A running review: Nike Epic React Flyknit

Nike claims the shoe is a game-changing innovation. It’s all about the midsole cushioning, which Nike calls React. Midsole materials used by shoe brands usually have two things in common: they are made from a form of foam compound (EVA, PE, PU), and they are non-proprietary materials invented by chemical companies then licenced to brands and tweaked to their specifications. React is a rubber-based compound that has been developed by Nike; the company says it will make for greater consistency in the manufacturing process.

Bret Schoolmeester, Senior Director Global Running Footwear, says: ‘React is revolutionary in that foam can be lightweight or resilient; but usually it can’t be both of these things and also be durable. Normally, materials are soft because they absorb energy. On the flipside, hard materials give the most energy return. That’s why foam can usually only provide cushioning or energy return. And why they can normally be lightweight or durable. React is lightweight, resilient, soft, durable, cushioned and responsive all at once.’

Nike says React: is 30 per cent lighter than adidas Ultra Boost foam and the PU that Brooks uses in many of its shoes; it lasts 20 per cent longer than comparable midsole compounds, so runners can expect to get 600 instead of 500 miles out of their shoes before replacing; and it gives 13 per cent more energy return than the current Nike Lunar foam (ie, how quickly the foam returns to shape after compression and helps push your foot off the floor).

Verdict

The shoe offers a very impressive balance of deep cushioning and low weight. The upper is barely there – basically, it's just Flyknit with bonded eyelet strips and a reinforced heel counter – and offers out-of-the-box, slipper-like comfort, though some might find it to be a little unstructured around the arch. On the run, the cushioning simply eats up the worst a pavement can throw at it, but retains a decent amount of responsiveness and energy return. Overall, this is set to be a new benchmark shoe for long runs up to marathon distance. The hardest decision you'll have to make is if you want a pair of these, the Zoom Fly or the Zoom Vaporfly 4%

Rating: 9/10

£130, nike.com/uk

Available from February 22

Weight: 239g (men’s), 195g (women’s)