best crossfit shoes

New Balance Minimus 40 Trainer Review (MX40v1)

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Long before I even got into CrossFit, I somehow got into minimalist shoes. My buddy had gone to REI and picked up a pair of Vibrams, so I followed suit. Back in the globo days, I wore Vibrams and my New Balance Minimus MT20’s religiously. The whole thought process of training your feet to be stronger made a lot of sense to me, even if it was all a hoax at the end of the day. Still, my big takeaway from all that was that cushion was not good for power output; the more “support” you have, the harder it is to exert power to the ground. Since you can’t always actually goto the gym barefoot, you’d want as dense “protection” as possible but not so soft that it would create too much of a barrier between you and whatever you’re pressing against.

In an ideal world, we’d all just be lifting, but in the real world, fitness is multi-faceted. In functional fitness, you have to be able to do anything, at anytime, and that includes running. This introduces a huge issue, comfortable running shoes are bad lifting shoes, and effective lifting shoes are horrible running shoes. Many companies have tried to come up with a solution for both, but most have failed, until now. New Balance has come up with the best blend of comfort and stability in a cross-trainer yet with the Minimus 40, and they don’t look half bad either.

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Looks/Construction:

New Balance had always tended to have an understated look with their shoes and the Minimus 40’s are no exception. Understated does not mean shoes have to be ugly, and while the Minimus 40’s are simple in design, they’re far from ugly. There are no gaudy logos, no crazy prints, and all but just excellent color combinations. The lines of the shoe keep it modern looking without being too silly; these shoes are made to look like they’re actually capable of doing work. One thing that will never change is the unmistakable “N” logo that adorns the side of the shoe. People have said that these shoes look like Metcon 3’s, but in all actuality Metcon’s look like the Minimus 40 since the New Balances came out first.

The uppers found on the Minimus line of training shoes have been decent, but always bit on the thin side. I thought the MT20’s were some of the best constructed shoes I’ve owned. After I retired those, I picked up a pair of MX20v3’s because I thought they looked cool, but they just felt a bit flimsy. Never did I go hard on them because I was always worried they would not stand up to the test of CrossFit. The Minimus 40 brings a refreshed no-sew woven synthetic mesh upper to the Minimus line that not only flexes extremely well, but is comfortable to wear with or without socks, and is resistant to abrasion. Couple that with the flexible Vibram outsole that should be as durable as the upper (though I don’t have any long term durability tests.) and you’ve got a shoe that is nothing less than confidence inspiring for all the rigors of CrossFit training. All the materials are top notch, the shoe actually feels like it’s worth it’s cost now.

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Fit/Comfort:

My original MT20’s were a size 9 and fit like a glove, but I always wore them without socks. Since then, I think my feet have somehow grown a bit from all the squatting I’ve done over the years. My last pair of MX20v3’s were a size 9.5 but did not accommodate my Morton’s toe well, so with the Minimus 40’s, I went up to a size 10. The fit for me is slightly long, but I would say they’re comfortable. If you don’t have Morton’s toe, size them your normal training shoe size. Though New Balance’s offer different width shoes, they generally fit on the more narrow side of things and the Minimus 40’s are no exception. This is something that you might want to take into account if you’re coming from Metcon’s or Nano’s, because those shoes are very wide in comparison. Here are my sizes for comparison:

  • Metcon – 9.5
  • Nano – 10
  • WL Shoes – 9
  • NoBull – 10
  • Chucks – 9
  • Boots – 8.5

Comfort isn’t necessarily one of the things at the top of my list when I look for training shoes; my number one priority is that I’m able to lift efficiently in the shoes. Over the years, my feet have gotten much more tolerant and used to not having any kind of cushion when I run, in fact – I prefer it that way. Call me crazy, but all “support” ends  up doing is make my feet work harder to stabilize when bounding, which causes them to ache. This was a huge problem that I had in the Nike Metcon DSX Flyknit. It still happens to a lesser extent, but I can deal with it as it doesn’t usually set in until late into a workout. That being said, it’s nice to have a little bit of impact deadening so my knees don’t get wrecked afterwards. New Balance’s Rapid Rebound foam makes for an easier ride, and paired with the REVLite heel, the Minimus 40 are firm enough training shoe at the same time.

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Performance:

When I first put on the Minimus 40, I thought to myself “There’s no way I can train in these, they’re too soft!”…how wrong I was. As I mentioned earlier, I judge my training shoes on their ability to be a lifting shoe and usually the more comfortable the shoe, the worse it is to lift in. You might think this too initially, but that’s why we need to try things out, because you never know what you’re gonna get. Though the insole and midsole combination compresses, it doesn’t go down very far due to the low midsole height and fairly solid Vibram outsole. Power delivery is excellent, rivaling even the most stiff soled shoes out there. The insole/midsole might feel a bit squishy, but at the end of the day, stability is almost as good as it is in any of the best training shoes out there. So much so, that I was able to PR my snatch hitting the 225 milestone. I’m not saying the shoes helped me hit that lift, but they certainly didn’t interfere either.

