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Nike Metcon 3 - Women's Review

Nike Metcon 3 - Women's
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $130 List
Pros:  Versatile, supportive, great protection, comfortable.
Cons:  Not great for longer runs.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Nike

Our Verdict

There has been a lot of hype and speculation in the CrossFit community leading up to the release of the Nike Metcon 3 women's shoe. Can it outperform the ever popular Reebok Nano shoes in the gym? After months of research, testing, and vetting, our female shoe testers are in agreement that the Metcons are the best all-around women's CrossFit shoes in this review. These shoes go from heavy lifts, to sprints, to double unders and box jumps with no problem. They have a firm sole for lifting but are surprisingly cushioned enough for short runs, although not as good for longer distances like our Top Pick for Running WODs, the Reebok Sprint 2.0 - Women's. The 4 mm heel to toe drop on the Metcon is enough to help with Olympic lifts but not so drastic as to make them impractical for the other movements found in CrossFit style workouts. They are also comfortable shoes with good arch support for long hours on your feet and great breathability during workouts. Our testers loved how well these shoes helped their feet grip during rope climbs, and the sticky rubber sole showed no damage after multiple climbs. As a result of their versatility, comfort and durability, our Editors' Choice award goes to the Nike Metcon 3.

New Version Update - January 2017
This award winning CrossFit shoe was updated to the Metcon 3, pictured above, in January. With a softer midsole, a heel clip, stickier midfoot rubber, and an attempt to make the shoe more breathable, Nike significantly updated this shoe. After fully vetting this newcomer, we believe it is still deserving of Editors' Choice Award. Keep reading to find out details between the original and this latest version.


RELATED REVIEW: Best CrossFit Shoes for Women of 2018


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Audrey Hammond

Last Updated:
Tuesday
January 10, 2017

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The Nike Metcon 3 vs. The Metcon 1


The Metcon 3 is the newest version available, retailing for $130, $10 more than the first version. The Metcon 1 won our Editors' Choice Award, leaving us to suspect that the 3 could provide equal or even better performance. Keep reading for a full summary of updates, and don't miss the side-by-side comparison below, with the Metcon 3 pictured on the left and the Metcon 1, the older version, pictured on the right.

Nike Metcon 3 - Women's
 

Here's a summary of the updates:
  • Midsole — Nike is advertising a new midsole in the Metcon 3. They claim a softer and more flexible forefoot designed for more comfortable sprints and cardio drills. Our testers realize that a great CrossFit shoe has to strike the balance between cushion and stability to maximize comfort during running and lifting, so we're curious to check out how this has changed the shoe's overall performance, if at all.
  • Heel — We noticed a difference in the heel of this shoe. Nike confirmed that the Metcon 3's heel counter is now made of firmer rubber. Additionally, they added a small heel clip, which Nike advertises was designed to "reduce drag during wall exercises and handstand push-ups." We'll have to test this one out ourselves to see if that's true.
  • Midfoot Rubber — While this Metcon 1 also had sticky rubber in the midfoot for rope exercises, it didn't perform as well as the Inov-8 F-Lite 195 - Women's. We've noticed that the pattern of the rubber has changed in the Metcon 3, potentially changing its rope climbing performance.
  • High-Wear Areas — Nike added some embroidered reinforcement for high-wear areas on this new version. We thought the Metcon 1 seemed indestructible, but haven't seen this new addition yet.
  • Breathability — While we haven't gotten to test this ourselves, Nike added ballistic mesh to this version to improve its breathability, flexibility, and weight.

While Nike has confirmed these updates, we haven't tested the Metcon 3 ourselves yet, so be aware that the rest of this review is based on the original Metcon 1.

Hands-On Review of the Metcon 1


This is a great looking shoe specifically designed for high intensity, CrossFit style workouts. It comes in light blue, pink, and black with white accents. The sticky rubber sole wraps up around the instep and has a 4 mm heel to toe drop. It weighs 9.3 ounces (264 grams).

