|Update:||Nike Epic React Flyknit 2|
|Weight:||Men: 8.4oz | Women: 6.9oz|
|Heel to toe drop:||Men: 10mm | Women: 10mm|
|Arch type:||High arch|
|Features:||Cushioned | Comfortable|
|Strike Pattern:||Heel strike|
|Foot Condition:||Bunions, Knee pain, Hip pain|
|Technology:||Nike React, Flyknit|
|Release date:||Feb 2018|
|Width:||Men: Normal | Women: Normal|
|Colorways:||Purple, Grey, Black, White, Beige, Red, Blue, Pink, Multi, Green, Orange|
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88 / 100 based on 49 expert reviews
Nike Epic React Flyknit: Serious runners for the casual runnerMore photos
Hello, It's been a while.
I must admit, Nike and I haven't seen eye to eye for some time. Despite having purchased a couple of models very early on as a casual runner, I have not owned a pair of Nike in the last 10 years.
The only pair which I did like and kind of want, was the original Flyknit Racer when released 6 years ago. The high price tag, however, was just one of the things that got in the way.
You see, in my eyes, Nike had an image problem. With their emphasis on marketing and lifestyle, along with the controversial use of sweatshops and continued support of athletes charged with doping, it was all too easy for me to dismiss the brand in favor of those perceived more "runner-centric" such as Brooks, New Balance, and Asics.
As a runner, I wanted running shoes, not lifestyle products.
Well-publicized "stunts" such as the sub-2 hour marathon attempt didn’t help. But, beneath all that, I also knew there was also proper innovation and technology at work.
The eye-opening first encounter with the original Flyknit, the marvelous barefoot feel of the minimal Free series, and the buzz – from real runners – surrounding VaporFly 4% were all testament to that.
So here I found myself with Nike's latest "hype-able" offering in my hands – the RunRepeat in partnership with Nike.
Casual vs Serious Runner
Here is probably a good place to briefly set out my own definition of what makes a runner "casual" and another "serious," reasons for the distinction which will become clear later.
In my eyes, one is a casual runner if one runs mainly for enjoyment and for the benefits it brings to the body and soul. A casual runner "runs to eat" (i.e. cake without the guilt). A runner becomes more serious when mental and physical boundaries are pushed. A serious runner eats – discerningly - in order to run better.
A relevant observation as a running shoe geek: a casual runner will probably if they enter races at all, race in the same daily trainer that they use for everyday runs. A serious runner, on the other hand, is likely to have a set of racing flats specific to the distance being raced.
It is entirely possible for one person to be both casual and serious, depending on where they are in fitness and training. And, importantly, one is not better than the other.
My thesis is that Epic React is indeed a serious running shoe (as opposed to a lifestyle sneaker) but best suited for the casual runner.
Read on and see if you agree.
When ordering online I went for the usual US10.5 (UK9.5, EUR44.5). After placing the order, however, I saw the words on the official website; "Fits true to size for a snug fit. If you prefer a slightly bigger fit, we recommend ordering a ½ size up."
Oops. Having slightly wider feet than most, I now faced a nervous wait.
Once the shoes arrived and I pulled them on, I feared that they were indeed half size too small. The length seemed OK, as was room in the forefoot, with some wriggle room left for my toes. But the squeeze on the midfoot was crazy, to the point that I almost decided that I couldn’t possibly run in these.
And then I remembered back to that time many moons ago when I was trialing the first Flyknit and how the Nike rep had gone through the "performance" of steaming the upper and molding them to my feet.
I decided to trust the Flyknit's ability to stretch and adapt and hoped that a couple of sweaty runs would do their magic in breaking the shoes in.
Superb Design, Airy Upper
To be honest, I actually wasn’t thinking I would be running much in these, at least not yet. While Nike's formidable design team has delivered yet again, in my mind I was thinking "summer," "shorts," "casual."
True to preconceptions these looked like lifestyle sneakers designed seemingly to be walked around town in and if they performed half decently as running shoes, well, that would be a bonus.
