Our verdict

This is the eagerly awaited sequel to one of 2023's best-selling, top-rated neutral daily trainers. That's why we were expecting just a minor upgrade, but ASICS surprised us with significant changes. The Novablast 4 introduces a premium upper paired with extra cushioning, enhanced stability, and better grip. In our view, ASICS aimed to address the weaker points of v3 and largely succeeded, although the shoe did gain some weight and lose a bit of its original magic in the process. Despite this, it's a fantastic all-rounder we think it's poised to be one of the top running shoes for a second consecutive year.

Pros

  • Enhanced outsole offering better grip and durability
  • Improved upper comfort with premium materials
  • Upgraded tongue padding
  • Exceptional value at just $140
  • More cushion than ever before
  • Accommodates a wide range of foot sizes
  • The most stable Novablast yet
  • Retains most of its fun and energetic ride

Cons

  • Not the best for hot summer runs
  • Outsole still lacks grip in wet conditions
  • Minor weight increase compared to v3

Audience verdict

88
Great!

Who should buy

We believe the ASICS Novablast 4 is an ideal choice for:

  • Beginners looking for a fun, comfy, all-around shoe at a reasonable price.
  • Runners seeking a cushioned, lightweight option for their short or long runs.
  • Anyone needing a versatile daily trainer that effortlessly adapts to both slow and moderately fast paces.

ASICS Novablast 4

Who should NOT buy

Though the ASICS Novablast 4 offers substantial cushioning, we think it doesn't quite match the ASICS Superblast in energy return. If budget isn't a concern, the Superblast is the most responsive daily trainer you can buy today.

Based in our lab tests, the Novablast 4 also does fall slightly short in breathability, which might be a concern during the hottest days of the year.

For those who prioritize excellent airflow in their daily trainers, we recommend considering the ASICS Gel Kayano 30, the Saucony Triumph 21 or the ASICS Gel Cumulus 25.

ASICS Novablast 4

Breathability

ASICS had a golden opportunity to improve breathability in the Novablast, but our lab tests reveal that we're pretty much at the same spot as before, awarding the Novablast 4 the same 3/5 score as last year's model.

Our analysis of the upper shows ASICS revamped it from v3, opting now for a cozier, thicker engineered mesh. However, this new mesh somewhat reduced airflow. To balance this, they peppered the toebox with numerous holes, enhancing air and moisture escape.

We turned on the microscope to take a closer look—confirming our initial thoughts: the Novablast 4 sports a really thick mesh paired with full-size ventilation holes.

ASICS Novablast 4 microscope

That's the clearest visual definition we can provide for a 'ventilation hole' in a running shoe.

Is this the optimal design for an upper? It's a mixed bag. For those seeking a blend of durability, comfort, and breathability, it might hit the mark. We're eager to see how it performs in our upcoming tests with the Dremel, though.

ASICS Novablast 4 hole

What really stands out to us is the thoughtful design. Unlike many other shoes that stick to the same material throughout, this one features a soft and cozy interior, while the exterior is tougher and more durable.

The padding and comfort of the upper are quite remarkable for a $140 daily trainer.

ASICS is clearly raising the bar with this upper, but we'd also love to see this shoe reach at least 4/5 in breathability, especially for runners tackling extremely hot conditions.

Test results
Novablast 4 3
Average 3.9
Compared to 184 running shoes
1
Breathability
5
Number of shoes

Durability

Toebox durability

We had hopes that the Novablast's average breathability might hint at a durable upper. To test this theory, we challenged the mesh with a Dremel at 5K RPM and 3.2N of force.

It turns out, the upper resisted impressively. We rate its durability a strong 3/5, outshining most daily trainers in the market.

ASICS Novablast 4 Toebox durability
Test results
Novablast 4 3
Average 2.1
Compared to 118 running shoes
1
Toebox durability
5
Number of shoes

Heel padding durability

We then turned our attention to the heel counter, a critical area for many runners as it often wears out quickly. We put it through its paces with the Dremel, applying the same 5K RPM and 3.2N of force, and the shoe scored a perfect 5 out of 5!