 


With all Minimus shoes, the 40’s are neutral and have a 4mm drop that actually feels flatter than it is. Pair the measley 10oz per shoe weight with the Rapid Rebound midsole and you’ve got one of the most responsive rides in a cross-trainer. New Balance’s claims that the Minimus 40’s are a new approach to training footwear, is entirely accurate as they never become too harsh for running, or too plush for lifting. They’re responsive yet comfortable enough to rebound box jumps, flexible enough for multiple burpees, and a more than stable enough platform that will never let you down when you need to pick up something heavy. I abhor shoes that have too much “support” because it usually ends up with my feet becoming excruciatingly sore after trying to find balance after repeated bounding. My support comes from ground feel, which the Minimus 40 never lack.

Can you run in them? Absolutely, they happen to be now one of my favorite shoes to comfortably do running WOD’s in, all while remaining stable enough to hit lifts in. I prefer neutral runners that don’t force your feet anywhere, so the Minimus 40’s stable, responsive, yet still “plush enough” platform is perfect for me. These are the kind of shoe that you would want to wear for a workout like “Helen”. At the end of the day, they’re still training shoes, if you want to run distances, get some running shoes, but if you’re looking for an all around metcon shoe the Minimus 40’s are one of the best choices. Take notes bigger brands.

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Value/Conclusion:

It’s really hard to tear people away from Nike and Reebok, especially when you’re not typically known as the “cool” brand (Exception: 247’s!). Retailing at around the same price ($120), the Minimus 40’s are definitely worth the look for anyone looking for a great performing and great looking shoe that can pretty much do it all. I’m not keen to giving up any kind of power output for comfort but New Balance has successfully come closer to finding the balance between comfort and rigidity in a fitness shoe to date. I’ve used a lot of shoes, liked a bunch, disliked even more, but I’ll  definitely be using my Minimus 40’s for a long time after this review.

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Reebok CrossFit Nano 7.0 Review

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I almost can’t believe it’s already been seven generations of the Reebok CrossFit Nano. When I started CrossFit, the Nano 2.0 had just been released; at that time I was working out primarily in minimal  shoes. Lucky for me, the theme of CrossFit shoes was minimal, but that didn’t stop me from grabbing a pair of Nano 2.0’s, mainly because they were acutal CF shoes. They were, are, and probably will forever be, my favorite Nano’s. Ever since then, I try not to use shoes not designed for “CrossFit”, even if they are training shoes; mainly because they’re usually not capable of doing all we do proficiently.

CrossFit is an all encompassing fitness regimen, you have to be able to lift, run and jump in them. Being able to balance all the traits is where things get tricky, and few have been able to come close to total solution for a shoe. Though I’ll forever love the Nano 2.0’s, last year when Reebok released the Nano 6.0, they came pretty damned close to putting together the perfect CrossFit shoe, and definitely made it difficult for them to create a follow-up. Surprisingly, Reebok strayed away from Nano 6.0’s with the 7.0’s, not only completely changing the winning formula of the shoe, but also changing the release schedule it had always had. There were a lot of salty people after they found out the Nano 7.0’s would be released in the beginning of January, after they had just gotten 6.0’s for Christmas.

The release of the seventh generation model was met with nothing short of criticism, mainly for their appearance, but also because of the change in release schedule to “undercut” the Metcon. For whatever reason, the Nano 7.0’s are here in January, once again being touted as the best Nano yet (of course they would be), but they’ve got some big shoes to fill, pun intended.

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Looks, Construction & Fit:

Personally, I think people are being a little harsh about the way the Nano 7.0’s look. True, they take a huge departure from the no nonsense styling of the Nano 6.0, but different doesn’t mean bad.  I think the main issue was the launch colorway, which at my box we’ve dubbed “Shoe by the Foot”, because the colors resemble the Fruit by the Foot flavor no one knew they were eating. Since then, more colors have been released and I think people are starting to warm up to them a bit; I think the grey is pretty good looking. When I see the shoe, I think of all the possibilities for colorways, in which the 7’s have quite possibly more options than any Nano before it.

Gone is the Kevlar outer shell and replacing it is the brand new “Nanoweave”. I don’t blame Reebok for not wanting to pay Dupont and going with a proprietary option; I never thought the Kevlar worked well anyways. The texture is rough and has a basket-like weave over a traditional synthetic upper; it feels sturdy enough, but also very stiff. Before you get the shoes broken in, it creates uncomfortable ridges in the toe box area; it takes a few days for them to go away. I’ve never had an issue with durability in Nano’s yet and I don’t think there will be any questions about how well Nano’s hold up any time soon. I did a few rope climbs and the shoes looked as good as new afterwards.

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While the platform largely feels the same as far as width, the Nano 7.0’s are definitely the tallest shoe in the line-up. I don’t know why they chose to go this route, but it doesn’t effect the performance of the shoe much. The heel to toe drop remains the same as it’s always been at 4mm. Inside the shoe, there’s a little bit more arch support compared to the generally flatter, older models. Initially, people were saying that the Nano 7.0’s were more narrow, but I don’t really find this to be the case. I think the stiffness in the upper is what they’re talking about, I measured the shoe at almost identical dimensions as the 6.0. The only one that was off, was the length of the shoe, which the 6.0 was longer. Oddly enough, the 7.0’s feel longer to me, giving me a little bit more room for my Morton’s toe.

