Nike lunarlon running shoes

Nike Lunarlon Running

The lightweight ankle collar on Nike's Lunar Epic is a huge shift for running shoes.
Pip Coates
The lightweight ankle collar on Nike's Lunar Epic is a huge shift for running shoes. Photo: Supplied.

First impressions count for a lot. And that applies to running shoes, too.

In a synchronised global launch on Thursday night, Nike unveiled its newest shoe, the Lunar Epic Flyknit, a one-piece runner with a genre-busting ankle collar.

The secrecy was almost unprecedented for the brand. The reason? The shoe is an amalgamation of all of Nike's most successful technological elements, and a few new ones, across different sports - think basketball, soccer and running. As a result, it is a step away from any current product in its range.

How they look from the wearer's point of view. Photo: Pip Coates

How they look from the wearer's point of view.It's different, in look, feel and performance. Yes, it's even somewhat futuristic. Most significantly, it is functional. This, from my one 10km experience of running in it, at least, is a proper running shoe - not a gimmick.

The look

The rubber-free outsole of five separate topographical maps on the heel, midsole and toes is designed to resemble pressure maps of the foot - each separate ring compresses as you stride through for a smooth, yet responsive ride. Given the contoured design of these maps, they're not likely to wear down, however in my run I managed to pick up a couple of tiny loose stones between the rings.

The collar looks more like a sock than a boot. No standing out for the wrong reasons. Photo: Pip Coates

I thought when I wore the Lunar Epics they'd attract a few looks, but in fact once they're on, the ankle collar just looks like a sock. So no issues of standing out for all the wrong reasons.

The feel

Here, first impressions really count, and they're good. The flyknit moulds to the foot, with higher density at the arch, heel and forefoot. It is like pulling on a new pair of thin running socks. The laces - tied to externally stitched "flywire" cables - are merely for fine-tuning. Because the upper has no overlays, no tongue, no internal stitching except on the a vertical heel strip, there's no sense of a toe box in the traditional sense, but also no rubbing. The comfort factor is high, even though they are designed to be worn with socks. They feel super-snug.

The mid-height collar gives a sense of support and stability around the achilles and ankle while running, although whether it's physically doing so is hard to know. When I tested them, it was too dark to take on particularly uneven terrain, but over gutters and uneven footpaths they felt reassuringly firm.

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