Reebok Nano X1 (xI, 11) Review

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Reebok really did me dirty by naming this years Nano the X1 after I said in my review video that it would be called the 11. Oh well, that doesn’t change the fact that we’re already up to the 11th iteration of the Nano, not including midseason updates! Also – since it is an odd number, this year we get a completely new model.

Not to mention, an earlier release date as well. The Nano X1’s have an official release date of 2/3/31 but you can get them on 1/29/21 with Reebok Unlocked.

The last time I can remember them doing an earlier launch was transitioning from the 6 (G.O.A.T.) to the 7 (W.O.A.T.). I’m not going to beat a dead horse, but we all remember the tragedy that was that changeover. To this day, many people swear by and still use their Nano 6’s, even stocking up on them just in case they never got re-released (myself). This time we’re leaving behind the Nano 9/X models, which are also widely regarded as some of the best training shoes of all time as well. Whatever one you prefer is subjective, but I think we can all agree that neither shoe was a failure, breaking the curse of the odd Nano.

Has the curse returned in the X1? Are we doomed for another longer release with a shoe we don’t want to wear? Keep on reading and I’ll let you know…

Construction:

With a completely new model comes a completely new redesign and materials used. Design-wise, the X were probably the most outlandish looking Nano ever to have been released. In my opinion, they were one of the best looking trainers and will probably be the pinnacle of Reebok’s design team for training shoes. What we’re transitioning to in the X1 is, for lack of better terms, safe.

I don’t hate the way the X1 look – but I do think they’re uninspired, especially compared to the X. I admit, the retro stuff was getting played out, but we can do better than this. It looks like they took the Harmony Road 3, added a TPU heel counter and called it a day. Being that the X2 will follow on the same platform, I hope there’s something crazy planned for the upper to spice things up. Alas – beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I’m sure that someone out there will like the design.

Material wise, we get a lot of different takes on things. The first and most obvious one being the new Flexweave Knit material upper. A lot of people out there are worried about this new upper not being durable, but in the month + that I’ve had the X1, I’ve put them through just about everything and they still appear new-ish. It’s still a relatively short period of time but I’ll give the knit the benefit of the doubt. If you’re worried about durability, maybe go for the “Grit” upper, which is more a traditional Flexweave type material.

Going back to the Flexweave Knit – I’m a fan of the way that the material feels and moves with your feet. The toebox has a open, airy feeling to it and doesn’t bunch up in any uncomfortable way; fans of the 9’s will love this about the X1. (When the I get the “Grit” models, I’ll make sure to come back and update this review with what I think of that upper.) If I were to nitpick, I’d say it could fit a little closer to skin with more stretch to it like the X’s, but I reckon they’re saving that for the X2.

The X1s are a little more thoroughly stitched in the areas the Vector are, which adds targeted support for foot containment. If you hated branding, these would be a great shoe for you because that Vector is near invisible on certain colorways. On the subject of colorways, the single piece knit doesn’t leave a lot of room to do much with. Most that I have seen just have patterns and color blocking on the heel counter. There are a few good ones that I’ve seen, but nothing mind blowing so far.

Speaking of heel counter…it’s MASSIVE. Like, I’d say almost 40% of the upper is the heel counter. Unlike the X which used some stacked nylon panels to create it’s counter, the X1’s have an external TPU cage on top of an internal counter. The “cage” runs all the way from the very bottom area at the back of the shoe, presumably for handstand push-ups, all the way along the sides and ends just behinds the metatarsal area. Let me tell you, this thing actually works. You can definitely feel the added stability at the heel to midfoot of the shoe. Which leads to an interesting feeling when combined with the new platform of the shoe…

7mm drop. You heard it here first.

This is the first time the drop of the Nano has been anything other than 4mm. While this was literally painful to find out, I’ve learned to live with higher drop shoes. My preference will always be with lower, flatter shoes, which the Nano X1 are most definitely not. Too add to the drop being steeper, the midsole stack height is also taller than any previous Nano (19.5mm heel to 12.5mm toe). Finally, to compound everything together, the toespring has a larger angle to it, giving the X1 a running shoe-like feel.

