Article by Jeremy Marie
Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 8 (140€)
Editor’s Note: Our contributor Jeremy Marie in France gives us his take on the Terra Kiger 8 now released in Europe with US release and price to be announced. Our multi tester review to follow when we can secure more pairs here in the US.
After a complete revamp of the Kiger line with the 7th version, Nike just made minor adjustments with the new Kiger 8.
The midsole keeps the combination of a thick React foam layer, an Air Zoom unit at the front protected by a segmented rock plate, as well as a plate at the heel, between the React layer and the outsole.
The outsole is basically the same as the 7th, with a differentiated compound for front and rear.
Changes are to be found in the new upper mesh, which now consists of a very airy, almost grid-like mesh with an underneath layer to protect from debris. Lacing system, heel retention are still using the proven design of the previous version.
Nice fitting upper with a secure foothold from midfoot to heel
Spacious toe box
Rock protection is great
Reactive cushioning from heel to midfoot
Versatile traction…on hard or dry trails.
Far from the svelte shoes the first Kigers were – gaining weight each iteration with here the weight about the same as the Kiger 7.
A bit jarring under the front of the foot despite the amount of midsole, maybe due to the rock plate and the lugs pushing through the Air Zoom pod.
Traction is really-so-so on muddy trails (with important side sliding), and still slippery on hard wet ground (beware of wet rocks and roots!)
Weight: men’s 11.11oz / 315g (US10.5)
Stack Height: men’s 30mm heel / 24mm forefoot
140€. Available now in Europe at our partner Top4 Running Europe HERE. US release date and price to be announced.
Jeremy MARIE, French, 40y/o. Running since 2013 and quickly transitioned to trails, focused on ultras since 2015 : TDS, Maxi-Race, “100 miles du Sud”, 90kms du Mt Blanc, GRP 120kms, Some shorter mellow races (Saintelyon 45kms, Ecotrail Paris 45kms…) with always in the mix road and flat running, but not many road races. Recovery/easy runs ~4’45/km – 4’30/km
First Impressions and Fit
Nike clearly knows how to design nice looking shoes, and the Kiger 8 is no exception. Even this very classical, muted black and gray color scheme has some nice design touches that make the shoe stand out as an aggressive trail runner.
The step in feels immediately comfortable, despite the mesh looking like a plasticy grid. Actually the mesh is isolated from the foot by an inner sleeve that acts as a protection from dust and debris, and is even more separated around the midfoot thanks to the tongue’s gusset.
As a consequence, I’ve felt no pressure points on the foot which is gently hugged in this sleeve, the outer mesh acting more as a giant overlay providing foothold and stability.
The main drawback I see at first glance is the substantial shoe the Kiger has become. Far from the light Kigers 3 and 4 I used on many miles, the Kiger now looks more like a solid mid-to-long distance trail shoe providing lots of cushioning under foot, at the cost of increased weight. This reminds me of the Saucony Peregrine evolution, which has gone from a minimal, lugged light beast of a trail racer to an ultra trail capable shoe, finally losing weight and going back towards its roots in its latest iterations.
Here is where the K8 differentiates from the Kiger 7 (RTR Review)
As it can be seen in the pictures, the new outer mesh is largely perforated and looks like a thin grid going from front to the ankle and heel collar.
This thin mesh is abrasion resistant and has very little give to it. Combined with the lacing system – almost identical to the 7th, and the loops that go well over the foot, the mesh acts as a net, holding the foot in place without being too close to it. I find it easy to adjust the tightness of the upper just by pulling a bit more on the laces: they slide nicely through every loop and bring the whole suede-like overlay all over the foot in an uniform way. The tongue is not really thick, nor thin: it’s made in a TPU like material, the same kind that is used in the Scott Supertrac RC2, with the same success in isolating the foot from any discomfortable pressure point.
Being gusseted, the tongue is easy to put in place and stays there without moving at all.
At the very front, the toe bumper is very reminiscent of the one used in the K7. It offers some protection but I think its main use is to reinforce the mesh on lateral sides rather than really protecting the toes – personally I don’t like to bump on rocks, I usually fall afterwards 😉
Going to the rear of the shoe, the hell and ankle collar see a bit of a change versus the previous version.The lower part, just above the midsole, is a bit rigid, but the upper part, just above the external seam, is more flexible. It almost looks like Nike wanted to build a sock-like collar, but stopped midway. Anyway, this construction offers a supple contact under the ankle, and the thick padding that goes round the heel works wonders holding the foot.
This padding occupies the upper third of the collar, giving more space to the base of the heel, and feels like a soft foam.