The design strikes the right balance of subtle and contrast. I loved the College Navy colorway, what with its blue-ish white midsole, pink heel stabilizer, and yellow pull tab all coming together into something very easy on the eye.
Even the heel offset, while unusual and odd, did not detract from the overall look. A quick glance at most other Nike models suggests the flanged heel is a brand feature anyway. The offset heel is just an extreme variation on the theme.
The "tongue" is integrated into the Flyknit upper, adding to the minimal feel. Given the tightness around midfoot, however, laces almost seemed unnecessary and left there only for aesthetics. Or perhaps necessary only for those who had elected for a looser fit and sized up.
A further reason for delaying my run in these was that, with the UK still firmly in Winter's grip, it was almost too cold to be wearing such airy shoes.
The Flyknit upper, while denser midfoot and towards the midsole, were very "breathable" around the toes to the point that one can discern the color of the socks.
The React Midsole
To be sure, much of the hype surrounding the shoe was centered on React, the new proprietary high energy return midsole material for Nike. Not only high energy return, but incredibly light, and long-lasting, to boot. Time would tell with regards to the other claims, but one thing is certain right out of the box – the shoes are remarkably light.
The shoes weigh in at 239gr for size 9 and carry a 10mm offset. The stack height is considerable, at 18mm-28mm. Adidas Ultra Boost, on the other hand, is heavier at 303gr while lower profile at 12mm-22mm.
According to Nike, the React foam, which is a rubber based rather than EVA based, is more responsive and durable than their own Lunar foam, while delivering 13% more energy return. While I have no first-hand experience of the Lunar, comparison with Ultra Boost suggests the Boost is a heavier, denser material.
At any rate, as always, the proof is in the ride.
The Run Test
Winter or not, heeding to my task at hand to review the shoes in a timely manner, donning my thinnest pair of socks, I set off on a maiden 10 mile run in the Epic React.
The run was actually one of my social beer runs, involving a 6-mile jog to a designated pub, from where the group would engage in a speed session in the nearby park, returning to the pub for beers. The point is that the run would involve various paces and intensities, providing useful feedback.
I was also mindful of a half marathon coming up and unless convinced otherwise before then, Epic React would be carrying me on race day.
I was pleasantly surprised by the shoes.
"React" is an appropriate name for the midsole material, since it seemed to provide ample energy return, yet with both cushioning and responsiveness which in so many shoes are mutually exclusive. I bounced along comfortably at slower paces and powered through higher speeds.
At higher speeds, particularly when cornering, I was actually grateful for the snug fit. With a looser fit, given the stretchiness of the upper, I had visions of the midfoot spilling out over the midsole.
The shoes are notably narrow midfoot, and the relatively high stack height added to the sense of instability during tight turns.
But over this and couple of other subsequent runs, there was nothing to suggest otherwise so Epic React was my choice for the London Landmarks Half Marathon, where I had the responsibility of pacing the 1hr 45mins group.
Now, target time of 1hr 45mins is more than 10 minutes outside of my PB so I wouldn’t be going all-out, but it was still pacey enough to make it a decent morning's workout!
Pacing a race can be fairly stressful, what with having to keep an eye on your GPS watch, another on the mile markers along the route - and the two giving you wildly differing information - all the while wearing a back-pack with a large sail-like flag with target time on it so other runners can easily spot who to follow.
It is also an incredibly rewarding experience, as you get to encourage and otherwise help other runners meet their target times and indeed get over the finish line.
So, I suppose it is to Epic React's credit that the shoe was the last thing I had to think or worry about on race day, as I managed to bring runners home in 1hr 44mins 30secs!
The shoes were comfortable before, during, and after as I negotiated the streets of London and I'd add that, as racing shoes, the half marathon may be the ideal distance for Epic React, but I have no doubt they'd prove just as comfortable over a full marathon too.
