Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 Multi Tester Review

Article by Dom Layfield, Jeff Valliere, and Sam Winebaum

Nike Air Zoom Kiger 5 ($130)

Nike as of now has exactly two trail shoes in their line up: the Wildhorse 5 a 10.2 oz heavier duty, stiffer long distance trainer (RTR Review) and the Kiger, a more agile, lighter (9.5 oz) all arounder. The Kiger 5 sees a significant overhaul with a new React midsole foam midsole with a single Zoom Air unit in the hee, and substituting for the front Zoom Air of the Kiger 4, a new segmented rock plate, along with a more aggressive multi terrain outsole and changes to the shoe’s upper. We set out to test the new Kiger on varied terrain in Colorado, California, and Utah.

Tester Profiles
Dom 47, trains and competes mainly on trails in Southern California running about 3000 miles and 500k ft of vert per year.  In 2017 he was 14th at Western States 100 and in 2018 finished 50th at UTMB and 32nd at the Los Angeles marathon in a time of 2:46.
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 61 with a recent 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR.   These days he runs halves in the 1:35-1:41 range and trains 40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces in the 9 minute range on trails and roads in NH and Utah. He is 5'10" and weighs about 165 lbs.
Jeff runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's.

Pros and Cons
Dom, Jeff, Sam]: Roomy but low front snug toe box
Dom, Jeff, Sam: Plenty of underfoot protection while retaining good trail feel and forefoot stability
Jeff,Sam: Responsive, agile and fast
Jeff, Sam: Secure fit
Jeff: Excellent traction

Dom, Sam:  Ghastly 80’s fluo colorway, Stark black and white colorway with giant Swoosh
Dom:  Heel is unstable on technical/off-camber terrain
Dom, Jeff:  Shallow toe box may irritate toenails
Dom, Jeff, Sam: Outsole lacking lugs underneath mid foot

Official Weight:  9.49 oz / 269 g
US M8.5  9.2 oz / 262 g
US M9.5  9.6oz / 274 g
US M10  10.3 oz / 292 g
Kiger 4 
US M8.5 weighed 9 oz / 255 g
US M10 weighed 10.1 oz / 287 g
4mm drop, Stack heights to follow when confirmed
$130.Release: 4/1/19

First Impressions and Fit
Dom:  Butt-ugly colorway;  Shallow toe box; Good grip;  Unstable heel appears to have be cloned from road shoe.

Dom:  The Terra Kiger 5 was always going to have its work cut out, as previous iterations of the shoe (and I’ve run extensively in all of them) were among my favorite trail shoes.  Version 3 was my favorite, as I found that the minor update to 4 (which lost the full Flywire construction) gave up a little mid foot retention. The Kiger lineage was consistently a goldilocks shoe for me: light enough to race (up to 100 km), but cushioned and comfortable enough for daily training.  Mostly they have been a good match for my foot shape. I know some runners questioned their grip in the wet, but this was never an issue for me: about the only quibble I had was that the outsole lugs wore down quickly. Otherwise, my experience with durability has been excellent.

Dom: My TK5 arrived and -- WOW -- I could barely believe the eye shock.  I’d previously seen photos of a similarly-colored prototype, and had assumed the wild colors were temporary, part of the development process.  For what it’s worth, my daughter thought the white and fluo colorway was kinda neat (apparently a recurrent theme among RTR reviewers, whose kids all seemed more taken with the color choices than their parents).  But whatever your taste, white mesh on a trail shoe is a surprising choice.

Jeff:  The colorway is a bit out there in my white, hot pink and blue variation and it takes a bit of work to coordinate my kit (just kidding of course), but they actually started to grow on me after a few muddy runs and dulled the coloring with mud.
Aside from my questionable colorway, the Kiger 5 looks awesome, with a no nonsense race look to them.  I normally wear a size 10 in most shoes, however because of availability, I had to go with a size 9.5, which most often works, although I typically prefer 10.  The 9.5 ended up being a better fit for me than I anticipated. However the ceiling in the toe box feels exceptionally low, which I at first wondered if that was because I sized down a half size, but was reported by other reviewers.
Sam: My sample is all black with a gigantic Swoosh on one side and the Nike Trail logo on the other. I almost sort of wish I got the candy fluo version…Once they muddied up they looked cooler.

At my true to size they have slightly more relaxed overall fit than K4. T toe box overlay bumper is lower but also more pliable. Elimination of Flywires makes for a slightly more relaxed, comfortable lace up but maybe a touch less secure at the last lace up where the two Flywires used to be. Th new heel counter is felt, and is fine but a bit high in comparison to K4 almost non existent one.