Performance Comparison


Look out Reebok  there's a new contender for the best CrossFit shoe! Nike's new entry in the CrossFit market is well-designed  versatile and looks pretty dang sharp too.
Look out Reebok, there's a new contender for the best CrossFit shoe! Nike's new entry in the CrossFit market is well-designed, versatile and looks pretty dang sharp too.

Weightlifting


The Nike Metcon was by far our favorite shoe in this review for heavy lifting. Most hybrid style shoes designed to handle CrossFit style workouts are often too soft or lack the support to take on heavier loads. Our Best Buy winner, the Reebok Nano 2.0 - Women's, for instance is great for lighter weight, high rep movements but isn't sturdy enough to push heavy. We were able to keep these shoes firmly planted as we screwed our feet into the ground without feeling any of the "tippyness" that one shoe tester noted in narrower shoes like the Reebok Sprint 2.0. While the Sprint has a slimmer, more tapered sole, this shoe's sole has a more substantial feel similar to that of a traditional lifting shoe.

Dropping into a split jerk under a heavy load was no problem wearing the Metcon. These shoes made us feel stable and supported during our lifts.
Dropping into a split jerk under a heavy load was no problem wearing the Metcon. These shoes made us feel stable and supported during our lifts.

Running


These shoes feel so solid for lifting we were surprised that they were also comfortable for running. While these shoes did not score a perfect 10 during our side-by-side sprint tests, they do have more cushion than we expected in a good lifting shoe — often these traits are mutually exclusive. Short runs in the midst of workouts with lifts or gymnastics movements were no problem with the Metcons. If your workouts typically have longer runs though, we really liked the comfort and lightness of our Top Pick for Running WODs, the Reebok Sprint 2.0. The Metcons are slightly heavier than the Sprints, so as the runs get long you might want less weight on your feet.

Tara Ross tries out this shoe during our side-by-side sprint test. These shoes have a decent amount of cushioning for running  but not so much cushion that it will impact your lifts.
Tara Ross tries out this shoe during our side-by-side sprint test. These shoes have a decent amount of cushioning for running, but not so much cushion that it will impact your lifts.

Sensitivity


In the battle for the best CrossFit shoe, one category that helped this model edge out the Nano series of shoes was that of sensitivity. The Nanos have a wider toe box that can feel sloppy and make it hard to keep your body weight strategically positioned where you need it. The newest in the Nano series, the Reebok Nano 7.0 - Women's, does have a somewhat narrower toe box than previous Nanos. However, the Nano 7.0 still did not give us the solid body awareness that we felt in this shoe.

Support


The Nike Metcon reigned supreme for support in this review, which is one of the many reasons it received our Editors' Choice award. One of the common problems when lifting in non-lifting specific shoes is that they lack the support you need to stand up out of the bottom of a squat. The Merrell Bare Access Arc 4 - Women's, for instance, pushed our weight forward onto our toes causing us to dump the bar on heavy front squats. Not so with these shoes, even with only a 4 mm heel to toe drop.

Heel to Toe Drop is the difference between the height of the heel and the forefoot. A 4 mm difference means your heel is 4 mm higher off the ground than the ball of your foot. Lifting specific shoes have higher drops (anywhere from 15-24 mm) to help you stand up out of a deep squat with a heavily loaded barbell. Minimalist shoes, on the other hand, will have a more neutral 0 mm drop (i.e. no difference between the heel and toe heights) to encourage landing on your forefoot as opposed to heel striking. The CrossFit style shoes in this review have drops ranging from 0 to 4 mm.

This is a supportive shoe for lifting. It is easy to keep your weight back on your heels in order to stand up out of a deep squat.
This is a supportive shoe for lifting. It is easy to keep your weight back on your heels in order to stand up out of a deep squat.

Protection / Durability


These might be the most indestructible shoes we have ever seen for CrossFitters. The friction from rope climbs that often shreds shoes and rubs feet is no problem at all for the sticky rubber sole that wraps up around the instep. Many shoe companies are now catering to the demands of CrossFitters by adding protective rope barriers. For instance, the Inov-8 F-Lite 195 - Women's is a popular shoe in CrossFit gyms and has a "Rope-Tech" instep. This model was far better at gripping onto the rope than any other shoe in this review. Our feet felt protected from the friction of rope climbs as well as the sting of double unders.

