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Inov-8 F-Lite 195v2 Review (2017)

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I was into minimalist shoes long before I even knew I wanted to start CrossFit. At the time, the pickings were slim, but one shoe that I kept seeing pop up over and over again was the Inov-8 195’s. In everything I read about them, people swore by them, and they just so happened to be the unofficial shoe of CrossFit. Eventually, I picked up a pair after I found them on sale; this was at a time where there really were no sales on them and I never even spent over $100 on shoes. I remember putting them on for the first time and being floored by just how light, flexible, and how well they fit. Not long after getting my pair, I started CrossFit. I was spoiled since I already had “the” CrossFit shoe, never knowing what it was like to use clunky running shoes at the box. Even though I spent more money on them than I was used to spending at the time, I felt thoroughly satisfied with my purchase.

As time passed, I started sipping the Kool-Aid and gravitating more towards Reebok Nano’s and eventually Nike Metcon’s. I never stopped loving my Inov-8 or anything, but worries about durability made me use them less and less. I’ve seen CrossFit shoes over the years become more stiff for lifting and less well rounded overall; which in a sense, is backwards to the well roundedness that the CrossFit theology embodies. At this point, we’re seeing trainers that are as stiff as Olympic weightlifting shoes.

The original 195’s were favored by many because of just how adaptable they were in the CrossFit setting. Flexible with just enough cushioning to run in comfortably but not enough to make the shoe unstable, 3mm drop with a low midsole stack height, sock-like fit and incredibly lightweight.  Durability of the fabric upper material was the only questionable area. After a slight hiatus, Inov-8 has refreshed their legendary shoe for 2017, retaining a lot of the features that made the shoe so popular, but now with an improved and hopefully more durable upper. 195 fans, rejoice.

Looks/Construction:

The original 195 had a look that could only be described as “Inov-8”. Aside from some choice colorways, I don’t think Inov-8 makes bad looking shoes at all, they’re just shoes you’d only want to be caught wearing with athletic gear and not something you’d want to be wearing out with some jeans on. Though the more minimal look of the new 195’s is definitely a step in the right direction, I don’t forsee myself wearing these out to the club or anything. The new upper is structured internally, the Inov-8 “tiger stripes” are still there but they’re a little bit harder to see since they’re under the new translucent mesh-ish upper. The logo is still on the side of the shoe, but it’s a little more low key nowadays; I think Inov-8 would do well to swap it to some kind of emblem, maybe just the foot/eight.

While not quite a giant shoe brand, Inov-8 still manages to produce shoes that are built solid, at least when you first get them. The plush fabric upper material was always the Achilles heel of the 195, but has been upgraded to a flexible nylon mesh for the V2. It’s dropped a ton of cushioning that made the originals so comfortable, most notably around the ankle collar, but it’s still very flexible. The bends of the shoe are a little sharper feeling but it’s still a very comfortable shoe to wear. It is also noticeably much more breathable; I would not hesitate to wear these shoes without socks on if that’s your jam. As previously mentioned, the “tiger stripes” that give the shoe structure are located inside the shoe, the toe-cap returns in the form of a thin PU external version, and though not mentioned, there is a built in heel cup to give you a little more stability when lifting. In my opinion, the nicest upgrade to the shoe happens to be the new eyelets for the shoe laces; it’s a small detail but really cleans up the look of the shoe.

The biggest things left virtually unchanged from the previous 195 are the midsole and outsole combination. I say virtually because while the midsole looks identical to the originals, the drop has been changed from 3mm to 4mm and it’s picked up the name “Powerflow”. The sticky rubber treading, Meta-flex and dynamic fascia band technology remain the same and they still come with the RopePro that was added in somewhere in the later variants of the 195. I always loved the way the midsole of the 195 felt and the outsole never failed me , so I’m not bent out of shape to see it remain the same.