Dom:  The snug, modestly stretchy forefoot of the TK5 follows the shape of previous versions.  All have had a fairly shallow toe box, but I only found this to be a problem in version 4.  
LEFT: Kiger 3                                                        RIGHT: Kiger 5
LEFT: Kiger 5                                                        RIGHT: Kiger 4
Just eyeballing v5, the top of the shoe is conspicuously low and I was immediately concerned that the problem was going to be worse than before.  
To my surprise, though I was intermittently aware of the upper pressing on my big toe nail, it never felt uncomfortable in testing, even when my foot was shoved forward on steep descents.  However, toenail pressure has never been an issue for me, and if you have touchy toe nails, I suspect that the TK5 is not the shoe for you.
Dom:  Another interesting aspect of the shoe is the unusual lace configuration, with distal loop concealed in a ‘tunnel’ between inner liner and outer mesh layer, and anchored by an overlay across the forefoot.  
This allows the lace web to extend further down the shoe, and really secures the forefoot.  Ingenious stuff.
Dom:  The heel counter is much higher than previous iterations of the Kiger, which had notably low counters.   
LEFT: Kiger 4                                                        RIGHT: Kiger 5
LEFT: Kiger 5                                                        RIGHT: Kiger 3
TK5 has heel webbing loops, not sure why: in the past I’ve found this is convenient to clip your shoes to your climbing harness, but I doubt this is going to be a common usage for the Kiger.
Jeff:  The engineered mesh upper is light, soft, flexible and airy, while simultaneously providing excellent security and foothold.  The toe box has very low volume vertically, as I was quite aware of my toes touching the top when first trying them on. When actually running in them however, I completely forgot about the low overhead. Toe width is not necessarily wide, but is very accomodating for my low volume foot.
Foot hold is good in the heel, midfoot and forefoot, however the lacing could be a bit more taut and dialed in for added midfoot security.
The toe bumper is thin and semi pliable and because of the low ceiling in the forefoot, I feel it on the top of my big toe, but has not yet caused any problems.
The gusseted tongue is quite thin, but get the job done minimally. It has dense central pad.
The Kiger 4 had a softer, thin and more pliable tongue without the molded central pad of the K5.
The heel collar is medium high and is on the minimal side of being moderately padded.  The heel counter is semi rigid, well structured with a bit of flexibility.
The heel collar of TK5 is significantly higher than before (TK3 on right) and TK 4 (left below)

Sam: As Dom and Jeff have said the front toe box bumper is low over the toes but very pliable, considerably more pliable than the TK4’s. I had no initial pressure when first trying on, often an issue for me before a shoe breaks in as I have one troublesome big toe nail, and had no issues with the height on the run.
The midfoot hold until the last 2 lace ups is very similar to the TK4, an inner bootie close tp the foot, then another outer bootie forming essentially a “U” with the lacing holder straps attached to the outer mesh and middle bootie.

It is at the front of lace up and rear we see big changes.
At the front instead of crossing conventionally straight across to the other side, an additional set of lace loops goes forward and further to the sides of the upper and through very soft overlays and then the tunnel between outer mesh and inner liner Dom described. Note also the molded dense tongue padding the K4 lacks.
LEFT: Kiger 4                                                        RIGHT: Kiger 5
The total distance from top to bottom lace holes remains about the same on the lateral side but appears extended a bit on the medial side. What I think we get is more flexibility from the upper between the two last lace holes and a touch more structure over the top of the middle front of the foot from the overlays as well as more medial hold up front.

I found this new set of lace holders improved the front foot hold of the soft Kiger uppers, as both have very soft mesh and no overlays otherwise beyond the Swoosh, and in the K 5 (see photo below) an overlay angling towards the front from the lace up which is first thicker then very thin as it heads to the midsole. I wonder if this overlay would better secure the rear if it angled back instead of forward.
TOP:  Kiger 4                                                      BOTTOM: Kiger 5
The rear lace up and ankle and achilles areas see significant changes. Instead of two Flywire cords at the last two lace ups we have lace holes running through a stouter and stiffer rear lacing area and heel collar area.

Further back the collar is more rigidly padded and narrower overall all the way back to the achilles collar.
Instead of very low side heel collar heel counter pieces with soft padding we have a full high relatively stiff heel counter and achilles area, both more densely padded than K4 and narrower in entry.
The net effect is a more stable rear of the shoe and more secure upper for me. I found that the K4 upper and hold tended to stretch and get sloppy especially when wet. Not so here but reading on you will see we don't all agree on the stability of the rear of K5.

TOP:  Kiger 4                                                      BOTTOM: Kiger 5
Dom: Nike has given up on the “Zoom Air” pods in the front of the TK5, substituting a segmented flexible rock plate there. The rear Zoom Air unit remains.  (On which subject, I once got a nail through the heel of a TK3, puncturing the air pod, and resulting in a super-rare zero-drop Kiger.) The underfoot feel -- happily -- is similar.  I’ve yet to run in TK4 and TK5 side-by-side, but my impression is that TK5 provides a little more protection under the forefoot, while retaining similar excellent stability and feel.

Jeff:  The midsole here is very fast and responsive with an excellent blend of cushion, protection.  It is springy uphill, speedy on the flats and rips the downhills. In fact, even on days where I intend to run mellow, the Kiger 5 is urging me to speed up.  I find the Kiger 5 more than adequate for several hours of running on rocky, technical terrain, but for more time than that in the technical stuff, would probably seek a shoe with a bit more underfoot.  For shorter, or mid to longer distances on softer, less technical terrain, I think the Kiger 5 is adequately cushioned and protective for most, specifically the front of the pack racer or up tempo training.
Not sure whether to add the protruded heel under midsole or outsole, but is a clear nod to the VF 4% and the design of other recent Nike road shoes.
I questioned at first whether or not it would have any positive or negative impact, but have not really noticed any advantage or disadvantage.  It does look sleek and fast however.

Sam: Love React as a midsole foam. It is dense, light, and stable, exactly what you want in a trail shoe, not so much in a road shoe where I find the all React foam Epic React somewhat dull in feel. I think the rear Zoom Air unit and front rock plate add some pop a la carbon plate in the Zoom Fly 2 Flyknit also with React. The substitution of a segmented rock plate for the Zoom Air unit upfront leads to a slightly firmer and more stable forefoot. I could clearly tell they were slightly more stable up front on trail not noticing a firmness difference on trail, but side by side, one on each foot on pavement I could feel a slightly firmer forefoot in the K5.

