A good gym shoe can make or break your training experience. Too much plush underfoot, and you run the risk of an unstable stance for squats and other modalities. Too weak of an upper, and you can wind up replacing your workout kicks as regularly as you would your protein powder stock.
Thankfully, though, there are some training sneakers answering any all and inquiries, delivering exceptional comfort, durability and performance with each set or step.
Over the years, Nike has been one of the most popular shoe brands not just in training footwear, but sneakers in general, and its Metcon lineup has answered the call of plenty gym-goers with security, workout-boosting perks and (of course) style. The brand recently unveiled its Metcon 8 lineup, creating a fresh, new take on Nike's flagship training stable.
But does this all-new silhouette carry the torch of previous iterations? Do the features and design cater to both novice and veteran athletes alike? Having been a fan of the previous Metcon 7, I laced up these latest trainers to see whether this new kick could live up to its predecessor's reputation. Across multiple strength training and CrossFit workouts, I tested the shoe's durability and stability, as well as highlighted the new features that Nike added to the profile.
Here's what you can expect from the all-new Nike Metcon 8s.
What's Good About the Nike Metcon 8?
The reworked upper is durable, even through many training sessions.
While the Metcon 7s were durable enough for my needs, I did begin to notice wear and tear as my workout logs began piling up. This was due to the lightweight mesh upper that provided exceptional comfort and breathability but did little to help defend against errant scuffs and scrapes. I appreciate how Nike beefed up the upper construction with the Metcon 8s, adding some textured overlays in key areas to help improve the durability of the shoe's profile. Across multiple box jumps, agility ladder drills (and a wandering change plate that was dropped unexpectedly on my toes) the upper seemed to maintain its shape and structure.
Despite the added textured layer on the exterior, I didn't feel any lack of comfort or breathability with these training sneakers, either. When in the throws of a serious lifting session, I never felt an excess of sweat around my feet — something I can't say for other gym-centric footwear I've worn over the years.
Nike's React midsole foam delivers good structure and comfort.
If it's not broke, then why change it? One of the biggest perks to the Nike Metcon 8 silhouette is the brand's continued inclusion of Nike React foam in the midsole. I absolutely love this design element, as it gives each stance the right amount of comfort and rigidity. Whether moving through my planned plyometrics or standing tall at the top of a squat, I never felt my feet were compromised. Plus, the subdued cushioning makes walking from each machine more bearable — a small yet welcome feature in any trainer.
I also like how well the Nike React foam works with the inner plate, allowing me to achieve the proper stance for Olympic lifts from start to finish. There's enough structure to support more complex foot maneuvers like you'd see in a proper clean and jerk, but the subtle coziness makes taking each step more appealing.
What's Less Ideal About the Nike Metcon 8s?
If you have a well-kept pair of Metcon 7s, there's no need to upgrade.
While I do enjoy the Nike Metcon 8s and think they're one of the best gym shoes out now, there's not a lot of changes from the previous iteration that would call for an immediate swap. The Nike Metcon 7s also feature Nike React foam in the midsole as well as similar plate and heel clip configurations. Additionally, the lace lock tab on the 7th installment boasts hook-and-loop patches for both upper and lower lace placement, giving you more options than the updated 8th silhouette (the lace lock tab on the Metcon 8s only allow for upper lacing setups).
If you're in the market for new gym shoes, then by all means, consider the Nike Metcon 8s. However, if you're still getting some decent mileage out of your Metcon 7s, it might be more efficient to stay with your trusted gym shoes until replacement is an absolute necessity. There's simply not enough updates to the profile as a whole to warrant getting the latest edition.
The heel clip can feel rigid at times, making these less ideal for longer running scenarios.
Like other Nike Metcons — and standalone gym shoes, for that matter — I didn't enjoy the 8th iteration when it came to running at longer distances. While I didn't feel the heel clip compromised my performance in agility drills or exercises requiring the occasional sprint, there was some rigidity felt underfoot once the mileage began to creep a little further. I typically carry a pair of running shoes in my gym bag for these scenarios, but if a trainer is capable of handling the demands of the differing training styles, great. Unfortunately, these are not the shoes for those needs.
If you're interested in mixing some long-distance cardio training with your other strength training workouts, I'd say to follow in my footsteps (pun intended) and carry a dedicated pair of runners along with your in-gym footwear. Thankfully, there are plenty of options out there that you can tailor to your specific foot strike and needs — from the cloud-like cushioned running shoes, to the security-minded stability running shoes, barefoot runners and beyond.
Nike Metcon 8: The Verdict
While the silhouette doesn't showcase the major upgrades beneath, I still think the Nike Metcon 8s are some of the best gym shoes available today. You can still take advantage of the brand's impressive Nike React foam midsole, and the reworked upper caters to those that may push their footwear to the breaking point more often than not.
If you're in the market for new trainers, I'd suggest these in a heartbeat — but if you're just curious about the latest models, it might be best to save the product tab until your tried and trusted kicks, well, kick the bucket.