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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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. Read the rest of this entry →