(For reference, I measured the Nano 9 at about 15-20 degrees and the X1 at 20-27. Measurements done with my iPhone so they’re probably not that accurate, but should give a ballpark range.)

Given all that, it would make sense that the midsole foam is part Floatride Energy. That by itself would probably be way too soft for lifting so there is a carrier foam on the surrounding the Floatride. Reebok.com says the Float is only at the forefoot – looking from underneath the shoe, it’s situated underneath the balls of your feet. Either way, the shoes don’t feel too squishy or soft like a runner, but you do get impact protection and response out of the Float midsole.

The outsole is pretty standard rubber with a multidirectional pattern for grip. It’s got some breaks in at the forefoot for flexibility and is closed off at the midfoot of the shoe presumably for rope climb durability. In terms of traction, I think the X1’s beat out the previous models with its more aggressive traction. There is still “RopePro”, but it’s just raised rubber sidewall and a lip at the instep of the shoe and works just fine.

The weight of the X1’s come in at a paltry 11.4 oz for a mens size 10; or 324g for those not in the States. A stark contrast from the extraordinarily heavy Nano X, which in some cases could get up to a full lb per shoe (usually 14-15 oz for a men’s 10).

Fit:

Like I mentioned earlier, I think the X1’s have a similar width toebox like the 9’s (with more of a pointed toe), though I have heard people complain that theirs fit on smaller. I’m not sure how they’ve sized their shoes in the past, but I’m a size 10 and have been wearing this size in my Nanos since 4’s. How people like to wear their shoes is subjective but I’m in the camp that a little bit of space is better for your feet overall. A size 10 fits me, what I’d call perfectly (tts). Not too tight, but also not big enough so that my feet are sliding around too much inside the shoe. The most similar fitting Nanos in comparison are 9’s; which I didn’t size down like a lot of people did.

Sizing aside, there are a couple of “quirks” regarding the fit of the X1. The one that might affect you the most is that the heel/counter area of the shoe rises up fairly high like the Nano X, but is actually turned inwards instead of out. For me, this causes a slightly annoying rub on my Achilles when I’m not wearing long socks, but for other people I’ve talked to, it’s completely rubbing away their skin. I’ve got fairly skinny ankles, but if you have cankles, make sure you lace the shoe up tight when you try them on to make sure you’re okay with the way it fits there.

The second annoyance I have with the fit of the shoe is that the tongue isn’t secured to anything. It never stays centered and ends up pushing to either side when you work out. The Nano X tongue was amazing and while the X1 didn’t have to keep the bootie design, they could have at least added some gussets to the sides of it to help hold it in place.

The laces themselves do a good job in staying tied. They’re a little long if you’re not planning on using lace lock, but at least you have the option to do so and the laces aren’t too short if you do. Personally, it’s not something I planned on doing since I have no issues with heel slip.

Although I don’t have wide feet, or at least I don’t think I do, I think the X1’s are going to suitable for wide foot shapes. To me, the shoes feel pretty neutral without any kind of arch support.

Flexibility:

If you go under to the Reebok site and search for “Nano X1”, it now shows that the category of this shoe is “HIIT”. Normally, this isn’t something that I’d put much weight into, as to me it just seems like they’re just trying to get away from the “CrossFit” branding. This time, I might actually believe them. Some of the major traits I’d be looking for in a HIIT shoe are if it was lightweight, breathable, responsive, and flexible. If you were to strip the Nano X1s of the Nano moniker, gave them to me and told me they were a HIIT shoe – I’d totally believe you.

The Flexweave Knit upper is an awesome upgrade to an effective, but tired Flexweave. To be clear, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the old Flexweave (other than you couldn’t wear it in the rain), but otherwise it performed well and was durable. The new material is just a bit more comfortable – it moves fluidly with your feet and it’s got a lighter touch to it. When put to work, you hardly even realize its there and to me, that’s the sign of a great upper fabric.

