fitness

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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Inov-8 F-Lite 235v2 (Late 2016)

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With all the talk about Nano this, Metcon that, it’s easy for Inov-8 to get overshadowed by the bigger companies. The grand papi of minimalist training shoes, and really the first functional fitness shoe (besides Vibrams), Inov-8 just keeps on chugging along making great trainers that often get overlooked because their marketing budget just isn’t quite as big as the other giants. They’re still producing the widely loved and well regarded 195, which you can find being worn in many boxes to this date. The 195 was a workhorse of a shoe that just did everything right, without any fancy bells or whistles.  Sure, it has it’s share of shortcomings, but if you wanted flexible, comfortable, minimal and lightweight, the 195 is the shoe to get…well…until Inov-8 brought out the 235.

Last year’s model of 235’s took Inov-8’s training shoe know how and upped it 100%. Many issues that plagued their previous training shoes were addressed, and it was one of the finest training shoes I had ever used. The 250 was a spin on the 235’s, and ended up being one of my favorite training shoes of the year. Fresh off the press, the 235v2’s look to up the ante by improving on everything that made the 235’s excellent to make a play for the title of the best functional fitness shoe.

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Looks/Construction/Fit:

Quite possibly the only thing that’s going to prevent the 235v2’s from being a star in the functional fitness world, are it’s hate it or love it looks. Personally, I don’t hate the way the shoes look, but I don’t love them either. I can appreciate them trying to do something different with the styling, which to be honest, is pretty true to Inov-8’s standards. Most people are not going to see it the way that I do and will go for one of the more “safe” choices. The actual silhouette of the shoe isn’t awful, but some of the colorways don’t quite get along with the lines of the shoe. The grey/blue/black scheme that I got is definitely the best of the bunch and I have gotten compliments on it. Though I have heard quite the opposite about some of the others. This can easily be remedied down the line, as Inov-8 usually does this and then adds in more “safe” colorways later on.

The F-Lite 235 is a completely new shoe designed specifically for functional fitness, but it still carries on the creed of the 195, with enhancements for today’s athletes. Sporting the new “Standard” fit, the 235v2’s has a wider base and much denser heel for stability during lifts. A well known issue with the 195’s was the durability; a few rope climbs and you’d see some pretty substantial damage to the shoe. Inov-8 added the Rope-Tec guard a little bit later on in the 195’s life, but honestly it didn’t do a ton to fix the issue as you couldn’t always count on the rope being in that exact spot. The redesigned 360 Rope-Tec system now carries onto the 235v2’s upper and with the inclusion of the much denser outsole, provide excellent tracking and durability against rope climbs.

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On the feet, the 235v2’s feel just as well built as any of the top fitness shoes on the market. You can definitely feel the solidity of of the Powerheel, but also how incredibly flexible the new “AdapterFit” technology upper is. During movement the upper conforms to your foot and provides one of the most natural feeling shoe experiences around. Upon entering the shoe, you’ll notice the midfoot “hug” from the Met-Cradle, which provides a more customized fit in the midfoot. Also new to the 235v2’s is the external heel counter that was present in the 250’s, working hand in hand with the Powerheel to up the shoe’s stability.

The flat laces are more dense but have the tendency to become untied unless you really tighten them up. Another slight annoyance is that the toe area of the shoes have a tendency to attract dirt and marks that take a little more than water to wipe away; nitpicking here, but it drives my clean shoe OCD crazy.

This time around, I went with a size 10 compared to my normal size of 9.5. I’ve been finding myself needing to size up lately as deep into workouts, my feet have the tendency to swell and my toes jam up into the front of them. The front toe guard is kind of a double edge sword here: it’s gives extra protection when doing burpees, but if you’ve got Morton’s toe like me, it’s inability to flex will end up smashing your second toe. Only an issue I had deep into workouts with the 250’s, but isn’t an issue with my size 10 235v2’s. The fit is comfortable and never feels too big, so consider going up half a size ONLY if your second toe is longer than your big toe.


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Performance:

Zero drop.

The 235v2’s are FLAT, just the way I like it. Since the fall of “minimal” shoes happened (Vibram?), there hasn’t been a ton of zero drop shoes on the market. Personally, I like to do everything in flat shoes, and the flatter the better; granted this might not be the same for everyone, especially those with poor mobility. Is this a huge departure from the popular training shoes on the market? Nope, most of them have a 4mm drop, which is pretty darn close to nothing, and it doesn’t take long at all to get acclimated to a zero drop shoe. What is quite different than most of the shoes out there, is the amount of ground feel that you get from the 235v2’s due to its low (10.5mm/3mm insole) stack height. The 235v2’s are as close to “barefoot” shoes as you can get without sacrificing protection. This makes for a very responsive, if not the most responsive feeling training shoe out there.

