Robbe: The Nike Epic React 2 comes on the heels of the wildly popular first version, a simple shoe that is just as wearable with a pair of jeans or joggers around town as it is on the race course. Our regular believers don’t need a reminder that the Epic React was one of our favorite shoes of 2018; combined we’ve put over a thousand miles on them. I personally ran a 13-minute PR in my fall marathon with them underfoot. How could I not love it?
Like a high school girlfriend going off to college, I prayed she wouldn’t change. Please don’t lose that bounce in your step. Please don’t lose your style. Please don’t change the way you hug my foot (look, I had some weird girlfriends). But give me a little more space— in the toe box.
Did the Epic React go off with some frat bro into a Fireball-fueled romance? Or did she come home, smarter, wiser, and all grown up? Read on to find out mine and Meaghan’s thoughts.
Meaghan: Spoiler alert: if you liked the Nike Epic React, you will probably like the Nike Epic React 2. Not a whole lotta changes to this guy. It’s still got a Flyknit Bootie with a one-piece upper, full-length React midsole and minimal outsole rubber coverage. The upper stretches, but seems to have a tighter weave than the original. It will stretch around just about any foot shape and size, but maintains a structured, secure fit. The midsole cushioning feels pretty identical. It’s soft on landing and springy on toe-off.
The “big” changes to this shoe come in the shape of a new heel counter and stitched Swoosh. The heel counter has more structure and stability, but I didn’t notice any real differences out on the run. The stitched-on Swoosh is also intended to add structure. It’s about as effective as the unsubscribe button from Active.com emails.
Robbe: Let’s talk about that Active.com burn Meg just dropped cause I’m still pissed about the $80 yearly fee they somehow tacked on to a 5k I signed up for.
Anyway, just like Meg said, on paper not much has changed in the Epic React 2. However, for me much has changed— for the better. I’m pretty sure I got an off-product on my last pair; I’ve always worn a 7.5 in Nike and every pair has fit perfectly, except for my first pair of Epic Reacts. My toes were up against the front of the toe box, if tightened at all the laces killed the bones on the top of my foot, and the narrow midsection of the outsole provided questionable stability. I loved everything else about the shoe, and the bad parts were manageable, but I had high hopes for the Epic React 2. And Nike delivered on all accounts. All of my personal issues are fixed in this version, and the sizing is perfect.
The weight comes in at 7.25 ounces, a little bit more than the original, but they still feel wonderfully light while providing just the right level of cushion. It also feels like there’s a little more cushion in the front of the midsole. That’s fine with me and will provide more relief for those trying to take this shoe in further distances.
Not much has changed in the design, but I like the minor tweak to the heel counter. And the colorways are fire. I got the Club Gold/Red Orbit/Metallic Gold version— if they Aztecs offered these to Cortes, they might still be around today.
Robbe: I got nothing. Still in love with my girl.
Meaghan: These shoes didn’t get along with my wide feet. While the upper stretches, they are too snug around my toes. I came home from a 12-mile run to find my socks, and toes, soaked in blood. I didn’t have this issue with the first model, which is why I think the upper weave is tighter on this model. I would definitely go a half size up.
The V2 ‘updates’ that were intended to add stability and structure, did nothing for me but add more weight. My W7.5 weighed 7oz (vs. 6.6oz for the original).
Nike Epic React 2 Conclusion
Meaghan: The Nike Epic React 2 is a solid daily trainer, but not an ‘upgrade’ from the original. While it maintains a lot of its original qualities like a simple design, seamless upper and responsive cushioning — the small updates did not enhance the shoes for me. If you’re a fan of the Epic React, go scoop up another pair of the originals now that they’re on sale.
Robbe: I agree with Meg that if you were totally content with version one, go grab those at a discounted price. However, if you had some of the issues I described with the first pair, I assure you those problems are resolved here. In my opinion, the newest version is more refined (and also looks better). The hometown girl goes to the big city and comes back all right.
Coach Dave Ames, Ame For It Coaching: Design is on point! A very sharp shoe from Nike. It looks awesome while running and can also double down as a casual kick around shoe, too! It’s fresh. Good weight and for me found it perfect as a recovery day shoe. Runners will like this shoe for its durability.
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Robbe is the Digital Marketing Manager for Big Run Media/BITR. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and two sons and runs with the Faster Bastards. His favorite race distance is the marathon and his favorite beer is anything but Blue Moon.