I never had an issue with heel hold (and more generally foot hold) in Terra Kigers (3 and 4), and despite the completely different construction on this 8th version, the hold has always above any doubt. It works, it’s soft, comfy, and the semi-rigid heel counter base is never felt on the run.
One minor gripe I have is on breathability: the very open mesh is doubled with an inner sleeve, and I found that it can easily lead to hot feet. I appreciate its protection from debris and dust, but ended some runs with the sensation of hot feet.
Sizing is spot on, maybe a bit on the longer side for my usual US10.5. As far as I can remember, they fit a hair longer than the K3 and K4, but I prefer this. A bit more length at the front and a wider fit are things that I wanted on my old Kigers.
The midsole is basically the same as the Kiger 7: 30mm heel, 24mm at the front with a combination of React foam and Air pod under the forefoot. A segmented plate is used at the front to ensure rock protection without losing too much flexibility, and the heel also keeps its plate just above the outsole layer.
After a first quick “dog-run” where I enjoyed the foam’s reactivity, the next two runs with the shoes left me quite puzzled: I ended those back to back 2h30 runs with sore feet, especially at the front, like I felt the lugs punching through the midsole.
The runs were two easy dry forest trails runs, with a forefoot strike on quite hard ground. After discussing a bit with my fellow RTR colleagues, it appears that the combination of the lugs pattern, plate and Air Zoom pod would be the culprit. So, I focused on this aspect on the next run, just to confirm this: that a pronounced forefoot strike on hard ground does not work well with the Kiger, IMO. Attacking a bit more at the midfoot, this issue completely disappeared, and I enjoyed the nice balance of cushioning, firmness and reactivity offered by the React foam. Not squishy at all, not mushy, but an energetic, responsive ride that leans on the firm side at first, softening a bit after 30-40kms (25 miles) of running in them.
I really like the homogeneity and predictability of the React foam, especially in a trail running shoe where those aspects are essential to keep control of the ride.
Despite the thickness of the midsole, I also found that the ground feel is not completely muted, and you can still have a sense of what’s under the foot – I like this very much!
The outsole is exactly the same as the Kiger 7.
Mid-depth lugs result in an all-terrain traction, but I find that they can be harsh underfoot on hard-pack trails as described in the previous section. My guess is that those lugs, using a quite hard compound, push hard against the rock plate making the ride way more firm than it should be considering the stack and the React foam/Air pod. Road stretches are far from nice if you have a heavy forefoot biased strike, whereas I never really have a second thought about this wearing the Kiger 3 and 4, or even the Scott Supertrac RC2, for a close comparison.
With a midfoot strike – and even more for heel strikers – the feel is completely different as there’s no Air pod acting like a bubble pushing under the foot.
Despite their depth, around 5-6mm, the lug pattern does not work very well on light mud where the shoes slide to the side. To do the Kigers justice, I have a very clayey kind of mud around home which is a pain for lots of shoes. Save from those specific conditions, the outsole proved to be effective in many sort of terrain, be it dirt, loose, forest trails, dry rocks.
I appreciate how the outsole can conform a bit to terrain irregularities and flex a bit while staying protective.
The main gripe I have, and it’s a constant on the Kigers, is traction on wet rocks. It’s clearly better than the Kiger 3 and 4, but it’s still not confidence inspiring.
I’ve detailed my main gripe with the ride for very pronounced forefoot strikers running on hard ground.
Save for this, the ride of the Kiger 8 is wonderful. They’re actually much heavier than the Kiger 3 and 4 I ran in but they do not feel as heavy as they actually weigh.
Clearly the React foam is at play in this enjoyable ride combining protection, energy return, and smoothness. It adapts well to many intensities, giving lots of response when pushing the pace or doing sprints, while staying plush when going easy.
I forced some heavy heel strike on downhills just to appreciate how effective the shoe is at protecting from impacts.
The shoe is still flexible – the flex at the front requires some energy – , and will favor more easy tempo paces than recovery ones, but I find it to suit a wide panel of intensities.
Despite weighing 315g for my size, they feel as nimble as lighter shoes, thanks to a good weight distribution between the upper and the midsole.
Jeremy’s score: 9.17 /10
Fit : 9.5
Rock protection 9
Terra Kiger 7 RTR review: HERE
Scott Supertrac RC2 (RTR review)
Just a tad lighter, the Scott feels nimbler on technical terrain, has a better traction, but clearly loses on versatility, all-day comfort and energy return offered by the responsive Kiger 8.
Terra Kiger 8 Available now in Europe at our partner Top4 Running Europe HERE
Use RTR code RTRTOP4 for 5% off Terra Kiger 8
US release date and price to be announced.
Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes others were personal purchases. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’
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