The outsole brings back some familiar technology in the Meta-Flex split grooves and Dynamic Facia Band (DFB). The latter keeps you in motion while the former makes it so your foot doesn’t feel constrained doing it. The pattern used is designed to maximize the contact area of the shoe’s sticky rubber outsole, giving you a sure step every time.  Traction in any terrain has never been an issue and is maximized if you’re stepping into a gym with rubber flooring. Tread with confidence.

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Power delivery is excellent with anything from Olympic lifts to plyometric movements. This has been my “go-to” shoe, and I haven’t ever looked back towards any of my big named shoes. Not saying they’re not excellent picks either, but the 235v2’s are just as good, if not better at things. Squatting in the 235v2’s couldn’t feel any better due to the zero drop and extremely dense Powerheel. I’ve saved some snatched that had gone awry from the 235v2’s keeping my feel planted into the ground. Did I mention that these are the most flexible trainers I’ve ever used? I did, but just so you know, moving around in the 235v2’s is like a breath of fresh air. Speaking of which, the 235v’2s are also the most breathable shoe I’ve ever used. Probably awesome during the summer, but also could be a bad thing if you live in cold areas. It’s getting California cold (50-60 degrees, lol), and sometimes my feet can get really cold.

If you’re looking for a true, minimal training shoe, this is the one. Zero drop, flexibility of a Yogi, reflexes of an F-1 car and light as a feather at 8.2 oz.

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Value:

The F-Lite 235v2’s run for a standard price of $129.99 per pair. This puts them in direct contention with the major manufacturers. I know you’re thinking you might as well go with the popular options for that price, but if you’re looking for a minimalist fitness experience, the big names just can’t deliver. Don’t get me wrong, they’re excellent shoes and some people might be looking for a little more support, or like the styling better, but give the 235v2’s a shot and I promise you won’t be disappointed.  The purist experience just can’t be replicated by anything other than the Inov-8 F-Lite 235’s.

Now to check out the crazier All-Train 215’s…

Check out Inov-8’s F-Lite 235v2’s product page!

HIIT Bottle Review

Fitness as a whole, has made huge strides within the past 10 years.

So why has it taken so long for shaker bottles to catch up?! I was still using the same old shaker bottles that I’d had for almost 10 years up until earlier this year. Why? Because nothing had really changed. Sure, I had bought some newer ones when I started working out more and needed more to alternate with, but they were pretty much the same as the old ones. They had some funky odors and weren’t exactly see through anymore, but you learned to deal with those shortcomings. Okay, that’s gross and I probably should have replaced them sooner, but that doesn’t change the fact that not much has changed in the way of how you mix your drinks.

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Insulated bottles are all the rage now and HydroFlask’s are leading the way; but they’re still not a suitable replacement for a shaker bottle. The screw top lid isn’t exactly time friendly when you’re in the middle of a WOD and they don’t come with an agitator. You can buy a flip top lid with the tiniest of spouts, but that cap leaks (tried it). Don’t get me wrong, I love my HydroFlask, but only really when I’m filling it up with water.

That’s where the HIIT Bottle comes in. It’s a double walled, vacuum insulated, stainless steel bottle that’s meant to be the replacement to the age old plastic shaker bottle. Since the HIIT Bottle has the food grade stainless steel construction, any kind of odors are less likely to happen. Inside, the edges are rounded at the bottom so clean up is a lot easier; you won’t have to worry about leaving any traces of old protein or bacteria. Gone are the days where cleaning a dirty bottle that you left in your bag, meant opening up a post apocalyptic nuclear war zone. Not to mention the rounded bottom works with the shape of the agitator to efficiently mix up your drink.

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You can’t talk about the HIIT Bottle without mentioning how gorgeous the bottle is in each one of it’s colorways: polished steel, gold-bronze, and matte black. One of the worst “features” of the bottle is that you’ll be sad when you get your first ding or scratch. It’s bound to happen, but overall the bottle is very resilient. My bottle survived a 10-day trip to Japan (carry-on friendly), where it stayed with me throughout every temple hike I went on. Even with nicks to the finish, the HIIT Bottle is definitely a bottle that you’re going to want to show off to the world and I guarantee people will ask about it.

