Gear review Nike Wildhorse 4
Footwear Reviews

Gear Review: The Nike Wildhorse 4, Is It Better Than The Wildhorse 3?

The Wildhorse 4 is a trail shoe from Nike offering loads of comfort, protection, and performance. At just over 13oz (12.5 US), the Wildhorse 4 manages to stay light for the amount of trail protection it offers. Built on an 8mm drop platform and having a last with a wide toebox, this shoe has a stable ride, and is one of the only non-zero drop offerings with enough splay room upfront. For the Wildhorse 4, my standard size 12.5 fit true to size.

The Wildhorse 4 is a trail shoe from Nike offering loads of comfort, protection, and performance. At just over 13oz (12.5 US), the Wildhorse 4 manages to stay light for the amount of trail protection it offers. Built on an 8mm drop platform and having a last with a wide toebox, this shoe has a stable ride, and is one of the only non-zero drop offerings with enough splay room upfront. For the Wildhorse 4, my standard size 12.5 fit true to size.

I’ve already published a preview of the Wildhorse 4 that focused on the shoe’s technical aspects. In this full review, I will focus on the performance of the Wildhorse 4 now that I’ve had a few months to put them to the test.

The Nike Wildhorse 3 was my favorite shoe of 2016, so I was incredibly excited when I saw Nike announce the Wildhorse 4 for 2017. The outsole and midsole remain unchanged from the Wildhorse 3, with the only changes on the Wildhorse 4 coming to the upper. Now that I’ve had a few months to test the Wildhorse 4 (WH4), I feel that Nike is heading in the right direction with the new upper, but didn’t quite execute it to perfection. The new upper doesn’t make the WH4 a bad shoe by any means, it just lacks the sock-like comfort of the WH3. I’ll get into this and more with the following review of the Nike Wildhorse 4.

Gear review Nike Wildhorse 4


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


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 WH3 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. I’ve been on a lot of trails with dirt, dust, and small pebbles. The WH4 does a better job than the WH3 at keeping dirt and debris out.

On the WH3 I could feel a little bit of lateral sliding while side-hilling off trail or making sharp cuts while running. This upper on the WH4 provides a lot more lateral stability through the midfoot, which greatly improves that minor issue from the WH3.

Gear review Nike Wildhorse 4

One of my favorite features of the WH3 was the seamless and precise wrap of the upper. This new upper has a more stable and supportive wrap due to the larger Flywire cables being used, along with the Flywire placement. This placement was a point of concern when I first tried on the WH4, as the cables on the lateral side of the shoe carried pretty far up around my pinkie toe. I haven’t had any rubbing or chaffing from this Flywire placement in close to 80 miles of hiking.

Gear review Nike Wildhorse 4

Overall, the fit and feel of the upper works very well for my foot. 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. The laces are asymmetrical, and to be honest, I’m not a fan of this change. This lacing structure makes it quite a bit more difficult to get a ‘dialed in’ fit. It’s taken me a few outings to get the lacing the way I like it, and the pressure still doesn’t feel evenly distributed.

The toebox width on the WH4 is identical to that of the WH3, 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. This is probably my favorite feature of the Wildhorse 4. It may seem like a minor detail, but having a wide toebox without a sloppy fit is pretty hard to come by in the trail running shoe market. I have yet to get a blister or hotspot in these shoes, and I’ve used them on many rugged trails with temperatures approaching triple digits.

Gear review Nike Wildhorse 4

The major issue I’ve had with the Wildhorse 4 is the stiff fabric used around the ankle collar. This is most noticeable at the front of the shoe opening with the fabric above the top lace eyelets. The first few times I wore the WH4, I could feel this fabric digging into my ankle. It didn’t cause any hotspots or blisters, but applied more of a dull ache. After around 30 miles, this fabric started to soften up, and now, I can hardly feel it at all.

Gear review Nike Wildhorse 4

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.

