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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.