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Like any insulated bottle, the HIIT Bottle plays well with cold and hot fluids, so you really only have to carry one bottle around from early morning to afternoons at the gym. I haven’t tested the actual times, but I’ve left cold fluid in my bottle overnight only to wake up to cold fluid. It’s definitely good enough to last you a few hours in the gym. The insulation is not as effective compared to the HydroFlask, most likely due to the design of the lid not being a screw top but the same thing happens when you put the flip top lid on the HydroFlask. The HIIT Bottle does do a very good job holding everything inside the bottle providing a leak free experience, even without actually locking the top.

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Of course, the HIIT Bottle is not without it’s shortcomings. The lid, though thoughtful in design with it’s locking mechanism, doesn’t seem very sturdy and is quite cumbersome overall. It seems like all it would take is one hard turn the wrong way to snap the top right off. The loop at the top of the lid seems pretty useless, though I guess you could run a lanyard through it, I’d rather it be a little more sleek with the design of the rest of the bottle or have better functionality, like a hook or loop to hold. The bottle is rated to hold 22oz of fluid, which is about the same as a normal shaker bottle, but it only takes one 16.9oz bottle of water to almost completely fill it up. I think 22oz is already too little, so being constrained to 16.9oz means I have to continually refill the bottle making it less convenient to use daily.

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At $35, the HIIT Bottle is definitely a luxury item. You could buy a few shaker bottles at the price, but you’d have to deal with eventually throwing them away, whereas you’ll be able to use one HIIT Bottle forever and for everything. Not to mention it’s actually something you’re going to want to carry to work, to the gym, or just around in your daily life. Personally, I do wish there was a bigger sized bottle, but if you’re not a waterhog like me, you should be fine with the capacity.

Even with it’s shortcomings, the HIIT Bottle seems to always be the shaker I grab when I go to the box. Not having to worry about immediately cleaning the bottle is a HUGE plus for a lazy bachelor like me. Also, in those sweltering summer months (RIGHT NOW), a cold drink is way more refreshing than a warm one when you’re in the middle of a workout. If you’re looking to consolidate your bottle game with something you’re going to want to be seen with, the HIIT Bottle is the way to go.

$35 www.hiitbottle.com

Reebok CrossFit Transition/Combine Review

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What are thooooose?!

I’ve seen a ton of wacky shoe designs, but nothing even comes close to the Reebok CrossFit Transition. It looks like a cross between an oly lifter, sneaker, and chukka boot. With looks only a mother could love, the Transitions are probably the most controversial shoe that Reebok has ever put out. Which is what made me most interested in the shoe; I had no idea what to expect from them because they’re so…different. It’s no surprise that people will be turned off by the looks of the shoe. A shame, because there are probably a ton of people that could use a shoe like the Reebok CrossFit Transitions.

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Looks:

I’m probably one of the very few people in the world that actually think the Transitions aren’t the most god awful looking shoe of all time. They’re not thaaaat bad in real life; granted, most people are only going to see them in their stock pictures. You’ll find no Kevlar infused upper here, just a standard synthetic upper with a thermal wraps resulting in a very flexible shoe, that doesn’t look like it would be. The “covert” colorway is just for the most part all (shiny) black with a little bit of camo inside the shoe. The medial strap is the only place you’ll find Kevlar on this shoe, though it doesn’t say anywhere that it uses it. Around the back you’ll find a pretty sizable TPU heel counter that extends to the sides of the shoes, but doesn’t clash with the design and looks quite good.

The outsole design from the side looks very similar to Reebok’s lifter shoes and is probably the only other hint besides the medial strap, to what the intended use of the Transitions is. At the bottom of the shoe you’ll find a diamond lug pattern never seen before on any Reebok shoe.

I’m not going to tell you these shoes look good, but they sure as hell look different.

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Fit:

I’ve learned nowadays to just stick with my normal size of 9.5 for most shoes and I’ll be good. Little did I know that these shoes are modeled more after Lifters and not Nano’s so my typical size fits me a little loose. It’s usable, but just keep in mind that these should be sized more like a Lifter (half size down).  Though they are a mid-cut shoe, they don’t really feel like a mid shoe but there is quite a bit of ankle support, not that you’d go play any pick-up games in the Transitions anyways. The insole is quite thick, but not enough so that I could say these are any more comfortable than any other trainer.