The shoes were fine on wet surfaces, although not as reassuring as the Continental outsole on Adidas. But then again, in my experience, nothing surpasses Continental rubber in the wet. Ironically, the exposed midsole seemed to provide more traction on wet tarmac than the rubberized toe and heel.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Nike Epic React. While React foam is not the game changer some would have believed, it does provide excellent energy return which comes through in a cushioned and responsive ride that indeed makes running fun, particularly at slower speeds.
The shoe design, material, and production are executed to perfection and the shoe is versatile in the sense that it looks at home in both casual and race setting. The ample cushioning in the rear half also makes them great for walking in, probably the most comfortable amongst all my other running shoes, so they actually work as lifestyle shoes too.
If to be worn primarily as a lifestyle shoe, I would probably size up by half to accommodate thicker socks and since comfort rather than performance is more important. If to be used primarily for running and racing, I'd be happy to stick to the usual size to get the benefits of foot-hugging fit.
Having run in them about a dozen times, the shoes still require a bit of foot contortion to pull on but, once on, there is plenty of room in the forefoot and no discernible discomfort anywhere.
The only flaw I can think of is the narrowness of the midsole at midfoot which, combined with the stack height, takes away the stability somewhat on uneven ground and while cornering at speed.
As serious running shoes, Epic React has a place as daily and primary running shoes for serious and casual runners alike and for racing 10km up to marathon distances for the casual runner.
The ride feels consistent and smooth at all paces, but excel during the slower jogs, when one is more likely to land on the mid to rear foot. For the serious PB chasers in shorter distances, however, Epic React is no match for racing flats. But, to be fair, that isn't what the shoes were designed for.
After almost 80 miles, the sole is showing some but surprisingly little wear. As is often the case with running shoes, I reckon the outsole will out-last the uppers here.
All in all, the experience with Epic React has both reinforced my views towards Nike and shed new light.
The brand does indeed cater to both lifestyle and serious running but with Epic React succeeds in scoring on both counts thanks to great design and materials. Epic React is a serious running shoe first and foremost and that it can also be worn casually is a bonus.
I am now looking for the next pair of Nike to try. Now, that's progress!
Check out the Nike Epic React Flyknit at Nike.com!
This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.
Nike Epic React - So springy, you'll feel like you can fly-in-knitMore photos
I’m a tall, medium build, supinating, fore-midfoot striker and I train mostly in barefoot/minimal shoes.
But because I enjoy trying new things out so much I’ll give anything a go at least once… enter the Nike Epic React Flyknit!
Because on the face of things, the React looks like something designed more for its look than its function, I thought I was going to hate it.
In fact, I sort of wanted to hate it. The problem is it's annoyingly good!
React foam technology - according to Nike, "The Nike Epic React Flyknit combines a Nike React foam midsole with a Nike Flyknit upper to deliver a lightweight and soft yet responsive ride, mile after mile".
Nike React foam gives 13% greater energy return than Nike Lunar foam, while still delivering a soft and snappy ride.
As a direct comparison to the Nike LunarEpic Flyknit 2, the Nike Epic React Flyknit is 5% lighter, 11% softer and provides 10% more energy return (though I’m not sure how much energy return you get from Lunarlon cushioning so can’t compare).
Nike state that the shoes cushioning still feels like new after roughly 300 miles. So these should last for a decent amount of time.
Nike has only put rubber in places where it says it’s critical. According to data they collected, they’ve put the grip on the toe and heel only.
According to Nike the "flyknit material contours to the shape of your foot, creating a snug, hug-like feel".
With the bootie-style construction, the tongue is seamlessly part of the upper. This eliminates the pressure a traditional tongue puts on the top of your foot.
Combined with the bouncy-soft feeling of React underfoot, it's like you're wearing slippers on a mattress.
- Heel shelf stabilizes the back of your foot to help keep your heel from rocking as your foot lands
- Synthetic suede heel lining helps prevent slippage and blisters
- Weight - 239g approx. (men's size 9) and 260g approx. (men's size 11.5) as weighed by me
- Offset - 10mm
- Fits true to size for a snug fit
I find the overall appearance of these Nike runners to be quite ugly. Perhaps a sign of my age, but I really just do not understand the need for the insane heel (more on this later on).
