Nike Lunarepic Flyknit ReviewSeptember 22, 2016
- Outstanding cushioning
- Excellent contoured fit of the upper
- Great overall flexibility
- Laser grooves on outsole collect rocks easily
- High stack height
The Nike Lunarepic Flyknit is a unique species in our summer road shoe roundup, primarily due to its revolutionary upper design. The light weight and high stack height are comparable to Hokas, and fans of max cushioned shoes will probably love the Lunarepic. The ride may be too high and too bouncy for runners who like a lower platform or more explosive energy return.
Although the look of the Lunarepic Flyknit is revolutionary, material construction of the upper is tried and true, utilizing Nike’s soft and stretchy Flyknit mesh that contours to the foot (and ankle, in this case). The heel has a bit more structure to it than the Free RN Flyknit, in the form of a flexible rubber heel cup. The forefoot is nicely rounded, and midsole fit is locked in by a traditional lacing system that stops at the ankle and anchors the foot to the midsole platform with soft Flywires to maintain tension. Because the upper is intended to fit snug rather than loose, select down by one-half if you are on the fence between sizes.
The upper is described as a “vanishing upper”, and our testers were genuinely impressed at how the overall fit makes it feel like you’re running in a nice comfortable sock—but one with plush padding underfoot. The midfoot and forefoot have classic Flyknit comfort, but the ankle gaiter will feel warm at first if you’re accustomed to having your ankles exposed. The Lunarepic Flyknit comes with two removable sockliners: one is 6mm, one is 4mm, so you can modify your underfoot cushioning somewhat. Whichever insole you choose, it’s a fraction of the stack height and cushioning effect of the Lunarlon midsole, which virtually eliminates landing impact on the road.
In the midsole of the Lunarepic Flyknit, Nike combines an injected Phylon core foam with contoured Lunarlon material that has precision-lasered horizontal cuts down the length of either side. The core stays firm to maintain support while the Lunarlon collapses to absorb impact forces, creating a plush landing regardless of what part of your foot you land on.
Cushioning underfoot is soft and pliable, and our testers felt some energy lost in the vertical direction rather than being directed to forward momentum. Bounciness also comes from the Lunarlon pods underfoot, which provide five separate compartments that can absorb energy and rebound independently of one another for natural movement of the foot in all conditions. The outsole pods of the Lunarepic Flyknit are laser cut just like the sides of the shoe; the resulting layout has remarkably good grip in most conditions, but it’s also highly prone to collecting pebbles throughout your run. The platform is high enough that you won’t feel the stones, but traction could potentially be compromised.
Most of the design elements on the Lunarepic Flyknit has speed in mind: it’s very lightweight, has great traction, a comfortable and secure upper, and great absorption of road impact. The midsole isn’t quite as energetic as other Nike midsole materials (such as on the Free RN Flyknit), but fans of max cushioned models can easily set a PR with the Lunarepic.
Donald Buraglio- Minimalist Running shoes
Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports.