Our verdict

For the price, we believe that the Nike MC Trainer 2 should be on every beginner and recreational gym goer's radar. We witnessed how this trainer proved its versatility for a little bit of everything at the gym, including some moderate weightlifting. Even though some of its drawbacks could be deal-breakers, we found that this Nike shoe is an excellent value for money. And it doesn't even look close to a cheap shoe!

Pros

  • Very lightweight design
  • Supportive upper
  • Firm and planted sole
  • Good for skipping rope
  • Solid grip on gym floors
  • Impressive durability for the price
  • Looks like a more expensive shoe
  • Truly affordable

Cons

  • Lacks breathability
  • Tapered toebox
  • Tongue shifts sideways
  • Risk of heel slips

Audience verdict

77
Good!

Who should buy

Having put the Nike NC Trainer 2 through its paces in our gym and lab, we think it is best suited for the following:

  • beginner gym goers who want one athletic shoe for all exercises
  • people in search of an affordable trainer that doesn't skimp on style

Nike MC Trainer 2 review

Who should NOT buy

For walking and casual wear, we found the Nike MC Trainer 2 a bit uncomfortable. The New Balance TRNR v2 offers much better in-shoe comfort for that purpose.

The trainer also happens to be not so breathable. We recommend the Nike Legens Essential 3 for better ventilation.

Nike MC Trainer 2 lab test

Finally, the MC Trainer 2 is definitely not a shoe for advanced workouts and heavier lifting. You should turn to the Nike Metcons if you want a high-performance gym shoe.

Breathability

From the look of it, the MC Trainer 2 appears to be an airy mesh shoe. But in practice, it turned out to be much toastier than expected.

Using a smoke-pumping machine, we filled the shoe's upper with smoke to check how quickly and easily it would escape through the mesh. As you can see from the video below, ventilation wasn't the best in this Nike shoe.

On a 1-5 scale, where 5 is the most breathable, we had to give it a sad 2 out of 5.

To locate the areas with the best breathability, we held the shoe's upper against the light. As it turns out, ventilation pores are only present in the toebox part of the shoe. The rest is just solid material.

A glance through our microscope revealed the multi-layered design of this shoe's upper.

Nike MC Trainer 2 microscope

Now we understand how a shoe made of mesh can end up not so breathable.

Nike MC Trainer 2 microscope test

Test results
MC Trainer 2 2
Average 3.2
Compared to 32 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

On the upside, the lack of aeration paid off in the upper's resistance to abrasion!

Because we didn't have the luxury to abuse this Nike trainer for hundreds of hours at the gym, we used a Dremel to test the material's durability. Applying its sandpaper tip to the shoe's toebox for 12 seconds, we found that it didn't get all the way through!

That's impressive for a shoe at this price point! We gladly rated the MC Trainer 2's toebox durability with 3 out of 5 (above average!).

Nike MC Trainer 2 Toebox durability test
Test results
MC Trainer 2 3
Average 2.7
Compared to 21 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

The heel padding/lining didn't do so well, unfortunately. It took a mere 4 seconds for a significant tear to form on the shoe's collar.

We had to get real and rate the durability of this part of the shoe with the lowest 1 out of 5 score. You are likely to see wear on this part much sooner than you would hope to.

Nike MC Trainer 2 Heel padding durability test
Test results
MC Trainer 2 1
Average 2.5
Compared to 19 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Despite the shoe's budget-friendly price, Nike made sure that the MC Trainer 2 doesn't fall apart so easily.

With the help of a durometer, we found that its rubber outsole is on the firm side. At 94.5 HC, it is 10% harder than average! And hard often means more wear-resistant.

Nike MC Trainer 2 Outsole hardness
Test results
MC Trainer 2 94.5 HC
Average 83.2 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 32 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
57.5 HC
Outsole hardness
94.5 HC

Outsole durability

Setting the Dremel speed to a higher 10K RPM, we held the tool against the shoe's outsole for 22 seconds.

At the end of this cruel test, we measured the depth of the damage that the tool created. And oh my, it was only 1 mm deep! This is the same result we get in more expensive trainers!

Nike MC Trainer 2 Outsole durability test
Test results
MC Trainer 2 1.0 mm
Average 1.2 mm
Compared to 17 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

The amount of rubber protecting the shoe's sole is also pretty substantial. We measured it at 4.2 mm with our calliper.

