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.
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.
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.
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.
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.