TAYLOR: Love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t really argue with the fact that Nike keeps bringing the fire. The new Nike Terra Kiger 8 is a prime example of this. It’s one of the lighter and faster models that many have started reaching for. I wouldn’t say it’s a better performer than many trail shoes in its class, but it does find its way onto plenty of feet.
This year’s Kiger comes in a similar package to its predecessor, with only minor changes to the upper. There’s not much more to say, so let’s get into it.
MELISSA: Hot damn, Nike makes great-looking shoes. It’s the truth, so I figured I’d get it out of the way early. Even the Terra Kiger 8, a shoe designed for function on the trail, is a shoe I could see myself wearing to a lunch date. Actually, let’s be honest — I’d probably wear it to dinner as well. Enough about aesthetics, let’s talk about running.
As someone with a wider forefoot, I’m wary of a narrow toe box, and I’ve been hesitant to try Nike for that reason. However, the Terra Kiger 8 fit me like a glove. I love the breathable mesh upper with just enough give to keep my feet happy while staying secure at faster paces. The padded tongue and Zoom Air pods add extra comfort and protection while tearing up the trails.
TAYLOR: For a shoe that finds itself in the mid-weight (11 oz. for a US M10.5) category, the Nike Terra Kiger 8 is ready to rock n’ roll in all speeds and directions.
Last year, the Terra Kiger 7 switched to a full React foam midsole, and the brilliant change is back for another year. With the addition of the forefoot Zoom Air pods, I felt a nice balance of softish cushion and responsiveness through each stride. The rear foot contains a rock plate, but the transition from foot strike to toe-off feels seamless no matter the surface.
Keep in mind that the stack height is only 30/26mm (4mm drop), so you get moderate levels of ground feel mixed with some underfoot protection.
The real kicker with the Nike Terra Kiger 8 is that the overall fit brings the fire. One of Nike’s slight changes to this year’s iteration is a knit-like breathable mesh upper over a booty to keep debris out. I’m not sure if the forefoot is actually wider or if the mesh layers are more forgiving, but I had zero issues with tightness in the toe box, which has never been the case with a Nike shoe for me. Aside from the fortified toe bumper and lacing chains, the minimal overlays also help in the comfort department.
The updated upper gets another gold star from me because it feels even more secure than last year. Strategically placed bumps of padding in the heel and over the bridge of the foot create an optimal environment to snug up the lacing and let it rip. This isn’t a new component to this model, but it seems to work even better. I had little to no movement within the cabin. Lockdown gets an A-, but I’ll explain more in the next section.
Lastly, how can I not mention how suave the Kiger is? My habanero red colorway with blue accents is as bold as it is beautiful.
MELISSA: If I could choose two words to describe the Terra Kiger 8, they’d be fast and grippy. I feel so light and fast in the shoe. I tested the grip on plenty of different surfaces, from sandy beaches to sandstone mountains, with basically no issues. I even felt like it held up well on wet rocks and stream crossings.
I was able to put the Terra Kiger 8 to the ultimate test as I bombed down steep technical terrain, giving complete trust to its grip along the way. I’m still here and very much alive, so let’s consider it passing. One last thing to note is that the forefoot is slightly flexible, which I could see being either a bonus feature or a potential issue — more about this later.Shop Nike Terra Kiger – Men Shop Nike Terra Kiger – Women
TAYLOR: By now, the Nike Trail outsole compound is a practical joke around the office. It’s still just garbage. This shoe sucks for any surface that’s so much as sneezed on (eww, Taylor). Nike has to know it, too. Bone-dry dirt is just about the only surface that feels within the Terra Kiger 8’s wheelhouse. I even felt some slip on my dirty kitchen laminate floor, for Pete’s sake. Shame.
Aside from that atrocious outsole, there’s really not much to complain about. I’ve got some nitpicks with some weirdness in the overall midfoot construction. The segmented rock plate in the heel takes the midsole consistency from very flexible in the forefoot to quite firm in a hurry. The transition is very smooth and hard to notice, but things can get weird if you have any forefoot torsion. Stepping on a rock or running along a steeper hillside causes the forefoot to rotate more than the midfoot can match, so you get some foot slippage and some potentially uncomfortable angles.
Even though the Nike Terra Kiger 8 can easily pick up the pace and handle some iffy terrain, it’s not as light and fast of a package as many would guess. Eleven ounces isn’t heavy, but it’s also not light. Shoes like the Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra, Hoka Zinal, and Altra Superior (with the rock plate in) come in lighter than the Kiger by an ounce or more. That’s significant in a race or an FKT scenario. Nike is going to have to take its medicine if it wants to make actual gains on the trail scene.
MELISSA: There’s almost nothing I dislike about the Terra Kiger 8, but I’ll say that I don’t like the feeling of walking on a hard surface with cycling shoes on my feet. That’s how most trail shoes feel when I’m on asphalt. I dream of a shoe that can feel good on both trail and road, as most trail races have at least some (hopefully minimal) paved surfaces. The Terra Kiger falls into this category. However, I ran downhill on asphalt and found that the outsole grip had no problems. It felt great enough to make me want to run faster.
Coming back to the somewhat flexible forefoot — I wasn’t prepared for it, and it kind of took me by surprise when I ventured onto rockier, more technical terrain. I had a few near-ankle rolls early on and it took me a while before I got used to the flexibility.Shop Nike Terra Kiger – Men Shop Nike Terra Kiger – Women
TAYLOR: In the Terra Kiger, Nike has created a simply solid shoe that blends both beauty and trail proficiency. Thanks to adjustments in the upper, the eighth version creates a more generous fit to meet the needs of even more trail folks. Those with average or slightly wider feet might actually fit for once.
There are definitely some components worth complaining about (hello there, outsole), but this package is generally nimble, comfortable, and versatile. I wouldn’t hesitate to take this on smooth gravel road or a more technical peak pursuit as long as it’s dry and a couple of hours or less of running. Most runners would be happy picking this up as a first trail shoe or daily trainer.
MELISSA: The Nike Terra Kiger 8 is lightweight and oh-so fast. It has just enough cushion to keep you from getting banged up on the downhills. The price point is decent, although I’m doubtful that you could stretch the max mileage of a shoe like this. This is a great shoe for any sub-ultra trail distance, especially if you want to push the pace.
You can pick up the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 8 for $140 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Nike Terra Kiger – Men Shop Nike Terra Kiger – Women
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