Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4

The Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4 is an update with both style and substance. The slick-looking Wildhorse is the same comfortable, attractive trail shoe as before, with some notable upgrades. The trail-ready trainer keeps the same outsole and midsole design as before but features a whole new upper construction. The neutral trainer is the perfect choice for trail runners who need a bit more cushion when running on punishing terrain. Below, our full review covers the reasons why the Wildhorse 4 is a successful update while being careful to point out the downsides of this new trail shoe. Overall, the Nike trail shoe is worth considering.

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Pros & Cons
  • Roomy toe box
  • Protective midsole
  • Comfortable
  • Good for different purposes

  • Cons
    • Stiff ankle collar
    • Durability issues
    • Poor traction on wet surfaces
    • Key Features
      The Wildhorse’s outsole remains the same. A waffle patterned outsole delivers multi-directional traction. The tacky lugs are helpful on a variety of surfaces including easy to moderate off-road trails. Around the edge of the shoe’s sole, you’ll notice a different material. This high-abrasion rubber is included to extend the longevity of the Wildhorse. The downside? It’s only present around the outer edges of the outsole. The stickier rubber sits in the middle and does its job well, but it’s not as resistant to wear as the tougher rubber substance that surrounds the sole.

      Reviewers were impressed with the grip abilities of the Nike brand shoe, but there were wildly mixed reviews concerning durability. Traction is excellent on most surfaces thanks to the sticky rubber center of the outsole, but that same rubber is also soft enough to come apart easily when rubbed repeatedly. On wet rocks, the grip ability is reduced. Wet grass is also a challenge for the Wildhorse 4.
      Like the outsole, the Wildhorse’s midsole hasn’t changed. It’s the same moderately padded Phylon midsole as before. In the heel, there are also Nike Air Zoom pods, which provide additional padding and impact protection. A semi-flexible rock plate sits in the forefoot area, too. The shoe is generously cushioned but lacks the clunky look of a maximalist shoe. Reviewers liked the soft midsole and appreciated the protection provided by the rock plate. The ride feel and cushioning is the same as with the Wildhorse 3, so if you liked the soft midsole of the previous edition, you'll appreciate its return in the 4.
      If you’re interested in how the Wildhorse has been tweaked, this is the section to pay attention to. The upper has received a significant re-design, and while not everyone liked the changes, many reviewers appreciated and enjoyed the upgrades big and small. The same spacer mesh is included in the 4’s upper. Wholly new is the midfoot Flywire construction, which is meant to provide added support. The shoe is still just as breathable as its predecessor but offers more stability and debris protection. While before the solo spacer mesh attracted debris inside the shoe, the dual-layer design is much better at blocking out dirt and rocks. A few reviewers mentioned that the cables caused rubbing and chafing because the fit was less seamless than before. The upper is quick-drying, but reviewers noted that the shoe didn’t drain as quickly as the Wildhorse 3.

      The upper is definitely durable, though. It features a padded ankle collar, which some wearers found too stiff. A little breaking in is all it takes to soften that hard area up, though. Most reviewers found the fit true to size, similar to the previous edition. A handful of folks felt the shoe fit differently, however, explaining that the differently shaped toe box didn’t feel right. Those with a high instep found the forefoot a little shallow with an overall tight fit. For those with “normal feet,” the toe box is pretty much the same, maybe a little bigger. The attached tongue is supposed to make the Wildhorse 4 feel more sock-like than its parent-shoe, but some reviewers preferred the fit of the previous edition. The laces on this version are still flat but have been switched out for an asymmetrical design. Some reviewers complained that the off-center lacing caused a weird distribution of pressure.
      If you’re comparing these to your everyday road trainers, then they’re definitely heavier. The men’s shoe weighs about 10.8 oz and the women’s about 8.8 oz. However, for a trail shoe with a rock plate and thick, durable outsole, the Wildhorse balances a lightweight feel and protection pretty well. It is definitely heavier than some would have liked, but the tradeoff is that you get a shoe with plush cushioning and protection.
      Like its predecessor, the Wildhorse 4 is very breathable thanks to its spacer mesh upper construction. The addition of new Flywire support cables hasn’t impacted ventilation whatsoever. Drainage is less impressive in this version, but the upper material dries fast. A slightly larger toe box makes for more breathing room in the front of the shoe, and the fit is true to size (for most) allowing for proper air circulation of the interior.
      The number one comment from reviewers about the Wildhorse 4? It’s so comfortable! The same Phylon midsole with Air Zoom heel pockets returns, so users get an identical ride experience with the updated Wildhorse. The cushioning is moderate, but it feels incredibly generous underfoot. The Wildhorse is like a maximalist trainer in disguise.

      In addition to the plush midsole, the shoe features a padded ankle collar and tongue. A few reviewers complained that the collar was stiff and caused chafing. A potential solution to this unfortunate problem could be a higher cut sock that protects more of the ankle. Some reviewers did mention that the stiff feel improved over time, though. As is the case with most shoes, not all reviewers found a perfect fit with the Wildhorse 4. A few potential problem areas include the shallow toe box and the interior seams of the Flywire cables. The cables paired with a new asymmetrical lacing design don't distribute weight evenly and some might end up with unwanted pressure points in certain areas. Those with a high instep were most likely to have issues with this.
      The Wildhorse features a typical Nike design that combines trail-ruggedness with a sleek, trendy look. The men’s shoe is available in several colorways including brown/orange/grey, blue/baby blue/orange, black, and grey/neon. A fresh dark blue/baby blue/peach is available for lady trail runners.
      A high abrasion rubber partially covers the outsole of the Wildhorse 4. The outsole is the same as before with highly resistant rubber placed around the edges of the sole. Like the Wildhorse 3, the new version has mixed reviews when it comes to durability.

