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Nike Free 3.0 v4 – Our Take

April 16th, 2012

Nike Free 3.0 v4 Men's Running Shoe

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Now lowered to a 4mm drop, the Nike Free 3.0 v4 lets your foot do its thing with an upper that hugs close but still gives you room to flex.
(View Men’s Free 3.0 v4 and Women’s Free 3.0 v4)

Big Updates

  • New Upper Tech: A seamless, ultra-thin upper material called NanoPly covers most of the stretch mesh upper, providing additional structure in key areas.
  • More Flex: Even though the v4 has tighter gaps between the siping of its platform, it improves on the flexibility of the prior Free 3.0 with the addition of a Transtarsal Flex Groove that runs the length of the shoe.
  • Lower Drop: Nike lowered the heel-to-toe drop of the Free 3.0 v4 by raising up the forefoot stack height by 3mm.

Road Test

The Free 3.0 v4 continues in the tradition of the Free series to provide outstanding flexibility that lets your foot move naturally. But don’t confuse this with a near-barefoot shoe – all of our testers reported feeling fairly separated from the ground in this Nike. That’s a benefit if you want to save your feet from the grit, grime and other hazards the roads have to offer.

The flatter platform of the Free 3.0 v4 helps mid and forefoot strikers get into their groove a little better, but since Nike did not lower the heel stack height, testers found the shoe to work just as well as prior models for heel strikers. No matter how they landed, testers appreciated the very linear progression to toe-off.

The more streamlined look of the Free 3.0 v4 carries through to the fit of the upper. The shoe doesn’t give your foot a whole lot of wiggle room. The snug fit contrasts a bit from the Free 3.0 v3, which had a more stretchy upper material that felt close but never constricting. Testers liked the look of the NanoPly overlay, but for the most part wished for a bit less structure, particularly in the forefoot at the base of the laces. The shoe also feels more anchored in place in the heel than the prior version. Overall, the fit is a good match for runners with narrow, low-volume feet.

Runners Say

“Amazingly lightweight and pretty responsive for a mid or forefoot strike.” – Lindsay

“It’s definitely not a barefoot experience, but the degree of flexibility and softness is hard to beat.” – Matt

“Imagine a sock with padding on the bottom and you have the Free 3.0 v4. The NanoPly allows varying degrees of flexibility and structure in the upper.” – Jonathan

Matt Running Shoes , ,

  • http://usbfashion.com/ usbfashion

    Overall, the fit is a good match for runners with narrow, low-volume feet.

  • http://yourcouponguy.com/ Bryan

    I really love the color of this one. I have to say, this is really cool. Would definitely love running more with these.

  • Phillip Jones

    Nice review of the 3.0. I currently run in the Brooks Pureflow. Do you think the 3.0 is the most comparable of the Nike Free line to the Pureflows?

  • http://www.runningwarehouse.com Jonathan

    The fit of the 3.0 is more similar to the fit of the Brooks PureConnect. The Free Run+ 3 has a bit more volume to its fit and we would be a more similar fit to the PureFlow.

  • Joanna

    How does this compare to the Nike Free Run+? Considering getting the Nike Free Run+ 3 but open to similar options like this one.

  • Matt

    The Free 3.0 v4 offers a bit more “minimal” experience than the Free Run. For starters, the Women’s Free 3.0 v4 is over an ounce lighter than the Free Run 3. The Free 3.0 v4 has a 4mm stack height compared to the Free Run 3′s 8mm stack height, so it has a flatter platform. It also has a more sock-like, lightweight upper compared to the Free Run 3, which feels a bit more like a traditional shoe in its upper. Both shoes are highly flexible and allow very natural foot motion.