I can’t believe it’s already been 5 iteration since the first Metcon. I’ll never forget how I felt when Nike opted to send me one of the launch athlete packs. That was probably my turning point as a reviewer, so I’ll forever be grateful to them for that.
Nike is the king of shoes. Period.
What they release, people have no problems spending money on. Even if the shoes aren’t the best for the purpose, they’re still going to sell way more than any lesser brand. Metcon’s have been a staple in the training world since they’ve come out, easily besting all other shoes until the release of the Nano 8’s. While I’m pretty sure they still outsold Reebok, from what I observed Metcon’s lost quite a bit ground to the Nano’s purely because Reebok made the better performing shoe.
Nike had to come back in a big way with the next shoe. Quite possibly the most well received Metcon in recent history other than the 4’s was the FreeXMetcon, which until now was the best combination of flexibility and stability. I’m assuming Nike sensed that was the winning formula because they morphed the Metcon 5’s into the most comfortable shoe in the whole line. But is the change a little too late seeing as how Reebok had grasped the concept sooner?
Since this is an odd numbered shoe, the Metcon 5 is technically a fully redesigned shoe, but there are some features that are a mainstay in the Metcon line-up, such as the signature drop-in midsole design and high sidewalls. Other than those cues, the construction and materials are almost completely different than the 4’s.
Early leaked shots of the Metcon 5 had the world on end about the design changes Nike went with; but normally you can’t rely on low quality shots to portray the actual release shoe. The shoe’s design isn’t any different now, but the angles of those leaks didn’t show off the appearance of the Metcon 5 in a very good light compared to how they look like in real life. For me personally, the 5’s is the best looking training shoe that’s currently out. The lines are symmetrical and clean, they look sleek and Nike always kills it in the colorway options.
Nike is using a similar, yet new design for the upper of the Metcon 5. Instead of the sandwich mesh upper with Tri-Star haptic pattern, this year they’re calling it the Haptic Chain-link pattern, probably due to it’s linked together pattern. It’s purpose is the same however, to increase the shoes durability; but since it now spans all over the shoe, I’d expect it to have a part in securing your foot inside the shoe without hindering flexibility.
In my initial impressions video of the Metcon 5, I said the worst part of the shoe’s design was the tongue because of how far it stretched out and how stiff it was. That issue is limited to the Mat Fraser PE model, I haven’t noticed that issue on either of my launch colorways. I haven’t noticed any issues with the tongue at all, which is always a good thing.
The laces go through Nike’s Flywire system which are basically stringed eyelets that attach to the inside base of the shoe. Using this style lacing allows for a more customized fit in the midfoot of the shoe without reducing mobility. New to the Metcon line of shoes is the additional top eyelet to use for lace-lock if you had any issues with heel slip, or were using the Hyperlift inserts.
The TPU heel clip makes it’s return…and yeah…I feel the same way about it that I always do. Doesn’t make any difference for me.
The most drastic change to the Metcon 5’s is their new dual-density drop-in midsole; this isn’t a new style of design, but it’s new to the Metcon flagship and the first time I’ve seen it used in a drop-in midsole. By incorporating two different compounds, Nike’s able to have a shoe that’s both comfortable for bounding and running movements without detracting much from the stability department. The forefoot is soft, flexible, has almost no rebound and is mainly just for underfoot cushioning. The heel material is virtually identical to the Metcon 3/4 drop-in midsole, which while a good amount more stiff, actually has pretty good rebound…
…and it doesn’t squeak. At least not yet.
This year, Nike takes things a step further and includes a 8mm insert that increases the offset of the Metcon’s from 4mm to 12mm. Even cooler is that it’s designed to work on all previous versions of the Metcon. All you do is slide it under the heel portion of your drop-in midsole and you get about an effective .5″ heel height. It should be noted that these inserts shouldn’t be used to replace Olympic Weightlifting shoes because they don’t do anything for stability and are just mobility aids.
Nike redesigned the outsole to have taller side walls for rope climb protection and grip, and the material is an updated sticky rubber that’s even stickier in the forefoot and more durable in the heel. The traction pattern has “gills” now that grip the rope going up and let you slide down faster; it works great on and off the rope. There are variances in performance here, I noticed my normal Metcon 5’s to be more grippy than clear outsole my Mat Fraser’s.