The upper in general is appealing and looking down on them from above they look quite nice and understated.
Once you look at them from the side there’s a little bit more going on but it's still nicely subtle. There's a Nike tick overlay but that's about it and as you move to the back end it’s a different story. For me personally, it’s all too odd!
I quite like the wrap around the heel with the word Nike on it and I don’t mind the use of colors and accents, however, I’m not totally convinced that the combinations are always good together.
I’m much more a fan of plain colors with the occasional complimentary highlight or accent color.
But I suppose it all comes down to personal preference in the end. Some of my work colleagues really like the look of the React, but it's mostly the younger chaps.
Looking at the shape of the toe box I thought that my feet would feel squashed but the flyknit upper of the React is very comfortable. The material stretches nicely to accommodate my feet and I haven't once felt as though my toes don't have enough room in them.
One drawback about the upper being so breathable is that it’s exposed to sand and debris getting in. I do a lot of my running along the seafront and there’s inevitably always going to be sand.
I haven’t had any make its way into the React yet, however, I know it’s just a matter of time. I certainly won't be taking these on the sand itself because that’s a definite recipe for blisters.
There is reinforcement in the areas where the lace holes are, which I assume are there to give some strength to the flyknit material and stop it stretching or tearing.
Overall, the upper feels very lightweight but good quality and I don’t think it’ll get too easily damaged.
Unless of course, you’re mad enough to want to take these road runners on the trail, but the upper being damaged might be the least of your problems in that case.
The laces on the React are nice flat, wide ones.
They grip well and because they’re flat they don’t cause any unwanted pressure points along the top of my foot when I’m strapped in.
The heel counter is nicely designed. It hugs the back of my foot really well. The wrap around on the outside offers some extra stiffening. There’s also a suede inlay inside the heel which is meant to reduce slippage.
I’ve not found that the suede makes too much difference. My hunch is that if these shoes fit correctly, they’d be stuck like glue!
The React has a one-piece, seamless style upper.
Because of this, there’s not really much of a collar to speak of. It’s a very thin and flexible, elasticated material that wraps nicely around the ankle.
There’s also a pull tab to aid with getting your heel in but I’ve actually found it harder to use that then to pull the collar back and push my foot in that way.
As with the collar, the tongue is integrated with the rest of the upper. It’s very comfortable and you don’t get any pressure spots from it at all.
There’s enough elasticity in it that it doesn’t bunch up when I tighten the laces and the tab at the top of it is sufficient enough to grab hold of when putting the shoes on.
There are no safety features to speak of when it comes to the upper of the React. It’s a lightweight road training shoe so it doesn’t really require anything extra in that way.
The gals & guys at Nike have created something really interesting here.
As soon as I found out that the React had a new foam technology and that they had spent a lot of time and money collating data to figure out the perfect sole design, I was excited to try them out!
One of the first things you'll notice is that there are a whole load of numbers that Nike mention about the foam but to be honest they all mean nothing really unless you have another load of numbers to compare them to.
So that aside, the main points to take from the sales bluster are that the foam should feel very soft but also have a very good energy return to it.
I have to say that as skeptical as I was, the foam technology doesn't disappoint!
The first time I put the React on my feet I was stunned by how springy they felt, but also how cushioned they were when I wasn’t bouncing about the place.
The first run I took them on I got a PR for 2 miles. Needless to say, these shoes are fast ones!
Nike also claims that the shoes will feel like new even after 300 miles but only time will tell on that one.
Because the outsole rubber is only at the very end of the toe and the heel I was a bit concerned at first. It means that as a fore-midfoot striker I land on the foam with every stride.
To begin with, I thought that the foam was wearing down really quickly, especially on the outer edge where I land first, but on closer inspection, it’s barely worn at all after 53 miles of almost pure road running.
