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Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 4 Review

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 3
Top Pick Award
Price:   $125 List | $119.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Super protective, low profile, lightweight, great fit.
Cons:  Lightweight mesh upper lacks abrasion resistance of other shoes.
Bottom line:  Running fast on difficult terrain has never been so easy as with these shoes.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Nike

Our Verdict

The Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 4 is our Top Pick for Light and Fast running because it successfully combines a low-profile, minimalist heel-toe drop, and lightweight upper with the underfoot protection and cushioning needed for running fast on the gnarliest trails. While we love the incredibly sensitive feel of other low-profile models in this review like the La Sportiva Helios 2.0 and the Altra Superior 2.0, our feet, and those of other runners we have talked to, cannot survive running our fastest on rocky, rooty, mountainous trails for long distances. The Terra Kiger 4, on the other hand, has one of the firmest and most protective rock plates we have tested, and combined with its snug and form fitting upper, allows one to nimbly dance over the tops of the sharpest and most jagged rocks. No other lightweight and low-profile shoe can handle any type of terrain like this shoe, which is why it is our Top Pick.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Trail Running Shoes of 2017 - Side-by-Side Tests

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Score Product Price Our Take
81
$130
Editors' Choice Award
Our favorite shoe, high performance for everyone.
80
$130
Top Pick Award
Tons of comfy cushioning at a super light weight.
80
$125
Top Pick Award
Running fast on difficult terrain has never been so easy as with these shoes.
80
$120
Best Buy Award
Great as an everyday trainer, for ultra distances, or as all-around do everything shoe.
79
$110
A lightweight zero-drop shoe for the speedsters and minimalist runners out there.
78
$120
Super aggressive traction make this shoe suitable for the gnarliest of conditions.
76
$120
Not a flashy shoe, but performs well. Great everyday trainer.
74
$110
A very lightweight option that is designed like a traditional shoe.
74
$125
The lightest weight shoes for uphill trail running that we could find.
73
$125
Succeeds in its mission to crush the Leadville Trail 100.
72
$120
Good balance between protection and sensitivity, really durable!
72
$130
A mountain and skyrunning monster.
66
$120
Our least favorite Cascadia we have tested, wouldn't recommend to a friend.
64
$115
A beast who's best attribute is the ability to protect your feet.

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Andy Wellman
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
September 8, 2016

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The world's largest and most recognizable athletic shoe brand — Nike — only just entered the trail running shoe market a few years ago, with mixed reviews. In its third version, we think that Nike has combined all of its incredible history and experience to create one of the best trail running shoes we have ever worn with the Zoom Terra Kiger. In short, it has a nearly perfect blend of the best attributes for an optimal performance trail running shoe — low profile, light weight, lots of underfoot protection, snug form-fitting upper, excellent and durable traction. While it doesn't necessarily "win" any of these categories when compared to the competition, it's hard to conceive of a more perfect blend of attributes for fast trail running. If low-profile shoes are your preference, or you like to push your speed on the trails, then this is certainly the shoe we recommend for you.

The Zoom Terra Kiger 3 was a shoe that we loved to run in  and didn't really enjoy as much for hiking or hanging out  where we enjoy more cushioning. This shoe has great protection  but is very firm on the underfoot cushioning. They inspired us to run fast  not to slow down and hike.
The Zoom Terra Kiger 3 was a shoe that we loved to run in, and didn't really enjoy as much for hiking or hanging out, where we enjoy more cushioning. This shoe has great protection, but is very firm on the underfoot cushioning. They inspired us to run fast, not to slow down and hike.

Performance Comparison





Foot Protection


We gave this shoe 8 out of a possible 10 points for foot protection. While it is one of the most protective underfoot due to its very hard and stiff rock plate, the lightweight mesh upper leaves the foot a bit vulnerable compared to the competition. We loved how this shoe protected underfoot, using an opposite technique to that of the ultra-cushioned HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 2. Instead, it includes an adequate amount of cushioning in the heel and forefoot, but also uses a rock plate that can take direct shots from the sharpest of rocks while barely passing on the slightest hint of a blow to the underside of the foot.


