Nike Free 3.0 v4 Review.

As I mentioned before, I hate wearing shoes!

In the past I have dealt with a whole lot of pain when it came to my running shoes; plantar fasciitis being one of the worse and I had to deal with that for about 9 months.

I am going to be honest here and admit that I have never been a fan of Nike shoes in the past. They really never fit my foot quite right so I have always avoided them.

I tried the Nike Frees 3.0 v4 because of two things that I noticed when I looked at them in my local running store:

  • They are incredibly light! 5.5 ounce each. I honestly have never had a pair of athletic shoes weigh so little.
  • They are so flexible! I can literally roll them up.

    They flex with my feet!

I think those 2 factors were so important to me because I need my feet to be able to move. I loved that when I wiggled or lifted my toes while wearing these that the shoe moved with my feet.
For the first time I didn’t feel as though my shoes were forcing my feet to lay a certain way that felt very unnatural.

One of the things that I was hesitant about was that the tongue is attached. The top of the shoe is one seamless piece that is supposed to fit like a sock. After my first run in these and every run since I have really come to appreciate this feature. In the past, I have had issues with lacing my left foot too tightly which resulted in pain and bruising on my instep or lacing my right foot too loosely which resulted in blisters on that foot. This is just due to the way my feet are shaped and I have had many instances where I have had to stop to adjust my lacing in the middle of a run. I have never had to address this issue with the Nike Free. They really do fit like a sock and while I do tie the laces, it is more of an aesthetic thing since I don’t think I even need the laces on this shoe. I do think that is is a good idea for someone who may need to adjust the fit to make the shoe a bit more snug on their foot.

The flexibility of the shoe mostly comes from the sole. I am not sure of the technical terms, but the grooves (almost like slices that run both the length and width) allow this shoe to flex like you’re almost wearing nothing at all!

Photo from the Nike website to show the grooves

Despite the fact that this is such a light and flexible shoe with just a 4mm heel to toe drop, thus making it a minimalist ride, there is definitely no lack of cushion. I went into these straight from wearing very supportive and highly cushioned shoes and I needed absolutely no transition period. While I do have to say that if someone else were trying this out, please take your time and listen to your body. If you feel you may need to work up to running long in the Nike Free then do so. I believe that since I do not wear shoes on a regular basis my feet may be somewhat more inclined to less support than most people.

I have since put about 150 miles on my Nike Free 3.0 v4 and while that isn’t a lot of mileage, these still feel like they did the first day. As a heavy runner, I could always feel my “traditional” running shoes losing some of it’s support and breaking down around this mileage.

Don’t let the dirt fool you, these feel as great as they did on day 1!

Even though they don’t show any indication of wearing out, I am actually going to buy a second pair as I have my first 1/2 marathon coming up and these shoes are so comfortable that I can’t imagine going a long (for me) distance and anything else at this point in time. It can never hurt to have a spare pair of comfy shoes laying around.

I should note that I run on different surfaces such as asphalt, concrete, dirt and gravel. They feel great on every surface, however, when I am in gravel I notice that little pebbles do get caught in the sole. It honestly hasn’t affected the feel of the run, I still feel all the flexibility and cushion just the same. When I get home though I do have to open up the grooves and let the pebbles fall out. It is not a big deal for me personally as it does not hinder my run.

All in all, I really love the Nike Free 3.0 v4. I would definitely buy these again. I would love to see Nike make these with a 0mm drop.

I have not been compensated in anyway for this review. I am simply someone who has been dealing with pain while running and wanted to try something new so I bought these.

If you have any questions about my experience running in this shoe or if there is something I can clarify, don’t hesitate to ask.

Happy Running!


I have put about 200 miles on these shoes and wanted to show the wear and tear a bit. I am hard on my shoes as I am a heavy runner and I DO NOT bother with cleaning or washing them since I spend a fair portion on my runs in the dirt and don’t see the point of having pretty, sparkly shoes. So, forgive the grimy shoes in the pics if you must. I am still a huge fan of the Nike Free 3.0 v4 and went ahead and got another pair. So I am posting some comparison pics for you to see. That being said, I am disappointed that the fabric portion of the upper only lasted me 200 miles. Is it a lot to ask that an upper last me longer than that? I am accustomed to the mid sole breaking down on me, but not the upper.

Can you see the hole within the yellow circle? There’s an identical hole on the other shoe.

The bed/sole of my shoe is still holding up in terms of comfort. Since that’s obviously the important part, I am still a fan.

There is obvious wear on the sole, but nothing that I have reason to complain about. I am happy with how the lower portion of this shoe has held up!

P.S. I wiped the old ones with a wet cloth and they became so impressively clean, my husband asked if they were the new ones.

