Nike Free Flyknit 3.0 Review Facts
When Nike got into the running shoe business, they did so with one goal in mind: innovation. It’s no secret that Nike is king when it comes to style and innovation, and they spare no expense in coming up with unique and slick designs for their line of running shoes. The Nike Free Flyknit might lead the way when it comes to innovation for Oregon’s favorite shoe company. The Nike Free Flyknit 3.0 is marketed as, “Nike’s most natural ride.” With a low profile and sock-like look, does the shoe live up to its billing?
The outsole of the Nike Free Flyknit 3.0 is made up of carbon rubber pieces under the toe and the heel. The outsole is almost entirely a waffle pattern that is designed to absorb the impact of the shock while running, while also giving your foot some spring and cushion. Along with the rubber waffle patterns, there a countless hexagonal patterns cut into the midsole. These cuts are designed to give the shoe flexibility when you run, allowing your foot to run in a more natural motion
due to the increased flexibility.
The more exaggerated cuts are in the middle of the shoe. The carbon rubber helps provides extra protection and durability on the outsole for the bottom of your foot. There are also four pods near the toe of the outsole. These pods are designed to give the big toe area a little extra grip during your stride. Similar pods can be found on the heels of the outsole. Along with being well designed, the outsole of the shoe looks nice.
The only complaint about the outsole is that small rocks and debris can get stuck in the larger cuts. While they aren’t noticeable during your run, they can be a pain to pick out after your run.
The midsole features injection molded EVA variant with a very low profile. The midsole is a dual density foam. Only sporting a 4mm heel to toe drop, the Nike Free Flyknit 3.0 is designed to give you a natural ride. The angled cuts in the midsole provide the runner with a good cushion, but these cuts are meant more for flexibility than spring. The midsole is a bit firm, which is a bit disappointing when you consider that the shoe is designed for you to run barefoot
. I expected a little more cushion underneath my feet if I am going to go without socks.
As is custom with the Flyknit line of shoes, the Free Flyknit 3.0 uses flyknit technology on the upper. That means that it’s a single piece of woven cloth. The cloth is extremely durable and flexible and comfortable, but doesn’t sacrifice breathability. With no tongue on the upper, the shoe uses the Nike flywire lacing system with three loops.
These are easily adjustable to make your fit tighter or looser depending on how you like to wear your shoes. There’s also a molded sock liner around the ankle that grips to your foot. The upper very much as a “sock like” feel. Again, this shoe is designed to be worn without socks, so the upper must deliver breathability to go along with comfort. I believe that Nike’s flyknit material is the most unique and well-designed upper on the market and continue to be impressed with the updates and changes.
At 7.7 ounces, the Free 3.0’s are some of the lightest shoes on the market. With a marketing campaign that promotes the shoe as “the most natural ride,” you would expect a lightweight shoe
and a minimalist design. That’s exactly what you get with the Free 3.0’s. You’ll be hard pressed to find a lighter shoe on the market.
As with any flyknit upper, the breathability is fantastic. Since the upper is one piece of woven cloth, there are no overlays, extra seams, or even a tongue that could hinder the breathability of the shoe. Once again, this shoe is designed for you to run without socks. That means that not even your socks will constrict the breathing of your foot, because the shoe is your sock. But it’s also your shoe. Got it? There are ventilation pores where the tongue of a typical shoe would be, which only adds to the overall breathability of the shoe.
The upper flyknit remains, at least to me, the most comfortable upper on the market. Some runners prefer a more traditional upper and will find the flyknit material too constrictive, but I love the flyknit upper and wish it was done on every shoe. Since this particular shoe is also a sock, Nike has added a top collar to the shoe that wraps around your ankle. It’s essentially the top part of the sock, for those that wear slightly higher socks when running. If you’re used to low profile ankle socks, this may be a bit bothersome.
That said, the collar is comfortable and rather loose fitting. Where the shoe falls slightly short in the comfort area is the midsole. The midsole is a bit firm, giving you less cushion when you’re running, but more flexibility. If you’re running barefoot, the hard midsole may be a bother and you may want to wear a pair of socks just to have an extra layer of softness, even if it’s a thin sock layer. If you typically run in racing flats, the cushioning will likely suit your needs.
