Since the early demise of the DSX Repper, a shoe loved by many, Nike hasn’t had anything that seriously filled in their “budget” training shoe space. At least nothing that carried the premium “Metcon” name. I guess a budget Metcon is paradoxical and maybe it’s a bit snobbish of me to say it, but I personally don’t give much thought to anything in Nike’s training line-up that doesn’t say Metcon. Why? The Metcon name is synonymous with being able to train weights. That’s a paradox too.
2018 was the year of the “comfortable” training shoe – It seemed like most of the shoes from last year was a bit on the plush side. I’m not complaining because there were a ton of great training shoes produced. A great training shoe should be balanced after all, but I do loves me some stable shoes to lift in. Nike’s own FreeXMetcon was one of my favorite shoes of the year, great for just about everything, but not the best for lifting. Metcon 4’s were traditionally seen as the king of stability, but notoriously bad for running.
This year we get a newcomer that looks to slot in between the two Metcon favorites in performance, the Metcon Sport. Although the name is vague in describing the shoes because we don’t actually know what sport they cater to. What we do know is that they’re budget friendly, slip-ons, and are at least good enough to carry the Metcon name.
Here’s what else I found out over the past few weeks using them…
Since the Metcon Sport’s are a brand new addition to the Metcon line-up, the construction is unique to itself; none of the materials even feel like they’re carried over from any of the other shoes at all. The upper construction is made up of a few materials despite having the sock-ish design and though it is the cheapest shoe in the Metcon line-up, they don’t feel like budget kicks.
The ankle collar is made of a mesh/foam similar to the FreeXMetcon shoes, just thicker and more cushioned; the opening itself is also quite a bit wider so getting your foot in these shoes shouldn’t be a problem like it was on the Flyknit 3. I found this area to be comfortable on my skinny ankles, but I don’t think it’ll give anyone problems because of the slightly turned out Achilles portion.
Probably the most controversial part of the Sport’s is their lack of laces, instead there’s just a single medial strap, like an Oly shoe. Whether or not you like the look of having a strap in place of laces is going to be a subjective thing, but you can’t argue that it works pretty damn well on this shoe. Getting a solid fit around the ankle, without heel slip is as easy and as best it’s been on any Metcon. The strap is perfectly placed to lock your foot down inside the shoe, but I will admit that there could be an additional strap to lock down the toebox a little more because of how wide it is.
Also – If for some reason you size up and you don’t have a wide foot to fill the shoe up, the strap can bunch up around the loop area and press into your foot if you’re strapping it down tight. I sized up because I wanted a certain colorway and it does that in that shoe, but not my normal sized Sports.
Though the mesh material found on the Sport’s toebox resembles that of the FreeXMetcon, it lacks the TPU yarn “cover”; probably for cost saving reasons. Either way, the material is very flexible and comfortable throughout and only has a little bit of an overlay in presumably higher wear areas. There is a stitched in “strap” that runs on top of the shoe, but your feet can’t feel it so it seems purely for decoration. The shape of the toebox is wide, generously fitting and has plenty of room for your toes to splay. These are the wide footer’s Metcon.
Interestingly enough, though these are “budget” priced shoes, they feature a drop-in midsole, typically reserved for premium products. What I found even more interesting was that they have a glued-in insole for a little bit of underfoot cushioning; I almost mistook these shoes for not having the drop-in midsole because it looks so seamless inside with it’s raised sides. The midsole is dense and much thinner than what you’re going to find in the Metcon 4 and Flyknit 3, but the material itself feels similar to what they’re using in the Flyknit’s. The heel to toe drop is 4mm.
The premise for using a drop-in midsole is to retain flexibility and cushioning without sacrificing on durability of the shoe because it’s housed in a full rubber outsole. Did I mention these shoes were wide? The outsole flares out at the heel of the shoe and at the outside metatarsal joint to increase contact area and prevent any roll-over of your foot. Taller sidewalls around these areas also aid in keep your foot in place. On the bottom of the shoe you’ll find a multi-directional tread pattern similar to what you’d find on a “turf” training shoe, with just a finer patch of tread where you’d grip the rope for climbing.