For sizing, I would recommend you size the exact same as all of your other Nano’s. Be wary that these ones take more time to break in, but after that they should be fine. My sizing for reference:

  • Nano 6 – 10
  • Nike Metcon – 9.5
  • Adidas Ultraboost/NMD – 10
  • Chucks – 9
  • Weightlifting shoes – 9

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Performance:

In my extremely biased opinion, CrossFit is the most demanding fitness regimen, both mentally and physically. With that, the expectation for functional, durable, and high performing footwear is as equally demanded. Specialization is punished in the grand scheme of fitness, this theology translates into the footwear made for the sport. You could wear weightlifting shoes for stability and power, but you’d be giving up agility. You could wear running shoes, but you’d be giving up stability and power. The key to a great CrossFit shoe is to be able to blend all of the facets of fitness into one. Like every Nano before it, the 7.0’s were designed to handle everything you can throw at it, but they lean further than ever in one direction than ever.

Remember that stiffness we talked about earlier? Well, it’s not just in the upper, the outsole is the most rigid and dense of any Nano as well; probably in part due to the thickness of it. The heel is near in-compressible, making power delivery and landings the best yet. Lateral stability has always been good, but this time it’s excellent with the addition of the new TPU heel cup and the midsole’s new shell. I’ve always thought Nano’s were some of the best platforms for lifting, but the Nano 7.0 really takes the cake. You’ll never second guess a lift or landing because of lack of footing. They’re still flat as can be, so powerlifting movements have never been better; which seeing as how all the powerlifting shoes were discontinued, makes sense now. Personally, I try to not spoil myself by lifting in Oly shoes and the Nano 7.0’s make me not miss them at all.

Where the Nano also shines is the new redesigned outsole pattern and material. Meta-split grooves carry over from the previous models, giving your toes a little more flexibility to splay. The multi-directional tread pattern has been reworked, but I think the tackiness of the outsole is what gives the 7.0’s such sure footing. It’s a little gummy in feeling, compared to the standard rubber on the previous models. You might not notice the Rope-Pro, but it’s there and it is the best version yet. This year, they ditched the traditional spikes for a ribbed pattern across the middle of the outsole, but it does an insanely good job of holding onto the rope when climbing. From asphalt to the platform, the Nano 7.0’s have the best grip yet.

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Lifting, check. Grip and rope climbs, check. Running..?

The Nano 6.0’s were so good because you could actually run in them too.  Sure, there are better running shoes, but none of which you can lift in as well. What makes the 7.0’s such great lifting shoes, makes them horrible running shoes, probably the worst yet. Imagine what running in clown shoes would feel like and you’ve pretty much pictured running in Nano 7.0’s. The overall flexibility and comfort of the shoe took a big hit with the “improvements” to the upper and outsole. I don’t think even the best running coaches could help you efficiently run in the Nano 7.0’s. Even if you pose run, the forefoot isn’t very flexible and the upper is uncomfortable and heel strikers will get wrecked because the heel is so dense. I did a running workout with some snatches in between and my IT bands and TFL’s were wrecked for days afterwards.

Any other type of plyometric exercises are just passable. Thankfully, since the shoes are so rigid, they’re also very responsive. Box jumps felt sure enough, though landings were a little hard. Burpees are a little rough on the way up because of the inflexibility of the shoe. Double unders weren’t bad at all and my plantar fascias never got the “burn” even after a few hundred of them. All things the Nano 7.0 do well, but not nearly as good as it’s predecessor. Weight is so similar it’s almost not even worth noting. I weighed the 7.0’s at 11.8 oz and the 6.0’s at 11.4oz for a men’s size 10.

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Value & Conclusion:

One thing that hasn’t changed, and probably will never change is the price of the shoe. Nano 7.0’s retail for $130 and right now, while the 6.0’s are still for sale, I don’t know if I could recommend them over the less expensive 6.0. What really hurts the Nano 7.0’s is that the 6.0’s were just SO good; I’m talking about one of my favorite pairs of training shoes of all time good. If you’re a powerlifter or globo gym person (both of which probably would’t even be looking at CrossFit shoes), the Nano 7.0’s would be a better performer. Don’t get me wrong, the 7.0’s are still an excellent training shoe, as every Nano was before it. As a complete CrossFit shoe, the Nano 7.0’s are just not as good as the 6.0’s. 

I can appreciate the work that Reebok is continually putting in to make their shoe the best, but I feel like the 7.0’s might have been rushed out a little bit. The enhancements detract too much from the overall experience. Historically, the odd numbers in the Nano line up have been the odd ones out that people don’t really care for, and the even models people love. It’s kind of like when Apple decides to release a new iPhone, but then corrects all the faults with the “S” model. Maybe Reebok has something else in store for this year that might be an alternate model to the Nano line up. As it is right now, the Reebok CrossFit Nano 7.0’s are great lifting shoes, just not the best CrossFit shoes.

Get your Nano 7.0’s here!

