A new kind of cushioning
Most major running shoe brands currently have one objective in mind: cushioning. Lately, some brands have turned to other industries to help develop new materials to put under your feet, such as tyre manufacturers: running comfort is big business.
Instead of outsourcing this process, Nike has taken the science in-house and developed its own unique shoe cushioning. After much deliberation and over 20,0000 miles tested by athletes, Nike has finally launched React, a soft, durable and responsive sole, all wrapped up in a running shoe that’s only 239g; lighter than most shoes on the market.
First look and feel
The silhouette of the Epic React is clean, with an upward curve through the mid-sole where the sole joins the Flyknit mesh which covers the entire shoe, save for some lace eyelets. Add in some interesting styling details at the heel, including an overhanging ledge, pull on loop and some translucent areas at the front and rear of the sole, and this is one stylish shoe.
Nike maintain this model fits true to size but on first wear they felt quite tight, due in part to the Flyknit sock. Some runners might need to go up a size, but they do give and after a few runs they loosened up.
The heel cage is slim reinforced plastic and at first glance doesn’t look like it offers much support, but it was reassuringly comfortable and hugs the heel well.
Epic React on the road
We tested them on three separate runs: a steady run, a slow longer session and a tempo run. From the off they felt great with a good balance between cushioning and energy return. The sole is very springy which will appeal to heel-strikers.
The Epic React Flyknit is ideal for longer training sessions and the shoe gives back in a way that can only be described as running on clouds. I felt less fatigued afterwards, which was a huge tick. However, as a forefoot striker the transition phase didn’t help propel me forward and wasn’t as stable at higher speeds; you can’t have it all.
While I wouldn’t want to race in a pair of Nike Epic React, I’d happily do all my training in them. Nike are clearly looking towards the masses and have built a shoe with extreme comfort in mind for slow to mid-tempo runs.
Light, bouncy and fun, Nike has definitely come up with a running shoe that will appeal to a broad spectrum of runners and while not one for top speeds (there are other models in the Nike stable for that) the Epic React Flyknit is a comfortable and reliable all-rounder.
To try the Nike Epic React out for size head over to nike.com