Nike has released the Nike React Metcon Training Shoe.
Will this training shoe be ideal for running and many impact-heavy CrossFit WODs and other functional training?
That’s the promise of Nike’s React foam cushioning system.
But this shoe also brings along other great features of the Nike Metcon shoe line.
We’ve completed our hands-on review. Read on for the results.
Here’s the styles currently available.
Let’s take a closer look at the Nike React Metcon – by first understanding what the React foam system is.
Nike React Metcon – React Foam Cushioning
First of all, the big draw with this shoe is the use of the React foam system.
What is that?
Nike explains it best:
“Nike React is an unprecedented foam cushioning innovation and our most responsive foam yet. In fact, Nike React is 11% softer and offers 13% more energy return than our previous softest and bounciest cushioning. It’s also more durable and more lightweight. Basically, Nike React is instant go—a contagious sensation that makes you want to run.”
So, it’s a soft and bouncy foam – that sounds great for running, jumping, sprinting, and skipping rope.
But, does it work?
In our hands-on testing we compared the Nike React Metcon to another React foam shoe – the Epic React Flyknit 2.
How did it fare? You can watch our video to see the full explanation, or read on.
I’m afraid to say the React foam is a bit of a disappointment, at least for me.
I believe the problem is that there simply isn’t enough of it.
Shown below is the drop-in midsole of the Nike React Metcon (this is the foam.)
If you compare that to a shoe like the Epic React Flyknit 2 – a purpose designed running shoe which has a ton of React foam. The entire outsole and midsole are made from React foam.
That shoe has the bouncy, energetic feel of a proper React shoe.
I’m afraid the Nike React Metcon simply does not measure up. It’s a rare swing and a miss for Nike on this one.
It feels subtly more cushioned and “reactive” – when compared to the Metcon 5. But, it doesn’t feel like the React running shoes.
Having said that, you may not need a full bore running shoe. So let’s continue on and talk about the other aspects of the Nike React Metcon. It is still a stylish, comfortable, and useful WOD shoe.
Nike React Metcon Sizing
This shoe is the same basic shape and dimensions as the Metcon 5.
We recommend you go 1/2 size up from your normal size.
For example, I normally wear a Men’s 11 – for the Nike React Metcon (and Metcon 5) an 11.5 fits best.
Nike React Metcon – FlyKnit Upper
The upper is made with Nike’s FlyKnit.
FlyKnit is a lightweight, breathable material that Nike first developed back in 2012.
FlyKnit is a material that Nike can use to create shoes with a very light-weight, form fitting feel. The material is really “knit” from polyester yarn and as such there are hardly any seams.
The whole “upper” part of the shoe is therefore better fitting and lightweight.
Overall, it’s a very precise, sock-like fit.
And it’s super-comfortable.
It should be noted there is a sort of inner liner on this particular Flyknit shoe – so it is a bit heavier and less breathable than a Flyknit shoe like the Epic React Flyknit 2.
Nike React Metcon – Speed Lacing
The React Metcon uses Nike’s Speed Lacing system.
Speed Lacing is convenient – that’s for sure.
This is another area where I’m a bit disappointed.
All the other Nike Metcon shoes use traditional laces and FlyWire, or a mid-foot strap.
They all give a very secure fit.
But, the Nike React Metcon doesn’t have those things – it only has the speed lacing.
And I’m afraid that means the shoe doesn’t quite fit as securely as the others in the Metcon line.
In summary, the speed lacing system is OK for casual use and comfort, but you might be missing the very locked in fit and feel of laces + Flywire, or a mid-foot strap, as in the Nike Metcon Sport.
Nike React Metcon vs Nike Metcon 5
Nike’s flagship of the Metcon line is the Nike Metcon 5.
This Metcon shoe is meant to be an “general purpose” shoe for the CrossFit WOD or functional training.
It’s got a stable heel for lifting heavy weight.
It has a monster sized rope wrap (wraparound outsole) for rope climb traction (and durability).
And it has a dual density drop-in midsole.
This clever innovation from Nike let’s them put very firm foam in the heel – so your foot doesn’t sink into the foam when lifting heavy weights.
But, the forefoot has a different foam – that has a lot of cushioning.
And this makes it great for running, box jumps, skipping rope, and more.
The Nike React Metcon borrows heavily from this shoe – and per our earlier comments on the React foam system it feels very similar.
The problem is that the React foam just doesn’t differentiate enough from the cushion in the Metcon 5, in my opinion.