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Nike Metcon 3 DSX Flyknit Shoes Review

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***Click here for the Nike Metcon 3 Review***

What if we made a shoe that was flexible enough to run and jump in, but stable enough to cut and lift in? That is exactly what the original Metcon 3 is made to do. So what’s the DSX Flyknit for? Running, jumping, cutting, and lifting. Wait, what? Yes, the DSX is made to do the same thing the normal Metcon’s do, just with more of an emphasis on running or jumping, and less on stability. A revolutionary idea, except that it’s not revolutionary at all since Nike’s been making more soft and flexible training shoes all along; not to mention ones in Flyknit.

Personally, I’ve never found any Metcon or functional fitness shoe uncomfortable for the runs we’re doing in any given metcon, including something like “Helen” or even “Murph”. Let’s be real, the max you’re ever going to be running in a WOD is maybe 3 miles (exception: “Dragon”), in which case isn’t even that long of a run. If running that much really bothers you that much, you could wear a running shoe. I’m sure most running shoes are stable enough to do pull-ups, push-ups, and squats in anyways. What makes the Metcon 3’s so good, is that they’re the one stop solution for everything fitness, but most importantly they’re great lifting shoe; so why sacrifice that with the DSX Flyknit?

Looks & Construction:

Metcon’s have always had a distinctive silhouette and the DSX Flyknits though new in material, share the same iconic design. At launch the only color way is the even more iconic original volt/grey/black scheme from the original Metcon 1 and boy did Nike do that shoe justice. The DSX Flyknit is definitely one of the best functional training shoe designs to come out in a long time. They’ve gone and taken the tried and true design of the Metcon and twisted it around in Flyknit flavoring, without going too overboard. All the lines and colors synergize well with each other and while the shoe is somewhat louder than the original, it’s also refined and never too gaudy.

I was skeptical about how the Flyknit material would hold in a Metcon shoe because typically they’ve never fit me spot on, but Nike’s reinforced Flyknit for the DSX fits like a glove. It’s not too loose like the Flyknit Racers were in some spots, but not overly tight like the 3.0 Free’s were (the only Flyknit shoes I had to compare with), and does an excellent job holding your foot in place. I think that’s also partly due to the extended TPU heel counter found at the rear of the shoe, which extends almost halfway to the front of the shoe.

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Like on the standard model Metcon, you still get the TPU heel clip for handstand push-ups, drop-in midsole (6mm drop), sticky rubber outsole and Flywire lacing system. I can’t comment on durability, because it just hasn’t been long enough. I’m sure the shoes will last the rigors of daily life, but I’m not sure I want to see how these shoes look after a few rope climbs though.

Unfortunately the squeaky insole problem returns in the DSX Flyknits. Yes, I know there are a bunch of Mickey Mouse way’s you can go about fixing this, but that’s not the issue. The real issue is how this isn’t already fixed, 3 generations into a shoe.


Fit:

Though the DSX Flyknit shares the same basic platform of the Metcon 3, the upper provides a more fitted feel. Initially they might feel tighter than what you’re used to, but that’s how it should be. Sizing the DSX Flyknit should be the same as it is your normal Metcon’s. Here are some of my sizes for reference:

  • Metcon 3/DSX – 9.5
  • Nano 6.0 – 10
  • Chucks –  9
  • Weightlifting shoes – 9

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Performance:

Besides the Flyknit exterior, the main difference between the Metcon 3 and the DSX is it’s drop-in midsole. Basically what that does is it makes the Metcon’s a more modular system with interchangeable midsole densities, except that you can’t actually go out and shop for new ones by themselves. To me, the midsole in the Metcon 3 was perfect; it was decently flat with a 4mm drop, dense, flexible, decently comfortable, and most importantly stable. The DSX Flyknit has a 6mm drop, greatly increased forefoot flex grooves, and an added articulated cushioning system for comfort for “more miles and reps”.

Initially when you put the shoes on, you’ll feel a little bit taller than if you were to stand in normal Metcon 3’s and the midsole does a pretty good job holding your body weight up. I was surprised to find that the DSX were more stable than I had thought they would be, until you start to lift. If you’re a seasoned Metcon vet, you’ll immediately notice that the platform of the DSX Flyknit’s are inferior for lifting. It doesn’t take a ton of weight to make the new midsole start to compress; I felt like I was pushing, but going no where when squatting a reasonable weight. Olympic lifts start okay, but landings have you jostling with the shoe for the right position. I still consider 6mm generally flat and the outsole is still as grippy as ever, so those couldn’t be where the DSX falter. At the end of the day, I can forgive the DSX Flyknit’s for being a mediocre lifting shoe, because that’s not their intended purpose.

The DSX Flyknits are lighter than the standard models by an ounce, but also more flexible and generally comfortable to walk around in. I spent the whole day walking around the mall with the DSX on and don’t have any complaints as far as breathability or comfort go; they’re great casual shoes. Once you really start get moving in them is when things change. Running in the DSX Flyknits feels just like it does in normal Metcons with the short runs I’ve done; I’m probably not going to go run a 10k with these shoes on, neither will most people, so that’s not something I’m going to test them with. After a workout with 250 double unders and 75 burpees, but my plantar fascia’s felt like they were on freaking fire. I gave the shoes a pass there because that’s going to be hard on your feet in any shoe, but I got that same feeling after a workout with wall balls, snatches and muscle-ups too. I think the idea is great, but the added cushioning does nothing more than make the shoe less responsive, making your feet work overtime trying to find positions; a problem I’ve never had with the more stable Metcon 3’s.

