Adidas’s Ultra Boost just got even more stiff competition from the Swoosh.
Since it debuted in 2014, the Adidas Ultra Boost has been the kind of casual and ultra-comfortable running sneakers people really seem to want to wear right now. They essentially shattered the standard for just how bouncy an everyday sneaker could be, and thanks to their sock-like upper also ushered in a new era of sneakers with laces as barely more than an aesthetic addition (if they were included in the design at all). But Nike, fresh off a year that saw them swing for the fences to reassert their dominance over a surging Adidas, has just delivered another major threat to the Ultra Boost’s reign—the Nike Epic React Flyknit.
The Epic React Flyknit, as its name implies, comes with a full Flyknit upper, which is designed to be supportive in the right places as opposed to everywhere, like the midfoot and heel (which is reinforced with a plastic heel cup). But the real star of the show here is Nike’s new React foam, a proprietary tech that’s an improvement on Nike’s previous soles, like Lunarlon. According to Nike, React delivers 13 percent greater energy return than Nike’s latest generation of Nike Lunarlon foam.
The key to React is that it’s light but also super-responsive, which means that you’ll bounce off the ground but won’t feel like you’re running in sand. Design-wise, like the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% from last year (which featured a different new Nike foam called ZoomX), the Epic React Flyknit has a thicker midsole than on previous Nike sneakers to accommodate the extra soft cushioning. That said, the foam tapers off towards the toe, where it isn’t as needed. And unlike ZoomX, which was built for elite runners at the top level of competition, Nike React is the brand’s most durable foam ever, meaning it’ll stand up to your daily runs. As for the piece of the sole that extends back beyond the heel cup, almost like a sneaker spoiler? That’s just to increase stability around the heel. (It also looks pretty damn cool, if you ask us.)
And if you thought the release of a fancy new sole has nothing to do with Adidas, think again. Ernest Kim, Nike’s Director of Advanced Footwear, took a subtle shot at Boost in Nike’s press release for the Epic React Flyknit, stating, “We’re not comparing Nike React technology to some no-name foam that fell off the back of a truck somewhere; we’re comparing it to our latest Lunarlon and, even with the bar set that high, Nike React technology delivers that much more energy return with each and every stride.” Now, to anyone who doesn’t work at Nike, Boost is hardly a “no-name foam,” but point is Nike is clearly confident that React will be the new industry standard. The Sneaker Wars aren’t stopping any time soon.
Available February 22 at Nike
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