Friday, April 6, 2012

Nike Free 3.0 V4 Review

Before I start reviewing the 3.0 V4, I want you to look at my review of the 3.0 V3 found Here.  I will be referencing that shoe and making comparisons.

I really thought that I had liked the 3.0 V3 until I got my ID 3.0 V4s in the mail.  These shoes are immensely better than their predecessor.  

Retail: $100 up $10 from last year
Weight: 7.2 oz, about the same
Heel Drop: 4mm compared to 7mm

Feel: This shoe feels way better than the V3s.  The V3s had foam taken out in certain areas of the sole that gave it an awkward feel.  The V4 has the same low to the ground feel without that same awkward feeling.  It has a groove that runs lengthwise on the sole and that gives the shoe added flexibility as does the grooves in the arch of the foot.  The upper is also much more seamless and you can go barefoot in these shoes if you want to. They also eliminated that stupid mesh patch in the back that always provided durability issues while not adding any benefits.  The toe box feels slightly wider than the last model which is usually a sought after characteristic in minimal shoes.

Durability: The durability of these shoes is yet to be seen.  The uppers seem reinforced enough to last awhile, certainly more than the last models of 3.0.  The foam is the same as other Nike foams lately and I might have issues with that foam wearing away too quickly.

Look: I always like the looks of the Frees so I probably won't say too much negatively.  I guess they could add new colorways.  The initial ones are rather plain and usually don't have two colors represented very much.  One color dominates most of the time.  I do like that the sole and midsole are not just white or black on a few models.

Uses:  This version of the free has pretty decent lockdown so it could be used to faster sessions as well as everyday running.  Something I will never recommend for any types of frees, except the Free Trails from about 8 years ago, is trail running.

Overall, I really like this version of the 3.0.  It is the first to eliminate the gaps in the foam on the midsole that made those shoes slightly uncomfortable.  I never realized how uncomfortable until I wore these shoes.  These shoes would be a great step in transitioning from a traditional trainer into a minimalist one.


Anonymous said...

When you say "eliminates the gaps in the midsole" can you please be more specific? Which gaps? Where?

Kyle Schmidt said...

When looking at the 3.0 V3 it is clear that the typical Free grooves in the bottom of the shoe are more than grooves at the forefoot and arch areas. At those areas they are about 3 times as wide and you can feel that when running in the V3. The V4 no longer has those grooves and as a result has a much more smooth ride.

Glen said...

Great review Kyle. :) I was wondering, how breathable is the upper?

Anonymous said...

Hi Kyle..
I found the 3.0 v3's a tad bit narrow for my feet that had to order a half size bigger than normal, should I do the same for the 3.0 v4's?

Kyle Schmidt said...

Glen, the upper is slightly less breathable than previous models due to the overlay but it is better than one would expect. I can have sweaty feet and have yet to run into a problem.

Width- They are probably just slightly wider than the V3s. I think I would recommend doing the same as you did for the previous models.

John B said...

Thanks for the review Kyle. I am a big fan of the Nike 3.0 V3, one thing I find irritating is that small stones and sticks get stuck in the gaps in the bottom of the shoe. The gaps look a lot smaller in v4 - have you found that this still happens in v4?

Kyle Schmidt said...


I too loved the V3s until I got my hands on these. Unfortunately that problem isn't completely solved but it definitely is much better! The size of the stones and sticks that are able to get stuck is much smaller so it is less of an inconvenience.

Anonymous said...

What primary use would you recommend this for? An avid runner friend of mine said that he wouldn't recommend this for long runs. I've had several stress fractures on my heel before and am afraid that this will cause them again. I tried them on at a running store but the sales person did not seem as knowledgeable as I thought he would be so he couldn't really give me a good advice. I do like how they feel on.

Kyle Schmidt said...


I'm an advocate of the "every runner is different policy". I think it is really stupid and ignorant to say "Asics are the best!" or "Nike Frees are the best running shoes!". For me, Nike Frees or a related somewhat minimalist shoe is probably the best. I stay fairly healthy and can put on decent miles. For someone else, like yourself, you might want something different. I am not too familiar with heel stress fractures but I can tell you that these shoes don't have the most cushion. They are fairly thin in the heel. I would go to a real good running specialty store where they can tell you what your gait and footstrike are like. Without ever seeing you I would recommend something like the Nike Zoom Vomero simply because it has heel cushion. I hope that helps!

