It’s finally time for me to review the Nike Terra Kiger 5, the all-mountain trail running shoes for racing fast and hard. When Nike sent me my first pair of Nike Trail shoes, the Pegasus 36 Trail a few months ago, it instantly became my favorite trail running shoe, which my in-depth review reflected.
There’s a new Terra Kiger in town – and it has just taken the crown on our ‘best trail running shoes’ buyer’s guide. Read my in-depth Terra Kiger 8 review now.
I have since run many more miles in the Pegasus 36 Trail, including racing Matterhorn Ultraks and UTMB OCC.
I still love them but the time had finally come to test out some other shoes by Nike Trail. I have had so many detailed questions about the Terra Kiger 5, all of which I am going to answer, right here in this review.
RELATED READING (links will open in new tabs):
- Nike Pegasus 36 Trail Review
- Nike Trail Running Shoes Compared: Which Are Best?
- Best Trail Running Shoes this year (so far…)
Fit Advice and How the Terra Kiger 5 performs while running
The Nike Terra Kiger 5 fits true to size, relative to many other popular running brands. Drop a comment down below with the brand you like to run in and I’ll let you know how they fit relative to them.
The Terra Kiger 5 is a comfortable trail running shoe but it’s definitely more minimal than the Pegasus 36 Trail for example, which has much more cushioning in the midsole. The Terra Kiger has been designed this way though, and it’s very well suited to running shorter trail races and training runs because of it. By shorter, I mean anything up to 30km. If you want to go further, say for marathons or ultramarathons then I would recommend looking at the Pegasus 36 Trail.
If you have any experience with the Salomon S/Lab Sense range of running shoes then the Terra Kiger 5 should feel familiar to you. In fact, I would say this lightweight racing shoe is a direct competitor for the Salomon Sense shoes.
The Terra Kigers are very much neutral running shoes which means you won’t get any added arch support inside the shoe, which for me is a very good thing! The Kiger 5 is an all-mountain running shoe that performs very well on wet, rocky trails but not as well on road-sections. So, if you’re looking for a hybrid shoe that performs just as well on roads as trails then once again, I’m going to point you to the Pegasus 36 Trail as an alternative.
Terra Kiger 5 Upper Construction
The breathable, perforated synthetic mesh upper is very breathable allowing air and water to flow through the shoe as conditions change.
You can see how breathable it is by taking a closer look at the material above the toebox area. In this photo, you can also see the durable and semi-protective toe cap which will also keep front-splashes of water out of the shoes.
The Terra Kiger 5 upper has two layers, with the interior layer being softer to the touch, and the outer being more hardwearing from the environment. This double-layered upper feels comfortable against the top of your feet while at the same time hugging them securely.
There’s also an inner sock that attaches the padded tongue to the forefoot area adding to that slipper-like fit, this is a feature that many running shoe brands are opting for nowadays. It’s a design feature that keeps the tongue in place, stops chafe and prevents debris from entering the shoes. Win-win-win.
There’s a finger loop on the rear of these shoes which is something the Pegasus 36 Trail does not have. This makes slipping the shoe on nice and easy.
The soft, padded ankle walls are nice and low, which means they won’t rub on your ankles and allow your feet to maneuver and adapt to the trail beneath them. If you think your feet don’t feel secure in the Terra Kiger 5, try threading the laces up to the top holes, that should lock them in nicely.
As mentioned briefly earlier, the toe cap is not reinforced and seems to protect the durability of the shoes, rather than your toes, this does, however, keep the overall shoe weight down and it allows for further flexibility towards the forefoot toe area. The plastic-coated toe cap will stop puddle water from entering the shoes.
Terra Kiger 5 Tongue & Laces
The tongue, in my opinion, could use some work, and it’s really the only thing that doesn’t feel optimal in terms of comfort. The tongue on the Pegasus 36 Trail feels much more comfortable. It does have some level of padding, visible in the photo above but unfortunately, the padding is just as raised on the underside of the tongue as it is on the top, and you can feel it when the laces are fastened.
The lacing system is good, but again I prefer the Flywire cables system found on the Nike Pegasus 36 Trail. Having this extra layer of ‘stretch’ from the Flywire system means that your feet will stay comfortable when they expand or contract due to body/environmental temperature fluctuations.
How much cushioning does the Terra Kiger 5 have?
One Zoom Air unit in the midsole heel provides responsive comfort that’s pretty unique to the Nike brand. The midsole is made with Nike’s React foam that generally give a nice comfortable ride. The midsole is very flexible toward the forefoot too, which is essential for a trail shoe that needs to conform to the ground beneath it. A shoe that can flex, combined with a low drop like on this shoe means your feet can use their joints and muscles in a more natural manner.
What’s the grip like on the Terra Kiger 5 Outsole?
The outsole performs really well over pretty much any terrain due to the multi-directional lugs that have a sharp, crisp shape to enhance your grip in all conditions. See below for a closer look at the forward-facing lugs towards the rear which provide much more grip on the downhills.
There’s also a segmented rock plate in the forefoot which helps shield your feet on rough terrain that may otherwise hurt the bottom of your feet.
How much of a drop does the Terra Kiger 5 have?
The drop from heel to toe is 4mm, which gives you a good feel for the trails when the terrain gets extra technical.
How much does the Terra Kiger 5 weigh?
The Terra Kiger 5 weighs 282g (9.9oz) which is very lightweight for a trail running shoe and it’s also the lightest Nike Trail shoe available.
