The Best Gym Shoes: Nike Metcon vs. Reebok Nano

Are you in search of the perfect gym shoes? Finding the right footwear for your workout routine is crucial whether you hit the gym, CrossFit box, or exercise at home with your own weights.

But with so many options available, it can be a dizzying task. We’ve done the hard work for you and put two of the top contenders in the market - the Nike Metcon 8 and Reebok Nano X3 - to the test, each one getting the same treatment: a HIIT class, 1km run, kettlebell circuit, and barbell movements to get to the bottom of what makes the best gym trainer.

Nike Metcon

How do they look?

At first glance, the Nike Metcon 8 and Reebok Nano X3 have strikingly different designs. The Nano X3 is arguably now a bolder and more visually dynamic style, while the Nike Metcon 8 leans towards a sleek and minimalist approach. The Metcon has a performance-oriented design and functionality, they look great in the gym but don’t translate to wearing around more casually the way the Nanos do.

Reebok Nano vs. Nike Metcon

Traction and Durability

When it comes to traction and durability, both the Nike Metcon 8 and Reebok Nano X3 are top performers. The Metcon 8 features a tough rubber outsole with deep grooves, providing excellent grip on all surfaces. The Nano X3 also has a durable rubber outsole with a lug pattern, which provides excellent traction and stability during lateral movements. Both shoes are made with robust materials that can withstand heavy wear and tear.

Comfort and Fit

The Nike Metcon and Reebok Nano both generally offer a true-to-size fit and accommodate various foot shapes. The Metcon 8 features a snug fit, providing excellent support during high-intensity workouts. The Nano X3, on the other hand, has a roomy toe box, allowing your toes to splay naturally, with a cushioned midsole providing underfoot comfort and support.


When it comes to the performance, both have their strengths. The Metcon 8 offers superior stability and support, making it a great option for heavy lifting and plyometric exercises. The Nano X3, on the other hand, is more flexible and responsive, making it ideal for agility exercises and cardio workouts, though it is also notable how much the Metcon has improved in this respect. Now let’s dive into each shoe in a bit more detail.

Nike Metcon 8

The Nike Metcon 8 brings several notable changes and improvements compared to its predecessor, the Metcon 7. Here are some key differences between the two models.

Discover: Nike Metcon Women's

Breathability: One of the significant improvements in the Nike Metcon 8 is its enhanced breathability. The shoe features a lightweight mesh upper that allows proper airflow, keeping your feet cool and dry during intense workouts. This improvement ensures a more comfortable and ventilated experience compared to the Metcon 7.

Stability and Cushioning: The sole of the Nike Metcon 8 has been engineered to strike a balance between stability and cushioning. It offers a firm heel for solid support during static exercises like weightlifting and squats. In contrast, the forefoot provides a softer and more cushioned feel, allowing for greater comfort and responsiveness during dynamic movements. This combination ensures stability and durability, enabling you to perform a variety of gym-focused activities with confidence.

Fit and Comfort: The Nike Metcon 8 boasts a true-to-size fit, ensuring a snug and comfortable feel for most users. The shoe is designed to accommodate a wide range of foot shapes, providing ample room in the toe box without compromising on support. The cushioning system offers excellent impact absorption, reducing strain on your feet and joints even during high-intensity workouts. Additionally, the lightweight construction contributes to an overall agile and comfortable experience.

Improved Versatility: While the Nike Metcon 7 was primarily designed as a gym shoe, the Metcon 8 offers greater versatility. It still excels in gym-focused activities such as weightlifting, HIIT, and kettlebell exercises. However, the improved flexibility and responsiveness of the Metcon 8 make it a more suitable choice for cross-training enthusiasts. It performs admirably during shorter runs, warm-up jogs, and treadmill sessions, expanding its usability beyond just the gym.

Overall, the Nike Metcon 8 represents a significant upgrade over the Metcon 7. With its sleek design, enhanced breathability, stability, and versatility, the Metcon 8 offers an improved gym shoe experience. Whether you're lifting weights, engaging in high-intensity workouts, or pursuing various fitness activities, the Nike Metcon 8 provides the support, comfort, and performance features needed to take your workouts to new heights.

Nike Metcon 8

Reebok Nano X3

Launched in 2011, the Nano line has an even longer heritage than the Metcon. Reebok was the first brand to recognise the need for a shoe specifically designed to meet the demands of CrossFit’s intense and varied training regimen. Over the years, Reebok has continued to refine and improve the Nano line, and the X3 represents the 13th iteration, building on the success of its predecessors. It continues to meet the demands of CrossFit and functional training while offering improvements in comfort, durability, and overall performance.