This achievement is particularly impressive considering the ample padding in the heel area and the comfortable fabric ASICS uses. Usually, such a combination tends to wear out faster, but they've somehow managed to make it both durable and comfortable for every run.

ASICS Novablast 4 Heel padding durability
Test results
Novablast 4 5
Average 2.9
Compared to 114 running shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5
Number of shoes

Outsole hardness

Now, let's focus on the outsole, which was the Novablast 3's biggest weak spot. We noticed its grip was lacking on wet surfaces, and it wasn't particularly impressive on dry ones either.

ASICS Novablast 4 AHAR

In our initial test, we measured the AHAR (ASICS High Abrassion Rubber) rubber's hardness, which registered at 79.1 HC on our Shore C durometer.

That's 5% softer than the v3, resulting in significantly better grip in both wet and dry conditions. This improvement is partly due to ASICS tweaking the rubber placement and enhancing the overall grip.

Still, there's room for improvement in the Novablast 4's outsole. For runners who often tackle wet tarmac, we suggest exploring alternatives known for superior grip like the PUMA Deviate Nitro 2.

ASICS Novablast 4 Outsole hardness
Test results
Novablast 4 79.1 HC
Average 80.3 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 236 running shoes
55.5 HC
Outsole hardness
92.8 HC
Number of shoes

Outsole durability

Despite the new AHAR formulation being slightly softer, the Novablast 4 delivered an outstanding performance in our outsole durability test.

After cranking the Dremel up to 10K RPM, we only observed a minor 0.6-mm indentation. This impressive result boosts our confidence in the shoe's longevity.

ASICS Novablast 4 Outsole durability
Test results
Novablast 4 0.6 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 96 running shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm
Number of shoes

Outsole thickness

To ensure durability, ASICS put 3.9 mm of rubber to the Novablast 4's outsole. This thickness is more than sufficient to ensure the midsole wears out before the outsole does.

ASICS Novablast 4 outsole

This is an increase from the previous version's 3.1 mm, once again indicating that ASICS aimed to enhance durability, even if it meant adding a bit of weight.

ASICS Novablast 4 Outsole thickness
Test results
Novablast 4 3.9 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 256 running shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm
Number of shoes

Weight

As we suspected from our earlier lab tests—thicker rubber, comfier upper—the Novablast has gained some weight. Now at 9.1 oz (259g), it's still in the lightweight category for a daily trainer, yet it's 7% heavier than the v3.

Is this a good trade-off? In our view, adding 17g to this particular shoe is a wise move if it means more foam, greater comfort, and enhanced durability. It's a minor increase in weight and a luxury ASICS can afford, given that the v3 was already quite light.

ASICS Novablast 4 Weight
Test results
Novablast 4 9.14 oz (259g)
Average 9.38 oz (266g)
Compared to 256 running shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)
Number of shoes

Cushioning

Heel stack

We just noted that the Novablast 4 boasts more foam than its predecessor, but now it's time to verify ASICS' claims and measure its growth.

With a heel stack height of 39.2 mm, it's 2.0 mm more than last year's model. Keep in mind, though, that this increase isn't all foam, as we've already shown there's more rubber too.

Yet, the shoe undoubtedly feels more cushioned in the heel—a feature that rearfoot strikers will absolutely adore.

ASICS Novablast 4 Heel stack
Test results
Novablast 4 39.2 mm
Average 33.5 mm
Compared to 255 running shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
42.7 mm
Number of shoes

Forefoot stack

In the forefoot, we measured a generous 30.2 mm, which is significantly above the average and places the Novablast 4 among the thickest shoes in the market.

ASICS Novablast 4 stack

This makes it clear that cushioning is a standout feature of this shoe. We think all runners won't find themselves short on comfort underfoot, even during long 20-milers.

ASICS Novablast 4 Forefoot stack
Test results
Novablast 4 30.2 mm
Average 24.7 mm
Compared to 255 running shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
34.8 mm
Number of shoes

Drop

We meticulously measured the heel and forefoot stack heights following World Athletics guidelines and discovered a 9.0-mm drop.

