Our verdict

The Metcon series is once again making waves with the Nike Metcon 9. We can prove that this is one of the best trainers for Crossfit and lifting heavy. It is also a real gem for wide feet and those who climb the rope regularly. As long as you keep it away from high-impact workouts, we promise that you will not regret investing in this flagship trainer.

Pros

  • Exceptionally stable for weightlifting
  • One of the most durable cross-trainers
  • The best shoe for rope climbs
  • Reliable foot containment
  • Very comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Nice grip on gym floors
  • Accommodates wide feet (finally!)
  • Surprisingly flexible

Cons

  • Heavier than average (and previous Metcons)
  • Not great for cardio workouts and rope jumps
  • So-so breathability

Audience verdict

81
Good!
  • Top 7% most popular training shoes

Who should buy

As Nike's flagship cross-training shoe, the Metcon 9 is perfectly suitable for athletes who:

  • engage in Crossfit and do a lot of weightlifting
  • perform rope climbs on a regular basis
  • prefer extra room for the toes
  • want a trainer with above-average durability

Nike Metcon 9 review

Who should NOT buy

We didn't feel as confident using this shoe for aerobic exercises as we did for lifting. If you want a shoe that provides a more balanced experience, we suggest going for the Free Metcon 5, which is still from Nike.

The 9th iteration comes with a £30 price increase which in our opinion, is not entirely justified. If you want equal performance with a lower price tag, we recommend the discounted Nike Metcon 8. You might as well be interested in the Metcon's close competitor, the Reebok Nano X3, also available at a discounted price.

Nike Metcon 9 lab test

Breathability

Nike didn't seem to notice the more frequent heat waves on the planet and chose to make the Metcon 9 slightly less breathable than its predecessor.

Putting the shoe through our smoke-pumping test, we found that the mesh lets the smoke out at a notably slower pace than the Metcon 8. Based on this, we assessed the shoe's breathability with an average 3 out of 5 score.

This makes much more sense when we put the shoe's cut-in-half upper against the light. As you can see, the shoe lining below the mesh is so dense, it doesn't even let the light shine through!

Let's have an even closer look at the shoe's upper through our microscope.

Nike Metcon 9 microscope

It is very clear that there is a dense layer of textile underneath the mesh. We're surprised that this shoe even breathes!

Nike Metcon 9 microscope upper

But luckily, the Metcon 9 is not as toasty as the NOBULL trainers (only 1 out of 5 for breathability).

Test results
Metcon 9 3
Average 3.2
Compared to 32 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

Crossfit can be especially tough on shoe uppers with its repeated slashes, foot drags, and rope climbs. So, Nike thoughtfully added protective dots on the side of the Metcon 9's toebox. But are they really effective?

Armed with a highly abrasive Dremel tool, we drilled the trainer's toebox for 12 seconds at a speed of 5K RPM. To keep this test consistent across all training shoes, we always apply the same pressure 3.2N, and put the tool against the same spot.

Indeed, the rubberized dots took the bullet for the shoe's mesh! Given how dainty that fabric is, adding some protection prevented the toebox from developing a see-through hole and earned the Metcon 9 a solid 3 out of 5. Note that this score is higher than the average.

Nike Metcon 9 Toebox durability
Test results
Metcon 9 3
Average 2.7
Compared to 21 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

The Metcon 9 keeps proving that it's worth the higher price. This time, with its impressively sturdy collar lining.

After holding the Dremel against this delicate part of the shoe for 4 seconds, the damage was barely noticeable and pretty much cosmetic.

Looks like it will take hundreds of workouts before the friction develops holes in this shoe's collar. We can confidently rate the shoe's heel collar padding with a high 4 out of 5 score. Much higher compared to the average.

Nike Metcon 9 Heel padding durability
Test results
Metcon 9 4
Average 2.5
Compared to 19 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

It seems like every part of the Nike Metcon 9 screams quality. Now looking at the shoe's outsole, we believe that it is ready for some serious abuse.

Pressing our durometer against the outsole, we got a pretty high reading of 91.0 HC. This turns out to be one of the hardest rubbers in training shoes. And as our experience shows, hard is often synonymous with durable.

Nike Metcon 9 Outsole hardness
Test results
Metcon 9 91.0 HC
Average 83.2 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 32 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
57.5 HC
Outsole hardness
94.5 HC

Outsole durability

We applied the Dremel for 22 seconds at a higher speed of 10K RPM to see how much damage it causes to the Metcon's outsole.

While the result wasn't as news-breaking as we expected, this cross-trainer showed pretty solid resistance to abrasion. Measuring the depth of the dent with a tread gauge, we got 0.9 mm. This is typical for training shoe outsoles.

Nike Metcon 9 Outsole durability
Test results
Metcon 9 0.9 mm
Average 1.2 mm
Compared to 17 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

The amount of rubber in the shoe's outsole looks rather promising too. Using a calliper, we found that it is 3.2 mm thick. If you train indoors, this is plenty of rubber.

