Nike shook up the CrossFit shoe world with their first Metcon in 2014. Since then they lost a little ground in the race for the best shoe for CrossFit, but regained some of that lost ground with the Metcon 4. Their previous biggest drawback we saw in our review was their performance on runs. All our reviewers felt they were too stiff for running comfortably. The soles of the new Metcons are once again flexible enough to handle some short runs, and yet still a very sturdy option for lifting. We liked their support on our heavier lifting days. The Metcons still can't be challenged with their performance on rope climbs and their durability. The sticky rubber that wraps up the instep of this shoe will help you climb that rope in no time!
Nike Metcon 4 - Women's Review
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Nike Metcon 4 is a solid choice for lifting metcons as the name would imply. Short runs are fine for this shoe, but you may want something different for long runs. You will also be hard pressed to find a better shoe for rope climbs. Your feet will not slip on the rope with these sticky rubber soles.
The Metcon was one of the more solid shoes for heavy lifting. Most hybrid style shoes designed to handle CrossFit workouts are often too soft or lack the support to take on heavier loads. The Speed TR, for instance, is great for lighter weight, high rep movements but isn't sturdy enough to push heavy. We were able to keep the Metcons firmly planted as we screwed our feet into the ground. While the Speed TR has a slimmer sole, the Metcon sole has a more substantial feel like that of a traditional lifting shoe.
The Metcon 4's have been vastly improved for runs compared to the Metcon 3's. We still liked running in the Metcons over running in the Nano 7.0's however. The Nanos were almost our least favorite for runs. If your workouts involve heavy lifting as well as running, then check out our Editors' Choice Winning NOBULL Trainers. The NOBULLs are even better than the Metcons for lifting but feel a little lighter and faster on runs.
We aim for a shoe with good "sensitivity" in our search for the best shoe for CrossFit. This measure describes how easy it is to feel your weight balanced on your feet. In the battle for the best CrossFit shoe, one category that helps the Metcons stand out is that of sensitivity. Whereas the Nanos have a wider toe box that can feel sloppy and make it hard to keep your bodyweight strategically positioned where you need it, the Metcons gave us much better feedback. The Nanos simply did not give us the solid body awareness that we felt in the Metcons. Of course, the sensitivity of the Metcons did not reign supreme over our two lifting specific shoes in this review.
The demands of CrossFit require a supportive shoe. The shoes must be able to handle the weight of the athlete plus the additional barbell weight. One of the common problems when lifting in non-lifting shoes is that they lack the support you need to stand up out of the bottom of a squat. The squishy soles of the Minimus 40s, for instance, pushed our weight forward onto our toes causing us to dump the bar on heavy front squats. The Metcons were still no match for the NOBULL Trainers though in the support category.
Protection and Durability
We prefer shoes that will protect our feet and give us good bang for our buck. Two movements we took into consideration for this metric include rope climbs and double unders. These just might be the most indestructible shoes we have seen for CrossFitters. The friction from rope climbs that often shreds shoes and rubs feet is no problem at all for the sticky rubber sole that wraps up around the middle of the Metcon. You will find that many shoe companies are catering to the demands of CrossFitters by adding protective rope barriers.
For instance, Asics has an added layer of "Rhyno skin" to protect their Conviction X shoes from rope friction. Unfortunately for Asics, that material is super slick and made rope climbs way harder without our feet being able to grip the rope. The Metcon 4 have a different lug pattern on the instep compared to the Metcon 3's, but they were still far better at gripping onto the rope than any other shoe in this review. Our feet felt protected from the friction of rope climbs as well as the sting of double unders in the Metcon.
As we compared our test shoes, we paid close attention to the breathability of each shoe. We know you will be working hard in your new shoes for CrossFit, and we want to help you stay cool. The Metcon ranked on the lower end of breathability in this review. It doesn't look like the one-piece construction of the uppers on the NOBULL Trainers would be more breathable than the mesh on the Metcons. However, the NOBULLs were much more breathable. The Metcons were superior to their close competitor, the Nanos, in their breathability rating.
We can't talk about shoe without addressing comfort. Comfort is rated equally important as sensitivity, durability, and breathability. The Metcon 4 are more comfortable than their immediate predecessor. The main improvement has been the more flexible sole for runs. As for standing around in all day, the Metcons could use more arch support as well. Our Best Buy winner would be a better pick if you need to spend the day standing around in your shoes for CrossFit. The Metcons were still more comfortable than the newest Nano shoes, which were some of our lowest ranking shoes for comfort.
Moderate to heavy metcon workouts are the wheelhouse of the Nike Metcons, it will also function well as your general shoe for CrossFit. You will not find a shoe with more grip for your rope climbs than what the Metcon provides.
Retailing at $130, the Metcons are on the upper end of the shoes in this review. If you are willing to go with a solid color of the NOBULL Trainers, then the NOBULLs would be a more comfortable, much more versatile shoe than the Metcons.
Nike has regained some footing in the competition for the best shoe for CrossFit with the Metcon 4. They are a solid pick for moderate to heavy weight workouts, and they are fantastic for rope climbs. If you aren't concerned about longer runs, then this could be a good all-around choice for your workouts.
— Audrey Hammond