Product Review: Nike Epic Phantom React Flyknit

Review guidelines

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ extraordinary

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ exceptional, has avoidable flaws

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ reasonable, has unavoidable flaws

⭐️ ⭐️ mediocre, significant drawbacks

⭐️ consider something else

Purchased myself, reviewing for design merits

Running shoes

Nike

USA
$150

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Easily the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. Quite substantial cushioning for something so light. Flyknit is an engineering triumph from the folks in Oregon. Even the amount of effort put into something as simple as the decorative stitching is deeply impressive.

This very avant- grade colour scheme was surprisingly still available on a discount. Doubly so as sophisticated, likely expensive, pigments and dyes were used to get the colours right, making this a rare treat.

Notice how the orange plastic surround on the heel is colour matched exactly with the logos on the insert. Considering the vastly different substrates they are applied on and the vastly different wear regimes this is certainly the most impressive usage I’ve ever seen on a product in this price range.

Plus there has been no noticeable fading or deterioration after several hundred hours of walking about and a wash. In fact the only visible wear outside of the sole is the Nike logo tip peeling a bit, probably from rubbing friction at the tip end.

A textbook study in material selection.

The fit and finish is almost Apple like in its precision. With the notable exception of some glue sticking out from beneath the tongue end. So close Nike.

The stitching is really top notch for a shoe, maybe not quite at the highest levels of textiles like Hermès yet still worthy of praise considering barely anyone will ever carefully examine this part of the shoe.

Notice how the weave is symmetrical about the rear vertical axis. Clearly whoever worked on this really wanted to get things right.

The font and typography shown here is also surprisingly edgy for a mass market product.

Even the black plastic has a very nice matte finish with 3D curvature. Probably injection molded with some excellent finishing treatment.

And the neatest part is the delightful texturing and patterning of the upper body. Totally unnecessary functionally yet delivers a novel charm that conveys the emotions and futuristic avant-garde language of the product very well.

It’s like wearing a piece of futuristic art. Nike’s sneaker design team nailed the integration of function and form.

A possible improvement would be using an even lighter material for the sole. Though it’s already so shockingly light compared to conventional running shoes that going back would be like wearing boots.

There are quite significant performance benefits to even tiny weight savings, as professional runners know. Mechanistically, this is the same reason as why lighter wheels on a sports car make a big difference in handling performance. Lever momentum, etc.

Of course the functional performance is excellent too. The oversized heel provides excellent stability and the moldable nature of the fabric contours itself to an exact fit with the foot. And without any laces or accouterments it is much simpler to use in everyday life. The dual pull tabs are a thoughtful addition.

I have become convinced that this is the new paradigm in shoe design. A laceless and ultra lightweight future.

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