Gear Review: The Complete Nike Metcon 1 Review

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(This post was originally written by Joel Te of AMRAP, And is not affiliated with Primed Force)

First impressions 01/22/15:

The moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived.  I’ll try not to put too much fluff into this review but what can I say, I’m pretty freaking excited about these shoes; as I know most of us are.  Really big thanks to Nike for coming through with not only a pair of shoes, but Nike Pro Combat gear to go with it.  They’ve been really making a big push into functional fitness and it shoes all over social media.  This is a very good thing to consumers, as it gives a bit of urgency to all other manufacturers to come up with fresh new ideas for their equipment.  Nike’s a giant player in the shoe game and I’m happy to say that they’ve arrived in the playing field of functional fitness.

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The first thing I noticed when I opened the box the shoes came in, were how much more awesome they look in real life.  Not saying they were bad in pictures, but the original blue/orange/white colorway left something to be desired.  I much rather prefer this volt/black/grey color and I’m looking forward to some more I’ve seen online.  Everything from the upper to the laces oozes premium.  Construction is top notch as you would come to expect from Nike; this is obviously one of the most important things for a functional fitness shoe since we thrash these things.  Flywire construction on the sides leads to a locked down fit when you cinch the laces up.  The outsole is striking with the hexagon patterns, probably functional for climbing rope with it’s “sticky rubber”, but I’m going to avoid that for a bit.

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Upon putting my feet into the shoe, the first thing I noticed is that they’re not narrow at all; a big concern of mine having previously owned Nike training shoes.  The heel to toe drop feels similar to Nano’s, but the outsole seems to be a little bit taller so you you might feel a little further from the ground.  These shoes have a dense outsole, they were made to squat and you’ll know it the moment you put them on; there isn’t much give when it comes to pressing into the Metcons.  Nike also seems to have gone with a more running-like profile with the more pointed toe-box; which is fine for me because my toes always jam into the front of Nano’s.  Speaking of which, the toe-box is spacious and if you’ve got a bunion like mine, you’re going to be totally comfortable in these shoes. Sizing guidelines, these should be sized normally as they fit more true to size. Mine are size 10 and my normal size is 9.5, there’s a little room and it’s fine but I think I would do better in a 9.5.

Fit and finish is TOP NOTCH.

Durability however, remains unknown.

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Update 1/23/15:

First workout in the books, it wasn’t so much a heavy workout but it was a long one and it pretty much had a little of everything in it.  100 Wall balls, 80 cal row, 60 burpees, 40 pull-ups, 20 front squats (supposed to be back squats but my tricep is bum right now); if there was ever a workout to test a shoe, this would be it.  I think the added drop of the Metcon1’s helped stay stable doing the wall balls, but nothing too crazy to write home about.  The shoes handled all the movements without a hitch, which is exactly what you’d want from a performance shoe.  Surprisingly enough, the movement I noticed the shoes the most on were the burpees, these shoes were made for them!  The forefoot has a good amount of flexibility but also gives you a kind of spring to bounce up onto your feet from.  I’ve always preferred doing my oly lifts and squatting in normal shoes, and that dense heel hardly gives at all when you’re moving weight.  Paired it with the drop of these shoes and you’ll be less inclined to have to switch over to your oly shoes in between workouts.

I can’t wait to squat heavy with these shoes.  Very impressive so far.

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Update 1/26/15:

No squat test update today, but actually the very last thing that I would voluntarily do:  running.  For science!  Admittedly I’m not the best or most efficient runner in the world; I would actually rather do any form of exercise other than running.  Running sucks.  Anyways, that’s just me, I know some people love it, so to each their own.

I took the Metcon’s on about a 4 mile run, which is a long distance for me. I mentioned before that the Metcons’ have more of a running profile opposed to Nano’s and I’m going to stick with that assertion.  Are they a better runner?  Yes, but don’t expect anything vastly different than what you’re going to experience in your Nano’s.  The pointed toe and flex grooves in the forefoot lead to a more natural running step.  The differences end there.  Since the sole is so dense, running long distances is still uncomfortable like the Reebok’s, but doable.  The majority of the path I ran on today was concrete with a little bit of dirt mixed in.  By the 3rd mile my plantar facia was aching.  If you currently wear Nano’s to run, you’ll be used to this feeling.  If you were hoping for a better running shoe than that, I’m going to say that the Metcon’s are, but only slightly.  That’s still a win for the Metcons though.

