Shoe Review: Nike Epic React Flyknit 2

Nike’s new Epic React Flyknit 2 is here, and it’s as good as promised.

The second iteration of the Epic React looks and feels similar to the first: A low-profile silhouette and seamless upper give it a streamlined look, and a pop of color illuminates the midsole. Engineers used React foam and a Nike Flyknit upper that is a proven star in other Nike running shoes.

But it's not the changes that make the new Epic React an all-star; it's what Nike kept the same that makes the new version a burner on the road and a head-turner off of it.

Before we look at the fit and ride, here are the essential details:

  • Heel-to-Toe drop: 10 mm
  • Weight: 8.4 oz, men’s size 10
  • Category: Road, neutral
  • MSRP: $150

Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 Fit

The Epic React Flyknit 2 has a snug, simple fit to enhance performance.

Nike draped a Flyknit upper over the shoe to give the Epic React a dynamic fit. The knit around the midfoot provides structure and support but makes a seamless transition to the forefoot where you need more stretch.

While it’s light and stretchy in the right spots, the Flyknit upper is purposefully snug all over. One Fleet Feet tester who has medium-width feet found the upper to be as comfortable for cruising as it is for speedier efforts. She put the shoe through easy six-milers and tough 10-mile speed workouts and thought they could comfortably handle even longer distances.

“They are definitely neutral and they feel fast," she says. "I would do more speed workouts in them. They stayed comfy for a 10-mile speed workout, so I would give them a shot for a longer run as well.”

The snug fit was a bit too tight for another tester with wide feet, though. He liked the shoe’s close fit for short and fast efforts, but he noted his feet started to feel too squished on runs longer than four miles.

“The fit feels precise for shorter distances and faster paces, but I started to feel the squeeze after a few miles,” he says. “I think a slightly larger size would help relieve the pressure.”

Nike says the shoe is designed to fit snug when worn in your normal size. The company suggests sizing up a half size for a roomier fit.

The Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 in white

Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 Ride

React foam steals the show in the Epic React Flyknit 2—again.

Nike chemists and engineers spent years developing the proprietary foam compound that lives in the Epic React. Those in-house scientists mixed up more than 400 recipes and tested it for more than 2,000 hours before declaring it ready for use.

React made its debut in 2017 in a pair of basketball shoes. But the same properties that made it excel on the court — cushioning and energy return — made it perfect for running shoes, too.

Like the first version of the shoe, the Epic React 2 employs a full-length React foam midsole to cushion your steps. The bed of foam performs as advertised: Two Fleet Feet testers who ran in the shoe loved how the midsole felt soft without being mushy but responded quickly to provide an explosive takeoff — one tester described the ride as “light, responsive, springy and fast.”

Nike capped the midsole with durable, sticky rubber on the heel and forefoot to provide extra traction where it’s needed the most. Using outsole rubber sparingly keeps the overall weight of the shoe down but protects it from repeated pounding on the road.

Traction is solid on dry ground, and one tester says she didn’t have any trouble on a wet greenway, though she did slide a little on a patch of mud.

Another tester said the helping of React foam felt bouncy and soft on pavement and shielded her feet against harsher terrain.

"The cushion is surprisingly protective," she said. "I ran on a mix on paved bike path, gravel and dirt with deep tire grooves."

Nike Epic React Flyknit vs. Nike Epic React Flyknit 2

Nike didn't change much between the first Epic React Flyknit and the second.

Looking at the shoes side by side shows a slight difference in the molded heel. Nike trimmed the heel cup but otherwise left the shoe's structure unchanged.

The lofty React foam midsoles are nearly identical, and the extra outsole rubber on the heel and forefoot remains the same. On top, the Flyknit upper keeps the same sleek silhouette and knit look as the first edition.

Aesthetically, Nike made its iconic swoosh bigger and dropped a subtle color gradient onto the midsole.

Both versions weigh less than 8.5 oz for a men's size 10.

Conclusion

The Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 is a snug-fitting, lightweight performance running shoe that transitions comfortably from easy recovery runs to speed work to long distances. With a vaunted React foam midsole, the restyled Epic React lives up to the hype by giving you a cushy landing and a responsive launch.


Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.

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