If you’ve spent time in a CrossFit box (aka a gym), you know Nike Metcons. Nike’s latest version of CrossFit was named after the usual high-intensity metabolic conditioning workouts that make up a large part of CrossFit. It’s a welcome twist on one of the company’s most popular shoes.
The Nike Metcon 6 FlyEase offers all the functions of the Metcon 6: an open, breathable net, a flexible forefoot with a stable heel for lifting and rubber sidewall profiles for rope climbing tours. Additionally, the 6 has a variable rubber (harder in the heel for strength during Olympic lifts, softer in the forefoot for runs) and a detachable heel lift so you can adjust your heel height between movements.
Where the FlyEase the heel design is different. A collapsible upper is reinforced with a flexible yet rigid TPU heel tab that allows you to enter and exit the shoe hands-free. While it may seem frivolous, it turns out to be a huge benefit if you want to take your shoes off after a killer workout.
Nike Metcon 6 FlyEase Specifications
- Designed for: CrossFit, general fitness
- Weight: 13 ounces
- Characteristics: Hands-free entry, open mesh upper, reinforced side walls, adjustable heel height
- Price: $ 130
Nike Metcon 6 FlyEase review
Nike has long been known as the CrossFit shoe that has incredible credibility while running. Often, brands offer CrossFit shoes that lean more toward weightlifting, with soles that are firmer, flatter, and stiffer. These features are great when you have a barbell in hand, but feel clunky and tough when a workout requires more dynamic movements like running or jumping.
When Nike launched the first Metcon in 2015, it was far from perfect, but it was more comfortable to run than any other CrossFit shoe back then. In the following five updates, Nike has worked to strike a balance between running and lifting. So far, the Metcon 6 is the culmination of the brand’s endeavors.
Photo credit: Billy Brown
Pillows & stability
The main reason for this balance is the variable cushioning. The insole padding is softer near the ball and tighter on the heel in the forefoot area. This provides more cushioning when landing a box jump and kicking your feet while running. The firmer heel transfers force from the foot to the ground during explosive movements like cleaning and snapping.
Sole flexibility also plays a role in the versatility of the shoe. The sole is very flexible from the toe to just behind the ball of the foot, exactly where the shoe has to bend during a run. From there, the sole is extremely stiff, which provides the stability required on a heavy lift.
The stability is supported by the unique heel shape. The outsole of the heel expands laterally, widening the heel and preventing the ankle from rolling during movements that can create side force, such as sumo deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and heavy squats.
Another advantage of the Metcon 6 is the ability to exchange insoles. The shoes come with double density insoles. However, you can add the included heel insert to add height for squats and Olympic moves. You can also remove the insole entirely for a flatter profile. This is useful for movements like the deadlift where your heel should be closer to the ground.
Photo credit: Billy Brown
CrossFit workouts are tough enough without hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable feet. Even on cold days, rough workouts will build up a good amount of heat in a shoe, and if there isn’t a good way to get heat to escape, you will feel it.
The Metcon 6 upper is an open mesh with large, open gaps. They are big enough for light to pass through easily and they give the shoe an airy, open feel. During months of testing, I never felt my feet overheat.
Light mesh usually means a lack of durability. Nike combats this with a rubber reinforcement that is printed over the toe caps and sidewalls of the shoes. CrossFit shoes are particularly prone to abrasion when climbing ropes. Therefore, the sidewall is further reinforced by the outsole, which extends up the sides of the shoe to provide additional coverage. The shoes were exposed to dozens of rope climbs during the test and showed almost no wear.
But let’s get to the shoe’s most striking feature: the FlyEase heel. Instead of a stiff heel cup, the Metcon 6 FlyEase heel is completely flexible and carried by a semi-rigid extension arm of the external TPU heel bumper on the back of the shoe.
The heel will collapse when you step on it, allowing you to slip into the shoe without your hands. The TPU arms have a wide step tab at the top so you can throw them off in seconds.
Photo credit: Billy Brown
I tested the shoe in a variety of workouts for several months to see how well they perform in any situation that CrossFit is leading the way for an athlete. On Olympic lifts, the shoes felt stable and firm. Not as supportive as an Olympic lift shoe, but they had plenty of stability for workouts that involve cleanings and snaps.
The flexibility and cushioning were just right for runs, box jumps, and burpees. Runs felt smooth and natural. They’re a bit chunky than a running shoe, but work well enough for runs of 3 miles or less. For box jumps, the pillow was soft enough to absorb the landing without bothering each other, yet responsive enough to allow rebound jumps when I faced a time constraint. The forefoot flexibility exudes particularly in burpees, as you move your foot freely during the upward journey to the jump at the end of each repetition.
When climbing the rope, the corrugated outsole extension offered a firm hold on the rope, and the upper material proved to be abrasion-resistant. No rope burns here.
Just on, just off
The shoes worked great during exercise, but the real wow factor comes before and after. Getting your shoes on and off quickly seems like an unnecessary benefit, but if you’ve ever tried taking your knee sleeves off when transitioning from weight training to metabolic conditioning while the rest of the class is waiting for you, you know what for a huge feature that is.
These shoes take off so quickly that I tied them the first time I put them on and haven’t touched the laces since. When put on, the shoes provide a secure, stable fit. This is thanks in part to the attached tongue, which gives the shoe a tight, but non-restrictive, fit.
The first thing I want to do after a hard workout is roll around on the floor and take off my shoes. The tabs on the top of the heel cup make this quick and easy. And when I’ve recovered, it’s much easier to put them back on, collect my dignity, and put my weights down like nothing happened.
Author tests the Nike Metcon 6 Flyease; Photo credit: Billy Brown
Nike Metcon 6 FlyEase: Conclusion
When I first saw this shoe I thought, “It’s a decent asset, but does it warrant an entire separate shoe?” After testing this shoe for the past few months, the answer is emphatically yes.
The mere convenience of being able to take the shoe on and off between the strength and Metcon part of the training makes this shoe worthwhile. I didn’t have to choose my knee sleeves based on how well they would work on cardio as I could just take off my shoes, take off my sleeves, and then put my shoes back on in the same amount of time it took me to lace every other pair.
The fact that I never have to undo the shoes also means that I can double-knot them without undoing them with trembling, exhausted hands. Loosening a shoelace can cost precious seconds and repetitions in competition, especially if those shoelaces trip you over on double underwear.
With the Metcon 6 FlyEaseI’ve permanently double-knotted them so I know they’ll never go undone. You made it into the vaunted realm of “competition shoes” in my pocket.
At first glance, the FlyEase technology seemed like a gimmick. But now I hesitate to use another shoe. Nike took an already great shoe with the Metcon 6 and added an edge that is so simple you’ll wonder why the brand isn’t putting it on every shoe they make from now on.
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