Specs and takeaways:
Name: Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 8
Weight: Men’s 11, 350 g (12 oz)
Stack Height: Forefoot – 26mm; Heel 30mm; 4mm heel-toe drop)
Sizing: True to size
Standout features: Light and fast breathable mesh upper
Where to buy
The Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 8 is the offspring of the first Nike trail running shoe I ever ran in, the OG Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger which we first reviewed way back in 2013. Since then, previous versions of this shoe have certainly brought in welcome evolution but the essence of the shoe has remained: this is a lightweight trail shoe that wants to GO. Let’s get into the details.
Sporting high-abrasion rubber with multidirectional traction lugs, the outsole of the Zoom Terra Kiger 8 aims directly at a broad cross section of terrain types and hence, has broad appeal to many different types of runners. The front half of the Kiger 8 outsole compound is made from Nike’s OG /RS 003 which feels like a more sticky rubber than the rear of the shoe which uses OG / RS 002 which feels harder and a bit more abrasion resistant.
The outsole design is broken down into two distinct halves (front and rear) with opposing lug patterns. The forefoot of the Terra Kiger 8 has lugs in four “columns” clearly aimed to grip on ascents while the heel of the shoe has lugs at an even steeper angle to provide grip on descents. In between the two sections of multi-directional lugs we find a bit of exposed Nike React foam (more on this in the midsole section below).
[BRANDON] First, let’s talk about durability of the grey rubber (in this case) of the heel. If you’ve read or watched my reviews of running shoes in the past then you may know that I’m not much of a heel striker but rather, more of a midfoot runner. However, on trails – which is a large majority of what I’ve been running lately – my heel does play much more of a role in navigating technical trails. With close to 100 miles in the Nike Terra Kiger 8, the rubber of the heel is doing well and shows normal (and even a little less-than-normal) wear. The front half of the shoe which is a softer, more sticky rubber, is also in good shape although the slightly softer material does show a bit more wear.
What about traction? I’m kind of mixed on this. On the one hand, the traction pattern of the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 8 is pretty much identical to the Terra Kiger 7. On typical rocky trails or hard packed trails here in Colorado, the Kiger 8 brings pretty good grip making it a fast and nimble trail shoe. Even on rocky and technical trails with more uneven terrain, grip holds well and (more on this in the ride section below) makes for a fun shoe. However, when things get a bit damp the grip is less-than-fantastic. It’s certainly many steps up from road shoes but when running over wet rocks in particular, there was enough foot slippage to make me slow way down – which is saying something since I’m not exactly breaking any land speed records. Additionally, on dry rocks with a steeper angle, the grip is certainly better than wet but it’s still not entirely confidence inspiring.
[ARRON] With the same lug direction as the previous version, Nike has found a pattern that works well on the trails. The multi-directional lugs offer good grip in the east-coast style pine needle, leafy trails. The “high abrasion rubber” while good when it’s dry, isn’t the stickiest when wet. The two times I ran in the rain, mud seemed to stick to the outsole rubber and left the shoe feeling heavy. I’m not seeing much wear and tear after 50+ miles in the shoe, But I have only run on the trails and haven’t hit the roads with them.
Arriving at the midsole of the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 8 we find the main component made from full length React Foam. Under the forefoot there is a Nike Zoom Air unit and a distinct lack of a rock plate in this area. There is however a segmented rock plate in the heel of the shoe promoting flexibility in that part of the shoe without being stiff and unwieldy. The stack height is 26mm in the forefoot and 30mm in the forefoot for a heel-toe drop of 4mm.
[BRANDON] Let me say that I’m definitely a fan of Nike React foam. On its own the gentle energy return is a departure from purely EVA foam midsoles without being overly engineered and still providing comfortably soft cushioning when necessary. With that, the added Nike Zoom Air unit gives a nicely responsive ride on a lot of different terrain. Now, as you may have noticed, I didn’t mention anything about a forefoot rock plate – because there isn’t one. To be honest, the Zoom Air unit in that area provides a bit of protection there though on sharper rocks, I did feel quite a bit. While that’s fine in the shorter term, if I were doing a run on a ton of sharp rock, I may want a bit of additional protection.
The last thing I’ll mention about the midsole of the Terra Kiger 8 trail shoe is that the difference in forefoot and rear foot construction is noticeable depending on terrain. On smoother single track, it’s not something that stands out a bunch but on more technical terrain I find that here and there – particularly while descending that the protection from the rock plate in the rear foot is more abundant than anything in the forefoot and I need to run accordingly. Definitely not a deal breaker by any stretch but it’s worth paying attention to when getting started in this shoe.
[ARRON] Nike’s React Foam throughout the midsole gives the only cushion this shoe seems to have, while the Air Zoom unit in the forefoot does offer a little spring and protection. The segmented rock plate in the heel isn’t noticeable for me.
Looking toward the upper of the shoe we find a structure similar to that in the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 but a more open and robust mesh upper. We’ll get back to the mesh in a second but beginning at the front of the Kiger 8 there is a welded skin in place for toe protection which extends around the toes and back to the metatarsal head area.
Moving into the midfoot, the padded tongue is integrated with the main mesh body. Overlaying the tongue, the lace loops are designed such that they integrate the mesh of the upper with internal structure surrounding and attached under the foot. Internally, the mesh body of the Zoom Terra Kiger 8 is backed by a smooth, almost silky material which is in place to mitigate debris getting into the shoe.
