Nike Terra Kiger 9 Review

by | Sep 15, 2023

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Specs and takeaways:

  • Name: Nike Terra Kiger 9
  • Weight (men’s size 11): 11.3 oz / 320 g
  • Stack height: forefoot – 31mm // heel – 28mm // 3mm heel-toe-drop
  • Sizing: True to size
  • Pros: Updated outsole, durable upper, nimble and quick
  • Cons: Only a thin rock plate; missing some pop from earlier versions
  • Best for: Short to middle distance trail runs <50K
  • Price: $150 $105

Where to buy

The first version of this trail running shoe, the original Nike Zoom Terra Kiger came out way back in 2014. I, along with countless other trail runners loved that shoe. Now approaching the model’s tenth anniversary, the Nike Terra Kiger 9 steps up to be the agile Nike trail shoe we’ve come to expect. Or does it? With the absence of the ubiquitous-until-now Zoom Air pods missing, does the Kiger 9 show up like its forbears? Welcome to the Gearist review of the Nike Terra Kiger 9.

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Outsole

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Rear Outsole | Gearist
Nike Terra Kiger 9 Rear Outsole | Gearist

With a completely new outsole and lug design, the Nike React Terra Kiger 9 has changed things up on the ground side for the first time in a while. If you take a look at our review of the Nike Terra Kiger 8 you can easily see the big changes here. First, the rubber itself ditches the mysterious model numbers – OG/RS 003 anyone?

The lug / tread pattern is a complete overhaul. The 4.5mm deep lugs in the forefoot are in a kind of offset chevron pattern with flex grooves separating the path of a toe off from the sides of the forefoot. As with the front, the rear lugs are in the same design although reversed direction. 

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Rear Outsole Lug Detail | Gearist
Nike Terra Kiger 9 Rear Outsole Lug Detail | Gearist

Through the midfoot there is exposed foam in the theoretically, low-abrasion area which is much larger than in the Nike Terra Kiger 8. The are also a few small cutaways in the forefoot and reat foot rubber giving a view into the underlying foam.

[Brandon] Nike’s redesigned outsole lugs are a win for me. First, their durability over 50 miles shows little hard wear despite being on run on mostly very abrasive trails. Second, the multi-directional lugs themselves do well to bite on pretty much everything. This includes dry, dusty and sand-like dirt trails which can seldom have a bit of a rolling effect underfoot. Even on wet surfaces I found the revamp of the outsole super capable even on rocks and roots which be the bane of my existence.

[Arron] The outsole of the Nike Terra Kiger 9 performed outstanding for me during shorter, faster runs. The outsole can keep up on east coast style trails, and when the trails get muddy or wet, no loss of traction. Whether I was running straight, uphill, downhill or dodging roots and rocks I never felt like the shoe was going to give out.

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Midsole

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Rear Midsole | Gearist
Nike Terra Kiger 9 Rear Midsole | Gearist

Moving into the midsole of the Nike Kiger 9, for the first time Nike’s Zoom Air pods have been left on the bench. In their place is a midsole made from a full-length Nike React foam. While the previous model also leaned on the forefoot Zoom Air pods as a bit of midsole protection, the Terra Kiger 9 relies on a very thin rock plate in the form of a bit of EVA foam in the forefoot.

The 9th iteration of the Terra Kiger does have a bit more stack height that the Terra Kiger 9 with 31mm in the heel and 28mm in the forefoot. The 3mm of drop is also 1mm less than its predecessor. 

[Brandon] The Nike Terra Kiger 9 is lighter than the previous model by 20g (0.7 ounces) in my men’s size 11 and holding both of them in my hand, it  feels like at least some of where that weight loss is in the midsole. From a protection aspect, ditching the Zoom Air pods doesn’t bother me and I felt like the full-length React Foam midsole provides enough cushioning for the large majority of trails I run. On some more sharp-rocked trails a bit more substantial rock plate would be nice to have but certainly isn’t a deal breaker.

The React midsole also provides good energy return though not as bouncy as the Zoom Air / React Foam combination of the Terra Kiger 8 at times (which is only just noticeable).

[Arron] The Kiger 9 performed great for shorter trail runs and tempo days out on the trail. Anything more than 8-10 miles the shoe didn’t have enough for me, but for the person that likes a shoe with less stack I could see it going for longer runs. It’s also worth pointing out that I’m – like Brandon – not really your super lightweight runner so that could be a bit of a factor as well.

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Upper

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Upper | Gearist
Nike Terra Kiger 9 Upper | Gearist

The upper of the Nike Terra Kiger 9 finds some significant updates and some things staying the same from the Terra Kiger 9. 

The primary engineered mesh is a bit of a tighter weave than version 8 and the underlying, internal mesh seems to be the exact same. The internal supports which are made with a non-stretchy mesh are more standalone in this shoe whereas the Terra Kiger 8 had them built into the mesh.

