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Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 2: A Fantastic Update

Nike Terra KigerIt hasn’t been that long since I first wrote about the original Nike Zoom Terra Kiger in my June review.  I was pleasantly surprised by the shoe and found it very nice for smoother trails, and even mixed runs as the shoe ran quite well on pavement.

Only a short while after my review I started to see rumors that a version 2 of the Kiger was already on its way. Although I’m sure nobody from Nike read my review, it seemed they had read my mind based on what I was hearing regarding updates in version 2. Firmer midsole, more secure upper, better heel stability. Given that these were all things I had pointed out as needing improvement in the first version, I was eager to give the v2 a spin.

Nike Terra Kiger Gray

Specs

Price: $125 MSRP (one color is on sale on Running Warehouse here)

Colorways: 5 colors that I’ve seen (Nike’s site with all colors here)

Weight:  8.5 oz/240g in size 9 mens; 9.87 oz/280 g in my size 13 men’s; and 7.2 oz/204 g in size 8 for women (stats via Running Warehouse)

Stack Height: 21 mm Heel; 16 mm Forefoot stack height for both men and women

Upper & Fit

Nike Terra Kiger Forefoot

The Kiger 2 upper and fit is at the top of its class – in my opinion, it’s one of the best uppers on the market today. It provides one of the best, most secure, yet not confining fits that I’ve tried.  They are just super comfortable and yet very secure at the same time.  I wish they would put the engineered mesh style upper on more of their shoes.  It is extremely durable and yet very light and simple.  On the Kiger 2 there are fewer gaps in the the mesh which makes it more durable, and there is less give in the upper than the Kiger 1.

Nike Terra Kiger 2The tongue is slightly less padded than that of the Kiger 1, but actually feels better. The heel collar is also less padded and yet feels just as comfortable.

Nike used their regrind material as overlays mainly in the heel area to increase structure. It works well.  The Kiger 2 feels much more secure laterally in the upper, and many of the problems I had with the heel being unstable in the Kiger 1 are remedied because of this (and changes to the midsole which I will get to below).

Bottom line, the Kiger 2 represents some of the best upper design I’ve seen yet in a shoe, and I’ve tried a lot of shoes. The Kiger 2 is at the top of my list.

Midsole & Ride

Nike Terra Kiger 2

The midsole on the original Kiger was nice, but overall felt just a little too soft. In particular, the heel of the original Kiger was much too soft (it had a dual density foam with a softer compound in the heel), which I think created most of the instability problems that I experienced on technical terrain with that shoe.  The Kiger 2 was updated with a single density midsole throughout, and feels firmer overall.  The result, while not changing the DNA of the shoe, was a huge improvement for me.  It made a shoe that was iffy at best on technical terrain to one that could cover the gamut of almost any trail conditions.  As such, I ended up using the Kiger 2 for half of the Rut 50k and it performed very well on terrain that it is not ideally designed for…after that race I was convinced that they had fixed the stability issues on more technical terrain.  There are not many races in the US that cover more technical terrain than the Rut 50k.

Though the ride is incrementally sharper and firmer, don’t be turned off by that if you prefer softer shoes.  It’s not even close to the firmest shoe I’ve run in, and still feels softer than most inov-8’s, Merrells, or a shoe like the New Balance 110v1. The added firmness gives it more stability, precision, protection from rocks, and support for longer runs.  The midsole update is what really makes the shoe.  The upper is an added bonus, but the upper change alone would not have fixed the majority of the problems I had with Kiger 1. The new midsole does.

Outsole

Nike Terra Kiger Sole

Nike Terra Kiger 2 Outsole. Soft rubber in the middle, regrind (which is much harder) on the outside. Still not crazy about outsole design, but the harder rubber on the outside does hold up better.

Here lies the last issue I had with the Kiger 1, and it remains largely unchanged on the Kiger 2.  The outsole design is the same; not the greatest IMO and still sporting the ridiculous heel design, although I didn’t cut it off this time. This seems to confirm that the outsole design was not the main culprit in the instability of the heel I felt in the Kiger 1 (the soft midsole seems to have been the problem).  The only thing changed on the Kiger 2 outsole is the use of a regrind rubber on the outside rubber piece where the Kiger 1 had the softer sticky rubber across the entire outsole.  The benefit of this is that the regrind rubber is more durable (much harder rubber) and contributes to a little more precise edging.

The heel lug pattern is still as bothersome to me as it was before.  It just adds weight while giving nearly no usable traction benefit.  If they can dial in the outsole without messing up the rest of the shoe for version 3, it really would be the best all around lightweight trail shoe on the market.

Overall Impressions

The Nike Terra Kiger 2 is a fantastic shoe overall. Even with the bunk outsole design, it still might be the best lightweight trail shoe on the market.

If you run mostly in minimal shoes, try the Kiger 2.  You will enjoy the extra cushion and responsiveness of the midsole while still feeling right at home with the fit and flat feeling of the sole.  If you run in more substantial footwear, I’d also recommend the Kiger 2 as it will feel light and nimble yet not leave you hanging in any area.  There is enough stack height and protection that it feels substantial, yet still fast.  A very impressive achievement for a shoe a shoe in the low 8 oz range.  Highly recommended!

