- Superb stability for moderate lifting
- Good for non-lifting exercises
- Very lightweight for a lifter
- Secure lockdown
- Flexible forefoot
- Excellent grip
- Comfortable in-shoe feel
- Reasonably priced
- Not for heavy weightlifting
- Not for wide feet
- Upper lacks durability
Who should buy
We believe that the Nike Savaleos is a great match for gymgoers who:
- are new to weightlifting and need an entry-level shoe to get used to elevated heels
- are not ready to spend $160-$200 on a dedicated pair of lifting shoes
- only do lifting occasionally and are not aiming for PBs
- want a lifting shoe that can also do some box jumps, burpees, lunges, wall push-ups, etc.
Who should NOT buy
As a crossover between dedicated lifters and Crossfit trainers, we found that the Savaleos is okay for both activities but is not great at either.
If you intend to lift heavy (300+ pounds) on a regular basis, we highly recommend investing in the Nike Romaleos 4.
And if you can do without the elevated heel, go with the brand's flagship Crossfit trainer, the Nike Metcon 8. We found it to be mind-blowingly stable for lifting, even when it comes to heavy loads.
Lifting shoes are notorious for their lack of breathability. That's because they typically use genuine or synthetic leather for their uppers. And the Nike Savaleos is no exception.
But to our surprise, the shoe performed a little better than other lifters in our fog-machine test. Based on the amount of smoke passing through its upper, we rated it as 3 out of 5, which puts it into the breathable range.
If you despise sweaty feet, a cross-trainer like the Reebok Nano X2 (right shoe) is a better option.
In the transparency test below, we can clearly see what helps the shoe stay ventilated. There is mesh fabric on the tongue as well as perforations on the toebox.
Taking photos of the upper through our microscope, we get a better view of the shoe's ventilation holes.
Our initial impression of the shoe's polyurethane upper material was not very positive. It felt somewhat cheap in hand and creased too easily as we bent the feet.
Running our wear resistance test with a Dremel, we got a confirmation - this is not the most durable upper. Based on the damage caused by applying the tool for 12 seconds, we gave the Savaleos only 3 out of 5 for its toebox durability.
The most durable lifter on our list by far is the Reebok Legacy Lifter III (a solid 5 out of 5). Its genuine leather cover is second to none.
The Nike Savaleos (left) vs. the Reebok Legacy Lifter III (right) after the same Dremel test.
Heel padding durability
The padding on the Savaleos' heel collar also left us wanting.
After 4 seconds under the Dremel, the lining and foam received more damage than the other lifting shoes in our lab. We rated the durability of this part as 3 out of 5, less than the average.
But given that the Nike Savaleos is $80 cheaper than premium lifting shoes, we consider it a fair trade-off.
On a positive note, the rubber outsole on the Savaleos looks promising in our durability tests.
First of all, the Savaleos uses a pretty hard rubber compound. Pressing a durometer against it, we found that it is as hard as 89.8 HC. This is notably denser than the average of lifting shoes.
In our experience, the firmness of rubber correlates with its wear resistance.
We also discovered that the shoe's outsole is thicker than average.
Using a caliper, we measured it at 4.0 mm. For reference, the rubber on advanced lifters like the Nike Romaleos 4 and the Legacy Lifter III is a little thinner - 3.8 mm and 3.4 mm respectively.
The Nike Savaleos is one of the lightest weightlifting shoes we've ever seen!
Because it is built as a lifter-trainer hybrid, the shoe cuts down on the bulk of traditional lifting shoes. It tips the scale at only 14.8 oz (420g), while its older sibling, the Romaleos 4 weighs in at 20.1 oz (571g).
Its lightness makes the Savaleos more suitable for jumps and other agile exercises from the WOD, which is not the case for traditional lifters.
|Savaleos||14.82 oz (420g)|
|Average||18.73 oz (531g)|
For a semi-lifter, we expected the Nike Savaleos to have a lower stack height than the average lifting shoe. To be capable of performing exercises other than lifting, you need to feel closer to the ground.
Thus, we weren't surprised when our caliper showed only 26 mm of heel height. Interestingly enough, it is about the same as the average heel height of cross-training shoes (25 mm).
The Savaleos indeed felt low to the ground during our training sessions.
In the forefoot, we measured the shoe's stack height at 10.9 mm. Also lower than the average.
We found that it definitely helps to feel planted for exercises like box jumps, where you need to be in control of the landings.
But on the downside, that thinner forefoot provided too little impact protection when we tried rope jumping in the Savaleos.
The difference in stack measurements gave us a heel-to-toe drop of 0.6 inches (15.1 mm) in the Nike Savaleos.
