Jordan 4 Thunder: Recent Retro
Price: $210 MSRP [Check Resale on eBay]
The Jordan 4 Thunder avoids build quality concerns that plague other sneakers, and offers a subtle way into a non-subtle color.
The Jordan 4 Thunder doesn’t have the best materials, and the fit can be difficult to nail down.
|Materials||Durabuck / Polyurethane / Rubber|
|Weight||655 g / 1 lb 7.1 oz|
|Country of Origin||China|
Nobody can deny that, in 2023, Jordan 4s are having a resurgence in popularity. The White Cement 3 was one of the biggest stories of the year, and were completely gone from Instagram a week later. Pushed out by the Jordan 4 SB.
What is the history of this sneaker? Well, not all that much. At least, compared to the rest of the line. It wasn’t the first Tinker sneaker. Jordan didn’t win a championship in them. Heck, even their claim to fame, known as “the shot,” was later overshadowed by “the last shot.”
It’s true, the Jordan 4 doesn’t have all that much in the way of history. Though, maybe that makes being as popular has it has been all the more impressive. It’s been the canvas for countless collabs and well known colorways. So much so that retros of colorways first released in the 2000’s get as much excitement as OG colorways.
Originally released in 2006, and retro’d in 2012, this is now the 3rd time this pair has released. Paired with the primarily yellow Lightnings, this sneaker is now clearly in Jordan brand’s regular release calendar. Should it be? Let’s dive in and find out.
The upper of the Jordan 4 Thunder manages to be both subtle and bright, all at the same time. The first thing you notice is the black durabuck which makes up almost every panel of the upper. This sort of black fuzzy material tends to absorb light instead of reflect it like leather. In other words, it makes the sneakers look darker than a normal black sneaker would.
It also scuffs so easy that it comes scratched out of the box, but that’s how it’s been since the 1980’s.
The black theme continues throughout most of the upper. The laces? Black. Rubber heel tab? Black, with a white jump man. Stitching? You guessed it, also black.
Of course, with a name like Thunder, it can’t be just black. On the upper, there are yellow hits on the top of the lace tie does, as well as under the mesh on the side and tongue panels. Yellow is not a subtle color but, at least on the upper, it’s not as overpowering as you might think. I know a lot of people were worried about the Lightning pair being too loud, but you don’t need to with these.
Inside, the majority of the upper is lined with black, though under the tongue is yellow.
Mid- and Outsole
Where the upper of the Jordan 4 Thunder manages to stay under the radar, the same isn’t quite true for the midsole. All of the exposed foam – the majority of the midsole – is painted in the same bright yellow. You definitely won’t miss it.
To be clear, I don’t think bright sneakers are a bad thing, but it is noticeable.
Elsewhere, the majority of the rubber is a deep black matching the upper. Also like the upper, it tends to fade away, at least compared to the rest of the midsole. The only break is a small rubber herringbone section underfoot.
Of course, the Jordan 4’s classic bubble is there. Filled with white on the inside in this colorway.
As someone who has spent the last several decades cheering for any team out there to beat the Steelers, this colorway isn’t for me. That being said, I can definitely see why they have been retro’d as many times as they have.
Yellow is never an easy color to wear, especially on a sneaker. It constantly screams for attention. However, with these, Jordan brand managed to make a sneaker – a big chunky sneaker – with lots of yellow, but it isn’t overpowering.
If you want a yellow sneaker, but don’t want everyone staring at your feet as you walk by, there are worse ways to go than the Jordan 4 Thunder.
Fit & Comfort
The Jordan 4 is a notoriously hard sneaker to fit, and the Thunder version is no exception. In the Jordan 1 and 2 you find a narrow sneaker, but you can size up and just end up with a bit of extra toe room. The Jordan 3 and 5 are wide all over, and a lot of guys can size down. The Jordan 4 is a weird mix of being tight in the toe box and wide at the heel.
This gives the tough spot of either sizing a half size down and crushing your toes, or going with your typical Nike size and having a fit so loose you’ll be cranking down the laces to keep the sneakers on.
Personally, I would suggest going with your typical sneaker size. Yeah, it won’t look quite as good, but you’ll regret stuffing yourself in your shoes when you get older. At the same time, I’m already old and I’m not sure an 18 year old version of myself would have said the same.