The Nike Terra Kiger 2 is available for purchase at Running Warehouse and Nike.com. Outside of the US they can be purchased at Wiggle. Purchases made via these links provide a small commission to Runblogger and help to support the production of reviews like this one – thanks!

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About David Henry

David Henry is a 31 year old husband and father of 3 young children. He has completed over 23 ultra marathon events as well as many other shorter races. Some of the notable races he has completed include The Pike’s Peak Marathon, Speedgoat 50k, The Rut 50k, Gorge Waterfalls 100k and Bighorn 100. He has raced in diverse environments ranging from Alaska in winter to the Arizona desert. David appreciates well-crafted running shoes and running on any surface and distance. If interested you can follow my running on Strava: https://www.strava.com/athletes/davidjonhenry

Comments

  1. i’ve put 40 to 50 miles per week on these while training for an upcoming trail marathon. I’m not usually a Nike guy, but I’ve been really impressed. It’s the kind of shoe that you don’t have to think about, you could just put them on and run. Still on the light traction side for a trail shoe but there haven’t been many situations in which I needed bigger lugs.

  2. Haven’t tried the Terra Kiger 2, but have been running in the Wildhorse 2 and it’s the best trail shoe I’ve put on in about 5 years, including wins over the entire line of Salomon I’ve tried, PI, La Sportiva and everything else I’ve tried. Nike is on to something.

  3. Reading your description of the outsole design of the Terra Kiger 2 (soft rubber bordered by harder rubber), it reminds me a lot the old “G-Tek” sole technology Nike was pushing in its trail-running shoes back in 2000/2001 (specifically, the Nike Air Storm Crested Butte and the Nike Air Dri-Goat models). IIRC, it didn’t have a lot of fans amongst runners back then, too.

  4. I’ve put about 50 miles on the Terra Kiger 2s and I’m really enjoying them so far. I was a big of moderately protective, low(ish) drop, lightweight trail shoes like the New Balance 101 and Saucony Kinvara Trail (both now discontinued), and the TK2 fills in very nicely. My only criticism is that I experience a tiny bit of heel slip in my right foot, no matter how I configure the laces.

    • Should have added to my comment that my only complaint is the laces! Too short, too stretchy.

      • David Henry says:

        It seems lace length preference may depend quite a bit on foot volume. I happen to like the shorter laces on the Kiger where as most brands, they are took long and I’m having to tuck them away in the laces up front after they are tied. I didn’t notice them being particularly stretchy and, especially since the Flywire they are attached to won’t stretch at all, it might be a good thing that the laces give a bit, otherwise the tendons on the top of the foot might be unhappy :).

  5. David Henry says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone. The Kiger 2 isn’t perfect by any means but is right up there at the top of the list for me in the lightweight trail market. Keep up all the good running!

  6. What about the size? Need to go 1/2 / 1 size up, comparing for example with the Sense Mantra 2…

    The stiffness is similar to the Sense Mantra 2? I think the Mantra 2 is a quiet stiff shoes…

    • David Henry says:

      I didn’t need to size up. even though it is a low volume fit, I found it plenty long and wide, but I do like a closer fit overall. I’d say if you tend to wear thicker socks I’d maybe size up a 1/2 size. As far as stiffness, it is not near as stiff or firm as the Sense Mantra…it probably came across that it was a stiffer shoe from my review, but this was more in comparison to the original Kiger. When compared to most shoes on the market I find it right in the middle where it is not too soft, but not super firm either. A good mix overall and they pull it off well. Compared to the Mantra it will fell more nimble and flexible for sure.

  7. I am a Nike guy. I prefer much of their stuff.
    But I found these to be very low volume in the toe box. This is a problem with many Nike shoes. I have runners bunions on both feet and it made these shoes unbearable. Offering these in size wide would be a simple solution. I wish they would offer size wide in all their shoes.

  8. Any thoughts on how the Kiger 2 compares with the Merrell Bare Access Trail?

    • David Henry says:

      Kiger 2 is a bit lighter than BAT with more cushion but less traction. Kiger 2 upper is more comfortable to me and Kiger 2 has more protection underfoot. Biggest difference I think is the Kiger 2 runs more like a good performance road shoe, where BAT runs like a minimalist trail shoe (like NB MT110 or inov-8 trailroc 235). Hope that helps! -David

  9. Can this shoe be used for hiking halfdome? Wondering if there is enough grip on the sole.

    • David Henry says:

      I’d say that it might possibly work, but given I haven’t been on Halfdome myself I can’t say for sure. The Kiger 2 is not the stickiest shoe out there by any stretch…if I was going up a route like Halfdome, I’d probably use something with Continental rubber from adidas, anything from La Sportiva (best sticky rubber out there for running shoes, particularly the XF FriXion rubber on shoes like the Mutant), and/or some of the inov-8 models (Mudlaws, Talons, and roclites are all fairly sticky). That said, I’m sure someones made it up there in a pair of Toms, Converse or flip flops for that matter so not like it can’t be done in a Kiger ;). -David

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