How wide is the toe box?
The toe box is wide enough to allow your toes to splay out for a more natural stride and greater control on the trails. The width of the shoe, in general, is medium. It is not a narrow shoe like La Sportiva and Salomon.
Nike Terra Kiger 5 VS. Pegasus 36 Trail – What’s the difference and which is best?
- Cushioning and comfort. The Terra Kiger 5 has less cushioning in the midsole than the Pegasus 36 Trail which makes it good for shorter fast runs but not for endurance running. The Pegasus 36 Trail, on the other hand, is super comfortable even for ultramarathons. Pablo Villa Gonzalez recently won the extremely technical UTMB TDS 2019 (145km with 9100m positive gain) wearing the Pegasus 36 Trail. I prefer the comfort of the tongue on the Pegasus 36 Trail as it conforms better to the top of the foot.
- Responsiveness. Less cushioning and a lower drop of 4mm from heel to toe gives the Terra Kiger a more responsive ride for racing over shorter distances of up to 30km. The Pegasus 36 Trail has a drop of 10mm but it feels less than that.
- Weight. The Terra Kiger 5 weighs 282g, while the Pegasus 36 Trail weighs 292g (only 10g heavier).
- Grip. The Terra Kiger 5 has a more aggressive and sticky tread which performs a bit better than the Pegasus 36 Trail in the wet.
- Breathability and water drainage. Both shoes perform equally well here.
- Which is the best trail running shoe? For me, the Pegasus 36 Trail is a better all-round trail and mountain running shoe, as reflected in my Best Trail Running Shoe Buyer’s Guide.
- Price. Both shoes cost the same, $130 RRP.
Here’s a complete comparison breakdown of the Nike Trail shoe collection, including the Wildhorse 5: Nike Trail Running Shoes Compared: Which Are Best?
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The Nike Terra Kiger 5 is a lightweight, high-performance trail running shoe for racing and aggressive training for any terrain with a distance of 30km or less. Weighing only 9.9oz and with a drop of 4mm, it’s a minimal shoe that will have you running fast and light with a running form that is close to barefoot running without a full zero-drop shoe. This is a good thing because that’s how our feet have naturally evolved to run.
The cushioned Nike Air Zoom midsole combined with a midfoot rock plate makes for a very comfortable and protected ride.
The grip on the outsole is sticky and very effective in the wet and on rocky terrain, and because of the multidirectional lugs at the rear, the shoes are able to grip even when flying down some of the steepest trails. The Terra Kiger 5 definitely holds the best grip out of the entire Nike Trail collection. In my opinion, at $130 the Nike Terra Kiger 5 is very reasonably priced too.
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Hi, I really enjoy Terra Kiger 5. But it totally lacks traction on wet rock and wet wood. You need to have this in mind picking them for your next race or workout. Besides this its a great shoe.
I disagree about 2 things:
I ran a 100 km road ultra in the Kiger 5’s and they worked just fine, so they would make a great road/trail hybrid.
I ran numerous 50-100 km trail ultra’s and they worked just great.
While wet grip is not great on certain rock types like limestone, I found it works well on wet granite. No shoe works well on wet wood…
I am on 800 km on one pair and 400 km on the 2nd, and both are going strong. React foam is really durable and fun to run in.
You ran a 100km road ultra in a minimal trail running shoe? Very brave! I didn’t say you can’t wear these for long ultras, I just recommend going for the Pegasus 36 trail or wild horse instead as they are far superior in comfort and cushioning. The Terra Kiger rules for shorter more aggressive trail races.
Thing is I wouldn’t call these shoes minimal even though they are light weight.
For me they offer more cushion than the Sense Ride, S/lab Ultra, Torrents, etc.
Kiger 5 forefoot cushioning is not that different the Epic React honestly.
And they are bouncy, not just soft and retain cushioning over many km’s. Torrents are compressing after 20-30 km.
The only thing they need to improve is the outsole compound for wet grip. Imagine a Kiger 5 with Vibram litebase?!
FYI all these impressions come from me as a forefoot striker, so it can be that for heel striking other shoes like the Ride or Torrent feel softer.
Thanks for the additional insights Tim. It’s certainly the most minimal shoe of the Nike Trail range and feels comparable to the S-Lab Sense HG to me. Not had any experience with the Torrent yet though. Hopefully soon though!
I’m on my second pair of Kiger 5 shoes, after wearing down the lugs on my first pair over 300 miles. Great shoes for 5-20 mile runs, or longer if you really prefer a more responsive, low drop shoe.
I also have a pair of Pegasus Trail 36 shoes, but the ride is so very different – almost fluffy – due to the dual Zoom Air units and the older foam midsole. Different strokes for different folks, but the Pegs are likely better for the runner doing road to trails and back again vs. technical singletrack – where the Kiger seems to shine. Thanks for the review!
You’re welcome and thanks for you personal insights into the Terra Kiger and Pegasus 36 Trail!
Hi there, great review, very helpful! I’m used to running in the Salomon s-lab SG when I trail run. I can go from moderate mountain biking type trails to gnarly mud all the way to 3500m high mountain tops in the Rockies with them. Do you think the Terra Kiger (6 now) would be enough or should I stick to the s-lab?
I think the Terra Kiger should be enough. Certainly worth a try if you’re looking for an alternative to the S-Lab SG. It’s a pretty similar shoe in stats and feel.