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.
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!
The Nike Epic React Flyknit.
Even before it came out, there were tons of hype surrounding the shoe. People questioned if this was Nike’s response to the extremely popular Adidas Ultraboost. Nike went with a robust marketing campaign, including heavy advertising of pictures of the shoe on pillows, sponges, and springs.
Marketed as ‘incredibly bouncy’, providing ‘crazy comfort’, and a ‘lightweight and soft yet responsive ride, mile after mile’, one can only wonder if the Epic React truly delivers or is built around empty promises and false advertising.
- Weight: 239grams (8.4oz)
- Heel to toe offset (drop): 10mm
- Forefoot stack: 18mm
- Rearfoot stack: 28mm
Single piece Flyknit construction that provides support, flexibility, and breathability in a sock-like fit.
The upper was very very snug when I first put the shoe on. In fact, the shoe was annoyingly difficult to wear. I understand that Flyknit tends to fit more snugly than conventional mesh uppers, but this was a bit too much for my liking.
The constrictive feeling, especially in the forefoot region, eventually went away after wearing the shoe for a few casual strolls and runs. Once the upper stretched out, it felt sock-like, except if the sock was thick and stiff. Don’t get me wrong, the Flyknit is comfortable, just not to the extent of the other Flyknit uppers used in the past.
The lacing wasn’t great. Sure, the elastic upper holds the foot in place well. There wasn’t any slippage within the shoe and my foot was held down well. However, the laces did not do much to wrap the Flyknit more securely around the foot. I just wished that Nike used the concept used in either the Zoom Fly or Vaporfly that really allowed the laces to pull the upper around your foot like a burrito.
The elastic tongue is part of the one-piece construction. Lacing pressure can become a concern due to the lack of padding. As long as your shoelaces aren’t tied too tightly, this should not pose a problem.
Ankle collar/Heel counter
The heel counter is decently supportive and form fitting, with a synthetic suede heel lining to prevent slippage and blisters.
I found no heel slippage at any speeds. A word of caution not to wear the shoe sockless; the ankle collar isn’t exactly the smoothest and may irritate your skin at your Achilles.
Also, a heel shelf stabilizes the back of your foot to help keep your heel from rocking as your foot lands. This effectively centres my foot over the midsole to provide a more stable and directed feel.
True to size. Do take note of the narrow forefoot fit.
Midsole Technology and Ride Quality
After over 400 different combinations of chemistry and processing and 17,000 miles of testing with some of their elite and everyday runners, Nike has come up with the React foam midsole in the Epic React.
This React foam, however, differs from the thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) types that many of the above-mentioned companies are using. Instead, Nike utilizes a synthetic rubber blend that claims to provide softness, responsiveness and long-lasting durability in a lightweight package.
Compared to Nike’s other proprietary cushioning, Lunarlon, the React foam claims to have 13% more energy return but yet provides a softer feel underfoot. 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’.
The React foam lives up to its claims to some extent, providing a decent amount of cushioning and responsiveness for its mere 239grams. The foam is not as spongy as Nike has advertised but feels better than conventional EVA foam.
The Flexibility is fair, the bounce is subtle, and the softness is on the moderate side. Compared to Everun, Boost and other Polyurethane (PU) midsole blends, React foam has less of a bounce but weighs much less.
I tested the Epic React through a variety of paces, from long runs to speed work on the track. The foam was stable and responsive, especially so when I pushed the pace. The midsole delivered a quick bounce back and did not bottom out. I would, however, caution bringing this shoe to the track for speedwork as transitions aren’t the quickest. I found that the shoe felt best at steady paces of about 4:45-5:15min/km.
I read from other reviews that the synthetic rubber foam performed better in warmer temperatures. I wouldn’t be sure about the feel in different temperatures, but the foam was decently soft in a warm Singapore weather of 32 degrees Celsius.
The wide forefoot and heel prevent the shoe from having any medial/lateral bias.
Also, the heel shelf at the back of the shoe helped to keep my foot centered on the midsole. Despite being supportive, do note that this is very much a neutral shoe and those seeking more stability should look elsewhere.
‘Strategic’ rubber placements in the toe and heel to keep the shoe as light as possible. These rubber sections on the toe and heel supposedly help you grip the ground and push off. React foam covering the rest of the midsole.
The rubber placements in the toe make absolutely no sense. No one lands on the toe upon impact. It seems like Nike has rectified the situation in the Odyssey React, a cheaper alternative to the Epic React.
I wish Nike placed the outsole rubber in the same configuration as the Zoom Fly. That said, the React foam which covers most of the outsole is grippy on asphalt, concrete and track surfaces. The outsole grip performs decently in mildly wet conditions. As for anything off-road, don’t expect any grip whatsoever.
Nike claims to have purposely gone as minimal as possible with outsole rubber coverage to better enhance the feeling of the React foam underfoot. Some scuffing can be seen on the lateral side of the foam.
