Sunday, April 05, 2020

Nike Zoom Terra KIger 6 Review

Article by Dom Layfield and Jeff Valliere

Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 6 ($130)


Estimated Weight:: men's 9.9 oz  / 281g (US9) 

Samples: US M10 292 g (10.4 oz) per shoe (Dom)

Stack Height: 27mm heel/23mm forefoot (4mm drop)


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Dom:  I’ve long enjoyed Nike’s Terra Kiger line of trail shoes.  The shoes have historically been soft and flexible, providing moderate protection at a moderate weight, with good ground feel.  These aren’t shoes that will satisfy five-finger minimalists or Hoka maximalist runners, but they occupy a happy middle ground that will make most runners happy.

Dom: With the previous Terra Kiger 5, Nike radically overhauled the shoe.   Personally, I was hot and cold on the changes. The forefoot was great, but the heel felt stiff and incorporated Nike’s aerodynamic pointed shape that they introduced with the Vaporfly.

Dom:  The new TK6 is largely a cosmetic refresh.  The most notable change is that Nike has reduced the width of the forefoot for a snugger, more race-oriented fit.  Otherwise, all the pros and cons of the previous shoe remain: it’s still a solid trail shoe; I still enjoy the underfoot feel up front; the heel still feels incongruously stiff.


Dom:  Balance between forefoot sensation and protection remains sublime.

Dom:  Excellent foot retention.

Jeff:  Light, fast and responsive feel, excellent fit, traction, protection.


Dom:  Heel still feels stiff and unstable on technical terrain.

Jeff V:  Lacing takes some work to snug up (laces do not hold in eyelets and tension needs to be deliberately maintained while tying).  Laces come untied easily, so triple knotting is necessary.

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 2018 Los Angeles marathon in a time of 2:46.  2019 was a quiet year, with his only notable finish at the multi-day Dragon Back race in the UK.

Jeff V.   runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 

First Impressions and Fit

Dom:  Felt stiff when I first put shoe on.  But maybe this is similar to break-in for all previous TK models?  (Although I don’t recall experiencing it with TK5). Forefoot also felt narrower.

Dom:  Otherwise everything identical to TK5.

Jeff V:  Agreed with Dom above that the Kiger 6 is largely a cosmetic refresh with a more dialed in upper, which I find to be a bit more secure and the overhead toe room has improved, where as with the Kiger 5, I noticed the tops of my toes touching the roof of the toe box. 

I had forgotten about this after not running in the Kiger 5 for quite some time, but a side by side test of the Kiger 5 and 6, it was really apparent that this issue was fixed in the latest version.  It never ended up being a problem with version 5, however it was notable. The midfoot and heel are secure and fit is true to size.

I found the TK 6 ready to go out of the box, though did find that they broke in a little more with each consecutive run and I like them more and more.


Dom:  Compared to the Kiger 5, the upper construction of the Kiger 5 is basically unchanged.   What is important to note is that the fit is noticeably snugger.  

This is a narrower, more “race-oriented” fit than the TK5.   I wasn’t thrilled about this, but I typically enjoy roomier shoes (like Altra and Topo), and find narrower brands (like Salomon) uncomfortable.   Runners that like Salomon shoes, or just prefer stronger foot retention, will probably appreciate this change.

Dom:  Other than the new colorway, the upper is basically unchanged.  There are tiny tweaks to overlays/weld-on patches, but you really have to scrutinize the shoes side-by-side to see the differences.   What hasn’t changed is a nice, airy single piece mesh which has just the right amount of give to it to make the shoe comfortable while still providing excellent foot retention.

Dom:  To my mind the heel still feels a little mismatched, with a high, stiff heel collar than is inconsistent with the soft, flexible forefoot.

Jeff:  The upper is very similar to the Kiger 5 in appearance and materials where the engineered mesh upper is light, soft, flexible and airy.  

The toe bumper protects well and since the mesh is so airy, the Kiger 6 is definitely one of the better ventilated summer shoes for high output up tempo training runs or racing.  

Using them in the Winter definitely drives home that this is not a Winter shoe, as my feet get pretty chilly in temps in the 20’s and get wet easily if snowy, wet or muddy.

Heels of both shoes have mostly pointless heel loops.   