These shoes are gloriously grippy on the rope! The extra grippiness actually caused us to descend slower than normal  so we had to be a little more deliberate about separating our feet to allow the rope to slide past.
These shoes are gloriously grippy on the rope! The extra grippiness actually caused us to descend slower than normal, so we had to be a little more deliberate about separating our feet to allow the rope to slide past.

Breathability


With its impressive sole and black uppers, the Nike Metcon does not look like a breathable shoe. Thankfully, the mesh material of the uppers allows for good airflow. If your feet tend to run hot, then this shoe is much better at ventilating than ones with protective cages of rubber that limit air flow.

Comfort


While comfort is subjective, all of our shoe testers loved the feel of this shoe. They have great arch support for day to day walking and the heel cup was snug without being too stiff. There is good flexibility in the toe box which makes holding long planks or doing lots of pushups easier on the feet. One of the common complaints about the Nano series of shoes is the wide to box that many athletes find sloshy and uncomfortable. This shoe has more of a snug fit in the toes for extra support without feeling too tight. The other award-winning shoe that scored well on comfort was our Top Pick for Running WODs, the Reebok Sprint 2.0. The Sprint is a lighter shoe with a more minimal design than this one.

Tara Ross makes light work of her L sits while wearing our Editors' Choice winner. These shoes are stylish  versatile and comfortable  our all of our shoe testers loved them.
Tara Ross makes light work of her L sits while wearing our Editors' Choice winner. These shoes are stylish, versatile and comfortable, our all of our shoe testers loved them.

Best Applications


The Nike Metcon is perfect for all of your high-intensity training needs. As the name Metcon implies, any intense workout with lifts, sprints, gymnastic movements and plyometrics is what these shoes were designed for. They can even be your heavy lifting shoes if you don't own a pair of lifters yet. These are the only shoes in this review that really shined with heavier lifts, whereas other shoes like the Inov-8 F-Lite were fine with lighter loads but not as good as things got heavier.

Lisa Ray launches into a sprint after heavy kettlebell swings; a perfect combination for this shoe.
Lisa Ray launches into a sprint after heavy kettlebell swings; a perfect combination for this shoe.

Value


Retailing at $120, these shoes are strategically priced just under the Nano 7.0. They are more comfortable and definitely more versatile than the Nanos however, making them a better value for your money. This shoe helps you tackle anything the whiteboard throws at you with confidence. The female version of this shoe is brand new at the time of this review, so we don't have firsthand experience with the longevity of this shoe. The design looks very sturdy and we don't see weak points that would obviously fail, so it looks like they'll hold up for quite a while.

The sticky rubber on the instep is both grippy and indestructible. Even after dozens of rope climbs we didn't notice any damage to the shoes.
The sticky rubber on the instep is both grippy and indestructible. Even after dozens of rope climbs we didn't notice any damage to the shoes.

Conclusion


The Metcon really impressed our testers. These shoes are well designed as an all-around shoe to handle the variety of tasks that CrossFitters demand from their footwear. We were comfortable pushing the weights heavier during our side by side lifting tests due to its supportive sole. Shoes with less sensitivity don't allow you to feel where your body weight is positioned on your feet during lifts. Our testers did not find this to be the case with the Metcons, and reported great body awareness during lifts. These shoes blew all the other shoes out of the water on rope climbs. Their sticky rubber sole grabs right onto the rope and shows no signs of wear and tear from the notoriously shoe shredding movement. Other shoes, like the Merrell Bare Access Arc 4, started to show damage after only fifteen rope climbs. Even with a thick sole and black upper, this a comfortable and highly breathable shoe. Even though it is priced at the upper end for this review, with its versatility and indestructible design we think it is a great value. While looks are not an important determining factor in performance, the Metcons have a clean design and really look great in action. We've been waiting in the wings since they released the men's version of this shoe, and are glad that Nike made a pair for us as well.
Audrey Hammond


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