Besides the visible wear on the sole, no loss of cushioning has been felt after more than 100km of multi-paced running. Nike mentioned that the foam should feel the same even after 300miles.
Type of Work outs
The Nike Epic React Flyknit is a lightweight versatile trainer that is best used for tempo runs up to long runs.
- Doubles up as a lifestyle sneaker (Looks great!)
- Great cushion to weight ratio
- Lively midsole (Bouncy!)
- Can be difficult to put on at first (Upper ‘relaxes’ after a few uses but remains quite snug at the forefoot region.)
- Outsole rubber placement that does not make any sense
Potential Areas for Improvement
- Less constricting forefoot hold
- More outsole rubber at high wear areas
Nike Epic React Flyknit vs Adidas Ultraboost 4.0
The Epic React was marketed to be a direct competitor to the Ultraboost. In terms of the upper, the Flyknit of the Epic React has a more secure hold on my foot while the Primeknit of the Ultraboost is softer and looser.
The Epic React is more versatile and performance oriented while the Ultraboost is better suited for lifestyle use. Despite the React Midsole being firmer than Boost, I found it better for long runs as it provided more stability.
Nike Epic React Flyknit vs Skechers GoRun Ride 7
Both midsole materials feel very similar with the React midsole being a touch firmer than the Ride 7, making the Epic React better for faster paces.
The Epic React is also more stable than the Ride 7. However, I prefer the Ride 7 for easy runs and long runs due to the midsole being more fun to run in at slower paces.
Nike Epic React Flyknit vs Nike Vaporfly 4%
ZoomX vs React foam. I Don’t think that this is a fair comparison.
The only reason why I wouldn’t use the Vaporfly for everyday use is its lack of durability and its insane price. The React foam feels stiff and dead in comparison. That said, the Epic React will probably last twice as long as the Vaporfly.
Nike Epic React Flyknit vs Nike Zoom Fly
Epic React for easy and long runs, Zoom Fly for faster paces. Despite the Epic React being lighter by roughly 20grams, the plate in the Zoom Fly facilitates better transitions and speed which allows for a smoother ride in comparison to the Epic React.
The React Midsole, however, feels softer and bouncier than the lunarlon midsole in the Zoom Fly. I’m hoping that Nike will eventually release a Zoom Fly 2 which combines the nylon plate with the React Midsole.
The Nike Epic React is a good-looking, lightweight and versatile shoe that shines at steady paces. Not a game changer but a refreshing update over Lunarlon!
I knew there was a lot of fanfare around the Nike Epic React Flyknit but I really did not know too much about them when I heard I was going to get a pair to test.
Once I found out they were on their way I looked into them a bit more and could tell they were set to be something special. So when they arrived on the launch date 22nd February I could not wait to get a peek at them.
Now it is fair to say that looks wise they did not disappoint. In my opinion, they look stunning. The front of the upper is fairly plain but I Iove the sole and the back of the shoe.
The pink band around the back of the sole looks awesome and matches the other colors beautifully. This is the best looking back of a shoe I have seen and trust me, they look even better in the flesh.
All this makes perfect sense to me as the Epic Reacts feel so light and fast this the view most other runners are going to be seeing a lot of. The sole looks fantastic too.
It reminds me of a glacier, with ice blue patches over the heel and toe much like the boreholes you see on icesheets.
I was impressed before I had even put them on my feet.
How do they feel?
The Epic Reacts consist of an upper that is basically a single piece of flyknit like a low sock. There is not really a tongue as such just a tab attached to the front of the sock.
There is no padding but this is not a problem. There is not much else on top but my feet felt secure and supported.
The laces are probably the only average thing about the shoes. I’d prefer something with a bit more friction to stop them coming undone but they do the job just fine.
Given that the upper is basically a sock, you don’t need to worry about the lacing as you would in a conventional shoe so top notch laces and lacing techniques are not really needed.
When you first put them on, they feel cosseting without being too tight as you sometimes get from new sock-like shoes.
They feel light and airy and comfortable straight away. The size is just as I would expect and as with all other Nike shoes, I’d stick to my normal 10.5.
The soles are definitely chunkier than other Nike trainers I have trained. There is a hint of Hoka One-One here but they still feel light and responsive.
There's lots of cushioning and the energy return is as good as anything I have tried from Adidas.
I used to think shoes could either be cushioned so you could plod around and avoid aching feet or fast and responsive yet suffer later on.
The Epic Reacts prove that the game has changed and you can now have the best of both worlds. So far so very, very good.
No wonder they are pretty much sold out already.
What About Underneath?
I have already mentioned the ice cool design of the soles. This is not all show and no go as the pale blue parts are made of some special material that is attached to the main sole.
The material looks to be very hard wearing. If you are a heel and toe striker these should last for ages.
You could question why the whole sole is not covered in the blue material for increased longevity but at the moment that is a small gripe.
