The Nike Torch 4 trail shoe is an entry-level trail shoe that lacks the lightness and flexibility of a great trail running/racing shoe. It’s comfortable, fits as advertised and provides a lot of support. It is not capable of providing speedy technical trail running or racing due to its weight, stiffness and bulkiness. This is better suited as a trail hiking shoe for someone who needs a lot of support and comfort.
The Nike Torch 4 trail shoe is a highly padded heavily built shoe for trail running. They will not be the fastest shoe given their weight of 13.5 ounces which is 3 ounces each more than some of the trail shoes I normally use from Salomon or Brooks. They also feel stiff and a little awkward on technical terrain where it’s important to flex and to have quick feet and higher cadence.
This shoe is fine for fairly non-technical gravel trails like those found in parks. I would not run steep, rocky technical routes with these shoes at all. On smooth fairly level trails I think they could function as weighted training shoes. Other racing trail shoes will feel light later so this could be a function of this shoe.
want a lightweight trail shoe (the Kiger 7 is praised for being so lightweight)
are looking for a more aggressive shoe for technical terrain (the Nike Wildhorse 7 is worth checking out)
The Nike Torch 4 fits exactly as advertised
My 10.5 size is a 10.5 in this shoe. The width was more than adequate and the length was perfect.
A very comfortable design
The Nike Torch 4 trail shoe is a really comfortable shoe, particularly in the uppers. The shoe has a vice-like grip on the foot with little chance for moving around.
The tongue is padded really well and the lacing never feels like it’s pressuring any part of the foot. There is a cutout in the heel counter as well that prevents chafing of the Achilles area.
The insole should be more built up in the arch area but feels a little flat. However, I do appreciate that the insole is glued down so it can’t shift around inside. With stream crossings on trails, it’s possible that the insole can curl up inside under the toes on other shoes causing blisters and problems. That won’t happen with these.
The Torch 4 is not for technical terrain
The Nike Torch 4 trail shoe has a fairly conventional ride on flat ground. It runs great on gravel or wood chip or dirt trails providing they are not technical. The grip on climbs and descents is good, again if the trails are not technical.
The heaviest shoe I have tested
On the technical single track, there are roots, rocks, mud bogs and a variety of uneven surfaces. For this type of trail, I found the Nike Torch 4 to be a little awkward. They are heavy and feel big on the feet and I found that the lack of sole flexibility made me run awkwardly. Fast feet and fast turnover is the key when running a technical trail. This combined with feeling the surface underfoot also contributes to moving fast along a technical trail.
The stiff sole made me feel disconnected from the terrain and I felt like I could twist my ankle because my foot can’t flex at all tied into these shoes. The weight prevented me from moving my feet fast enough to keep up with my pace.
On climbs the traction was good. On descents, all of the above factors come into play and I was not comfortable letting myself go in the descents because I couldn’t feel the trail or have the fast feet I needed to adapt to the terrain. I don’t think air makes a difference in a trail shoe, particularly since you have to be on the forefoot to get through the rock gardens and undulating terrain.
I felt like these shoes were completely different from trail shoes I’ve run in for decades such as those from Salomon, Brooks,Vivobarefoot etc. I had to get used to the heavy feeling and the stiffness of the sole. I really wasn’t comfortable on technical single track so one adaptation was to use the shoes on less technical gravel trails where they do well.
Grip in trail running can be supercritical and involve a wide variety of surfaces. On dirt, rocks, roots and gravel the traction was adequate with the Nike Torch 4 trail shoe. The caveat is that you need to place your feet where they need to be on the trail and the other issues with weight and flex made that difficult.
On climbs, I felt that these had very good grip. Descents were a little dicey but slippage was not the issue.
Not completely breathable
The Nike Torch 4 trail shoe upper is thick and I could feel that the ventilation was not very open. This makes the shoe great for really cold winter running so I would recommend them for that. As for summer and other warmer days, I feel like they would make my feet sweat.
The other problem with the thick uppers and breathability is stream crossings which will soak the shoe completely. I do not think these will drain and dry out very quickly. In a longer trail race of 50km to the 100-mile distance that has a lot of stream crossings or puddles, this is not the shoe to wear.
Comfy, snug fit
The Nike Torch 4 trail shoe features two alternate top lace holes on the right and left-hand sides of the shoe. This allows for quite a bit of adjustment for various arch heights and prevents hot spots. Combined with the super thick cushy tongue material you can get a snug fit that never causes discomfort to the top of the foot. The heel counter has a cut out that prevents the top of the heel material from digging into the Achilles tendon.
The Nike Torch 4 was jarring to the eyes for my taste
Being bright white with a black sole and neon trim details means that you will definitely not get lost at night. However, I find the colors combined with how thick they are makes it look like I’m wearing a shoe two sizes bigger even though they fit right. I find the general shape is not appealing but I could have overlooked that if they were really good shoe performance-wise on the single track. They might scare the bears and cougars!
The $70 retail price makes this shoe an entry-level trail shoe. I think the low entry price makes it an excellent choice for those wanting to try trail running without spending a lot.
I have run competitively since 1976 beginning with 1,500M and 3,000 M track events, progressing through 10K, Half and Full Marathons and then onwards to ultra distances from 50K to 160K trail events. As a running coach, I love inspiring and helping Kenyan elites and less fortunate kids alike. I’m most content running in the mountains with big climbs and descents.