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History of the Nike Metcon | Innovation Every Year

history of the Nike Metcon Training shoes

The Nike Metcon model line is one of the most sought-after product lines for cross-training shoes. Since their formulation and debut in 2015, the Nike Metcon cross-training shoes have evolved tenfold.

Out of every popular cross-training shoe, few models compare to the consistency that the Nike Metcon line has frequently delivered.

I love cross-training shoes and, more importantly, I acknowledge the growth of various models. Since the first Nike Metcon, the model line has continued to change and ebb and flow based on athlete feedback and industry shifts.

Now in its ninth iteration, the latest Metcon 9 looks considerably different from the original Nike Metcon. How did we get here though? Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

It All Started With a Simple Test

Like every great origin story, there’s a pivotal moment in the Nike Metcon lineage that kickstarted their growth. This pivotal moment came to us in 2014 at the Southern California CrossFit Regional Competition.

At this Regionals competition, CrossFit legend Josh Bridges wore and put the original Nike Metcon cross-training shoe to the test.

2015: Nike Metcon 

After their initial debut, CrossFit athletes and Nike loyalists readied themselves for the release of a new cross-trainer. In 2015, the original Nike Metcon made its debut, but not without friction.

This model featured the signature “X” construction which was utilized to promote stability, durability, and versatility. Basically, this construction style which is still present in the Nike Metcon line is designed to tackle the niche asks of cross-training.

Original Nike Metcon

It wasn’t long after their release that the Nike Metcons were banned from formal CrossFit competitions (the CrossFit Games specifically). The reasoning was the shoe’s name “Metcon”, which paid homage to the metabolic conditioning aspect of CrossFit, was stated to infringe on Reebok’s formal relationship with the CrossFit Games.

This then spurred a bit of controversy, and Nike retaliated with their infamous Nike Metcon ad that stated, “Don’t ban our shoe. Beat our shoe.” 

Nike Metcon banned
Image Courtesy

Note it wasn’t just the Nike Metcon that was banned from the CrossFit Games. In reality, it was every shoe sans Reebok cross-trainers. At the time of the ban, Nike was one of the only major companies outside of Reebok creating CrossFit-focused shoes which, in my opinion, caused them to be a prime target regarding this topic.

This CrossFit Games shoe ban lasted up until 2019 when Greg Glassman announced that athletes could wear whatever footwear they wanted to the CrossFit Games. He did this in an attempt to “de-monopolize” the nature of the CrossFit Games and democratize what athletes could wear.

As a side note, in 2021, it was announced that NOBULL is now the official sponsor of the CrossFit Games. It will be interesting to see if they slap another footwear limitation at this year’s Games.

2016: Nike Metcon 2

In 2016, the Nike Metcon 2 was released with some key construction changes. The first Nike Metcon was somewhat infamous for its heel slip, which helped spur boot construction changes for the second model.

Nike Metcon 2

The Nike Metcon 2 still featured the “X” design with an extended medial and lateral outsole wrap for rope climbs. The key differences in this model were the increase in boot material for preventing heel slip and the additional plastic TPU plate in the heel.

Nike added these features to promote heel stability and limit heel slip. The upper construction was also slightly reworked, as the Nike Metcon 2 had a bit more breathability compared to the original.

Key Construction Features

  • TPU Heel Addition
  • Medial/Lateral Mid-Foot Outsole Wrap
  • Flywire Tech
  • 4mm Heel-to-Toe Drop

2017: Nike Metcon 3

Despite the boot’s structural change in the Nike Metcon 2, unfortunately, heel slip was still an issue and this caused further innovation for the Nike Metcon 3. This model hit the mainstream markets in early 2017 and provided a few more key construction innovations to level up the Nike Metcon line.

Nike Metcon 3

Similar to the original Nike Metcon and the 2, the 3 still features the “X” construction design. The key differences in this model were a reworked outsole material, reconstructed upper materials, and an additional TPU heel clip.