I haven’t worn these on any rainy outings, but have had full submersion while misplacing my footing during a creek crossing. The WH4 dries very quickly, and didn’t feel sloppy or uncomfortable while wet. The rands around the front of the forefoot kept the shoes from draining as well as the WH3, but the drainage was still pretty good.

Gear review Nike Wildhorse 4


Midsole:

The midsole on the Wildhorse 4 is a carryover from the Wildhorse 3. The Phylon midsole is plush and soft 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 heels. 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 is when using the Wildhorse 4 for backpacking with more than 25lbs. When I hike with my son in his Osprey Poco, my total pack weight is north of 38 lbs. With the WH4, I don’t feel as stable as I do in some of my more structured trail shoes. 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.

The only complaint I have about the WH4 midsole is the durability. I went through 4 pairs of Wildhorse 3s, and the midsole was the first part of the shoe to give out. The upper and outsoles outlasted the midsoles, which started feeling flat around 200 miles. I’m having the same wear rate on the WH4s. I’m just starting to approach 100 miles, and the midsoles are starting to lose the pop they had when new. This can be expected when using a designated trail running shoe for hiking and backpacking. A lack of longevity and durability can be the price you pay for comfort. In the photo below, you can see the midsole compression while standing.

*Tech Info*: 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 Nike Wildhorse 4

The Nike Wilhorse 4 has the same “Stonesheild” rock guard that was in the Wildhorse 3. This rock guard is very effective at preventing sharp rocks from punishing my feet. Although the Stonesheild is rigid, it’s doesn’t make the forefoot feel too stiff at toe off.

Gear review Nike Wildhorse 4


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 WH3s before they started showing signs of wear, and they still held tough for many miles after that. It looks like the longevity of the Wildhorse 4 outsole will be just as good. I’ve worn these on some pretty rough trails, and they’re just now starting to show signs of wear.

Gear review Nike Wildhorse 4

I’ve found the grip on this outsole pattern to be superb on hard pack, loose rock, and on dry trail conditions. Even in light mud, the shallow lugs handle 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. Where the Wildhorse 4 outsole struggles is when things get wet or slick. I have taken these on a few hikes with frequent creek crossings. Trying to rock hop over creeks in the Wildhorse 4 can be a bit of a challenge as they get very slippery on wet rock.

Gear review Nike Wildhorse 4


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


Closing Thoughts:

The Nike Wildhorse 4 is a worthy successor to the Wildhorse 3, but is not “better” in my opinion. The midsole and outsole are carryovers from the Wildhorse 3, but the new upper on the Wildhorse 4 took two steps forward and one step back. The new upper provides much better stability and doesn’t let in as much debris. The downside to the updates are the asymmetrical lacing and the stiff fabric around the ankle cuff.

Pros:

  • Wide toe box
  • Versatile midsole
  • Great protection
  • Comfortable on long days

Cons:

  • Discomfort on ankle cuff
  • Lacking traction on wet and slick surfaces

Other Shoes To Consider:

Gear review Nike Wildhorse 4


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.

19 comments on “Gear Review: The Nike Wildhorse 4, Is It Better Than The Wildhorse 3?

  1. THE WILDHORSE 4 IS A GOOD SHOE BUT NOT AS GOOD AS THE KIGER 3 AND THE WILDHORSE 3. I DID NOT FIND IT TRUE TO SIZE. IN FACT MY SHOE SIZE IS BETWEEN A 9 AND 9 1/2 AND I TOOK A 10 1/2 IN THE WILDHORSE 4. I DON’T THINK THAT THE FIT IS AS SOCKLIKE (SNUG) AS THE WILDHORSE 3. IMHO THE KIGER 3 IS A MUCH BETTER AND MORE COMFORTABLE, SNUG SHOE WITH PLENTY OF TOE SPLAY. I WAS DISAPPOINTED WITH THE KIGER 4, PARTICULARLY THE CHANGE IN THE LACING SYSTEM. OTHERWISE, THE WILD HORSE 4 IS A GOOD BUT NOT GREAT SHOE AND IS NOT AND IMPROVEMENT ON THE WILDHORSE 3. GET THE WILDHOSE 3 INSTEAD OR BETTER YET, GET THE KIGER 3.