One of the best “features” of the Metcon Sport’s is that they’re wide, but that could be a double edged sword because I think they might be too much for narrow feet. I’ve got a fairly normal shaped foot and even my standard size is a bit on the roomy side, mainly in the toebox, though I’ll take that as “comfy”. If your foot is on the narrow side, you might want to consider sizing down because there is some room up front to play around with.
For most people, just stick with your normal size and you’ll be fine. The Metcon Sport’s will accommodate wide feet well, so don’t worry about having to size up. My normal size of 10 fits me right on the money, a little bit of wiggle room in the toebox but I wouldn’t size down personally. Flat footers will also rejoice in the fact that the Sports don’t have any real arch support. They will feel more open than ALL of the other Metcon’s. (4, FK3, FxM2)
My sizing for reference:
- Metcon 4 – 10
- FreeXMetcon – 10
- Flyknit 3 – 10 (but could go 10.5)
- Nano 8 – 10
- NoBull – 10
When I first saw the Metcon Sport’s, I kind of figured they’d be like the DSX Repper, maybe just a laceless version of the FreeXMetcon’s…and I was off…kind of.
While I wouldn’t be reaching for the Metcon Sport’s for all the marathons I do, their flexibility should be comfortable enough for most of the runs you’re going to find in a typical WOD. Despite having the wide toebox, it didn’t bother me that much or interfere with my stride. I actually felt like I could use these shoes for sprinting because of the wide contact area. They don’t feel that big on your feet so I wouldn’t hesitate to use them for footwork/agility drills or maybe even boxing (if that’s your thing). They actually kind of feel like a wide Speed TR.
Heel strikers might want to rethink running in these shoes as well because there isn’t a ton of underfoot cushioning, especially at the heel of the shoe. If you’re into minimalist running, you will probably feel right at home in the Metcon Sports. They’re not barefoot shoes by any means, but they feel flatter and more low to the ground that any other Metcon offering.
The lack of any real cushioning make the Sports ideal for plyometric movements. Response is razor sharp and their outsole traction make you always feel sure footed while you box jump, burpee and double under. If the workout called for running, I’d still probably go with the FreeXMetcon’s, but if it was anything else inside the gym, I’d rather go with the Metcon Sport.
The first thing that flashed through my mind when first putting on the Metcon Sport’s was about how insanely stable they felt. I was NOT expecting these shoes to be good for lifting and it turns out they’re one of the best for it! Every detail about these shoes, scream for them to be used for lifting weights.
Dare I say the Metcon Sport are the most stable and responsive Metcon of all?
Okay, that statement is not without it’s caveats, but for powerlifting/slow lifts, the Sport’s are king. The wide platform with roll-over support is made for you to torque hard into the ground when doing things like deadlifts and squats. Despite both of the shoes having a 4mm drop, they’re lower to the ground than Metcon 4’s so I’d easily pick the Sport’s to deadlift heavy in. For squatting, it’s a wash between the two, which is impressive considering the Sport’s cost $30 less.
For Olympic weightlifting, the Metcon Sport’s falter a little bit, not much, just a little bit. It has nothing to do with the platform stability or the responsiveness of the midsole, it’s mainly in the fit and flexibility of the shoe. Since they do have that generous toebox, it does allow your forefoot to slide around a little bit inside of the shoe, making landings a little less consistent. I didn’t notice it much while I was doing cleans, but then again, cleans are one of my better movements. I definitely struggled a bit snatching heavy in the Sports because I found the shoes to just be a little too flexible and open in the toebox. To be fair, I was having issues in the FreeXMetcon’s as well.
You shouldn’t run into issues barbell cycling most of the weights in a WOD, but I wouldn’t be pulling a Toshiki Yamamoto and wear these to the platform. For just about everything else that involves weights, the Sport’s are going to be a top choice. Insane that I would say that, especially considering the price tag.
The real shocker of the Metcon Sport is how Nike is only charging $100 for them. That puts them in the “budget” training shoe category, but they don’t feel or perform like “budget” shoes would. These are a top tier training shoe that I think everyone should try out; unless you’re one of those that needs a ton of cushioning in their shoes. If you’ve got FreeXMetcon’s from last year, this is what you should pick up this year.