Grip is fine. The soles don’t look like they are going to provide excellent traction but so far I have had no problems on damp pavements.
The soles feel a lot wider than the uppers which I like.
Even though these are not really support shoes, they gave me confidence that I was not going to go over on my ankle if the surface was less than perfect or when taking tight turns. This may all be psychological but it was a feeling I appreciated.
The Epic Reacts are fast and comfortable. They feel light and springy and encourage a high cadence throughout your run.
I would be happy to use these for any road runs from 5k to a half marathon though I have only done a few short runs so far.
The soles feel soft without being spongy, giving you enough feedback to savor every step. A hard balance to get right but Nike seems to have managed it.
First impressions suggest Nike have made a do it all running shoe.
No doubt in my mind, the Nike Epic React Flyknit looks amazing, especially from the back. They are genuinely different to anything I have ever owned and people notice them.
I know it should be all about comfort and performance but why can’t we have form and function now and again? Their performance more than matches their appearance. They feel fast.
The kind of shoe that you take out on a route you have covered hundreds of times and by the end of the run, checking your watch provides a pleasant surprise. It didn’t feel super fast but it was.
The new foam in the sole is a revelation. The cushioning is superb and even over long runs, there were no aches in my feet or a feeling of heavy legs.
I have had a couple of pairs of Nike Lunar Epics which I am a big fan but the Epic Reacts are a massive step forward. My only wish is for Nike to launch a Shield version so I can wear them all year around.
Check out the Nike Epic React Flyknit at Nike.com.
I bought the Nike Epic React Flyknit due to its strong advertisement over cushioning and responsiveness all together in a lightweight shoe. So after a couple of months let`s review it!
I usually go for darker colors so once again I got the blackest one but there are other more colored ones like orange, grey, and green.
Even though it’s a “high tech” shoe, I think it missed some more sleek details to balance out its dark black design. For the first time, I had a Nike shoe that I almost cannot see the Nike logo, and I still cannot say if it`s good or not.
Advertised to be a seamless shoe, comfort should be a plus here, and that actually got it done! You wear it like a sock without feeling anything bothering your feet at all. (A little different from Adidas Ultra Boost for instance - see my review here.)
My only warning here is that you are probably going to prefer this shoe 1 size bigger than your standard size.
For the upper, Flyknit technology reinforces the protection of the toebox all the way to the edges of the shoe. It offers good breathability and in terms of durability, it’s also proven to work.
And in case you are wondering, yes, I wore it without shoelaces, they are simply useless with this kind of shoe.
Nike advertised that their “React” foam is the best of the market, with better responsiveness when compared to “Lunar” foam by 13%, as well as lighter and softer altogether.
And yes, they did it again. Lightweight and responsiveness is a major plus here. I managed to actually increase my average running speed for around 10%.
Look how thick the midsole is, almost as big as the shoe itself, and lightweight at the same time – see Weight section right below.
The only remark is that when you actually wear the shoe, you can feel it’s different from a standard cushion you may be used to, and it is, it`s a Nike exclusive technology. Therefore, you may need a couple of runs to get used to it. Also because of its higher midsole, you will also need to be more careful regarding stability, which we will talk more about it later on.
To conclude, I would say that “React” really provides a groundbreaking cushion scheme here, a big plus for Nike.
I cannot believe how light this shoe is!
Despite its cushion, Nike managed to build a solid well-constructed and responsive lightweight shoe.
I would say it’s the best cushion-weight balance out there. Another big plus for Nike here.
As similar to Adidas Ultraboost, Nike had to reduce the ankle support in order to provide a “sock feeling”, as a result, stability was compromised.
The only stability is a thin easily folded layer of material, and together with a high midsole, enhances the possibility of a twisted ankle.
For that, I give a big minus since as its already a very lightweight shoe, Nike could have done better here without compromising its overall weight.
Generally speaking, Nike shoes are mainly asphalt shoes with rubber soles, but in this case, I felt they went one step further.
As you can see from the pics below, there is an additional pneumatic layer of sole both in the front and back of the sole, providing a very good grip, not just on traditional asphalt and running paths but also trails and wet surfaces.
Another plus here. My only remark is regarding the durability of this sole since it is very thin.
I`ll get back with you, later on, to talk about that.
Something else I always like to have on my shoe is an additional safety for night running, and Epic React also has that reflective light on the back.
The day after
A very important part for me is the impact of exercise on the day after. And with Epic React the results were not straightforward.
At first, I experienced knee and muscles sore on the side of the leg, which had me worried. After a couple of runs though, the sore reduced to none, so I probably just needed to get used to the different cushion technology and low level of stability. After a while, I had not noticed shoe specific sore, just regular muscle tiredness.