We have seen the same offset in entry-level lifters like the Adidas Powerlift 5 and the Reebok Lifter PR II. It places the heels higher compared to cross-trainers and puts your ankles, knees, and hips in a more ergonomic position to perform under heavy loads. With an elevated heel, you are able to achieve deeper squats with a more upright torso which, in turn, allows you to lift more efficiently and avoid injuries.
You can learn more about the benefits of heel elevation in our extensive guide on weightlifting shoes.
Advanced athletes choose lifters with an offset of 20+ mm for added benefit. The Nike Romaleos 4 (drop: 20.5 mm) is one such option.
Compression is the last thing you want to feel underfoot when raising a hefty barbell above your head. Thus, you need a hard platform in a pair of lifters.
We use a durometer to measure how hard each shoe's platform is. Normally, we see a value of 95-97 HA in a pair of dedicated lifting shoes. However, in the case of the Savaleos, our durometer returned only 36.5 HA...Is it THAT squishy?
Of course, being 50% softer than a typical lifting shoe, we wouldn't trust the Savaleos to handle anything more than 300 pounds. However, it still feels nice and firm underfoot, especially since the foam is locked inside a sturdy TPU cage.
To give you more context, the Nike Metcon 8 trainer has a durometer reading of 28.8 HA but we found it quite firm and incompressible when lifting heavy.
We can see the benefit of softer material in the Nike Savaleos. It helps to keep the shoe's weight down while making it more versatile for exercises outside of lifting.
The Savaleos comes with a thinner-than-average insole. But we never felt like something was lacking in the shoe. At 4.8 mm, the insole provides just enough underfoot padding.
Lateral stability test
Assessing how steady the Nike Savaleos is by actively shifting our ankles, we can tell that it is quite stable but definitely not as planted as the big boy lifting shoes.
In the video below, you can see how the same movement is notably more limited in the Nike Romaleos 4.
If you have flat feet or overpronation, we wouldn't be worried about rolling the ankle in the Nike Savaleos. Its torsional rigidity is on par with all the other lifting shoes we've tested.
A solid 5 out of 5!
Heel counter stiffness
Squeezing the heel counter, we were also pleasantly surprised with its stiffness, both in hand and around the ankle.
We gave it the highest (5/5) rating, feeling the benefits of its secure heel clutch.
Midsole width in the forefoot
For a shoe that is not intended for lifting only, the Nike Savaleos has an impressively wide platform.
It features diamond-shaped outriggers, similar to the Romaleos, to provide stability without being too bulky.
At the widest part of the forefoot, our caliper shows 116 mm. Significantly wider than the average of lifting shoes!
Midsole width in the heel
Wide outriggers are present in the heel too.
Measuring in at 94.3 mm between the widest points of the heel, we found it to be wider than average.
We felt incredibly surefooted pushing off such a wide base!
As a training shoe that's supposed to "do it all," we expected the Savaleos to have a good flex in the forefoot.
And it does!
It only took 21.3N of force to bend the shoe to a 90-degree angle. For comparison, it took 40.4N (or significantly more force) in the Romaleos 4.
The flexibility level of the Nike Savaleos is about the same as that of the Reebok Nanos. We were able to go into lunges and squat during burpees with ease.
Grip / Traction
Slipping is not an option in the Nike Savaleos. The grip is simply amazing!
We haven't had any issues moving around the gym floors...or walls for that matter.
Yes, there is a handy lip at the back of the shoe that allowed our heels to glide on the wall during handstand pushups.
Size and fit
Toebox width at the widest part
Measuring the widest part of the shoe's toebox (102.7 mm), we found it to be a few millimeters wider than average.
However, because of the thick polyurethane upper, it feels a bit more restricting than it appears to be based on the measurements.
But for medium and narrow feet, there is nothing to worry about the Nike Savaleos' fit.
Toebox width at the big toe
The Savaleos gets a little more pointy towards the toes. A few millimeters more than the average actually.
This also makes the fit a little tighter than expected but still appropriate for medium width.
However, for athletes with wide feet, we recommend going half-size up in the Nike Savaleos.
Overall, we've had no complaints about the way the Nike Savaleos fits.
However, we are concerned that the Velcro piece is not full-length but is located only at the end of the strap. This could make it a problem for people with high arches to customize the fit.
Tongue: gusset type
We love gusseted tongues! Even if they are semi-gusseted.
They make us feel so much more confident and locked in when moving, especially side-to-side. And should we add that the tongue never ended up shifting in the Savaleos?
|Savaleos||Both sides (semi)|
The in-shoe padding is just right in the Nike Savaleos. We measured the tongue thickness at 4.5 mm. It is a little thinner than average but never took away from the overall comfort.
The shoe is also amply padded around the ankle collar.