Nike Terra Kiger 7 Performance Review
TAYLOR: Flying through the trees. Slamming descents. Ripping up the singletrack like a maniac with a Red Bull. These are what trail runners’ dreams are made of!
With a name that sounds more like a titan than a shoe, the Terra Kiger begs for these experiences. From my best research (i.e. search on the googs), Terra Kiger means “Land King”…or is named in honor of the Kiger family who were said to be pine forest dwellers. Both work but I prefer the first.
Past iterations have both hit and missed this mark. What about the Terra Kiger 7? New to the shoe are an improved fit, new outsole, and a shift in location for the Air Zoom pods. These adjustments may make this a contender for the top of the food chain.
MATT: Ah Terra Kiger, my old nemesis….so we meet again.
For those who were not familiar with my review a year ago of the Terra Kiger 6, I ended up kicking off the COVID pandemic with a trip to the hospital with a few broken bones in my arm, in part to the lousy slippery outsole on that shoe.
As part of the trail review team here at BITR, I knew this day would come – when I would have to face my fears and get back on the horse (not the Wildhorse, although that review is coming soon!).
Out of the box, there were some early signs of hope, as the shoe’s outsole had indeed seemed to be reformulated. It looked and felt stickier to the touch … but the real test would be if they kept me upright out on the trails.
ROBBE: While I didn’t get in as many miles as the gentlemen above, I did get in a handful so I’ll just sprinkle some salt on this review. I really loved elements of past versions, but the outsole was always complete trash.
TAYLOR: There’s no way we could start this segment without mentioning the React midsole. It is, without a doubt, one of the most prized midsoles around. There is such a unique feeling of both lusciously soft cushion and responsiveness. I can’t quite wrap my head around how Nike makes it happen. React is the real deal, though! And the Terra Kiger 7 sports it from toe to heel. Even though there isn’t a thick slab of React (12 mm in the toe to 16.5 mm in the heel for a 4 mm drop), they feel rather cushioned and ride oh-so smoothly over a variety of terrain.
Another reason for that smooth and cushioned ride is the Zoom Air unit in the forefoot. This is a game-changing adjustment, in my opinion. Rather than only utilizing the air units for cushion in the heel, Nike brought air to the forefoot. Toe off is buttery and rather snappy because of this combination of air units and React foam. The dynamic duo makes this shoe both ready for the long haul, if desired, but especially ready for catching some wind underneath your wings.
Even though the Terra Kiger 7 has gained a little weight (11.1 ounces for a men’s 10.5), it maintains a light and nimble feel throughout. The overall fit definitely plays into this shoe as a mid-sized speed demon. Nike is known for having a slimmer profile. The Terra Kiger’s fit is more accommodating via slightly more volume in the toe box. From heel to toe, a soft and snug fit is accomplished with a mesh booty overlaid by an airy mesh upper. Blasting down some technical descents is so much fun because of the snug fit.
Both a uniquely padded tongue and heel collar allow for a very secure fit no matter the terrain. Both aspects remind me of the North Face Flight Vectiv – rather than heavily padding either, there are specific areas where noticeable padding pops out to secure the foot. The heel itself may feel funky initially, but your foot will find its home and stay there. A midfoot lacing system allows for another level of comfortable lockdown. Minimal movement happens inside the cabin over most any trail condition.
It probably isn’t needed, and definitely isn’t noticeable, but a segmented rock plate covers the forefoot from the constant poking and prodding of rocks and roots on more technical trails. The segmented plate allows for a little more flexibility and some ground feel to boot. It’s actually a very desirable combination.
MATT: Like a siren trying to reel me back in, unboxing the Terra Kiger is a real pull on the heartstrings. Similar to the Kiger 6, the Kiger 7 employs sharp design with a beautiful and bold color scheme to make it one of the coolest shoes out there. Nike always comes correct with the styling, to the point that despite my negative experiences, they’re just too damn cool to not try. I just want them to be great.
Right out of the gate, the Kiger’s fit is top-notch. The upper features a thin, but secure, mesh liner, with extra attention to padding behind the tongue and heel. All in all, it provides a locked-in, yet very breathable fit.
The Kiger once again feels low, nimble, and fast in design. My size 10 came in right around 11 ounces, so not a weight weenie, but certainly light enough to feel fast.
In my opinion what really makes the Terra Kiger stand out is the epic Nike combo of React foam in the midsole, along with Zoom Air pockets stacked under the forefoot. It provides a great ride regardless of the terrain. A noticeably more plush and bouncy ride than its previous edition, much can be attributed to the added Zoom Air in the forefoot, but it also feels like a more generous slice of React in the midsole.
For me, I have been lucky to have a foot shape that is typically agreeable with Nike’s slightly narrow toe box. I had no issues with the fit of the Terra Kiger 7, in fact they felt less restrictive than some other brand shoes that I have tested of late.
ROBBE: This is probably my favorite fit of the Kiger to date. It still has that “soccer cleat” feel, but there’s a higher ceiling in the toe box on this go-around, which was a bit of an issue on the past two versions.