Dom:  Unlike the Wildhorse 5 update, which appears to keep the same outsole as before, Nike completely revamped the outsole of the TK5.  The new lugs are similarly prominent but more directional. Not only that, but there’s a new diamond-shaped and treadless patch of “sticky” rubber under the midfoot, which I believe is intended to grip on slick surfaces like wet rock and logs.  While this sounds like a good idea, the bald patch is quite large, and the loss of lugs at the tail end of the forefoot and front end of the heel was occasionally apparent in conditions of marginal traction (snow, mud) -- although this could be a case of expectation bias.
LEFT:  Kiger 5                                                      RIGHT: Kiger 3
Dom:  I haven’t had much opportunity to compare the TK5 to its predecessors in wet conditions, but I can say that in the dry, loose grit that is prevalent around Los Angeles, the TK5 grip was excellent.  I felt comfortable enough to attempt a PR on a steep, technical descent on my first outing in the shoes, and was only thwarted by the TK5’s heel instability.

Jeff:  The tread here is surprisingly good.  The lugs are a bit more than moderate, well spaced and somewhat aggressive, though are completely absent under midfoot.  Personally, for the rough terrain I favor, I would like to see continuous tread here, but in this application and for the Kiger 5’s intended purpose, it is very effective.
Traction is very good on wet rock, dry rock, hard packed dirt, snow, slushy/dirty/muddy/imprinted ice, mud, loose dirt etc….  There were a handful of occasions while running fast on very steep, off camber, loose, chaffy off trail descents where I felt the Kiger 5 was on the edge of breaking free, so backed off a little and they were fine (though will confess that even though the Kiger 5 can handle this terrain, is not necessarily built for it).  Otherwise, I run most terrain with confidence and little hesitation.
I am already seeing some wear in the forefoot tread, which after 30 or so miles seems a touch premature to me, so will keep a close eye on this.  I do run on particularly rough, rocky trails though which is very rough on outsoles, so may not be an issue for those cruising less technical terrain where the Kiger 5 is better suited anyways.
Interesting side note, while running (actually, more power hiking than running) up an off trail, ~30 degree, 600 foot slope intermittently covered with over the ankle wet snow, with an ice base and overall wet, loose pine needles and pine cones, my two running partners, one wearing the latest Brooks PureGrit and the other wearing the Salomon XA Elevate were marveling at the traction I was getting and asked to get a closer look at what I was wearing, as they were slip sliding and I was relatively stable and sure footed, which I found to be further testament to the versatility of the Kiger 5.
Sam: The outsole is an excellent improvement. I found its grip excellent on hard snow, frozen and wet mud, and dry looser terrain. I did not find its grip in softer snow as good as we are missing so much outsole surface at midfoot. As of yet, given my winter testing conditions I have not run the Kiger on wet rock and roots to see how effective the center sticky rubber is.
I was pleased to see how well they shed sticky Utah spring mud where the lack of center outsole lugs and the directional pattern helped shed sticky stuff.
Kiger 5
Dom:  For me, the TK5’s standout weakness is the shoe’s heel, which looks and feels like the back end of a Nike road shoe, complete with their signature aerodynamic wedge.  Why on earth would Nike think this is appropriate in a trail shoe? Whereas the heel counter in TK #2 through #4 was low and minimal (counter in TK1 was non-existent), the counter in TK5 is full-height, extending right up to the heel collar .  While this construction is unnoticeable on smooth surfaces, as soon as the shoe is taken into technical terrain, off-camber transitions and forefoot landings result in the sensation of the shoe twisting one’s foot. Worse still, any off-camber heel strikes felt unstable: time and time again, I experienced the sensation of my heel toppling off the heel stack.

If I may be permitted to speculate, I attribute this heel instability to a collision of unfortunate design choices.  Firstly the new shoe is stiffer in torsion -- which is undesirable in a trail shoe because it prevents the forefoot and heel from contacting the ground at different angles.  Secondly, the higher heel collar limits the amount the rear end of the shoe can rotate underneath the runners heel -- so off-camber landings tend to twist the runner’s ankle.  Thirdly, the outer rim of the sole of the TK5 is stiffer than TK4, resulting in a tendency to tip off rocks rather than to conform around them. Fourthly, I’m tempted to blame the pointy, tapered heel that extends unnecessarily rearward.  

Dom:  Otherwise, the Terra Kiger’s ride is buttery smooth across the board.  The forefoot is well cushioned but with no squishiness. Stability is excellent.  On road, the TK5 is more forgiving than its predecessors.

Jeff:  Somewhat firm, yet not overly so and very quick and responsive, even running fast paces on pavement, the Kiger 5 can fool you (at least me) into believing it is an uptempo road trainer or even racer.
Sam: The Kiger 5 has an excellent balanced and versatile all terrains ride. There is plenty of resilient cushion from the React foam and rear Zoom Air unit , plenty of agile well protected forefoot feel from the React foam, rock plate, and grip that doesn’t get in the way of moving fast on any terrain.

Conclusions and Recommendations:
Having enjoyed many earlier incarnations of the Kiger, I wanted to love the Terra Kiger 5.  The new forefoot feels really nice, retaining a similar creamy ground feel with a little more protection than before.  Stability, foot retention and grip are all outstanding… in the forefoot. However, I felt the new heel was inconsistent with the Kiger lineage and a significant misstep from Nike: the rear of the shoe is high and stiff, and very unlike the glove-like conformable front end to the shoe.  Worse, the heel feels unstable on off-camber surfaces.

I should note that other reviewers have not remarked on this same problem, so I wonder if it might be specific to some idiosyncrasy of my running technique or biomechanics.  However, I experienced it consistently when pushing the pace on steep technical descents.

