To me, the Nike Metcon DSX Flyknit was the most underwhelming shoe of 2017.
I know, I know – Lot’s of people out there love the shoe, even used it at a high level, but it just wasn’t for me. I’m not going to go through the many reasons why I wasn’t a fan (which you’ll find out through this review), but I just want you to know that I did give it a try multiple times after I did the review. As of now, I’ve owned probably 6 pairs in total, 3 of which I still have and wear from time to time. Still, not for me, but I do think they look cool.
When the DSX Flyknit 2 was first announced, I had my fair share of reservations. Knowing what I know, which is that shoe lifecycles (at least training shoes) last for two years before a full revision happens…which meant we could have been stuck with another year of the old DSX Flyknit.
Thankfully the engineers over there at Nike listened and came back with a much different shoe than the rookie effort we saw earlier in the year, but is it enough to change my mind about the Flyknit Metcon?
(I’ve taken a scoring system into consideration and we’re going to try it out. I’ll make another post explaining it very soon, but this is going to be the trial run. Point maximum is 30, each category is worth 6 and I grade pretty harshly.)
Build Quality/Construction – 6/6
Nike ditched the anemic tongue this time around on the DSX 2 for a new sock-like single piece upper; good thing because I could never really get the tongue to stay in place before. There’s a greater feeling of elasticity throughout the whole upper that gives the DSX 2 a much more structured and fitted feel, most noticeably felt in the ankle to midfoot of the shoe. Nike somehow managed to put some cushioning around the ankle that while isn’t quite to the extent of the originals, still remains extremely comfortable due to the new ankle collar. In an effort to combat heel slippage and to prevent rubbing, Nike placed a memory foam-like pad at the Achilles area of the shoe. It’s definitely comfortable and I haven’t noticed any rubbing with both long or ankle socks on, but there’s still a slight bit of heel slip.
Underneath the shoe is where we see probably the least amount of change in the returning triangular grid outsole. I’m not too bent up out of shape about that though because I thought that it and the sticky rubber it used provided excellent traction on most surfaces and the rope. There’s a slight redesign to the TPU heel counter and even though it looks like it would be more supportive in the previous version, it’s more so on the DSX2; even though Nike makes this sound like it was more of an aesthetic change than a functional one.
Like most things from Nike, the DSX2’s are one of the most well constructed shoes I’ve ever come across. No loose glue or stitching to be found anywhere on all of the 3 pairs of shoes I tested. Even after doing a few rope climbs, the upper construction didn’t show any signs of major wear, just a little rub marks, leaving me to believe the more structured Flyknit material is tougher this time around, though it’s still probably a little early to comment on the durability of the upper. Also if you’re wondering how it would hold up, the elastic around the ankle collar hasn’t gotten stretched out throughout the time I’ve tested the DSX 2’s unlike when I tried out the Reebok Floatrides. Since there’s a little more going on in the upper, there’s also a slight hike in weight with the DSX2 just about an ounce heavier than the originals at 11.9 oz.
Personally, I love the look of the DSX Flyknit 2’s and think they’re the most aesthetically pleasing training shoe ever created. The Metaphorphic colorway is personally my favorite of all the launch colorways mainly because of the marble outsole, but the Chili Red looks great too. Lots of people love blackout colorways, but they’re not for me because I think all blackout shoes end up looking the same. I understand looks are mainly a subjective thing, so I don’t factor them in while scoring the shoe.
Fit – 4.5/6
Unsurprisingly, the new DSX2 fits a quite different than the one of old. Originally, the size I picked was my normal training shoe size of 10, but I felt like there was a bit too much space in the toe box so I gave the 9.5 a shot. The length was better but the area around the metatarsal joints was WAY tighter, on both of my feet, so after walking around a bit in those, I brought them back for the size 10. Interestingly enough, each colorway I tried, fit a little differently with the blackout’s fitting the most securely per a men’s 10. My advice is that if you have normal to wide feet, size your DSX2 like you would your normal training shoe, but if you have narrow feet, go down half a size.
Where things get interesting is that I’ve heard reports of random heel slippage from multiple people. Personally, I get a slight bit of heel slip on my right but really nothing on my left shoe. I’ve heard stories as crazy as people’s feet coming completely out of their shoes during workouts, and while I can’t say that it’s personally happened to me, I can make my heel come out of the shoe if I really try to push into the toe area of the shoes. I’m going to leave this as a very subjective thing right now, but keep in mind that it does happen to some people and I’m assuming if your heel slips a lot in other Metcon’s, it’ll probably happen in this shoe.
My sizes for reference:
- Metcon 3 – 10 (with space, can wear a 9.5 with a “competition” fit)
- Nano – 10
- NoBull – 10
- Strike Mvmnt – 10
- DSX Flyknit – 10
- Romaleos – 9.5
- Chuck Taylor – 9.5
Flexibility/Comfort – 5/6 (Updated to factor in Metcon 4’s, was 4.)
The whole premise behind even having a DSX Flyknit was for a more softer, flexible alternative to the normally stiff, standard Metcons. That was something that the DSX of old definitely did, but at too big of a cost. Now with the current generation, we find that same kind of flexibility, just with a less soft/more stable platform. Even though the redesigned drop-in midsole (more on this later) doesn’t compress as much, the compound they used to create it is more flexible. As I mentioned earlier, the sock-like construction of the DSX2’s is a little more structured throughout the ankle to midfoot areas of the shoe, there’s probably about 25% less resistance when flexing the shoe at the toebox.
