Nike Metcon 6 review: almost the perfect gym shoe

It can sometimes seem that Nike is purely occupied with breaking new ground (and world records) with its running shoes. A world away from the carbon plates and controversial stack heights, it’s easy to forget that Nike is making great shoes where running fast is not the top priority.
The Metcon is a shoe that is built for the gym. Something you lace up when you want to lift the heavy stuff, or you want something to give you the right kind of cushioned foundations to power through HIIT workouts and CrossFit sessions. It cares about speed too, but more the kind that comes in shorter, sharper bursts.

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The Metcon 5 was pretty faultless and with the 6, Nike isn’t making wholesale changes. It’s very much a case of, it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s still putting the cushioning and offering stability in the right places, retaining the inserts to support bigger lifts and that wrap-style sole to give a traction boost for climbing up ropes.
Where Nike is aiming to make this a more complete partner when you step onto that gym floor is to make the Metcon a more breathable shoe. Look across the upper, particularly in that roomy toe box area and you’ll now spy a mesh layer. Nike says it keeps the shoe 18 per cent more breathable than the Metcon 5.
Those don’t feel like numbers to get hugely excited about, but it’s a step in the right direction. Especially for our CrossFit-style workouts where keeping cool to speed up recovery between kettlebell WODs does matter. Crucially, that move to keep things cool doesn’t interfere with what made that upper built for workout carnage. It still retains that durable profile around the laces and in the midsole to make sure it’s fit to go the distance.

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Nike rarely disappoints with the colourways it offers up for any of its shoes and the Metcon is treated no differently. In all-black with metallic Nike swoosh they signal that you mean business. If you want a splash of colour where that signature wrap sole stands out, it’s there if you want it too.
When it’s time to get lifting, you still have that low, wide heel and high density foam to give you a solid base for moves like squats. Nike’s firm foam Hyperlift inserts add an 8mm drop to offer more cushioning where it’s needed most. Try them without the inserts and you might find you get away without slipping them in.
That stability once again seeps into the dual density midsole to provide a satisfying level of cushioning, especially for box jumps. Underfoot, the rubber sole still provides a nice stickiness to offer good traction, but still has some give to give you that burst of speed.
It’s a shoe that feels true to size. In a UK size 8, I got that more locked in fit in the heel, with room for toes to move freely and naturally. That extra flexibility up front, thanks to the mesh addition, only adds to that more spacious feeling.

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For those hoping you can move from the weights section to the treadmill with ease, that’s not really the case here, much like the last Metcon. The contrasting construction of the shoe and the level of foam in the heel and the forefoot doesn’t make for a great running experience. You might make it through a trudge of a 5K, but speed over distance isn’t something that’s going to feel very comfortable.
The Metcon 6 doesn’t reinvent the wheel because in many ways it doesn’t have to. This feels like a shoe that’s built for versatility in the gym. If you want to lift, it’s giving you that stable base. If you want a better fit for functional training that can still keep you light on your feet, it delivers there too.
It’s also a shoe that’s a great match for high intensity interval training. Now that Nike is moving to a more breathable design, that’s only going to increase its appeal for anyone that grabs kettlebells or gets down to do Tabata push-ups on the regular.

The Nike Metcon 6 training shoe is on sale now for £115 from Nike.

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