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Value & Conclusion:

Retailing for $160, the DSX Flyknit’s are not a cheap shoe, definitely not one you’re going to want to thrash. So, if the DSX Flyknit’s are uncomfortable and less stable than the normal Metcon 3, but cost $30 more, what’s the point? As a shoe, they’re awesome to look at, well made, generally okay to lift in – globo’ers will love them…but I think most box goers will find that the normal Metcon 3’s are still the way to go.

A Metcon, made for metcons…

Great idea, except when you’re sacrificing what make’s the Nike Metcon’s such an excellent shoe: their stability. Let’s be clear about this, the DSX Flyknits were never meant to be shoes to replace the original Metcon’s. They’re designed for lighter WOD’s that have an emphasis on running and plyometrics, with occasional lifting thrown in the mix. Which they’re generally okay at, but they’re no better than the normal models and aren’t even all that comfortable for anything other than casual use. If you want to do distance runs, go get a real running shoe. I think the DSX Flyknit’s would be better if they kept the Flyknit upper, but had the normal Metcon 3’s midsole. Which you could switch for yourself if you had both shoes, but most people aren’t going to buy both of them (or you could use your Metcon 1/2 midsoles). If I had to recommend one, it would be the standard Metcon 3, which is lighter, more flexible, and more comfortable than its predecessors.

I value stability in a shoe above all else and typically prefer more minimal platforms. If you’re like me, you probably won’t like the DSX Flyknit’s.

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Nike Metcon 3 Review

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***Click here for the Nike Metcon 3 DSX Flyknit Review***

It seems like just yesterday I received a beautiful package from Nike containing the now antique, the Metcon 1. Since it’s original release, the Metcon has been the biggest thing that’s hit functional fitness since Brooke Wells. For good reason, it is Nike after all.  People were over using their Free’s and begging for Nike to put out a true shoe designed ground up for functional fitness. It wasn’t even that Reebok put out a bad shoe, the Nano’s are quite possibly one of the best designed shoe lines in the history of footwear. To be honest, the only issue that anyone really had with them is that they just weren’t Nike’s.

The original Metcon’s were a great first effort offering amazing stability and response, but they weren’t without their issues. Many suffered from durability issues, heel slippage, and squeaky insoles. All of that wasn’t enough to dissuade anyone, especially me, from stocking up on many of the awesome colorways. Then along came the Metcon 2’s – more like a 1.2 model, meant to address many of the issues that the original shoe had, but in reality, it had failed in doing so. I say failure in the most liberal way because the Metcon 2’s shot Nike from not even being a player in the functional fitness world, to numero uno. In all actuality, the Metcon 2 was a failure because it really didn’t fix the issues that plagued the Metcon 1. Heel slip though lessened, was still there. The overall durability was no better than the last, and that damned squeaky insole was only put off for a little while. Still, they were awesome performing shoes that had the look, and most of all, had the swoosh.

Two years later and were now coming upon the release of the much anticipated Metcon 3. When it was originally leaked, many people weren’t keen to the futuristic look Nike decided to take with the latest model, but it didn’t take long for them to warm up to it. Besides the Romaleos 3, these shoes have definitely been my most requested review of the year, as the previous versions were before it. So what exactly have we been holding our breath for? Was it worth the wait? Is it worth upgrading over the previous models?

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Looks/Construction:

If you were to take a quick glance at someones feet wearing the Metcon 3’s, you probably wouldn’t notice they were a different shoe than the two before it. Granted, the 3’s look the most different than the previous models, they still definitely have the Metcon appearance. Though the upper looks a little different, the lines of the shoe generally remain in the same spots but synergize a bit better due to the redesigned material. While it may look like the 3’s have a knit type material for the upper, the feel is very reminiscent of the thermal wrap found on the 2’s, just to a lesser degree. What it makes for, is a much more sock like feel and pliable upper. The ballistic nylon that was once only found in the toebox is seemingly fused with the thermal wrap and extends all the way from the font to the back of the shoe, slightly reinforced in areas like at the toe and where the rope would make contact. Flywire lacing system makes it’s return and as always provides a nice fit when tightened adequately.

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Durability issues of the Metcon 2’s were mainly due to the upper being so rigid. Most of the time you would see the instep part of the upper starting to crack after multiple rope climbs, or even the thermal wrap coming unglued from the mesh. Since the 3’s have the mesh and thermal wrap fused together, it’s a lot lighter and flexible feeling. This should alleviate issues with the cracking, but only time will tell.  The insole also resembles the original model’s insoles, but now features redesigned flex groove and is ever so slightly thinner. About that squeaky heel, as we know from experience, the 1’s squeaked right away, while the 2’s had to develop it. The bottom of the insole is now a little more tacky feeling, but I have a feeling that over time as moisture builds up in your shoe, it will wear the bottom of the insole out. Maybe it will or maybe it won’t squeak, that’s another thing I’ll have to report back with in a few.

