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Nike Metcon 8 Review Model Wearing Metcon 8s outside on pavement
 /  Fitness /  Gym Wear

Nike Metcon 8 Review: Is This the Perfect All-Around Utility Trainer?

Joe Niehaus
Expertise:

Style, Skincare, EDC, Fitness, Shoes

Joe is world traveler and brand fanatic. He's been writing about physical goods and the founders behind them for over four years. Beyond his work for The Adult Man, he's contributed to The Quality Edit, Business Insider, Men's Health, Travel + Leisure, and more. He's been around the block, taking his goods across the world to countries like China, Spain, Italy, Thailand, Dubai, France, and Mexico. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Feb 23, 2024
13 min read

You’ve been consistently going to the gym week after week, sticking to the plan, and packing more weights on with each passing day. Your old sneakers have been doing the trick, but now it’s time to level up—where do you go?

The Nike Metcon 8 is a go-to for the devoted, but not too extreme, muscle man. In this review, I’ll explain my process of going from using old running shoes while lifting to choosing these trainers for bolstering my workouts.

The value-for-money hybrid
The Adult Man Image/Icon
Nike Metcon 8

Bottom line: The Nike Metcon 8 is a solid option if you consistently go to the gym and are looking to bump up your workout performance with quality gear. Considerations for common weight-training exercises as well as material choices like mesh and padding make the shoe accommodating for multiple movements. While the heel plate and overall flatness doesn’t make it ideal for long runs, I’m a big fan of the all-movement functionality of this multi-purpose trainer.

Ratings: The Adult Man Image/Icon  Design The Adult Man Image/Icon  Quality of Materials The Adult Man Image/Icon  Value for Money The Adult Man Image/Icon  Craftsmanship The Adult Man Image/Icon  Packaging
Pros:
  • Great stability and construction: If you’re going heavy on the lifting, these can take a punch
  • Solid base structure: The rubber outsole provides great traction and flatness to provide balance
  • Perfect padding: Nike React foam provides stable and neutral bounce
  • Comfortable width means I don’t feel like my foot is squeezed or too loose
Cons:
  • Hard heel backstop makes them sometimes awkward to walk in
  • These left a few scuffs on my kitchen floor when heading out the door

I’ve finally been getting back into the gym on a routine basis.

The struggle is real. After growing up running every day and doing cross country in high school, slinging steel as a gym rat isn’t first nature for me. 

In the past, I’ve fallen victim to being “too busy” or letting distractions get in the way of carving out some time to get in the zone. (Even though the positive health benefits of lifting are well researched and conclusive.)

With so many different exercises, intimidating equipment, and more experienced lifters, consistent training can seem like a lofty goal.

Thankfully, I came across a simple three-day lifting plan from a former college football player and got a pass to my local gym.

When lifting, I’ve always just used my old running shoes. While they do the trick, I don’t love bouncing around when I’m trying to stand still for a lift.

Now that I’ve made the time investment, I wanted to look into a pair of shoes specifically meant for weight training.

I hadn’t bought any trainers before, so had to do some research on what would be best. Where else to look into first other than Nike?

I was looking for a shoe that could handle quick exercises like sprints and pushups, while also being strong enough for compound lifts. The Nike Metcon 8, with its breathable mesh and cushioned sole seemed like a model that would fit the bill.

After getting a lot of reps in the these trainers, I can confidently tell you why these may be the trainers for you if you’re serious about improving your performance at the gym.

Nike Metcon 8 Overview

We all know Nike as the brand for serious competitors. Whether running, basketball, or football, athletes from Michael Jordan to Tiger Woods don the famous swoosh.

Because of the company’s size, Nike is able to invest millions of dollars into research and development, quality testing, and user feedback to create products that stand the test of time—and many repetitions.

With the rise in popularity of workouts like CrossFit, many brands have popped up specifically creating shoes meant for the gym. It can be overwhelming to figure out who makes the best trainer for the serious lifter.

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In a market with so many different niche brands, I figured testing out the Metcon 8 from Nike would make the most sense given the brand’s expertise in every other athletic endeavor.

The Metcon 8 is the latest version of Nike’s signature workout shoe. They updated the upper to be more breathable while still maintaining the necessary structure. Its flat heel gives great stability, but unlike other trainers that may have straps in lieu of laces, the Metcon also works for quick cardio.