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Fit:

The 195’s fall into Inov-8’s “Precision” fit line, which are typically D width shoes with a more running shoe silhouette. The toe is pointier, which accommodates Morton’s toe very well; flatter toe shapes are an issue that plagues me with training shoes, making me have to size up just so my second toe doesn’t jam into the front of the shoe. Originally I had sized the 195v2’s in my normal training shoe size, 10, but they ended up fitting way too big. 9.5 ended up being right on the money, so I’m going to say go ahead and size down half a size for the 195v2’s. Also keep in mind that these are fairly narrow shoes and don’t accommodate wide feet at all. If you’ve got Flinstone feet, you’re going to want to go with the 235v2’s.

My sizes for reference:

  • 235v2/250/215/210 – 10
  • OG 195/240 – 9.5
  • Nano – 10
  • Metcon – 10
  • WL Shoes – 9.5
  • Converse – 9.5
  • NoBull – 10

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Performance:

Well rounded AF.

195’s are legendary for a reason. Even if you’ve never owned a pair, you’ve probably heard people rave about them in your box. Usually people that never switch over to Nano’s or Metcon’s, love their 195’s because they’re so lightweight and flexible. I can’t blame them, coming back from foot purgatory that is the current state of training shoes, putting my feet in the 195v2’s felt like heaven; I feel like I can move again! Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but it almost feels like you’re not wearing shoes with how freely the 195v2’s let your feet move.

Running is always a taboo area for training shoes. Comfort usually takes a dig at stability, but not so much in the case of the 195v2’s. The midsole stack is short so there isn’t a ton of material between your foot and the ground, but it’s just enough to cushion your feet from being demolished by whatever you’re running on. The 195v2 uses an injection molded insole called “Powerflow”, that gives you better energy return than it’s compression molded counterparts, but still manages to be just as responsive. The heel area absorbs shock better while the forefoot has better energy return. They surprisingly have a good amount of “bounce” when you move around. From box jumps to double unders, I could not think of a better shoe to do a bodyweight metcon in than these shoes.

The “weak” area of the 195’s is their overall stability that they sacrifice for mobility. The 195v2’s have a more narrow platform compared to the other heavy hitters on the market and even Inov-8’s own 235v2, but they let you move more naturally so you have to rely on your own balance versus stability created by a wide outsole. Part of the reason people swear by minimalist shoes is that they don’t create a false sense of security when it comes to balance. It might take a little bit to transition to lifting in the 195’s if you’re accustomed to using Metcon’s or Nano’s, but at the end of the day, it’ll be worth it. You shouldn’t have any issues with slow lifts being unstable, but Oly might take some balance adjustments if you’re not used to more minimal shoes. Power delivery however, is excellent despite the 195’s having a “soft” injection molded insole (it’s not that soft). Once again, it doesn’t really get in the way since the stack height is so short. Would I be going for PR weight in the 195v2’s – probably not, but the 195v2’s should handle most of the weight you’re going to find on a daily basis.

Interestingly enough, though the midsole of the 195v2’s is supposed to be higher and the drop is supposed to be greater, the new models feel lower to the ground and flatter than the old models. Finally, the 195v2’s are excellent rope climbing shoes! I have no idea how that little Ropetec guard manages to hold on to the rope so well, but climbing the rope in the new 195’s is as effortless as could be. Durability is still a wildcard, but the new upper doesn’t show wear from the rope as of yet.

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Value/Conclusion:

Now that the market has so many options, Inov-8 is often overlooked just because it’s not Nike or Reebok, which is a true shame because people don’t even know what they’re missing out on. The 195v2’s pricing falls directly in line with the more popular Metcon and Nano at the standard $130. Not that the 195’s aren’t worth the price tag, they 110% are, but people are easily enticed by brand names. OG’s will have no problem dishing out the cash for the ever so excellent 195v2’s. If you’re not familiar with the name Inov-8, I’ll put my name on the line for them, they’re one of the best shoe manufacturers around and their shoes stay true to who they are as a company.

“The athletes’ interaction with the environment is the single most important factor when designing products.”