This is particularly disappointing, as the shoe is otherwise excellent across the board, performing well in wide variety of conditions, and with carefully-tuned Goldilocks characteristics that will appeal to a broad spectrum of trail runners.
Dom’s score:  8.7/10
-1.0  The black eye for me is the “road shoe” back end: stiff, high, unstable.  
-0.2  Otherwise, I ding the shoe for shallow toe box
-0.1  I’m also unconvinced by the overcomplexified outsole with sticky rubber diamond

I have not run in a Nike trail shoe since the very first Kiger and Wildhorse.  I liked the Kiger back then, but did find it to be a bit too thin underfoot, especially on my usual rocky trails.  By version 5 the Kiger has come a long ways, improving upon cushioning, traction, protection and upper. I think the Kiger 5 is a wonderfully versatile shoe, very quick and spirited for uptempo training or racing on just about any surface, though would suggest it for more moderate terrain with the ability to handle more technical terrain.  Road performance is great for a few miles here and there and can double as a door to trail shoe easily, but for longer distances on pavement or rock would prefer a bit more cushion underfoot.

So far, the Kiger 5 may very well be the best the best shoe I have reviewed so far this year, or at the very least, the fastest and most fun.  I feel fast and confident running on a wide variety of terrain and conditions.
Jeff’s Score:  9.7/10
-0.1 for midfoot hold/lacing, which could be a bit more dialed and secure
-0.1 for low toe box height, which may be problematic for some
-0.1 for lack of tread under mid foot
The Kiger 5 is a great all around, faster feeling trail shoe focused on moderate distances at any pace. The Kiger 3 was my trail shoe of the year in 2016 and the Kiger 5 is better yet in overall upper support, traction, cushion and trail feel. Lively and quick it demonstrates that not every trail shoe has to be a long Ultra plodder.

It has more than adequate cushion, stability and protection yet is agile and fun to run. The new upper is an improvement for me, especially the rear construction over the somewhat unstructured and less secure Kiger 4’s. The new front construction with React foam and a rock plate strikes a good balance between protection, stability and feel.  I did not have issues with the rear protruding heel midsole but wonder if it is more a visual design element than functional. Could the weight of the rear protruding fin be instead dedicated to broadening the heel landing sides allowing a reduction in stiffness, height, and weight of the heel counter? I would also like to see additional lugs at midfoot, sticky rubber is fine there but some profile please.

These relatively minor complaints aside, Kiger 5 is a fine update and well worth a look if you seek an all around fun to run trail shoe with plenty of protection and great trail feel.

Sam’s Score: 9.65/10
-0.2 for lack of mid foot lugs, even low profile traction would be a good idea.
-0.15  for questionable functionality, seemingly based on current Nike road shoe design cues: rear rudder, mimicking Vaporfly, leading to a more substantial heel counter and maybe additional weight and for no outsole profile lugs at mid foot, mimicking road Epic React’s outsole design.
YouTube Video Review

Terra Kiger 4 (RTR Review)
Dom:   Despite a radical overhaul of the Kiger in which Nike left nothing unchanged, the Terra Kiger 5 retains a similar feel to its predecessor… in the forefoot.  The heel however, disappointed me, feeling like Nike has transplanted the rear end of a road shoe. On mellow trails, the new heel was unobtrusive (and actually better on road), but in technical terrain, I found it felt unstable.
Sam: The Kiger 5 is a complete re expression of the Kiger formula with a new midsole foam, less Zoom Air and more rock protection, mostly welcome changes to the outsole, and a beefier rear upper. The overall concept of a fairly light, agile, and decently cushioned every day trail runner does not change nor did the ride much at all except somewhat for the better as I find it more stable and secure overall and livelier and yet more versatile than its predecessor for my moderate pace, terrain, and distance trail running.

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 vs. Hoka One One Torrent (RTR Review):  
Jeff: The Torrent was my co-favorite shoe in 2018 (along with the EVO Mafate) and when comparing with the Kiger 5, it might be a toss up as to which I like better.  The Torrent is a touch lighter, a little more stable and the cushioning underfoot perhaps more suitable for longer distances. Traction is also a bit more aggressive and continuous underfoot with the Torrent, which I prefer, but have not noticed a significant gap in performance.  Despite my call for improvements for low toe box and improved forefoot hold, the Kiger 5 has a more dialed and refined upper overall and is a slightly quicker, more responsive shoe than the Torrent (and that is saying a lot).
Dom: The Kiger has a softer, more anatomically foot-shaped upper, has better forefoot retention, and a more cushioned forefoot.  Torrent is a little lighter, firmer underfoot, and has more consistent traction. Both shoes suffer, in my opinion from a heel collar that’s a little too high: a lower collar would make both feel more nimble.
Sam: While I never had issues with the Torrent upper,  it is more voluminous and not as foot conforming as Kiger’s with often a sense that there was not quite as secure a hold as ideal but also never really experiencing any problems, just a sense it was at the limit at times. I would agree that Torrent’s traction overall is better executed. Torrent cushion is a touch more plush, its forefoot softer but not quite as stable and assured as it has no rock plate. Most of my trail races max out at 25K  and for that distance and daily training the Kiger 5 is a slightly better choice for me.

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 vs. Salomon Sense Ride 1 (RTR Review)
Jeff: Similar fit but with advantage going to Salomon for Sensi Fit upper for better security, though I find myself adjusting on the fly with Sense Ride and not with the Kiger.  Kiger 5 has better protection and cushion, particularly in the forefoot and is significantly faster and more responsive feeling.

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 vs. Salomon Ultra Pro (RTR Review)
Jeff: Ultra Pro is a larger shoe, has more plush all day cushion and relaxed, but secure fit.  For longer days at slower paces, I would pick the Ultra Pro, but for more uptempo training or racing, the Kiger 5 is much faster and far superior.