Unfortunately, Jordan 4s don’t share the same last as any other sneaker, so it isn’t easy to try on before you buy.
I took these in a size 13, which was slightly too loose in the heel, but I could wear them. This is the same size I take in the Jordan 1. For a full list of sizing for all shoes reviewed on this site, click here.
When it comes to comfort, at least outside the fit issues, I think the Jordan 4 gets a bad wrap. Sure, it’s not an Ultraboost, but considering the sneaker came out nearly 40 years ago, it’s really not all that bad.
Featuring quite a bit of padding around the ankle and air pods in both the forefoot and heel, you could definitely wear them all day without complaining. Jordan brand has also used their more recent blend of foams for the midsole, which add a bit more comfort compared to what they used when this colorway first came out.
Materials & Construction
When thinking about the materials in the Jordan 4 Thunder, it’s important to weigh historical accuracy with quality materials. From an objective viewpoint, they are not great. However, they are close to what originally came out in the 1980’s. Just look at the blowback Nike is getting for the switch from durabuck to leather on the reimagined 4s coming out next year to see that not every puts quality materials first.
Speaking of durabuck, the fuzzy material that the upper is made out of, it’s a synthetic nubuck. Or, in other words, it’s a polyester blend that is designed to look like shaved leather. The idea is that suede can be soft and rip easily, so for high performance shoes they would use this more durable material.
Personally, I don’t care for the feel, but Jordan brand was right about the durability. This stuff should definitely outlast the outsole and midsole cushioning.
Elsewhere on the upper, a hard rubber makes up the heel tab and the lower part of the “wings.” The yellow parts at the tip are plastic.
Moving to the midsole, Jordan brand used their current polyurethane blend. This current stuff is a bit harder than what you got in the 1980s, and shouldn’t fall apart like the really soft stuff from the early 2000’s. Exactly how long it’ll last before crumbling isn’t really clear, but best to wear your PU sneakers. It won’t last forever in your closet
Set inside the foam is two air units – one visible in the back, and one encased in the front.
Rounding everything off is the rubber outsole.
The Jordan 4 primarily relies on a cemented construction, though there is a small amount of stitching near the toe for a bit of extra durability.
Cemented construction is by far the most common way to make a sneaker in 2023. It’s exactly like it sounds – after the upper is made around the last, it is glued to the midsole.
This style of construction is used so much because it’s incredibly flexible, the most water resistant, and cheap to make. The drawbacks are durability, or its lack of it. Kicking your sneakers off by stepping on the heel will eventually cause the upper to separate from the midsole.
Pricing & Value
With their rise in popularity, the Jordan 4 has raised in price. At release, the Jordan 4 Thunder will be priced at $210 MSRP. This is an increase of around 10% in the last 2 years.
Of course, also with their popularity, if you don’t hit on release you can expect to pay a premium over retail. Thankfully, it looks like the mark up shouldn’t be too bad. As I write this a couple weeks before release, the sneaker is going for around $260-280 on eBay. I would expect that to drop slightly after the larger release.
I don’t want to pretend like I’m giving advice on investing in sneakers here, but if Jordan 4 hype stays up, this price will likely rise over time. The Jordan 4 Red Thunder – a sneaker that is not liked nearly as much as this pair – was going for a similar price point after release but has since risen to around $400.
Are the Jordan 4 Thunder Worth It?
Look, I’ll be honest. The Jordan 4 Thunder isn’t the sneaker for me. Even though I love the 3s and the 5s, the 4s have been a bit too chunky for my style, and putting it in Steelers black and yellow doesn’t help. Further, while I can appreciate original materials, Jordan never played in this colorway. There is no nostalgia hit – at least for me.
The sizing on 4s is also a major pain.
To be clear, I don’t think they are a bad pair. However, unlike some sneaker releases that are a no brainer for almost everyone who likes Jordans, these are for going to have a smaller number of people who they are for. And, there is nothing wrong with that. There are hundreds of sneakers released every year, not everyone needs to like every pair.
Don’t let my preferences dissuade you. There are no construction issues, mold, or other reason to avoid these. If the colorway and material speak to you, there is no other reason to avoid them.