But if you'd like to take your workouts outside, we recommend the Reebok Nano X2 TR Adventure instead.

Nike Metcon 9 Outsole thickness
Test results
Metcon 9 3.2 mm
Average 3.7 mm
Compared to 32 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
5.1 mm

Rope protection

When you first look at the Nike Metcon 9, the first thing that catches your eye is the immense rope protection on the sides.

Especially on the inner side! We haven't seen rope guards of this size in any previous Metcons or cross-trainers in general.

Nike Metcon 9 protection

As long as you contact the rope with these overlays only, the rest of the shoe upper remains intact. Their looks may be polarising but their ability to bite the rope on ascents and let you slide down on descents is unmatched!

The middle portion of the shoe's sole also has a slightly curved shape which allows a more ergonomic wrap around the rope.

Nike Metcon 9 Rope protection

And while we believe that this is one of the best rope climbing trainers in history, we also felt like it was an overkill for most athletes. Not everyone needs THIS amount of assistance every day.

Weight

Brace yourselves because the Metcon 9 just got heavier than any other Metcon before it.

Tipping the scale at 13.3 oz (378g), it is not only 1.5 oz heavier than its predecessor. It is also almost 2 oz heavier than cross-trainers on average!

Nike Metcon 9 Weight

In addition to being heavy, this Nike shoe is also quite clunky due to its substantial Hyperlift heel. It works wonders in weightlifting but is absolutely NOT your best bet for high-impact aerobic workouts or, God forbid, runs!

The Nike Free Metcon 5 (10.5 oz) or the Nike Zoom Metcon Turbo 2 (12.01 oz) are more suitable for that.

Nike Metcon 9 weightlifting

P.S. Oh, and be prepared that the Metcon 9 will look like it's 2 sizes bigger on the foot.

Test results
Metcon 9 13.33 oz (378g)
Average 10.79 oz (306g)
Compared to 32 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
6.38 oz (181g)
Weight
13.83 oz (392g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

At the onset of Crossfit, athletes chose shoes with very minimal cushioning to accommodate their ever-changing routines. You really need that ground feel to remain stable and in control of the movement.

Nike Metcons have met that demand in every iteration. Measuring the heel stack of the Metcon 9 with a calliper, we got 21.5 mm. This is slightly lower than the average but it is an ideal platform thickness for a grounded experience.

Nike Metcon 9 Heel stack
Test results
Metcon 9 21.5 mm
Average 24.3 mm
Compared to 32 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
13.7 mm
Heel stack
36.2 mm

Forefoot stack

Checking the shoe's forefoot stack, we got 16.0 mm on our calliper. This minimal cushioning helps the shoe be more flexible but detracts from impact protection under the ball of the foot.

Nike Metcon 9 Forefoot stack

For instance, rope jumping in the Nike Metcon 9 felt like a punishment. Pairing that with clunky heels and heavy weight, we cannot recommend this trainer for regular rope jumps.

Test results
Metcon 9 16.0 mm
Average 18.4 mm
Compared to 32 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
10.6 mm
Forefoot stack
27.7 mm

Drop

In addition to the low stack, you also need a very low drop to feel stable in a Crossfit shoe. Traditionally, Nike Metcons came with a  4-mm drop and the brand claims 4 mm in the Metcon 9 as well.

However, based on our own stack measurements (insole and outsole included), we found it to be slightly higher - 5.5 mm. On foot, the difference is not highly critical but we must call Nike out on that one.

Nike Metcon 9 Drop
Test results
Metcon 9 5.5 mm
Average 5.9 mm
Compared to 32 crossfit 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.

It has always been a dilemma for cross-training shoes - you need a firm platform for weightlifting stability but you also want some softness for jumping.

The Metcon 9 figured that one out by placing a softer foam inside the firmer one.

Measuring the firmer carrier foam with a durometer, we got 32.3 HA. That's 15% firmer than the average cushioning in training shoes.

Nike Metcon 9 Midsole softness
Test results
Metcon 9 32.3 HA
Average 27.4 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 32 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
17.4 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
47.0 HA

Secondary foam softness

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

As for the softer foam inside the midsole, we found it to be just perfect for buffering box jumps and the like.

Pressing our durometer against it returned 22.0 HA. That is a whole 47% plusher than the primary carrier foam! But the two complement each other very well in the Metcon 9. 

Nike Metcon 9 Secondary foam softness
Test results
Metcon 9 22.0 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.

Insole thickness

Our feet also felt very well padded inside the Metcon 9 courtesy of the insole. Measuring it in the heel, we found that it is slightly thicker than average at 4.2 mm.

Nike Metcon 9 Insole thickness
Test results
Metcon 9 4.2 mm
Average 3.8 mm
Compared to 32 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Insole thickness
5.7 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

Stability is the Nike Metcon's second name.

Its wide base, stiff platform, and lots of stabilising components make this trainer exceptionally planted.

Nike Metcon 9 platform

The most notable feature of the trainer must be the Hyperlift, a piece of sturdy TPU plastic under the heel. This element is non-compressible and can help the wearer take on very heavy loads without feeling wobbly.