Given the shoes have a more running shoe like design to them, it would make sense that they’re probably my favorite Nano’s to run in. Forefoot flexibility is excellent and the cushioning is just right for me – not particularly soft and more on the responsive side. The toe spring angle works very well in keeping forward momentum as you stride. I run with more of a midfoot/forefoot strike and these shoes work really well for me, but even trying to make myself heel strike feels comfortable as well.

Burpees also get an assist from the new toe angle – It doesn’t make them doing them suck any less, but at least its comfortable on your feet. The crux of having a more spacious toebox is that sometimes your forefoot can distractingly shift inside the shoe when doing the jump and turn for bar facing burpees. That’s probably not something most people outside of CrossFit should be too worried about though.

Repeated bounding movements such as double unders and box jumps are comfortable to do as well. The Float midsole is positioned perfectly under where you’d be making first contact when you land. Yet it doesn’t detract from response or loss of feedback when you’re on your toes. I was still able to track my double unders just fine with the X1’s, which is an issue that I sometimes have with softer shoes.

Quite possibly the most noticeable thing for me during any of these movements is just how freaking light the X1’s are. After spending a year with some of the heaviest trainers ever in the Nano X and Froning X Nanos, I feel like my feet finally have freedom to move again in the X1s. If anything, I hope the trend of making training shoes lighter, keeps up.

If the goal was to make actually transform the Nano into a HIIT shoe, I think they hit the nail on the head.

Stability:

Throughout all my time wearing Nano’s, they’ve always been what I preferred to do my lifting in, reserving my Olympic Lifting shoes for dedicated Oly work and PR lifts. To me, stability is the soul of the Nano. For what I’m doing for my fitness, there’s a heavy emphasis on my shoes needing to be stable to lift, next up would flexibility for plyometrics, and the last thing being comfortable run in. If the workout was that running heavy, I would just wear running shoes because usually you’re not lifting heavy. If I needed to lift heavy with running in a workout, I could just suck it up and wear training shoes because the runs usually aren’t more than 400-800m.

While the new platform the X1’s ride on is pretty good on one end of the spectrum – it somewhat fails on the other.

My problem with the new platform isn’t just one thing – it’s all the things combined. I could live with the higher heel-toe drop if it was made in a way where it just elevated the heel – like an oly shoe, but it’s not. X1’s are generally flat from the heel to just about the metatarsals then it steeply drops off right at the very front of the shoe; actually negating the fact they have a higher heel. What that leads to is the shoe pushing you forward if you shift your weight to your toes and in turn, lifts the back of the shoe. This works well for running and plyometrics, but this can lead to some precarious situations if you planned on lifting heavy.

Ideally, you should be making full contact with your foot and the ground when you lift, but you can’t get the X1’s to let you make contact with both your heels and toes at the same time. The heel to midfoot is actually very, very stable, if that’s what you planned on only lifting on. However, the way the shoe is shaped, when you’re on your heels, it pulls your toes off the ground. When you put your toes down, it feels like you’re standing on a curve that’s rocking your heels forward.

Getting a comfortable feeling start position for oly movements just never feels right and most of the time I ended up catching my lifts forward. During touch and go cleans and snatches, I felt like I was either rocking back and forth the whole time or just on my toes. Most of the time having to muscle the bar back to the right positions. That makes it much less efficient to move the barbell and prematurely tired out my feet/Achilles area.

The same problem carries over to the slow lifts. Squatting for load just isn’t something that I’d even consider doing in the X1’s due to the design of the platform. I’d consider myself a decent squatter with pretty good mobility, but even with 75% loads, I felt myself having to use my back to press up most of my squats like a good morning from being pitched forward. You could probably get away with deadlifting alright, but since they’re so tall off the ground, I would never bother going heavy in the X1’s.

I’m not saying you absolutely can’t lift in the Nano X1’s, the midsole is actually very responsive and power delivery is good despite having a lot more cushioning that ever before. For most of the weights you’re handling in a WOD, they’re going to be fine. They just aren’t as good as previous Nano’s have been with moving weight, nor what I’d pick as my first choice for barbell cycling days.

