Nike Terra Kiger 9 Review (2023): Best of the Series Yet?
Published on: 08/24/2023The Nike Kiger 9 is a gritty trail shoes with a low-drop, responsive cushioning.
A versatile, nimble trail running shoe for dry conditions and sub-ultra distances.
Don’t have time to read the full review? Here’s what you need to know.
Nike’s commitment to growing on the trail scene is clear with an upgraded speedy Terra Kiger 9 (or just Kiger 9 in the latest naming convention). Nike claims this shoe is ideal on rocky and technical terrain, with lightweight design and versatility on its side. Featuring a low drop (3 mm) and more reactivity than the previous model, the Kiger 9 is dedicated to speed and performance.
It boasts the brand’s very good React foam for cushioning, while staying impressively lightweight. The upgraded outsole with multidirectional traction lugs delivers excellent grip. When it comes to fit, the toe box and upper offer ample room for wider or expanding feet. However, stability is a bit lacking on wet surfaces.
This trail shoe will suit men and women equally if looking to move fast on technical trails and for shorter distances. It performs at its best on dry trail runs, offering a responsive ride and just enough cushion to be comfortable. And, like Nike’s other shoes, it looks really good, too!
Please read our full review of the [shoe name] for more information.
- Huge improvement in weight compared to the previous iteration
- Revamped breathable upper
- Nimble, versatile, and speedy
- React midsole provides just enough cushion for sub-ultra distances
- Works great on most technical trails
- Doesn’t grip well in wet weather
With a growing array of trail running shoes, Nike are making waves in the off-road running world. Their excellent ZoomX Zegama marked an ambitious introduction of the ZoomX foam to the trails, while the Wildhorse has been widely appreciated for its all-around performance. The brand is also investing in its marketing. For example, it now sponsors some star athletes on its such as breakout skyrunner Nienke Brinkman who dominated the 2021-2022 seasons and short-distance specialist Francesco Puppi.
When it comes to the Nike Terra Kiger range, we’re now looking at the 9th edition. The first big change with these shoes is the impressive loss in weight. The series has become lighter and lighter, without sacrificing too much of the softness for bounce and comfort. In the Kiger 9, Nike presents a lightweight trail racing shoe that can perform really well in distances under 30 miles.
How much has changed and was it worth it? Read our in depth Terra Kiger 9 review to find out.
With new outsole design and low drop, the Kiger 9 is close to the ground and grippy in most conditions.
The outsole presents an exciting pattern of multi-directional lugs that have been upgraded from the Kiger 8. Nike removed the Zoom Air pods from the previous model. According to many reviewers, it makes these shoes more stable but less bouncy. It’s a good compromise for technical trails, however.
Unfortunately, the Kiger 9 doesn’t appear to do well in the mud or in wet conditions.
The low drop (3 mm) and updated lugs combine to make the Kiger 9 agile on most types of terrain. This includes smooth trails and road if needed. The Kiger 9 is also one of the lightest trail running shoes Nike has on offer. It’s a little heavier than the Pegasus Trail but noticeably lighter than the ZoomX Zegama (and much more stable). This contributes to its suitability on technical, rocky trails.
There’s also a good amount of toe protection, which comes in handy on an off road path with rocks and roots.
The Kiger 9 features Nike’s React foam in the midsole, which offers enough cushioning for short to medium distances. It also lets the runner get some ground feel, which is great for more technical terrain. There’s good heel cushioning, too, but overall, the shoe feels light and responsive.
Stack height, drop, and underfoot feel
With a stack of 31 mm under the heel and 28 mm under the forefoot, the drop is very minimal at 3 mm on the Nike React Terra Kiger 9 (although some websites report it as 4 mm). This gives it stability on all sorts of trails, allowing runners to turn swiftly when needed. The outsole is also quite flexible, which is great for going over obstacles.
The Nike React foam (a compound of EVA polymers and blended thermoplastic) is just light enough, yet soft and comfortable, to hold out for 20-30 miles. It’s also more flexible than the ZoomX foam, which bodes well for a shoe that’s built for speed.
The Kiger 9 presents a huge improvement in weight (10 grams lighter than the Kiger 8). The men’s size 42 comes in at 9.5 oz/ 270 g, and the women’s size 40 weighs 8.7 oz/246 g. Compared to some competitors in the racing category, like the Hoka Zinal 2 (7.1 oz/200 g for the same size!), this is still on the heavier side, but much better than previously and than other Nike models.
More responsive than the more cushioned models Nike offers on the trails, the Kiger 9 is a fun, versatile ride. It doesn’t have a lot of forward propulsion as the outsole is quite flexible, but it makes up for that in ground feel instead.
Thanks to being lower to the ground and the removal of the Zoom Air pods under the forefoot, the Nike Terra Kiger 9 feels more stable and agile, according to the majority of reviews. It’s also had an upgrade in the upper, making it more breathable and reducing weight. And there are rock plates in the forefoot and heel, which many have found to protect well from trail obstacles.