Reebok Nano X3

One of the most controversial changes through time has been the move to a 7mm heel-to-toe drop, as the brand previously utilised a 4mm drop in former Nano models. The general view is that lower heel-to-toe drops are more attuned to those big-time lifts and movements. Nevertheless, the chassis makeup of the Nano means I was more than capable of pushing through my heels on deadlifts.

Breathability combined with stability: The Flexweave upper of the Nano X3 not only enhances durability but also delivers exceptional breathability. It allows air to circulate freely, keeping your feet cool and dry even during the most intense training sessions. The upper is designed with targeted support zones, strategically placed to provide stability and lockdown where you need it the most. This ensures that your foot stays secure and supported, reducing the risk of injury while maximising your performance.

Durability to withstand the toughest workouts: Reflecting its CrossFit heritage, the Nano is built to withstand the rigours of really intense training sessions. The reinforced toe cap protects against abrasion and adds an extra layer of durability to prolong the lifespan of the shoe. Whether you're climbing ropes, dragging sleds, or pushing your limits in the gym, the Nano X3 is designed to withstand the demands of your toughest workouts.

Fit and Comfort: In terms of fit, the Reebok Nano X3 offers a comfortable and snug experience. The padded tongue and collar add extra cushioning and prevent discomfort during extended wear. The Nano X3 accommodates different foot shapes, offering enough space in the toe box for natural toe splay while maintaining a secure fit in the midfoot and heel.

Reebok Nano X3

How does the Reebok Nano X3 look?

To be candid, this is a sexy shoe. When looking up previous versions of this shoe, it could be argued that the focus was very much function over fashion, but since the start of the X series, and continuing with the X3, that rule no longer applies.

The appearance is more vintage streetwear than gym shoes. This, in my opinion, is no bad thing. The Reebok Nano X is a perfectly versatile shoe that looks great in the gym but also just wandering around.

What is the Reebok Nano X best for?

One of the standout features of the Nano X3 is its versatility. Whether you're performing weightlifting movements, sprinting, jumping, or engaging in agility drills, the shoe adapts well to a wide range of exercises.

The outsole provides excellent traction on various surfaces, ensuring stability during lateral movements, whilst the midsole features a responsive cushioning system that provides energy return, allowing you to generate explosive power during lifts and plyometric exercises. The cushioning also helps absorb impact, reducing stress on your joints and feet.

Reebok said they wanted it to be a shoe for more than CrossFit and at each stage of my testing, I really have to agree with them to the point where it goes beyond being a shoe for the gym and one that I just wore around - they really are that comfortable.

During the run, the shoe held my foot firm and the sole provided good traction. Don’t get me wrong, the Reebok Nano X3 is not a running shoe, but you can easily smash out 1-2km in them.

The masterstroke comes in the heel support which not only provides immense support during HIIT but also locks you in place for heavy lifting. The sole, particularly around the heel makes you feel solid when squatting or during all manner of kettlebell movements.

The most versatile training shoe

As far as I experienced, I had no negative comments. The Reebok Nano X3 is an outstanding and truly versatile training shoe. It is suitable for a wide range of workouts, from weightlifting and CrossFit to cardio-focused training and agility drills. The Nano offers an exceptional training experience. Whether you're a weightlifter, CrossFit enthusiast, someone who loves functional fitness, or frankly just a regular gym-goer, the Nano X3 delivers the performance and support you need to excel in your workouts.

Which one should you choose, the Metcon 8 or Nano X3?

The Metcon and Nano are, in my opinion, the two best training shoes on the market. It is therefore extremely hard to choose between them.

Reebok Nano X3

Nike Metcon 8





383g (men’s)

336g (men’s)

Heel-to-Toe Drop



Best For

  • CrossFit
  • Lifting
  • CrossFit style workouts
  • Functional fitness
  • More athletic training sessions
  • HIIT
  • CrossFit

After eight and thirteen years of improvements in the Metcon and Nano respectively, they have very few flaws. Which one you choose is to a great extent driven by your workout routine. If you’re focussed on deadlifts and plyometrics and want a minimalist feel, then arguably the Metcon, with its lower offset, is the better bet. Whilst if you want the most versatile training shoe possible, with more athletic-style training and cardio workouts, then the Nano X3 wins for versatility.