Nike launched the Free range of shoes in 2005. At the time the concept of “less” running shoes was quite new and the shoe wasn’t particularly successful. At first. Fast forward a couple of years and the minimalist movement and the Nike Free are on top of the world.

For 2012, Nike has 2 Nike Free shoes that are suitable for running. One is called Nike Free 3.0 v4 and the other one is called Nike Free Run+ 3. Confusing? What’s the difference between the two?

First, it’s better to start with a bit of history. The first Nike Free that was launched was the 5.0 – The number is the “degree of free” on an ideal scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is barefoot and 10 is a traditional cushioned shoe.

The 5.0 was aimed at runners, with the intent of training the muscles of the foot on some training runs. After that, Nike introduced many other Frees, aimed at training (weights) or basketball and so on. For that reason, the next incarnation of the Nike Free 5.0 was called the Nike Free Run+. “Run” indicates that is the Running shoes of the Free range, and the “+” indicates that the shoes has the room for inserting the Nike+ sensor.

So, the Nike Free Run+ 3 is basically the 3rd (4th, to be precise) version of the original Nike Free running shoe.

The Nike Free 3.0 is a lighter version of that (remember, 3 on a scale 0 to 10 – it’s closer to barefoot feeling).

I will send you to the respective reviews to check the details about the two shoes, but in a nutshell here they are

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop
  • The Free Run+3 has a 8 mm drop, while the Run 3.0 v4 has a 4mm drop (making it more suitable for forefoot running).

  • Weight
  • The Free 3.0 is 1.5 ounces lighter than the Run+ 3.

  • Sole
  • Even though they are very similar, the sole of the Run+ 3 is wider especially in the forefoot, giving it a touch more stability.

  • Upper
  • The upper of the Free 3.0 is a seamless mono-piece. Even though it has laces, it seem to put your foot into a sock. The Run+ 3 has a more traditional upper, with overlays and the Nike Dynamic Fit lacing system to lock the foot better in position

    So, which one to choose?
    The choice is personal. What you need to know is that the Free 3.0 will blow you away with the “I am not there” feeling, but requires a longer break-in period. The Run+ 3 is a safer choice, for a shoe that is easy to run in and can help your stability.

    Remember to check out the reviews !!

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