Gone is the hexagonal tread pattern of the outsole and in place is a triangular webbed pattern that is much more pronounced. The material that the outsole was made of remains the same despite the change in tread pattern, but now offers more flexibility. Overall the shape is more narrow than the previous models, most notably in the midfoot, but not so much that I would say the shoe is narrow; it’s still very much a wide training shoe.  The height of the midsole stack also seems to be a little bit shorter, giving you a closer to the ground feel. At the rear of the shoe you’ll find the return of a more well disguised TPU heel clip that’s now matte in texture. New to the 3’s are the TPU heel “cups” found externally on the sides of the rear that help stabilize your foot laterally.

Build quality is mainly what you’d expect from a Nike shoe. The Metcon 3’s are very well put together and feel suited to take on just about anything you can throw at it. Interestingly enough, my blackout models have quite a bit of oversprayed glue, which isn’t a huge deal, but does detract from the sleekness of the shoe a tad. I’m sure this has to do with the previous model’s laces not staying tied, but the laces that come with the Metcon 3 are just plain cheap feeling. I’d gladly take the ones of old and just tighten them up a bit more.

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Fit:

If you’re coming from any of the previous iterations, just go ahead and size the 3’s the same unless you were on the extremely tight side. Remember that the 3’s are slightly more narrow, though the length of the shoe remains the exact same. People with Morton’s toe shouldn’t have to worry about having to size up either, as the shape of the Metcon’s toe box accommodates your second toe well.  Here’s a sizing chart of what I wear, so you can kind of get an idea of how you should size your Metcon 3’s:

  • Metcon 1/2/3 – 9.5
  • Nano – 10
  • Inov-8 – 10
  • Chucks –  9
  • Speed TR – 9
  • Nike Free – 10
  • Romaleos – 9

Another variance that I’ve noticed between my two pairs of shoes is that the blackout’s fit a little more snug and have less heel slip than my grey/volts. If you’re at the store buying them, you might want to try on a few pairs before pulling the trigger on them.

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Performance:

In my opinion, the Metcon 2’s (and originals), though technically designed for all facets of fitness, were the best training shoe for pure lifting. I’ve hit numerous PR’s with both models, including a 515lb sumo deadlift and very narrowly missing a 225lb snatch, so I will usually grab my Nike when I know I need to lift big. What made them excellent lifting shoes also made them a little hard on the feet when it came to plyometric movements. Honestly, it’s a give and take with training shoes; you just can’t have it all. If you want better power delivery, you’re usually sacrificing flexibility, and vice versa. The key is to find the balance between the two, and I think Nike has come the closest out of any training shoe with the Metcon 3.

Squatting is the foundation of everything we do, so if I can’t squat in a shoe, I really have no use for that shoe.  The Metcon 2’s were arguably my favorite squatting shoe of all time. Sure, they are not the most minimal or shoe closest to the ground, but they are plenty flat, stable, and offer excellent energy rebound. I’ve been doing a lot of squatting in Olympic weightlifting shoes lately with the Legacy and Position’s, but I don’t miss them one bit because squatting in the M3’s feels just as good, if not better. As a functional fitnesser, my mantra is to always be able to use what’s available at the time; you’re not always going to have time to change into oly shoes after all. The M3’s manage to keep up with the best oly shoes, but also outshines the previous models because of the TPU heel counters. Lateral stability is far greater than it was in the M2’s and you never get a feeling of spilling out of the sides of your shoe.

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Once again, historically Metcon’s have been my favorite shoes to do Olympic lifts in. Nano 6.0’s had a really impressive showing earlier this year, easily becoming my favorite training shoe because they were so responsive; that is, until I tried the Metcon 3’s out. Power delivery is excellent and the sloping outsole makes for a shoe that translates power well throughout the entire pull when weightlifting. Honestly, the way I would call it between the two shoes is a draw, they’re both equally just as good as the other with the Nano’s having a slightly more minimal platform with better ground feel and the M3’s guiding your feet better with an insole with greater energy return. It just comes down to preference as it’s just too close to call here, but stability would have to go to Nano’s for having a flatter base, but interestingly enough, rowing in the Metcon 3’s feels better due to the shape of the outsole. Compared to the Metcon 2, you lose out a little bit in forward stability, but gain in lateral and heel stability. The reduction in weight and width in the toe area doesn’t really hurt the overall stability much. Also, the drop remains the same as it’s always been as the original models and the 2’s at 4mm.

According to my scale the M3’s come in the lightest at 11.15 oz, followed by the M2’s at 11.57 oz, and the Nano 6.0’s barely being the heaviest at 11.61 oz. My Nano’s are a men’s size 10 and my Metcon’s are both size 9.5.

Since the upper is much more flexible and the redesigned outsole pattern allows for greater flex than it’s previous counterparts, moving around in the M3’s is much more comfortable; an area that the Metcon’s were notoriously bad at. Typically with repetitive jumping movements, my plantar fascia region will develop a burning sensation, but that hasn’t been the case with the M3’s. Speaking of which, all of the jumping movements feel extremely natural in the Metcon 3’s, making more than half of what we do as fitness-ers much easier. That’s in part due to the redesigned outsole having a more pronounced slope up from the midfoot to the toe and the the flexibility being heightened. Since it’s been cold and rainy outside I haven’t done a ton of running, but agility drills felt excellent due to the toe shape and flexibility. I’d imagine that running still will not be the Metcon 3’s strong suit since the outsole is still fairly ridid, but that’s what the DSX Flyknits are for! Beware, the previous models were pretty forgiving if you had the tendency to lean forward on your toes, but the M3’s are not quite as much due to the new shape.

