Each iteration of every Nike Metcon gets tested by Nike’s most elite training athletes — Mat Fraser, Kara Webb, Josh Bridges and Sara Sigmundsdottir, among others, have all provided feedback on various Metcon silhouettes throughout the years. “I always rip through shoes. There’s always a hole somewhere from doing way more rope climbs, box jumps and burpees than most people do. Or something is falling off. Or something is broken,” says Josh Bridges, a Nike athlete and functional fitness professional who has been involved in testing the Metcon since the shoe's beginning.
And that’s to be expected. The guy trains for up to five hours a day six days a week in the same pair of shoes. “I got my first pair [of the new Nike Metcon 4] back in March, and I wear it for everything,” he says. “And they’re still completely wearable — no tears, no holes, the heel’s not falling apart, the toe box isn’t ripping — it’s unlike any of my other shoes.”
Aside from the Nike Romaleos (a pure heavy-lifting shoe), the Metcon silhouette is Nike’s most durable training shoe. It shines in workouts that involve lifting, functional movements and metabolic conditioning — and especially during exercises that are really going to push a shoe to the max (say, going for a snatch balance PR or climbing a rope). When it came time to update the shoe for the fourth time, designers had plenty of feedback on what was working well and what could be better. They took a don’t-mess-it-up approach and kept some things exactly the same, and improved what needed improving. Here are the specifics:
WHAT HASN’T CHANGED
- The outsole. It has the same allover-rubber tri-star design (for traction in multiple directions) and the same 4-millimeter offset (which is relatively flat for a stability shoe) as the Nike Metcon 3, so you get the same underfoot experience you’ve grown to love.
- The underfoot cushioning. All the cushioning you need for high-impact movements comes from a drop-in midsole — not the full rubber outsole (most traditional running and training shoes get their cushion from foam that’s exposed on the outsole, which doesn’t offer great traction and can get shredded during high-contact movements such as rope climbs).
- The durability. The most significant update to the Metcon is the use of haptic technology on the upper. The tri-star shapes (think of this as a rubberized TPU, inspired by the rubber outsole) can be individually printed big or small anywhere on the shoe, adding strategic durability where it’s needed most (high-wear areas like the toe box and sides) and leaving mesh for breathability and flexibility in other spots.
- The forefoot cushioning. Designers used a sandwich mesh (essentially a two-layer mesh with vertical fibers running through it) on the upper. This provides a sensation of cushioning on top of the foot for the first time and also hugs the foot better than previous models.
- The eyelets. There are six lace eyelets (versus five) so you can fine-tune your laces for more precise comfort and support.
- The tongue. A soft tri-star at the top of the tongue provides a little extra padding between the forefoot and laces.
- The heel counter. More for aesthetics than performance, the carved-out heel counter is more minimal than past silhouettes.
When athletes provided feedback to Nike designers about the new shoe, most agreed that their biggest surprise was how comfortable it was. “It feels different — it almost hugs your foot and is so much softer,” says Bridges. And the best part is that the designers didn’t add cushioning, but the mesh is more flexible and gives the sensation of cushioning — all while being a lot more durable than ever before.
The Nike Metcon 4 is available on Nike iD December 19 on nike.com, at select retailers in North America January 1 and retailers globally January 4.