      Some reviewers complained of the forefoot and upper seams degrading after less than six months of wear. Others were happy with the shoe’s lifespan saying they took it on long hikes on rugged terrain without any uncharacteristic signs of wear. Of course, expectations differ from user to user. The lugs on the Wildhorse aren’t made of high-abrasion rubber, so they have a tendency to shave down faster than the rest of the thick rubber platform. The tacky material is impressively grippy but is a little soft. The Phylon midsole cushioning is fairly thick, but does tend to compress over time. Some reviewers were unhappy about how quickly the midsole cushioning fell flat.
      The rock plate returns in the Wildhorse 4. The plate sits in the forefoot area and acts as a buffer between the wearer’s foot and the ground below. The plate is pretty flexible, so ground-feel isn’t sacrificed for protection. The shoe doesn’t provide maximum protection, but it’s a lot more than you’d get from a road-oriented trainer. Protection is slightly above average, so you get decent ground-feel, but you likely won’t scream in pain should something sharp pierce the bottom of your shoe.

      At the rear, the Nike shoe features its proprietary Air Zoom cushioning units for more impact protection. Not so useful if you’re not a traditional heel striker, but it’s a nice bonus. A front toe bumper keeps toes safe, but it’s not thickly built up like in other trail shoes. The upper also features thick reinforced areas that provide extra durability and protection from trail obstacles.
      Don’t buy the Wildhorse for its responsive ride. That’s not its main draw. The shoe offers a reasonable degree of responsiveness, but it’s about average. Ground-feel is substantial despite the presence of the rock plate, which reviewers appreciated.
      New to the Wildhorse is an upper Flywire support system with cables that help to make the shoe more supportive than its predecessor. Most reviewers found the new design sufficiently supportive and noted that mid foot support was better than before. A few runners noted that they felt the shoe fit wider than the Wildhorse 3, which resulted in a sloppy ride.
      The Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4 is designed for trail running, though you might not realize it at first glance. It looks a lot like any other Nike running shoe. Underfoot, though, is a whole different story. The outsole is designed for running light to moderate trails and features a sticky rubber center with a tough rubber edge. The multi-directional lugs are intended to provide grip for multiple trail running scenarios. In the forefoot, a Stoneshield rock plate offers protection against hard rocks and pebbles you might encounter on the run. Overall, reviewers really appreciated the versatility of the Wildhorse.
      An affordable price tag paired with a reasonably durable, well-constructed design represents excellent value. Reviewers had zero complaints concerning the price of the Wildhorse.
      The multi-directional waffle patterned outsole provides users with better grip than a variety of other Nike brand shoes. Reviewers agreed that the Wildhorse offered excellent traction. In addition to a high-abrasion edge that enhances the durability of the outsole, the bottom of the shoe also features a sticky grippy rubber. The outsole performs well in most situations with the exception of wet and grassy surfaces.
      You might think the presence of a rock plate would make the Wildhorse feel super stiff, but that’s not at all the case. The plate is relatively flexible, and grooves in the outsole also provide a bit of bend to the shoe. Reviewers also liked the stretchy upper construction.
      The neutral Wildhorse gets additional stability thanks to new Flywire cables on its upper. Stability is mild and maybe not enough for some on rocky surfaces, but the feel is certainly not sloppy. A semi-firm heel counter delivers rear foot support, which reviewers found adequate. Some did say that the Zoom Air units seemed to reduce stability in some situations. A 28mm stack height and 8mm drop make for a slightly less stable shoe than say what you might get out of a zero-drop design, but overall, the result is a stable, structurally sound trail shoe.
      No zero-drop here. The Wildhorse 4 features the same drop height as the previous edition with an 8mm difference from heel to toe.
      Key Features
      - High-abrasion rubber outsole
      - Waffle pattern sole design for traction
      - Multi-direction lugs
      - Rock plate positioned in forefoot area for protection
      - Lightweight Phylon midsole cushioning
      - Zoom Air cushioning pods in the heel for added impact protection
      - Breathable spacer mesh
      - Flywire cable system for support
      - Asymmetrical lacing system
      - Padded attached tongue
      - Padded heel collar
      Bottom Line
      What’s the main takeaway when it comes to the Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4? The trail shoe is an excellent choice for easy to moderate trails. It’s a good high-mileage trainer thanks to its generously padded midsole. Your feet with thank you on rocky terrain because of the forefoot’s semi-rigid rock plate. For long trail runs, the Wildhorse is a premium choice with an attractive price tag. Ultra runners, trail newbies, and hikers will all find something to like with the Wildhorse.
      Where to Buy
      Backcountry Link
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      Road Runner Sports Link
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      By Steph Coelho
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Jul. 27. 2021

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