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Trail Running Shoes • July 20, 2023

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Review: Nike’s Nine Lives

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What You Need To Know


10.1 oz. (286 g) for a US M9,

8.3 oz. (235 g) for a US W8

Stack Height / Drop

31 mm in heel, 28 mm in forefoot (3 mm drop)

Best For

Runs and races under 50k

Key Features

React midsole, revamped rubber outsole with multi-directional lugs, mesh upper, EVA rockplate

On The Run
Great lacing lockdown Improved lug pattern Not as much bounce as before


JOHN: I love putting on a fresh pair of Nikes. I grew up in the 80s, and Nike was everything! I’m talkin’ vibes of Prefontaine, Jordan, Tiger, and Travis Scott. Nike spans generations, and during this review, I took the time for a deep dive into the early Nike trail shoes. Heck, the Terra line goes back to the 80s. There’s a giant rabbit hole to fall into with the history of Nike and trail running, which goes back to the 70s. I highly encourage you to do your own half-ass internet research into Nike’s history with trail running… you may end up seeing some of your own kicks or threads you had back in the day. Awesome stuff.

I wish I would have kept my Nike gear from when I was younger — I’m pretty confident, after looking at everything, I had some amazing Nike All Conditions Gear that I totally should have kept. I got so fired up after researching Nike Trail combined with the Summer GRIT running event that Believe in the Run is putting on that I did 34 miles and over 6k feet of vert in the Terra Kiger 9.

With all of that said, my first run in this shoe was really hot, and I went over 7 miles in it. I struggled to separate the cruddy run from the shoe. It fit perfectly and felt extremely comfortable, the lugs felt grippy and more improved from last year’s version, and the weight of this shoe is also slightly lighter than last year’s, but I just needed to get more time and miles in my pair (and hopefully slightly cooler temps).

Part of the reason I was initially unsure of the Terra Kiger 9 was that the high temps and humidity here in Virginia are rough. So I think the reactions I was having about the shoe at first had more to do with that. I don’t think I would have liked any shoe at all under those conditions; any shoe would have sucked.

My second run was a totally different story. I fully believe being removed from the Terra Kiger 9 for a day (and it got significantly cooler outside) and having time to reflect on it helped me wrap my head around the shoe. I asked myself a few things. How could this shoe benefit me? At what races could I use this shoe to its best possible advantage? My girlfriend Denise and I dropped off my car at the dealership to get it worked on and ran a mile on the road to the local trails. The shoe felt decent on the road. I wouldn’t straight-up run a lot of road miles in a pair, but it speaks to Nike’s versatility.

On the trails, I started to formulate the types of races I would use this shoe on and identified strategies I could utilize with it. This shoe was presenting itself to be more and more a great multipurpose shoe that would be extremely helpful on races with multiple surfaces on the course like JFK 50 and Old Dominion 100. Things were getting interesting for sure.

Nike’s colorways don’t miss

MELISSA: The Nike Terra Kiger 8 was one of my top 5 favorite shoes of 2022, so you can imagine how stoked I was to test version 9. I loved the fit, breathability, grip, and fast feel of the Terra Kiger 8 and was anticipating a similar, potentially improved experience in the Terra Kiger 9.

Nike’s Terra Kiger 9 is built using the same React midsole foam and has an updated, more breathable upper as well as an updated outsole tread pattern. However, this version comes without the forefoot Zoom Air pod that version 8 had. It also claims to be more durable than the previous version.

The latest Terra Kiger is lighter in weight and built for speed, which is why it remains my top pick for shorter training runs and race distances up to 50k. Last year, I raced a 50k in the Arizona desert wearing the Nike Terra Kiger 8 and walked away very pleased with the overall experience. If I were to toe that 50k starting line again this year, I wouldn’t hesitate to show up in the Nike Terra Kiger 9. Let’s jump right into my reasons why.

Feel free to go kick rocks

What we like about the Nike Terra Kiger 9

JOHN: This shoe is versatile. The lugs are grippy enough to tackle hard trails, but you can also do gravel and some road if you need to.

I love the look of the Terra Kiger 9, too. All four colorways on are good-looking shoes. I received the Obsidian/Citron Pulse/Baltic Blue/Volt, and the shoe looks like an early 90s MTV graphic. Going back to the introduction, Nike totally has multi-generational cool baked into its shoes that other makers of trail shoes just simply don’t have.

I was very impressed with the toe protection on the Terra Kiger 9. I kicked a couple of rocks and roots by mistake once I got tired on my runs, and the shoe kept my feet well protected.

It’s very difficult to find the right mix of rock plate, light enough upper that will still keep out debris/drain water and not shred, comfortable foam, but also will give you grip on the trail and not be too heavy. It’s a lot, but I believe Nike has done a great job here. 10.3 oz is a little heavier than trail shoes like the Zinal 2 and Superior 6, but the balance Nike has with the Terra Kiger 9, in my opinion, sets it apart from those other shoes.

Hooray for a new outsole pattern

MELISSA: I was excited to try the newest version of the Terra Kiger, and that excitement grew as I unboxed and observed that beautiful colorway. Overall, the Nike Terra Kiger 9 is stunning, with added visual touches on the laces and mesh upper. My only disappointment is having to get it dirty. The upper has a nice lockdown and feels secure with every stride, but it remains very breathable. I think it feels more durable than last year’s version, so there may be potential for more total mileage from a pair.