Protection and breathability
Featuring a mesh upper that looks thinner and feels more breathable, the Kiger 9 performs well in warm weather. The shoe’s overall toe protection and upper foot cover are generally rated well by reviewers. The thin rubber toe protector blends in with the mesh upper, making the shoe look slicker than the Kiger 8, too.
Nike doesn’t state this explicitly on the website, but reviewers report the Kiger 9 has rock plate protection under the forefoot and heel. These plates work well against rocks and roots, while allowing the shoe to stay flexible for short distances.
Fit and sizing
There are many features that make the Nike Terra Kiger 9 a pleasure to slip on.
The tongue is thick enough (7.2 mm) to hug the top of the foot and minimize movement, which increases stability on wobbly trails. However, there’s been a compromise in design: the tongue is semi-gusseted only. As a result, there can be movement from side to side as your foot slides laterally on the trails. This was clearly done to save weight while keeping the tongue thick, but it does reduce the quality of foot lockdown a little.
Last but not least, the sturdy heel tabs are great to get your foot in and make it easier to get a good fit.
Compared to other Nike shoes, the Terra Kiger 9 is wider and fits less snugly. This will delight runners with wide feet. It’s also reported to fit true to size.
There’s no doubt about the specialty of the Nike Terra Kiger 9: speedy runs on challenging trails. They are also quite versatile, as long as you don’t run too far.
Running on rocky, rooty terrain and in dry conditions is where the Kiger 9 excels. Its grip isn’t quite good enough on wet surfaces, however. And, since it’s a slimmer shoe that doesn’t offer a lot of thick cushioning, it’s best worn for up to 30 miles.
Other possible scenarios
As long as you’re comfortable with the lower heel to toe drop, the Kiger 9 is good on a multitude of terrains, from hard packed trails to gravel and road. This versatility makes it a pretty good all-arounder in dry conditions.
Also depending on your current fitness level and cushioning requirements, you can expect speedy, responsive runs for up to 50k. As a consensus, reviewers wouldn’t recommend racing over 50k in these shoes, or going out in very wet and muddy conditions in them.
As a new model comes out, the question for all trail shoes enthusiasts is first whether the heftier price tag is worth it. Will it pay off in the long run or will these shoes fall apart in trickier conditions? With the Kiger 9, the build quality looks promising despite the reduced weight and volume of material.
Quality and pricing
It’s early days to say definitely how many miles these shoes will take. The high abrasion rubber on the outsole looks sturdy and there are 4.4 mm thick lugs. The upper, on the other hand, looks thin and relatively delicate, especially the way the thin rubber toe box connects to the mesh.
That said, some trail runners have found that both the padded heel cup and the toe box withstand a lot of pressure, which bodes well for the Nike Terra Kiger 9. Additionally, the material on the upper is engineered mesh, which should be stronger than regular mesh and keep debris at bay, too.
Currently retailing at $150, these new shoes have a lot of miles to run and plenty of advantages over the Kiger 8, so they are worth the investment.
Carbon footprint and animal welfare
Nike has a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint and contributing to more sustainable practices, notably by encouraging runners to recycle and upcycle their items. However, there is no record of the sustainability credentials of the Nike Terra Kiger 9 in particular. So, while the brand has some pledges in place, there’s no clarity around how the words are being put into action, unfortunately.
Nike doesn’t list these shoe as vegan, so we have to assume they use animal products, unfortunately.
A combination of good-quality materials, use of rock plate but retained flexibility in the outsole, and reduction in weight compared to the previous version, all work to give the Kiger 9 a clear advantage over its predecessors. It also places it firmly in the speedy, racing trail shoes category, although it’s not quite at the standard of some competitors. For fans of Nike’s design, as well as for those looking for a bit more security on technical terrain than in other “fast pace” shoes, they are weightier, but more reliable. Good for less experienced racing and for speed workouts on dry days.
|Heel height||31 mm|
|Forefoot height||28 mm|
|Weight (men)||270 g/9.5 oz|
|Weight (women)||246 g/8.7 oz|
|Features||Toe bumper, Rock plate|
|Outsole||High-Abrasion Rubber, Multi-Directional Lugs|
|Upper||Engineered Mesh, High Abrasion Overlay|
|Distance||Short, Mid, Long|
|Workout||Daily running, Racing|
Reference: Nike's official site
Comparisons – Nike Terra Kiger 9 vs.:
Nike Terra Kiger 8
Nike has made a lot of improvements in the Kiger 9, all contributing to reducing weight and making the shoe overall more versatile and fun.
It’s more breathable, the upper is less heavy and offers a better fit, and the tongue protects from any inflammation from the laces. Also, the padded heel cup and decently cushioned midsole add to comfort levels.
The Kiger 9 also has a reduced forefoot height, due to the removal of the Zoom Air pods. Therefore, it’s closer to the ground and more responsive. It’s not quite as speedy as some other racing shoes, but it’s a marked improvement from the Kiger 8. Overall, the Kiger 9 is definitely worth the upgrade.