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Update 1/26/15: SIZING!!!

Whoa, almost totally forgot about this topic, and it’s probably my most asked question.

“How should I size my Metcon’s?”

After that, immediately comes, “Are they true to size?”. I don’t even know what true to size means anymore, or what brand it’s in reference to.  I’m just going to list a bunch of shoes, and how you should size accordingly.  I ordered a size 10 Metcon, but should have gotten size 9.5.  UPDATED: I got my hands on a pair of 9.5’s, they’re initially snug but they did break in and now fit perfectly.

  • Reebok CrossFit Nano U-Form/2.0 (my size 9) – Half size up, possibly the same if your U-Form/2.0’s are snug.
  • Reebok CrossFit Nano 3.0/4.0 (9.5) – Size the same.
  • Reebok CrossFit Lite TR (9) – Half size up.
  • Inov-8 195/240 (9) – Half size up.
  • Nike Romaleos (9) – Half size up.
  • Nike Free Run 1.0 (9.5) – Same size.
  • Nike Roshe (9.5) – Same size.
  • Nike Free Trainer 5.0 (9.5) – Same size.
  • Nike Free Trainer 3.0 (9.5) – Same size.
  • Nike Air Force 1 (9.5) – Same size.
  • Converse Chuck Taylor (9) – Half size up.

I think I’ve pretty much covered all the bases right here.  Nike shoes are iffy as they can be on the narrow side, I’ve had to size certain shoes up just to fit but as a rule of thumb, go with the same size shoe you have.  As always, feel free to drop me a comment or e-mail if you guys have any other questions regarding sizing and how I came to these conclusions.

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Nike size reference. Left to right – Trainerendor sz 10, Free Trainer sz 10, Metcon 1 sz 10, Zoom Speed Trainer sz 9.5

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Update 1/26/15:

Did some powerlifting today. Got to about my 90% of my 1RM deadlift without many problems other than my form getting crappy. That dense sole paired with the Flywire construction really makes you feel locked down in place.  You’re not going to miss your powerlifting shoes if that’s your thing; although they are a bit lower to the ground.  Going back to the whole thing about the Metcon’s having a bigger drop than Nano’s, well according to Rogue’s specs, they don’t.  They have the same 4mm drop. but I’m thinking the drop-off might just be a little more steep.  The shoes feel the similar, but there’s definitely a different feel between them.  Maybe the Nike’s really are taller, like I mentioned previously.  Adding on to that, the Nike’s are 11.2 oz, which is a couple oz heavier than the Nano’s.  You don’t really feel that weight when the shoe is on, but you’ll notice it if you have one of each in your hands.  I’m starting to warm up to running in these, the WOD today called for a little bit of running; they definitely handle a bit better than Nano’s.  Tomorrow I plan to hit those squats I’ve been talking about and I’ll have a conclusion for you guys by the end of the week.  Stay tuned!

1/31/15:

One more quick update because I feel this needs to be said and might be the strongest suit of the Metcon’s. Continuing the powerlifting thing, but not limited to, I’m furthering the conclusion that these shoes stay very planted to the ground. I was able to hit a 30lb sumo deadlift PR at 515 in my Metcon’s. Usually I avoid sumo because I have tight hips and a weak butt so I tend to roll into the instep of my foot in Nano’s and even the CF Lite power shoes.

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Update 1/29/15:  Power Cleans and Squats

As promised, my squat day has finally arrived.  I warmed up with some light power cleans; hang and cycling them.  This is probably the best area that the Metcon 1’s perform in:  Olympic lifting.  Never did I feel bogged down by the weight of the shoe.  The shoes were very responsive, have very good power delivery and the landing platform is stable.  These shoes definitely live up to the name “Metcon”, as you won’t be needing anything else for them.  A huge plus, as I personally, try to not use my Oly shoes for much anymore.  If you’re a dedicated weightlifter, then there’s probably no substitute for your Romaleos.  From CrossFitter’s view point, this shoe is almost all you’ll ever need. (Mat Fraiser clean and jerked 365 at the KCECC!)

