I almost can’t believe it’s already been seven generations of the Reebok CrossFit Nano. When I started CrossFit, the Nano 2.0 had just been released; at that time I was working out primarily in minimal shoes. Lucky for me, the theme of CrossFit shoes was minimal, but that didn’t stop me from grabbing a pair of Nano 2.0’s, mainly because they were acutal CF shoes. They were, are, and probably will forever be, my favorite Nano’s. Ever since then, I try not to use shoes not designed for “CrossFit”, even if they are training shoes; mainly because they’re usually not capable of doing all we do proficiently.
CrossFit is an all encompassing fitness regimen, you have to be able to lift, run and jump in them. Being able to balance all the traits is where things get tricky, and few have been able to come close to total solution for a shoe. Though I’ll forever love the Nano 2.0’s, last year when Reebok released the Nano 6.0, they came pretty damned close to putting together the perfect CrossFit shoe, and definitely made it difficult for them to create a follow-up. Surprisingly, Reebok strayed away from Nano 6.0’s with the 7.0’s, not only completely changing the winning formula of the shoe, but also changing the release schedule it had always had. There were a lot of salty people after they found out the Nano 7.0’s would be released in the beginning of January, after they had just gotten 6.0’s for Christmas.
The release of the seventh generation model was met with nothing short of criticism, mainly for their appearance, but also because of the change in release schedule to “undercut” the Metcon. For whatever reason, the Nano 7.0’s are here in January, once again being touted as the best Nano yet (of course they would be), but they’ve got some big shoes to fill, pun intended.
Looks, Construction & Fit:
Personally, I think people are being a little harsh about the way the Nano 7.0’s look. True, they take a huge departure from the no nonsense styling of the Nano 6.0, but different doesn’t mean bad. I think the main issue was the launch colorway, which at my box we’ve dubbed “Shoe by the Foot”, because the colors resemble the Fruit by the Foot flavor no one knew they were eating. Since then, more colors have been released and I think people are starting to warm up to them a bit; I think the grey is pretty good looking. When I see the shoe, I think of all the possibilities for colorways, in which the 7’s have quite possibly more options than any Nano before it.
Gone is the Kevlar outer shell and replacing it is the brand new “Nanoweave”. I don’t blame Reebok for not wanting to pay Dupont and going with a proprietary option; I never thought the Kevlar worked well anyways. The texture is rough and has a basket-like weave over a traditional synthetic upper; it feels sturdy enough, but also very stiff. Before you get the shoes broken in, it creates uncomfortable ridges in the toe box area; it takes a few days for them to go away. I’ve never had an issue with durability in Nano’s yet and I don’t think there will be any questions about how well Nano’s hold up any time soon. I did a few rope climbs and the shoes looked as good as new afterwards.
While the platform largely feels the same as far as width, the Nano 7.0’s are definitely the tallest shoe in the line-up. I don’t know why they chose to go this route, but it doesn’t effect the performance of the shoe much. The heel to toe drop remains the same as it’s always been at 4mm. Inside the shoe, there’s a little bit more arch support compared to the generally flatter, older models. Initially, people were saying that the Nano 7.0’s were more narrow, but I don’t really find this to be the case. I think the stiffness in the upper is what they’re talking about, I measured the shoe at almost identical dimensions as the 6.0. The only one that was off, was the length of the shoe, which the 6.0 was longer. Oddly enough, the 7.0’s feel longer to me, giving me a little bit more room for my Morton’s toe.
For sizing, I would recommend you size the exact same as all of your other Nano’s. Be wary that these ones take more time to break in, but after that they should be fine. My sizing for reference:
- Nano 6 – 10
- Nike Metcon – 9.5
- Adidas Ultraboost/NMD – 10
- Chucks – 9
- Weightlifting shoes – 9
In my extremely biased opinion, CrossFit is the most demanding fitness regimen, both mentally and physically. With that, the expectation for functional, durable, and high performing footwear is as equally demanded. Specialization is punished in the grand scheme of fitness, this theology translates into the footwear made for the sport. You could wear weightlifting shoes for stability and power, but you’d be giving up agility. You could wear running shoes, but you’d be giving up stability and power. The key to a great CrossFit shoe is to be able to blend all of the facets of fitness into one. Like every Nano before it, the 7.0’s were designed to handle everything you can throw at it, but they lean further than ever in one direction than ever.