The placement of the Zoom Air units and React foam in this version make this a freaking amazing shoe to rip miles in. You get a tremendous pop of the forefoot, similar to the Pegasus 38, but more nimble. This may be weird, but I actually kind of love this shoe on the roads. It’s like everything I missed in the Epic React, just with lugs on the bottom (and a warmer upper).
This shoe runs way lighter than its weight suggests. It feels like a fast shoe even though it’s in the mid-10 oz. range for a standard size Men’s 9.0.
Also, this design – I mean, come on. It’s not even fair to other shoe companies just how good Nike’s design team is.Shop Terra Kiger 7 – Men Shop Terra Kiger 7 – Women
TAYLOR: As much as the Kiger is a fast and fun shoe, you have to approach with caution. The ride is a little squirrely in the lateral sense. Personally, I’m not one who needs much guidance or support, and there is not much available here. Nike claims “light stability” but I’m not buying it. If you have any issues with rolling ankles, take this warning.
Matt knows all about how wild this shoe can be. The outsole on the Terra Kiger has never received shining reviews. The Terra Kiger 7 has a newly configured outsole that works adequately on most surfaces including technical single track and pavement. That said, you should still stay away from hard wet surfaces. Slick rocks and roots will beat this thing down every time. Even the new lugs that have a decent bite are not enough to run with confidence over any wet and hard surface.
Nike narrow strikes again too. I did mention that the Terra Kiger does have a little more volume up front, but it still is not wide by any stretch of the word. If you’re used to Nike shoes, these will be as comfortable as a spankin’ new barcalounger. For those with an average or wide foot, you may fall into my camp of limited run time in the Terra Kiger before wanting to change into your Chacos.
MATT: Ok so I’m going to cut right to it here. The outsole is different, there is a new configuration and pattern to the lugs, but at the end of the day it is just not good enough to provide you with the confidence needed to trail run.
On guaranteed dry and non-technical trails, these would be a blast! I love the look and the fit, so much. But the chances of me not hitting one wet or slippery section of trail, or not needing to navigate a water crossing and the wet rocks and roots nearby, is slim-to-none here on the East Coast.
I did not sustain any trips to the emergency room this go-round (victory!) but you could just feel the slippage when rounding a tight corner and grazing a rock or root.
ROBBE: I do have major problems with rolling ankles and Taylor is not wrong. It is not a very stable shoe. It doesn’t help that the heel counter/collar aren’t very structured. The collar is also low slung like a pair of early-aughts Abercrombie jeans and tends to gape when flexed. I found it super difficult to get in a dialed fit because of this.Shop Terra Kiger 7 – Men Shop Terra Kiger 7 – Women
TAYLOR: So, does the Nike Terra Kiger 7 own up to its name? Depends! If you are a typical Nike fan or Kiger fan, then you’ll most assuredly love this shoe. A comfortable and secure fit sits atop of a glorious ride. Versatility is not lacking here. It is more than suited for race day or local tagging of your local peaks. They seem like a dream unless you frequent wet areas and/or dislike a narrower toe box. To me, they were a fun enough experience to warrant trying on a pair next time you have a chance. You can find these on Running Warehouse for $140. Send them back for free if they don’t work out!
MATT: It is just a shame that Nike refuses to move to an outsole like Vibram that would take all of the other amazing qualities in this shoe and make it a serious all-around contender.
Until then, I’ll be using the Terra Kiger 7 to fly over gravel and fire road routes, as well as maybe just rocking with some jeans out to dinner, because damn – they do look sweet!
ROBBE: I love this shoe in many ways, and they’re almost enough to make up for the lack of outsole grip. One thing is for sure – if you’re looking to rip some dry trails or looking for a road-to-trail option for shorter distances, then this is a treat and a half. Or, honestly if you’re just looking for a badass shoe that’s top-notch camper chic cool, then you should go for the Terra Kiger 7. However, if you’re out here on the East Coast and looking for one shoe to do it all, you should divert your gaze, because there are far more suitable shoes for this terrain.
You can pick up the Nike Terra Kiger 7 for $140 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Terra Kiger 7 – Men Shop Terra Kiger 7 – Women
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I’ve been waiting so long for this review! Love my 6s and wasn’t sure if I would need to stock up on those, or if Nike’s changes were good. Can confirm the god-awful traction on slick surfaces; in a 50k two months ago in one of the many stream crossings, I was standing still in the middle of the river, and just slid as if I was on ice
Wish they’d change that outsole! Otherwise we love the shoe, and I’m sure you’ll love the improved ride.
I love my 6s, but I run primarily on sandy and rocky desert trails with no slippery roots to contend with, and I do think the traction is actually pretty decent on sandy downhills, compared to some other trail shoes I’ve tried. I’ll know not to try them if I do encounter any water crossings, though! I’m waiting to see what other colorways Nike releases because they had so many options with the 6, and the 7s only come in two colors right now.
I’m 90 miles in and I’m in love. I’m just a lay-runner (15-20 miles/week). I run on single track and fire roads I’m the redwood forest. These shoes are boss.
I know the insoles are glued in, but do you think it’s possible to remove them without damaging the shoe? I wear bespoke other insoles/orthotics so replace the insoles on all my shoes.