Dom:  Nothing to report here.  No changes at all that I’m aware of compared to outgoing Kiger 5.   What hasn’t changed is a really nice forefoot feel that to my mind nails the balance between trail feel and rock protection.   I’m told there’s a rockplate in the forefoot: if so, it is unobtrusive, with none of the harshness or flat-spot that I typically associate with rockplates.

Jeff V:   No changes between the Kiger 5 and 6.  As I observed previously, the midsole is very fast and responsive with an excellent blend of cushion and protection.  It is springy uphill, speedy on the flats and is very fast on the downhills. Even on days where I intend to run mellow, the Kiger 6 is urging me to speed up.  I find the Kiger 6 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 6 is adequately cushioned and protective for most, specifically the front of the pack racer or up tempo training.  I have also run in the Kiger 6 more on the roads than I did the Kiger 5 and find them to be very competent and lively and cushioning/absorption is surprisingly adequate.


Dom:  Again, no change from TK5, which is fine, because the outsole of the 5 was already good.  On all the surfaces I’ve been able to test, traction was excellent. Sadly, the two weaknesses of the Kiger 5 outsole are still there.  Firstly, there’s the strange triangle of “sticky rubber” under the midfoot. I spent some time sliding around on wet rocks and wet logs wearing different shoes, and I couldn’t discern the benefit.  (At least, compared to Vibram Megagrip.) Like Jeff, I’d rather just have more area covered by the regular outsole. Secondly, the weird, stiff, pointy heel persists. Ugh.

Jeff V:  The outsole is the same as the Kiger 5’s.  

As I wrote for the Kiger 5, the tread here is surprisingly good.  

The lugs are a bit more than moderate, well spaced and somewhat aggressive, although they are completely absent under midfoot.  

Personally, for the rough terrain I favor, I would like to see continuous tread under the midfoot, but in this application,  and for the Kiger 6’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 6 was on the edge of breaking free, so I backed off a little and they were fine (though I will confess that even though the Kiger 6 can handle this terrain, is not necessarily built for it).  Otherwise, I run most terrain with confidence and little hesitation. 


Dom:   As with its predecessor, the Kiger 6 has a beguiling, energetic, agile feel, that begs you to pick up the pace.   And as with its predecessor, I wished that the heel was softer and more flexible: when landing off-camber, this is a shoe that will tip rather than bend.

Jeff V:  The Kiger 6 is fast, responsive and inspires an uptempo pace on just about any terrain, from roads to technical trails.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Dom:   I’ve liked all of the Terra Kiger lineage, and version 6 is no exception.  However, there’s not much to report here, as the shoe is exactly like the Kiger 5, but with a snugger forefoot fit.  For my anatomy and taste, the slimmer fit was not really an upgrade, but the narrower-footed will certainly appreciate the change.

Dom:  Otherwise, all the strengths and weaknesses of the previous shoe remain: it is a well-rounded, highly competent trail shoe.  I love the underfoot feel of the forefoot, which makes the shoe feel fast and light and connected to the trail. The back end, on the other hand, remains stiff and unstable.   It’s disappointing that Nike didn’t remedy this.

Dom:  As Jeff says, not an obvious choice for ultra-distance runs, but fantastic for daily training, and racing up to marathon/50k distances.

Jeff V:  The Kiger 6, while only marginally improved over the 5 with its better fitting and slightly more secure upper, is a really fun shoe to run in and a worthy successor.  I find the Kiger 6 to be more and more enjoyable each time I run in it and it has enough cushion and protection for every day training, yet is speedy, light and nimble enough for racing.  Though perhaps not my first pick for a 50 or 100 miler, I could easily envision running 2-3 or perhaps up to 5 hours in them without my feet feeling beat up or fatigued.

Jeff’s Score:  9.4/10

Very minor nitpicks, but I think lacing could be improved, as well as adding lugs underfoot to have a more continuous outsole coverage.

Comparisons Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Nike Terra Kiger 5 (RTR Review)

Dom:  I think we’ve gone over this plenty in the review above.   It’s basically the exact same shoe with a slightly narrower fit than before.   It almost feels like Nike just adjusted their sizing so that a 9.5 is now called a 10 in the new shoe.

