Nike FreeXMetcon 2 Review

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.

IMG_9894

Construction/Fit:

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.

IMG_0177.JPG

IMG_0170.JPG

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.

IMG_0194.JPG

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.

IMG_0185.JPG

IMG_0187.JPG

Sizing:

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

IMG_0192.JPG

Running/Plyometric Performance:

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.

IMG_0181.JPG

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.

IMG_0182.JPG

Stability/Lifting:

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.

IMG_0180.JPG

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.

IMG_0174.JPG

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.

Value:

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.

IMG_9931.JPG

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.

The Good:

  • Still one of the best training shoes.
  • Flexible, comfortable, stable.
  • $10 Cheaper than the flagship shoes.

The Bad:

  • New design isn’t for wide feet.
  • Got uglier.
  • Doesn’t warrant spending full price on upgrading.

The Ugly:

  • Can rub the sides of your foot raw.
  • Lackluster launch colorways.
  • Probably not the Metcon to buy this year.

Highly Recommended!

Get your FreeXMetcon 2’s here!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply