I will be reviewing the Nike Terra Kiger 3. They are a lightweight, minimally cushioned trail shoe with a low heel & form-fitting upper. There is a 4 millimeter drop from the heel to forefoot, placing it within my sweet spot. As of typing this review I have only put 14 miles on them, but they were pretty tough and wet miles. So lets break these bad boys down.
Upper– Really well-fitting upper with their new FlyMesh technology. It hugged my foot tight while twisting and turning on the trails, without being too tight or cutting off circulation. The lacing setup is amazing, something Nike has seemed to perfect. We’ll see how the lacing bands hold up on the trails though, I can see twigs catching and ripping the bands. The fixed tongue worked well and did not slide, but it is a part of the ankle collar and took some adjusting to get used to. At first it felt like I was wearing an elastic band that may soon cut off circulation, but it got better as the run went on. I’m sure this setup helps keep dirt out and combined with above ankle socks for the winter it should be alright. So no real complaints. I tested out the drainage, something I had read as complaint before purchasing the shoes, by running through a couple of puddles and creek crossings. They did not seem to hold any crazy amount of water, drained pretty well. But I will be keeping a close eye on this since early in my big November race I will be crossing a creek.
Sole/Tread– The deep tread is amazing with a very sticky rubber to boot. I may be a tad biased since my last trail shoes were almost 2 years old, but the sole is awesome. It had been raining the past week here in RVA, so the trails were very muddy and wet. There is one short climb on North Bank trail that is nothing but red clay which stays smooth and slick when wet with nothing for regular shoe soles to grab on. For my trail run I ran 2 loops, 1st time around as I ran up the section, I watched a women go down with hiking boots; slipping and grabbing her husband for support. 2nd time around after going up I decided to run back down a couple of times to test out the lugs. They held up really well, I even gave myself an extra boost to slide down the hill but failed.
I’m sure I looked like a little kid entertaining himself by running up and down a hill, but such is life. I have not road tested these shoes, but the tread looks smooth even with such deep lugs, so I image they will work out just fine. Running on wet rocks was spotty, but I think that is the case with just about all shoes. If the rocks were rough and bumpy the shoes did just fine, but the smooth and slick rocks were an issue.
Cushion & Protection– These shoes have a solid amount of protection, think less than Brooks Cascadia but more than most of New Balance’s Minimus line. I am a huge fan of my Cascadia’s for hiking, but their sole is a little too thick for me trail running. Although there is not a huge difference stack height wise between the Cascadia(27mm) and the Kiger (24mm), the Kiger’s feel faster and closer to the ground. Their does not seem to be a rock plate, but the rubber is thick enough to protect against any rocks, so I am not concerned.
I will be testing these shoes out more in the next couple days. We still have a lot of standing water so I will further test the draining and I will also hop on the roads to test out the lugs on a smooth surface.