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Performance:

The day I got the Transitions, I still had no clue what their intended use was. CrossFit shoes always kind of have the same product descriptions so reading the specifications was pretty useless. The first thing I did with the shoes was take them on a run. As stated before, they’re a lot more flexible of a shoe than they look like and the run was surprisingly comfortable throughout.

All the movements that I’ve put the Transitions through have proved them a worthy CrossFit shoe, but even more so a competent WOD shoe. The wide platform is very stable for overhead movements and oly lifting, but the responsiveness of the shoe is also great for rebounding box jumps and double-unders. While Reebok left out the heel clip on the Nano 6.0’s, the Transitions retain it in the way of the TPU heel counter. Not only does it act as a buffer for handstand push-ups, it adds another dimension of lateral stability for your foot. Flexibility is probably the Transitions best suit since you can do all of the above and go on a fairly long run comfortably. Surprised? I was too.

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It wasn’t until I got back home that I got word what the intended purpose of this shoe was: a cross between a trainer and lifter. The Transitions have a heel height of .70″, which is the same as Reeboks lifters, but has a more standard EVA outsole for more versatility like a normal training shoe. With the omission of a TPU heel, the Transitions also get a slight weight reduction at 14oz. .Like with all Reebok lifters, it’s kind of hard feel the raised heel because of how gradual the drop is. Basically, if you had bad mobility, but you wanted a shoe that you could also WOD in, the Transitions would be your go-to.

Are they a replacement for a true oly shoe? No. Are they a replacement for Nano’s? No.

They’re a slightly worse off lifter, but a more stable trainer with a raised heel.

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Value:

Personally, I try not to wear oly shoes because I don’t want to get reliant on them. My mobility isn’t bad, but certain movements like overhead squats and pistols get the best of me because I have weaker hamstrings. Giving me a little extra to lean against helps me out a bit, but not having the hard heel still makes me have to work for it. This puts the Transitions in a weird spot value wise as most people have Nano’s and oly lifters, making them a “specialty” shoe. If you don’t have a pair of Lifters yet but don’t like the idea of not being able to comfortably run in them either, you would probably want to consider the Transitions. They’ll set you back only $119, which is cheaper than Nano 6.0’s but you can pick up a pair of Reebok Lifters for much cheaper than that.

I’d only recommend this if you were just a shoe whore, or you feel the same way that I do about oly lifters.

Pros:

  • Elevated heel and stable platform.
  • Good for just about everything WOD’s throw at you, including running.
  • You won’t have to change your shoes often.
  • Cheaper than Nano’s.

Cons:

  • Not as stable as oly lifters.
  • Nano’s are more comfortable for most WOD’s.
  • They cost more than oly Lifters.
  • Looks can be subjective.

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The fatal flaw about the Transitions is that they just don’t fit perfectly anywhere, but I almost guarantee anyone that tried them out would be a fan of the way they perform. Most people aren’t going to want to spend full price on a shoe that looks like this, given that they are pretty impressive performers. Hopefully, Reebok comes out with some colorways that are a little less bland or ups their marketing campaign on the Transitions. I don’t think the latter is happening anytime soon, as I do feel like these shoes are more of just a test that’s already being discontinued given the lack of publicity behind the Transitions. If you’re interested in them, chances are they’ll be on sale pretty soon, in which case I’d say go for it. Otherwise, if you’re content with switching between your Nano’s and Lifters, you can probably skip over the Reebok CrossFit Transitions.

Review: Hylete Icon Expandable & XL Backpack/Duffle Bag

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Over the years, I’ve seen a little company that used to just make t-shirts and shorts turn itself to one of the major clothing brands in the world of functional fitness, going as far as even supplying the NPGL with their uniforms. Along the way, they’ve added many new products to their line-up, past the basics and innovating things in ways that the world hadn’t seen yet.  A couple of these products, namely the Icon backpacks, are the topic of discussion today (clothing is coming shortly).

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A good backpack should be functional, have plenty of storage, not be cumbersome, and be stylish. I’m sure everyone at some point in their life has owned a Jansport backpack, while great at the time, those days are long gone. I’m far from being in school anymore, but I wish something like the Icon Expandable backpack was around back then. I remember I would need to buy a new backpack every year when I used those old Jansports. The Icon series bags are made from a 1680 denier ballistic nylon outer shell thats not only water repellent, but is also abrasion resistant.  Though this bag would be ideal for your day to day life, it would also be able to handle the toughest environments from the gym to the mountains. “God is in the details” applies to both backpacks by Hylete, as there are no loose stitches to be found anywhere you look and the zippers are extremely heavy duty.