Nike Epic React Flyknit is a long name shoe and they should improve that. Constructively speaking, it is comfortable, is amazingly lightweight cushioned shoe, has good ventilation and is made of high-quality material. I could go one step further and maybe say that Nike almost got it 100% right, missing basically on a more beautiful design and better stability.
During first exercises, you may need to get used to its new React cushion technology, but after a while, you feel its great responsiveness even though its lightweight, the best of both worlds.
Even though Nike did not provide good stability here, you can take care and bear with it since it worth the advantage of great responsiveness resulting in higher running speed. My tip here is to train with a heavier shoe with better stability and once in a while wear Epic React for performance training.
Epic React has few minuses (design/stability) but strong positive points, therefore I totally recommend it.
I had my eyes on these shoes for a while. I could see common folk just cruising the streets in them while I observed with pure admiration. Striking aesthetics with simple design and the promise of exceptional performance.
Many attractive colour options with the possibility of customizing your own on Nike’s website. Quite appealing. A clean, fresh look that allows you to enjoy them casually as a lifestyle shoe or purely for exercise. Considering the retail price, it’s a big thumbs up.
Don’t know much about it, but Nike had some serious money behind the promotion of that sneaker. I was willing to wait a bit for the dust to come down and see some of the reviews before opening my wallet, plus there was also a chance for a sale/ promotion of some kind which is always welcome. Also, they did sell out rather quickly after initial release. Patience is a virtue.
Reviews were exceptional. Experts were praising how React live up to the hype and are worth the money. Got me excited. I ventured several times to try them in shops just to make sure how I feel about the fit etc. and finally decided to purchase a pair online for $220.
Not sure why, but I got myself a white version which looked like a million bucks out of the box, but not very practical I need to admit. White didn’t stay white for long, but I wasn’t worried too much. Unboxing this piece of modern art was an exciting moment, just look at them. I think is so far best-looking sneaker I own.
I wanted to spend some quality time with them before producing a review. I managed to put on them 500km. It is worth mentioning that in the meantime I purchased another pair in light blue as I couldn’t resist $64 sale plus, I knew I will be running in NIKE REACT for a long time to come.
All my runners so far were sized US 11, and even though Nike and Saucony run bit smaller than Adidas I was quite comfortable. The upper that literally molds to the shape of your foot.
In the beginning, it is slightly difficult to slide the shoe on, but it is just a matter of time. Just need to put some time in. Not a biggie. Went one size up and now I can honestly say that it was the right choice.
Especially because my foot is a bit wide and the toe box is a bit narrow, needed some more space to feel comfortable. The website will tell you that it runs true to size, but I do recommend trying before buying, just in case.
After taking them out of the packaging straight away, I took them out for a run and I ran fast. I was super pumped. Initially, what I noticed was an unpleasant rubbing on one of the shoes in the part where tongue usually is.
I do not think that it’s an issue for the shoe in general as it was only one and it lasted several runs. Maybe some manufacturing problem or maybe one of my feet is a bit weird. Overall, I enjoyed them so much that for the past several months I used them exclusively. It is just a pleasure to run in this shoe, quite an experience.
We have here a FLYKNIT upper that will blow your mind.
As mentioned previously, it will take a moment to adjust to the shape of your foot, but after a couple of runs, it will nicely stretch to create a snug sock-like fit.
It is a one-piece structure with the tongue totally integrated. The fit is so great that it doesn’t even require tightening laces. It almost feels like your feet are naked in a good sense of that word.
On top of that, FLYKNIT upper is very breathable and flexible so your foot while in a snug hug doesn’t feel restricted. Great marriage between the strength of hold and freedom of movement. Just feels right. I loved the upper on the Ultra Boost but this is just another level.
It is very light. For stability, we have a heel shelf, which nicely keeps the back steady and secure. Just enough while not putting too much restriction while running. It is not a great stability shoe.
React midsole is nice and soft, very light and super bouncy. You could see in advertising it was compared to running on clouds or mattresses. Bottom line is, it feels great. From what I read, but also experienced in flesh, React foam shines when in motion. It basically ‘Reacts’ to the impact your foot is putting in and adequately snaps back.
When midsole compresses during a run, it quickly goes back to the original shape providing superb energy return while maintaining great cushioning. The more energy you are giving in, the more energy you are getting back. The material is designed to provide great shock absorption, so your joints will thank you for it in the future.
The look of the Epic midsole is also visually striking which contributes to the overall appeal of the shoe. The shape, the curves, the pattern. Nike Epic React has a 10mm drop.
I do prefer 8mm max myself, but it did not matter. One additional thing I noticed while running is that I would not mind a bit more extra foam on the forefoot, as sometimes I could feel a bit more terrain than I would like to.
Like the rest of the shoe, the outsole is all about keeping it light and fast. That’s why traction is strategically located only in critical places like the forefoot and heel areas to keep the weight as low as possible.
Durability has proven to be another plus of the outsole. You may initially be worried that it shows signs of wear literally right away (fifty percent of it is basically an exposed React foam), it didn’t affect the grip and overall performance.