Remember that stiffness we talked about earlier? Well, it’s not just in the upper, the outsole is the most rigid and dense of any Nano as well; probably in part due to the thickness of it. The heel is near in-compressible, making power delivery and landings the best yet. Lateral stability has always been good, but this time it’s excellent with the addition of the new TPU heel cup and the midsole’s new shell. I’ve always thought Nano’s were some of the best platforms for lifting, but the Nano 7.0 really takes the cake. You’ll never second guess a lift or landing because of lack of footing. They’re still flat as can be, so powerlifting movements have never been better; which seeing as how all the powerlifting shoes were discontinued, makes sense now. Personally, I try to not spoil myself by lifting in Oly shoes and the Nano 7.0’s make me not miss them at all.
Where the Nano also shines is the new redesigned outsole pattern and material. Meta-split grooves carry over from the previous models, giving your toes a little more flexibility to splay. The multi-directional tread pattern has been reworked, but I think the tackiness of the outsole is what gives the 7.0’s such sure footing. It’s a little gummy in feeling, compared to the standard rubber on the previous models. You might not notice the Rope-Pro, but it’s there and it is the best version yet. This year, they ditched the traditional spikes for a ribbed pattern across the middle of the outsole, but it does an insanely good job of holding onto the rope when climbing. From asphalt to the platform, the Nano 7.0’s have the best grip yet.
Lifting, check. Grip and rope climbs, check. Running..?
The Nano 6.0’s were so good because you could actually run in them too. Sure, there are better running shoes, but none of which you can lift in as well. What makes the 7.0’s such great lifting shoes, makes them horrible running shoes, probably the worst yet. Imagine what running in clown shoes would feel like and you’ve pretty much pictured running in Nano 7.0’s. The overall flexibility and comfort of the shoe took a big hit with the “improvements” to the upper and outsole. I don’t think even the best running coaches could help you efficiently run in the Nano 7.0’s. Even if you pose run, the forefoot isn’t very flexible and the upper is uncomfortable and heel strikers will get wrecked because the heel is so dense. I did a running workout with some snatches in between and my IT bands and TFL’s were wrecked for days afterwards.
Any other type of plyometric exercises are just passable. Thankfully, since the shoes are so rigid, they’re also very responsive. Box jumps felt sure enough, though landings were a little hard. Burpees are a little rough on the way up because of the inflexibility of the shoe. Double unders weren’t bad at all and my plantar fascias never got the “burn” even after a few hundred of them. All things the Nano 7.0 do well, but not nearly as good as it’s predecessor. Weight is so similar it’s almost not even worth noting. I weighed the 7.0’s at 11.8 oz and the 6.0’s at 11.4oz for a men’s size 10.
Value & Conclusion:
One thing that hasn’t changed, and probably will never change is the price of the shoe. Nano 7.0’s retail for $130 and right now, while the 6.0’s are still for sale, I don’t know if I could recommend them over the less expensive 6.0. What really hurts the Nano 7.0’s is that the 6.0’s were just SO good; I’m talking about one of my favorite pairs of training shoes of all time good. If you’re a powerlifter or globo gym person (both of which probably would’t even be looking at CrossFit shoes), the Nano 7.0’s would be a better performer. Don’t get me wrong, the 7.0’s are still an excellent training shoe, as every Nano was before it. As a complete CrossFit shoe, the Nano 7.0’s are just not as good as the 6.0’s.
I can appreciate the work that Reebok is continually putting in to make their shoe the best, but I feel like the 7.0’s might have been rushed out a little bit. The enhancements detract too much from the overall experience. Historically, the odd numbers in the Nano line up have been the odd ones out that people don’t really care for, and the even models people love. It’s kind of like when Apple decides to release a new iPhone, but then corrects all the faults with the “S” model. Maybe Reebok has something else in store for this year that might be an alternate model to the Nano line up. As it is right now, the Reebok CrossFit Nano 7.0’s are great lifting shoes, just not the best CrossFit shoes.