Nike Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Pegasus is a more substantial shoe, perhaps better for longer distances, but the penalty is added weight along with a less secure fit.  The Peg 36 is definitely not as speedy as the Kiger 6.

Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  Comparable in stats, I find the Kiger 6 to be faster and more responsive, with more cushion/protection underfoot.  The S/Lab Ultra 2 has a more precise upper, but I find the Kiger 6 to be more comfortable for longer duration runs.  The Kiger 6 also costs $50 less, so that is a huge factor for many.

Salomon Sense Pro 4 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  Another close comparison in many ways, but the Sense Pro 4 is even quicker, more secure and more agile, with superior traction.

Skechers Speed Elite TRL Hyper (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Skechers is lighter and more responsive, a rocketship really, but the Kiger 6 is still really quick with more substance, a better upper, more durable and substantially treaded outsole.

Dom:  The rockplate in the Skechers is really a propulsion plate, and dominates the feel of the shoe.  The Skechers is also much lighter, and generally trades comfort, ride, and grip for speed. The Kiger 6 is a much more traditional, mainstream choice.

Saucony Peregrine 10 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  Kiger 6 has more compliant cushioning, is more responsive and is lighter, but the Peregrine 10 has better traction and overall protection.  Kiger 6 for really fast running on some technical or below terrain, Peregrine 10 for all mountain maximal protection.

La Sportiva Lycan (RTR Review)

Jeff V: 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 K6. Kiger 6 is quicker and the deeper, but not overly pronounced lugs help provide better traction in a wide variety of circumstances.  The Kiger 6 is much more of a race shoe/uptempo trainer, where I see the Lycan as a more subdued, moderate terrain trainer.

Hoka Torrent (RTR Review)

Jeff V:   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 I have not noticed a significant gap in performance.  The Kiger 6 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).

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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Chris said...

A little said it runs true to size but then later mentioned it’s a 9.5 labeled as a 10? I’m a 10 and was a10 in v5. I should go up?

Telemarker said...

Hi Chris,

Sorry if I was unclear. What size you should buy depends on how you like your shoes to fit. I'm a 10 in TK5 and enjoy the roomy fit. The TK6 felt to me like Nike had just relabeled a 9.5. i.e. noticably snugger all round. If you like the sound of that, then buy a 10 in TK6. On the other hand, if you want TK6 to feel like TK5, consider buying a 10.5 in TK6.

Hope that clarifies things,
-- Dom

Chris said...

Yes thank you!!

Anonymous said...

The photo below "As I wrote for the Kiger 5,..."
and above
"The lugs are a bit more than moderate,"
is of the Wildhorse 6.

Jeff Valliere said...


Anonymous said...

Curious about road performance comparison to Sense Pro 4. Otherwise seems the SP4 is preferred all around even to the well liked TK6

Chris said...

There were some reviews stating that the out-sole is quite slippery on wet rocks. However, I noticed you both commented good traction on web rocks. Can you elaborate?

Anonymous said...

How does the forefoot feel and protection/cushion/ground-feel balance compare to the sense pro 4? Which forefoot could you run longer and which is the better upper for technical stuff? In the market for lightweight, low-drop, do-it-all trail shoe so a little more clarification would be awesome, thanks.

Stay safe out there :)

Jeff Valliere said...

A toss up, either would be great for your purposes, I tend to lean towards the Sense Pro 4 for more technical, Kiger 6 for longer, less technical.

Marcel said...

once again a great review: one question remains for me: believeintherun forcefully warns about the weak grip at wet conditions ( could you also recognize this during yours tests? your outsole-test seems quiet positive to me but now i am wondering if this is the right shoe to run a coast trail for example where the stones often are wet...?

phl0w said...

I'm also a little confused @Dom. My TK5 are pretty much done and I need a new pair of trail shoes. The TK5 were my absolute favourite shoes for trails ever. I have a wider foot and for a Nike, the TK5 really felt comfortable. You said the 6's fit runs narrower than the TK5. Do they also run short? If so, then your suggestion to go a half size up makes sense. If, however, they don't run shorter, then sizing up is not an option, since it would result in a too long forefoot. On the fence, should I just buy another pair of TK5? I never noticed the shallow toebox touching my toes, or it's not something I'm generally bothered with in shoes.