Nike now has three main shoe offerings in their trail shoe lineup: the Wildhorse 5, Pegasus 36 Trail, and Terra Kiger 5. I’ve reviewed previous versions of the Wildhorse, which makes for an adequate, yet uninspiring hiking shoe and daily trainer. I loved the new Pegasus 36 Trail, which was one of my favorite shoes in 2019 (see review). The ride, fit, and feel of the Pegasus Trail was superb, but the outsole and underfoot protection was not enough for certain trails. I decided to pick up the Terra Kiger 5 to see if it combined the features I loved about the Pegasus Trail, with a little more traction, grip, and rock protection. I’ve been putting the Terra Kiger 5 to use over the past few months and will share my thoughts in this review.
Size, Weight, Build, and Fit
The Nike Terra Kiger 5 runs true to size for my foot, and I ordered my standard 11.5. The length is nearly identical to the Pegasus 36 Trail, but the Terra Kiger has a little more width up front. My size 11.5 Terra Kigers weigh in at a very light 10.63oz (301.4g) per shoe, which is .3oz lighter than the Pegasus Trail. The Terra Kiger 5 uses a breathable open mesh upper on the front of the shoe, and an abrasion resistant mesh in the heel. The tongue is fully gusseted and well padded, which makes the friction free interior good enough for barefoot use.
The heel of the Terra Kiger 5 wraps the back of my foot nicely without any unwanted movement or friction. The heel tab does run a little high though, which took some break-in time to feel comfortable.
The midfoot is narrow and low volume with a well designed lacing system that locks down the midfoot without creating pressure. Even on steep downhills and off kilter trails, my foot felt snug and free from side to side movement.
The toebox on the Terra Kiger is very low volume, but provides nice width. The laminate overlay toe guard is what makes the shoe feel like its right on top of your toes at all time. Some people might like this precise and secure fit for fast running and race day, but for my slow running and light hiking I’d prefer a little more wiggle room.
In use, the Terra Kiger upper has performed really well. In all of my use, my feet have remained comfortable and hotspot free. My feet stay locked down, yet comfortable on longer outings, and I never have to stop and adjust the lacing. I just wish the toebox had a little more volume.
The midsole of the Terra Kiger 5 is built on a 4mm drop platform with 24mm in the heel and 20mm in the forefoot. Nike uses a single density unit of their React foam, with a segmented rock plate in the forefoot instead of a Zoom Air unit. The removal of the Zoom Air unit and addition of the rock plate is the biggest change from previous versions of the Terra Kiger, and what separates this shoe’s midsole from the Pegasus 36 Trail. In use, I prefer the Zoom Air unit of the older Terra Kigers and Pegasus Trail. The main reason is that this rock plate doesn’t offer a lot of protection and the React midsole is packing down due to its softness.
The Terra Kiger 5 keeps the Zoom Air unit in the heel and has been a very comfortable all-day shoe despite its lower profile midsole. As long as the trails I’m on aren’t too rocky, my feet stay happy and comfortable. In use, I think the Terra Kiger 5 is best used for trail running and light hiking. Due to the softness of the React midsole and Zoom Air unit in the heel, this is not the most stable shoe for those carrying a heavy pack.
The biggest shortcoming of all Nike trail shoes from my use has been their outsoles. Nike redesigned the Terra Kiger 5 outsole with an all new layout, but the performance is still lacking. In the heel and forefoot of the Terra Kiger 5, Nike uses multi directional lugs that are very durable and perform like champs on dry and rocky trails. On slick rock and/or damp trails the traction is not so good, but much improved over the Wildhorse and Pegasus Trail. In the middle of the Terra Kiger 5’s outsole, Nike uses a strange and gimmicky sticky rubber pod that is supposed to provide traction on wet surfaces. The pod has been pretty useless, as I haven’t noticed any additional stickiness from its presence. Nike would be much better off ditching this gimmick and designing a proper outsole, with a stickier rubber compound.
The one major positive of the outsole design is that the Terra Kiger 5 has a smooth and uninterrupted heel to toe flow. The decoupling of the outsole and the midfoot really makes for a smooth ride, and the sticky pod in the middle provides additional protection with a little torsional rigidity.
The Terra Kiger 5 provides a great fit in the upper for those without wide feet and a nice ride in the midsole. The first area for improvement would be the return of a Zoom Air unit in the forefoot or a more protective rock plate. The second area to improve upon for this shoe is the outsole. Nike needs to ditch the sticky pod and design something a little more conventional here. If the Terra Kiger 5 fits your foot well, and you’re looking for a low profile trail shoe, the $130 asking price is fair. For everyone else, I suggest you look at other options. Shoes like the Salomon Sense Pro 4, Altra Superior, and Hoka Torrent are all worth a closer look.