    • Drew Robinson

      I tried on the Kiger 4 and agree that the Kiger 3 had a much better fit. The Kiger 4 felt too narrow and snug even when sized up for me. Strange that you had to go up to a 10.5 for the Wildhorse 4. For me, the 12.5 in the Wildhorse 4 felt exactly the same as a 12.5 in the WIldhorse 3. Was it the width or the length for you?

  2. I was a long time Altra LP using. But after tearing my Plantar tendon at the heel, and a long rehab. I need a show with some drop. I have custom inserts, but that gets tricky since the added height causes the heel to not fit well, or take up to much volume in the toebox. I love love LOVE a wide toe box. I’ve been experimenting with the Topo terraventure. Decent shoe. It held up fantastic within the nasty mud at this years BigHorn 52m (wish I held up as well as the shoe did). I’ve never considered the WH before. But your comments on wide toebox got me curious. are you able to compare the wideness and volume in the toebox to a LonePeak or terraventure? Lastly, about the ankle comments. I tried Hoka ATR3. those worked ok until running in winter when the height of the shoe on the side/ankle became and issue when the froze up and torn up the skin on my ankle. Are you saying the WH4 is high on the side and could rub bottom of ankle on the sides? Thanks!

    • Drew Robinson

      Like you, I love a wide toe box. I wish more shoe manufacturers would cater to this need. I hate having to size up to get adequate space as it causes fitment issues elsewhere. Congrats on racing BigHorn! I read Andrew Skurka’s race report, and it seems like that was a real challenge this year. As for the wideness of the toebox in the WH4, it’s a closer fit to the Terraventure for me. TOPO does a good job of having a snug heel and midfoot with room for the toes. The Altra LP is a little wider throughout. The Nike is snug in the heel and midfoot, with plenty of room upfront. The WH4 is not necessarily high on the ankle cuff, its more that the fabric is stiff and requires breaking in. I wore high ankle socks as the cuffs could do damage with a “no-show” sock. They’re probably worth trying on if you’re looking for a shoe that fits like the terraventure, but has more cushion underfoot.

      • @Drew. regarding the BigHorn this year. It was my first ever DNF. Though the mountain through everthing, driving rain, 50% white out snow, sleet, window, and 18miles of deep mud. That said, coming off the plantars rehad, my training consisted of about 5 10k and one 8 miler. So I was going to try and wing the 50miler. I got to 34.5, but missed the cutoff. Still proud of the effort, and not reinjuring my foot. I think I’ll take a swing on the WH4, or possibly WH3 if I can find them still. The terraventure are light on the cushion. and with the orthotics I’m currently using, I probably should have a 1/2 size larger. My feet were stuff in there w/orthotics, decent fitting without.

      • Drew Robinson

        Those are some pretty rough conditions for a summer 50 miler. No shame in missing that cutoff. Good to hear your plantar held up, consider it a 34.5 mile long training run!

  3. I have plantar fasciitis also. My experience with the Altra was not good. It is without a doubt a very comfortable shoe but not for someone wth that condition. To much slop and not enough of a snug fit for control of the midsole and heel. Plus they are very flexible, to flexible for someone with P.F. No lateral stability or control, especially for cambered or difficult trails. The first time I ran on them my feet, in particular my soles, were killing me. I have the Kiger 3 and have had a great experience with it in terms of pain free trail running and hiking. Snug in the heel and mid foot. Enough room for toe splay but not as much as the Altra, which IMHO is a good thing. They are not as flexible as the Altras and provide some lateral stability. Plus the ankle is low. Be careful though, as a low ankle can result in an ankle roll and/or sprain. The Wildhorse 3’s are also a good choice. I don’t like the changes to it in the version 4 but I think it is a good shoe. However, I can’t address the ankle issue. I have the ATR 2’s and have had no issues with the ankle rubbing. Very comfortable with the cushioning for someone with P.F. For an everyday walking shoe the Bondi is terrific for someone with P.F. and it was recommended by my podiatrist. I don’t use it for running. Might I suggest getting a couple or three pairs of different shoes to alternate with. Good luck with your P.F. because I know form personal experience how debilitating it can be and how long it can take to get over it.