Just some side by side comparisons

Again, I would buy this shoe again; already thinking about my 3rd pair. Unfortunately, my local running store only seems to have this color in my size! I get such a steal on my shoes there that I won’t bother to go elsewhere for another color.

I also bought a pair of Nike Free 5.0 for my Dad and he really loves them!

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16 Responses to Nike Free 3.0 v4 Review.

  1. kimbob13 says:

    Help!!! I am trying to switch over from heel strike running to the minimalist technique. Right now I am still running in regular tennis shoes. My feet seem to be fighting it with every step. Any suggestions??? Btw my calves are killing me haha.

    • Hi Kimberly. I understand your pain I really do! First, I would like to say that I am not an expert, just a girl who runs and is trying to do so as injury and pain free as possible.
      Your feet are fighting it because we re-train our feet our entire lives to sit in unnatural shoes all day. Even though it doesn’t seem like it, it took a long time to get to where we are and in the same way, it will take some work to get back to what is “right”. For me, I spend all my time at home barefoot. I am conscious of the way I walk and try to practice proper posture as often as possible. You calves are going to take the brunt of the abuse it seems lol. But I am sure you will find other muscles sore as well. My advice is to ease into it slowly. Use you minimalist shoes as lifestyle shoes at first. Wear them in your everyday life and when that is comfortable slowly start running in them. It was once recommended to me to start the Couch to 5k program in my minimalist shoes. Use the C25K with minimalist shoes and do your longer runs with your “traditional” shoes.
      But, before any of that… I suggest you begin working on your form, eliminating your heel strike. I highly recommend reading Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. This book helped me a great deal. Also, here are some great foot strengthening exercises to incorporate into your days.
      Let me know if this helps. We can make this transition together! I am very comfortable in minimalist shoes, but I’m making my transition to barefoot shoes.
      Keep me apprised of your progress Kimberly. I look forward to hearing how it’s going.
      Put in the work and I am sure you will not be sorry.

      • kimbob13 says:

        Thanks so much! Your response definitely returned some confidence back to me. Sometimes I forget about how many years I have trained my foot to run wrong and its hard to be patient through this transition. I plan to buy the book on chi running over the next few days, which I think will help answer alot of questions I have. It is encouraging to know that you have already made the switch and know the benefits. Also that you are even switching to Barefoot shoes. I will definitely keep following your blog to see how you like it. I should probably ease into it more, but I crave running to much to run anything less than 2 miles. O’well.

      • I am glad I could help!
        Chi Running has great technical tips on how to correct your form. Great pictures to help too. I noticed on your blog that you are considering the Nike Free 4.0. While i am sure that you will love it, I should point out that the heel drop on the 4.0 and 5.0 are much higher than the 3.0. There is nothing wrong with that, but they are not quite minimal and will still encourage a heel strike (there is more cushion under the heel). There is no reason why you cannot work on mid/fore foot strike in those, especially with their flexibility, but you will have to be aware a bit more if that makes sense.
        There’s no reason not to have your regular runs, but do your shorter ones in the minimalist shoes and perhaps start with run/walk method (only on your shorter run days) you can alternate your shoes for your runs. Eventually, you won’t like your more supportive running shoes and will switch completely.

  2. Anna says:

    Do you feel at all that you slightly step on the back of the heel? Thanks.

    • Hi Anna.
      Personally, there is the very slightest step back with these shoes. Actually, to be more accurate, I land on my forefoot and find myself “rolling back” just slightly if that makes sense. I have noticed that I do not do that at all with my zero drop/barefoot shoes. Is the 3.0 v4 the shoe you are running in right now?

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  7. Dianne Matias says:

    Does the back of the heel cave in when you wear it?

    • Dianne, yes it does. I’m on my 3rd pair and it has happened on each. At first I didn’t know what to think, but it has not affected performance one iota! So, I’m not worried about it. As long as your heel isn’t slipping, I wouldn’t worry.

  8. dianne says:

    yea it’s kind of bothering me. At first I got a size 8 but then i felt like it was to small in the toe area. so I got a 8.5 and the toe area is fine except now there’s a gap in the back. but as you said it doesn’t make that much of difference when running it . thanks!

    • What do you mean when you say bothering you? Is it uncomfortable in any way? I had to go up a size as well for the same reason. I noticed during my half I had some slight bruising on one of my big toes due to the toe box. The heel isn’t a bother for me though. Life is too short for uncomfortable shoes!
      I just picked up the Brooks Pure Drift. It reminds me of the Nike Free in a lot of ways, but the toe box is heavenly roomy. I’ll post a write-up about that one after I rack up some miles.

  9. Phuong t says:

    How about sizing? Is it true to size?

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