Training in the 195v2’s again feels like coming home after a long vacation. There were a lot of good times while you were away, but there’s nothing like the comfort of being at home. If what you want is an ultimately stable weightlifting shoe that you don’t care to run in or do any other variety of movements in, there might be better options out there in the form of Nike or Reebok. If you’re’ looking for one of the most capable all around training shoes on the market, you need to give the 195v2 a shot. They’re currently in my top 5 training shoes, I promise you won’t be disappointed in them.

The Good:

  • Great cushion and energy return for running.
  • Stable enough to lift most weights in.
  • Flexible and lightweight frame allows the foot to move naturally.

The Bad:

  • Won’t fit everyone because they’re narrow.
  • Styling is still ho-hum.

The Ugly:

  • People might overlook them!
  • Durability of the new up is yet to be determined.
  • They run really long.

Purchase your 195v2’s here!
Black Grey: http://amzn.to/2vPICWT
Grey Red/Green: http://amzn.to/2fAGbko
Womens: http://amzn.to/2vwQwSj

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Under Armour Project Rock Delta Highlight Shoe Review (Longest title ever, if ya smell what The Rock is cookin’.)

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For this review, we’re going to have to step outside the box. Think back to a time before you did functional fitness, back to the days of globo-gym and bro-science; if that’s what you still do, it should be easy. Before I knew anything about minimalist shoes, zero drops, or weightlifting shoes – I, like most people, just wore running shoes to the gym. Granted, leg day wasn’t a big part of my routine and my footwear was more for style than anything else. The crazy thing is that even though the world is a lot more informed now, people still weight train in running shoes. (See: Instagram). Some people just don’t know, or they just don’t care, savages. Either way, people out there still do it and as inefficient as it is, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.

When the Rock announced his shoe from Under Armour, I thought to myself, “Finally, a serious training shoe from Under Armour!” thinking the Rock’s input would lead to something a little bit more competition based than what UA had previously offered. Rather than being a completely new shoe built from the ground up, I was extremely disappointed to find out that THE ROCK’s signature shoe was nothing more than a special edition model of a RUNNING shoe that they had already released, the Delta Highlight. Still, it’s the Rock, one of my childhood heroes – how could I not buy his signature shoe?!

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If it’s good enough for The Rock, it should be good enough for me…right?

Disregarding the fact that The Rock training in the Rock Delta’s in his Instagram is probably just marketing, he is indeed doing some work in them. Granted hes not really doing any compound movements, he is working out in them at least, so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s doing all his training in them. Keep in mind that these shoes are NOT functional fitness shoes and they’re not marketed towards functional fitnessers. As far as I know, the Rock has never done functional fitness and never will do functional fitness. Now that’s out of the way…

Looks/Construction:

The Delta Highlight as it’s own shoe is actually a pretty good looking piece of footwear, assuming you don’t mind high-tops. It’s upper is a knit like material that’s unlike other knit’s because it lacks any kind of real elasticity.  What I’m thinking is exclusive to the Rock Delta’s is a reflective underlay throughout the whole knit area of the shoe, that not only is functional, but also gives the Rock Delta’s an ultra premium look. Other cues that make the Rock Deltas stand out from the normal ones are the exclusive yellow/black colorway, two of laces (grey or yellow piping), and The Rock’s signature Brahma bull at the rear of the shoe. Some people have clowned these shoes for looking like hiking boots, but I think they look mean AF.

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All the Under Armour shoes I’ve come across have never had any issues with build quality. In fact, they’re some of the best built shoes as far as materials I’ve come across and the Rock Delta’s are no exception. There’s no loose glue or stitching anywhere to be found on the shoes and though they’re not terribly expensive, they feel like a shoe that costs more than what they’re asking. Keep in mind that these shoes were not designed to handle the rigors of functional fitness. The upper is lightweight and flexible, but also very thin and the midsole/outsole combination would probably get eaten up in a single rope climb.

The Rock Deltas have a two pieced Charged Cushioning system that consists of a softer piece of foam on top of a more dense compressed EVA foam for comfort, but not too much that it would totally compromise stability. The outsole is pretty solid and has surprisingly good grip, with flex grooves at the forefoot of the shoe and rubber pods at the forefoot and heel. The heel to toe drop is a whopping 10mm, which is a dead giveaway that these shoes are indeed a running shoe. Despite the bulky looks, each shoe only weighs in at 10.8oz.

