Nike has released the newest version of their Metcon cross trainer that utilizes Free running shoe tech – the Nike Free Metcon 3 is now available.
As you may know, the Metcon shoes are made for cross training – think functional fitness style workouts like CrossFit, lifting weights, and more.
Their Free running shoe line is meant to replicate the feel of barefoot running.
Combine the two and you get the Nike Free Metcon 3 – A shoe that should be equally at home on the running track – or in the gym (or CrossFit box.)
How well does it do this?
Our review pair is on order – and expect a hands-on review and YouTube video ASAP.
(By the way, this shoe is the successor the much-loved Nike Free x Metcon 2 – which was a great shoe.)
But for now, let’s talk about this exciting training shoe option.
Get this shoe now from Road Runner Sports (We are an affiliate):
Let’s take an up-close look.
Nike Free Metcon 3 – YouTube Hands On First Look
Why read when you can watch? Here’s a video from our YouTube channel:
Nike Free Metcon 3 – Sizing
The Nike Free Metcon 3 runs true to size.
I ordered a Men’s Size 11 (my normal size) and it fits fine – in both length and width.
This shoe is not as wide as it’s predecessor – the Nike Free x Metcon 2.
That shoe is very good for people with wide feet – but this new version is quite different.
If you have wide feet, you may want to order 1/2 size up – or better yet, try to find somewhere you can try them on first.
Nike Free Metcon 3 – Running
As mentioned, these shoes use Nike’s Free running technology in the forefoot.
Why? For the ultimate in flexibility.
The “Free” line is Nike’s attempt to replicate the barefoot running experience as closely as possible.
The basic tenets of the Free mantra are – minimal cushioning, flexibility, and light weight.
Just like your bare foot!
A lot of this barefoot feel is implemented via the outsole.
Previous iterations of the shoe used hexagonal blocks in the sole to provide flexibility across both the length and width of the outsole.
But Nike has taken a different approach for 2020, as you can see from the pictures.
We’ll have to do a head to head shoot out to see which method is better.
The forefoot of the outsole has a lot of peaks and valleys – it’s almost wavelike.
I don’t know yet how this is related to the Free line – but I suspect it is.
As for weight, a Men’s size 11 weights in at 12.2 ounces.
That’s OK, but it’s not a featherweight shoe. For example, the Epic React Flyknit 2 (a running shoe) in Men’s 11 weighs only 9 ounces.
But remember – the Free Metcon 3 is a cross trainer. It has to be tough, and versatile.
The lightweight materials used in a shoe like the React Flyknit 2 wouldn’t cut it in a cross trainer – they are simply too delicate.
And – this shoe is about 1.5 ounces per shoe lighter than the Metcon 5 or Reebok Nano 9.
As far as cushioning – it is pretty minimal.
You would expect this from a cross trainer – because they need to be stable for lifting weights.
But also remember this is the Free running line – and your barefoot isn’t cushioned like running on a cloud either!
The most surprising thing about the new shoe is that massive heel – it’s very wide.
It’s also stable and minimally cushioned.
This is of course for lifting weights – so we’ll talk about that next.
Nike Free Metcon 3 – Training
To wear the Metcon name, this shoe has to work in the CrossFit box or gym.
That means a stable heel – so you can lift heavy.
Barbell squats, deadlifts, and Oly lifting are the order of the day in the CrossFit WOD.
Therefore, to be a cross trainer, the shoe simply must meet this need.
Cross trainers also have to be tough – to go the distance.
These types of workouts tend to put a lot more stress and abrasion on the upper, sides, and heel of the shoes.
CrossFit workouts can feature rope climbs too.
And for that, most of the shoes in the Metcon line feature some sort of “rope wrap” area – which is usually implemented as the tough outsole wrapping up around the midfoot of the shoe.
They’ve done something similar here – the inside of the shoe has a deep channel where you’d grip the rope with your feet.
Like last year’s shoe, this one has a double layer mesh upper.
It feels pretty comfortable in our early testing.
New this year is the use of Nike’s Flywire.
Those are Vectran filaments that you see around the base of the shoelaces.
Those filaments run through the body of the shoe – so when you tight up the laces, it tightens up the whole structure of the shoe.
I like Flywire – so it’s a welcome addition here.
And lastly, I like traditional laces on my training shoes. They work, and they are simple.
Let’s examine the new shoe further, by comparing it to it’s predecessor.
Nike Free Metcon 3 versus Nike Free x Metcon 2
Ok, now you have a dilemma
There’s still plenty sizes of the Nike Free x Metcon 2 shoe available – and it’s a pretty good shoe.
The Free x Metcon 2 is the predecessor of this new version.
So which one should you get?
