Shoe Review: Mizuno Wave Horizon 4
This year Mizuno made big changes to the Wave Horizon 4, updating the shoe in favor of simplicity without compromising stability.
A cleaned-up aesthetic provides a sleek look and modern feel, and new foam technology replaces the Wave Plate for a floating feeling. But even without the Wave Plate, the Horizon 4 feels cushioned and stable, which makes it a good choice for longer days.
Fleet Feet testers tried out the Mizuno Wave Horizon 4 to check the fit, feel the ride and see how it stacks up to other Mizuno running shoes. Here’s what they thought.
Mizuno Wave Horizon 4
9.2 oz (women’s), 11.3 oz (men’s)
Mizuno Wave Horizon 4 Fit and Materials
The Wave Horizon 4 continues Mizuno’s trend of Wave Plate-less running shoes that began in 2019 with the Mizuno Wave Sky Waveknit 3.
Instead of the plastic Wave Plate, Mizuno used different layers and shapes of foam to achieve the stable effect they were after. But in addition to stability, Mizuno says the new Foam Wave gives the shoe a floating feeling thanks to a new foam called XPOP.
The Foam Wave is made up of three different components: a bottom layer of foam that runs the length of the shoe, a second layer of foam that forms a ring around the shoe, and a strip of XPOP foam that sits inside the ring. Many stability running shoes use a piece of denser foam, called a medial post, to create the same effect, but the Horizon achieves stability using only geometry.
The Horizon derives stability from the shape of the waves created by the first two layers of foam. Rectangular waves on the medial side (instep) compress less under your weight than the rounded waves on the lateral (outside) of the shoe. This enhances durability for overpronators who put more stress on the instep. Over time, the extra durability means the Horizon 4 will wear evenly, giving you a stable ride for the life of the shoe.
The second layer ring of foam—the top half that’s either black or the same primary color as the upper—helps guide your foot into the middle of the shoe, so you land in the correct position with each step. Then the strip of XPOP foam, which peeks out of the bottom of the shoe, delivers a bouncier, floating feeling.
Continuing the overhaul of the Horizon, Mizuno used a simpler engineered mesh upper to create a clean look. The mesh has a bit of give to it, which helps the shoe open up a little bit when you start wearing it.
The upper isn’t actually stretchy, but one tester says it felt roomier after he actually ran in it.
“They felt a little snug when I first put them on,” he says. “But the upper loosened up enough after my first mile that they were pretty comfortable.”
Mizuno Wave Horizon 4 Ride and Performance
Mizuno debuted its XPOP foam in the Wave Sky Waveknit 3, which gave it a soft, bouncy ride. The Wave Horizon 4 has a very similar feel.
The XPOP looks like a bunch of Rice Krispy-shaped pellets formed into a sheet of foam to create a feeling that’s plush and energetic. Coupled with the new Foam Wave technology, the Horizon 4 feels softer and smoother than shoes like the Mizuno Wave Rider 23 or Mizuno Wave Inspire 16.
One tester says the new cushioning and stability features work well together.
“These feel nice and cushioned on the run,” she says. “I appreciate that there’s not a post in my arch, as I often feel those and they can bug me a little.”
With the softer feel, though, the Wave Horizon doesn’t feel particularly fast. Instead, it gives plenty of cushion and stability for longer runs or easy, recovery days.
“The shoe felt stable, but I didn't realize it was a stability shoe specifically because of the lack of post,” one tester says. “I think that's a good thing.”
Mizuno Wave Horizon 3 vs. Wave Horizon 4
Following in the footsteps of the Wave Sky Waveknit 3, Mizuno made big changes to the Wave Horizon 4.
The new Wave Horizon 4 ditches Mizuno’s signature plastic Wave Plate technology in favor of an all-foam midsole, called the Foam Wave. The iconic Wave Plate has been a part of many Mizuno running shoes for years, but the company is beginning to move away from the tech as more models are being made without them.
Instead of using the Wave Plate to add stability, designers used the shape of the Foam Wave with its rectangular and rounded waves on either side.
Mizuno also stripped many of the overlays off the upper when they updated the shoe. The Horizon 3 had extra overlays on the midfoot and a larger Mizuno logo positioned closer to the heel. This year, Mizuno opted for a cleaner upper and smaller logo.
The changes give the new Horizon 4 a much simpler look and feel while delivering the same smooth, stable ride that runners expect from the line.
Mizuno Wave Horizon 3
Mizuno Wave Horizon 4
9.7 oz (W), 11.1 oz (M)
9.2 oz (W), 11.3 oz (M)
U4ic, U4icX, XPOP
The Wave Horizon 4 is a welcome update to Mizuno’s stability shoe lineup and a good look into the brand’s future.
The Horizon’s cleaner upper follows the trend of other Mizuno running shoes, and the use of the new Foam Wave instead of a plastic Wave Plate shows Mizuno’s willingness to push the boundaries of what runners have come to expect from the company.
Overall, the Horizon is an easy riding stability shoe that’s well suited for long runs or cruising on recovery days.
Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.
By Evan Matsumoto. Evan played many sports growing up but didn’t go pro in any of them. Now, he’s the digital copywriter for fleetfeet.com and editor for the Fleet Feet blog where he writes about different foam densities and engineered mesh uppers.