César A. Morales J. said...

Have you tried, the new 5.0 v4?
They appear to be more breathable than the 3.0 v4. I am looking for som comparisions, because if the 5v4 are mor breathable I´d get my pair fron nikeID 5v4 upper, 3v4 sole.

Can anyone comment?

Kyle Schmidt said...

Cesar, I do have a pair of the Free Run + 3 and the upper is indeed more breathable. If I were to do the iD process again I would make the combination of 3.0 sole and Run + 3 upper.

Björn-Eric said...

First of, thanks for the good read.
Looking at new shoes now, been trying out the Nike free and thought I'd give it a go and move towards more minimalistic running.
Reading you reviews of the Nike Free 3.0 V4 and the Nike Free Run+ 3 - how are they in comparison? Again, thanks

Kyle Schmidt said...


Here is a new blog I did about the comparison between the two shoes:

Björn-Eric said...

I'll just start of with the Run+ 3 then, thanks alot.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible for me to use the V4 shoes for weight training? or should i strictly use them for running? Wondering if i should get another pair of shoes.

Kyle Schmidt said...

These shoes would be alright for weight training but if you are going to do a lot of lateral movement they wouldn't be good. Nike does make a variety of Free Trainers which have added support in the uppers while still retaining the Free feel in the soles.

Jessica said...

I am looking to being transitioning to more minimalist shoes. I know I need to do a gradual transition. Still, do you think these shoes are "too" minimalist for this transition? Would I be safer to go with one of the different versions of the Free Run, one with a little more support?
Thanks for you help.

Kyle Schmidt said...


I would recommend the Free Run+ 3 first then into the 4.0 or 3.0. The 3.0s are still much less minimal then some other minimalist shoes on the market so with proper care you could go right into them.

theltrayne said...

Hi Kyle

Curious as to why you wouldn't recommend them for trail running?

I am only really just getting into running and am looking for a minimalist shoe to run with. The routes I currently run go over gravel, mud and tarmac.

Or can you suggest another suitable shoe?

Kyle Schmidt said...

There are two main reasons why I wouldn't suggest these shoes for trails. One is grip- the soles are smooth and won't do much for you in muddy or slippery conditions. Two, is durability. These shoes handle regular running motions just fine but the uppers aren't constructed to deal with lateral motion that you might find on a trail. I would recommend a shoe that has a tougher upper and more grip for running on trails. Merrell and New Balance make a variety of models that are suitable for minimalist trail running.


Kris Marshall said...

Hi kyle, firstly thanks for the review.

I am looking to gradually move from normal running shoe to minimalist and will be purchasing the free 3.0 at the end of August, I am planning to use them at first on a treadmill until I get used to them and then take them out on the road. Is this the best way to do it or should I just get out on the road straight away?

Kyle Schmidt said...


I have never been big on different running surfaces. I think that getting a good mix of terrain is the best thing that you can do. I actually despise treadmills unless winter is unbearable and my other inside options aren't there. A treadmill may feel softer but with proper form it won't matter what you run on.


Daniel said...

Hi Kyle,

Great little review.

I'm an avid user of the Nike 3.0 range having used them since the very first model (owned a total of 7 pairs of 3.0 shoes now) in a transition from barefoot running to using some shoes. Have loved all models and changes in the 3.0 range with my favourite the V3.

I've now been using the latest model of the 3.0 V4 off the shelf (we don't have nikeID in Aus). Love the look of them but I have two major gripes which make me want to go back to the V3.

1. Ventilation. These shoes feel like saunas. Yes it's warm in Aus but my V3 always felt super comfortable in all conditions and massive plus. The new V4, I can't wait to get them off. After 2km on a warm day and they actually get hot, not just uncomfortable. The smart use of the hyper fuse tech for weight is nice but doesn't breathe.

2. Bouncy. They are super bouncy. As a midfoot/toe runner the bounce on the heel is not a requirement and to be honest a more touch to earth feel is what I aim for. These V4 feel so bouncy that direct feel is removed. It may dull after more kms. That said I have a second lesser used V3 and compared them to V4 and there is a marked difference.

The sizing is certainly different and the V4 are larger.

I do love the new sole design, weight, colors and lacing system. Also the little pressure points on the foot are less. They could be so so fantastic and guess my issues comes from user preference while Nike need to cater for a large market.

Thanks again for you review and wish everyone happy running especially in barefoot style shoes.