Nike utilized a sticky rubber texture throughout the outsole and medial/lateral mid-foot wraps to increase grip across the board for performance. The plastic heel clip was another addition to promote a “locked-down” heel and limit heel slip while supporting overall stability. Finally, the reworked upper was composed of lighter material for breathability and longevity purposes.

Key Construction Features

  • Sticky Rubber Outsole
  • Plastic Heel Clip
  • 4mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
  • Flywire Tech

2018: Nike Metcon 4

In early 2018, we experienced the Nike Metcon 4 which has become one of the favorite models for many CrossFit enthusiasts, lifters, and athletes (myself included in here!). This model once again innovated key Nike Metcon details and really dialed in the performance of this shoe.

Nike Metcon 4

The Nike Metcon 4 featured a slightly more “minimalist” approach to its construction and provided a very low-to-the-ground feeling. Overall though, this model was eerily similar to the Nike Metcon 3 and the main difference was a reworked upper construction.

The upper in the Nike Metcon 4 was a blend of mesh and synthetic materials with additional areas of support to improve durability (like the synthetic leather over the big toe). This model didn’t have as much heel slip as previous models which is a big reason why I think many like this model so much — outside of its “athletic” feeling and stability.

Key Construction Features

  • Reworked Upper
  • Plastic Heel Clip
  • 4mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
  • Flywire Tech

2019: Nike Metcon 5

In 2019, Nike innovated the Metcon line once again in a fairly big way. The Nike Metcon 5 was a very different shoe compared to the previous four models, and some loved it while others longed for the construction of the 3 and 4.

Nike Metcon 5

The Nike Metcon 5 had handfuls of changes compared to the Nike Metcon 4. For starters, Nike reworked the upper once again and featured a 3D printed upper and thicker tongue which was done to increase durability, which was the case, but this model was a bit “heavier” in nature compared to the 4s.

Additionally, the boot’s material was increased to limit heel slip, and the plastic heel clip was removed entirely. The outsole removed the triangle-like structure and started to utilize sticky rubber ridges to promote traction. The final two major changes worth noting were the increased medial and lateral mid-foot outsole wraps and the dual-density insole.

Key Construction Features

  • 3D Printed Upper and Thicker Tongue
  • Reworked Mid-Foot Outsole Wrap
  • 4mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
  • Increased Boot Material

2020: Nike Metcon 6

With mixed feedback on the Nike Metcon 5, some great and some “meh”, Nike Rolled out the Metcon 6. This model featured a reworked upper construction once again and had a few construction features to make this model more versatile than the Metcon 5.

Nike Metcon 6

Overall, there were a lot of consistencies between Metcon 5 and Metcon 6. For example, the outsole, midsole, and last were all eerily similar and provided ample stability across the board. One of the major changes involved the upper construction which featured a breathable mesh-like material which was a welcomed change compared to the Metcon 5.

To increase versatility and flexibility, the Metcon 6 had a slightly reworked dual-density midsole. Instead of splitting in a V-like construction, this model featured a stark shift between the heel and forefoot and you can actually see where that split is present through the vertical line on the upper construction.

Key Construction Features

  • Breathable Mesh Upper
  • Dual-Density Insole
  • 4mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
  • Increased Boot Material

2021: Nike Metcon 7

After an interesting lead-up with ever-changing release dates, we finally had the Nike Metcon 7 debut globally on August 7th, 2021 on Nike. The Nike Metcon 7 featured a ton of changes compared to previous models and has been very hit or miss for consumers.

Nike Metcon 7

Unlike previous models, the Nike Metcon 7 had its heel-to-toe drop raised to 7mm from 4mm. Historically, Nike Metcon shoes have always had a lower-to-the-ground feeling with a minimal-esque heel-to-toe drop. This 7mm shift has been a pretty significant change.

In addition, the Nike Metcon 7 also has a built-in Hyperlift compared to the additional insert that you received in the Nike Metcon 5 and 6, and Nike React Foam throughout the midsole. The React Foam gives the Nike Metcon 7 a much more responsive feel compared to previous Nike Metcon models.

