Nike Metcon 6 vs Nike Metcon 5: is a step up to the latest Nike workout shoes a must?

Tug of war: we pit Nike’s most popular CrossFit and WorkOut shoes head-to-head (or foot-to-foot)

Nike Metcon 6 vs Nike Metcon 5
(Image credit: Nike)

Nike Metcon 6 vs Nike Metcon 5: newer is always better, right? Let's find out…

Nike’s Metcon range has quickly become one of the go-to shoes for the gym. As a portmanteau of 'metabolic conditioning’ – a style of training made popular in recent years by the CrossFit community – the name says a lot if you’re wondering who they’re aimed at.

Built with stability and durability in mind, the Metcon series is all about offering fitness fanatics the support they need during intense exercise, especially functional movement - whether that’s HIIT, weight lifting or just hanging by the water fountain showing off your new kicks. 

When it launched to market in 2015, the original Metcon took on Reebok’s Crossfit-dominating shoe, the Nano. Fast forward six years and Nike’s Metcon has grown quite a following. Its latest release, the Metcon 6, hit the shops in August 2020 but looking very similar in appearance to its predecessor, the Metcon 5 - people were left wondering how exactly the two pairs differ. 

Well, by comparing them side-by-side in terms of design, features and performance - that’s exactly what we plan to find out. 

Nike Metcon 6

Nike Metcon 6

(Image credit: Nike)

NIKE METCON 6 VS NIKE METCON 5: DESIGN

The first thing you’ll notice about the Metcon 6 is that the shoes look extremely similar in design to their older sibling, the Metcon 5. There’s probably good reason for this. We’re guessing Nike was happy with the design and the customer feedback of the Metcon 5, and thus so didn’t want to change too much. The Metcon 6 is therefore more of a tweak -  re-using all the major parts of the Nike Metcon 5, except for the upper. 

The upper is the biggest change in the Metcon 6. It’s now made of a lightweight mesh that has large perforations throughout, a design change that is aimed at offering much better breathability (especially in warm, sweaty environments) by keeping air flowing and your feet cool during long, intense workouts. The only issue here, for us, is that this new mesh makes the overall design look busier and thus less stylish looking than before.

All the other design features that made the Metcon 5 are still there in the 6, including the iconic Durable Traction’ rubber tread on the outsole, which goes up into a point on the side of the shoe to provide grip and prevent friction burn when rope climbing.

A downside of the latest generation Metcon, however, is the peculiar range of colour options available. Those in the Metcon 5 range were minimal and accessible, in our opinion. The Metcon 6 options are slightly more garish and thus harder to like.

WINNER: Metcon 5. Not only do we prefer the colour options available in the Metcon 5 range, but the design, while not that different, is slightly better in the 5s thanks to being more minimal and streamlined.

Nike Metcon 5

Nike Metcon 5

(Image credit: Nike)

NIKE METCON 6 VS NIKE METCON 5: FEATURES AND PERFORMANCE

Just like the fifth generation that came before them, Nike’s Metcon 6 differ from most gym shoes on the market by refusing to offer the flexibility needed to be more well-rounded gym trainers. Instead, they have a greater focus on stability and support for hard knocks and heavy lifting thanks to a low, flat and wide heel. This creates a stable base for weighted exercises. 

This is the case for both the Metcon 5 and the Metcon 6: they use the same foam, same midsole, same wide heel, meaning both shoes feel identical, which is fine by us as the Metcon 5 proved themselves as brilliant weightlifting shoes. 

As mentioned earlier, the big difference between the two is the new mesh upper, which offers better breathability when things heat up, meaning you can workout for longer periods and at higher intensities without getting that dreadful clammy feet feeling. 

As with the Metcon 5, the sixth gen shoes also come bundled with Hyperlift inserts. These can be placed inside the shoes to adjust the height under your heel, adding 8mm to the drop and better ankle support between sets. 

Cushioning is also decent throughout both generations of shoes, meaning you can sprint from pillar with plenty of support. It’s not the same level you’d get from running shoes, of course, but it’s fit for purpose during more intense functional training. It’s also toughened towards the heel, which not only means better support for lifting but impact shock is transmitted up to your legs upon heel strike during sprints. 

WINNER: Metcon 6. The Metcon 6 has everything the Metcon 5 has to offer, with the added  benefit of a more breathable upper that makes them more suited to wearing in warmer environments, for extended periods.

Nike Metcon 6

Nike Metcon 6

(Image credit: Nike)

NIKE METCON 6 VS NIKE METCON 5: PRICE

The Nike Metcon 5 gym shoes were launched in July 2019 with an RRP of £114.95 / AU$190, however, they are still available to buy now and, better still, you should be able to pick them up at a discounted price. On Wit-Fitness, for example, you can grab the grey pair with around 30% off, from just £80. When they first hit the market, the Metcon 5 shoes were available in a choice of different colour-ways. However, since stock levels have reduced and Nike is phasing out the fifth generation, not all the colours are still available. 

The Nike Metcon 6 were launched in August 2020 and can be purchased now from £114.95 / AU$190. There’s eight different colourways available, including a “design your own” option, which allows you to customise the colour of your shoes from heel to toe for an extra £15. 

WINNER: Metcon 5. If you can find the colour you like, you’re likely to pick these gym shoes up for around £30 / AU$50 cheaper.

Nike Metcon 5

Nike Metcon 5

(Image credit: Nike)

NIKE METCON 6 VS NIKE METCON 5: VERDICT

Essentially, the Nike Metcon 5 and Metcon 6 gym shoes are the same apart from a slightly different design and the Metcon 6’s addition of a more breathable upper, which will help keep your feet cool during intense workouts. However, since the Metcon 5 are more attractive to look at, and can be bought for about £35 /AU$60 cheaper, we don’t think the Metcon 6 bring enough that's new to the table to warrant spending the extra cash. 

Lee Bell
Lee Bell

Lee Bell is a freelance journalist & copywriter specialising in technology, health and how the latest innovations are shaking up the lifestyle space.