Gear Review Preview Nike Wildhorse 4 Trail Running Hiking Backpacking
Footwear Reviews

Gear Preview: Nike Wildhorse 4

If you loved the Wildhorse 3, you're going to love the Wildhorse 4 even more. The midsole and outsole remain unchanged, with the only real updates coming to the upper. The upper updates are major though, and in my opinion, very positive. I'll cover all this and more in the preview below.

See The Full Wildhorse 4 Review

After months of waiting, the Nike Wildhorse 4 is finally here! To those that follow my shoe¬†reviews here at Trail to Peak, you’ll know that I was a huge fan of the Nike Wildhorse 3 (WH3 review)(WH3 longterm review). I’ve been through a few pairs of the Widhorse 3, and they’ve taken me on adventures like backpacking¬†Catalina Island, hiking the Eastern Sierra, hiking the Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim to Rim, and many other memorable outings. A¬†few weeks ago, I starting seeing teaser shots of the Wildhorse 4 on the Nike Trail Twitter and Instagram feeds. From the onset, I was loving everything I was seeing about the updates. Now that I have the Wildhorse 4 in hand, I can tell you that my early excitement was not unwarranted. The new Wildhorse does not disappoint!

If you loved the Wildhorse 3, you’re going to love¬†the Wildhorse 4 even more. The midsole and outsole remain unchanged, with the only real updates coming to the upper. The upper updates are major though, and in my opinion, very positive. I’ll cover all this and more in the preview below.


Purchase the Wildhorse 4 at: Nike.com, Roadrunnersports.com, Zappos.com


Gear Review Preview Nike Wildhorse 4 Trail Running Hiking Backpacking


Upper:

The biggest change on the Wildhorse for v4 is the completely redesigned upper. Nike is still using the breathable spacer mesh for the upper construction, but is utilizing a flywire midfoot wrap on top of it. On the WHv3 I had some issues with dirt and debris getting into the shoe. I wasn’t always sure if it was the breathable yet slightly porous mesh or the lack of a gusseted tongue (maybe both). With this new midfoot wrap, the WHv4 offers lateral stability, as well as a fully enclosed upper from midfoot to toe. On the WHv3 I could feel a little bit of lateral sliding while side-hilling off trail or making sharp cuts while running. This new upper provides a lot more lateral stability through the midfoot, which should solve that minor issue¬†from the WHv3.

One of my favorite features of the WHv3 was the seamless and precise wrap of the upper. This new upper has a more stable and supportive wrap up top due to the larger Fywire cables being used along with the Fywire placement. This¬†placement is my only point of concern on these new uppers, as the cables¬†on the lateral side of the shoe carry pretty far up around my pinkie toe. I haven’t noticed any rubbing or chaffing from this yet, but I will update this in a full review later this year.

Overall, the fit and feel of the upper is phenomenal. On the inside, Nike has the upper stitched to a full length fabric liner underneath for a seamless fit. The flat laces and padded tongue make for an equally comfortable fit on the top of the foot, even when pulling hard on the laces. The asymmetrical lacing is different than the lacing on the WHv3, and early on, I’m not really a fan. It’s taken me a few tries to the the lacing the way I like it, and the pressure still doesn’t feel completely evenly distributed. I’ve had this issue with asymmetrical lacing on other shoes, and it can take a few wears to get things dialed in.

Gear Review Preview Nike Wildhorse 4 Trail Running Hiking Backpacking
Midfoot Wrap

The toebox width on the WHv4 is identical to that of the WHv3, but now it comes with a little more volume. The toe protection has the same welded overlay pattern, but this time it feels a little less rigid.

Gear Review Preview Nike Wildhorse 4 Trail Running Hiking Backpacking
Toe Box

The Wildhorse 4 fits my heel very well, much like the Wildhorse 3. The heel counter sits right in between flexible and rigid, which makes for a versatile shoe.