I didn’t really test them in extreme conditions where traction would be truly challenged, but for the runs, I did it worked perfectly. Still solid, reliable and again if you just look at it you cannot help but think it does look like a piece of modern art.
The whole sneaker is a perfect blend of style and performance which make it a super versatile item. For the money you spend, you have a handsome looking shoe and a running beast. Everyone will be left with a big smile on their face.
- The overall appearance - this runner is just simply beautiful.
- Comfort and flexibility - probably the best upper I had on my foot to this day.
- Energy return - superb.
- Light weight.
- Fit - the way shoe adjust to the shape of to the foot is amazing.
- Stability - personally I don’t care, but for some may not be enough.
- 10mm drop - I would be happier with less.
- Could use some more foam at the forefoot.
- Narrow toe box needed to go a size up.
It’s hard for me to be objective here as I am in deep love with Nike Epic React. It was difficult to find faults for me in the "cons" section, but I do understand different people with different preferences will have different opinions. It’s versatile which fully justifies the price.
They are visually stunning and the technology packed into them allows you to perform at your best on your run. From all the sneakers I own, these are my favorites and probably will be for a while. I just want to see how far I can push them. Would not be surprised if I can squeeze out another 500km.
They are comfortable, light, flexible and fast plus durable. Thanks to React foam you can enjoy them for longer. This shoe ticks all the boxes. Apparently, it took an enormous amount of research and testing to develop, but I got to say, it was worth it. As a neutral runner can’t really ask for more.
I can’t wait to see what Nike will do next as in my head now this runner is hard to beat. I am very curious about the Nike Pegasus Turbo. So far I’ve read some mixed reviews. Once I admired Ultra Boost, but looking back, Nike Epic React is way more superior (especially in the weight department).
I would highly recommend this shoe to anyone who enjoys running.
At the beginning of 2018 with a big media storm, Nike came out with their React Foam compound claiming they have discovered a winning formula. I was looking at all the reviewers that got to test them never thinking I’ll have them in my arsenal, not because I didn’t like them just because I felt it was a lot overpriced and a bit overhyped.
Then they went on sale just as my Nike LunarEpic 2 Low was reaching the 700 km mark, so the timing was just right, and I got myself the Epic React, mainly for long mileage runs. This is what I think about them.
Out of the box, you notice the look of the shoe, there is a lot going on there. This is obviously an appealing shoe.
The heel area seems to get some inspiration from the Ultra Boost line of shoes by Adidas with the sole extending further out-back from the heel, giving the shoe a bulky heel together with a fast looking contour.
As usual, Nike’s designers have done a great job at making not only a good looking shoe but designing something new that we haven’t seen before.
For me, the thing that caught my attention first was the heel cup. The first time putting these on worried me as the heel cup was narrow and restricting through the middle of my first run, but I never felt it again.
In my eyes, it is part of a new foot lock-down system that’s to compete with the “flywire” system. I really cannot describe how nice A Flyknit one-piece upper feels.
The Flyknit is well ventilated and the density of the knit changes from the rear\mid foot, where the knit is dense, hence more structured and has less give, to the toe box where the knit is more stretchy and allows for more movement.
The firmer knit compensates for the missing “flywire” cables that we got so used to in Nike’s Flyknit uppers. The foot lock-down system on these has a whole different structure.
This time, instead of "flywire" cables running through the Flyknit the designers have made the Flyknit not as stretchy as stated above, and on top of that is what I would call 'soft lacing-plate' that has been welded on the upper.
It is visible on the inside of the shoe that the lacing-plate is attached to the heel cup that we’ve discussed above, what looks like a way to add some structure to a soft and giving upper.
With this system, the laces run instead of once – twice through the plate. This solution is well executed, although runners who like their feet to be held tightly in the shoe will have to get a very tight tie-in.
In this upper, you’ll find one seam which you’ll be able to see right at the heel and you’ll notice a finger loop which I really like. It makes getting in these snug shoes easier.
When it just came out, the midsole compound was very well commercialized. So I was a bit skeptical the first time trying these shoes.
After about 120 km, I can definitely say that this is a great midsole. I have heard people saying it is too cushioned to the point that it is unstable. It could be my midfoot\forefoot running style, but I find the React as a firm foam, and I love it.
It is definitely the way I like the responsiveness to cushioning ratio. Together with its low weight, there is no doubt that this shoe makes a good running partner.
There are downsides as well. At the heel, under the heel cup, there is a hard C-shaped plastic part that lays on top of the react midsole. My assumption is that heel striking in these might feel a bit unstable and this gives a little directional assistance in guiding the foot’s roll forward instead of pronating\supinating.
As we have seen in previous shoes, in an attempt to keep shoe weight down, shoe manufacturers tend to skip the part of putting an outsole on their shoes and what we are left with is a bare midsole.