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I never really understood the need to have the TPU heel clip for handstand push-ups. Other than doing strict handstand push-ups, your feet should almost never drag up the wall. With the Metcon 2’s, I never really noticed the heel clip ever sliding and if anything it would actually stutter up the wall. Doing handstand push-ups in the M3’s felt a little better since the material of the TPU is less tacky, but I never noticed any kind of enhanced smoothness with my kipping. Another area I noticed the M3’s lacking in are sadly, rope climbs. I’ll usually baby my new shoes, but since I know I’m going to get a ton of inquiries about this, I just went for it. It was embarrassing how many times I lost my footing trying to coach rope climbs. Spanish wrap or j-hook, it didn’t matter, the rope slid right through my feet almost every time. I didn’t think the M3’s would falter so hard in this area since the outsole reaches up quite a bit more. I’ll keep trying, maybe the outsole needs a bit of wear before it starts to grab the rope better.

Value:

So why spend double, when you can get a fully functional pair of Metcon 2’s or Nano 6.0’s for almost half the price? Mainly social & brand recognition. That’s not to say the Metcon 3’s are a bad pair of shoes, they’re actually excellent training shoes and definitely one of my favorite picks. The previously aforementioned are still some of the best training shoes of all time and you’re currently able to pick them up for about half the price of Metcon 3’s. Why wouldn’t you want to go with that? It comes down to appearance, sometimes fit, social proof, or because one doesn’t have a swoosh on the side. I will admit that Metcon’s are easily the better looking shoe, and always have been, though the Nano 6.0’s aren’t an ugly pair of shoes.

In my opinion, the Metcon 3’s are an excellent pair of shoes, but they don’t do anything drastically different that what’s already out there. Unless your pair of Metcon 2’s, or even 1’s, were falling apart, you don’t necessarily need to upgrade your shoes. The enhancements are fairly incremental, and the overall feel isn’t that much different than the previous iterations. If for some reason you don’t like the way Nano’s fit your feet (the m3’s are narrower), then you might want to look into some Nike’s. Any way you cut it, the Nike Metcon 3’s  are still some of the finest training shoes on the market, and quite possibly the only true competition for the Reebok Nano’s. If you certainly must have the Metcon 3’s or you’re in dire need of an upgrade, the latest version of Nike’s Metcon are the most well rounded iteration of the shoe yet and you definitely will not be disappointed with them.

You can currently purchase the Nike Metcon 3’s on Amazon.com or Zappos.com, but the actual launch date is January 6th for the normal model and 2nd for the DSX Flyknit.

Now what about those DSX Flyknit’s…

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Position USA Blue Suede Shoes 2.1 Review

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It seems like just yesterday I was writing the review for one of my favorite pairs of WL shoes of the year, the Position USA Blue Suede Shoes. I loved them, they worked well for me and I really had no issues lifting in them except that the pair I got was a bit too big for me. Most of all, they were arguably the coolest pair of weightlifting shoes on the market. Just as I put out that review, Position announced the Blue Suede Shoe 2.1, a version of their shoe that was slightly updated. Enhancements included a slightly higher heel, a more fitted feel, and a Vibram outsole. Being a big fan of the 2.0’s, I was skeptical about just how much better they could make their shoe. There has been a ton of requests for this review and it’s taken me 6 months to get my hands on a pair, but they’re finally here, so let’s get started.

Looks/Construction/Fit:

Despite the changes, the main points that distinguish the Blue Suedes are still here: suede-leather upper construction, hand carved wood heel, and the sexy blue color scheme. To the untrained eye, you wouldn’t even be able to visibly tell the difference between the two former and latter. The entire shoe remains the same in appearance with the only major changes being on the medial strap and the heel being stained a darker color. I have absolutely no issues with this, the looks were probably the main selling point of the original shoes and they still remain one of the strongest points of the Blue Suedes. The inclusion of a darker stained heel makes for an even classier look. For those looking for a not so “out there” color scheme, Position is releasing their “Redford” and “Eastwood” models in January.

From the wood heels being carved and stained to the uppers being sewn together, each pair is hand crafted and takes over a day’s work of labor to finish. Since the Blue Suedes are made in smaller batches versus your commercially mass produced shoes, there’s a story behind each one.  You’ll notice this in how not often certain sizes are in stock, but unfortunately also in the construction of the shoe, maybe the person that was making my shoes was just having a bad day. There are hot spots inside of the shoe where the metatarsal joints are, both on top and under the insole. On top it comes from where the tongue meets the toe box area, and on bottom it feels like its from the upper being stitched under the insole.  I usually have issues with my right foot rubbing in this area since I have a bunion, but with the P2.1’s it’s in the left shoe.  Oddly enough the majority of the fit issues are in my left shoe, though the right shoe suffers the same to some degree.