The Metcon 8 is like a Swiss Army knife for the gym.

Things to Consider Before Buying the Metcon 8

The deciding factor when looking into the Metcon 8 is what type of workouts you will be doing and how much flexibility your trainer needs to have.

When I go to the gym, I like to look at it as a holistic exercise, not just maxing out on bench press.

Male model jumping in the Metcon 8 during workout

I prefer to do weight training as well as cardio for at least a few minutes, so I need versatility in my gear. If you’re looking for shoes solely for lifting weights in a fixed stance and nothing else, the Metcon probably isn’t for you.

You’d probably be better off with something like the Romaleos 4, which is specifically meant for intense lifting, with its straps and tailored sole.

But, if you’re like me and you want to get in a few sets on the bench, dumbbell curls, a quick HIIT session, and then finish off with an abs workout, the Metcon offers features for all movements.

Nike Metcon 8

The Nike Metcon 8 is a solid option if you consistently go to the gym and are looking to bump up your workout performance with quality gear. Considerations for common weight-training exercises as well as material choices like mesh and padding make the shoe accommodating for multiple movements. While the heel plate and overall flatness doesn’t make it ideal for long runs, I’m a big fan of the all-movement functionality of this multi-purpose trainer.

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Nike Metcon 8 Review

Unboxing

Nike Metcon 8 with shoebox

Nike has fairly standard packaging across its line of shoes, other than perhaps its Air Jordan or exclusive drops line. You’re probably familiar with the bright orange shoebox, but about a year ago, Nike started piloting a new “One Box.”

The One Box is one of Nike’s attempts to reduce unnecessary packing, instead of sending a shoebox enclosed in another cardboard box, the new One Box is both the shipping package and the shoebox.

This results in a 51 percent reduction in waste if you’re buying a single pair of shoes online.

It’s a simple unmarked brown box (to help prevent theft) with adhesive strips, so in the case that you need to make an exchange or return, you don’t need any extra shipping tape or supplies. Pretty genius and no-fuss to open.

Nike Metcon 8 unboxing with shoes in

Unlike some other shoes I’ve had where you need to tie the laces yourself or make some personal adjustments to the product, the Metcons are just about ready to go from the box. There’s minimal packaging and you only need to untie and loosen the laces to make them ready for wear.

I really appreciate the simplicity of the unboxing experience. Like the shoe, it’s straightforward and every component serves a purpose. If I needed to get a different size or return them for some reason, the One Box gives me peace of mind knowing that shipping them back would be easy with the pre-applied tape.

Upper Quality

Nike Metcon 8 on ground with mesh upper

As mentioned before, with the Metcon 8, Nike updated the upper to have a lightweight mesh that keeps your foot cool when it starts to get sweaty. (I’ve seen some shoes lifters wear that appear to be made of a solid material and I think those must get really uncomfortable.)

These are low-tops, which allow for a wide range of ankle movements and your feet don’t feel like they’re locked in a cage.

While doing my research, I came across a few pairs of high-top training shoes. If you’re doing any type of cross training, I wouldn’t recommend these. They wouldn’t be comfortable for your ankles and would restrict movement when doing quick sprints.

Compared to other brands like Reebok or Under Armour that may focus more on lifting or agility in some of their models, the Metcon 8 is a multi-purpose shoe. 

Upclose image of Metcon 8 upper mesh

For areas that get the most use, Nike also added extra material to maintain support. I appreciate the nicely cushioned tongue which allows me to tie my laces tight.

To keep you focused on the important things, there’s also a nifty velcro tab that keeps the laces secure and out of the way. Laces bouncing all over the place are one of my chief annoyances.

The upper also has cross-pattern lines covering the toe box—I’m not sure if they’re for functionality or simply a design choice.

Sole Quality

Nike Metcon 8 upclose heel plate

There was a lot of thought and design that went into the Metcon 8’s sole. They’ve incorporated just enough Nike React foam to provide a pleasant cushion. If you’re working to maintain a good posture, the foam is comfortable, but not there’s not too much bounce like a running shoe.

This is also effective in quick sprints; the sole allows you to have control over your foot movement while also giving them enough forgiveness. These wouldn’t do well in a marathon, but hopefully you’re not running a marathon at the gym.

The rubber is extremely grippy—when I first wore them at home, there were sticky noises and even some leftover scuffs on the floor. The grip also wraps around the outer arches of the foot in case you’re doing climbs or sideways planks. It’s always frustrating when my feet slide out of place, so this unique grip comes in handy.