Personally, I thought the drop-in midsole from the first model DSX was garbage. It was definitely softer but had a “dead” feeling to it, which not only killed response and stability, but wasn’t even that comfortable. It was much more compressible than the standard Metcon 3’s midsole but because of that, it led to a lack of stability for your foot, leaving you to jostle your feet around inside of the shoe for position; which ended up making my feet hurt even more. In the DSX2, the midsole is closer to where the Metcon 3 was in terms of how much it compresses, almost none, but has better response due to the newer “bouncy” material. It makes your feet have to do a lot less work to stabilize than before, hence also being much more easy on your feet for long, bounding workouts (i.e. double unders). Running still feels a bit clunky given the stiff nature of the shoe, but the midsole has decent energy return for those shorter sprints and the new reinforced upper holds your foot in place much better.
Keep in mind that these are still training shoes, that are just designed to be a little easier to run in when needed. A casual walk shoe or marathon shoe, they are most definitely not. I wouldn’t go selling off your dedicated runners, but for short runs, sprints or even up to a 5k, you should be fine in the DSX Flyknit 2’s.
Stability – 5/6
Under the a body weight load, the original DSX Flyknit’s tricked you into thinking they would be good enough to lift in, but once you put some weight on the bar, you quickly found out that they were not even good for light loads. Even though the drop-in midsole was seemingly made out of the same material used in the Metcon 3’s, it just turned into mush if you put an extended load on top of it. Sure, you could lift in them, as many have (including myself), but it just was never confidence inspiring.
With the DSX2, Nike went and combined the flexibility of the Flyknit upper with the legendary stability of the Metcon 3; which is honestly what I wanted all along. The difference in feeling compared to the previous DSX is immediately noticeable, with the DSX2 feeling much more responsive. That “creakiness” in the original midsole is completely gone, so yes, no more squeaks. The new drop-in midsole material feels more rubbery to the touch, flexes better, has better energy return and responsiveness which really aids in plyometric movements such as box jumps and double unders.
Lifting has never felt better and I’m easily hitting numbers with the DSX2’s that I wouldn’t dare attempt in the original DSX Flyknits, both slow or dynamic lifts. For my birthday, we did a WOD that combined pretty much every type of movement with a max out lift at the end of each round. I easily transitioned from all the movements not even thinking twice about what shoe I had on. Round one paired KB swings with bar muscle ups, finishing off with a max deadlift, which I hit 505 (540 is my 1RM). Round two was high box jumps with KB snatches and a max backsquat which I hit 385 (405). Round three was a hellish pairing of wall walks and Assault Bike cals, ending with a 255 squat clean (max is 300, before the workout I hit 285). As you can see, I was easily into my 90%’s with each lift also including fatigue as a factor. Those are number I’d normally reserve for my Metcon 3’s or Nano 6.0’s, but had no qualms about doing in the DSX2.
The offset remains the same at 6mm, which I would consider still relatively flat; I haven’t really noticed any instances where it pushed me onto my toes but I do still prefer the lower drop of the standard Metcons.
- DSX Flyknit 1 – Everything I hated about the originals has been fixed in the 2’s. They’re a more stable, flexible, better looking shoe that even costs less. If you liked the squishiness off the originals, you might be disappointed in the 2’s though.
- Metcon 3 – The DSX 2’s are basically a more flexible though slightly not as stable, version of the Metcon 3; the differences are slight though. Honestly, you’d use these shoes in the same way, so it’s up to you if you want to spend the extra $20 to get a touch more of this for that.
- Nano 8 – This upcoming Nano 8 is one of the best all around performing shoes to date. Choose the the DSX 2 if you like the feel of the springy drop in midsole, as well as it’s MUCH better aesthetic. Choose the Nano if you want more direct feel, more flexibility, more comfortable pair of shoes. Or if you have wide feet.
- NoBull – Pretty much the same exact story as the Nano, except NoBulls aren’t as flexible or comfortable as the Nano’s are. They do however offer more direct ground feel and are much lighter.
Value – 4.5/6 (Was at 3, but adjusted to fit Metcon 4)
The combination of flexibility, stability and sexy goodness comes at a cost. Even though the DSX2’s are less expensive than the original models, they’ll still set you back $150. Sneakerheads won’t even think twice at the cost, but casual or function over form people will have a hard time justifying the premium cost of the Flyknit 2’s. The DSX2’s are an all around amazing shoe, but the truth is that they don’t do much more than the standard Metcon 3, which right now you can easily find at a discount. They are for sure more flexible, but I’m not sure most people are going to even be able to tell the difference, especially when they’re working out. Stability still goes to the Metcon 3, but is much closer this time around, but comfort ends up being pretty much the same because of that. I anticipate the upcoming Metcon 4 to be even better than the 3’s, which will make it even harder to justify the added cost of the Flyknit 2’s. The only reason I could recommend buying the DSX Flyknit 2’s is just because you liked the way they looked or because the squeaking just completely drove you mad.
That being said, I absolutely love the DSX Flyknit 2’s and they’re currently one of my favorite training shoes. I personally like what Nike did with the DSX Flyknit 2 though I know the changes to the shoe will put some off and will make others wonder what the intended purpose of the shoe is since they’re more close to normal Metcon’s now. They’re not without their fit issues and their value might be questionable to some, but there is no denying the DSX Flyknit 2’s are a much better shoe than the originals.
Total Score: 25/30