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 vs.  Altra Superior 4 (RTR review)
Dom: The Superior 4 is a shoe that suits my taste: overall soft and flexible, wide in the forefoot, snug in midfoot and heel, and with an outstanding glove-like fit to the upper.  The shoes are surprisingly similar in the forefoot:  Superior slightly wider and with more ground feel (even with Stoneguard plate inserted).  TK5 is snugger in the forefoot, and with more rock protection.  Kiger midsole is firmer, Superior on the squishy side,   Both shoes offer comparably good midfoot retention: calling a winner here would depend on specific alchemy of foot shape and gait.  As I made clear above, I'm not taken with the back end of the TK5, shoe is too stiff in torsion, outsole too rigid, heel counter is high -- all inconsistent with the flexible forefoot.  Superior 4 heel is far nicer.  Superior 4 is lighter (by 17g, about 1/2 oz per shoe with Stoneguard installed).  TK5 does win in terms of traction - outsole of Superior is soft and can give way when pushed hard.   Finally, Superior is zero drop, Nike TK5 is (I believe) 4 mm.

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 vs. Salomon S/Lab Sense 7 SG (RTR Review):  
Jeff: Both are very fast, agile and suited to racing, with great foothold and traction.  The Kiger 5 is heavier by a few ounces, but more substantial underfoot in both protection, cushion and stability and is more versatile than the Sense 7 SG, which I have concluded is purely a race day shoe.
Sam: Agree with Jeff but on moderate grade harder snow and mud taken fast the SG 7 is super fun. I would run further for sure in the Kiger and train in it  but the more specialized super light SG 7 when the conditions match its strengths is a rocket.

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 vs. Saucony Peregrine ISO (RTR Review)
Jeff: About an ounce heavier, the Peregrine ISO offers more midsole cushion and overall plush feel, superior outsole with greater durability and a more refined ISO upper than the Kiger 5 and a more dialed fit.  Though a reasonably well performing and fast shoe, the Peregrine ISO is not nearly as responsive and fast as the Kiger 5.

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 vs. La Sportiva Lycan (RTR Review)
Jeff: The Lycan has lower profile tread, but sticker rubber, so performs better on slabby rock type terrain.  The Lycan also has a slightly more secure upper, but not quite as soft and light as K5. Kiger 5 is quicker and the deeper, but not overly pronounced lugs help provide better traction in a wide variety of circumstances.  The Kiger 5 is much more of a race shoe/uptempo trainer, where I see the Lycan as a more subdued, moderate terrain trainer.

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 vs. Topo Athletic Terraventure 2 (RTR Review)
Dom:  The Terraventure 2 has a more pronounced rockplate than the TK5, resulting in better rock protection, but slightly poorer ground feel.  TV2 is firmer underfoot. Topo’s toe box is generally more spacious (especially vertically), with a more conventional feel to the shoe. The Terraventure 2 is also heavier by about an ounce per shoe.

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 vs Topo Athletic MT-2 (RTR Review)
Dom:  From the Topo line up, the closest shoe is the venerable MT-2, which is light and flexible.  This has long been a favorite shoe of mine, as I’m generally not a fan of rockplates -- although the TK5 may make me a convert, as the forefoot feel is outstanding.  MT-2 is notably lighter than TK5 by almost an ounce per shoe, but doesn’t provide as much rock protection under the forefoot. TK5 has a snugger, more secure fit.

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5 vs. New Balance Summit Unknown (RTR Review)
Jeff:  The Summit Unknown is a little more stable with an outsole more suited to technical terrain.  Both shoes are comparably fast/responsive, with the Unknown being a little lighter. Fit of the Summit Unknown was a bit problematic for me, giving my pinky toe blisters, which was too bad, because I liked it otherwise.
Sam: Summit Unknown has lower profile lugs, a firmer more responsive ride, and a very dialed in snug and quite narrow up front upper. It is a shorter distance faster shoe for me which crosses over to road better than the Kiger 5 if you like a more race flat like ride there.
The Air Zoom Kiger 5 releases April 1st, 2019
Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
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Chris said...

Yet again you stand at the top of the shoe review game. Now some of the negatives bum me out a bit to hear, BUT too many shoe reviews are really just plugs for a model and lack any honesty, so I greatly appreciate you giving us the truth. I've been watching for days for this to be posted and while I was hoping for a more shining review, I also know that running shoes are such a personal thing and as we each have our own biomechanical quirks, even things like the feel of cushioning can feel different. I was a fan of v3, but always felt it was merely a "good" shoe, always grabbing the WH for most runs. V4 never felt all that secure and the heel counter, or combination of the heel counter and upper fit maybe, caused some discomfort in my heel. I've always like the feel and height of the Wild Horse, so maybe I'll like this more. Loved the "special" purple/yellow/black model of the V3, but this white one IS butt ugly. I'll have to go with black in the new NIke's for the first round and hope some new colors come out with the next wave. So as always I have a few questions:

1. Heal instability an issue for all testers or mainly Dom? I'm probably beyond my "fast" years, but do like to pick up the pace now and again. I am a pretty dedicated mid/fore foot striker, so fingers crossed it's not an issue...maybe less so,at more moderate speeds.

2. Out of curiosity what sock thickness were people testing with? I tend to run mainly in the thinnest Smartwool socks with no cushioning, except in winter. I never had an issue with toe squishing/rubbing with the v4. Do you think it will stretch with use? Lower than the new WH5?

3. You were talking about sizing and going DOWN a size. Do you still recommend same size as WH4?

4. Not really a question, but I'm curious to see what the sticky pad will do. Based on it's description the spring trails here in Vermont should be a good testing ground. Between the wet rocks, moss and roots a spider man mid-foot landing could be game changing...OR a gimmick.

