Nike LunarCharge Essential

Nowadays, footwear manufacturer Nike may not seem like a very big deal. Their shoes have been around for decades at this point and largely fit into the same styles of running accessories, including footwear and general active apparel, as do other manufacturers such as Adidas and Reebok. However, the only reason why Nike appears so safe and static these days is that this company defined the style we see today. All of the contemporary footwear manufacturers have followed in Nike’s footsteps, adopting different aspects of their bold and visionary style. While recent days have seen Nike playing it safe with their footwear designs, there will be the occasional innovation offered by this long-standing company. The Nike LunarCharge Essential is one of these unconventional developments, offering a radically new design that is unlike any other running shoe today.

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Where to Buy
Where to Buy
Pros & Cons
  • Fantastic midsole cushioning
  • Snug-fitting upper 
  • Unconventional design 
  • Outsole made from abrasion-resistant hard rubber
  • Extra breathability and responsiveness towards the forefoot
  • Cons
    • Comfort issues in the heel
    • Runs a half size too small
    • Key Features
      Although the use of high-abrasion rubber for this shoe’s outsole isn’t a particularly novel implementation, the way in which it’s designed can be considered in that way. Upon first observing it, the closest approximation as to what it resembles is a topographical map measuring the elevation of a landscape. A deep trench that circles the outer rim of this shoe’s underfoot gives way to five large plates: four near the front and one placed on the back. These plates have thin concentric grooves that work their way toward the center of each. Toward the middle, this moat-like outer trench gives way on one side so that Nike can place their trademark swoosh, acting as a signature on a work of art.
      The reason that Nike refers to this model as a LunarCharge has to do with its midsole. Made from their proprietary Lunarlon material, this essential design aspect provides a very comfortable and responsive cradle for the wearer’s underfoot. In order to accomplish the impressive feats touted by their manufacturer, such as an even distribution of energy throughout the entirety of the wearer’s underfoot without adding weight or sacrificing comfort, multiple layers of foam with varying levels of thickness were used. The end result of this unconventional but innovative design principle is the creation of a midsole that allows the LunarCharge Essential to feel as though the wearer is walking on the moon.
      The material used in the construction of this running shoe’s upper is a drastic departure from many of Nike’s previous forays into the world of athletic footwear. Rather than use their standard ventilated mesh, canvas, or Flyknit materials, the LunarCharge Essential was outfitted with a variety of different synthetics that offer a multifaceted appearance and feeling. For example, the forefoot of these shoes have a much more perforated and stretchy material that helps with responsiveness and flexibility, while the middle uses a much firmer synthetic in order to improve midfoot stability. There are a variety of colors that customers can choose from and the specific material, whether synthetic or faux leather or even actual leather, varies depending on each model.
      Finding specific information regarding the average weight of the Nike LunarCharge Essential is difficult as neither the manufacturer’s website nor the numerous online retailers that stock this product have a weight listed. However, the general consensus among customers regarding how these shoes feel is that they are lightweight. The reason for this lighter feeling is likely due to the upper, with its thin and feathery synthetic fabrics, and the Lunarlon midsole that uses a spongier material for increased cushioning. It appears that Nike has taken steps to ensure that every ounce of weight added to these running shoes serves a purpose, avoiding any feeling of undue heft.
      Due to the use of varying synthetic materials, there isn’t exactly a consistent level of breathability throughout the entirety of the LunarCharge Essential’s upper. Fortunately, an excellent amount of airflow is present toward the front of the shoe with the aid of some extra perforation. However, the less porous midfoot and rearfoot offers less ventilation. The good news is that this entire shoe is light enough so that breathability is less of a concern. While these shoes are perhaps not the best choice for running in the heat, they shouldn’t be a hindrance in any other environment.
      With the unconventional design of the Nike LunarCharge Essential comes a mixed bag when it comes to comfort. The positives offered by this running shoe can mostly be located in the top half thanks to its combination of various synthetic fabrics. One thing that customers should be mindful of regarding this shoe’s upper is that Nike suggests ordering a half-size larger than your true size in order to avoid discomfort. Something else that will likely cause some concern for runners is numerous complaints left by customers experiencing sharp pain in their heels. However, the use of orthotic heel inserts can remedy this comfort issue.
      Perhaps the most appealing aspect of this shoe’s design is its style. This is Nike’s specialty, and the reason why they’ve enjoyed their long-lasting popularity, so it should come as no surprise. It is a testament to the prowess of Nike’s designers that they can continue to create fascinating and visually appealing running shoes, year after year. From the topographical outsole to the ribbed midsole and the chameleon upper, the LunarCharge Essential is a fantastic addition to Nike’s roster.
      With the exception of the potential for discomfort in the heel area, these shoes are able to maintain their shape and level of performance for many miles according to testimonials left by satisfied customers. Most of this can be attributed to the power of Lunarlon, Nike’s revolutionary midsole material. While keeping the total weight of the LunarCharge Essential low, this material ensures that the shoes can maintain their structural integrity for multiple running sessions on appropriate terrain.