Gear Review Preview Nike Wildhorse 4 Trail Running Hiking Backpacking
Heel Feel
Gear Review Preview Nike Wildhorse 4 Trail Running Hiking Backpacking
Flywire And Laces

Midsole:

The midsole on the Wildhorse 4 is a carryover from the Wildhorse 3. The Phylon midsole is plush with just the right amount of responsiveness. The shoe comes with an¬†8mm drop, 28mm in the heel and 20mm in the forefoot. Nike uses Phylon foam for the full length of the midsole, and incorporates their patented ¬†Zoom Air pockets in the heel. I really love the Zoom Air units when flying downhill on rock laden trails. The only downside I’ve found with the Zoom Air units on the Wildhorse 3 is when using the shoe for backpacking with more than 25lbs. The heel air units have a little wobble to them with this kind of weight. Clearly, that is not what this shoe is designed for, and in their trail running and light hiking element, they perform very well.

*Phylon is made of EVA foam pellets that are compressed, heat expanded, and then cooled in a midsole mold. I’ve found Phylon to provide plush and responsive cushioning that breaks down for me around 200-300 miles. I weigh 185lbs and can be pretty hard on my shoes. Lighter hikers/runners on smoother trails will likely see far more life.

Gear Review Preview Nike Wildhorse 4 Trail Running Hiking Backpacking
Phylon With Zoom Heel Unit
Gear Review Preview Nike Wildhorse 4 Trail Running Hiking Backpacking
Phylon With Zoom Heel Unit

Outsole:

The outsole on the Wildhorse 4 is also a carryover from the Wildhorse 3. The outsole of the Wildhorse 4 is composed of Nike’s 054 High Abrasion rubber around the perimeter of the shoe (black), and a slightly more sticky rubber in the middle (grey). I was able to get around 250 miles on my first pair of WHv3 before they started showing signs of wear, and they still held tough for the miles after that.

I’ve found the grip on this outsole pattern to be superb on hard pack, loose rock, and in any dry conditions. Even in mud, the shallow lugs do well, although they do not shed stickier and thicker mud very well. The traction of the rubber is also very good, even though there isn’t a ton of surface area on each lug. I found the WHv3 to do very well in the granite laden landscapes of the Eastern Sierra, although I felt a little extra traction would have been nice on my way up Half Dome.

Gear Review Preview Nike Wildhorse 4 Trail Running Hiking Backpacking
Full Outsole
Gear Review Preview Nike Wildhorse 4 Trail Running Hiking Backpacking
Rock Protection

Purchase the Wildhorse 4 at: Nike.com, Roadrunnersports.com, Zappos.com


Closing Thoughts:

The Nike Wildhorse 4 looks to be worthy successor to the Wildhorse 3, which was my favorite shoe of 2016. The midsole and outsole are carryovers from the Wildhorse 3, but the upper on the Wildhorse 4 is brand new. I’m looking forward to logging many miles on these in the months ahead. So much so, that I actually bought two pairs in two different color ways. I have a few shoes that I’m trying to put miles on this spring for full reviews, but with the Wildhorse 4 on my feet, they’re going to have to wait a little longer.


I'm Drew, creator of Trail to Peak. Trail to Peak brings content to life on the web through breath-taking photography and captivating video. I launched Trail to Peak in 2014 with a goal to inspire readers to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. I have traveled to 19 countries, walked Camino de Santiago, hiked the John Muir Trail, trekked through the Andes of Peru, and am constantly seeking new adventures in my home state of California. Joining me on my weekly adventures is my partner, Julia, our son, Owen, and our two goldendoodles, Isla and Lilly.

12 comments on “Gear Preview: Nike Wildhorse 4

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  2. Thank you for the preview, they look like a great hiking and trail running shoe. You wrote: “The only downside I‚Äôve found with the Zoom Air units on the Wildhorse 3 is when using the shoe for backpacking with more than 25lbs. The heel air units have a little wobble to them with this kind of weight. Clearly, that is not what this shoe is designed for, and in their trail running and light hiking element, they perform very well.” I know exactly what you mean having experienced this with some trail runners. They’d be fine for hiking and running but not as stable under a pack.

