Photo: Nike

The Epic React Flyknit from Nike is not a shoe I’d typically go for. Beyond the fact that these have a bigger offset than I like (10mm), they tout flyknit uppers and another foam trying to differentiate itself, both of which I was convinced were merely fads. But damn, when I’m wrong, I’m really wrong. Nike was able to harmonize this combo keeping these shoes light (they weigh just 8.4oz) with a comfortable ride (women’s available here).

My favorite part of this shoe is the flyknit upper; I am now a believer. When you slip these on, the snug fit is immediate, as though you don’t need to lace up. But when you do, there’s no strain to get the fit you want, or a wrinkled tongue rubbing the tops of your feet. These are snug from the get-go and that’s the only way I want my running shoes. Plus, the flyknit keeps its shape, maintaining its tautness. Quality flyknit may be my new normal in running shoes.

Photo: Nike

The React foam doesn’t standout to me in a flashy sense, but it certainly does what’s asked of it, providing a consistently soft ride over hundreds of miles. Nike considers this foam similar to the ZoomX that’s used in the Vaporfly 4% (the highly coveted shoe used in the Breaking2 project and worn by Shalane Flanagan and Galen Rupp during wins at the NYC and Chicago marathons, respectively). The difference is that the ZoomX is all about speed, providing the greatest energy return for their fastest line, and while the React is fast, it’s also focused on combining softness and responsiveness into a light, durable shoe.

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The Epic React proved I had misconceptions about the latest innovations in running shoes. As it turns out, a flyknit upper can fit perfectly snug and work in tandem with a cushy, responsive foam to create a lightweight shoe that will keep you running fast without the wear and tear of racing flats.