Up close image of Nike Metcon 8 rubber sole

One thing I’m not a fan of in some training shoes is their stiffness in the sole—the Metcon 8 has a unique pattern with grooves that naturally bend to the motion of the foot. It doesn’t feel like I’m locked into a straight position when I’m walking because it flexes naturally.

Fit and Movement

Male model wearing Nike Metcon 8 while squatting during workout

The most important consideration for me when thinking about shoes that I’m going to be wearing for many hours or important exercises is how they feel when I’m moving—whether standing in a position, walking around, or quickly moving my feet.

I usually wear a 10.5 in other brands. After finding some conflicting research on if Nike ran big or small, I decided to order the size I usually do. Thankfully, this was the right call.

The Metcon 8 is snug with a little wiggle room but tight enough to where I can get some aggressive motion going and my shoes are just an afterthought. The combination of firmness in the build, flexibility of the sole, and proper cushioning lets me go hard.

Another plus for me is that the Metcon isn’t bulky. While the sole firm and stable, I don’t feel like I’m walking around with weights strapped to my feet.

Male model wearing Nike Metcon 8 outside

One aspect of the sneaker that isn’t my favorite is the hard plastic plate beneath the heel area. Iit provides a nice backstop in an exercise like squatting, but it’s a little hard on the heel when walking around.

Style and Design

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Something that’s not necessary for me, but rather a “nice-to-have” is how the shoes look. After all, look good play good, right?

The silhouette of the Metcon 8 is very unique. The rubber sole wrapping around the arches of the feet paired with the cutting-edge pattern on the upper is nice to have in a gym shoe. They’re not too flashy, just enough.

When I started rocking the Metcons, a few family members exclaimed at how cool they were. I like to keep it fairly simple, so I opted for the light grey and white version, but there’s a few different colorways and an option to design your own on the Nike site.

Up close Nike Metcon 8 lace lock strap

Subtle design features like the flat laces that are easy to tighten in place, and the padded tongue provides a nice pillow for the top of my foot. The lace lock hook speaks to the consideration the designers had in the process of making these.

The Metcon 8s are stylish while also getting the job done.

What Do Other Reviewers Say? 

Based on other reviews I looked into while testing the Metcon 8, this trainer is great for people who are looking for functionality in both lifting and cross training.

People with a wider foot (myself included) seem to appreciate the structure of the shoe—it’s not so narrow where your foot gets sandwiched by the upper.

I found that other reviewers didn’t think the Metcon 8 would be good for long runs, and I agree. Because of the shoe’s flatness and firm cushion it’s not meant for distance cardio. I already don’t put in a lot of miles at the gym, so this isn’t a huge deal for me.

We all agree: the Metcon 8 is great for a blend of lifting and cardio, but not as a dedicated shoe for either.

Nike Metcon 8

The Nike Metcon 8 is a solid option if you consistently go to the gym and are looking to bump up your workout performance with quality gear. Considerations for common weight-training exercises as well as material choices like mesh and padding make the shoe accommodating for multiple movements. While the heel plate and overall flatness doesn’t make it ideal for long runs, I’m a big fan of the all-movement functionality of this multi-purpose trainer.

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Nike Metcon 8 Alternatives 

Nike Free Metcon 5

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The Free Metcon 5 is another training shoe from Nike that uses Free technology in the forefoot for movements that require more flexibility such as burpees and quick cardio. They’re a tad bulkier and wider and also have a thicker sole.

A ⅞-length inner sleeve and collar designed for easy access makes putting these on a seamless process. The laces are round and there’s no hook-and-loop closure, which may get annoying if the laces are moving around a lot. They’re priced at $120 and are probably better if you’re going to be doing a lot of HIIT or movement-heavy exercises.

Here are a few details comparing the Free Metcon 5 that you should consider:

  • React vs. Free technology: The Free Metcon 5 uses Free in the sole compared to React
  • Both use a heel clip for stability
  • Both have a breathable upper to reduce foot sweat
  • While both the Metcon 8 and the Free Metcon 5 provide stability and free movement, the Free Metcon 5 is better for HIIT workouts
Nike Free Metcon 5
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Nike Zoom Metcon Turbo 2

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The Zoom Metcon Turbo 2 is a trainer specifically designed for speed training like cardio, treadmill workouts, and circuit training. It’s a simpler model with fewer features and more focus on quick functionality.