This differs slightly from ASICS' stated 8.0 mm, but it's so close that it's not a cause for concern. And with a forefoot stack height like this, a 9.0-mm offset works well for all types of footstrikes.

ASICS Novablast 4 Drop
Test results
Novablast 4 9.0 mm
Average 8.8 mm
Compared to 255 running shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm
Number of shoes

Insole thickness

ASICS played it safe with the insole—it's exactly the same as last year's model, featuring an average, 4.4-mm thickness. It worked well before, so why change it?

ASICS Novablast 4 Insole thickness
Test results
Novablast 4 4.4 mm
Average 4.4 mm
Compared to 251 running shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
9.8 mm
Number of shoes

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Let's dive into the midsole, where there's plenty to talk about. ASICS has switched from FF Blast+ to FF Blast+ ECO, a foam we've already tested in the ultra-comfy, marshmallow-like ASICS Nimbus 25.

This modification brings both benefits and drawbacks. The midsole feels slightly less energetic than before, but it's soft and comfortable, registering 16.9 HA in softness. 

Plus, the EVA+OBC foam now consists of at least 20% bio-based materials from renewable sources, an effort many will appreciate.

ASICS Novablast 4

The main downside to this change is that, combined with the added weight that we revealed before, the Novablast 4 becomes less suited for speed workouts and more for steady, aerobic runs.

ASICS Novablast 4 Midsole softness
Test results
Novablast 4 16.9 HA
Average 23.5 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 237 running shoes
6.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
52.5 HA
Number of shoes

Midsole softness in cold

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

To test the Novablast 4's performance in extremely cold conditions, we placed it in a freezer for 20 minutes and then retested it. After freezing, it registered a balanced 22.3 HA.

ASICS Novablast 4 Midsole softness in cold
Test results
Novablast 4 22.3 HA
Average 29.3 HA
Compared to 236 running shoes
12.4 HA
Midsole softness in cold (soft to firm)
75.0 HA
Number of shoes

Difference in midsole softness in cold

This resulted in a 31.8% increase, which was clearly noticeable, yet not at all troubling.

However, it's important to keep in mind that FF Blast+ ECO is still mostly based on EVA. This means its performance in cold temperatures isn't the best possible, as we detailed in our comprehensive guide on this topic.

For a bouncy midsole that excels in cold conditions, you should consider the Nike Invincible 3, which boasts Pebax-based ZoomX.

Test results
Novablast 4 31.8%
Average 26.5%
Compared to 236 running shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
125%
Number of shoes

Stability

Lateral stability test

A delightful surprise in this update is the enhanced stability. ASICS has made improvements throughout the shoe to achieve this, as we'll reveal in our upcoming tests, and we're really impressed with it.

While it's not quite suitable for those with severe pronation or supination issues, it's a safe choice for neutral runners and those with minor stability needs. In fact, it's the most stable Novablast yet by a significant margin.

Torsional rigidity

Another simple method to enhance stability in a daily trainer is by making it lean towards the more rigid side, and that's exactly what ASICS did.

It's not as stiff as steel, but we found it certainly feels more rigid than other daily trainers on the market, and we rated it at 4/5. However, with this high stack height, there wasn't much choice in the matter.

Test results
Novablast 4 4
Average 3.2
Compared to 233 running shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5
Number of shoes

Heel counter stiffness

The heel counter's stiffness is balanced, rated at 3/5—it's not too intrusive yet not overly soft. Essentially, ASICS aimed to satisfy the majority with this design, and they've certainly succeeded.

It's also crucial to emphasize that the fabric in the heel area is not just durable, as we previously proved with the Dremel, but it also secures the feet exceptionally well to prevent heel slippage.

Test results
Novablast 4 3
Average 2.7
Compared to 217 running shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5
Number of shoes

Midsole width in the forefoot

But the biggest change ASICS made for better stability is the increased midsole width in the forefoot.

At 122.8 mm, the NB4 is really wide, offering a landing base akin to stability shoes. While it might be even a bit much for those with perfect neutral running technique, runners with slight pronation or supination issues will absolutely appreciate this change.