Of course no shoe is perfect and they’re not without their faults, but the Metcon Sport’s should work perfectly for anyone that’s predominantly inside the gym. If you want to run in your training shoes, there are better options to do long distances in. Also, if you’ve got really skinny feet, they might not be the best choice for you – but I think that’s pretty rare compared to those with collapsed arches or wide feet.
Part of what my job entails is trying to figure what shoes suit what activity best. I think the “Sport” in Metcon Sport refers to sport specific training. These might not be designed for CrossFit (or they might), but they work really well for it. Who I see using these shoes the most are people training for a sport. Football players will be able to work their plyometrics/explosiveness and weight training. Basketball players can work on the same and agility. Boxers will love the low to ground platform with lateral support. So on, so forth…they check all the boxes a training shoe would need
I’m enamored by the Metcon Sports, but I know not everyone feels the same because of the design or lack of cushioning. What I think is best about them is that they didn’t just make another FreeXMetcon or Flyknit 3 – these are different. You can put them in the training shoe category but you wouldn’t use them for the exact same workout’s as either of the more “flexible” trainers. Metcon 4’s are still the best “CrossFit” shoe in Nike’s line-up, but I think the Sports are the best to use for agility, plyometrics and slow lifts. If you’ve tried everything else, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you give the Sport’s a shot. In my opinion, besides the Metcon 5 (which we don’t about know yet), the Metcon Sport’s are the “must-buy” Metcon of the year.
- Value price, flagship performance.
- Not the same recycled formula.
- Surprisingly fit really well!
- Can be too wide for some.
- Questionable velcro durability.
- Might not have enough cushioning for some.
- Design will not cater to everyone’s taste.
- Launch colorways are weak AF.
- Metcon Sport logo on the side is a little goofy.
- Not available in any other markets beside the USA. Not available in ladies sizing.
Last year, Nike dropped the bomb on the training world that was the FreeXMetcon’s – I couldn’t get over how good these shoes were. Til this day, I still don’t know where to put them in the Metcon line-up, I just know that they were my favorite. They’re obviously geared a little bit towards running as Nike stiffened up the Flyknit series, but in my opinion were still more stable than those because of the better fit and nearly as dense midsole. For me, the FreeXMetcon’s ended up being one of the best shoes of the year – a true Swiss army knife of training shoes.
How Nike could improve upon the formula was beyond me because I didn’t have issues with fit that some people complained about. The original FreeXMetcon’s garnered so much praise for their looks, so early shots of the new upper design were a little alarming showing the TPU “strap” moved/extended down to the midfoot of the shoe and not around the ankle anymore. I will say that I don’t like the look as much as the first ones, but the 2’s do look better in person than the stock pictures make them out to look. Which honestly to me is fine, as long as they work better than the originals, which they do – kind of?
One of the major complaints about the first shoe was that the ankle area wasn’t as “locked down” as some would like. I never had that feeling but I guess it was wide spread enough so that the biggest change to the upper was made there. Now at the rear area of the shoe, there’s a “heel cup” design that runs from the back of the shoe to where the TPU strap comes out in the middle of the shoe. The foam upper around your Achilles is stiffer, turned in more, but is still padded and comfortable for me. Those that complained the originals rubbed the back of their foot raw should probably worry. The new heel cup design provides me an even more locked down fit than before, but with a little break-in because the sides of the “cup” will rub on the inside/outside parts of your foot. It becomes less prominent but hasn’t gone away in the last 2 weeks I’ve been wearing the shoes. It’s more noticeable on my right foot which has a slightly more collapsed arch than my left.
The toebox construction remains the same with the flexible TPU “yarn” over mesh making it’s way back on the 2’s. There’s a subtle swoosh on top of the toe box for those missing one giant swoosh along the side of the shoe; now you have two. Since the TPU straps have been moved down, Flywire lacing is gone and the TPU strap takes it’s place; there are only a total of 3 lace inlets as opposed to the 5 from before, but the loss of a couple doesn’t make the shoe feel any less locked down. However, the strap does rub on the outside of my right foot’s outside toe joint (pinky toe?); it’s not too bothersome when I’m working out but it’s definitely red when I take off my shoes.