    If you had to pick from all the trail runners you’ve evaluated, for backpacking with a 25-30 lbs which would you say offers the best combination of stability, fit (roomy toe box to accommodate swelling and good heel lock), cushion, grip (rock, mud, wet rock) durability, low drop (4-8mm), protection (toe bumper and rock plate) and breathability (doesn’t overheat in hot sunny weather)? The shoe I currently use is the Saucony Xodus 6.0 4mm drop, which works very well for backpacking. I’m wondering which shoes out there will at least match it. Wish the Wildhorse 4 didn’t have the Zoom Air wobble, as they were on my shortlist.

    • I think the Wildhorse 4 will work well for your requirements. My current favorite is the La Sportiva Akahsa. I’ve been doing a lot of long hikes with my son in a Osprey kid carrier. My usual pack weight is 35-40lbs with him in the pack. The Akashas have stable cushion with 31mm in the heel and 25mm in the forefoot for a 6mm drop. There is no rock plate, but with 25mm of cushion in the forefoot, it’s not needed. The midsole has great torsional rigidity, which is key when carrying a heavy pack. The toe box is ample, although I have to size up to a 47(13) from my usual 12.5. The outsole is possibly the best outsole of any trail shoe I own. The FriXion red compound is long lasting and sticks to everything. The tread pattern works on hard and soft surfaces. The shoe runs a little warm, but I’ve used them in temps up to 95 degrees without issue. They don’t dry very quickly though. I’m interested in trying the Xodos ISO you mention, but might wait until v2 comes out in a few months.

  3. Julian Bodor

    Hi it Julian
    Have u tried the terra kiger 4?
    What whould be the different btw wildhorse and kieger?
    Im a 10 miles hiker with no backpack,
    On regular turist trails more soil than rocks.
    Im not a runner, is that matter btw this shoes?

    • Hello Julian, I have tried the Terra Kiger 4 as well. The big difference is the midsole. The Terra Kiger has a 4mm drop compared to 8mm in the Wildhorse 4. The Terra Kiger 4 also has a zoom air unit in the heel and the forefoot, whereas the Wildhorse 4 has zoom air in the heel and rockplate in the forefoot. The Terra Kiger 4 is lighter and has a tighter fit. I prefer the roomier fit of the Wildhorse 4, but those with narrower feet might prefer the Terra Kiger 4. The Wildhorse 4 is billed more as a trainer and long distance shoe, where the Terra Kiger 4 is more of a racer.

  4. How are you liking the Wildhorse 4 so far? I find the thicker flywire cable digging into the side of my foot causing quite a bit of pain on longer runs. Looks like i will have to return them. the kiger 4 doesnt have this problem for me.

    • Hello, Alan. I’m liking mine so far. I have noticed the thicker flywire cables, but so far no discomfort. I’ve also noticed that the material used around the ankle is much thicker. When I’m sidehilling on slanted trails, I can feel it pushing in to my ankle. The materials have softened up a little bit with around 50 miles so far, but not as comfortable as the Wildhorse 3. The upper is much more supportive, but sacrificing a little in comfort to do so.

  5. I played around with the lace tension and that did the trick. Unlike the TK where i could snug up laces, leaving them a bit loose on the WH got rid of the problems with the material digging into my ankles and sides. Now my foot can “swim”(not really but it feels that way after the huggy uppers of the TK) about in the shoe and find its happy place. The upper support kicks in quickly when needed and with the slack in the laces the shoe torques well on cambered trails.

    The tread is slippery on smooth round rocks embedded on the trail – wish they had made it a bit stickier.

    • Glad to hear you were able to get things dialed in. The tread on the WH4 is great on dry and loose ground, but a bit slick on smooth surfaces, and very slick on anything smooth and wet. I did a hike with a bunch of stream crossings and really had to use my trekking poles for balance. The plus side is that the outsoles last forever because of the hard rubber used.

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  7. Francesco Cassano

    for 20$ more is the WH4 better than WH3?

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