Way back in 1989, Nike brought performance athletics prowess to the great outdoors with the launch of ACG (All Conditions Gear). Now for the line’s 30th year, the brand has unveiled fresh designs, including the Nike ACG React Terra Gobe. The brand-new shoe is a blend of runner-approved foam and a durable DWR-coated upper that looks like it belongs in a ’90s ad. Built for the trail, these shoes do double duty in urban areas and densely wooded locales. True to ACG’s original aspirations, they’re the latest example of Nike’s efforts to get the user out of the city.
The shoes dropped at the end of April after Nike put them through 2,000-plus hours of testing. I tried them out myself through sun, wind, rain, sleet and snow on a recent trip to Portland, Mt. Hood and all around the Hood River in Oregon. Here’s how they fared.
The Good: The most exciting feature is the inclusion of Nike React foam in the midsole. It’s the same foam found in the Nike Odyssey React, a sneaker I ran in throughout the winter. The lightweight, bouncy foam keeps your feet comfortable all day long. The beefed-up outsole includes both medial and lateral pads that add enough traction for you to walk on packed snow without slipping. A vibrant yellow (or blue) upper with a simple webbed design is easy to tighten and stretchy, yet lightly supportive. I liked the heel pull tab that made it a snap to slide in and out of the sneakers. Similar to running shoes, these 11.22-ounce hikers should last about 300 miles.
Who It’s For: The bright yellow upper is definitely for the hiker or aspiring outdoorsman who likes to get outside and wants to make a statement. The look is quite a departure from your typical Danner hiking boots in a dark nubuck leather upper. Nike wants to encourage everyone to get outside — especially those living in cities — so the street-style vibe carries you from the concrete jungle to the actual woods. These are not for the user looking to summit Mt. Everest or another super technical trail, but they’ll work for someone who aspires to climb the Grand Tetons — or the stairs at the nearest train stop.
Watch Out For: While the shoes are water-resistant, they’re not waterproof. If you step into a puddle, your socks will get wet. That said, they kept my feet dry during many hours of testing in snow, sleet, rain and mist. Also, right out of the box, these shoes are comfortable, but after wearing them all day long, two days in a row, I felt some rubbing on my right Achilles. My socks were pretty thin, so I’d recommend wearing hiking socks with these types of shoes.
Alternatives: If you want something with stronger ankle support, look for a hiking boot that comes up over your ankle. For hiking shoe aficionados who don’t like the look of this shoe, check out the Adidas Outdoor Terrex Free Hiker Boot ($200), Danner’s Tramline 917 ($200), or Teva’s Arrowood 2 Mid ($105). The Terrex boots have a somewhat similar look to the Nike ACG shoes, should you still crave a bit of sneakerhead appeal.
Verdict: If you’re looking for a pair of sneakers that will double as your hiking boots and work in a pinch as your running shoes, these retro-styled kicks will do the trick. While the colors aren’t for everyone, the top-notch comfort and easy on-and-off style works for urbanites seeking a sneaker that’s worthy of the streets but doesn’t slip on those upstate trails.
Nike provided this product for review.