Review: The Nano X Is the Latest, Greatest Version of Reebok's Best Shoe
The 10th Anniversary training sneaker is more "runnable" than ever
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EA Sports’s FIFA went through a little run in the early 2010s where it was difficult to imagine any new iteration of the game improving much on the year before. Everyone loved FIFA 11, for example, but aside from updated rosters and slightly more realistic shots of cheering or jeering fans, how could FIFA 12 hope to improve improve on previous accolades and impress new gamers?
In short: by listening to feedback from customers. By evolving to meet their nitpicks and desires. By getting in the weeds. For EA Sports, that meant smarter AI, a social-oriented leveling system, new methods for playing defense. I found myself thinking about the iconic soccer video game recently, however randomly, while lacing up a pair of the Nano X, the latest iteration of Reebok’s flagship training shoe, and the culmination of 10 years of innovation, tinkering and retooling.
Great series, be they video games or gym shoes, stick around because they listen to the people who buy and use them. They course-correct, keeping the things that work throughout the years, while searching for ways to stay fresh. When Reebok became the official provider of licensed CrossFit footwear back in 2011, amidst a national (and global, really) fervor for WODs and AMRAPs and EMOMs — the community has always loved its acronyms — it rode that wave and rode it well. Early versions of the Nano were manufactured in collaborated with Kevlar, or built to withstand fraying from ropes.
But over the years, as it’s become clear that the Nano’s engineering makes it an ideal training sneaker for putting in work at any gym, not just “the box,” Reebok has responded in kind. The Nano X, for instance, is designed for “functional fitness,” according to its homepage. That can apply to CrossFit, of course, and in Reebok’s marketing for the sneaker, it’s included testimonials from perennial CrossFit champs Annie Thorisdottir, Brent Fikowski and Patrick Vellner. But the term also umbrellas HIIT, boot camps, boxing gyms, and free weight movements performed in your garage. It’s inclusive, and it’s not just marketing — the brand made a point to reflect the shift in its design.
Elements that made the beloved Nano 9 a “perfect lifting shoe” still remain. The Nano X is a low-cut, wide-box sneaker with a minimal-drop outsole. In less technical terms, that means it encourages stability. Performing squats in running sneakers is a bit like lifting while standing on a throw pillow. The Nano X, meanwhile, lets you dig your toes into a firm base (which itself is gripping the floor), and complete big muscle, compound movements without fidgeting or wobbling, which might otherwise hurt either the quality of a rep, or you. I tested these sneakers during various strength training sessions, during workouts with lots of weighted lunges, goblet squats and calf raises, or sessions with rows and pulls (which were upper body-focused, but needed a reliable base). The Nano X was up to the task.
But the sneaker immediately proved itself up to other tasks, too. When I first put them on, I was surprised by how comfortable they felt, considering the wide, stable foundation. It sounds weird, but they’d probably make a great walking shoe for aging folks. That’s because Reebok revamped the upper, which is now woven from a futuristic textile called Flexweave (try tugging at it if you want to hurt your hands), while providing EVA foam cushioning at the heel and collar for a generally softer ride. Reebok is billing this shoe as “ready for more than ever before,” and one massive benefit from a softer, more responsive construction is runnability. While moving around too much in Nano 9 could give you shin splints; the Nano X is expressly meant for running activities.
That doesn’t exactly mean running. But it could mean jump-roping, or ladder-work, or sprint repeats. People want total-body workouts these days. Pre-COVID, that meant HIIT classes signed up for via ClassPass, while during the pandemic that’s meant YouTube scorchers with an emphasis on jacks, plyometric jumps and burpees. The Nano X is equipped for any and all of it. You should still own a separate pair of running shoes, and tennis shoes, and basketball shoes. But gym sessions deserve their own shoe. Reebok identified this nearly a decade ago, and lucky for us, still isn’t satisfied in its quest for the perfect iteration.
The Nano X comes damn close. If I had a complaint, I’d probably point out a lack of breathability through the upper. Running around in a pair of Nanos is a revelation that I have thoroughly enjoyed, but because the shoe is so reinforced, and still predominantly geared towards functional movements, it doesn’t breathe quite as well as endurance-aimed footwear. Some early reviews online, meanwhile, have decried the lack of colorways. I’m not concerned about that. For one, I have the Black/White/Vivid Orange sneaker, which is icy as hell (Reebok wanted to up the streetwear stakes on this line — in my opinion, it shows) but regardless, the Nano 9 eventually ballooned to 17 different colorways. If the five available for the Nano X don’t do it for you right now, stick around. Reebok, as has been its way for the Nano Series, will find a way to make you happy eventually.
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