I like the idea behind this because if the midsole is durable enough and the traction is good, then why bother with adding another layer? We’ve seen this work perfectly in the Nike Free line and also in the Lunarepic which was both durable and had decent traction.
I think that the execution in these shoes was not perfect regarding the outsole. As can be seen in the photos, the rubber doesn’t get far enough down to the point it covers the main initial contacting area with the ground.
At least with my ground contact style, it makes you wish you would have gone 3 cm further towards the center of the foot. So the outsole doesn’t take care of durability.
Traction wise, I got to run on some wet sidewalks. Once the outsole got covered with water, there was no solid grip. I was not sliding around, just not feeling 100% secure with the traction.
So if the outsole doesn’t have your back on durability nor traction, you start to wonder why it’s there in the first place? I Would like to see how the React does with no rubber at all. That would have been interesting.
Main things I like
- Flyknit – as I say, probably the best knit out there
- React – feels great under the foot, great responsiveness to cushioning ratio
- Looks - I don’t need to expand on this, I got the less appealing colorway because it was the only one on sale on RW
- Finger loop at the heel – a nice detail to have, makes life much easier
Main things I don’t get
- Durability – I have to say I’m a bit worried about how long these will last, not expecting to get much more than 500K
- Traction – although the react is a great compound, the rubber on the outsole either has no grip properties, or the pattern is not designed well enough to keep hold of partially wet surfaces, on a dry surface the outsole was flawless
I would recommend Epic React Flyknit to runners from all levels that are looking for a lightweight, responsive shoe and on the other hand, haven’t got expectations to get a ton of miles out of them.
Great for any road run from LSD to Tempo work. Wouldn’t take them for faster workouts and would stay away from trail and gravel.
I purchased this shoe, as one of two in a flat-out footrace to win my heart for a 154 mile ultra in Greece this summer. The ideal candidate being a nimble, highly cushioned yet form-focussed partner to train in.
I bought a second pair, and they deliver me to the finish in a form hopefully somewhere north of soup (me) and ribbons (the shoes). I am confident I have found such a candidate.
First off, it’s a looker, somehow hybridizing the gawky mallow platforms, we in the ultrarunning world have come accustomed to. With Nikes typical slick touches and subtleties, the glossy raised lettering on the matte black heel support being a particularly nice touch on my black/grey model.
There is a slightly odd looking heel feature which although clearly there for reasons of stability. It does look ungainly and appears in need of stringent piloting if you are to avoid catching it. In reality, this hasn't been a problem other than its appearance.
The elephant in the room, depending on your view of elephants, is the large grey mass of React foam underneath. I bought this shoe for performance, and as a predominantly ultrarunner, am no stranger to such feats of vertical Brunelian engineering.
For those perhaps less used to seeing such things, I hope I address your concerns below.
All in all, it’s a beautiful looking shoe that has been designed to do the simple things correctly. As is evident at first glance, the upper is lightweight and racey, with a tonne of React foam to allow the wearer to inflict said raciness over many many miles.
Impressively, I'd expand the range of this ICBM of a shoe to include ultras, taking on and beating many specialists in this field, in my humble opinion - albeit caveated to fair weather road races.
The fit is initially a little snug, but being Flyknit, the usual rules of engagement don’t apply, as the multidirectional movement it lends in motion removes any buildup of chafing or rubbing.
The fit has mellowed out slightly from 2 or 3 runs in, and I’d say is actually preferable over a conventional breathable fit. I would, from experience, embrace this initial snugness, as making a foray into ½ a size larger (as I did for pair #2).
I left the Flyknit a little loose, folding awkwardly under the laces, making for a fit lacking the assured support from the upper above, and lessening the incorporation of the foot into the energetic playground below.
Well used in the first week or two, the heel hoop is wide and accommodating going some way to mitigate the initially tricky fit when onning and offing.
The laces are flat and discrete, with eyelets stratified across the top of the Flyknit weave which assures things up seamlessly with no perceivable tight or protruding edges, and without distorting the shape of the upper.
I also like a short lace that stays high out the way, so no undue paranoia about hoopla-ing the instep of your other foot at 5:30mm pace and remodeling your nose - full marks in my book.
The heel is also very well designed. It is simple, semi-stiff but minimal and yielding, suede-like to the touch inside with no conventional padding needed.
A feature that, in my experience, is self-defeating in causing more chafing that the impact of protection or snugness is worth. Even before erosion, “treading down” and extra weight is considered. This shoe makes a lot of sense, especially looking back up the evolutionary tree.
It brings together, in essence, the highlights of the last decade of running shoe evolution (knitted uppers successfully championed in tandem by Adidas and Nike, and the hi-cush lo-support approach of Hoka that has smoothed our roads so successfully over and above 26.2m) into one no-nonsense, function-focussed, but also effortlessly stylish model.