Conclusion:

At the end of the day, the Nano X1’s are a good shoe and my favorite Nano to this day for running and bodyweight metcons. They’re just far from favorite shoe to train in overall and I would never pick them as “the last training shoe I’d wear for the rest of my life”, especially since I don’t like lifting in them. I know Reebok’s goal for the X1’s (every year) was to create the most versatile training shoe ever, even if that meant for them to not be the best for lifting, but I could never honestly tell you that the X1’s are a better or more versatile than either the Nano 6 or 8. Those are the standard with what I measure most training shoes up to. With them, I felt like I’d never be ill equipped for any workout, running or lifting.

People will probably make the argument that you have Oly shoes for heavy days, but my counter to that is that most high level Crossfitters don’t use Oly shoes; most of the time or even if at all. In a Crossfit workout, it’s just not practical to be wearing Oly shoes during WODs unless all that’s going on is lifting. Also, if I’m practicing my lifting for WODs, I’d rather practice with what I’d be wearing during my WODs.

With the separation from CrossFit, Reebok shifting the Nano to more of a general fitness direction seems only logical. As a long time Nano fan and Crossfitter, I feel like this shoe wasn’t made for me. If they relabeled it and called it something else, I think it would be a great shoe accessory shoe to go with my Nanos – they just don’t feel like true Nanos to me. Personally, I think Reebok pushed the shoe a little too far in one direction, but with some tweaks, I think the X1’s could actually be the best overall shoe.
Cut the midsole down a touch, decrease the toespring angle, maybe give it a tighter knit upper and I’d be happy. Until then, I’ll anxiously be awaiting for the release of the X2.

You can get your Nano X1 starting 1/29 with Reebok Unlocked for $130 here.

The Good:

  • Great new Flexweave Knit upper material.
  • Floatride Energy adds cushioning without detracting from response.
  • The lightest Nano in a LONG time.

The Bad:

  • Not very good for lifting.
  • Fit is questionable for some people.
  • Can feel a little disconnected from the ground.

The Ugly:

  • Uninspired design.
  • Longer release schedule.
  • Colorways are not very good.

*These shoes were provided to me, by Reebok to review. I didn’t receive any direct monetary payment for reviewing them.

5 comments

  1. Appreciate the honest review, Joel. It’s really too bad that these miss the mark in a market where there are so many excellent training shoes that remain stable for heavier lifts. Hopefully the Metcon 7 will be better than ever this year.

  2. I love the 4s, 6s (agree on the G.O.A.T.) and 9s but I don’t like the 10s. Are the X1 better than the 10 and which nano can you compare it to? I honestly need your opinion before buying one. Thanks!

  3. I mostly workout at F45 which is HIIT based circuit training. We don’t do too much of the Oly lifts as much as we do variations of squats and deadlifts as our “biggest”‘ lifts. Also, except for some hybrid days, the workouts alternate days of purely strength stations and purely cardio stations with cardio days being heavy on plyometrics with the usual burpees, high knees, tuck jumps, mountain climbers, sled pushes, etc. My first nanos were the 8s and loved them for my F45 workouts. Earlier this year I decided to pick up two pairs of the 9s on sale and love them too but felt as though they felt more planted on the ground while the 8s feel more agile. Therefore I’ve gone with my 8s on cardio days and 9s on strength days. Before my 8s get too worn out (and before they are no longer available), I was planning on getting another pair. Curious how you think these X1s would stack up to the 8s given my intended use on cardio days rather than heavy lifting days? Thanks!

  4. I used the new Nano X1 during my HIIT workout and they were very comfortable and I was really liking them and then we were forced to do some burpees and EPIC FAIL. I just about fell flat on my face. They slipped every time I hit the deck. I probably had 2 inches of slippage with every burpee. Sadly I had to send them back. I replaced them with Metcon 6 and those worked like a charm.

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