I do think that the midfoot area would benefit from some rubber and if the heel shelf was gone the weight difference would be negligible. For the most part, I think Nike has done a great job here.
My one major problem with the sole build is the 10mm heel to toe drop. It’s just way too much for me personally. If the drop was more like 5mm or less than I wouldn’t be able to fault the sole at all.
Another issue I have is the big heel shelf thing. The only thing I can see that it’s doing is adding weight. Nike claims it’s for stability, but if you’re landing that far back on your heels i think something may have gone wrong somewhere.
For me, as a midfoot striker the heel doesn’t see any action whatsoever so it’s redundant.
There’s a little too much in the way of arch support for me personally.
It’s not overwhelming but my feet are used to no support which meant the underside of my feet felt a bit sore after a few runs where the arch support had been pressing on them.
Thankfully, it’s not a crazy high arch where the sole is so soft and it doesn’t cause too many issues.
The front half of the React sole is nicely flexible but once the sole starts to really thicken up it all gets a lot stiffer.
I can’t say it’s been an issue for me though and I’ve enjoyed the relatively free feeling I get when I’m wearing these.
When I think back to when I was testing the Inov-8 Parkclaw 275 GTX’s these are infinitely more flexible!
The React have a very minimal zig-zag type tread in the two small sections of outsole rubber. It’s simple but effective.
The shoe seems to grip really well on the road and in all weather conditions. Occasionally in the wet surfaces, I have slipped a bit however that isn’t because the tread isn’t grippy, it’s because it’s not there!
On the odd couple of occasions that I've had to cross some grass or mud, things have got pretty sketchy. It goes without saying that you really don't want to be taking these off-road.
Where I mostly run in the dark, I also had the misfortune of hitting some dog poop and we all know that there's nothing that can grip on dog poop. The React is no different.
Fit & Comfort
As I’ve mentioned before, I decided to go half a size bigger than my usual size in these shoes. I thought my toes would be cramped in the toe box. I definitely think I made a mistake.
Because the 11.5 is a bit lose on me, my feet slip about a bit too much when I’m running along and I’ve been getting a lot of hot spots and blisters.
I can’t say for certain if a smaller size would have cured this but it definitely would have helped at least.
Overall, they fit well and are very, very comfortable.
Even though I am a fan of minimal shoes like the Vivobarefoot Stealth 2, I can almost live without the ground-feel for the amazing level of comfort the React offers!
There is a surprising amount of space in these for my toes.
To look at you’d think they would feel tight but my toes splay nicely in these when I run. The Flyknit material is stretchy enough to allow freedom whilst still offering enough support that my feet don’t feel unstable.
The fit on my heel is snug and very comfortable. It’s not too loose and not too tight.
The suede layer also ads a nice bit of added comfort even if that’s not really what it’s for.
In summary, I have been very impressed with the performance of the React.
I haven’t worn them as my day to day shoe as I find them far too cushioned and way too weird looking but for running they are pretty "epic."
On the Road
The React being a road shoe was designed to work specifically on the road and it really excels here. Gripping well and giving great responsiveness mile after mile.
No matter how tired my legs have gotten on hard training runs, I’ve never felt as though the React were weighing me down at all.
If anything, it felt more like they were the thing propelling me onwards!
I’ve been training quite hard recently. Putting in a lot of tempo runs and interval sets for an upcoming 7 mile, multi-terrain race I’m running in. I’ve pretty much used the React for all of my training in place of my usual barefoot training shoes.
These beasts might not be the lightest on paper but they feel really light on my feet and they feel really fast!
So far during my training tempo sets, I’ve set new PR’s at 2 miles, 4 miles, 6 miles and 10k. The only one to elude me so far is my 5k time which I’m sure I’ll be able to beat fairly soon too!
Needless to say, the React is a great shoe for speed training and intensive runs.
I haven’t really hit too many long runs in the React but it seems to fair pretty well.
Its lightweight nature means it’s not laborsome to run in, however, a lower drop shoe would have been preferable for very long runs.
