With ample cutting edge technology at their disposal, the Portland-based shoe manufacturer continues to redefine performance-engineered footwear. Unveiled nearly four years ago, the Nike Flyknit technology is one such example. The technology unlocked a fresh set of possibilities in footwear design, where the sock-like upper took the shape of an individual’s feet giving an overall confident ride.
Earlier this year, Nike had launched the LunarEpic Flyknit, a shoe with an integrated ankle-cuff, a design that was used in their Magista soccer boot. They claimed it represents the ‘future of running’. The new LunarEpic Flyknit low, however, gets a low cut makeover, minus the ankle cuff which features a breathable upper designed with different densities to provide a sock-like fit across the forefoot, heel and arch.
Price: Rs 15,995
Nike gave us the shoe for review purposes and this is what he have to say.
The moment you step into the shoes, the stretchable upper takes the shape of your feet like socks. It’s easy to put on and very intuitive, in the sense that it adapts to your feet dimensions. It never feels as if the footwear has grabbed your feet tight or puts pressure. It’s tight enough to hold your feet in place, while giving ample slack to breathe. The fit is such that it lets you maintain the range of motion while running, without discounting comfort.
Concerns about the fit went away soon enough once I took it for a run. The upper is comfortable, secure, and flexible enough for runners to sprint or stride. Even the laces, which are embedded into flywire cables that run around the midfoot, feel mostly absent. The highlight of the upper is that it secures the midfoot very firmly.
The shoe wraps your foot so well that it felt it was always there. This will give a lot of confidence to runners. Try to avoid tying the laces tightly though, for it tends to distort the shape of the shoe. This caused a little rubbing around the ankle cuff area. At best, I’d advise you to tie the laces loosely and simply slide in and out your feet without untying the laces. The Flyknit technology really does aid the runner with its unique knitting process that makes the upper mesh of the shoe to be customised in terms of breathability, stretch and thickness. Overall, the shoe gives a ‘minimal’ feel.
There’s some familiar as well as new technology embedded in the DNA of the sole. While the midsole is made of Nike proprietary lightweight foam Lunarlon, the two materials are joined together using heat rather than glue, in an effort to shave weight. If you look at the sides of the midsole, you will notice thin grooves what Nike calls ‘Laser Siping’ that run parallel to the ground. Nike claims it provides additional flex and support to your feet when compressed.
When I flipped over the shoe, the unique design got me curious. The outsole resembles contour lines of a topographical map, with five laser siped concentric circles, which are finely cut to precise depths and widths by a machine. Nike says the outsole was designed according to the pressure points on the foot as it hits the ground while running. Now here’s the thing, the brand says each concentric circle is free to move individually which gives a good amount of flexibility and traction as well.
This along with the laser siped side walls compresses as you run through. I believe the idea behind the grooves is to distribute the impact of the foot hitting the ground over the entire shoe. That could be due to the independently moving pods that fall with your stride.
Nike has categorised their running shoes into three categories: Run Natural, Run Fast, Run Easy. This one falls under ‘Run Easy’, which Nike says helps you run longer without making you fatigued. Rightly so, the ride is geared towards runners with neutral pronation. As such this shoe is very approachable and the overall ride is highly cushioned. You can run for hours without feeling fatigued. However, I noticed if you start running at 5K pace or circle a track, the ride gets slightly spongy. But they are no sloppier than other trainers in the market. As you roll your weight on different sides, you can feel the concentric pods squeeze giving you adequate feedback from the sole. As I mentioned earlier, these pods are designed in a way to support the pressure points on our foot. The mid-foot strike is perhaps the sweet spot, where I felt I could glide easily. There’s ample arch support as well. I clocked over 70 km in 9 days over different surfaces such as tarmac, loose mud and rocks and wet grass. I particularly liked how the shoe gives just enough feel of the ground while avoiding the pesky rocks from hitting the undersole. And I can safely say that it performs best on tarmac, wet grass and loose mud/rocks. In that very order.
There’s one thing, however, which I found slightly disconcerting. While the shoe is good for regular to intermediate runners, trained or expert runners, who are used to more control, might find it hard to adapt to this shoe because it does not provide a lot of stability. Rapid movements, let’s say from left to right, will make you feel your feet will slip out sideways. Also, after running in them for over a week, I had a hard time picking out all the small rocks that creep into the pressure-mapped outsole. Not that they bothered me during the run, but it’s still an effort weeding them out.
Despite what’s going on with the shoe, Nike says it’s designed to give a ‘holistic’ experience to a runner. After a few minutes running in these shoes, it was hard to take them off. It’s that comfortable.
Should you buy?
The Nike Lunarlon Epic Low is a lightweight, stylistically-unique neutral training shoe that provides gobs of comfort, cushion and smoothness. Given the Flyknit technology, it’s adaptability, flexibility and breathability factor is a big selling point for the brand. However, it’s price is a barrier. At Rs 15,995 these are definitely not cheap and might just turn-off potential buyers. But aside from that, it’s seamless upper, unique design, durability and versatility make this a shoe that embodies quiet elegance. If you’re looking for a unique running experience and don’t care about the price, this will really surprise you.