Nike Free X Metcon Review

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[Editors rating (10.0)] = (Garage Gym Ideas - Ultimate Home Gym Design) score (10)/10

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Nike Free X Metcon Review Review Facts

It is hard to believe, but the Nike Free family of shoes has been with us since its introduction in 2006. The first Nike Free was not meant to be your only running shoe. It was a minimalist shoe, to be rotated with your other running shoes. The Nike Free was Nike’s answer to the barefoot running resurgence of the mid-2000s. The uppers and outsoles featured minimal rubber, stitching, and fabric. The idea was that running barefoot, or close to it, would improve the strength in your legs. Similar to what your editors heard about the Paleo Diet, friends would say “the ancient cavemen didn’t wear shoes.”

Of course, cave people typically didn’t live to be 40 either. Science has come a long way in the past 5,000 years or so. And now, if you want to, you can enjoy the scientifically engineered Nike Free X Metcon, which is a combination of the original Free’s lightweight with the rigid stability of a cross-trainer. You can go for short runs, complete a CrossFit WOD, lift weights, and jump around in a group cardio class, all without changing your shoes.

Editor's Pros & Cons

The shoe is remarkably comfortable and conforms to the shape of your foot for a tight fit

Two top eyelets are part of a saddle/wing that wraps around the shoe for extra firm lacing

The shoe uses Nike Flywire on the lace eyelets (no metal grommets), which adds flexibility and support

Synthetic mesh uppers are durable enough to wear outside and also for rope climbs

Flex grooves on the outsole (bottom) promote flexibility and help the shoe mold to your feet

Gusseted tongue is part of the uppers and will not move or chafe against your feet

Alternated raised/indented star grooves on outsole aid in traction and climbing


Soles can compress during heavy lifts

Shoe not suitable for longer outdoor runs

Won't keep feet warm in cold weather

The Rundown

This shoe is at its best when providing support for CrossFit WODs, boot camp style classes, weightlifting, and short outdoor runs. We'd do wind sprints in the Nike Free X Metcon, and maybe even run a 5K, but we wouldn't go for a long slow distance run or urban walk. This means that, if you get your fitness fix outside the gym, this is not the best shoe for you. But if your primary pursuit is one of the activities we outlined above, then you will find a comfortable, supportive, and durable shoe in the Nike Free X Metcon. Its construction and design blend the freedom of the Nike Free with the stable platform and CrossFit DNA of the Metcon X.

Rope climbs are aided and enhanced by rubber that goes up the side of the mesh. This protects the uppers from damage when you wrap your feet around a rope or hold onto a medicine ball for crunches. The shoe will get you through either activity with no worries about damage. The mesh, too, makes for a breathable shoe. The Nike Free X Metcon is not waterproof, though, which is another reason it has limited outdoor use. The mesh is flexible all over and has reinforcement to make high use areas durable.

Like similar cross trainers and hybrid shoes, the Nike Free X Metcom has grooves up and down the outsole. These aid in flexion and flexibility, while not compromising the stability and foundation of the shoe. The grooves help with lateral flexion, so you won't burst any stitching during side to side jumping movements. The shoe can expand to accommodate you and your movements, while also not allowing you to hyperextend any joints or cause an overuse injury.

Materials/Wear Experience

Those Flywire lace eyelets, which we mentioned earlier, are complimented by Flywire cables running throughout the uppers. Their role is to lock your feet in place, for safety, but without the locked-in feeling provided by most lifting shoes. The fit is tight, and many reviewers compare it to wearing a sock. But the Nike Free X Metcon fits true to size, and will not constrict your feet or give too much of a compression feeling. You can wear any sock you like with the shoe, but thin compression, spandex, or no show socks are probably best. This is only because anything thicker will cause your feet to sweat, and could interfere with the shoe's ability to wick moisture and allow for circulating air.

A sleeve inside the shell gives you the socklike, second-skin fit we have come to expect from cross-trainers. This means it will not come loose, but won't constrict your feet or make you sweat excessively. The midsole, the part between the uppers and the bottom or outsole, is made of soft foam with harder foam at the center. It adds stability while keeping the shoe flexible so you don't get injured.

Who It Is For

This is a cross-training shoe. It is not expressly for CrossFit competitors, the way the Reebok Nano series is (for example Nano 8 shoes). It is a moderate high top, meaning it provides extra ankle support. The front ankle cuff and tongue snake up your ankle, while the back is just a bit longer than a low top shoe. The extra ankle help is great if you are doing squats, but you may not appreciate it when doing box jumps, step aerobics, or equipment-free cardio classes. In that case, you want something with a low ankle so you can blast off from the ground and land with confidence in your step or box. So while the Nike Free X Metcon is a general-purpose trainer, we can't recommend it for all sports or all athletes. If you are a powerlifter, as usual, stick with flat-soled, zero-drop weightlifting shoes. The X Metcon is good but has too much cushioning to aid you in planting your toes for maximal lifts.

Runners, too, will want to look elsewhere. But, and we will never get tired of saying this, we all need to cross-train and we all need cross-training shoes. Do you regularly run 10Ks? That is great, but you may be able to run them faster and with less soreness if you improve your gait. That means recruiting all your muscles, including the ones in your glutes and trunk. Bodyweight or barbell training twice a week will pay off on the track, trail, or road. By the same token, weight pile devotees shouldn't neglect cardio. 20 minutes on a bike will help power you through tough lifts because, when it comes down to it, every form of exercise asks your heart and lungs to do something. So we all need both cardio and strength training, in addition to building our balance, endurance, and flexibility. The Nike Free X Metcon happens to be in a lot of "best cross-training shoe" lists that we found, meaning it is useful for just about any physically active person.

What People Are Saying

The Nike Free X Metcon garnered mostly positive reviews when we checked. On the Nike website, at the time of this writing, there were 115 customer reviews with an average of 4.2 stars. Users gave the shoe high marks for comfort and durability. They may be tighter when you first get them and will need breaking in. After a few weeks of breaking in, the shoe will still be snug but won't feel excessively tight. The initial tightness is not enough to cause discomfort--it just may not be what you expect.

Customers also praised the support, durability, and style of the shoe, with a few even wearing it with casual clothes or for going out. The shoe is comfortable, and the black color will go with anything (The Nike Free X Metcon comes in black, blue, red, and a few other primary colors).

One criticism we saw more than once is that the shoes do not fit properly. Some reviewers said they are too loose, and others that the heel cup does not offer enough support. From what we can tell, these problems are more prevalent at larger sizes. Nike offers the shoe up to a men's size 16 on their website.

The Final Word

The Nike Free X Metcon is for all athletes. Cross-training is something that will improve your performance in any other activity. The shoe is lightweight, although the ankle extensions make it a bit heavier. The mesh uppers let your feet breathe, and are extra durable and flexible where they need to be. The shoe combines the snug fit and human body-conforming shape of the Free with the stability and rigidity of the Metcon trainer. But midfoot grooves and Flywire construction keep the rigidity from overcoming the flexible aspect. The midsole is firm, with a much firmer piece at the center to aid in giving you a stable platform. Reviewers agreed that there is plenty of room in the toe box. You can plant and splay the toes for lifting barbells, though, again, this shoe is not stable enough for powerlifters.