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Nike Free 4.0 v2 – Our Take

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Nike Free 4.0 v2 may be the Goldilocks of the Free family – it strikes a balance between the Free Run 3 and Free 3.0 v4 for great runnability.
(View Men’s Free 4.0 v2 and Women’s 4.0 v2)

Big Features

  • 6mm Offset: The Free 4.0 slots in between the Free 3.0 (4mm heel-to-toe offset) and the Free Run 3 (8mm heel-to-toe offset).
  • Lightweight, Durable Platform: The midsole material is designed to provide a bit of padding with enough durability to double as an outsole.
  • Increased Flexibility: Diagonal flex grooves in the midfoot and deep cuts (sipes) throughout the platform allow for ultimate flexibility.
  • New Upper: The NanoPly overlay material is used where extra structure is needed in the shoe, while still permitting the upper to breathe and stretch. The upper also features asymmetrical lacing for a more comfortable midfoot and a fold-under tongue for easy entry and exit.

Road Test

Even if you’re a big fan of the Nike Free concept, chances are good the Free 4.0 v2 might not be on your radar. The original Free 4.0, appearing briefly in 2006, had a laceless upper that wasn’t a big hit with runners. After 6 years in limbo, the Free 4.0 reappears as a thoroughly re-envisioned model that received wide praise from our testers.

The Free 4.0 sports a 6mm heel-to-toe offset. Testers found the shoe to feel very level, and the platform cradles the foot. And while every shoe in the Free collection offers a very smooth and flexible ride, testers repeatedly commented that the Free 4.0 struck a nice balance of protection, flex and responsiveness. One tester noted that the shoe felt less padded toward the very front, forward of the metatarsals. All testers noticed a fairly high arch in this shoe, which actually helped them feel a bit more anchored in place.

The attractive upper of the Free 4.0 strategically uses Nike’s new NanoPly overlay technology. Our testers are mixed on the NanoPly material in general – some like the huggy fit it gives, others feel it’s a bit too restrictive – but the 4.0 strikes a good balance of using NanoPly and traditional mesh. Testers noted some crinkling of the fabric up front during toe off, due to the use of NanoPly by the big toe, which doesn’t allow the mesh in the toebox to fold freely. The crinkling did not cause hotspots, but may be a bigger concern for sockless runners. On the plus side, all testers felt the Free 4.0 offers a bit more toebox height than either the Free 3.0 v4 or Free Run 3.

Overall, we found the Free 4.0 v2 to be an adaptable shoe that could do duty as a foot strengthening tool, daily trainer or race-day shoe, depending on a person’s needs and running style.

Runners Say

“I think the tongue that’s stitched only one side is the perfect design for the Free. It’s easier to slip the shoe on and there’s a really snug fit once you’re laced up.” – Matt

“Even though it doesn’t have the Dynamic Fit system that is being added to many Nike shoes, the Free 4.0 feels very secure in the midfoot without ever feeling too tight or pinching my foot.” – Daniel

“I would have liked a little more room in the midfoot. I didn’t get a hotspot or anything because the interior is nice and soft.” – Lauren

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  • Chris

    As someone who has been running 30-40 MPW in Nike Lunar Glide 2′s and looking to make a switch to “less” shoe, is this is a viable option? I’m generally more of a forefoot striker than heel to toe. Keep reading great things about this version and wanting to jump on-board.

  • Matt

    The Free 4.0 v2 is designed for mid/forefoot striking, and definitely offers a more stripped-down experience compared to the LunarGlide. If you want to ease into the Free line, you might also want to take a look at the Free Run 3 (http://bit.ly/JqZNii), which has a higher stack height than the 4.0 and a bit more of a traditional upper.