Key Construction Features

  • 4mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
  • Nike React Foam Midsole
  • Hyperlift Insert Built-In
  • Chain-Link Mesh Upper

2022: Nike Metcon 8

Being an even year, the Nike Metcon 8 was a continuation of the Nike Metcon 7 and the core anatomy of this shoe like its outsole and midsole was left relatively unchanged.

Nike Metcon 8 Review

The core changes on the Nike Metcon 8 compared to the Nike Metcon 7 revolved around the upper and lace-lock features in this shoe. This model utilized more textile and synthetic overlays which helped with durability but cut into this shoe’s breathability.

To date, the Nike Metcon 8 has been one of the most polarizing Metcon models. Some lifters have loved them while others have actively sought out the Metcon 7 or prior models due to this shoe’s snugger feel and limited ventilation.

Key Construction Features

  • 4mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
  • Nike React Foam Midsole
  • Hyperlift Insert Built-In
  • Synthetic and Textile Upper

2023: Nike Metcon 9

The Nike Metcon 9 was a highly anticipated model as it was an odd year following two arguably sub-par models. This shoe featured a lot of changes, and to date, it’s also one of the most polarizing Nike Metcon shoes.

Nike Metcon 9 Review

Compared to the Nike Metcon 8, the Nike Metcon 9 has been pretty much entirely reworked. Some main callouts for this shoe feature its dual-density foam midsole, reworked rubber rope guard and Hyperlift, and redone upper construction.

On top of these construction changes, the Nike Metcon 9 was also designed to be wider, which has been a welcomed change in CrossFit and lifting communities. The Metcon 9 shoe is the widest Nike Metcon training shoe to date.

Key Construction Features

  • 4mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
  • Dual-Density Foam Midsole
  • Hyperlift Insert Built-In
  • Mesh Upper With Haptic Overlays

It’s 2023, Where Are We Now?

As a shoe reviewer who’s worn every Nike Metcon to date, I find the Nike Metcon 9 to be one of my least favorite Metcons. This model feels overbuilt and like it’s trying to do everything, but in reality, it’s kind of a master of none.

I know some lifters and athletes love the Nike Metcon 9, but compared to models like the Metcon 4 and 6, I just feel like Nike could do better with this shoe’s intent and construction.

I don’t know about you, but I’m already excited for the Nike Metcon 10 and I’m really hoping Nike scales back the bulkiness that came along with the Metcon 9’s excessive rubber rope guards and heavy upper.

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of That Fit Friend. He's often regarded to as a go-to resource in various performance shoe communities. He’s been formally reviewing shoes and training gear for over 7 years and has hand-tested over 400 pairs of shoes. Jake is known on the internet and YouTube for blending his review process with his educational, strength sports, and personal training background.

Jake has a Masters in Sports Science, a Bachelors in Exercise Science, a CSCS, and he's been personal training for over 10 years helping hundreds of clients get stronger, lose weight, and accomplish their goals. He uses his exercise science brain and personal training background to make curated and thoughtful review content on the fitness gear he's testing.

2 thoughts on “History of the Nike Metcon | Innovation Every Year”

  1. Metcon 3 and 4 are still my favorite. I found a pair of metcon 4s for 100 bucks on ebay and I purchased all of them. Metcon 5, 6, and 7 really feel like traditional running shoes adapted to crosstraining. Simply put they are not as stable as the 3s and 4s. This also has todo with how narrow or wide your foot is. I have a narrow heal, tall arch, and narrow toes with a slight pronation. I was a track runner through college. At almost 48 I still run the 100 meters in almost 11 flat. I move fast and need a tight fighting shoe that provides enough stability for quick side to side movements. The metcons 3s and 4s are the best crosstraining shoes I’ve encountered. I’ve owned numerous reeboks. Some of those were decent but still no comparison to my metcons.

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