Nike Metcon 7 Review

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Redesigns are always met with the harshest criticisms.

I, for one, have been found to be guilty of this in the past. When drastic change happens, we tend to want to push back against it; it’s only human to do so. Humans are a creature of habit after all. Change isn’t always good, it’s not always bad either, but in the case of the Metcon 7, it’s great.

I always reiterate this everytime a redesign comes out, but it’s worth knowing that most shoe life cycles last 2 years on the same tooling. Which is why you always see redesigns on the odd numbered shoe; which is also why most people tend to like the even numbered ones better. They’re basically taking the shoe and fixing everything that was wrong with it. Think of it like how Apple updates the iPhone every other year with their “S” models.

Construction:

This years redesign is the most drastic out of all the years in the past. The drop-in midsole, what used to separate the Metcon flagship from every other training shoe, has been done away with. Now we have a more traditional shoe design with a built in midsole and normal insole; orthotic users rejoice. Interestingly enough, that even with all the drastic changes, the upper material comes from the ever so loved Free X Metcon 1; a shoe that’s almost 3 years old now. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, the chain-link upper mesh was (and still is) comfortable, breathable, flexible, and durable. I still see Free X Metcon’s being abused on people til this day so it’s no wonder that Nike went with a tried and true upper material for the 7’s.

Since this is their flagship model, there are a few more additions to the chain-link mesh that give it more structure over the Free’s. On the lateral side, there are overlays that blend into the swoosh, not to mention the raised outsole sidewalls for both foot containment and rope grip/protection. The tip of the toebox has polyurethane on top for some added protection, aptly but hilariously named “toe-skin” on Nike’s customizer. The synthetic heel area is also customizable but isn’t called “heel-skin”, womp womp.

On the medial side of the shoe, you’ll find the most controversial design choice of the Metcon 7, the extended rope guard that rises up through the height of the shoe. The rubber material seems to be transparent on every colorway, but that doesn’t stop it from being jarring to look at for the first few passes. If I’m being honest, I really don’t think anyone does enough rope climbs to warrant such a huge part of the shoe’s design to be dedicated to something like that, but after a few climbs, I had a change of heart. If it looks stupid, but it works, it’s not stupid.

One of my favorite design choices of the Metcon 7’s might sound trivial to some, but after using the Nano X1’s for a bit and coming to these, you’ll also find the secured tongue is vastly superior. It stays exactly where it should be, you never have to adjust it or pull it back into place and it’s just overall more comfortable around the front part of your ankle. Even though the Metcon 5/6 was secured too, I found that it was a little tall and ended up rubbing. The 7’s tongue also has another cool trick in that it has a tab that can be folded down or up over your laces and secured with velcro, to prevent your knot from being untied. Unfortunately, the laces on the 7’s are the same exact ones found on the 5/6’s, which are prone to coming untied. Keep practicing that double knot, y’all.

An area of questionable durability right now seems to be the medial side lace loops – I’ve already seen issues where the tabs are pulling away from the upper. My guess is that it’s because that’s the side with the rubber medial guard. Since it’s a stiffer material, it’s going to want to resist being pulled, so maybe take it easy when pulling those laces tight.

On to the biggest change of the Metcon 7, the midsole material and design. As mentioned earlier, the 7’s have a traditional built in midsole using Nike’s E-TPU material, React. Typically, React and other E-TPU midsoles have been traditionally thought of as materials that provide soft cushioning with high energy return. Sometimes this is true, but React can be shaped and formed depending on application – in this case, it’s more responsive and dense, but still provides excellent shock absorption. When you first put your feet inside the Metcon 7’s, you’ll noticed some good underfoot cushioning from the insoles, if you remove those, you’ll find that the 7’s are actually very firm in just about every area besides the toes, which is just slightly more forgiving. These shoes aren’t soft by any means, but I still find them to be comfortable and way more consistent feeling than the previous versions.

What really helps stabilize the base of the 7’s, is the redesigned “Hyperlift”; previously the inserts that were included to give you a higher drop for increased ROM, they’re now hard TPU heels built into the shoe. What you have now is basically a weightlifting shoe, without the heel height and more cushioning over the heel – that’s probably over-simplifying it but thats the gist. If you’ve ever tried to run in lifters, you’d know that it’s a miserable experience; since these are training shoes, the Hyperlift here has an open design so that it can torsionally flex when it’s under load, but also resist compression when it’s directional (i.e. top to bottom). It’s not just a little piece of plastic either, it’s pretty massive, stretching from the very back of the shoe for use as the heel clip, to the middle as a semi mid-foot shank.

The outsole rubber on this model is THICC, noticeably more so than the previous generations. It feels much more rugged and stickier than before, probably since it doesn’t really need to flex as much. It includes breaks in it all throughout the forefoot so you have dedicated flex points that relieve some pressure from the back part of the rubber. The problem about the old one piece outsole was that the rubber would just stop flexing and you’d get heel slip. So far I haven’t noticed any unnecessary heel slip with this model.

