Does Nike improve upon the perfection of first Metcon Free X, or are some things best left the way they were?
I must be honest, I really wasn’t expecting Nike to make very many changes to the original Free X. If you’ve read my previous review, I found it to be the best all-around functional fitness shoe I’ve ever tried. I noticed they moved the TPU upper and changed the lacing system from five tie points to three. Immediately I thought they may have done too much, and quite honestly, I wasn’t entirely wrong.
Fit and Performance
I wear a size eleven and have a narrow foot. It fits quite well but has a little less room in the toe box than the first Free X. There is tons of flex in toe area making it (once again) excellent for runs. I took it on a forty-minute run (thanks Misfit Athletics) and it never felt too heavy despite being a full ounce heavier (12.2) than its older brother (11.2). There is one issue though, since Nike moved the TPU upper closer to the toe box, it now makes a squeak. So, a problem that was once resolved, returns in a major way here. While you probably won’t hear it in your box, or with your headphones on, you will hear it walking around the house.
Inside the gym, they perform just as well at cardio based and light weightlifting movement. Great for rope climbs but gone is the plastic clip in the back. Despite that, they are still solid for handstand pushups. If you’re looking for Oly shoes, I must be frank, buy lifters. Chances are you will not like the rebound effect these shoes give off for those movements. But for high repetition lifts for time or AMRAPs, these move great.
Another big change worth mentioning is they have moved away from the one piece “sock-like” upper. Moving the TPU allowed them to create a new two-piece construction that adds a bit more ankle support. They also added a bit more padding for the heel to help eliminate heel slippage. I can’t personally attest to this since I never feel any heel slippage, but it does hold my heel quite well.
The last thing I feel as though I should address is the double-under and the lacing system. There is no place to tuck your shoe laces on this shoe, so if you’re a “tucker” these may not be great for you. If you’re like me and can’t get your elbows in; and lengthened your rope to remedy this, you may be okay. I took video of my double-under, but the rope passes far and clear from the laces. If you have a double-under that is tight and close to the body, you may graze them. The good news about the laces are they are a different material than the first Free X, and they stay tied a lot better. The first rendition tended to randomly come undone during long runs. My girlfriend had this problem quite a bit despite putting a double knot in her shoe.
Value and Final Thoughts
I loved the first version of these shoes (I bought three pair) and wear them for absolutely everything. These just don’t live up to their big brother. I always applaud Nike for trying to innovate, and a lot of times they can knock it out of the park. There are a lot of things done right in this second iteration. I like the two-piece upper and added heel support, but I didn’t need those things in the first place. If the cost of getting a little extra (unneeded) heel stability comes at the price of hearing that horrid squeak, then this shoe becomes a hard pass.
At $120, these shoes are hardly worth it when you can pick up the Free X for as low as $70. I would hurry though as the sizes are quickly moving off shelves. The Metcon Free X 2, is good but not great. It’s a nice testing ground for what Nike could do with the brand. Hopefully they fix these problems in their third version, or just abandon it altogether and rerelease the first one. Unfortunately the money machine must keep moving, so grab the first while you can and hope for the best the third time out.