5. That outsole wear after 30 miles? Those treads look CHEWED up. Hoping they fare better here where the trails are "softer" and more forgiving...less like sharp teeth!

Anyway thank you again for the excellent review and for the supportive follow up.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Chris,
Thanks for kind words.
Heel instability was for Dom. So far neither Jeff nor I noticed. Dom tends to prefer less and lower heel counters.
Outsole wear. Jeff tests on extremely aggressive steep rocky terrain taken fast, so protruding lugs can get sheared off. So while maybe a bit concerning the wear is not totally out of the ordinary or exceptional for his terrain.
Need to test the WH5 to compare and didn't run the WH4. The trick with this "low" toe box is that the front bumper is very pliable. I think it is a clever design to lock the forefoot in a decently wide and otherwise no overlay upper, beyond the clever front lace overlays.
Please let us know on sticky pad. Things are clearing up enough here in NH that I will be able to test on my usual trails in Stratham very soon with plenty or wet rocks and roots.
Sam, Editor
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Anonymous said...

Great review...any comparison to Salomon S-lab Ultra Versions or Ultra Pro?

Thanks, JT

Anonymous said...

big disappointed about they put big nike's swoosh design, so cheap.why nike changed that just before released. I really loved prototype design.

Anonymous said...

Too generous scoring? For Dom to take only -1.0 off for what he considers a big problem (kind of like 4 and half star out of 5 star still), I'd take off -4 or -5. Not a knock on Dom, I see this in all your reviews, where even shoes you dislike get 9/10, and there are often meaningless -0.1 deductions.

Jim said...’re free to start your own shoe reviews website? 🤷‍♂️

Emre said...

Hey guys, how does sizing compare to Kiger 3? Do you recommend getting same size as the Kiger 3 or going up a half size?

Greg S said...

What about compared to altra superior 4? you still like the altras better?

SG said...

Nice to see this review. I agree with Dom that the earlier kigers are actually quite good on technical terrain because of the pliability of the sole and heel collar. When I go for pr's down some of boulders steeper more technical descents, the kiger 3 is still a top choice, even though I know it's meant for mellower trails. It's just easier for me to dance through a mix of terrain because they torque my ankles less. I think the rounded edges of the outsole helps as well.
That said, I like pretty much any shoe Jeff likes so I'm eager to try these even if they are a departure from the 3's. Thanks for the review!

Telemarker said...


You're right, I should add a comparison to Superior 4. Will do so.

Sam Winebaum said...

We encourage readers to read the detail and analysis and not just focus on the scores. Overly subjective very low scores are not useful either. Most shoes these days are very well designed and built the differences subtle and often affecting one runner differently than an other based on a multitude of factors. I will let Dom speak for himsel,f and he does in the review, as well but the heel issue for him did not affect all of his uses of the shoe.
Sam, Editor

Telemarker said...

Yeah, you're absolutely right: I should deduct more points. I struggle with the out-of-ten point system, and find it very hard to be consistent. I recommend that you ignore the total score and just go by the text.

Anonymous said...

Not wanting to come across negative here too, I think the reviews here are really great and thorough - one of the best review sites (if not the best considering the frequency and volume of reviews) on the web. However, its another vote from me against the points system - I understand that its very hard to give points, but I do wonder if presenting them actually takes something away from the reviews, rather than adding to them.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks for your kind words and advice. Much appreciated. The points system is a challenge and we will ponder some more. The key purpose really is for the reviewers to express take a stand specifically as to where the shoe needs work, didn't work for them more than the actual total. Any ideas to help achieve this are welcome.
Sam, Editor

Telemarker said...


In comparing sizing between TK3 and TK5, I think that TK5 runs a little bigger. I found I preferred the fit of the TK3 when I moved up half a size (US M10.5) over what I typically wear in most running shoes (US M10). However, in the TK5 the sample pair I received were M10 and felt about right.

So buy TK5 in same size or 1/2 size down from your TK3. Don't size up.

-- Dom

michael_burke said...

To the poster that commented about Nike changing to the big swoosh on the final design. Same. Was so bummed out to see that change. Makes them look cheesy. Like a bad basketball shoe. Terrible design choice. Prototypes looked MUCH better with the small swoosh.

Chris said...

Dom- Now you have me wondering. Jeff and Sam say go with same size as V4. I was the same 10.5 in both V4 and V3, which is 1/2 larger than other brands, but that’s always been the deal with Nike. I can’t remember how V3 and V4 compared.

I’m ordering on Monday. Would you agree with Sam and Jeff to stick with my v4 size?

Anonymous said...

We encourage readers to read the detail and analysis and not just focus on the scores. Overly subjective very low scores are not useful either."

I think it would actually be useful to have more "subjective very low scores" because ultimately, almost any judgment on a shoe is very individual. There are shoes that have been rated very well here or elsewhere that I don't like at all, and I'm sure others have similar experiences. To balance that out, you've got multiple testers, which is the greatest strength of this site, which makes it about the only review site that is worth following. I think the scores would be more meaningful if the spread in scores reflected that individual preference more.

I've had the same feeling about some shoes as Dom about downhill stability, so I pay attention to that text, but as someone that runs up and down hills all the time, would not rate such a shoe 8.7/10 even if it were perfect otherwise. Similarly, I cringe whenever Sam says something like, "This shoe would be great if it had an extra 4-5mm in the heel", as I worry brands would take that advice and make everything with higher heels, but I'm OK with it knowing that it is often balanced out by other reviewers that like the lower heels.