I’m not too worried about the durability of the material here, but what’s worrisome to me is the amount of people that are reporting their outsoles already pulling away from their uppers. I’ve experienced this first hand as well, one of my pairs is starting to pull away in the medial sidewall area. My guess is that the outsole is too rigid for the upper material.
Interestingly, I weighed the M5’s in at 13.3oz for a size 10, a pretty good increase over the Metcon 4 and even the already heavy Nano 9. You don’t really feel the added weight probably because they’re so flexible.
This is easily the most controversial topic of the Metcon 5, because no one seems to agree on whether or not they fit small or true to size; but in my case, they fit small. Metcon 3’s fit me perfectly in a size 10 with a little space between my 2nd toe (longest) and the front of the shoe. The 4’s got a little bit more tight in the toebox, but they were still comfortable enough without my toes running up in to the front of the shoe. The Metcon 5’s in a size 10 fits with no space for my toes to splay and my longest toe touches the front of the shoe while I’m not even active – For me, that’s too cramped; your toes should never touch the front of your shoes.
When you try your shoes on, imagine how the shoes are going to fit when you’re doing a workout and your feet are pumped up full of blood, the fit is going to change. If they fit “perfect” at rest, they probably won’t when you’re in the middle of a workout. You can always wear thicker socks, but you can’t do anything about shoes when they’re too small.
As Metcon’s have progressed, the heel slip issue has gotten to the point where it’s no longer really an issue for me. Or maybe I’ve just gotten used to it. Either way, that hasn’t been an issue with my Metcon 5’s other than in a size 10, where it felt like since my foot was so cramped up it was pushing my foot out of the shoe. Not an issue in a 10.5 for me.
To test out if the shoes would break in any, I kept around a women’s 11.5, which should equate to slightly bigger than a men’s 10. They fit snug, I could work out in them, but they were always uncomfortable during/after working out to the point where I needed to get them off my feet after extended wear. Forget about using the Hyperlifts, I didn’t even bother because that would have decreased the amount of space that I had inside the shoe; so also take that into account if you plan on using yours.
I’m thinking the best guideline is that if your second toe is longer than your first, go for that half size up. If not, go for the normal size. If you’re unsure, go with the size up.
- Metcon 1-4xd – 10
- Metcon Flyknit 1/2 – 10
- Metcon Flyknit 3 – 10.5
- Metcon Sport – 10
- FreeXMetcon – 10
- Nano – 10
Keep in mind that I also lined up the Metcon 4xd, Nano 9, Metcon 5 in 10 and 10.5 and the M5 in the 10 was the shortest one by a good amount.
The weakest point of the Metcon flagships was that they were never the most comfortable shoes. Though they were plenty fine for everything else you’re doing inside the gym, they just weren’t very good to run in because they were pretty hard on your feet. This iteration, Nike went way far off from the normal formula with the addition of the dual density midsole to make the most runnable, comfortable flagship Metcon yet.
The reason I said “flagship” and not just Metcon is because I still think the FreeXMetcon 1’s are the best running Metcon in the whole line-up, but the 5’s are a close second. My reasoning for this is because I still think the midsole compound of those is a little bit more responsive than the forefoot compound of the 5’s new midsole. While it’s very soft and flexible, it feels less bouncy compared to most running directed foams and even the Nano 9’s new midsole.
Even while they’re not the most responsive, they’re WAY more flexible and cushioned than any other Metcon, which is going make it easy to pick these out of the rest of the bunch to run in.
Picking which is the better running shoe between the Nano 9 and Metcon 5 is going to come down to personal preference. On one hand, the forefoot is much more cushioned and flexible in the Metcon 5, where as the midsole material is more responsive and you get the decoupled heel in the Nano 9. I run with a midfoot strike so personally the heel of the 9’s don’t benefit my style of running. The easy choice for me is the more comfortable forefoot design and less jarring toespring angle of the Metcon 5.
If you’re a heel striker, running in the Metcon 5’s is going to be almost as clunky as it’s always been. Transition is a bit more smooth since the mid-forefoot is more flexible, but that heel’s outriggers can feel like you’re running in dress shoes.
A lot of people are looking at just Metcon 5 v.s. Nano 9, so I have to throw a nod out to the Inov-8 235v3’s which out of the 3 shoes, are my favorite to run in.
