The Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 8 is a trail shoe designed to do it all. It has a clean design and a ride that aims to balance cushioning and responsiveness so it’s comfortable on easy efforts but quick when needed. The outsole seems to have to find purchase on hard and soft ground.
In practice, the shoe failed on several fronts. The ride is firm and responsive, but the shoe feels too heavy to be nimble or quick on the foot, and the lack of cushioning is indicative of long runs. Grip is unreliable on wet floors, especially smooth hard surfaces, and compared to the best trail running shoes, the Terra Kiger 8 struggles to compete.
Nike Terra Kiger 8 review: price and availability
The Nike Terra Kiger is available now from Sports Shoes and costs £124.95. It’s the most expensive trail shoe in Nike’s range, with the Pegasus Trail 3 costing £114.95 and the Wildhorse £7,109.95.
Buy sports shoes | £124.95
Design and fit
The Terra Kiger 8 retains much of the same design as the 7, although there has been a change to the upper, which is now a more open mesh material with a liner underneath to keep debris out. There is a bumper on the front to limit the damage if you hit rocks or roots while running.
There’s padding on the tongue and around the collar to hold the foot comfortably in place, and I found it easy to get a secure fit around the midfoot and heel. The shoe has a roomy toe box and even going down half a size I had plenty of room so I would suggest going half a size down especially if you have a narrow foot like me.
The midsole uses Nike’s responsive foam and there’s an Air Zoom unit in the forefoot to add more pop to your toe. There is also a rock plate in the forefoot to protect your feet on rough terrain.
On the outsole of the shoe are multi-directional lugs made of high-abrasion rubber. The lugs are reasonably deep and the Terra Kiger 8 is capable on a range of terrains, but primarily designed for harder ground rather than muddy trails.
How I tested this shoe
I ran 50km in the Terra Kiger 8 covering different terrains including well maintained forest trails, narrow muddy single track trails, gravelly canal towpaths and a road. My longest run in the shoe was 16.5km and I did a mix of easy and fast runs in the shoe to see how I felt at different speeds.
The running performance
While there’s nothing terribly terrible about running in the Terra Kiger 8, I found it to be a hard shoe to like. That’s largely because he doesn’t excel on any front. It’s a versatile shoe that can go fast or slow over a range of terrains, but it’s neither pleasantly cushioned nor particularly nimble and fast, partly because it weighs 309g (my UK 8.5) .
It’s not heavy for a trail shoe, especially since it has fairly deep outsole lugs, but given that weight, I would expect a more comfortable and cushioned ride. Instead, it’s a firm shoe that can feel harsh during long stints on harder ground. This is especially the case in the forefoot where you can feel the hard lugs through the Air Zoom pods.
Those hard studs feel like they’ll last a lifetime, but they don’t always provide good grip. On wet ground, especially on slippery rock tracks, the shoes are unpredictable. I never slipped, but the little sideways movements I regularly felt didn’t inspire confidence and I slowed down on any kind of wet ground because I didn’t feel like I could rely on grip.
Since this all sounds like a damning assessment of the shoe, I have to repeat that it did a solid job on all of my runs. Over a 16.5km run – mostly on smaller forest trails with deep mud and steep descents on loose ground – it provided the grip and cushioning needed, and I ran more quick in the Terra Kiger 8 at the end of the progression runs luckily enough.
The problem is, it wouldn’t be my first choice for any kind of trail riding. It’s firmer than I like for a shoe that isn’t nimble or that fast, and the grip creates doubts that stick in your mind when slick terrain presents itself.
Is the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 8 worth it?
Perhaps the main problem with the Nike Terra Kiger 8 is the strength of its competitors. I was testing it alongside the excellent Hoka Speedgoat 5, which is only £5 more and is lighter, but much more cushioned, and has a fantastic outsole that can handle almost any terrain.
Other great all-rounders I would rank ahead of the Terra Kiger include the Saucony Peregrine 12, which does a great job on muddy ground, the lightweight Hoka Torrent 2, and the comfortable Salomon Sense Ride 4.
If you stick with the swoosh no matter what, the best Nike running shoe for road-rail sessions is the Pegasus Trail 3.