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When it comes to CrossFit shoes, Reebok used to be by far the top dog. Nike, however, has made big waves in the industry and is onto their fourth iteration of CrossFit-specific training shoes. While the MetCon 4s don’t look much different from the MetCon 3s (or 2s or the original), we think they’re the best CrossFit shoe Nike has ever made. Here’s what you should know.
Nike MetCon 4 Review – What’s new with these CrossFit shoes?
There really isn’t a whole lot. The first thing that is immediately noticeable, however, is the upper — it’s now more coarse and durable, yet still very breathable. We like it a lot. It actually makes the shoe feel more minimalistic. It feels like there’s less shoe. I’ve made the analogy in the past that the MetCons remind me of clown shoes. Not any more. They’re a lot more streamlined.
The second thing is that the heel feels more stable and dense. That makes them ideal for Olympic and power lifting.
The shoes still fit 1/2 size small, as you’d expect with all Nike shoes. They still have the heel slider for handstand push-ups. We think this is a clever addition—something they debuted on the MetCon 2s. Additionally, they still have the same outsole and lattice framework for the rope protection system. What’s nice here is that not only does it protect against wear from the rope, but it actively grips the rope to help you climb up.
You can see the heel slider on the edge of the heel.
In terms of lockdown, the MetCon 4s are really good, at least in the mid-foot. The toe box has plenty of room for you to stretch out, but it is more narrow than that of the Nano 8s. I prefer this, but it could be a little too tight for some folks with wider feet. With regard to the heel, I’ve never been able to get the right fit with MetCons—the heel always slips and causes me irritation. Therefore, these won’t be my go-to CrossFit shoes, but I can clearly see there’s a lot to like about them.
Reebok has been making CrossFit shoes for a number of years now. They’ve got a good idea of what you need in a training shoe. That said, they’ve explored a little too much (in my opinion) with the design of shoes. The Reebok Nano 7, I personally hated. As you can imagine, I was hugely disappointed with the 7.0s, given how much I loved the Reebok Nano 6.0, which I still think are the best CrossFit shoes to date.
Reebok bounced back with the Nano 8 Flexweave, which are a positive step forward. They’re not my favorite Nanos ever (again, those are the 6.0s), but they do have a lot going for them.
Reebok Nano 8 Review
The shoes have a booty construction where there’s an inner lining and a separate exterior shell for durability… that’s the Flexweave. Reebok used to work with DuPoint to add Kevlar to the shoes, but it looks like that relationship expired a few years ago. In any case, the Flexweave provides the durability for the Nano 8s. I think it does a good job, but there’s a few things that irk me with it.
Close up on the Flexweave outer shell.
Firstly, it separates from the inner lining to where I got leaves and gunk in between. That made the shoes more difficult to clean. I also worry about it snagging on something and tearing. I’ve not experienced this yet, but I’m not 100% sold on the booty construction.
Secondly, the booty style means they aren’t the best for lateral movements… not that you do much of that in CrossFit, but still worth mentioning. The toe box has ample room (possibly too much) and the upper flexes so much that you can wiggle around in these shoes just standing there. Bottom line: I wouldn’t wear them for doggy sprints or sports. They’ll do fine for most things in CrossFit, but I wouldn’t say they’re built for anything.
Reebok Nano 8 Flexweave Review – Other Design Elements
I like and don’t like the Flexweave. I mentioned the negatives above, but on the positive side, these are among the most comfortable training shoes I’ve ever worn. They remind me a lot of a mix between the Nano 6 and Nano Pump Fusion (an experimental CrossFit shoe that never caught on). Suffice it to say these are stunningly comfortable.
So comfortable. Almost like slippers.
The outsole is the exact same year-over-year. The lockdown in the mid-foot is good. Unfortunately, they don’t have any system to actively grip the rope. They protect against wear from the rope, but nothing to help you get up the rope. Not a huge deal, but I miss having it.
I personally prefer the fit of the Nano 8, but I don’t necessarily think they’re the better CrossFit shoe. In fact, if you’re fine with the fit of the MetCons, I think they have a lot more to offer CrossFitters and are probably the better shoe to go with given they’re the same price. And that’s a hard decision to come to. I love the fit of the Nanos and loathe the fit of the MetCons. I only somewhat like the features of the Nanos and really like the features of the MetCons.