There had been some worrisome grumblings throughout the community about the higher drop of the Metcon 7 – I too was worried about this. It may very well be higher than before, but I don’t notice it, to me it feels like a normal 4mm drop or flatter. It could possibly be 6 or 7mm, but I’d usually notice that pretty quickly so I’ll go on record and say it’s still the same 4mm until someone from Nike tells me otherwise. In the case of the Nano X1 having a 7mm drop, that wasn’t it’s only problem, the toespring angle was shaped to resemble a running shoe for better toe-off. The 7’s toe angle feels flatter and I’ve never noticed an issue with being pitched overly forward.

Some praise the 7’s for being lighter than the 5/6’s, which is technically correct, but when I measured them, they were only very slightly less heavy. I clocked a size 10 at 12.5oz/354g compared to 12.9oz/365g of the 6. Yes they’re lighter, but not a difference that I would consider meaningful. That kind of difference can vary from your left and right shoe.

When it comes to appearance, initially, I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the design choices – mainly the jagged swoosh that sometimes blends into the side walls and of course, the rope guard. After spending some time with the shoes in person, you get used to all of that. If you’re on the fence about the way they look, just get them and use them for a little – I promise you’ll learn to love the looks.

Fit:

Like most of Nike’s training shoes, Metcon 7’s fit more on the snug side initially, but after some wear, break in and become comfortable. At least that was my experience with these. Unlike the React Turbos and Free Metcon 4’s that stay more on the snug side, the Metcon 7’s open up and become about as wide as the Metcon 6’s. Not exactly as wide, but close.

I went with my normal training shoe size, despite hearing of them running small, and I’m happy that I took the time to break them in rather than sending them back for initially being snug. However, I will say that they were never uncomfortably so. If yours are at that point, you might need to go with a half size up.

My sizes for reference:

  • React Turbo – 10, was snug initially, still more snug that 7’s.
  • Metcon 6 – 10, never snug, more space in the toebox than 7’s.
  • Free Metcon 4 – 10, almost the same fit as React Turbo.
  • Nano X1 – 10 fits with a lot of room, had to size down to 9.5. Metcon 7 fits somewhere in between.
  • Nano X – 10, similar fit to Metcon 7.

I think people with wide, flat feet should be fine in the M7’s as well. They’re a very neutral shoe with very little going on inside at the arch. If you’re very wide footed, you probably size up anyways, so just go with that and break them in.

Running/Plyometric Performance:

The Metcon name used to be synonymous with shoes to stay away from if you wanted to run. Not so much anymore since the 5/6’s included a very forgiving dual density midsole that was very cushioned. I personally thought running in those was fine for most of the runs you’d find in a typical Crossfit workout. Now, with the inclusion of React foam, the promise is we have an even more forgiving training shoe to run in – right? I guess, kind of.

If you’re a midfoot/forefoot striker, honestly like most of us that wear training shoes have adjusted to be, I think you’ll really like running in the 7’s. The forefoot has enough cushioning and flexibility to be comfortable run most of the runs you’ll see in a WOD. Are we talking running shoe comfort? Absolutely not, but if you’ve ran in any previous Metcon, you’ll be able to suck it up and run in these too and you probably won’t mind it. If you gave me a very running heavy workout, I’d still give the edge to Nano X1’s, but chances are I’d still rather wear Metcon 7’s anyways because they’re better in just about every other way, and they’re not bad to run in at all.

If you’re a very heavy heel striker, you’re going to absolutely hate running in the 7’s. You might be the only people that actually hate the 7’s in general, because that Hyperlift can make these shoes feel just as clunky as ever. It’s supposed to be able to flex, but when I tried to stomp down on it and cause it to bend, I couldn’t get it to budge and instead the shoe would just pop open around the ankle. Overall, I’d consider both the Metcon 5/6 or React Turbos to still be the better shoes to run in and especially if you’re a heel striker. Luckily for me, that’s not how I walk or run, but consider that a warning for those that do.

When doing burpees, you’re going to really notice the redesigned platform of the shoe. No more digging your toes into the ground to pop-up only to have the back of your shoe pop off. The forefoot bends easily and the rubber at the toe grips the ground very well to help you get back on your feet. Double unders are met with the same comfort – the cushioned but responsive React foam in the forefoot is comfortable for long sets without feeling like you’re going to lose track of your bounding rhythm.

I expect the same story to be had with box jumps, but unfortunately that’s not something I can test right now because I was being a dummy and didn’t warm up enough the other day when power snatching. Something happened to my knee and I’m just staying away from harder impacts like rebounding box jumps.

Like I mentioned earlier, you may hate the way the rope guard looks, but after one climb, you’re going to love the way it performs. Traction going up the rope is excellent and it’s very easy to place where the rope is supposed to be. Coming down, there actually might be too much grip depending on how you normally slide down the rope. I noticed that if I kept my feet close together, there would be too much friction and the rope would get caught; the fix I found for this was to spread my feet further apart and feed the rope through my feet like normal.

