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Nike shook up the CrossFit shoe world with the release of their first Metcon in 2014. Since then, they seemed to lose momentum in the race for the best shoe for CrossFit but regained some of that ground with the Metcon 4. Their previous biggest drawback we saw in our review was their performance on runs. Our reviewers felt they were much too stiff for running comfortably. The soles of the new Metcons are flexible enough to handle short runs, yet still a very sturdy option for lifting. We liked their support on our heavier lifting days. The Metcons top the charts when it comes to durability overall in the gym during and specifically during rope climbs. The sticky rubber that wraps up the instep of this shoe will help you climb that rope in no time!
Metcon 5 Available Now
Nike redesigned the Metcon significantly with the release of the 5th generation. We're linking to it now above. Check out the differences between the 4 and 5 below.
Our Analysis and Test Results
The New Nike Metcon 5 vs. the Nike Metcon 4
The Metcon 5 is Nike's newest attempt as CrossFit shoe perfection. The new model features a few design elements that separate it from the Metcon 4. 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 the sticky rubber soles.
Nike's main focus in the new Metcon was to increase flexibility and running performance on the already stellar Metcon 4. They kept the chain-link pattern on the upper and raised the peak to cover more surface area on rope climbs. Although the Metcon 4 was already good for lifting, Nike widened the heel for added stability on the 5 and included a "Hyperlift Insert" coming in at 6mm to raise the heel for maximum loads. The tongue provides more cushioning, and the outsole rubber is now stickier at the forefoot and reportedly more durable at the heel.
Check out the differences here, with the new Metcon 5 on the left and the Metcon 4 we tested on the right.
Since we've yet to test the Metcon 5, the review below is still our account of the 4.
Hands-On Review of the Metcon 4
The Metcon is one of the most solid CrossFit 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. We were able to keep the Metcons firmly planted as we screwed our feet into the ground.
The Metcon 4s have been vastly improved compared to the Metcon 3s. A major complaint from users with the Metcon 3 was heel slippage. Nike listened to its customers and made some simple fixes, including adding one more eyelet at the top of the ankle. Nike also delivered a new 3-D print on the upper that helps hold your foot in much better and conforms the shoe to your foot. The drop-in midsole is quite stiff on the shoe out of the box, but give them a bit of time and let them break-in. It is very responsive to any of your explosive CrossFit movements, including sprints. On longer distance runs, our testers report feeling the flatness of the sole slapping the ground. Although the Metcon is designed to be an overall CrossFit shoe, you can tell the bias is still towards weightlifting.
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 their sensitivity. The Nanos have a wider toe box that can feel sloppy and make it hard to keep your body weight strategically positioned where you need it; the Metcons gave us much better feedback.
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 midsole has minimal compression when you are under load, but gives the right amount of pop needed for Olympic lifting and plyometric movements. The Metcon has a tight fit on your foot that offers support without feeling tight and constricted. Our testers noted that the Metcon excelled during shifting movements like sprints and barbell cycling, where the foot stayed stable and balanced.
Protection and Durability
We prefer shoes that will protect our feet and give us a good bang for our buck. A few movements we took into consideration for this metric include rope climbs, double unders, and handstand pushups. These are one of the most indestructible shoes we have seen that can withstand the demands from CrossFit workouts. 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.
The Metcon 4 grip onto the rope better 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, and the last thing you want to worry about during a workout is your feet being hot. The Metcon ranked on the lower end of breathability in this review; however, they are superior to their close competitor, the Nanos, in their breathability rating.
We can't talk about shoes without addressing comfort. Comfort is rated equally important as sensitivity, durability, and breathability in our metrics. The Metcon 4 has a flexible sole for runs, an added eyelet on the ankle collar, and tongue cushioning. As for standing around in them all day, our testers noted that the Metcons could use more arch support. The Metcons were still more comfortable than the older Nano shoes, which were some of our lowest ranking shoes for comfort.
The Metcons are on the upper end of price for 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, 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. Nike has managed to combine the major features of a lifting shoe and a running shoe into a single CrossFit trainer.
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