My impression is that the scores out of 10 are like school grading, where only the top half of the range is being used. In school 50% is an F. For product ratings for shoes, which is inherently subjective, I like the scores out of 5 (such as out of 5 star Amazon ratings) with the entire range being used. To translate between your scores and what I think is more representative in my mind, I subtract 5 from your reviewers' given scores and take that as out of 5 and round to the nearest half. For instance, Dom's score 8.7/10 becomes 3.5/5, Jeff's 9.7 becomes 4.5/5, your 9.76/10 becomes 4.5/5. That feels more realistic to me anyway.

Jim said...
"’re free to start your own shoe reviews website? 🤷‍♂️"

Just site feedback for Sam, and can be ignored if he doesn't agree. I have no desire to review shoes.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thank you very much for taking the time to provide very useful advice and perspectives. We used to score out of 5. I think your approach of taking out of 10 then -5 and rounding is interesting to consider. As far as subjective personal scores that is the beauty of different voices. What I worry about is that the non deep or technical reader for whom a shoe will be just fine will dismiss it out of hand based on a particular very individual very low score. That is why when very low scores happen the reviewer is asked to explain as carefully as possible why in narrative and deductions. Same for a very high score. We all see and use shoes differently based on all kinds of factors that is why we have recently added the tester profiles. What do you think of listing all scores up top and at the bottom of articles and averaging (be it 5 or 10 scale) so in the case of Kiger, Average tester score: 9.35 (8.7, 9.6, 9.7). As far as drop, the absolute number is less important than the overall design construction and materials making up the shoe. I have zero issues with the 4mm drop in the Kiger and many Altra. However, and many runners are kidding themselves if they think they have a nice forefoot mid foot strike to the bitter end of a long run or race or even at ll. An overly soft or firm midsole or outsole can make even a 4mm drop shoe a negative drop or a harsh board when heel struck. The opposite is true for me anyways, A 10mm plus drop with a firm heel and poor transition to mid foot is misery too. My personal happy medium is around 6mm where many shoes are headed, thankfully I say, and away from the extremes.
We will continue to strive to improve and thank you for your contributions.
Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

Would love to see more review sooo many salomon shoes, but only compared it to the S-lab 7. S-lab sense Ultra (3 versions), Ultra pro and Sense Ride seem much more in the Kiger 5 class and I know you guys were all over those shoes early on. Unless you are preparing a side by side review of all of those like you do, then I will patiently wait.:)

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
Jeff has added comparisons to Sense Ride 1 and Ultra Pro. Thanks for asking.
Sam, Editor

Chris said...

For what it's worth, I got my Kigers in the mail today. I would have never thought to order a second SMALLER pair to compare as I've always been a 10.5 in Nike Trail shoes...but I might have to agree with Dom. I'm ordering a 10 now to compare. My normal 10.5 feels longer and "less fitted" which was a surprise. Maybe it's just the new fit, but they do not feel like the same size, so I'd recommend folks try sizing on both ends if possible.

Bobcat said...

Has the red colorway been axed? (also the blue ones for woman)
I don't see any red ones for sale...

Sam Winebaum said...

See red here :

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam,

I'm not sure I'd call Dom's downhill experience with the Kigers just subjective. He could very likely find that he is slower in downhill time trials in them, making that an objective disadvantage, for him at least.

As for the heel rise in shoes, I agree with you that that single dimension doesn't tell the whole tale, including the part that some shoes are effectively negative drop (Hoka Huaka for one, with the large cutout under the heel). I also agree that most runners are heel strikers. But I know what I need personally, having run 33 years, and probably nearing 100,000 miles.

Currently and for the last couple years, if I try to run in shoes with heels higher than about 5-6 mm, my right Achilles (at insertion) will begin to ache/become inflamed after several runs if not immediately. When I'm in shoes that are around 4 mm heel or lower, the Achilles will feel better/recover. It's kind of the opposite of what many experience, and in fact the opposite of what I experience a decade ago with a non-insertional Achilles injury, when it recovered fully while using a shoe with 10 mm heel. But I can make sense of it. The lower heels put an eccentric load on the Achilles for a runner like me that lands mid- to forefoot, which is exactly the kind of load that is recommended therapy (eccentric heel drops to flat). Similarly, last summer when I had a flare up, I went for a 12 hour run in the mountains, which included probably 9 hours of uphill running/hiking that provided eccentric therapy for all that uphill time. That single day's effort cured my Achilles, and I didn't notice any morning stiffness or any hints of injury for months until I happened to go back to using some of my higher heeled shoes

Anonymous said...

"What do you think of listing all scores up top and at the bottom of articles and averaging (be it 5 or 10 scale) so in the case of Kiger, Average tester score: 9.35 (8.7, 9.6, 9.7)."

Whatever presentation that makes sense to you. I'm reading the text and reading between the lines there really more than looking at the score anyway, like you initially suggested. I only spoke up because it feels like every shoe gets an "A", and there seems to be a disconnect between the score (not low enough) and the text when a tester seems like they probably wouldn't buy a certain shoe with their own money.

Average tester score has meaning for the readers, and it's good to see the spread in the scores. The spread is what makes people think, "Am I more like the runners that loved this, or more like the runners that didn't?" So I'm in favor of lower scores when a review doesn't get on with a particular shoe, because it increases that spread and makes the reader think more.

Telemarker said...

Hi Chris,

Just checked the comments again, and saw your question about sizing compared to TK V4. As I said to Emre, I would lean toward dropping 1/2 size down from your V4 size.

Apologies for not catching this sooner. Sounds like you already ordered same size as previously and found them a little larger than expected. Please let us know if 10 works better for you, as I think a lot of people may have a similar experience.

-- Dom

Bobcat said...

How is the fit for those of us with "Salomon feet"?
Should I go down a size? (I've never run in Nike before)

Telemarker said...


