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New Balance Kawhi 4: The Best Kawhi to Date?

New Balance Kawhi 4

Kawhi 4 English Review
Kawhi 4 Spanish Review

The New Balance Kawhi 4 is Kawhi Leonard’s fourth signature sneaker and just might be the best Kawhi shoe to date.

Release Date: 2024

Price: $160

Total Score
Buy New Balance Kawhi 4

Kawhi Leonard’s signature line has been rather underwhelming up until this point. The New Balance Omn1s was a great performance model, closely associated with Kawhi, but it wasn’t technically a signature model. The Klaw’s signature shoes have consistently been stiff and rigid, almost to the point of being uncomfortable.

Kawhi is a big and powerful basketball player, so this style of shoe may work great for him, but, at least here at WearTesters, we have found his sneakers to be a bit much. So, did New Balance address these issues in the Kawhi 4? Let’s find out:

New Balance Kawhi 4 Performance Review

Performance Review Summary: New Balance Kawhi 4

New Balance Kawhi 4 Traction

New Balance Kawhi 4 outsole

The Kawhi 4 features a bladed traction pattern which is radially arranged, providing excellent grip on various court conditions. Lateral traction is an issue bladed traction patterns face sometimes, but luckily that wasn’t the case with the Kawhi 4. The rubber the sole is built with is soft and pliable, offering good traction straight out of the box.

However, its outdoor durability is limited. The rubber is not designed to last long on abrasive surfaces, which is a slight bummer since New Balance has brought us some solid outdoor options this year with the Two Wxy V4 and the Fresh Foam BB V2.

That being said, both solid and translucent rubber options perform very well, making the traction a strong point for indoor play.

New Balance Kawhi 4 Cushion

New Balance Kawhi 4 cushion

This might be the best cushioning setup on an official Kawhi Leonard signature shoe. The Kawhi 4 features a dual-density FuelCell setup, which is softer and more responsive than previous models. It offers a good blend of comfort and bounce, with a springy propulsion thanks to the Energy Arc torsion plate (more on that later). This setup offers solid impact protection, though court feel is average.

With the increased compression underfoot, losing that low to the ground, tactile sensation in your basketball shoes is inevitable. It’s not as plush and cushy as in the Fresh Foam BB V2, but this is definitely the most comfortable Kawhi signature to date, which is a more than fair trade-off.

It is also worth mentioning that the stock insole, made of open-cell foam, is more resilient than a typical Ortholite insole, adding to the overall comfort of the Kawhi 4.

New Balance Kawhi 4 Materials

New Balance Kawhi 4 upper

The New Balance Kawhi 4 features a primarily engineered mesh upper with synthetic TPU reinforcements placed in key areas along the shoe. This makes the Kawhi 4 flexible and comfortable, but, contrary to what you might expect, it’s not the most breathable shoe. The padding behind the mesh is great for all-around comfort, but it does subtract breathability.

The Kawhi 4 features an open-mesh tongue with substantial padding to eliminate any lace pressure and enhance comfort. The shoe also includes a TPU heel clip and minimal Achilles pillows, contributing to the support structure of the shoe.

New Balance Kawhi 4 Support

New Balance Kawhi 4 energy arc shank plate

Kawhi shoes, up until this point, have been almost too supportive, some would even call them stiff and cumbersome. The Kawhi 4 however, while still providing excellent support features, is much more flexible and nimble on court. Support is robust, the back of the shoe features an external heel clip, an internal heel counter, and a raised midsole for added stability.

Underfoot you have the Energy Arc carbon fiber midfoot plate which provides rigidity in the midfoot and flexibility in the forefoot. It’s a longer midfoot plate than normal, so it does offer some “spring plate” benefits as well, helping to propel you forward as you move on court.

There is a potential issue with lateral containment for larger, more powerful players, although no problems were experienced during testing. But if you’re a bigger hooper who puts a beating on your shoes, you may want to keep that in mind.

New Balance Kawhi 4 Fit

New Balance Kawhi 4 sizing

The Kawhi 4 fits slightly long, with a thumb’s width of extra room. Narrow-footed players might consider going half a size down for a snug fit, while others should stick to their usual size. Heel lockdown takes some time and tinkering to get right, but once you do, you will have no issues. Jackson used a runner’s loop (demonstrated in the video review) to get optimal lockdown for his foot shape.

Depending on your foot type, you may want to use this lacing method, but, for the majority of consumers out there, there should be no issues. The speed lacing system in the Kawhi 4 works very well, and the overall lockdown was satisfactory once adjusted properly.

New Balance Kawhi 4 Overall

New Balance Kawhi 4 in hand

The Kawhi 4 is the best in the Kawhi signature line so far. It offers a much-improved cushioning setup, excellent traction, and solid support while being lighter and more agile. On top of that, the shoe retails for $160, which, admittedly isn’t cheap, but it makes this model all the more attractive when you compare it to other similarly priced performance basketball models.

New Balance has done a great job this year of creating a basketball shoe lineup that caters to various preferences for cushioning and play styles, and the Kawhi 4 fits well within New Balance’s diverse basketball lineup. The Kawhi 4 will be an excellent indoor basketball shoe as long as you get the fit right and lateral containment isn’t an issue for your playing style.

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