When the Nike Metcon launched in 2015, it had a wrap up the midfoot to provide grip for rope climbs, but it didn’t have a heel clip.
Because more athletes began to wear the shoe while doing handstand push-ups, designers saw the opportunity to create a feature that reduced friction on the wall during the movement.
Then they lowered the offset to 4mm for the Metcon 3 to provide more support under bars that were getting seriously heavy.
The use of haptic technology on the upper came along in the 4. The rubberized tri-star shapes added strategic durability to high-wear areas like the toe box and sides, and left mesh for breathability and flexibility in other spots.
For the 5, designers are including an insert that offers more elevation to accommodate for even heavier lifts and higher reps.
Improving the Nike Metcon has been an incremental task. That’s partly because it’s a beloved shoe (in fact, many Nike athletes have called it the “perfect shoe”), and partly because it follows the progress of the sport of training.
Athletes are getting faster and stronger. Loads are getting heavier and movements are getting harder and more varied.
Thus, since the Metcon 1, the challenge has always been to push the boundaries of stability, durability and comfort to continue to support the evolution of training.
Throughout the design and engineering process for the Metcon 5, Nike’s top CrossFit athletes — including three-time Fittest Man on Earth, Mat Fraser, and six-time CrossFit Games athlete Lauren Fisher — and everyday athletes put the Nike Metcon 5 through more than 9,000 hours of hardcore testing.
They maxed lifts, hammered out 400s, did wall ball after wall ball, burpee box-jumped and more.
Additionally, grip, traction and abrasion-resistance testing was done in the Nike Sport Research Lab to make sure the data validated the design updates. The resulting shoe isn’t just the most durable iteration of the Metcon, it’s Nike’s most stable, most durable shoe period.
• The haptic chain-link pattern on the upper can better withstand the abuse of rope climbs.
• The tongue has more cushioning for better support and lock-down.
• A directional pattern on the rope wrap provides exceptional grip (or catch) during rope climbs and allows for a smoother slide during descents. The peak is also higher, so there’s more surface area to provide grip and durability.
• A wider heel improves stability during heavy squats, snatches, cleans and shoulder-to-overhead movements.
• A Nike Hyperlift insert gives an additional 8mm lift for men and 6mm for women to further improve stability. The higher offset helps you to maintain heel-to-ground contact and balance, which can create strong stability during heavy lifts as well as high-rep squats, wall balls, thrusters and even rowing.
• The dual-density drop-in midsole is softer and more flexible in the forefoot. This adds comfort and protection during high-impact moves like double-unders, box jumps, burpees and more.
• A new pattern on the outsole, made of a stickier rubber in the forefoot and a more durable rubber in the heel, improves linear traction during sled pushes and sprints. Both rubbers add durability over weak points and prevent wear down.
• The Metcon logo also got a refresh. It’s bigger, sleeker and more prominent.
• The heel clip hasn’t changed (so there’s no getting out of HSPUs).
Though the hope is that athletes will continue to think the Metcon is perfect, Nike will continue to evolve the silhouette alongside the sport of fitness.
“I really didn’t think there was much to improve from the Metcon 4. As soon as I got the 5, it became my new favorite,” says Fraser, who is launching his second PE with the 5.
“It’s the little things: the thickness of the new tongue that holds my foot in place, the new traction pattern that gives me exactly what I’ve been looking for to reduce slipping …the attention to detail makes this an amazing shoe.”
The Nike Metcon 5 is available for NikePlus and NTC Pro Members June 27, and globally July 8.