The Free x Metcon 2 is one of my favorite shoes – it has outstanding comfort and has great room in the toebox.
Being the previous revision of “Free” technology it has the hex foam blocks in the sole.
This allows the outsole to flex along both the length and the width of the shoe – just like a bare foot.
These are also super-comfortable.
Being a “Free” running shoe – there’s some cushion, but not a ton of cushioning – just like the Free Metcon 3.
But, here’s a key difference.
The Free x Metcon 2 has better forefoot flexiblity than the Free Metcon 3.
The Free Metcon 3 just doesn’t have the same level of flex.
The new shoe is not wide either – there is less room in the toebox.
I’ll be honest – I’m not particularly happy about this.
A wide toebox used to be a hallmark of the free line – barefoot running let’s your toes splay out – as they naturally should.
As we mentioned, I consider the Nike Free x Metcon 2 to be an excellent shoe.
Here’s the only real downside to the Free x Metcon 2 – they are noisy.
This generation of the shoe has the dreaded “Metcon Squeak”.
It’s more of a “scrunch” noise, but regardless the movement of the drop-in insole against the inside of the shoe makes a lot of noise.
It’s audible – you won’t want to wear these in your local library.
But, this is a performance shoe made for the gym and the outdoors – so a little noise isn’t a big deal.
The Nike Free Metcon 3 DOES NOT have this problem – it’s a quiet shoe.
The Nike Metcon 4 / 4 XD and Free x Metcon 2 were all noisy shoes – giving rise to the term “Metcon Squeak”. Nike has solved this problem with the Metcon 5 and beyond.
You can probably pick up a great looking pair of these on the cheap.
So, get them while you can – Nike won’t be making more of them.
Nike Free Metcon 3 Versus Nike Metcon 5
The other shoes you might be considering include the Nike Metcon 5 – which is a pretty darn good cross trainer as well.
The Nike Metcon 5 has regular laces, Flywire, a rope wrap area, and a flat stable heel for lifting weights.
The outsole is targeted more towards maximum surface area in contact with the gym floor – as you can see here.
Both are stable enough to lift heavy with – the heel is very stable and solid in the Free Metcon 3.
The Nike Metcon 5 accomplishes this with a dual-density drop-in midsole – it’s solid in the heel (the orange part) and much more cushioned in the forefoot (the gray part.)
One thing I definitely like more about the Free Metcon 3 is the very high collar.
The Nike Metcon 5 gives me heel slippage issues – it feels like my heel is going to pop out of the shoe – especially with the Hyperlift wedges inside.
(The Metcon 5 comes with two removable wedge inserts that can add 8mm of heel to toe drop for exercises like wall balls, thrusters, and pistol squats.)
Nike Free Metcon 3 or Nike Metcon 5?
It’s a tough call – because the Nike Metcon 5 is pretty darn good – and the Free Metcon 3 is so new.
Nike Free Metcon 3 versus Nike React Metcon
Nike released a version of the Metcon shoe that uses their React cushion foam.
React foam is an amazing substance – at least in their running shoes.
In Metcon form, it’s a relatively thin slab of React foam in place of that dual-density drop-in midsole.
Otherwise, the shoe is very much like the Nike Metcon 5.
For me personally, I would pick the Free Metcon 3 over the React Metcon simply because of the use of traditional laces.
Some people like the React Metcon for box jumps and other impact activities – but for me personally the difference between the regular Metcon 5 and React Metcon is barely noticeable.
Nike Free Metcon 3 versus Reebok Nano 9
One of the best cross trainers of 2019/2020 is the Reebok Nano 9.
This is a competent shoe that is comfortable and works well for WOD type exercises.
Heck – it IS the official CrossFit shoe (at least for now.)
Where the Reebok Nano 9 really shines is the width of the toe box.
This is the shoe you want if you have wide feet.
Previously, the Nike Free x Metcon 2 was an option for you also – but the Nike Free Metcon 3 isn’t carrying forwared the wider toebox.
Nike Free Metcon 3 Training Shoe Review – In Summary
The Nike Free Metcon 3 is the latest shoe to combine the Free running line and the Metcon line.
It’s lost it’s width, and some flexibility in the forefoot – but we’ll need to do more testing to come up with a definitive ruling on where this shoe lands.
It does run true to size, but given the width you may want to order 1/2 size up if you have wide feet.
Some product photos on this page are property of Nike, Inc.
This website is not affiliated or associated with CrossFit, Inc. CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc.
Tim is the founder of FitAtMidlife.com – an avid gym rat for 30+ years, he’s a reviewer of many, many shoes – and founder of the Speed Bag Gathering – the world’s only gathering of speed bag punching enthusiasts. See more gym reviews at Tim’s YouTube channel.