Stability/Lifting Performance:

I’ll be honest, when people were talking about these shoes being more geared towards “everything”, I was a little worried that Nike followed suit with what Reebok did with the Nano X1. Metcon’s to me have typically been my favorite heavy lifting training shoe in the past and I really couldn’t imagine that changing. Luckily, it hasn’t.

Whenever anyone mentions adding an E-TPU into a shoe, the immediate reaction is that it’ll be soft like a running shoe. Like we saw with the Metcon React Turbo’s, the application decides how soft or firm the material will be. Since that and the Metcon 7’s are training shoes, they’re going to be more on the firm side. Still, the React Turbos had a little give to them, not enough to really detract from most lifts you’re doing, but enough to make you think twice about using them for PR weights. That’s not a feeling I get when using the 7’s, these are bonafide PR shoes.

The redesigned Hyperlift heel makes lifting in the 7’s a very enjoyable experience. Never do you ever get the feeling like there’s a lift that you wouldn’t be able to do. I’ve never squatted over 405 in anything besides lifters and I probably wouldn’t have attempted in the softer React Turbos or Metcon 5/6 (3/4 probably). The first day I took the Metcon 7’s out to play, I put up a 415 backsquat, most I’ve done in a few months and also at a lighter body weight. I also did 395 for a double, 375 for a triple and the only thing that I noticed is that the forefoot does give a little bit, which is expected but not as dull feeling as the 5/6. Not as much compression overall as the previous Metcons or Turbos either. The heel might have a layer of React foam on top of it, but the actual Hyperlift unit is not compressing under loads I’m doing, nor does it even flex. We’re talking Oly shoe levels of stiffness.

What I absolutely hated about the Nano X1’s was that it was almost impossible to keep both your heels and your toes down at the same time; partly due to the 7mm drop but mainly the toespring angle. This made doing Olympic weightlifting movements especially awkward because you’d rock back and forth through the extremes. That’s not a problem I’ve ever come across with the new Metcons. Keeping your toes grounded throughout the pulls feels as normal as it did in any previous Metcon before, without being pulled off your heels like that Nano’s.

If the 7’s had a higher drop, I would have surely noticed it deadlifting, but that just wasn’t the case. I think I’m in-tune with this lift enough to notice myself getting pulled forward from doing it in something that has a higher drop. Doing deficit singles, I felt as planted as I ever have in any shoe I would deadlift in. The other day I pulled 535 in Metcon 4’s, a couple day’s ago I pulled 455 from a 3″ deficit in the 7’s and didn’t notice much difference in body placement other than being higher off the ground. If it bothered me even a little, knowing myself, I would have probably swapped my shoes out (IG knows that too).

When comparing the heel’s contact area between the 5/6 and 7’s, you’ll see a very apparent change in width. Thankfully they also kept the heel geometry roughly the same; one of my favorite aspects of Nike’s current training shoes is that they have outriggers that come out of each sides of the heels. The flat contact heel of the 7’s is noticeably bigger than before, I’d say roughly at least 10% bigger. That would explain why you feel so grounded in these shoes when landing or pushing through your heels for a deadlift. The fun doesn’t stop there, since the heel clip is part of the Hyperlift that’s just widened out, it doesn’t look like an afterthought anymore and actually works in helping you slide up the wall for handstand push-ups.

Conclusion:

When new shoes come out, it’s easy to get caught up in hype and say “it’s the best one yet”, but this time around, they really are. All of the upgrades and features they’ve included in the Metcon 7’s come together cohesively to be what I’d consider the best all around CrossFit shoe ever made up to now. Prior to the 7’s release, I probably would have said the Nano 6 would have held that crown. They were excellent, comfortable, do it all CrossFit shoes with the only flaw being that they weren’t the best shoes to lift in. While Metcon 7’s aren’t as comfortable overall as either of those, they easily take the cake when it comes to lifting while still being plenty comfortable for running and responsive for plyometrics.

Are they the perfect shoe? No shoe ever is, but it also comes down to personal preference and what you value most. For CrossFit, the Metcon 7’s are about as close as it gets to excellence in every area without sacrificing close to anything at all for training use.

I know right now, there’s a lot of negativity in the community aimed at the Metcon 7 for their “utilitarian” design, but you have to keep in mind that all of those things are actually useful. If you’re looking for a shoe that just works, probably better than anything else does, you absolutely NEED a pair of Metcon 7’s.

Get your Metcon 7’s here. (releasing soon)

The good:

  • After break-in, they fit like a glove.
  • Stable as hell.
  • React foam adds responsiveness and comfort without detracting from anything.

The bad:

  • The laces.
  • Possible durability issues.
  • Jacked up USA launch.

The ugly:

  • The medial rope guard.
  • Why is there no official word on the drop?

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