Nike LunarEpic Flyknit Running Shoes Review

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit First Impressions

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit

Updated 3/10/16

The Nike LunarEpic Flyknit will certainly turn heads. With its high-top bootie design, the running world hasn’t seen anything like these neutral, cushioned running shoes.

The newest entry to Nike’s “Run Easy” category, the LunarEpic Flyknit shoes are meant for going long, running easy, or kicking it up with a progression run. In other words, this is a cushioned trainer designed with comfort in mind. The men’s size 10 weighs 8.3 oz and the women’s size 8 weighs 6.55 oz. Both have an 8.5 mm drop from heel to toe, with a retail price of $175.

I first tried the Nike LunarEpic Flyknit shoes, courtesy of Nike, during an interval workout with Nike trainers. I’ve since taken them on the road and trail. Here are my initial thoughts.

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit First Impressions

Testing the shoes, far left (Nike)

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit Design

If the Nike LunarEpic Flyknit embodies one buzzword, it’s “sensation.” Inspired by Nike soccer boots that earned great feedback from players, Nike Running’s design team set out to create a shoe the evoked a similar sensation. Namely, a sense of seamlessness from toe to ankle. Where does your body end and your shoe begin? The Nike LunarEpic Flyknit wants to erase that transition. Nike calls it a “virtually vanishing fit.” Is it? Yes and no.

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit First Impressions

Shoe or bootie?

Upper

The shoe’s upper is a single-piece of Nike Flyknit, featuring the material’s signature support, with a closer fit at the forefoot, arch, and heel, plus FlyWire cables to cinch the fit midfoot. The ankle collar, sewn more elastic than the boot, exists to anchor the shoe to your leg. The cuff might also eliminate some pressure points around the heel.

The laces? They may seem redundant, but actually help to perfect the fit, a Nike designer said at the shoe’s New York City launch I attended.

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit First Impressions

Rear view

Midsole

This is a glue-free shoe. Instead, Nike used heat to fuse the Lunarlon foam to the platform, thereby eliminating some weight and hardness. The platform itself is contoured, not flat, with laser-cut grooves on the side for flexibility. They collapse when you land, cushioning each foot strike.

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit First Impressions

Outsole

Outsole

The Lunarlon foam outsole is completely rubber-free, with laser-cut pads placed at high-pressure points. Each pad moves independently, depending on how your foot falls. How precisely? You can actually feather the grooves with your fingertips. Combined with the foam of the midsole, the outsole pads help make the ride smooth and soft.

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit First Impressions

Liking them so far (Nike)

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit Feel

I’ll start with this. I’m a huge fan of Nike Flyknit. I wore my Nike Flyknit Lunar 2 shoes ragged and Nike Free 4.0 are one of my go-to pairs.

At first look, these might be my favorite Nike shoes I’ve tried in the last two years, and I’ve worn the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32, Nike LunarTempo, Nike Flyknit Lunar 2, and two iterations each of Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit and Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit.

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit Review

Post-workout debrief (Nike)

Fit

This is a shoe you really need to try for yourself, simply because it is so different from anything you’ve put on your feet before. Certainly, some runners will hate the high ankle collar. Like the first iteration of the Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit, some folks will find it too tight or too constricting. Thankfully, Nike.com offers a 30-day trial period, during which you can return worn shoes, “dirt and all.”

I actually like the fit and the feel and the ankle bootie. If you surf or do triathlons, the ankle collar is more comfortable than the ankle strap of surf board leash, a triathlon timing chip band, or even a wetsuit cuff. When you first slip the shoes on your feet, the collar feels a little strange. But it’s incredibly stretchy and elastic. Once I got moving, I didn’t notice it all. I was too focused on the workout.

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit First Impressions

Concentration (Nike)

Overall, the Flyknit upper is a second skin. I love how it hugs my feet in the right places and lets them breathe in others.

Make no mistake: this is an exacting fit. Flyknit is more snug than any other shoe I’ve tried. When I put the Flyknits on one foot and any other running shoe on the other, the difference is marked. My foot feels snug and secure in the Flyknit. Any other shoe? Suddenly, my foot feels like it’s sloshing around in a bathtub by comparison. For me, there’s a time and a place for each experience.

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit First Impressions

Top view

Plus, I don’t encounter any heel slide in the Flyknit, like I do in many shoes. I usually tie my laces in a heel-lock pattern, using those mystery eyes at the top of the shoes to prevent said bathtub sloshing. But with the Nike LunarEpic Flyknit, my foot stays put.