Running in the Terra Kiger 9 feels great — it’s lightweight (compared to other Nike models), responsive, and super grippy. This model is slightly lighter than the last, too. I didn’t feel a difference, but it’s likely due to my current fitness level after giving birth to my daughter this summer compared to my fitness last summer. Everything feels heavier and more challenging this go-round, haha. I was able to try a variety of surfaces with no issues. Nike claims that the outsole can maintain its grip on wet surfaces. I, unfortunately, wasn’t able to test this thanks to the California dry season; however, I had no issues with the last model and have faith that this model would hold up similarly, if not better.

The midsole is nice and responsive, with just enough flexibility to maneuver nicely on the trail. As mentioned earlier, this model is sans Zoom Air pods. I have mixed feelings about this. What I did like was the improved stability — I feel like fewer ankle rolls will occur as a result of this change. More on this later.

Shop Nike Terra Kiger - Men Shop Nike Terra Kiger - Women

One beefy heel tab

What we don’t like about the Nike Terra Kiger 9

JOHN: Overall, I really like this shoe. There are not very many nits to pick, but if I had to, I found that the heel around the Achilles picks up slightly more debris than I would have liked. Also, the tongue of the shoe looks really cool, but it digs in a little bit to your skin around where the tongue rests. I may have had a preexisting scratch or cut from all of my miles, but the tongue did irritate that area a bit. If you have any irritation around your upper forefoot/ lower shin area, I would suggest wearing slightly taller socks that would put a protective barrier between the tongue and your foot. This should correct any issue that may arise on that front.

MELISSA: There is very little I dislike about the Nike Terra Kiger 9. While it’s considered one of Nike’s lightweight trail shoes, it’s still quite heavy compared to some of its competitors. On the other hand, I feel protected and secure, so it’s worth the extra ounces. While the removal of the Zoom Air pods also removes some of the instability, a part of me misses that ‘bounce’ I felt in version 8. I’m left wondering if that sweet little air cushion is why I loved the Terra Kiger 8 so much.

Shop Nike Terra Kiger - Men Shop Nike Terra Kiger - Women

Nice, comfy laces

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Conclusion

JOHN: If the more lightweight trail shoes just don’t have enough muscle, protection, and comfort, I would definitely check out the Terra Kiger 9; it’s a great all-around shoe. Am I going to get any FKTs in it? No, absolutely not. However, it definitely brings a lot of versatility to your run or race. I will use it for a 50k and under but for me, what I truly believe it will work best for is a relief role for when I need to switch shoes on specific ultras like Old Dominion 100. On Old Dominion, you run the majority on the road throughout the race but need some form of trail shoe for the last 40ish miles on the more technical terrain the course throws at you. I wish I had this shoe when I ran Old Dominion in June. It would have come in handy because, to me, it feels good on multiple surfaces, and especially towards the end of Old Dominion, when you are tired anyway, you can gut out the different surfaces in them.

For the balance, style, and overall function, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal for a lighter type of trail shoe. All around, this shoe offers a great deal of value as a rotation shoe, racing shoe, or relief shoe during a 100 miler, as mentioned above.

I would recommend reading the Nike Terra Kiger 8 review just to see how Nike has listened to feedback to improve the shoe, and the Altra Superior 6 and Hoka Zinal 2 reviews would also be useful to check out for comparison. I can’t speak to the latest Saucony Peregrine because I haven’t tried it yet, but I have also heard it’s a comparable shoe, and that would be a good review to check out as well.

MELISSA: Like its predecessor, the Nike Terra Kiger 9 is light, fast, and grippy. It’s responsive with just enough cushion while still allowing you to feel the trail beneath you. The price point is good, and this model you might be able to get some real mileage out of. This continues to be a great shoe for any sub-ultra trail distance, especially if you’re looking to pick up the pace, and it would be my first pick for a 50k race shoe.

You can pick up the Nike Terra Kiger 9 for $149 from Nike by using the buttons below.

Shop The Shoe


Shop Nike Terra Kiger 9 Men
Shop Nike Terra Kiger 9 Women

Want to learn more about how our review process works? Check out this guide.


Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Josh Melton says:

    I absolutely love this shoe. I’ve been transitioning from weight lifting to running and still am on the heavier side. I’m 5’9″ and weigh around 170. This shoe has been perfect for me. It feels lower to the ground that what the stack says. I’ve ran about 100 miles in this shoe and absolutely love it. I’ve done a 1/2 marathon spartan race in this shoe and I was surprised how well the water drained. The traction is very good, for a nike. All around great shoe.

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John Calabrese
Habitual Ultrarunner
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An obsessed runner, John has run in most ultra races in the Mid-Atlantic area. Since he’s an ultra runner, it’s no surprise he’s also a lover of food. He’s also a dedicated father, caregiver, and veteran.

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Melissa Guillen
West Coast Trail Reviewer
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East Coast raised and West Coast trained, Melissa truly enjoys running, especially ultra distances. She currently lives on the Southern California coast and can be found exploring Santa Barbara front country on the weekends.

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