If you keep the Nike MC Trainer 2 for gym use only, you can rest assured that its outsole is going to last a good while.

Nike MC Trainer 2 Outsole thickness
Test results
MC Trainer 2 4.2 mm
Average 3.7 mm
Compared to 32 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
5.1 mm

Weight

One of the key characteristics that make the MC Trainer 2 feel so good on foot is its fairly low weight.

Weighing the shoe in a men's US size 9, we got 10.2 oz (288g) which is about an ounce lighter than average.

We certainly ripped the benefits of that when doing cardio. No foot-dragging!

Nike MC Trainer 2 Weight
Test results
MC Trainer 2 10.16 oz (288g)
Average 10.79 oz (306g)
Compared to 32 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
6.38 oz (181g)
Weight
13.83 oz (392g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

To feel most comfortable and stable at the gym, you don't want a shoe with overly thick cushioning. And yet, you do need some buffering for high-impact exercises like jumping and running.

The Nike MC Trainer 2 hits a sweet spot in that regard. Measuring the shoe's heel stack with a calliper, we got 23.1 mm. This is a standard amount of cushioning for a training shoe.

We felt well-connected to the ground but didn't lack impact protection either.

Nike MC Trainer 2 Heel stack
Test results
MC Trainer 2 23.1 mm
Average 24.3 mm
Compared to 32 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
13.7 mm
Heel stack
36.2 mm

Forefoot stack

In the forefoot, this Nike shoe packs a balanced stack of 20.2 mm.

Nike MC Trainer 2 Forefoot stack

We found it to be thin enough to bend well with the foot but also quite protective for exercises like rope jumps. Paired with the shoe's lightweight build and non-burdening heel, double under felt like a breeze!

Test results
MC Trainer 2 20.2 mm
Average 18.4 mm
Compared to 32 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
10.6 mm
Forefoot stack
27.7 mm

Drop

At first sight of the shoe's cut-in-half midsole, we thought that the Nike MC Trainer 2 was a zero-drop shoe!

Nike MC Trainer 2 Drop

With a really low heel-to-toe difference of 2.9 mm, it is indeed on the lower side of the training shoe spectrum. Especially given that the standard drop of Crossfit shoes is 4-6 mm.

But what's the benefit of it, you will ask. Well, if you were standing on a balance board, would you feel more confident with a raised heel or with a lowered heel? We bet it's the latter. Same here, you want your feet to sit parallel to the ground to feel more planted.

Nike MC Trainer 2 support

Test results
MC Trainer 2 2.9 mm
Average 5.9 mm
Compared to 32 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
1.8 mm
Drop
13.4 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Imagine trying to stabilise yourself on a single-leg kettlebell deadlift or when doing a skater lunge. You certainly don't dream about plush cushioning at that moment.

That's why a moderately firm midsole is your best friend at the gym. We used a durometer to measure how firm the MC Trainer 2's cushioning is. At 27.0 HA, it is right at the average of training shoes. We found it perfectly hard for every exercise in our routine.

Nike MC Trainer 2 Midsole softness
Test results
MC Trainer 2 27.0 HA
Average 27.4 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 32 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
17.4 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
47.0 HA

Insole thickness

But don't worry, your foot will not be sitting on a brick! We felt nice and padded by the shoe's stock insole. Based on our caliper measurements, it is 4.2 mm thick in the heel. 

Nike MC Trainer 2 Insole thickness
Test results
MC Trainer 2 4.2 mm
Average 3.8 mm
Compared to 32 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Insole thickness
5.7 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

As you can see from our ankle shifting test below, the Nike MC Trainer 2 doesn't have the best stability among gym shoes. But it's not terrible either!

When we kept our workout intensity at a moderate level, this Nike shoe coped with the task very well. We felt support coming from the overlays and raised sidewalls. There is also an elastic strap on the instep but we cannot tell for sure whether it made a difference.

Nike MC Trainer 2 weightlifting

Torsional rigidity

The MC Trainer 2 is a monster in disguise. It may look like a softie but when you try to twist the shoe, it fights back with vigour!

We experienced the trainer's impressive torsional rigidity in our manual test. On a stiffness scale from 1 to 5, we gave it the highest score of 5.