Some Nike shoes tend to run a touch small. But not these. I’m a 9 in just about every brand on the planet, and the Nike LunarEpic Flyknit 9 fit me perfectly.

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit First Impressions

Science

Performance

Pine-needle soft—that was the goal for this ride, according to one of Nike’s designers. It’s not the softest shoe I’ve ever experienced, but it’s pretty darn cushy. I’d put this in the same category as the ASICS Gel-Nimbus, New Balance Fresh Foam 1080, Brooks Glycerin, and the like. Of Nike’s shoes I’ve worn, the ride is most similar to the Nike Flyknit Lunar.

For my first workout in the shoes, Nike took me and a group of other NYC media folks through a 30 minute workout. The 10-minute warm-up proved the shoes were comfy and cushy. The 20-minute interval session showed they could perform.

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit First Impressions

In action, far left (Nike)

With the treadmill at a 1.5 incline, we did two sets of 3-minutes at 10K pace, 2-minutes at 5K pace, and 1-minute at mile pace, with 1-minute recovery between each. We took a 2.5-minute recovery between sets.

I enjoyed running in the Nike LunarEpic Flyknit. Less than a minute into the first interval, I stopped noticing the ankle cuff completely.

As for the virtually vanishing fit? I’m not sure the shoes felt like an extension of my body. They felt like shoes, albeit comfortable and snugly supportive, which is mainly what I ask for in a pair of running kicks.

Nike LunarEpic FlyKnit Running Shoes Review

Running in Central Park (RunKarlaRun.com)

I’ve now covered more than 20 miles on the road, trail, and treadmill in the Nike LunarEpic Flyknit shoes.

I really love the ride. It’s both soft and responsive at the same time thanks to the different cushioned zones in the outsole. On the road, I can feel the different zones responding as my foot strikes the ground. It makes for a great marriage of cushion and performance. It might be the most responsive cushioned shoe I’ve tried. I won’t trade in my zippier shoes for speed and interval workouts, but these are great for anything from long runs up to tempo pace.

I took the shoes on dirt and gravel trails in Central Park. As suspected, the laser cuts in the sole do suck up little pebbles and pieces of gravel. However, I didn’t notice them at all. I only saw them when I took my shoes off and checked to see if any had gotten caught in there.

Finally, I’ve received a lot of questions about socks. Nike designers recommend wearing socks with these shoes. I’ve played with different styles to see how they affect the comfort of the ankle cuff. For me, socks with a thick tab at the ankle (designed to reduce hot spots in regular shoes) and crew cut socks add a bit too much bulk under the cuff, making it feel tighter. I’ve found my perfect fit with thin, no-show length socks.

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit First Impressions

Rainbow of colors

Nike LunarEpic Flyknit Takeaway

I really enjoy running in these shoes. They’ve earned a spot in my regular shoe rotation. I can’t say that about every pair of shoes that I try. Many running shoes grace my feet, but never make it to the pages of RunKarlaRun.com or into my permanent collection.

Will you like them? I think that mainly depends on whether you can wrap your brain around the ankle cuff—or rather, let the cuff wrap around you. If you want a second-skin fit in a soft, cushioned trainer, the Nike LunarEpic Flyknit running shoes are certainly worth a try.

Nike gave me complimentary shoes as part of its media launch. Just because a company gives me gear does not mean I will lavish it with praise or even write about it. I carefully choose which products to review among the many I receive, and I’m always completely honest in my experiences. For more information, read my disclosure policy.

Karla Bruning

About 

Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the Panasonic New York City Triathlon + regular contributor to Shape + Redbook online. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims, spoils her dog + travels compulsively.

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03 2016

32 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    So interested to see how these hold up on the road!
    Kaitlyn recently posted..New Year – Same MeMy Profile

  2. 3

    Nice review – I am certainly intrigued!

    One question though, do you wear them with or without socks? It looks like the fit would be better without, but going sock-free makes me nervous about getting a little bit gross and sweaty in the shoe if you know what I mean!

  3. 5

    I’ve seen these all over social media and can’t decide how I feel. I can’t wait to hear how you like them as you wear them more. Those tights are my favorites!

    • Karla Bruning
      6

      I love the Nike Epic Lux tights. Great performance and super cute too. I have another pair in a different pattern that I wear all the time.

