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When Nike released the initial Metcon series, the CrossFit world was shaken.
Previous to the Nike Metcon's, the main company producing a shoe for CrossFit and "functional training" was Reebok. The Reebok Nano series continues to be a favorite among CrossFitter's, however, with Nike's heavy push into the space, there has been a seemingly greater adoption of Metcon's over time. I don't have sales numbers of the two shoes (I'd love to see them,) but based on social media, discussions with others, and seeing what is worn at gyms, the Nike Metcon is one of the most popular shoes among CrossFitters.
One thing that Nike has done that has been modeled off of their other lines, especially Jordan Brand, is releasing a limited amount of colorways at various times throughout the year. This demand for the different colorways has taken a shoe who's initial benefits were performance-based to now be primarily judged on how they look. Sure, there wouldn't be wide adoption of the Nike Metcon series if they couldn't perform in the gym, but people don't purchase 10 different colorways of a shoe merely because they like way they perform.
The Nike Metcon 4 performs, but the main reason you would get the Metcon 4 versus the 3, is because you want the new colorways. Let's start by looking at the outsole.
The outsole of the Nike Metcon 4 is pretty identical to the Nike Metcon 3. Although it's nice to see big changes in a shoe that is offered at a full retail price, the outsole on the Nike Metcon 3 and now 4's is one of the best available. There's a reason so many companies have begun copying how the Metcon series has the outsole rubber extend up the sides of the shoe. It not only looks good, but it provides additional stability and protection for things like rope climbs.
The rubber is the same sticky rubber on the Metcon 3's that is both durable and grips the floor well. Out of all the training shoes I've used and reviewed (check them out here) the outsole on the Nike Metcon 3, and now 4's are my favorite. I love the look of the little stars, and more importantly, I love how the outsole grips, yet have excellent flexibility.
Moving up the shoe, what is built upon one of my favorite outsoles, is one of my least favorite midsoles. Unfortunately, and this is REALLY unfortunate, Nike is using the same midsole/insole as they did on the Nike Metcon 3's.
The midsole of the Nike Metcon 3's is built into the insole, which allows it to be removed easily. The problem with this, as anyone who's used the Nike Metcon 1, 2, or 3's is that it squeaks. Yes, the newest iteration of the Metcon series continues to squeak, despite the complaints of so many, including myself. The worst part of the midsole is outside of the squeaking, I'm actually a big fan. It provides enough cushion for running, but not so much to where it introduces excessive instability during any sort of lifting.
Although the squeaking is annoying, there is a fix that I've found to be helpful, and that is putting baby powder under the insole. This is obviously less than ideal when you're purchasing one of the most expensive training shoes available, but for the time being, it's what you have to do to get rid of the squeak.
The main change to the Nike Metcon 4 over the 3 is the upper. The upper of the Nike Metcon 3 featured a heavy mesh material that was very durable, but also lacked some breathability. It's not a super hot shoe, but it definitely didn't breathe like the Reebok Nano 7 Weaves. The upper on the newly released Nike Metcon 4 is a thinner, more breathable fabric that flexes and breathes extremely well.
One would think that the change from a heavy-duty, extremely durable mesh, to a much thinner and breathable fabric, would lead to an overall more frail shoe. Thankfully, however, this is not the case. First off, the fabric on the top of any shoe, especially the toe-box does not need to be all that durable. There's a reason that many companies make the toe-box the thinnest and most breathable part of the shoe.
The reason the Nike Metcon 4 can get away with a thinner fabric, is because they use Haptic technology. Haptic Technology is essentially rubber that is applied over the thin fabric in the highest wear areas of the shoe. This is a rather ingenious method of increasing durability in a shoe, without making it much heavier, or less breathable.
There's also another big benefit for using Haptic Technology; it provides another way for colorway customization. The Haptic Technology uses the same star pattern that is used on the outsole of the shoe and is spread out over the entire upper.
The Nike Metcon 4 also uses Flywire, which uses Vectran Filaments that are pound for pound stronger than steel. This allows the entire upper to wrap around the foot, without fear of the flywire snapping, no matter how tight the shoe is.
Another change between the Metcon 3 and the 4 is the addition of another lace eyelet. Rather than five eyelets, the Nike Metcon 4 features six eyelets that should allow for even more customization in the fit of the shoe.
The Metcon 4 features a 4mm heel to toe drop which is standard among training shoes (although the Nike DSX Flyknit 2's have a 6mm heel to toe drop.) In addition to the heel to toe drop remaining the same, the heel counter and TPU Heel Clip that allows the shoe to slide up the wall during handstand pushups remains unchanged.
Overall, the Nike Metcon 4 is an excellent shoe that builds on the success of the Nike Metcon 3 with slight improvements. If you want the latest and greatest, then pick up the Nike Metcon 4. If performance is all that matters, the Nike Metcon 3 will continue to do a great job at now, an even lower price.
The Nike Metcon 4 is essentially the Nike Metcon 3.
Now, many of you don't want to hear that, but this is how pretty much all shoe companies operate. What you have to understand is the costs and effort of creating new lasts are very high. Because of this, shoe companies will often reuse the shoe lasts for two years before coming out with something new.
Reebok does the same thing with their Nano series as does just about every other company out there. Saying that the Metcon 4 is very similar to the Metcon 3 does not make it a bad shoe, however. In fact, the Nike Metcon 3's were excellent shoes, and with the minor changes made on the Metcon 4's, they're even better than the previous iteration.
I'll get into more detail on the differences between the shoe later on in the article, but the glaring difference between the Nike Metcon 3 and Nike Metcon 4 is the upper material. The Metcon 3's utilize a heavier duty mesh upper while the Metcon 4's have a much thinner, lighter, and more breathable fabric. The first potential problem that came to find when seeing the shoe was that the shoe would be less durable, however, thanks to "Haptic Technology" there are little star-shapes (similar to what's on the outsole) that are printed on the shoe in high-wear areas, the upper is still extremely durable.
The Metcon 4 also comes and will continue to come with new, limited-release colorways. Nike knows how to brand a product, and the Metcon 4 is no different.
Although the Nike Metcon 4 is an excellent shoe, there is one significant change we'd like to see made.
The midsole of the shoes needs to be reworked. The midsole on the Nike Metcon DSX Flyknit 2's uses the same design, but a softer, more flexible foam that does not squeak. The firmer foam of the Nike Metcon 4's rubs against the sides of the shoe and causes it to squeak. For a shoe to cost as much as the Metcon's do and not have this issue fixed is a problem.
The other improvement I would like to see is with the tongue. Unfortunately, although the rest of the shoe is durable, the tongue on the Metcon's is the same as what's used on the Romaleos 3's which has a tendency to rip. The tongue feels good, but I dislike the lack of durability.
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