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Fit:

Sizing is pretty consistent to other Under Armour shoes and for the most part is true to size. Unlike most UA shoes, the Rock Delta’s don’t feel the slightest bit narrow and should be comfortable for most foot shapes. The forgiving knit upper probably has a lot to do with the way the shoes fit and I think these are some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn! My sizes for reference:

  • Under Armour Rock Delta, Charged Legend, Charged Ultimate – 9.5
  • Reebok Nano – 10
  • Nike Metcon – 9.5
  • Adidas Ultraboost/NMD – 9.5/10
  • Chucks – 9
  • Red Wing/Wolverine Boots – 8.5

Performance:

This is where things start to get weird.

Fully knowing that these are running shoes, I still decided to do some real weightlifting in them. Those that are used to minimalist platforms will immediately be turned off by the ultra plush (relatively speaking) ride; I was too. Still, I decided to hit some olympic lifts with the intention of removing the shoes before the warm-up was over…but I didn’t. I kept the Rock Delta’s on throughout my whole snatch, clean & jerk, and front squat session. While they definitely weren’t the best shoes to lift in, I could lift in them and not resort to blaming any fails on my shoes. The two piece Charged Cushioning system makes things a little wobbly, but does have pretty good energy return for dynamic movements. Landings in the snatch and clean & jerk were a little sketchy, but I was still able to balance okay. Squatting in the shoes was surprisingly okay as well, with very good lateral stability due to the molded heel cup. You can feel the cushioning pushing back and it takes a little bit to get your feet set, but once you do, you can put up some decent squats…though I would definitely not try to PR anything in the Rock Deltas.

Trust me, I’ve seen people squat in worse shoes.

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Where the Rock Delta’s shine the most is an area that functional fitness shoes are notoriously bad at: running, duh. The upper moves really well with the foot and the two part midsole cushioning provides a soft and stable ride that’s not only good for running, but plyometrics as well because of how well the Charged cushioning returns energy. I have to say that out of all the actual running shoes that I’ve tried out in recent years, the Rock Deltas might be my favorite because they provide great cushioning without totally diminishing ground feel. I typically have issues with plantar fascitis after a lot of running, but the Rock Delta’s kept my feet comfortable with a WOD that included a 3 mile run, box jumps, and deadlifts. When it comes to a lighter weight metcon, possibly one that is solely plyometrics and running, I couldn’t think of a better shoe to work out in.

Another thing that I was worried about was the high-top cut, but the collar is very flexible and doesn’t cause any kind of chaffing against the ankle, even without long socks. That being said, I think a low-top version of the Rock Delta’s is in order.

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Value/Conclusion:

The Rock Delta’s are currently sold out, but normally retail at $140. If you don’t care for The Rock’s branding, then you can opt for the Delta Highlight’s which you can actually get on clearance right now for $90, but normally retail for $120. So should you pay the extra $20-50 for The Rock’s signature shoe? That just really depends on who you are and if you’re a fan. To me, it’s worth it, The Rock was (is) a hero of mine growing up and is much more respectable compared to some of the other worthless celebrities, people support out there.

While The Rock Delta’s might not be the best functional fitness shoes, that doesn’t keep them from being damned good running shoes that you can use for general training as well, considering you’re not going heavy with the squats. I am definitely disappointed that these aren’t a true training shoe, but I’d happily support Dwayne Johnson and rocking his shoes are one of the better ways to do so. If you’re someone looking for an Under Armour alternative functional fitness shoe, you’re still better off looking at the Charged Legend or Ultimate, though they don’t carry the same swagger the Rock Delta’s do. If you’ve got access to a serious pair of lifting shoes, you’re a globo-gym bro that doesn’t care much about leg day, someone in need of some slick running shoes, or you’re just a fan – the Rock Deltas should be a sound choice.

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.

Get your Minimus 40’s here!

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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.

Purchase your Nike Metcon 3’s here!

Now what about those DSX Flyknit’s…

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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