In that way it is similar to stiffness offered in the Brooks Cascadia 11, or older versions of the Saucony Peregrine (although not this year's model). While the underfoot protection is ideal in our mind, the toe bumper is lacking, and the very minimal TPU overlays on the entirely mesh upper are sufficient only for slight abrasion resistance; it does nothing to protect the sides or top of the foot from branches, roots, or rocks should your foot slip off a wet rock or a muddy embankment.

Testing the low profile  but very rigid and protective Terra Kiger 3 on a long run up Gladstone Peak in the San Juan Mountains. This loose talus ridge stretched on forever  and was perfect testing ground of the grip  durability  and protectiveness of the sole on these awesome shoes.
Testing the low profile, but very rigid and protective Terra Kiger 3 on a long run up Gladstone Peak in the San Juan Mountains. This loose talus ridge stretched on forever, and was perfect testing ground of the grip, durability, and protectiveness of the sole on these awesome shoes.

Traction


The "waffle" patterned outsole on this shoe is made of high-abrasion rubber that is both very durable and sticky enough to tackle rocky scrambling. The lug pattern really does look like it was pressed out of a waffle iron, but therefore offers a ton of deep, aggressively incut square lugs that cover the entire sole. While the rubber initially feels very hard to the touch, we found that it is also sticky enough to scramble over rocks when we tested them on a huge scrambling mission up the never-ending North Ridge of Mt. Gladstone, a teetering pile of granite talus.


Whether smearing on slabs or hopping from pointy rock to pointy rock, the traction on these shoes stuck to everything. They have not shown the slightest hint of tearing or even abrasion after months of testing, an impressive feat. Comparable shoes in terms of traction were the Saucony Peregrine 6 and the Montrail Caldorado.

The outsole lug pattern of the Zoom Terra Kiger 3 is aggressive and made of very hard and durable rubber. The close lugs tend to collect mud a bit easier than some shoes. The rockplate is very tough  making them a great choice for scrambling  and giving them a very protective  and not too sensitive  feel underfoot.
The outsole lug pattern of the Zoom Terra Kiger 3 is aggressive and made of very hard and durable rubber. The close lugs tend to collect mud a bit easier than some shoes. The rockplate is very tough, making them a great choice for scrambling, and giving them a very protective, and not too sensitive, feel underfoot.

Stability


This sports a low 4mm heel-toe drop and a low stack height, ensuring that it runs closer to the ground than most of the shoes we tested. While it is not quite as stable as the Altra Superior 2.0, it does share a similar forefoot design that is very wide compared to the heel, allowing the forefoot to splay out to its natural width upon landing, thereby increasing stability.


We loved how snugly the upper gripped our foot, holding the foot still and stable within the shoe. The great stability in this shoe allowed us to feel more sure-footed while running in it than any other shoe we tested, increasing our confidence greatly.

Less is more when it comes to saving weight while constructing an upper. The Zoom Terra Kiger 3 (top) and the Wave Hayate 2 (bottom) are two great choices for runners who want a lower profile but still need to cover some gnarly terrain and big miles. These are among the most stable shoes that we tested this year.
Less is more when it comes to saving weight while constructing an upper. The Zoom Terra Kiger 3 (top) and the Wave Hayate 2 (bottom) are two great choices for runners who want a lower profile but still need to cover some gnarly terrain and big miles. These are among the most stable shoes that we tested this year.

Comfort


Comfort is such a subjective metric, as everyone has a different shaped foot, and therefore standardized shoes will naturally feel different to everyone. That said, this shoe is easily one of the most comfortable we have ever run in. The upper may be the best fitting of the entire group, with the Dynamic Fit system and burrito-like top of the foot wrapping tongue perfectly and comfortably hugging the foot. Underfoot, this shoe is much firmer and stiffer than most of its foam cushioning heavy counterparts, but it still offers nice padding for a smooth ride.