ASICS Novablast 4 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Novablast 4 122.8 mm
Average 113.4 mm
Compared to 256 running shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm
Number of shoes

Midsole width in the heel

The heel is almost identical to the previous version, with just a slight increase bringing it to 94.7 mm. It's still wider than average, making it ideal for heel strikers, who make up the majority of runners.

ASICS Novablast 4 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Novablast 4 94.7 mm
Average 90.3 mm
Compared to 256 running shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm
Number of shoes

Flexibility

Stiffness

The Novablast 4 is a non-plated shoe, which is ideal for a daily trainer. This is why it scored an average result in our 90-degree bend test, at 25.6N.

Being flexible from a longitudinal standpoint is crucial for comfort, not just for daily running but also for walking or going to the gym.

Test results
Novablast 4 25.6N
Average 29.2N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 239 running shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N
Number of shoes

Stiffness in cold

We repeated the test after freezing the shoe for 20 minutes, just as we did with the midsole softness test.

The result came in at 27.0N, which means it's still pretty flexible. Nice!

Test results
Novablast 4 27.0N
Average 39.2N
Compared to 239 running shoes
2.5N
Stiffness in cold
110.2N
Number of shoes

Difference in stiffness in cold

That's just a 5.5% difference, a fantastic performance for an EVA-based midsole. It seems that blending OBC (Olefin Block Co-Polymers) with EVA really paid off with impressive results in this FF Blast+ ECO midsole.

Test results
Novablast 4 5.5%
Average 39.2%
Compared to 239 running shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%
Number of shoes

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

One of the main complaints about previous Novablast models was the upper. It wasn't extremely narrow, but it definitely had a tight fit.

ASICS Novablast 4 upper

Now, it's just right, crafted for those with normal feet. It can also comfortably accommodate runners with narrow or wide feet, as long as they're not extreme cases.

ASICS Novablast 4 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Novablast 4 98.3 mm
Average 98.1 mm
Compared to 257 running shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm
Number of shoes

Toebox width at the big toe

The big toe area, measuring a neat 77.0 mm, is also quite average, something those of us with slightly wide feet—especially in the toe area—really appreciate.

We discovered the toebox has a comfortable average volume, offering plenty of space for our toes to move freely and comfortably, which is evident in the video above.

ASICS Novablast 4 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Novablast 4 77.0 mm
Average 77.8 mm
Compared to 129 running shoes
67.6 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
90.4 mm
Number of shoes

Tongue: gusset type

This is yet another testament to the wisdom of not fixing what isn't broken.

The 4th edition of the Novablast still features a semi-gusseted tongue, which we believe is the best approach for achieving a balance between comfort and lightness, while ensuring a really good lockdown.

ASICS Novablast 4 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Novablast 4 Both sides (semi)

Comfort

Tongue padding

We measured the Novablast 3's padding at a razor-thin 1.3 mm, which, while great for us in the lab, raised concerns for many runners who prefer tightly tied laces.

ASICS Novablast 4 tongue

With the Novablast 4, you're treated to a properly padded tongue at 5.8 mm, similar to most daily trainers on the market. Yet, this padding isn't continuous; it's sectioned off in a smart design to avoid adding too much weight to the shoe.

ASICS Novablast 4 Tongue padding
Test results
Novablast 4 5.8 mm
Average 5.7 mm
Compared to 253 running shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm
Number of shoes

Heel tab

The Novablast 3 didn't include a heel tab in its standard version—though it did in the LE variant that was released some months later—but this time, it's a welcome feature right from day one.

ASICS Novablast 4 Heel tab
Test results
Novablast 4 Finger loop

Removable insole

The insole is easy to take out as it's not glued, and thanks to the midsole and upper's standard size, fitting insoles from other shoes or custom orthotics won't be an issue at all.

However, they might feel different compared to the included insole, which is slightly flared to enhance both stability and comfort.

ASICS Novablast 4 Removable insole
Test results
Novablast 4 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

We're big believers that every daily training shoe should have some reflective elements, and ASICS really nailed it this time.

Test results
Novablast 4 Yes