Some runners have also complained about the tight fit in the toe box. It’s actually the most common complaint about the shoe. If you’re someone with wider feet
, you may find your toes a little bit too cramped, which obviously hurts the overall comfort of the shoe.
As with any Nike product, there is no shortage of style options. The Free 3.0’s come in multiple color combinations. Whether you want something as simple as black or white or something crazy like green and orange, chances are you’ll be able to find a color combination that suits your needs. The only complaint I have about the style of the shoe is that the Nike logo is screen printed on the upper. It would look nicer if the logo was knitted into the rest of the upper. Aside from that minor complaint, the style has never been an issue when it comes to Nike and this shoe is no different.
Most runners get around 300 miles with the Free 3.0’s. That’s the industry standard, so despite a less than ideal midsole, the Free 3.0’s hold up well over time. This is in large part thanks to the outsole. The carbon rubber outsole, even though it’s a rather minimal amount of rubber, holds up extremely well and doesn’t wear down easily. Some runners believe that the rounded heel of the outsole has led to the extra durability. Due to the elevate nature of the heel, it is less likely to strike the ground the ground with full impact, thus reducing the scuffing. Runners have even used the Free 3.0’s as a casual shoe because they are easy to slip on and off. This further speaks to the durability of the shoe.
Did I mention that you can run barefoot in these shoes? If you’re able to do that, then it speaks to the protection of your foot. The whole shoe feels great around your foot and keeps your foot protected throughout. The shoe is very stable, which means it’s not going to wobble on you when you run. If your shoe doesn’t wobble, your feet and ankles
don’t wobble. You may feel a little off balance when you initially put the shoes on, but once you start running, you’ll barely notice that the shoes are there. While the shoes are great for the road, because they are a minimalist shoe, they aren’t meant to be worn in tough conditions. Don’t take them out in the rain or rough trails. Your foot won’t feel quite as protected.
Because the shoe is so lightweight, it’s also very flexible. The upper allows your foot to move around and poke through while the outsole, with all of the cuts, especially in the middle of the outsole, gives you plenty of flexibility. While the flexibility is outstanding, because the shoe is designed to give a natural and minimalist ride, the overall responsiveness of the shoe is questionable. With a minimal cushion and the lightweight, often times you’re going to feel like the shoe isn’t under your foot. So, while the flexibility is outstanding, the actual responsiveness of the shoe isn’t much. But of course, that’s by design.
The shoe is for neutral arch support and provides solid arch support throughout. The support in the upper is great because the flyknit material conforms to your foot without restricting it or feeling too tight. The support on the sole of your foot is a bit lacking, but the removable insole helps.
Meant for the road, but also works well on the track or grass. The grip is very good thanks to the four pods on the heel and forefoot. The shoe isn’t meant for the trail or in bad conditions
. If you’re going to take it on the trail or wear it after a rainstorm, I definitely recommend you put socks on, just to give your foot a little extra protection and cushion.
Listed on Nike’s website for $140, but you can find it cheaper through Amazon. At $140, it’s a bit pricey, especially compared to the price of your average running shoe. It should come as no shock that Nike shoe’s run a bit higher as you’re pretty much paying for brand, design, and uniqueness. While you’ll get 300 miles out of the shoe, that’s typical of most running shoes, so you’re not even getting extra miles for the higher price tag. If you can get them for $100 or less, they are a great buy, especially if you’re looking for a comfortable and minimal shoe that provides a natural ride. But at $140, it’s tough to justify the price.
•Extremely lightweight that gives the shoe a “barely there” feel.
•The design allows you to run without socks.
•Flyknit upper is one of the most comfortable uppers on the market.
•Durable outsole that provides strong grip and comfort.
If you’re looking for a shoe that isn’t really a shoe and is more like a sock with extra protection and cushion, then the Nike Free Flyknit 3.0 is the shoe for you. It provides you with the most natural ride on the market and can be worn without socks. That said, if you want these shoes, you’ll have to pay a pretty penny for them. If you can find them for less than $100, then they are a great shoe, especially if you’re used to running in racing flats and you like to use your running shoes for every day use. But for $140, the lack of extra durability makes it tough to justify the price.