      In all honesty, protection seems to be an afterthought in the design of the Nike LunarCharge Essential. A rudimentary level of coverage is offered through the upper half of these running shoes but it appears that this was not the main focus of its design. Slightly more protection can be found on the bottom half of this shoe thanks to the use of Lunarlon midsole cushioning; however, it seems that the unconventional outsole design causes discomfort for many runners’ heels. Ultimately, these running shoes will provide a level of protection for the wearer’s feet that is adequate but not noteworthy.
      Some aspects of these Nike running shoes are less impressive than others. Fortunately, one aspect of the LunarCharge Essential that is impressive is its responsiveness. The main reason for this is the midsole, made from Nike’s proprietary Lunarlon technology. Through the aid of porous EVA foam of variable thicknesses, this essential core component of the LunarCharge Essential ensures quick and effective feedback with the wearer’s every step. An additional design component that benefits this aspect of these shoes’ design is the forefoot, which features a synthetic material that more closely resembles Flyknit-style knit fabric. This helps to provide the wearer’s toes with a more intimate feeling of contact with the ground.
      Much has been said in this review about the Nike LunarCharge Essential’s midsole made from Lunarlon foam. While this component that makes up the middle layer of this shoe provides many benefits in terms of comfort, responsiveness, and stability, it fails to provide the same impressive benefits in terms of support. The blame for this can’t be entirely placed on the midsole, however, since the outsole is also expected to handle this aspect of a running shoe’s design. Unfortunately, the unconventional look of this shoe’s outsole results in a lack of support to the point where many individuals are experiencing sharp heel pain while running in these shoes.
      Nike designed these shoes for the purpose of accommodating casual running sessions. This means that the environments that the LunarCharge Essential is best suited for are those with the most common forms of casual running terrain. As a result, the wearer can expect a reasonable running session while on grass, soft dirt, turf, asphalt, sidewalks, and standard running track. These shoes also work well as casual sneakers, but they will not perform well at all in harsher environments such as thick trails or steep inclines. Due to design limitations present in the outsole and upper, trail running or hiking in these shoes is a bad idea.
      Aside from the fact that Nike designs some of the most fashionable running shoes in athletic footwear, they are also popular for their practice of selling these shoes for competitively low prices. This is the secret to their enduring success: selling good-looking shoes at affordable prices. The Nike LunarCharge Essential is similar in the sense that it both looks very appealing visually and has a reasonable cost attached to it. The exception to this is if a customer is interested in purchasing a limited release in a particular style since the scarcity could lead to a drastic price increase. However, the majority of available colors and sizes are listed for a very reasonable budget rate.
      Thanks to some of the design features present in the Nike LunarCharge Essential’s curious looking outsole, a decent amount of traction can be experienced while wearing these shoes. Something worth keeping in mind is that these are still casual runners and will have the most success when used in appropriate running environments, such as a track or sidewalk. On these surfaces, the numerous small grooves present in the large lugs of this shoe’s underfoot work to provide a decent grip on the pavement beneath it. One downside to this construction style, as well as a reason to avoid using these shoes on trails, is that these small grooves can cause small debris to become stuck.
      Many of the interesting stylistic choices made by Nike in the process of designing the LunarCharge Essential provide secondary benefits to its flexibility. Because of an unconventional outsole and a thin upper, these shoes offer a degree of pliability that vastly improve their performance. Although the forefoot’s lighter mesh upper contributes to this aspect of these shoes, the majority of this phenomenon can be attributed to the outsole with its multiple small grooves and large segregated plates. Perhaps most impressive of all regarding this shoe’s flexibility is that it doesn’t come at the expense of its stability.
      While many running shoes struggle to find a balance between their stability and flexibility, the Nike LunarCharge Essential succeeds in striking a balance between them. Although many elements of this shoe are designed to provide excellent flexibility, an equal amount was implemented for the purpose of improving stability. This is most notable in the midsole, since the Lunarlon EVA material helps to keep the foot grounded and supported without feeling overly rigid. The snug upper also helps to keep the wearer’s foot in a stable position, although not to the same degree as the midsole.
      Specific information has not been made available by the manufacturer regarding this shoe’s heel drop. However, a guess based on its appearance would place it in the same range as most other casual running shoes. These shoes often have a slight elevation from the heel to the forefoot in order to emphasize cushioning for heel strikers. This will be a common and comfortable feature for most running shoe wearers, but those who are more used to neutral-footed shoes will need to take some time in order to adjust.
      Key Features

      • Lunarlon midsole provides multifaceted cushioning and support

      • Synthetic mesh upper is breathable towards the front and protective toward the rear

      • Bold sense of style present in the upper and outsole

      • Speed lacing system for saving time

      • High heel drop to accommodate traditional heel strikers

      Bottom Line
      There are many interesting features and concepts to be found in the Nike LunarCharge Essential. However, not all of these features will be appealing to runners. That said, individuals who care more about fashion than function will find a lot to love with these shoes, provided that they invest in some extra heel support first.
      Where to Buy
      By Mike Valverde
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Jul. 27. 2021

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