The rear of the Nike Terra Kiger 8, the first thing to point out is the ankle collar which also incorporates the top (two) lace hole. This collar strap wraps completely around the top of the shoe and, in doing so, allows for very specific tightening of the laces if needs be to hold the foot in place in that area. The internal foam of the collar is simply a ring backing the external collar. The heel cup is quite pliable but still well shaped while the heel loop sitting on top of it is large enough to easily get a finger through or to be grabbed like a tab.
[BRANDON] Probably my favorite part of the Nike Terra Kiger 8 is the upper. First, the mesh is wonderfully open and over the hot summer months have helped keep my feet from overheating. Admittedly, when I first looked at the upper of the Kiger 8 I literally remarker (out loud) that I was fully expecting a lot of debris to find its way inside. Fortunately for me, I was wrong. The internal material lies almost entirely right against the outer mesh and thus, keeps debris out. There has only been one noticeable exception where a very tiny pebble managed to get in between the external and internal mesh – I think through the laces, though I can’t be certain – and wedge itself way down on the underside of my lateral midfoot. I had to stop to get it out (which was easy) but with that being the only instance like this in almost 100 miles, I’m calling that a win.
The top cap skin is fairly robust but not super rigid. The outsole rubber coming up and over the toe probably does more for protecting you kicking errant rocks and roots than the skin itself although it does well in keeping additional debris out. The heel / ankle collar is fantastic and burly which makes for truly good ability to lock down that area of the foot – though I admittedly don’t do that very much in any shoe simply because I like my foot having a bit more freedom.
The lacing and internal wrapping of the Kiger 8 is a highlight for me mainly because of the way in which the mesh effectively turns into the lace loop which, in turn, become the internal strapping down and around the underside of the foot. This construction means that tightening a little goes a long way and that the foot feels enveloped by the upper rather than just feeling laces holding on by themselves.
[ARRON] The newly designed upper is breathable and durable. The mesh outer layer has held up nicely and the smooth inner layer offers a nice feel against the foot. There isn’t much support offered by the upper, but the overlays around the toes do provide some protection against sticks and small rocks. The thin and flexible upper does keep out enough debris to keep the foot free from dust and sand. The thin tongue seemed a little skimpy at first but does offer enough protection from the laces and is actually really nice. The heel section however doesn’t come with the same protection. There is a gap at the heel/ankle where the padding from the inside doesn’t come to the top of the shoe, allowing for small rock/leaves/etc to sit until enough space is given to fall into the shoe.
[BRANDON] First, the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 8 definitely fits true-to-size in my men’s size 11. I didn’t feel like it was to wide of narrow in any part of the shoe on any kind of terrain. In fact, as I mentioned above, the lacing allows for a wonderfully in-place feel without having to hammer on the laces.
For the rest of the fit and how it works with the foot, I’ll go from front to back. First, the toe box; I’ve got to say, this is a good toe box from Nike. It’s not entirely foot-shaped like some brands out there but nevertheless, my very average foot felt entirely comfortable while on flats, ascents and while descending – the latter is what tends to highlight a less-than-stellar toe box for me.
As I mentioned above, the midfoot lockdown is fantastic thanks to the integrated external and interior mesh and the lace strapping. I really appreciated the fact that my foot didn’t feel “pressed” by any one spot through the top of the foot which I have experienced in the past in some shoes. Finally, the rearfoot works really well for me. The foam around the inside of the collar being one bead-esque piece does well to not add more material than is necessary.
[ARRON] I have a very “normal” foot, even for being a size 13. These shoes fit true to size and had zero issues running uphill or downhill with the sizing. The lacing system allows for a decent lockdown on the mid-foot, while the toe box is good and wide offering ample toe-splay. There doesn’t seem to be any extra fabric to overlap, as in other brands with wider toe boxes and gusseted tongues. The heel counter and heel cup fit well for my foot and didn’t need to change lacing style to get a good lock down for the heal. All in all, the fit was good.
[BRANDON] Fun. I’ve always been a fan of previous. Sure there have been aspects that have been lacking here and there but generally, the Terra Kiger has consistently been a fun, lightweight trail shoe. Looking at The Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 8 today, I will say that the fun is certainly present here as well. This is a responsive shoe with a ton of ground feel. Because of the more light and fast feel, I’m not sure that I’d go much past a half marathon or 15 miles in it – although if it were solely on groomed singletrack, maybe I could be convinced to go beyond.
The other thing with this is traction. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it has poor grip by any stretch but it could be better. As I talked about in the outsole section above, when things get damp, the traction seems to take a break and even when dry and on steeper – particularly descending – flat rocks, I definitely had to pay more attention rather than simply just letting fly.
[ARRON] The Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 8 is a fast, nimble shoe. It doesn’t offer the cushioning, for me, to go long – around twelve miles is where I’d probably draw the line before looking for a more cushioned shoe. That being said, this is a great race shoe for those running a Trail 10K, maybe even Half Marathon. For me, the shoe seemed to feel best going faster, and on trails, hence the reason it’s a trail shoe. This is not a shoe I would normally wear, but as marathon season approaches, I can see myself doing temp runs in the park with these. If I decide to do a 5K-Half Marathon Trail race in the fall or winter, these would be a top choice.
The Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 8 is a great-looking and very fun shoe to add to your quiver. Despite not having been out for very long, the price has already begun creeping downward from its original $140 to under $100 (check out our links above and below to get some legit deals).
The best use of the Zoom Terra Kiger 8 is those fast and agility seeking trail runs. This shoe lacks some cushioning and a forefoot rock plate to go super long – especially if you’re more of a mid or forefoot runner – but regardless, the Kiger is a shoe I’ll always want to have ready to go.
Are you a fan of the Nike Terra Kiger line past or present? Tell us about it in the comments!
Where to buy
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