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Other issues include the logo already fraying and becoming un-stitched from the tongue, the loop for the medial strap not staying in place only on the right shoe, and the straps and laces being much longer than they need to be. The most alarming issue is that it feels like the heels are coming loose. I noticed this straight away when going to remove my left shoe, which once again is worse than my right shoe. You could alleviate this issue by not pulling your shoes off by the heels (totally normal to do though), but this shouldn’t be happening; I’ve never run into an issue like this with any of my lifters and I don’t remember it happening with the P2.0’s. It doesn’t feel like the heels are going to fall off anytime soon, but that’s not a good sign for lasting durability.

Like all Olympic lifting shoes, you’re going to want to make sure you size down half from your normal training shoes. While the P2.1’s have a slightly narrower fit than the P2.0s, I wouldn’t say that it’s enough to warrant going half a size up. The suede they use is fairly supple and should stretch a little bit over time. When I tried these on at the CrossFit Games I was worried they’d be too snug, but the pair that I have fits well, aside from the hot spots. Make sure you lace up tightly because you might get a bit of heel lift otherwise.

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Performance:

Fit and construction issues aside, the P2.1’s remain one of my preferred pairs of lifting shoes. Picking weight up has never been as fun as it is in the Position’s. Having just reviewed the Legacy Lifters, anything feels like a feather compared to them (20.03oz). According to my scale, the Positions weigh in at 16.37oz, only slightly higher than the leading shoes in weightlifting, the Nike Romaleos and Adidas AdiPowers. Moving your feet isn’t an issue, and the forefoot flexibility is actually much better than the popular picks probably because of the supple suede.

The greatest change to the P2.1’s is the decision to go from a .85″ heel to a 1″ effective heel; the majority of the weightlifting shoes fall into the 3/4″ category, .85″ included. The only other shoe I’ve tested with as high a heel was the Adidas Leistung’s, in which I wasn’t a huge fan of for cleaning because I felt the tendency to catch forward in them. Something about the way the heel to toe drop is more gradual in the P2.1’s makes me not have this issue to the same degree as the Adidas shoes. Cleans always feel more forward in shoes with a heel but front squats felt as right they do in other Olympic lifting shoes. I typically receive snatches in a very upright torso position to compensate for my shoddy thoracic mobility, and the P2.1’s one inch heel increases my ability to do so, which helps me out big time. Heel height is subjective and very debatable, but I haven’t had any issues with the 1″ heel of the P2.1’s. Typically, I would recommend a higher heel for those with longer femurs and/or crappy ankle dorsiflexion.

EDIT: Trying on multiple pairs of weightlifting shoes side by side and finding that the Postitions feel lower, prompted me to go back and actually go measure the difference between the toe and the heel of the P2.1’s. What I came back with interestingly is that the difference is actually 16mm or .63″. The actual heel itself is 1″ or the stated 2.54cm. Theres no real way to measure accurately, but according to these approximate measurements, there is no way the shoes can be an effective 1″ heel. This is probably why I was able to lift proficiently in the Positions compared to most shoes with a 1″ heel.


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Since the heel is also elevated more than normal Oly shoes, I have an easier time keeping my toes down throughout my extension; rocking back to my heels is a bad habit I have. Jumping feels natural and since the shoes are so responsive, I can move my feet with ease. The Vibram rubber outsole is extremely dense and paired with the wooden heel, should give you perfect power delivery with every lift. I was very excited to hear that one of the upgrades was the Vibram outsole, but there’s no pattern to it so the grip isn’t a huge upgrade over previous P2.0 – bummer. The insoles are also pretty anemic, as they are on most oly shoes, but at least they’re removable so you can swap them out with any orthotics.

While weightlifting is a joy in the P2.1’s, I recommend that’s what you stick to in the Blue Suedes. Just to test, I did a WOD which consisted of heavy power cleans and ring dips. While the shoes performed excellent during the ring dips, I had issues quickly setting myself into a low enough position to rep out the power cleans, so I ended up using my back for a lot of them. That and while the shoes are flexible, they aren’t flexible enough to be doing WOD’s in, so the plantar fascia burn was real.  Stick to weightlifting and squats where you can set yourself up better, in the P2.1’s.

Did I mention the P2.1’s make the absolute most bad ass sound when you stomp?!


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Value:

At $190, the P2.1’s fall in line with pretty much every pair of good weightlifting shoes out there. You really have to ask yourself if the style is for you, and if you would benefit from a 1″ heel. With a bit of practice, the 1″ heel could definitely be your ally; just look at the Chinese weightlifting team. Even if blue isn’t your color, you now have the option to go with a black/red or white/black color scheme. I’ve asked what other differences there were between the shoes and it’s just the color and some materials used, otherwise they’re all the same.

You could always opt for a mass produced technologically advanced lifting shoe like everyone else, but Position USA created the Blue Suede Shoes for those that march to the beat of their own drum. With that in mind, they’ve created something that actually feels special to wear, though I’m not getting rid of my Legacy’s anytime soon. Construction shortcomings aside, the Blue Suede Shoes are still one of my favorite pairs to lift in, because there’s just an undeniable badassery you attain from having them on.

http://positionusa.com

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