Running shoes are always evolving. Running styles adapt to ever-changing terrains. When Nike quizzed runners on what they wanted from their running shoes, the answers were wildly varied—needed to be lightweight; needed to be tough; needed to have cushioning; needed to have better energy return. Great feedback but they are diametrically opposed. “Lightweight and yet tough”? Back to the drawing board, amirite? (Or maybe play an video game while you're at it.)
But Nike is like #challengeaccepted and responded with the Nike Epic React Flyknit. The shoe’s upper looks like a one-piece Nike Flyknit bootie (which takes cues from the Nike Flyknit Racer) that’s precision-engineered for support, flexibility and breathability. With a sculptured forefoot, toe and arch, the upper construction is minimal but it provides support to the foot.
To get the shoes to be formfitting, that’s where the Flyknit fabric comes in. The fabric creates a seamless upper that conforms to your foot so it feels like wearing socks with soles. The addition of laces seems like a redundancy (though as I understand some runners need that tightness for better performance). Wearing it is fine, it’s snug but when it when I slipped in my wide clown feet into it, that’s where the difficulty begins.
Pounding the pavement with these shoes made the run comfortable. The Nike React’s patented foam cushioning is lightweight and responsive (read: energy from the footfall returns for the lift). We took the shoes overseas in Hokkaido, Japan, traversing the verdant landscape on one of my runs; the soles guard against the wear and tear of the terrain. I felt like I can run for hours.
And then, it rained.
Have you tried running through wet grass that reaches to your knees? It’s not pleasant. Especially, the sound each step makes like you’re making wine from grapes the old fashion way. While the Flyknit fabric is great for breathability, it is not great in keeping the rain out. By the time when I return to drier land, my dogs were sopping wet. The shoes dry easily enough when I placed them under underneath an operational air condition (took about three hours).
Verdict: The Nike Epic React Flyknit is great for running—sidewalks, concrete, grassy knolls—not advisable for wet weather. Take it from this idiot.
The Nike Epic React Flyknit is out now at all Nike stores and select retailers and retails for SGD 229.