The most important gear we have as runners are the two items that support and protect our feet; Shoes and Socks. Blister prevention, impact absorption, and proper support given our personal bio-mechanics are a few among many critical considerations when racing ultra distances and fast-packing. And given the rugged and varied terrain trail runners travel through, both have to withstand moisture, heat, dirt, rocks, rivers, mud, mountain lions… you get the point. I do not do many product reviews, but felt compelled by two products that I have found to finally write one. Because I know if my feet go, I am screwed.
First, we will start with the foundation… Socks. I have tried all of the brands out there, some that are much better than others. Luckily I found Injinji Toesocks, which stand out above the rest. Injinji Toesocks come in several versions (Trail, Run, Sport, Compression, etc…) and I have tried them all. The various options provide a style and feel for all different personal preferences. For me, I am a RUN 2.0 Mid-Weight Mini Crew fan. Regardless of the style, all of them excel in blister prevention and moisture management with a design that leaves no room for discomfort. I never thought it was possible, but I have not once had a blister in these socks. After every race or fast pack trip, whether 50 Kilometers or 100 miles, I am just amazed at how well protected my feet are. I am still waiting for the day I get a blister, but after so many runs I think its safe to say that my feet are in good hands with Injinji. Knowing that I do not have to worry about my feet when running is a huge advantage and lets me focus on other things like nutrition and hydration.
The second piece to this equation is support and protection… Shoes. Over the past 18 months I went on a mission to find the perfect shoe for myself. I narrowed in on two shoes; the Brookes Pure Grit and also the Salomon Sense. Both boasted comfortable uppers, a great feeling mid sole and out sole, light weight, and a 4mm drop. The Sense was the perfect companion, but the price tipped me towards the Pure Grits. I was highly anticipating the release of the Pure Grit 2′s to fix the slippery out sole, but in this fix they ruined the feel of the bottom for me. So, I was back on the mission to find a new shoe. Several months went by and I stocked up on the old Pure Grits to get me through the 2013 racing season. As I depleted my stock, I started getting anxious again about finding a new trail running shoe. And then Boom, Nike released the Terra Kigers. This won’t be the most technical review, but more so a very brief overview.
Nike had been seriously lagging on the trail running scene for some time, which gave many brands like Montrail, Brooks, La Sportiva, Hoka, Pearl Izumi, and others the chance to dominate the market. But these guys need to watch out. The Terra Kiger is Nike’s answer to the growing trail running market, with a shoe that targets runners looking for a lighter shoe (8.6oz) with a lower heel drop (4mm). From when I first laced up in this shoe, I loved it. I agree with a review I read, they felt like the old Milers I wore years back. And because of that, I was inspired to write about them. But I knew I needed to put it through the test. After 250 miles, I am sold.
Upper: Damn, its comfortable. With a mesh inner sleeve and Nike’s dynamic fit and flywire technology, it fits incredibly well while being lightweight with lots of breath ability to manage moisture from your feet and from the trails. I ran these shoes through mud, streams, dirt, and the upper passed with flying colors. The only con is that you may need to buy up a size, but as I broke mine it the fit became perfect.
Midsole/Outsole: Supports a natural feel while providing good traction, protection and support. Using the Nike Zoom cushioning, Nike created a low drop midsole with an aggressive tread on the outsole. It is comfortable, can withstand extremely technical trail without reducing the ability to feel the trail when running, and is super sexy. Yes, Outsole’s can be sexy! And unlike the Pure Grits, it is near slip proof. Its got a perfect feel. Cons? None… Bravo!
I am heading to Oregon to run my first race in these bad boys this weekend, the Waldo 100K, and am stoked to see how they hold up over 62 miles in their home state. Then the following weekend I will be bringing them on a 2 day, 60 mile adventure on the High Sierra Trail w/ some scrambling up Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak. I trust the Terra Kiger’s will hold up to the test. Please Nike, don’t screw these up next year.