If you’ve spent any time in a CrossFit box (aka gym), you know Nike Metcons. Named after the common high-intensity metabolic conditioning workouts that make up much of CrossFit, Nike’s newest CrossFit release is a welcome variation to one of the company’s most popular shoes.
The Nike Metcon 6 FlyEase sports all of the features of the Metcon 6: an open breathable mesh, a flexible forefoot with a stable heel for lifting, and rubber sidewall treads for rope climbs. In addition, the 6 also sports variable rubber (harder in the heel for power on Olympic lifts, softer in the forefoot for runs) and a removable heel lift so you can adjust your heel height between movements.
Where the FlyEase differs is the heel design. A collapsible upper is reinforced with a flexible yet rigid TPU heel tab that allows you to step in and out of the shoe hands-free. While it seems frivolous, it turns out to be a great perk when you want to kick your shoes off after a killer workout.
Nike Metcon 6 FlyEase Specs
- Designed for: CrossFit, general fitness
- Weight: 13 ounces
- Features: Hands-free entry/exit, open mesh upper, reinforced sidewalls, adjustable heel height
- Price: $130
Nike Metcon 6 FlyEase Review
Nike has long been known as the CrossFit shoe with killer running credibility. Often, brands offer CrossFit footwear that skews more toward the weightlifting side, with soles that are firmer, flatter, and more rigid. These features are great when you have a barbell in your hand but feel clunky and hard when a workout calls for more dynamic movements like running or jumping.
When Nike entered the market with the first Metcon in 2015, it was far from perfect, but it was more comfortable for running than any other CrossFit shoe at the time. Over the following five updates, Nike has worked to find a great balance between running and lifting, and so far, the Metcon 6 is the apex of the brand’s effort.
Cushion & Stability
The main reason for this balance is the variable cushioning. The insole cushioning is softer near the ball and forefoot and firmer at the heel. This provides more cushioning when landing a box jump and during foot strikes when running. The firmer heel transfers power from the foot to the floor during explosive movements like cleans and snatches.
The sole flexibility also plays a part in the shoe’s versatility. The sole is highly flexible from the toe to just past the ball of the foot, exactly where the shoe needs to flex during a run. From there, the sole is extremely stiff, which provides the stability needed during a heavy lift.
The stability is bolstered by the unique heel shape. The heel’s outsole expands laterally, which widens the heel and helps prevent any ankle roll during movements that can generate lateral force, like sumo deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and heavy squats.
Another nice perk of the Metcon 6 is the ability to switch out insoles. The shoes come with dual-density insoles, but you can add the included heel insert to add height for squats and Olympic movements. You can also remove the insole completely for a flatter profile, which comes in handy for movements like deadlifts where your heel should be closer to the ground.
CrossFit workouts are hard enough without hot, sweaty, uncomfortable feet. Even on cold days, a rough workout will build up a good amount of heat in a shoe, and if there’s no good way for heat to escape, you’re going to feel it.
The Metcon 6 upper is made up of an open mesh with large, open gaps throughout. They’re big enough for light to easily pass through, and they give the shoe a breezy, open feel. Over months of testing, I never felt my feet overheating.
Lightweight mesh usually means a lack of durability. Nike combats this with rubber reinforcement screen-printed over the shoes’ toecaps and sidewalls. CrossFit shoes are especially vulnerable to abrasion on rope climbs, so the sidewall is further reinforced by the outsole, which extends up the sides of the shoe to provide extra coverage. The shoes were subjected to dozens of rope climbs during testing and show almost zero wear.
But let’s get to the most noticeable feature of the shoe: the FlyEase heel. Instead of a stiff heel cup, the Metcon 6 FlyEase heel is completely flexible and supported by a semi-rigid extension arm of the external TPU heel bumper on the back of the shoe.
The heel collapses when you step on it, letting you slip into the shoe without hands, and the TPU arms have a wide stepping tab on the top so you can kick them off in seconds.
I tested the shoe out for several months in a wide variety of workouts to see how well they performed in every situation that CrossFit may throw an athlete’s way. On Olympic lifts, the shoes felt stable and firm. Not as supportive as an Olympic lifting shoe, but they had plenty of stability for workouts that include cleans and snatches.
The flexibility and cushioning were spot-on for runs, box jumps, and burpees. Runs felt smooth and natural. They’re a bit more clunky than a running-only shoe but work well enough for runs 5 km or shorter. During box jumps, the cushion was soft enough to absorb the landing without feeling jarring, yet responsive enough to allow for rebound jumps when I was racing to beat a time cap. The forefoot flexibility shines especially on burpees, as they move freely with the foot during the upward drive to the jump at the end of each rep.
On rope climbs, the ridged outsole extension provided a solid grip on the rope, and the upper proved to be abrasion-resistant. No rope burns here.
Easy on, Easy Off
The shoes worked great during the workout, but the real wow factor takes place before and after. Being able to slip the shoes on and off quickly seems like an unnecessary perk, but if you’ve ever scrambled to take off your knee sleeves when moving from a strength workout to metabolic conditioning while the rest of the class waits for you, you know what a huge feature this is.
These shoes kick on an off so quickly, I tied them the first time I put them on and haven’t touched the laces since. When they’re on, the shoes offer a secure, stable fit. This is thanks in part to the attached tongue, which gives the shoe a snug but not restricting fit.
The first thing I want to do after a tough workout is roll around on the floor and kick my shoes off. The tabs at the top of the heel cup make this fast and simple. And once I’ve recovered, it’s a lot easier to put them back on, gather my dignity, and put my weights away like nothing happened.
Nike Metcon 6 FlyEase: Conclusion
When I first saw this shoe, I thought, “It’s a neat perk, but does it warrant a whole separate shoe?” After testing this shoe out over the last few months, the answer is an emphatic yes.
The convenience of being able to slip the shoe on and off in between strength and metcon portion of the workouts alone makes this shoe worthwhile. I didn’t have to choose my knee sleeves based on how well they’d work during cardio since I could just kick the shoes off, remove the sleeves, and have the shoes back on in the same amount of time it would take me to lace up any other pair.
In addition, the fact that I never have to untie the shoes means I can double-knot them without trying to unlace them with shaky, exhausted hands afterward. A shoelace coming undone can cost precious seconds and reps in competition, particularly if those laces trip you up during double-unders.
With the Metcon 6 FlyEase, I’ve got them permanently double-knotted, so I know they’ll never come undone. They’ve made it into the vaunted realm of “competition shoes” in my gear bag.
At first glance, FlyEase tech seemed like a gimmick. But now I’m hesitant to use any other shoe. Nike took an already excellent shoe with the Metcon 6 and added a perk that’s so head-slappingly simple, you’ll wonder why the brand doesn’t put it on every shoe it makes from here on out.