- Incredibly responsive sole that really delivers
- Very comfortable, stretchy yet supportive upper
- Room for toes to splay
- Comfortable, simple & effective lacing system
- Lightweight, fast training shoe
- High heel to toe drop (note, this might not be bad if you’re used to this)
- Outsole rubber could be better placed
- Crazy heel shelf
- Upper very open to debris
- A bit too much arch support (again, this might not be bad if you’re used to this)
- Quite expensive
- Less heel to toe drop. Somewhere below 5mm would be great!
- Remove the heel shelf.
- Extend the outsole rubber from the toe to the midfoot.
- Otherwise, well done! Pat yourselves on the back. Oh and thank you!
I have been both surprised and impressed by how good the Nike Epic React Flyknit.
It’s a very fast shoe that I’ve found myself reaching for when I know I want to get moving.
It’s not perfect by any means but this is the closest I’ve ever got to putting my minimal shoes away for good.
Check out the Nike Epic React Flyknit at Nike.com.
This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.
Two thumbs up! [I] highly recommend it.
They're a go-to for me now.
- Nike introduces a new foam technology, called the React, in the Nike Epic React Flyknit. This running shoe claims to provide a whole new level of comfort that is long-lasting. Its durable, flexible, and responsive properties make it ideal for road running, casual jogging, and speedwork on the track.
- Unlike other midsole foams made of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), React is made of a unique rubber that is proprietary to Nike. This material is present in both the midsole and outsole to keep the shoe’s weight at a minimum, but not at the expense of performance.
- The shoe’s upper is a soft and secure Flyknit material, to give the foot a secure wear that feels as comfortable as a sock. The design maintains simplicity, in order to promote optimal breathability. With a lightweight and seamless construction, the upper offers a precise fit that improves the running experience.
The Nike Epic React Flyknit has a standard running shoe length, and it will fit wearers with a narrow to moderate foot volume. The forefoot and midfoot construction allows a snug fit; thus, runners who prefer to have more room might want to purchase a half-size larger than usual. This shoe is available in medium width for both the men’s and women’s versions.
The React foam outsole of the Epic React Flyknit aids the midsole in providing a sufficient amount of energy return, as well as additional cushioning for the underfoot. Because it is a foam material, this outsole resists compression and is able to retain its shape, appearance, and structure even after many miles.
There are sticky rubber reinforcements strategically placed in the forefoot and heel areas. This is to give the outsole durability and the needed traction to grip various surfaces, especially roads.
The midsole also uses React foam. In a nutshell, the development of this technology was the result of runners’ clamor for a shoe that offers the following: increased cushioning to protect from impact, prolonged energy return to handle long runs, lightweight underfoot protection, and durability.
The React foam claims to be exceptionally responsive and bouncy. It responds by “snapping back” as a reply to the foot’s impact during landing. Compared to Nike’s other proprietary cushioning, the Lunarlon, the React foam has 13% more energy return. This midsole foam is used in the Epic React Flyknit 2 and other well-known Nike road running shoes.
Nike also introduces Fluid Geometry, a technology that works by altering the design of the midsole – it extends to the upper and around the heel to enable stability. With Fluid Geometry, the shoe is made lightweight as the midsole is distributed across the entire shoe. However, the minimal weight does not hinder the shoe from supplying adequate support and responsiveness. Therefore, this feature is present to maximize the runner’s performance.
There is an injected heel clip made of thermoplastic urethane (TPU) that equips the shoe with added stability, especially during transitions.
The upper’s internal structure is a Flyknit cleatie, which consists of a single-piece element, precisely engineered for support and flexibility. With such a construction, the upper is minimal and breathable. It also delivers a sock-like fit, thus ensuring a locked-down feel and a secure run.
Because of the cleatie construction, the tongue is seamlessly merged with the rest of the upper. Thus, there is no pressure on top of the foot, in contrast to other running shoes with traditional tongues.
For an even snugger fit, the heel area has Heel Skin, a thin and pliable structure that supports the heel minus the hard and irritating sensation.