One year after targeting the CrossFit community with the Metcon 1, Nike has returned with its first update. The training shoe quickly built an impressive fan base after its launch, and previews of the Metcon 2 have been met with unabashed enthusiasm. We're fans of the Metcon 1, but saw room for improvement: The shoe was too stiff to comfortably run more than a mile, and the forefoot felt too soft for moves like double-unders and push presses, where we're driving through the front or mid-foot, instead of our heel. Though Nike didn't radically change the look of the Metcon, it did make significant changes throughout the shoe.
"Our goals with Metcon 2 were first and foremost to build upon and improve flexibility, breathability, durability," says Drew Conant, Nike training footwear product director. To achieve those objectives, Conant and his team sought feedback from world-class CrossFit athletes that included Mat Fraser, Josh Bridges, and Sara Sigmundsdottir.
After a week of workouts, we're not ready to speak to the durability, but Conant says Nike added abrasion-resistant TPU skins to the exterior areas that saw the most wear: the toe box, the upper forefoot area, and quarter panel (heel area). The manufacturer also added what it calls a "waterfall" heel for a more snug but comfortable fit. The feature feels like what you'd find on a high-end running shoe, cupping the back of your heel with a dense foam that still moves with your foot as you jump or run. One tester noted that while the Metcon 1 rubbed against his Achilles when running, the new heel didn't.
The boost in flexibility and breathability, says Conant, comes from increased mesh over the forefoot. Though we didn't notice an improvement in cooling, the Metcon 2 felt like it had ample ventilation and our feet didn't feel like they were overheating during extra-sweaty sessions. And while the new Metcon 2 feels more stable from toe to heel — even improving the softness we felt in the forefoot — we were more impressed by the improved flexibility. We finished a three-mile run in the Metcon 2 feeling fresh — no sore feet like with the first generation.
The biggest upgrade Nike is touting, however, is the hard plastic ridge on the back of the heel. This feature virtually eliminates drag from your shoe on a wall during handstand push-ups. Conant says the ridge came directly from athlete feedback, and it's such a perfect addition for CrossFit athletes, it's a wonder nobody added it earlier.
The Nike Metcon 2 is available online and in stores now, starting at $130. Nike.com also offers the Metcon 2 iD ($170), which lets you customize your shoes with phrases, graphics, and 16 colors. Nike says delivery on the iD takes up to six weeks.