Nike dropped its brand new Nike LunarEpic FlyKnit 2 ($160; nike.com) this week. What are they really like? Pillow shoes.
I wish I could take credit for that amazing descriptor, but that’s how Olympic Gold Medalist and track star English Garner described them to me, along with a select group of editors, before we hit the tread at Mile High Run Club in New York City to put this new kick through its paces. (I mean that literally, because, well, we did a speed workout.) Garner noted that they were a direct contrast to her typical footwear, track spikes: “Have any of you all ever run an entire workout in spikes?” she asked. “It’s like running a workout in high heels; it hurts.”
While I have never run in track spikes, I have danced the night away in incredibly uncomfortable heels, and I can tell you, this shoe is the opposite of that painful, foot-numbing feeling. In fact, when I first slipped them on, I thought to myself: “This must be what running on clouds feels like.” Seriously, they were that comfortable. That cushy feeling did not fade as I opened up my stride in this lightweight, neutral trainer either. And even in the midst of all that softness, my feet still felt supported.
A few other features that caught my eye:
The cool colorway
I’m a sucker for a brightly-colored kick, so visually they are right up my alley. And that poppy two-tone upper is a nice way to combat the winter blues.
The bootie construction
Basically, the tongue is completely attached here, making the upper one single, seamless piece. This silhouette mimics ankle socks. (And I love ankle socks.)
The FlyKnit upper
This tightly woven material offers a balanced combo of stretch and support, which is more than I can say for some of the other knitted shoes I’ve tested in the past. Typically the knit ends up pulling across the top of my foot, making them ache like crazy. These, however, hug without crushing.
These babies can get pretty bendy thanks to those little slits on the sides of the midsole, which help offer a seamless heel to toe transition. Translation: No stiff shoes here.
The super funky sole
This pair has little laser cuts that are supposed to help with traction. Since I sported them on a treadmill, traction wasn’t a huge concern for me; I’d need to take ‘em outdoors to really test that feature. But, if they are anything like the original LunarEpic, you know the ones with that extended piece of fabric over the ankle that I tested last spring, I can tell you the traction will be on point. Also notewrothy: There are these pressure-mapped pods on the sole that offer targeted cushioning for a smooth ride. I think they also give you an extra spring in your step, because I felt unusually buoyant during my run.
Plus: The new Nike Zonal Strength tight
One more thing, I also got to test out the Nike Zonal Strength tight ($150; nike.com), which launched last month. These bad boys have these built-in bands along the thighs and calves. And while those bands form a really cool design, they are there for more than just decoration. According to a Nike spokesperson at the wear-testing event, one thing we often forget about when running is the vibration of our muscles, and how the more they vibrate, the quicker you wear them out. The banding in these tights are meant to compress the muscle to reduce vibration and fatigue. The idea: you can #runforever. OK, not really, but you can probably run a little longer before your stems hold up the stop sign.
To be honest, I’d like to sport these tights on a longer run before giving my final opinion. However, I will say that I did feel the extra pressure around my thighs, and I did have a really good run at this event, despite the fact that I did a pretty tough 5-mile tempo run the day before. Maybe it was a combo of the shoes and the tights—or that energy gel I down right before I hit the treadmill. (Hey, it was an early morning event, I hadn’t eaten breakfast, and I needed a little bit of fuel. No judgment.)