I suggest you get TK5 in your regular shoe size. In the past I'd bought TK1 through 4 in 1/2 size bigger than my regular size, but TK5 runs true to size.

In regard to the "Salomon feet" question, I find Salomons consistently too narrow. But both Sam and Jeff regularly wear Salomon shoes, and they both liked the fit of the TK5.

-- Dom

Jeff Valliere said...

Sorry, I am a bit late to the party here. Thanks for all the kind words and I for one really appreciate constructive criticism and like to hear how we can improve our reviews. It is an ever evolving process and we put a lot of heart and soul into what we do, a labor of love where the time we spend testing, writing, revising, taking photos, doing research, collaborating with one another, working on comparisons and then following up for years sometimes in the comment sections far outweighs any cost savings of scoring a free pair of shoes. We all love it though!

As to sizing, I have not worn a Kiger 4, so can't compare. As I mentioned in the review, I am normally a size 10 and almost passed because the only pair available to me was a 9.5. I am glad I tried the 9.5 though, as they fit me perfect. In fact, I have more room in the 9.5 Kiger 5 than I do the size 10 La Sportiva Kaptiva I am reviewing now.

As far as the heel goes, I have searched for the instability that Dom mentions, but could not find it personally, but Dom and I have different feet, running styles, terrain preferences. I have found that I can move quite fast over most terrain, no matter how technical and not experience any instability. I have run for decent stretches of fast downhill singletrack, mostly smooth, but curvy, with the occasional rock garden thrown in at sub 6 pace, even sub 5:30 pace at times (coming within seconds of PR) and found no issues, so I think it all depends on a host of variables unique to the runner.

Outsole longevity, if you run solely on steep rocky terrain at fast paces, the Kiger 5 may not hold up as well as some other shoes meant specifically for that. That is OK, as no matter how well the K5 can do that for a while, it is just not meant for that entirely (consider XA Elevate, Bushido2, Kaptiva or even Hoka Torrent).

Scoring, this is tricky for sure and I agree, the relative high scores can be misleading on their own. We have discussed this several times and have not come up with a rock solid solution that will satisfy all. I try to be constructively honest and even if a shoe or product does not suit my needs, I try my best to consider the ideal use and target market and be cognizant of that in my scoring. For example, Altra just does not work well for my foot shape combined with the technical terrain I frequent. However, I very much respect what the company is trying to do and how wildly popular they are, especially in the Ultra world. I score generously based on a host of factors, not just how they work for me.

Anyways, thanks again and thanks for supporting RoadTrailRun!

Bobcat said...

Thanks Dom, Jeff, useful info - I've ordered in my regular size.
I will give some feedback once they arrive. Unfortunately the red colorway is not available in Europe yet. Will have to go out and find mud to cover the fluorescent colors.

Chris said...

Dom you were right, going down 1/2 was the right move and they fit great. My first true to size in a Nike.

Michael P said...

I have the Terra Kiger 4s and really like them. I was anxiously awaiting the release of the 5's. Just want to throw some comments out on sizing-

Initially for the 4's I was running in a size 9.5, the fit was awesome, but after some time I realized that they were slightly cramped in the front since I was usually running faster stuff in the TKs. I got my next pair in a size 10.0 and they were perfect - nothing was lost in the secure foothold, and gained a bit of extra space to avoid crunching my toes at times.

I just received my TK5 size 10.0 - and they is definitely more space in the forefoot than the TK4. I have to really tighten the laces and even then I feel like there may be some foot sliding. I already ordered 9.5's, and I'm 95% sure I'll be sending back the 10s.

Bobcat said...

Just some feedback on sizing:

My size 42 arrived and the length is true-to-size compared with other shoes. No way I can imagine down sizing especially with the low forefoot overlay. Fit is good in forefoot and heel, a bit wider through the midfoot/arch compared with Salomon/Inov8. Hope foothold is OK with the fairly stretchy upper. I love the responsiveness/bounce of the shoe - I really wish Salomon could make a more lively shoe with something equivalent to the react midsole (the Sense 6 is a perfect shoe otherwise).

Joe S. said...

Not sure anyone is still reading at this point, but for the prospective buyer I do find the comments useful, so here goes.

- The React foam throughout feels great - soft and yet responsive. More cushy and less firm feeling than the Kiger 4. Combined with the rock plate I feel this negates the need for a Zoom Air unit in the heel, and it might be a better shoe in the heel if they did away with it.
- The heel 'wedge' feels inconsequential to me, and doesn't interfere with my stride, but does kick mud up the back of my legs which is a bit annoying.
- Outsole grip is slightly better than the Kiger 4 in muddy conditions but is just as hopeless on wet rock. I don't think the tread pattern is as much as a problem as the rubber compound. Really wish Nike would invest in a better akin to Salomon's Wet Traction Contragrip. Something more sticky but still durable enough to make it a shoe that will last.
- Fit is true to size, but I felt that about the Kiger 4. Foot hold overall is superior to the 4 throughout, provided you get the lacing right. It's a sock-like and slimmer feeling shoe, with a less padded tongue, so there's more room to make lacing adjustments. It takes some work it get this feeling secure but when you nail it, it feels superb.
- Definitely a significant overhaul and a step forward for the Kiger but with room for improvement. I'm happy I went ahead and made the purchase. A great door-to-trail and all rounder for drier conditions.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Joe,
Thanks so much for valuable insights!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Dom about the heel issues. My experience is the same, with the heel counter/collar being too high and too stiff, and I have no idea what Nike was thinking with the pointed rear heel that juts out. That alone is a deal-breaker for me. Everything about the shoe feels pretty great, so it's really unfortunate.