Though I think I still prefer the FreeXMetcon to run in, the 5’s flexibility still easiliy beats them out! Let that sink in for a second – they’re THAT flexible. If you wanted the most plush underfoot feel, they have that as well. It’s really insane how much different the Metcon 5’s feel than any of their previous iterations. They’re very similar to – (dare I say it?) Nano 8’s in feel. Which makes them more flexible than the Nano 9’s as well.
The forefoot is plush and comfortable, but doesn’t detract from stability of lifts since you’re mainly pushing into the ground because it collapses so easily. It’s still easy to keep track of where your feet are going for double unders and rebounding box jumps. The toebox does have noticeably less spring when you’re popping up for burpees, but at the same time it’s easier on your feet so that’s a wash to me.
If I could change anything, I would actually choose a more responsive foam for the forefoot; I’d even give up some of that cushiness to do so. I think React would be an amazing addition because of their unique blend of cushioning and response.
Where would a Metcon be without it’s stability? Usually the front runner in this area, Nike took a step back to put the Metcon a little more in line with what Reebok had done with the Nano 8’s. Though still a very good to lift in, they do trail in the wake of the Nano 9 this year.
Anytime you push one side of the shoe flexibility/stability spectrum to one direction, you end up losing out on the other; the best shoes are the ones that are the most balanced. Nike’s placed their aim closer to the middle of the spectrum this time around by adding in the dual density midsole . By doing so, you get a good amount of forefoot cushioning while still retaining a dense heel area to push off from.
Like I mentioned earlier, the forefoot cushioning is pretty dull so it doesn’t really resist your foot, absorbing energy. Instead, it’s just there to be a buffer between your foot and the ground; when you push off of your forefoot, you’re basically pushing through directly to the ground. Ground feel is better, but you do lose out on that springiness of the 3/4 midsole which made them great to do Oly in.
An area Metcon’s usually trail Nano’s in is ground feel. Typically Nano’s sit closer to the ground than Metcon’s due to the differences in design, but since this year Nano’s changed up the formula and added in a thicker midsole and beefy carrier, Metcon 5’s feel closer to the ground. The feel is closer to the Inov-8 235v3 though overall not quite as natural feeling due to the clunkier heel of the Metcon 5.
The outsole design of the 5’s at it’s widest point is the same as on Reebok’s Nano 9, but comes to a narrower point at the toe giving you less room to splay your toes; I haven’t found that to be much of a difference though. Neither did the slightly more narrow midfoot make much of an impact on stability. The smartest design of the M5’s outsole is at the heel, where it cones out on both sides increasing lateral stability, while reducing overall bulk. Yeah, it still doesn’t feel amazing to heel-strike with when you’re running, but the overall feel in that area is more mobile, yet plenty stable.
For Oly lifts, the Metcon 5’s deliver on 90% of the performance the 4’s did. Yes, in my opinion they’re not as good because of the added forefoot flexibility and softer midsole, but in no way are they bad. Lifting in them for the first time brought me back to when I first tried lifting in Nano 8’s. I wasn’t so sure they’d do very well since they were on the softer side of training shoes, but they more than exceeded my expectations. Would I shy away from using them for any of my lifts? Nope, I still feel like I’d be able to hit PR’s in these shoes, just not as confidently as I would in Metcon 4’s. Though I’d much, much rather go out and run a mile in my 5’s than their predecessors.
For power lifts, I actually prefer the 5’s over the 4’s because they feel more direct to the ground. While the Metcon 3/4 drop-in midsole had that springiness which was awesome for Oly, I never much cared to deadlift or squat in them. Since the 5’s feel lower and have better ground feel, I feel a little bit better connected to the Earth for my slower lifts, which makes me more confident to use them for some of my heavier lifts.
Nike’s inclusion of the Hyperlift inserts seems a bit gimmicky to me. Sure, we’ve had companies like Versalifts and WODLift’s make similar things in the past, but seeing it from the footwear giant seems a little bit off. In use, they do the exact same thing the smaller brands did, but I also never cared to use those with Metcon’s due to the drop-in midsole design. My main issue with them is that they push your heel further out of the shoe, which makes your ankle feel a little less secure. Also, the idea of an elevated heel works on Oly shoes because the heel is incompressible and the forefoot is usually more stiff – on a training shoe where the heel has give and the forefoot is flexible, you run into all kinds of problems centering your balance.
Using them for heavier Oly lifts did not feel stable in the slightest bit, but they were decent as a mobility aid for lighter overhead squats and thrusters. I guess I can’t really complain since they’re included with the shoe at no extra charge.