Unlike many Flyknit variations previous, this has clearly been designed by, and for, runners, differentiating itself above and beyond the crowd of quirky paintwork and confused urban functionality hybrids better suited to the London commuter beat than trail or road or track.
We are all creatures of habit, and that is shown in our loyalty to brands and models even long after cessation of production. A danger here is Nike's attempt (brave, perhaps cynical) to bring together two entrenched community niches specifically, whether they will be able to lure them out and away from conventional models into a unified space, stepping on Hokas toes in the process.
I’d say simply to all you Hoka-ites, the Flyknit upper will give a natural feel, flexibility, high-quality, simple design and finish, as well as removal of potential blisterable/chaffables, that you may not have been expecting.
To all the staunch Flyknitters perhaps put off by so much cushioning. This shoe is equally as light (236g UK10) as its contemporaries will encourage you forward into motion, and will return an alarming amount of your effort into further propulsion.
Momentum sapping soft furnishing for comfort freaks these are not, more winged clouds of cadence for your feet.
My main concerns, however, come from further down the family hierarchy. This shoe feels like it was sent to print via the back door, aside from some nice graphics on the Nike website, and hasn't really punctured through the collective conscious of the club running world - it is certainly not a household name.
I feel it may fall victim to poor timing and has landed, certainly into my life, just short of a design step change that may hoover up its market from under it - cruelly from within the same design team, it is perhaps just a late night cup of coffee short of the Vaporfly eureka moment - more on this later.
Without much testing, I could garner that performance, mainly due to the bulky mass of React foam and minimal tread, doesn’t handle off-road sections or trail particularly well.
A complaint of some that I am yet to encounter is a propensity to become slippy underfoot when wet. Paired by the inherently porous upper, I can see how this may not be the shoe of choice in variable weather conditions.
Whilst I'd be unsure if Nike would run with this evolutionary line so as to bring out grippier, more protective, dirt and weather repellant lineages, this shoe has created and occupied a new “comfy-flex-dura-racer” niche for me that honestly, above the usual hype of features and marketing noise (of which I have seen and been influenced by little), has delivered a perceptible change in my running over distance.
That is on the assumption that such distance will be done on the road, and in good weather - admittedly narrowing this niche to err… perhaps a not very niche area of the sport at all.
I would also level that whilst sublime when on clean roads in terms of feel, hotspot, and blister resistance, the loose weave Flyknit may end up allowing dust and grit into that hallowed toebox, which can be a short circuit to a particularly painful and cruel way to DNF without doing much wrong (this said, I am yet to run through too dusty an environment over 40 miles).
This again narrows that niche somewhat, and something I, myself, will have to face up to and appraise for suitability ahead of my Greek dust bowl adventure. Whilst heel and forefoot are galvanized by rubber tread reinforcement, the foam in the plantar region is exposed, and is already wearing away.
It's lucky there’s so much of it… the cynic in me may call this in-built redundancy (perhaps my road to Sparta is lined with 4 or 5 epic reacts, rather than the two) and certainly not what you’d hope to see paying a fairly hefty three-figure full price for this shoe.
That said, it is widely available at comfortably under this, my own pairs coming in at a heavily reduced £60.
For the hardened minimalist runners - debates will rage on about optimal heel-toe drops, road feel vs. cushioning, and how they are optimally intertwined within training and racing to achieve strength, performance, injury resilience, and natural movement.
This shoe has a large 9mm drop, a fact that can’t be escaped and may not appeal to all. Whilst if left unchecked (assuming Darwin and McDougall have their way) over-familiarity with large drops could cause complacency in supporting muscle groups and injury down the line, in this instance it is mitigated by the shoe agility, lightness, and insistence on forwarding motion.
In these, my legs truly want to move, and my feet naturally and proactively assume the position this drop gives rise to.
For those with doubts around so much cushioning, again, this feels like a new breed of foam that is in equal parts dynamism and energy transfer as it is protection for the plodder.
With the Epic Fly React, we are not simply adding pillows to feet in denial and delay of the inevitable joint implosion to come (as I feel many a well-armored shoe has in the past) but are steered expertly along the ridgeline between self-preservation and efficiency.
As such, I implore ultramarathoners who are inclined towards pushing a pace, who are more top-up-and-go than a deckchair-and-chill of an aid station, to consider incorporating these into their thoughts for both racing and training.
There will always be more minimal options one can use to compliment such a shoe through training as facing facts; not many runners have just the one pair (optimal running shoe ownership status = n+1).
A fantastic, elegant runner with both surprising endurance and pace that is capable of serving many runner subgroups, competition standards, and end-goals; from joint-friendly training, a potential marathon shoe to a sharp end (fair weather) ultramarathon world-beater.
Attentively removes the niggles and pitfalls of other similar shoes, and working with your natural movement inclinations, simplifies running back down to the road, legs, and mind. Your feet will love you for this purchase.