In fact, the Metcon 5 actually has more cushion in the forefoot – and I prefer it for running (I am a heavy fore-foot striker.)
I would recommend you try these on in a store, if possible (or be prepared to return if you buy over the Internet.)
We also covered the lack of laces on the React Metcon.
Nike’s laces and FlyWire on the Metcon 5 give a very secure fit, which I prefer.
Meanwhile, you can see there is a LOT of carry over from the Nike Metcon 5.
Things like the sole with pre-formed flex grooves looks identical to the Nike Metcon 5.
That mega rope wrap is there too.
That’s the wrap around outsole that protects the sides of the shoe from friction during rope climbs.
But, you can also see the high-traction tread pattern is there too.
And lastly, the heel has that “knife edge” of slick TPU (plastic) material – for a bare minimum of wall drag when doing Handstand Push Ups (HSPUs).
In short, I don’t recommend the Nike React Metcon at a $20 premium over the Metcon 5 – based on performance, fit, and feel.
But, your experience may be different.
Nike React Metcon vs Nike Metcon Sport
At first glance, the Nike React Metcon looks a lot like a shoe released earlier this year – the Nike Metcon Sport.
The Nike Metcon Sport is a training shoe meant for agility – it has the most aggressive tread pattern of any Metcon shoe (save the SFB – which is more like a boot).
It’s also laceless – but uses a heavy duty velcro strap to secure your foot.
That mid-foot strap makes all the difference in security.
The Metcon Sport has a better, more secure fit on your foot because of it.
I will say that the Nike Metcon Sport is the most comfortable of the Nike Metcon shoes – at least for me.
And, like the Metcon 5 – the midsole/insole is removable.
Nike React Metcon vs Nike Free x Metcon 2
Nike combined Metcon features with the Free running shoe line to create the Nike Free x Metcon 2.
The Free line is meant to better replicate the barefoot running experience.
And it does that via a combination of a very flexible outsole – and a minimum of cushioning – just like your bare foot.
Where the Nike React Metcon is basically a Metcon 5 with a different drop-in midsole, the Free x Metcon 2 is radically different.
There is an entirely different (cushioned) outsole – and it largely delivers on what it promises.
In comparison, the React’s drop in foam midsole is simply ineffective – in my opinion.
As such, I recommend the Nike Free x Metcon 2 as a great running shoe for the WOD.
One key difference with these shoes – the Free x Metcon 2 has a “Free” running style outsole.
This is meant to maximize flexibility along the both planes of the foot.
Nike React Metcon vs Reebok Nano 9
We’ll compare and contrast the Nike React Metcon with the Reebok Nano 9.
The Nano 9 claims improved cushioning (as compared to the Reebok Nano 8) – but how does it stack up when compared to Nike’s React system?
One thing we can confirm – the Reebok Nano 9 is still the wide toebox champ:
We’ll find out here.
Nike React Metcon vs Nike Metcon Flyknit 3
Word on the street is that the Nike React Metcon replaces the Nike Metcon Flyknit series of shoes.
So, don’t expect to see a Nike Metcon Flyknit 4 … it’s probably not happening.
Nike React Metcon – In Summary
When it was launched earlier this year, the Nike Metcon 5 had greatly improved on previous versions in regards to the cushioning.
The dual density foam in the Nike Metcon 5 is significantly better than that of the previous versions (like the Nike Metcon 4).
The Nike React Metcon incorporates the features you love from the Metcon 5 with a speed lacing system, FlyKnit, and perhaps most importantly Nike’s react foam.
But ultimately, this version of Nike’s React foam just doesn’t work.
As a drop-in midsole, the React foam fails to deliver on Nike’s promise of an energetic, bouncy feel.
(It provides a subtly improved rebound as compared to the Metcon 5 – but will disappoint React running shoe fans.)
As such, we recommend you check out the Metcon 5 first – as that is an excellent shoe.
If you want a true “react” running experience, check out the Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 – but that shoe has far too much cushion to be used for lifting weights.
Nike React Metcon – Photo Credits
- Some Nike React Metcon product photos are courtesy of Nike.
- We are a Roadrunner Sports affiliate – if you buy shoes after clicking links in this article we receive a small fee – at no additional cost to you. This helps support our work in bringing you great product reviews and information.
- Some product imagery on this page is property of Rogue Fitness and provided by Rogue Fitness.
- 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.