From our experience, it is practically impossible to feel off-balance in the Nike Metcon 9.

Torsional rigidity

First of all, you can get a good idea of the shoe's stable character just by attempting to twist it with your hands.

As you can see from our manual test, this trainer is not the one that will bend to your will. On a 1-5 scale, where 5 is the stiffest, we assessed the Metcon's torsional rigidity with a maximum score of 5.

No matter how intense your workout of the day gets, this trainer will never let you twist your ankle.

Test results
Metcon 9 5
Average 2.7
Compared to 32 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

Lifting a heavy-loaded barbell, you can rest assured that your ankles will not get shaky thanks to the shoe's firm heel hold.

We felt very little give when pushing and squeezing the shoe's heel counter. On a 1-5 scale, we rated its stiffness with a high score of 4.

Test results
Metcon 9 4
Average 2.8
Compared to 32 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Very few training shoes can compete with the Metcon 9's platform width. On foot, it feels like an actual aircraft carrier!

In the widest part of the forefoot, our calliper showed a measurement of 116.9 mm.

Nike Metcon 9 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Metcon 9 116.9 mm
Average 109.6 mm
Compared to 32 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
101.0 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
117.3 mm

Midsole width in the heel

This Nike shoe also proved to be among the widest in the heel portion of the sole. Based on our calliper, it comes in at 95.0 mm in the widest part of the rearfoot.

Such a large contact area with the floor helps to stabilise the foot with minimal effort. That way, you can focus more on performing an exercise and less on worrying about your feet.

Nike Metcon 9 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Metcon 9 95.0 mm
Average 86.8 mm
Compared to 32 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
76.5 mm
Midsole width in the heel
97.4 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

The Nike Metcon's beastly construction makes it look like a hyper-stiff trainer in every way. And yet, Nike made sure that it can bend along with the foot!

To measure the shoe's flexibility in numbers, we checked how much force it takes to bend it to a 90-degree angle. According to our force gauge, it requires 17.5N which is 17% less than it takes on average!

Planks, burpees, push-ups, and just walking around the gym are all perfectly accommodated in the Metcon 9!

Test results
Metcon 9 17.5N
Average 18.6N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 31 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
6.8N
Stiffness
37.9N

Grip / Traction

What else can we say, the Metcon 9's grip is simply phenomenal.

Nike Metcon 9 Lug depth

Whether it's jumping on and off the box, doing burpees over a barbell on wet floors, or stabilising yourself during cleans and jerks - the shoe's got you covered.

The herringbone traction pattern on the outsole passed our gym tests with flying colours.

Nike Metcon 9 grip

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

A Nike shoe with a roomy toebox? You must be kidding! No, for real?

YES! In Nike Metcon's 9th iteration, the brand finally listened to what the athletes had been asking for. Even before taking the calliper measurements, we could feel that this shoe offered more toe space than ever before.

To be specific, the widest part of the trainer's forefoot (around the ball of the foot) comes in at 108.0 mm! This is not only wider than the Metcon 8 but also wider than training shoes on average!

Nike Metcon 9 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Metcon 9 108.0 mm
Average 100.1 mm
Compared to 32 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
90.4 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
108.0 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

If your toes ever felt cramped in a pair of gym shoes, the Metcon 9 can be a sweet relief.

It is not only wider than average in the widest part of the forefoot but also around the big toe. Our calliper shows 81.4 mm of width there.

That means that there is no significant tapering or narrowing of the shoe's shape. Amazing for splaying toes as much as you need!

Nike Metcon 9 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Metcon 9 81.4 mm
Average 78.2 mm
Compared to 25 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
65.0 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
87.5 mm

Tongue: gusset type

This Nike Metcon shoe features gussets on both sides of the tongue. They prevent the latter from annoyingly shifting sideways during the workout.

Never once did we have to stop and make adjustments. At the gym, it should be about the athlete and not their shoe tongue!

Nike Metcon 9 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Metcon 9 Both sides (full)

Laces

No complaints here on our end. Nike chose excellent quality laces for the Nike Metcon 9. After our training session, they remained just as tight as when we first laced them up.

And of course, we can't ignore the handy lace lock! Very low-key, it complements the trainer's look very naturally.

Nike Metcon 9 laces

Comfort

Tongue padding

Compared to many other cross-trainers on the market, the Nike Metcon 9 felt more comfortable and padded inside. Particularly around the collar and in the tongue.

Checking its tongue thickness with a calliper, we got 7.9 mm. Slightly thicker than average. This aspect of the trainer makes it more comfortable for coaching and walking around the gym venue.

Nike Metcon 9 Tongue padding
Test results
Metcon 9 7.9 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 32 crossfit training shoes
Number of shoes
1.0 mm
Tongue padding
10.4 mm

Removable insole

For those who prefer wearing custom orthotics in their gym shoes, the stock insole is easily removable in the Nike Metcon 9.

Nike Metcon 9 Removable insole
Test results
Metcon 9 Yes