
The only real con for me was the width of the toebox. I normally like shoes that have a wider platform to land on — I tend to supinate a bit, so having additional foam or cushion to land on, on the outer edge of the shoe, tends to keep my shins happy. I mostly noticed I missed the wider base on non-technical trails.
Aside from that, the Nike Kiger 9 stands out as an exceptional all-purpose trail shoe that delivers comfort, support, durability, and excellent traction for your everyday trail running needs.
Call for Comments
- Have you tried the Nike Kiger 9? What were your thoughts?
- If you’ve worn prior versions of this model, how do this one compare?
- Are you a fan of Nike trail running shoes generally?
[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!]
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