The new Cage 4 picks up the “Vapor” moniker to denote a concerted effort by Nike to make this model faster and more dynamic than any previous Cage tennis shoe. Billed as the most durable Vapor to date, the Cage 4 offers a superb blend of durability, stability, and response. Nike adjusted the length and width of this model to help fit a greater variety of foot shapes. Lastly, as indicated by the name, Zoom Air returns for excellent response. Intrigued by this completely different design, I was excited to take the Vapor Cage 4 out on court.
The Vapor Cage 4 offers more space, particularly in the toe box, than the slimmer-than-average Cage 3. It runs a little bit longer, and slightly wider. I enjoyed this aspect of the shoe, as the prior model was known to be a bit constricting, and the adjustment was not overdone. The unique lacing system and partial-sleeve construction feel different than most tennis shoes on the market. While they took some getting used to, they were not a distraction after a couple of times on the court, and certainly did not hinder performance. There is also a good amount of ground contact with this shoe due to the extended outsole near the heel. This was another aspect that felt slightly different at first, but translated well to performance after a brief adjustment period. I would recommend wearing quarter or crew length socks with this model to prevent rubbing on the back of the heel.
Cushioning & Breathability
Overall, the Vapor Cage 4 is a very comfortable shoe. The underfoot cushioning balances firmness and softness extremely well, while the partial sleeve is also very soft. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where the underfoot cushioning comes from, perhaps the Zoom Air unit, but I thought this model was more comfortable than the Cage 3. Speaking of the Zoom Air unit, this technology, as well as the adaptive build of the shoe, help the somewhat heavy Vapor Cage 4 move very well. In terms of breathability, the Vapor Cage 4 rates well for a durability shoe. I found it to be an improvement over prior models, as the inside didn’t get overheated or make my feet sweat more than normal.
Durability & Support
Durability and support are areas in which the Vapor Cage 4 truly shines. As expected, this model is backed by a 6-month outsole warranty. We also see a number of durability features implemented into the upper to enhance protection. Additionally, both stability and support are best-in-class. The shoe does an excellent job of locking your foot in for greater confidence when changing directions. The responsive Zoom Air unit paired with the full-length foot frame made my lateral movements feel powerful and deliberate. I can see why Rafa Nadal trusts this shoe.
The Nike Men’s Air Zoom Vapor Cage 4 lives up to its name. While it may take a couple of times playing in it to get accustomed to the fit, the shoe is highly durable, supportive, and comfortable, while still offering a strong level of response. This is without a doubt one of the best shoes on the market for players seeking to capitalize on these characteristics.