The toe cap of the Kiger 9 has a good amount of coverage and thickness and is backed by welded overlay. The lace “eyelets” are almost identical to the Terra Kiger 8 being made from thicker synthetic material to form loops rather than traditional eyelets. Upper padding, beginning with the tongue is thin, yet dense foam protecting the top of the foot from undue pressure.

The rearfoot construction is a much different build in the Terra Kiger 9 from version 8. Externally, the structure of the shoe is much more integrated whereas version 8 was composed of distinctly different pieces. The transition from forefoot engineered mesh to heel cup and padding is seamless with more backing foam. Even the heel pull tab has evolved to be simple and traditional from the Terra Kiger’s usual experimental loops.

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Heel | Gearist
Nike Terra Kiger 9 Heel | Gearist

[Brandon] For those looking for a breathable upper, the Nike Terra Kiger is kind of middle of the road. There are things which allow for more air flow (like the previous version of this shoe) but this is still quite good. The tighter weave of the mesh and its backing material also means that it does a good job of keeping out debris and fine gravel.

Probably the most noticeable changes in the Terra Kiger 9’s upper are in the rearfoot. The Kiger 8 had a kind of independent collar which wrapped the ankle which the Kiger 9 has moved toward a very cohesive construction.

To me, more pieces – even when overlayed with mesh as in the previous Kiger – means more opportunity for friction and discomfort. The Terra Kiger 9 has a great heel cup which functionally operates as a single unit. A well-shaped and comfortable heel is the result.

[Arron] The Terra Kiger 9’s mesh upper has been great through roughly 40 miles of east coast trails. The snug, lockdown fit and padded tongue are comfortable across the top of foot. The airy, engineered mesh of the upper provides drainage and breathability so my feet didn’t get overheated or too soggy. A good amount of toe protection with the updated toe cap and beefier heel cup that before allow for protection against those massive roots which always jump up out of nowhere.

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Fit

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Rear Midsole | Gearist
Nike Terra Kiger 9 Rear Midsole | Gearist

[Brandon] The Nike Terra Kiger 9 continues the tradition of the Kiger in being pretty low-profile. Despite that, there’s a good amount of toe box room allowing for wiggle and splay. Through the midfoot, the lacing and updates interior support structure holds the foot well in place, minimizing slippage. Finally, the completely updated heel fits very well, clearly making a play not only for fit but for more comfort.

There isn’t a wide version of this shoe but even those with a slightly wider-than-average foot may be able to find a lacing that works and gets them running in the Terra Kiger 9.

As for shoe sizing, Nike remains the standard bearer and is completely true to size in my Kiger 9 men’s size 11.

[Arron] If you want it to, this shoe has quite a bit of lockdown while also giving plenty of room for toe splay in the forefoot / toe box. The familiar, low profile of the shoe didn’t irritate the top of my foot nor did the seemingly minimal heel.

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Ride

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Heel Lug Detail | Gearist
Nike Terra Kiger 9 Heel Lug Detail | Gearist

[Brandon] I think it’s key to understand here that the Nike Terra Kiger 9 is a lightweight trail running shoe. It’s very likely that this will carry you beyond marathon distance but not by too much. For runs with less mileage than something like a 50K however, the ride of the Kiger 9 shines.

First, the terrain that this shoe is going to be most at home on aren’t super technical trails which will beat your feet up even through the beefiest (and heavier) of trail shoes. On smooth trails being equipped with full-length React Foam results in a speedy, consistent ride that encouraged me to open up my stride and go even from the first run.

When things stepped up a notch on some of my favorite Front Range trail running spots, the Kiger 9 was extremely capable and thanks to being nimble, lightweight and fast, was able to navigate rocks and variable terrain with ease.

[Arron] The ride of the Kiger 9 is soft yet responsive with enough traction for whatever the trail has to offer. It’s not as plush as some of the more cushioned trail shoes but that’s not what this shoe is meant to be.

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Overall

Nike Terra Kiger 9 Review | Gearist
Nike Terra Kiger 9 Review | Gearist

[Brandon] I like the Nike Terra Kiger a lot. This is probably one of my most go-to trail running shoes that I feel like I can take on just about any trail running adventure. I’m not going to grab it for some of the more aggressively technical trails out there but that’s also not what its for.

I don’t mind the Zoom Air pods being gong at all and while I wouldn’t be opposed to a bit more significant rock plate, I like the change in weight and balance of this shoe.

At $150 $105, this is a great shoe for someone looking to figure out how they want to hit the trails as well as those of us who go to the all the time. The outsole provides good traction and the rest of the shoe compliments it well.

[Arron] Good shoe for the avid trail runner looking to go fast or spend a long time on more technical terrain. Not the lightest shoe but not the heaviest either, the weight and protection provides a good shoe for training or race day.

Where to buy

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