    • @JJB. I’ve give Hoka a fair shake i think. I loved the original Clifton (for a road shoe). But every other hoka I tried, ended up being to narrow. I think its a personally thing. I cant stand shoes that “feel” tight everywhere. Some like that. That eliminates so many shoes for me. On contrast, prior to altra I ran in various Merrell barefoot shoes (also zero drop, and perhaps the origination of some PF issues). They fit like a glove but also flexed enough to not “feel” tight. You are spot on with the altra LPs. roomy, comfy, but lots of slop. Especially on cambered trails, or worse.. cambered trails after a water crossing. But they still got me thru many ultras. The TOPO, I dont hate them, but done like they either. not sure why. volume is to low with the orthotics. they are perhaps to inflexible. With the PF tendon now mostly healed from the tear, its best if I have a drop to relieve the calf and the pull from them. Kiger are a narrower shoes if I recall my reviews (but its been a long long time..and I rarely consider nike for any type of shoe)

  4. Pingback: Gear Preview: Nike Wildhorse 4 – Trail to Peak

  5. Th is why i chose the Challenger 2 ATR over the 3. It is more comfortable because it has adequate room for toes splay and toe volume. Also remember that many shoes do not fit true to size and that is true of many Hoka shoes. I normally take between a 9 to 9 1/2/ I bought a 10 1/2 with the Challenger 2 ATR and it fits fine. You probably already know but feet swell when you’r running now or hiking so you need to consider that in choosing the size you want. I make sure my big toe and the end of my shoe have a thumbs width or thumb nails width b or even version 3 might work for you.

  6. jetguat

    Ok. So I have a pair of TOPO terraventure and the ultrafly. Both pretty new, both in the 50 to 100m range. I thought they were my new shoe brand, but I’m liking them less and less with each run. They both seem quite stiff/inflexible still. and I would say the padding is also pretty stiff. Not fluffy or mushy, and I dont really want that, but something with more give then these seems. After being longtime Altra fanboy, I need a heel drop (at least for time being while I continue rehab and comeback from plantar tear on right foot). I like what I read from you guys on the Wildhorse. I couldnt find the 3 anywhere anymore, so it will have to be the 4 that I attempt. Maybe at REI I can try them on. Thats for trail shoes. And while I do try to avoid pavement these days, I still have need of road shoes, for pavement or crushed limestone (rails to trails) types of running. What recommendation in terms of wider toe box, good fitting (unlike the slope in altra), but something with some cushion as well. All the above is exaggerated since at least for now, I’m still using custom orthotics to help my arch from collapsing to much, all part of the rehab I was told. so the insert take up volume and makes shoes feel WAY WAY to tight for me. I might need to size up a little, but I think any low volume shoe is probably out. IMHO is seems like most/all hoka are gonna be to narrow and small toe box, and salomon,inov8, etc are lower volume. Open to all suggestions for trail and road. (wildhorse is already on the list to try out). Huge Thanks!