So for me, the fit is slightly improved around the ankle but if you have wide feet, you might want to stick with the original shoes. The 2’s are going to be more narrow overall.
There are some minor changes to the design of the rubber pods on the outsole, but nothing too notable other than they’re bigger in the forefoot. The midsole is said to have a firmer foam than the originals, but I think they just lessened the amount of midsole foam on the 2’s. I noticed straight away that the 2’s felt more low to the ground than the original shoes did. To the touch, the two midsoles feel relatively the same density, but if you measure the “Free lines” (i.e. the cuts in the midsole to allow for flexibility), the originals measured about 10mm and the 2’s measured 7mm at their longest points. Furthermore, if you look into the tristar cutout’s at the bottom of the shoe, the 2’s are much more shallow than the first model’s. Stacking the shoes up side by side yields similar results as the 2’s are just shorter than the 1’s. Either way, that’s a welcome change to me because my main complaint with the first shoes was that they did feel a little tall.
The drop of the shoe remains the same at 5mm from heel to toe, slotting in between the Metcon 4/Sport’s 4mm and Flyknit 3’s 6mm drop.
Gone is the TPU clip used for HSPU, but I’m not going to miss it because I never felt like it did much in the first place.
I went with my typical training shoe size of a men’s 10/EU44 and length wise, the 2’s fit pretty much spot on to the first ones; maybe a tiny bit shorter because of the added volume at the heel of the shoe but it’s negligible. I already went over how the FreeXMetcon 2’s might be a bad choice for wide feet, but I’ll reiterate that since the new models feature a heel cup design, they do feel more narrow than the first. With a little bit of break-in, it fit will improve but the shoes are generally more narrow in any case. If you felt the originals were snug or you were just worried that your wide feet might have issues, I would recommend sizing up by half. Otherwise normal to narrow feet will fit well into the FreeXMetcon 2’s in your typical training shoe size.
My sizes for reference:
- Metcon 4 – 10
- Flyknit 3 – 10 (snug, could size up)
- FreeXMetcon – 10
- Metcon Sport – 10 (10.5 fits okay as well)
- Nano 8 – 10
- RF1 – 10
- Converse – 9.5
- Romaleos 3XD – 10
What made the FreeXMetcon’s do damn good was how comfortable they were, while still retaining stability for lifting. The 2’s trade a little bit of that comfort for stability, but still remain very flexible and are still one of the best training shoes that you can also double up for running.
Flexibility still remains at the very forefront of this shoe, literally and figuratively. Like all “Free” shoes, there are slits all throughout the midsole of the shoe, which again like other “Free” shoes is the outsole as well. The vast majority of the flexibility slits are in the forefoot of the shoe and are also aided by the tri-star cutout’s on the bottom of the shoe that expand when the foot strikes the ground. These are by no means a barefoot shoe, but the design feels minimal, even more so than the first model’s because they’re lower to the ground.
Running and jumping feel the most natural in the FreeXMetcon’s compared to most of the other shoes out there because the forefoot moves with your feet so well. However, these shoes favor a forefoot strike, compared to a heel strike. There is good heel cushioning but the transition to forefoot doesn’t feel as natural because of the midfoot plate; which is designed to protect/aid with rope climbs and give you a more stable platform. Still, heel striking isn’t the worst, but you won’t be reaping the benefits of the forefoot flexibility as much.
I don’t think many people are going to notice the slight decrease in overall cushioning from cutting down the midsole cushioning, these shoes are still very comfortable overall, just slightly not as much as the originals. Other than them feeling a little more close to the ground, I found the cushioning to feel almost identical until I put both the first and second on at the same time. Even then you can hardly tell, aside from being able to feel the toe cap rubber pod more prominently in the 2’s. Jumping and landing for things like box jumps, double unders and burpees are still as comfortable as ever while still being sure footed.
The FreeXMetcon 2’s are still one of the best shoes to use for running and plyometric movements, but if you wanted a slightly softer ride, the originals are better in that area.