Squatting in the shoes yielded similar results.  If you’re a “flat-shoe” squatter, you’ll be right at home with the Metcon’s.  The heel has virtually no give and is stable, despite it’s slightly taller than Nano nature.  That being said, the squatting feel and performance is on par with Nano’s.  There will be people in the world that are going to like the Nano’s better, but the same could be said with the Nike’s. Either way, you can’t lose. both shoes feel fine and you won’t miss a beat if squatting in normal shoes is your thing.

Digging into the shoe a little bit deeper in my quest to find out what really makes it feel different, I sought to take out the insole.  With a little bit of pulling, it comes right out, no glue or anything.  Underneath it you’ll find a very thin layer of foam/insulation before the hard outsole.  The actual insole though, might be the achilles heel (pun intended), of the Metcon’s.  If you’ve ever taken out the insole of the Nano’s, you’d know that its a very thin layer of foam to keep the Nano’s minimal, but doesn’t lend much to actual arch support.  On the Metcon’s, it’s the complete opposite; the insole measures almost 3/4″ to a full inch thick; there’s where the added height comes from.  Like I said, the insole is very dense and not as compressible as you would expect from something so thick; it does give a bit more of arch support.  I’m sure after wearing them down for a few months you’ll sink in a bit more too.  If you planned on getting these shoes and using them with the insoles out, I would probably size down as you’re going to open the shoe up considerably.

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Conclusion/Value:

I hold no allegiance to Nike, nor do I to Reebok.  I’m just a guy that like’s technology, equipment and what they can do for our sport.

The Nike Metcon 1’s are Nike’s first actual foray into the functional fitness shoe segment, and they’re a damn strong one at that.  They hit the mark on almost every level and don’t leave much to be desired (more colorway’s please).  I’ll sacrifice a bit of my comfort running for better lifting traits any day.  They don’t only look good in the gym, I wouldn’t be ashamed to wear these out and about on the town either.  While they’re a little bit taller, which you get used to pretty quick, they’re every bit as stable as the best functional fitness shoes in the game.  If you don’t like that last bit, take the soles out and replace them with something thinner. (Arch mobility insoles work great.)

Honestly, the best feature of the Nike Metcon 1 really is the fact that it is made by Nike.  Let’s be honest, we all grew up wanting Nike’s, not Reeboks, and maybe L.A. Gears.  Props to Reebok for having the balls to be the first to sponsor CrossFit and come up with an actual shoe built ground up specifically for CrossFit.  They’ve pushed the engineering of CrossFit shoes to where they are today, so you’ve got to give them a lot of respect for that.  At the same time though, they’ve been in the game for a while now, and really all people want is something different.  Nike coming into the playing field is just that, paired with the name, they’re undeniably going to rip a chunk of marketshare away from Reebok.  Not even a signature Rich Froning shoe is going to stop that from happening (Nice try/how much more expensive can these shoes get?!).

Truth is, the Nike Metcon’s don’t do anything exceptionally better or worse than the Nano 4.0’s do.  A lot of people will still prefer their Nano’s over the Metcon’s; that’s all good and dandy.  A giant like Nike coming into the game just means that the technology that goes into both shoe brands (and smaller brands) increases.  For the consumer, that’s awesome.  Granted, a lot of globo-gym’ers are going to pick up on “our” shoes, but hey, they need functional shoes too.  For me, I think the Nike’s are awesome shoes and probably are going to be my main shoe of choice, but I’ll continue to wear Nano’s too.  The Metcon’s do everything I need them to do, they look great, and they’re here to freshen up the functional kicks game.  They retail at $120, which is your standard training shoe price; in my opinion, that’s always been a lot to pay for some training shoes. I’m sure in time, competition will drive shoe prices downwards.

Let’s just hope Nike comes up with some kind of trainer program discount soon.

In closing, I’ll leave you with this picture that sums up Nike making functional shoes…

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