    • First, check out Jack Rabbit shoes online. They had some WIldhorse 3srecently . Then check out Nordstrom’s Rack. I don’t know about online, but I was in their store the other day and they had some WIldhorse 3s in various sizes for $69.99. If you know the SKU you can call the Racks near you and ask them to check and see if they have them in your size. Try 1/2 to a full size bigger than your measured foot.
      For an alternative, I bought the Hola One One Challenger 2 ATR. If you can find it online, get it as it is s wonderful shoe for Plantar Fasciitis. At first, it is weird to wear because it makes you think that you’re unstable because it is high off of the ground. But after one or tow uses the cushion settles in nicely and provides stability around the lateral sides of your feet. Plus it has great arch support. I find it is not as bountiful in the toe box area as the Altras and TOPOs, but it is ample enough and has good toe volume. As for stiffness, it is stiff with that much cushioning, but with PF you need that stability. If you can’t find the ATR 2s then get the 3s at REI. Some people, like myself pronate and have flat feet (no arches). That is part of the reason for my PF. The Hola Gaviota is a shoe that is designed for pronators. Remember, if you are looking for well cushioned shoes for your PF sometimes you sacrifice flexibility because of the cushioning. I also use the Saucony Xodus and the New Balance 910v3s for trail running. They are not very flexible either but feel great considering my PF.
      If you want an everyday running shoe for trails and/or road and/or just walking about, then get the Hola Bondi 5s. They are phenomenal but again are not flexible. And to add to their usefulness, they make one in black leather so I can use them as dress shoes for work and no one is the wiser.
      I had the Altra Lone Peak 3.0 and when I trail ran with them my feet felt awful at the end of the run. My experience with them was that they were to flexible, thus not stable enough because they provided no lateral support for cambered trails. They aggravated my PF condition.
      I am not a Hoka rep but they are great shoes and most people don’t like them because of their looks. To heck with that, they feel great. If you google PF and running shoes the Hokas come up very often in articles about what shoes to wear to deal with PF. Good luck.

      • jetguat

        I just read that the clifton 4 is coming out, and will have a 2E width. Not sure how differences that feels. I know the cliftons were way to narrow for me, except for the original ones. I had to return the clifton 2 and 3s. I’m trying to get access to my runningwarehouse orders. Pretty sure I used the ATR2 on my 100miler in 2015. about mile 75, they had rubbed the outside bottom of my right ankle raw. I ran the last 25 miles with two spare buffs under my heal to raise up my foot a little. I would have to try on the ATR3 to see if that side issue would remain. (as a side note, the last time i wore the ATR2 was a winter run included freezing water crossings. the shoe froze up. thats ok, but the ankle issue reappears and actually drew blood it since the shoe was solid/frozen when it rubbed. too my 30 minute for the shoes to thaw enough to pull them off)

      • I have not experienced the problem but I wear wool running socks which provide some cushion from any ankle issues. Perhaps the ATR 3s would work better or try the Stinson 3s.

  7. Thank you for the helpful detailed review. When you wrote they fit true-to-size for you in 12.5, what is your actual foot size? I typically wear 12.5 in trail runners as well, but my actual foot size is 11.

    • I wear a size 12 street shoe and go a half size up for trail shoes. 90% of my trail shoes are a size 12.5, so that’s what I mean when I say true to size.

  8. When you get at trail shoe, you want a half-size up from your size if the shoe is true to fit. You need that 1/2 size up in a trail shoe to account for having room in the toe box so your toe isn’t crunching against the toe when you’re going down hill. It also accommodates swelling of your foot when you run long distances which is something that happens often with me. What you should be looking for is 1 thumbs width of space between the front of the toe and your actual toe.
    I have not had the same experience as Drew with the sizing of the Wildhorse 3 and 4 or with the Tiger 3. My size is a 9 to 91/2. I have gotten those shoes in a 10 and 1/2 to get the right fit. The only way to truly know is to try on the shoe. Some trail; shoes are difficult to find in the stores. If you go into a Nike store you should be able to find the Wildhorse 4 and tiger 4 to try on. Don’t just try them on, walk around in them for 15 minutes of so. Some stores will let you go out and test them out. Then you can surf online and get the best price. When purchasing online, do so from a reputable dealer that has a liberal return policy. Usually the shoes will ship for free and you can return them in 90 days and just lose your shipping cost. If you are a member of REI, you can return the shoes to the store within one year for no reason.

  9. Pingback: 10 Most Important Gear Items to Bring On Camino De Santiago - Trail to Peak

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: