We recently wrote extensively about how much we like the Nike Flyknit racers, and generally how impressed we are with the latest range coming out of Nike. Now as Nike prepare to launch the latest in their extensive high-tech running shoe lineup, we take a first look at their Free Hyperfeel running shoes and their Nike Free Flyknit’s. Saying as we already own – and increasingly turn to the Flyknit racers whenever we go running, we were naturally quite excited to give these a go.
Firstly both pairs of shoes are brand new creations from the sports giants, and haven’t hit the shelves yet. The Free Flyknit will be available from August 1st, and will be priced at around £105 ($160 – UK price TBC). The Free Hyperfeel running shoes will launch in September, and will be marginally more expensive at around £116.
Nike announced both pairs of shoes yesterday (July 16th) in a press event coming out of the Nike HQ in Portland, Oregon. As such, we want to preface this post by warning that we haven’t had a vast amount of time with either of these shoes yet, and we will look to put out more extensive reviews once the products hit the shelves. That said, we were able to finish just shy of 3KM in each pair, which whilst short of the 5k and 10k tests that we like to complete on running shoes – knowing that they’re the common distances that our readers look to cover – we felt this was sufficient to get a feel.
Nike Free Flyknit running shoes
By Michael Homestead
I tested the eye-catching Free Flyknits, and my first impression was that they shared a lot of design similarities with the Nike Flyknit racers, a pair of running shoes that I wrote about recently and that I very much enjoy training in. These running shoes share the same hardened mesh design, with the standout difference been the fit around your ankle. These are almost like socks which you lace up, and my first impression was that they are the most comfortable running shoes that I have ever tried on.
The Flyknit range is very much ‘look at me’ and it seems that the Free’s are continuing that trend. It’s not for everybody, but I’m personally quite a fan. We have commented many times in the past about the way that fitness technology feels the need to be bright and flashy, and whilst I dislike that trend in wearable fit tech like activity trackers, I think it – just about – works for running shoes. All of that said, Nike are planning to release an extensive range, and they’re not all as bright as the pictures suggest.
Like the Racers, the Free’s are another near-barefoot running shoe. I suggest that if you’re considering going for barefoot running shoes, then these may well be a nice stepping stone. They offer that bit more protection than a competitor’s barefoot shoe would, especially with the well-designed Nike sole. These soles are plenty thin enough to get a feel for the ground under foot, yet just thick enough to offer some decent protection.
These shoes do require a solid running technique to avoid discomfort over longer distances. When I first got my Flyknit racers I noted a tingling in the soles of my feet at night after longer runs. Over time this has decreased, and it’s in no small part to me working on my running technique. In one sense, that’s a very good aspect to this style of running shoe, as better technique stands you in better stead over time.
The other consideration is your feet type. By that I mean the structure of your feet, as some people with wider feet have noticed a slight issue with rolling ankles. Everything about the design of these shoes is lightweight and all about speed. They are therefore thin, light and narrow, so bear this in mind.
Once I got going on the run, I had no complaints. These are probably slightly comfier than the Racers, due to the design around the ankles. I did notice some heel lift due to the low backs, which is not a problem that I have had with the Racers, but I think that may have been down to rushing when putting them on and therefore not setting them up right. This is something that I’ll look for when we lay our hands on them properly and review them this autumn.
Nike Free Hyperfeel running shoes
By Jamie Boyd
I tried out the Nike Free Hyperfeels and joined Michael on a run. Therefore, we tried the shoes out side by side and were able to share opinions as we went along. These running shoes combined the same sort of material as the FlyKnits – the mesh design – into the styling behind the Free 5.0s and the Lunar series. These really do feel like Nike hybrid shoes, borrowing design flavors and ideas from across their range. This gives these shoes huge potential, providing they were able to cherry pick the best ingredients from each range.
I tried on the Free Flyknits as I wanted to compare the feel of these shoes, as well as the difficulty in getting them on. It sounds daft, but these runners are a really tight fit, and are noticeably more laborious to get on your feet compared to the sock-like Free Flyknit shoes. Once one though, these are exceptionally comfortable and I found the fit reassuringly snug.
The soles are very different on the Hyperfeels. As the name would suggest, these shoes are trying to deliver a ‘real’ running sensation. However there is a noticeable bounce in the design of these soles, which is taken from the Nike Lunar range. In that sense, they compare to the Adidas Boost range, and act to recycle your energy. The overall effect is a very cushioned feel without the overly inflated feeling in some of the older Nike Air’s. My first impressions are that Nike has found a nice balance with these shoes, especially if you’re a shorter to medium distance runner. In truth, neither of these pairs of running shoes are targeting marathon runners anyway.
The difference between these shoes highlights the roles played by personal preference and the fact that everybody has different goals and therefore trains differently. These are two very different pairs of running shoes, and join a crowded market place which is teeming with high tech options.
On balance, I think that me and Michael agreed that the Free Flyknit’s were the better of the two – for us and the way we train at least. If you’re after something that’s near as dammit to these and already on the market then you should check out the FlyKnit racers, which we covered in detail here.