As a crossfitter for the past 7 years, and now Olympic Lifter for the past year and a half, and occasional (reluctant) half marathon runner, I’ve been able to try a variety of shoes across brands for a variety of technical purposes. I’ve been pretty cynical of the Nike Metcons when they first came out, especially because of the premium price tag on them. In Canada, they run $175, but I’ve managed to get both of my pairs for $135 on sale which I think is much more reasonable for these. Earlier last year I invested in a pair of lifting specific Nike Romaleo’s which I have found invaluable, but I wasn’t sure I needed a CrossFit specific shoe for all of the other times where I have a sprinkling of lifts amongst a metcon wod. I’ve used the Reebok Nano’s, and Nike Pegasus and New Balance and all have been fine until I started lifting heavy regularly.
My need for lifting shoes started with patellar tendonitis pain during Olympic lifts which required some troubleshooting. A little bit of correcting my form, and a little bit of heel elevation and shoes with stiff soles. Over a few weeks of adjusting to my new lifting shoes, my pain decreased significantly, but I found I was still having some form issues during my CrossFit wods which would aggravate if we did clean and jerks, or a lot of squats. My wide hips and short calves cause my right knee to naturally want to track inwards. I’m also very quad dominant so my glutes and hamstrings were having trouble engaging. I’ve done a lot of mobility and accessory work since then and I feel like that has helped a lot, but the Nike Metcon’s have certainly paid a small role in helping to get me pain-free.
When I first tried on the Nike Metcon II’s I really didn’t like the feel of them on my feet. They are very flat and wide, but also very stiff around the collar and the soles. Great for squats and deadlifts but horrible for running and for casual wear, and just ok for Olympic lifting. I find that the stiff narrower ankle collar helps prevent me from rolling onto the outside of my foot and helps keep my foot firmly planted. Overall I would say they have helped my knees during regular CrossFit workouts, but if you are doing mostly powerlifting or Olympic lifting I really recommend you invest in proper lifting shoes first over the Metcons. Metcons are probably the best multi-purpose shoe for CrossFit when you cannot switch into your lifting shoes but they really don’t replace the function of a lifting shoe. If you are not experiencing knee pain or mobility issues you may not need a CrossFit specific shoe at all. The features of a CrossFit specific shoe is the elimination of the cushioning and flex you require in a running shoe, with some minor accessory additions such as the grip for rope climbing, or a wider base around the foot, or cool CrossFit branding. It’s impossible to marry the function of a proper lifting shoe with the needs of a multi discipline workout such as Crossfit, so ultimately you are sacrificing a few features, which are the most technically necessary for the most technical workout in Crossfit. You really don’t need a specific feature for gymnastic movements, or pull-ups, or short distance running.
I find these shoes really visually appealing and I love the color schemes and how outside of the box Nike has gone with contrasting soles and laces – they are so fun! I never wear my Nike Metcon’s casually though so the splendour of the design is saved for my crossfit workouts. In fact, I change into them when I get to the gym which also helps preserve their life. I think if you want to splurge these can be a great addition to your workouts but I don’t think they are as necessary as lifting shoes. If you are getting serious about lifting you will want lifting shoes over Metcons, and you will want some sort of flat shoe without much flexibility in the sole for everything else.
**My product photos where staged using black craft paper, with minor photoshopping of the background, and photo brightening. In case anyone is curious.