At the end of the day FreeXMetcon’s are still training shoes, and a training shoe wouldn’t be worth much without it’s stability. With my original FxM’s, I felt like I could lift almost anything I could/would be lifting in my Metcon 4’s. Since the 2’s have a platform more geared towards lifting, are they that much more stable than their predecessor?
Despite the slight change to the platform, the way the FreeXMetcon 2’s differ from the original in terms of stability is how much better they fit around the ankle. This isn’t something you’re really going to notice if you’re squatting or conventional deadlifting, but it’s noticeable when doing any kind of dynamic movement, such as Olympic weightlifting. Lateral stability is improved, making your landings feel a little more reliable compared to the previous generation. Probably the only area the originals lacked was in Oly lifting because of the “Free” midsole design combined with a not totally secure ankle collar. The midsole design now isn’t as tall and combined with the more secure fit, the FreeXMetcon 2’s are improved this year for Oly movements.
That doesn’t mean they excel in that area though, if you didn’t like the way the first ones felt for Oly, the 2’s probably won’t change your mind. They’re better, but they’re not a completely different shoe. If you wanted a shoe for that, go with the Metcon 4 or Sport. The reason why FreeXMetcon’s will never be the top choice for stability is just due to the nature of a “Free” shoe, which promotes a more flexible forefoot and more rounded edges at the midsole. That will probably never change, but at least you have options.
Still, I thought response and power delivery isn’t too far off from the more stable Metcon’s. I have no problem loading up the weight for the more static power lifts. Midsole compression is minimal with the FreeXMetcon platform with most of it’s underfoot cushioning coming directly from the insole of the shoe; which is removable if you really cared to be closer to the ground.
The added stability to the FreeXMetcon is welcome, making them a more well rounded shoe overall, but don’t expect to get weightlifting shoe performance out of this training shoe. It’s not something I would use if I was really looking to PR my lifts, but definitely a shoe I would use to PR a benchmark workout with. For just about any movement combination or weight you’ll find in a normal WOD, the FreeXMetcon 2’s should handle them without breaking a sweat.
Costing $120, I think the FreeXMetcon 2’s are a relative bargain compared to the other shoes out there. Sure, they’re still not cheap or entry priced by any means, but what you get out of the package is one of the most complete training shoes money can buy right now. Big improvements to the fit and subtle changes to the platform make the FreeXMetcon 2’s better than ever, but that also depends on your foot shape.
The only people I couldn’t recommend the FxM2’s to are people with wider feet or collapsed arches. While the first shoe was good for a variety of feet, the 2’s are better off for people that don’t have collapsed arches due to the new heel cup design. As I mentioned earlier, even I noticed it rubbing on my fairly normal width feet. These aren’t as narrow as say the Flyknit 3’s or TriBase Reigns, but if you’re coming from the originals or Metcon 4’s, it will be a noticeable difference.
If you have FreeXMetcon’s and you’re wondering if it’s worth upgrading – in my opinion, you’re probably better off trying something else like the new Metcon Sport (which I love, if you don’t mind the way they look). Even though the FreeXMetcon 2’s are a better shoe overall, none of the differences are groundbreaking and there might be certain things about the first shoe you might like better; like the fit, cushioning or even just the way they look. The FreeXMetcon 2’s are an evolution of the original so you shouldn’t expect any huge differences over the originals, which still are top tier training shoes. What might be even more compelling is that you can snag the originals at a huge discount nowadays.
For me personally, I find the Metcon Sports to be a more interesting shoe this time around (review coming soon), so that’s the shoe that I’ll be keeping around until some better colorways drop for the FreeXMetcon 2’s. Still, if you’ve yet to experience how good this series of shoes are, there’s not better start than the new FreeXMetcon 2.
- Still one of the best training shoes.
- Flexible, comfortable, stable.
- $10 Cheaper than the flagship shoes.
- New design isn’t for wide feet.
- Got uglier.
- Doesn’t warrant spending full price on upgrading.
- Can rub the sides of your foot raw.
- Lackluster launch colorways.
- Probably not the Metcon to buy this year.