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From a functionality standpoint, one can almost refer to these backpacks as the Swiss Army knives of bags. The main compartment is spacious enough to hold a few day’s worth of clothing, before expansion (more on that later). Inside of that compartment, you’ll find a zippered mesh pocket on the “door” and one more mesh pocket at the back of the area, both to help organize the little stuff from getting lost in the void. There are two side compartments that extend the height of the bag, both of which extend into the main compartment’s space and only one of which is insulated. Kind of a bummer that loading up these areas takes up space, but it’s fine since the main compartment is so large; though I wouldn’t mind seeing these redesigned to extend out a little. Also, I wish this compartment could have the option to extend outwards, like the XL bag. There’s also a zippered pocket on top of one of the side compartments that serves as what I use to hold my keys, wallet and cellphone; handy.

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Not really in the need of a gym bag? Well this would make for a great work bag as well considering theres a whole zippered back area that serves as more of a work friendly space. Inside this compartment you’ll find pouches that could hold pens, chargers, business cards and pretty much anything on the flat side. Not to mention you get a separate padded laptop sleeve that also zips up. Finally to top it all off, as the name says, the bottom of the backpack unzips to unfold a lined wet/dry compartment. Put whatever you want in here, stinky gym clothes or your oly lifters. It’ll fit, and it will also increase the amount of space you have for your main compartment. Pretty trick.

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With all that storage, you’d wonder why they even made an XL bag. If you truly live in your gym bag, then the XL bag is for you. If you looked at the backpacks in their normal state side by side, there really isn’t a huge difference in size. They look the same, they’re made out of the same ballistic nylon and basically have the same kind of pocket scheme. Unzipping the “main” compartment, or I should say first compartment leads to a more basic storage space. The party trick here is that the second set of zippers expands this area outwards, like what I would have liked to have seen in the Expandable bag. The third set of zippers leads to the real main compartment. On the back side of the door, once again you’ll find a padded laptop compartment, though not zippered it does have a velcro strap to secure your computer. On the outside of that, you’ll find the same kind of pouches for stationary that were in the rear of the Expandable bag.

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One of the coolest features of the XL bag lies in the main compartment, in the form of a “to-go” drawstring bag that clips in and out of the XL. This would be handy, say you went on an excursion and didn’t need to bring your whole bag, but just a few things when you got to your destination. If the amount of pockets in the XL bag weren’t enough, the drawstring bag has a few more and a bottom that expands. Once again, like the Expandable bag, the XL has side compartments that extend inwards with one being insulated and one having zippered pockets on the outside, but this time there are two.

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Finally, what makes the XL bag what it is, is that like the Expandable bag, the bottom unzips to reveal a whole new compartment. Unlike it’s little brother, you also get the option to turn the XL into a duffel bag by tucking in the straps into their own flat compartment, and attaching the shoulder strap from one length of the bag to the other! This expandable compartment now comes with three interior “cubbies”; you could honestly probably fit a weeks worth of shoes in here if you wanted to. If you were looking for an end all be all bag, this would be it. Honestly if you needed any more space, you should just be looking into luggage…and nice luggage is a ton more expensive…

…Which leads me to price! The Expandable backpack will set you back $165 and the XL $200. Honestly, for a nice backpack I don’t think this is a ton to pay, but that’s subjective. Most people aren’t keen to spending over $100 on a gym bag. Realize, you’ll probably be using this every day and when you think of it like that, you’ll quickly get over the initial sticker shock. While price is subjectively a con, the only other real negative to this bag is the tacky front logo.  It’s shiny and looks like the material you’d find on a toddlers backpack. I loathe shiny black things, especially on stuff thats designed to be thrown around and touched often. They might look good initially, but within a month they’ll look dull and cheap (yes, I’ve owned a black car).

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If you’re really concerned about the price, you can apply for Hylete’s train team if you’re a certified trainer. If you don’t fill those requirements, at the time of writing they have the Expandable bag in their clearance locker for $65! You can’t beat that price!  Hylete’s customer service is top notch. Unfortunately with some of their earlier pairs of shorts, the velcro would come off, but every time without fail, they replaced them with no hassle. Shop with confidence, you won’t be let down.

Get your Hylete gear here!