The battle of flagship training shoes has never been so epic as it is this time around. It’s interesting to see that Reebok went with a design similar to the Metcon 4’s and Nike went with one similar to Nano 8’s. While you can’t remove the midsole, the use of the TPU carrier and more edgy outsole design in the Nano 9’s is similar to the design Nike’s been using for years with their midsole/outsole. It allows for stability and durability without sacrificing much in the way of cushioning and flexibility. While they’re not quite at where the Nano 8’s were in terms of comfort, they are a good amount more stable due to the sharper outsole design.
Metcon 5’s nearly feel identical to Nano 8’s, which is a great thing for Metcon enthusiasts, but at the same time it’s nothing really new if you already have a pair of 8’s. Flexibility and stability are nearly a wash between the Nano 8’s and Metcon 5’s. They both have dual density midsoles that have a softer forefoot and more dense heel. When lifting in both for the first time you get that hesitancy, but they still perform well at the end of the day. Running feels just about the same, not terrible if you midfoot strike but not great if you heel strike. So all you’re really getting is styling and the ability to climb the rope better.
So when it comes down to it, picking between the two becomes purely subjective. Do you heel strike? Do you forefoot strike? Do you want more stability or a more plush forefoot? Do you have a wider forefoot or do you have Morton’s toe and need the pointier toe. Both shoes are amazing and for me it really just depends on the workout for which one that I’d pick…
If I had to chose a single shoe to train in, it would be the Nano 9 because the Metcon 5 has the same issues with stability that the Nano 8 had. The Nano 9’s are both more stable and almost as comfortable as 8’s/Metcon 5.
BUT…if you asked me to pick a single shoe to wear for the rest of my life it would be the Metcon 5’s because I think they’re more comfortable and they look better.
My other shoe in for the training shoe of the year is the Inov-8 235v3 and really the only other training shoe that’s remotely worthy of going up against the Nano 9 and Metcon 5. I know a lot of people wouldn’t consider pitting the Inov-8’s against these, but you really should if you wanted a more flexible training shoe.
Where the 235’s smash the other two shoes is in flexibility and comfort. They’re really easy to wear around, run in and do plyometric movements in. Sure, they’re not as stable as either of the other flagships, but they make up in the ability to move better in. Metcon 5’s come a lot closer to them than Nano 9’s do, but even still you’re a ways off in flexibility.
For lifting, they run into the same problems Metcon 5’s do, the forefoot is a little too flexible for Oly lifts but the overall shoe is plenty stable for slow lifts. Ground feel is excellent but the midsole isn’t very bouncy. Personally, I wouldn’t mind going for max effort lifts in the 235v3’s but I wouldn’t recommend less experienced lifters to.
Between the two, personally I’d probably stick with Metcon 5’s just because they’re just a bit more stable and they’re comfortable, but if you wanted a more natural feeling training shoe overall, I’d recommend looking into the 235v3.
It’s no surprise the Metcon 5’s are priced at $130, which is the same price they’ve always been and is the same price as all the shoes their poised to compete with. For that price, I think they’re a bargain for the performance. They’re easily the best performing training shoe that Nike has ever put out, FreeXMetcon included. Metcon purists will probably be elated that they have something comfortable to wear for more than just gym time. If you’re coming from any flagship Metcon before, don’t be so quick to get rid of those for the 5’s because they still have their place in training. If my day was centered around lifting, I’d still probably pick-up my 4XD’s, but if I had to do a multitude of things I would wear my 5’s.
If you have a pair of Nano 8’s in your arsenal, the answer isn’t so clear. Honestly in performance, they feel nearly identical. I’d say to pick up a pair of Metcon 5’s based on looks (if you liked them) alone, but don’t expect too much change in performance. If you’ve already scooped up pair of Nano 9’s and like them, I don’t think you’d need a pair of Metcon 5’s unless you had issues running in Nano 9’s. I know most of you reading this right now are going to buy both Metcon 5’s and Nano 9’s anyways and I totally condone of that. You can’t go wrong with either, they’re both the best training shoes you can possibly get right now; it just depends on the workout.
All in all, this is the best Metcon that Nike has ever produced. It’s got style, comfort, and stability. I think most people are going to love what Nike’s done with the shoe, but I also expect a good amount to not care for them. Is it the best training shoe out there? That depends on what you’re looking for, but I don’t think anyone can be disappointed with the Metcon 5.