In terms of its snug, form fitting upper, this shoe is most similar to the La Sportiva Helios 2.0, and fits more snugly than either the Editors' Choice award winning Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2 V3 or The North Face Ultra Endurance. While it is unfortunately one of the shoes that absorbed the most water in the water test after the initial dip, it helped rectify that problem by also being one of the quickest to dry out.

The tongue on this shoe is unique in that it is basically a piece of the upper that folds around the foot. This eliminates one potential sight of discomfort as there is no seam on the left side  and also helps to keep out grit and dirt.
The tongue on this shoe is unique in that it is basically a piece of the upper that folds around the foot. This eliminates one potential sight of discomfort as there is no seam on the left side, and also helps to keep out grit and dirt.

Weight


At 21.6 ounces for a pair of size Men's 11, this is certainly a light shoe, but nowhere near as light as the lightest in our review. We awarded it 8 out of 10 points, roughly comparable to the Saucony Peregrine 6. While it isn't among the very lightest we tested, it runs very light, and doesn't project the slightest hint of heaviness or clunkiness.


Sensitivity


With such a stiff rock plate underfoot, it suffered in the sensitivity department. In fact, we thought it was the least sensitive shoe in this test, on par with the La Sportiva Wildcat, and a little worse than the Brooks Cascadia 11 or HOKA Challenger ATR 2.


While we like our shoes to be sensitive enough to have an intimate feel with the trail, we weren't bothered by the lack of sensitivity in this shoe. The protection level was so good that we felt able to stomp right over just about anything we encountered, which allowed us to run very fast in such a low-light shoe. Where usually very sensitive shoes inspire us to dance along the trail, running nimbly, with this shoe we really liked just blasting right through, and so didn't regret the loss of sensitivity.

Running in front of Cascade Falls  along the Perimeter Trail in Ouray  Colorado  in the Zoom Terra Kiger 3 shoes. They provide fantastic traction on loose steep gravel as is found here.
Running in front of Cascade Falls, along the Perimeter Trail in Ouray, Colorado, in the Zoom Terra Kiger 3 shoes. They provide fantastic traction on loose steep gravel as is found here.

Best Applications


We awarded this shoe our Top Pick for Light and Fast running, and so obviously feel that would be its best application. While we are often limited in the distance we can run in low-profile shoes, this shoe is supportive enough for ultra distances without problem. Certainly this is a shoe that will excel as a race-day specialist. That said, there is actually not a single type of running that we can think of that we wouldn't be happy undertaking in this shoe.

Island Lake might be one of the most beautiful places on earth. No summer is complete without a run to this wonderful spot  which in early July this year was not yet fully melted out. Here testing the Zoom Terra Kiger 3  a low profile shoe.
Island Lake might be one of the most beautiful places on earth. No summer is complete without a run to this wonderful spot, which in early July this year was not yet fully melted out. Here testing the Zoom Terra Kiger 3, a low profile shoe.

Value


At $125, this shoe sits smack in the middle of the standard price range for quality trail running shoes. Since is such an awesome shoe, and can't imagine that you wouldn't love it, it is a great value. This sentiment is further validated by the fact that they have been very durable for our tests, and internet reviews seem to back up this claim.

Conclusion


This is one of our favorite shoes that we tested in this 2016 review and incorporates a winning combination of all the features we love to see in a trail running shoe. At times, nothing can feel more liberating or refreshing than running fast on trails, and this is a shoe designed to accomplish that very purpose. But it is also engineered to be durable and supportive enough to tackle very long distance ultras as well. It is among the best we have ever tried, and so are happy to award it our Top Pick for Light and Fast running.

The Zoom Terra Kiger 3 is a low profile  low drop shoe that has a minimalist upper  great durable traction  and a wide toe box.
The Zoom Terra Kiger 3 is a low profile, low drop shoe that has a minimalist upper, great durable traction, and a wide toe box.

Other Versions and Accessories


Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 4 - Women's
Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 3 - women's
  • Women's version of the same shoe
  • Cost - $125
Andy Wellman

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: September 8, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
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