On foot, this Nike trainer makes sure that there is no spilling of the foot on the inner edge of the sole.

Test results
MC Trainer 2 5
Average 2.7
Compared to 32 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

We also found a good amount of stiffness in the shoe's heel counter. Combined with the collar padding, it made our ankles feel quite secure.

But unfortunately, it didn't help to prevent heel slips. The back of the collar is lower in this Nike trainer compared to other models. Take New Balance TRNR v2 for example.

Test results
MC Trainer 2 3
Average 2.8
Compared to 32 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

The platform of the MC Trainer 2 is not particularly wide either. But it's pretty close to the average measurements of a training shoe.

In the widest part of the shoe's forefoot, our calliper showed 109.3 mm. This is only 4.4 mm wider than the minimalist New Balance Minimus TR.

Nike MC Trainer 2 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
MC Trainer 2 109.3 mm
Average 109.6 mm
Compared to 32 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
101.0 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
117.3 mm

Midsole width in the heel

As for the widest part of the trainer's heel, it comes in at 84.3 mm. This is also slightly narrower than average.

Nike MC Trainer 2 Midsole width in the heel

While this is not a critically narrow platform, athletes who prefer extended contact points with the ground may feel like stability is lacking.

For context, the flagship Nike Metcon 9's midsole widths are 116.9 mm (forefoot) and 95.0 mm (heel).

Nike Metcon 9 Midsole width in the heel

The measurements for both shoes are taken in the same size (US 9 men's).

Test results
MC Trainer 2 84.3 mm
Average 86.8 mm
Compared to 32 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
76.5 mm
Midsole width in the heel
97.4 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Walking around in the MC Trainer 2, we couldn't help but notice that it's a little on the stiff side. It just didn't feel like the type of shoe we would want to walk in for hours.

To check exactly how stiff this Nike trainer is, we bent it to a 90-degree angle with the help of a force gauge. The tool returned 21.9N which is indeed a little stiffer than most training shoes. For reference, it took 17.5N for the Nike Metcon 9 and 15.3 for the Reebok Nano X3.

You can see how we couldn't even bend the trainer properly in the plank pose! We were literally kept on our toes!

Nike MC Trainer 2 grip

If you prefer flexible trainers, we promise that the Nike Flex Control 4 will treat you better.

Test results
MC Trainer 2 21.9N
Average 18.6N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 31 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
6.8N
Stiffness
37.9N

Grip / Traction

The amount of rubber protecting the shoe's sole is also pretty substantial. We measured it at 4.2 mm with our calliper.

If you keep the Nike MC Trainer 2 for gym use only, you can rest assured that its outsole is going to last a good while.

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

If you asked us to close our eyes and determine a Nike shoe by touch, we would say that the narrowest one is Nike! As it happens, the Nike MC Trainer 2 matches this description.

Although we did measure the widest part of the shoe's toebox at 105.2 mm (wider than average), its tapered shape still ruined the fit.

Nike MC Trainer 2 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
MC Trainer 2 105.2 mm
Average 100.1 mm
Compared to 32 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
90.4 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
108.0 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

Taking our measurements at the big toe mark, we got 76.2 mm. Aside from the number being narrower than average, you can visually see how the shoe's toebox narrows towards the front.

Nike MC Trainer 2 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
MC Trainer 2 76.2 mm
Average 78.2 mm
Compared to 25 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
65.0 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
87.5 mm

Tongue: gusset type

Given the lack of gussets on the sides of the tongue, there is a tendency for it to shift sideways. Some people are not bothered by that while others find it a deal-breaker.

Our job is to warn you.

Nike MC Trainer 2 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
MC Trainer 2 None

Comfort

Tongue padding

Exploring the shoe's upper up close, we found that it has a good amount of padding around the collar but not so much in the tongue.

To be more specific, we measured the tongue's thickness with a calliper and got 3.1 mm. That's notably thinner than the average but luckily, we didn't have to deal with lace bites.

Nike MC Trainer 2 Tongue padding
Test results
MC Trainer 2 3.1 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 32 skipping rope training shoes
Number of shoes
1.0 mm
Tongue padding
10.4 mm

Removable insole

If you decide to amplify the trainer's comfort and arch support, its default insole is removable.

Nike MC Trainer 2 Removable insole
Test results
MC Trainer 2 No