The React foam of the Epic React is springy, accommodating in compression yet laterally stiff and, well, reactive, making for an efficient and dependable companion well into the ultramarathon range of distances.
Yet I can’t help but worry that advancements expensively heralded by Nike on the other side of the design studio, may cannibalize and outcompete the epic react with regards approach to outsole design more broadly.
Despite the Epic’s own (less pronounced) refusal to compromise weight, comfort, durability or raciness, its not its own intrinsic design and capabilities that will define the success of this shoe, but competition, attention span of executives, marketing potential and investment in a step change of epoch, to one that ignores lines between disciplines and can now apparently accommodate all things for all feet within one shoe.
It will be Interesting to see how the wider long distance running community take to the Vaporfly and another lightweight, energy return system equipped models that seem to be not only fit for purpose but preferably all the way along the food chain from 5ks to, dare I say it, Ultras.
This battle for the future heartland of ultrarunning footwear, and broader design approaches, is heating up in front of us, further fuelled by Hokas response to Nike’s Vaporfly (and to an extent Adidas’ UltraBoost) in the heavily publicised launch of its own energy returning Carbon X, complete with successful (and successfully marketed) world record attempt.
I just hope that amongst the ensuing carnage and pseudo-scientific scrapping over Nasa esque promises (and delivery), young bucks like the Epic React don’t get confined to the archives with the old guard of yesterday’s market.
One that although a step changes down from current energy economy tech, felt open, varied, inclusive, and with lots of room to apply personal preference.
Therefore, I tentatively but respectfully sing the praises of this shoe but with a turned head to what is to come, almost a sense of pity for a model that although new, feels like a highly capable but soon to be outdated artifact caught on the wrong side of a widening fault line - money, advertising and step change PB's, sadly, talk.
I award the Nike Epic React a gold belt buckle in my own head-to-head battle, but sadly perhaps not so in the longer term war against its louder younger cousin and wider design direction.
This said, just like it cradles me so consistently at miles 20 and above, I will loyally stand in attendance at its potentially early funeral, as I'm forced down into mid-pack mediocrity in increments of 4%, by the plentiful scorched vapor trails ahead of me in Sparti.
A year into serious running, I was looking for a shoe that, in addition to helping me train for speed and distance, would also let me focus on the quality of my running - as the latter was something I genuinely felt lacked in my runs. It's the whole crawling-to-the-finish-line versus finishing-in-glory thing.
What you’ll feel with the very first few kilometers is the way the Nike Epic React Flyknit just make you correct your running form. Within the first 3 runs, my posture, my landing and my running effort - all went through a rapid overhaul. And more than 300 km in, these feel as fast and fresh as ever.
The shoes are light, fit well, give a right amount of bounce and cushioning, and are great for speed/power work and generally anything from 5k runs to half marathons.
The Nike Epic React Flyknit comes with the ‘sock-fit’ design. Putting these on feels like an extension of your feet, but with cushioning added under.
The shoe is super lightweight with thin sides and practically no cushioning on the top or on the sides - which also gives plenty of wiggle-room for your toes.
This, naturally, means that your feet can no longer rely on the side support if you’re migrating from the regular mesh-top shoes and that your running form needs a bit of adjustment. However, this also means that you can now focus entirely on how your feet strike the ground - which is perhaps one of the best aspects to focus on and enhance.
There is also no arch support to boast of - which actually makes form correction so much more challenging and fun at the same time. The only thing to keep in mind is to consciously spend the first few runs getting used to these shoes.
As subjective as it can get, these shoes are fast. The lack of all the over-cushioning, the insole/outsole quality and the fit - all converge towards improving the quality of your running - and therefore, give that much-needed boost to speed and performance.
Think of the Nike Epic React Flyknit as a pair of semi-minimalist performance shoes, with just the right balance of insole cushioning and the outsole bounce, and nothing else or in between. You’ll get from these shoes what you put in, only multiplied in terms of quality and performance.
The only thing to nitpick about the Nike Epic React Flyknit is how the laces feel when tied. Since there’s no tongue on the shoe, the laces tend to ‘dig sharply’ if tied too tight.
And if not, then they tend to come off - which is not something you want on your 16th km running at 4:56. As much as finding that perfect loose-right balance can be elusive, it doesn’t take away from the fact that these shoes are a gem for training as well as for races.
These shoes are meant for the road. Maybe the small mud patch along the park, but definitely not for the neighboring forest. Maybe the potholes on the road (which they’re excellent in navigating through - great balance), but definitely not for the rocky mountain trails. Maybe the little puddle of water on the ground, but definitely not for running in the rains.
The Nike Epic React Flyknit will break the monotony and add that layer of excitement to your running. Go for them if you’re feeling too ‘comfortable’ or too ‘familiar’ with your runs, and definitely if you’re looking for that boost to the quality of your runs.
Good to know
- 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.