It has a Zoom Air unit in the sole and a wide heel for when you come down off a jump. The tongue is much thinner than the Metcon 8 to keep ounces off the shoe. It’s priced at $150 and comes in several different colorways. This is a great option if you’re focusing on movement and agility over weight training.

The Zoom Metcon Turbo 2 and the Metcon 8 differ in a few ways:

  • The Zoom Metcon Turbo 2 is much lighter than the Metcon 8
  • The Zoom Metcon Turbo 2 limits the number of features to only the most necessary to allow for the widest range of motions
  • The Zoom Metcon Turbo 2 isn’t as good as the Metcon 8 for heavy lifting and standing lifts
Nike Zoom Metcon Turbo 2
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My Thoughts Overall On the Nike Metcon 8

What I Like

  • Comfort: The Metcon 8 is maximally padded; from the tongue to the upper, extra cushioning is provided throughout the shoe and they fit like a glove. It definitely offers a reliable day-after-day fit.
  • Sturdiness: If I had an extremely intense workout, I would absolutely trust the Metcon 8 to hold up. I could tie the shoes tight, and the cushioned tongue would ensure that my foot doesn’t feel like it’s being suffocated.
  • Breathability: The mesh upper uses materials that are perfect for moving fast, especially if there’s not a good cooling system in your gym. We’ve all been in a situation where our feet are so hot and the only thing that would make them better is taking off your shoes and socks.

What I Don’t Like

  • Too strong in some areas: The heel plate provides a ton of stability, but as I walk around I can definitely see how it wouldn’t be the best if I was doing a lot of running or jumping.

Who Is the Nike Metcon 8 for?

The Metcon 8 is for the dedicated gym goer who likes to do a wide range of exercises and doesn’t limit themselves to just lifting or just cardio.

The padded comfort and breathability allow you to quickly move without overheating or making your feet ache. Nice features like the hook-and-loop flap to contain the laces give the Metcon an edge over other potential options.

The React sole and cushioning help you remain stable, but not locked into one place. If you’re going to be doing a blend quick HIIT, heaving weight training, and standing exercises like dumbbell curls, the Metcon 8 is a great option.

The Verdict

The Nike Metcon 8 is a great all-in-one gym shoe.

A lot of trainers are either too bulky and made for bodybuilders or are too lightweight and don’t provide much stability for lifting exercises. Although, the heel on the Metcon 8 can be a tad hard on the heel.

The breathable, mesh upper gives a cool ride when doing quick movements and agile workouts. The rubber sole gives an excellent grip when standing and wraps around the arches for if you’re doing workouts on the ground like pushups or planks.

The hook-and-loop closure keeps the laces in place so you can focus on what really matters: hitting your reps with a proper form.

At $130, the Metcon 8 is a great value compared to other trainers on the market in the $150-$200 price range, and they also look a heck of a lot cooler than most trainers. But, be careful walking around the house in these because they could leave temporary marks. And if you’re planning on getting on a treadmill, these aren’t ideal for distance running.

It’s clear that Nike took the design of this shoe very seriously, and it’s evident in the details that make this an all-around winner for lifting.

Nike Metcon 8

The Nike Metcon 8 is a solid option if you consistently go to the gym and are looking to bump up your workout performance with quality gear. Considerations for common weight-training exercises as well as material choices like mesh and padding make the shoe accommodating for multiple movements. While the heel plate and overall flatness doesn’t make it ideal for long runs, I’m a big fan of the all-movement functionality of this multi-purpose trainer.

Check Price

FAQs

What is Nike Metcon 8 used for?

The Metcon 8 is ideal for lifting and all-around gym days. This model is extremely reliable and versatile for weight exercises and CrossFit-esque workouts.

Are Nike Metcons good for the gym?

Yes, Nike Metcons are a great multi-purpose trainer for the gym. The build is durable and will work for any exercise, from bench press to standing hammer curls.

Are Nike Metcons good for squatting?

The stability that the Metcon 8 provides makes these the perfect shoe for squatting. A built-in heel plat helps to balance your form.

Are Nike Metcons good for deadlifting?

Yes, the Nike Metcon 8 is great for deadlifting. The fixed structure that the Metcon 8 provides allows your thighs and core to more through the deadlift perfectly.