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.