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When people hear the name Metcon come from Nike, it is safe to assume it's a CrossFit shoe. The Nike Free X Metcon 2, however, is not an excellent shoe for CrossFit, but it sure is comfy. We put these to the test alongside other contenders specifically made for cross-training and found they didn't have stellar performances in many areas outside of running and overall comfort. Instead of another CrossFit shoe in their Metcon lineup, Nike has created a shoe that can handle general wear but isn't up to snuff when it comes to the versatility and demands that come from a tough WOD.
Though there are some fresh pops of color available for the Free X Metcon 2 (see above image), the specs remain the same as the version we tested for this review.
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Nike marketing team knew what they were doing when they released the Free X Metcon 2. We were under the impression that the newest addition to the Metcon arsenal was a CrossFit shoe. Although it is incredibly comfortable and we loved it for running, it isn't going to be your go-to for your next WOD.
The Free X Metcon 2 was one of our lowest scoring shoes when it came to searching for the best overall for CrossFit. What they delivered in running and comfort, they lacked in almost every other aspect we were measuring.
Because this shoe is designed with running in mind, there was compression during heavy loads, but our testers didn't feel much of that during moderate lifting during workouts. The sole of this shoe is soft, which provided some compression and bounce during the drive off of the floor, placing in the middle of the pack for our ratings. The flexibility of the toes was a plus when it came to extension during our Olympic lifts. The major noticeable feature of the Free X Metcon 2 is the TPU (Thermoplastic PolyUrethane) strap that goes from the midfoot to the heel for a secure foothold, which many lifting specific shoes have. The Free X Metcon 2 aren't our favorite lifting shoes, but when looking for the perfect Crossfit shoe, it is all about tradeoffs.
The Free X Metcon is the love child of their popular Metcon and Free training shoe lines. The Free series of shoes is known for giving a natural barefoot running experience due to their comfort, flexibility, and light weight; many of these features were added to this shoe. The lightweight nature is due to the mesh upper and bootie construction.
The bootie construction was a downside for one tester during running; she reported major blistering on both heels after a 1-mile run. The flexibility needed for a great running shoe shows with the mesh upper and the siping in the outsole. Siping are the slits in the forefoot that help the shoe flex with every step.
When looking at support in a good CrossFit shoe, we look to not only the sole of the shoe for lifting and running but also the design of the upper, as that is typically the make or break in feet feeling supported and secure during workout movements. Visually, it is pretty clear that Nike had support in mind when designing this shoe. The TPU wrap from the midsole to the heel offers the wearer support around the ankle and through the unique lacing system.
The bootie style shoe was loved by some testers and disliked by others. It offers compression and a secure fit for the heel but is not a universal fit, as one tester reported having the tongue of the bootie dig into her ankle. This shoe has some great features for support, but we felt it wasn't great for the dynamic needs of CrossFit; instead, it would be a better fit for a general "globo" gym setting.
Protection and Durability
Nike is no newbie when it comes to knowing what features need to be on a CrossFit shoe these days. Their Metcon line of shoes has all the bells and whistles needed to rise to the top of the charts on protection and durability; the Free X falls right in line. Our testers noted the toe clip on the front of the shoe excelled during burpees, push-ups, and toes to bar. The TPU material paired with Nike's Flywire filaments add durability to the shoe that will last through all of your tough workouts.
We didn't notice any breakdown of the sole or stretching of the boot. The midsole features dual-density rubber that rises high on the heel as compared to other Metcon shoes in the series. The mid foot has a rubber surface that wraps up onto the arch, and the outsole has tri-star grooves on both the heel and ball of the foot. The tri-star grooves performed well for jumping and running in our WODs, but the rubber surface wrap fell short on rope climbs as the midfoot plastic was too slick to bite the rope.
The Free X Metcon 2 scores low when it comes to sensitivity and overall responsiveness. They were an average performer during most of our CrossFit workouts but were really lacking when it came to heavy lifts. The cushioning of the midfoot performs well while running, but was too much to allow for any feedback from the ground while we were driving off of the floor. These did do well during jumping, running, double unders, and burpees.
This is a lightweight shoe with the uppers combining mesh, a TPU strap, and bootie. The mouth and heel are neoprene, which seemed to soak up sweat during our workouts in the Colorado heat of summer instead of letting our feet breathe. It seems worth mentioning, however, that these were one of the only pairs of CrossFit shoes tested that didn't smell after a few sweaty workouts!
Compared to other cross-training shoes, the Free X Metcon 2 looks comfortable and plush. The booty construction, paired with the cushioned foam midsole, offers some give during runs. The downside to the booty construction is the lack of universal fit. If you have wide ankles, the tongue will dig into the front, adding pressure on your heel, which can lead to blistering. These shoes are comfortable for everyday wear and running if you wear socks that cover where the shoe hits your heel. The dual-density midsole offers cushioning that other cross-training shoes lack; however, it proved to be too much when it came down to performing heavy lifts.
The Free X Metcon 2's price is comparable to other shoes in our CrossFit review. Although this shoe is durable, comfortable, and ideal for running, it has some major weaknesses that can't handle everything you'll come across in a CrossFit gym. If you are willing to spend that amount, you would be better suited with our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Nano 9.
The bottom line is that the Nike Free X Metcon 2 functions well and looks good while doing it. You have the best shoe for running in the Nike Metcon line, that can handle some lighter lifting in your WOD. Although it is being marketed as a CrossFit shoe, we feel like this one misses the mark when it comes to versatility. The Nike Metcon 4 is still our top pick overall from Nike, especially when it comes to lifting weights.
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