  4. 7

    This looks really interesting! I honestly have no idea whether I’d like them or not, but they would be cool to try.
    Janelle @ Wholly Healthy recently posted..5 Ways to Make a Push-Up EasierMy Profile

  5. 9

    Did they give you guys clothes too? I noticed in the photo, you guys are all wearing the same thing.
    Elle recently posted..And the Winner is . . .My Profile

  6. 11

    Interesting shoes Karla. Thanks for the review – I’m looking forward to the follow-up. I was a big fan of the original Frees, and still use the Free 3.0s on the treadmill and for shorter runs.
    So you don’t wear socks with these shoes? I’m wondering about how they hold up over time – does the ankle bit stretch? Also, when running outside, does the laser cut sole suck up little stones? That would be very annoying for me – hearing the scrapes of stones on pavement.
    Ewen recently posted..So much energy! All due to the Vegan diet?My Profile

    • Karla Bruning
      12

      You DO wear socks with these shoes. They were designed with socks in mind, the designer told us. I hate when I get stones stuck in the tread of my shoes! I had one in another pair I had to use a knife to get out. Stay tuned for more updates…

    • Karla Bruning
      13

      Hi Ewen, Yep, the laser cuts do trap pebbles, but I didn’t notice it at all. I had to actually take the shoes off to check if any were in there. No scraping sound on the pavement. Phew!
      Karla Bruning recently posted..TCS New York City Marathon 2016 Charity Bibs AvailableMy Profile

  7. Loon #
    14

    Would you recommend them for wide feet? Most Nike running shoes are too narrow I have to get them in wide with nikeid

  8. Romeo #
    16

    I am flat-footed but for some reason, i run well in Neutral shoes with Moderate pronation control and I was wondering if these shoes is something you would recommend. I currently run in Hoka Clifton and I love them, the only downside is that the treadlife is poor which is why i’m looking for a new pair/kind of running shoes for my upcoming marathons. Thanks for the insightful review :)

    • Karla Bruning
      17

      I’ve tried on the Hoka Clifton. This might be Nike’s most comparable shoe, but it’s still pretty different. The weight is comparable, but the LunarEpic have a much steeper heel-to-toe drop (8.5mm vs 5 mm in the Clifton) and less cushioning overall underfoot. I’d suggest trying them on in store or taking advantage of Nike.com’s 30-day trial period to see if they’ll work for you.
      Karla Bruning recently posted..TCS New York City Marathon 2016 Charity Bibs AvailableMy Profile

  9. Chu man #
    18

    Trailed these twice now. Absolutely love them.

    2nd time on a wettish evening over 10k with the London NRC, didn’t slip once, and performed even better then the Ultra Boost.

    They just feel so reassuring.

  10. Bob #
    20

    Does the sock part bend easly

  11. Bob #
    21

    Does the sock part bend easly and can I get them for a cheap price

    • Karla Bruning
      22

      The ankle cuff is very flexible. It’s totally bendable and stretchable. As for price, you’d have to shop around.

  12. Shialeygo #
    23

    Just bought mine last week..and i am definitely satisfied

  13. Bradley Woods #
    25

    I use nike+ pod. Is there a place to put the pouch on the shoe?

    • Karla Bruning
      26

      Not like in the old shoes. But if you have a lace-in pouch for the pod, that should work.

  14. Marty Davis #
    27

    I wear a 7 1/2 in Asics Gel Nimbus 17 women’s. What size do you recommend with the Nike? I went up a size to 7 1/2 because the Asics run small.

    Much appreciated!
    Marty

    • Karla Bruning
      28

      Hi Marty, I wear the same size in my Asics and Nike (I find Nike a pinch on the smaller side too). So I’d go with 7.5 is that’s what you wear in the Nimbus.

      • Marty Davis #
        29

        Thanks!

  15. Bayley #
    30

    I use to wear wide but now I don’t and I saw a YouTube video and the reviewer said they run narrow but I have another pair of nikes the FS lite run 3 and they aren’t wide and fit fine and I was wondering if the flyknit material stretched any just in case they were a little narrow because I already ordered them of of Nike id

    • Karla Bruning
      31

      The Flyknit material is very stretchy in some places and reinforced in others. I wouldn’t say this shoe is any more narrow than any other pair of regular Nikes.
      Karla Bruning recently posted..Happy Global Running Day 2016!My Profile

  16. Brandon #
    32

    Does it fit for wide flat feet too?


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