Since it’s inception in 2012; Nike’s Flyknit technology has been changing the way we think about our sneakers. From a performance standpoint, the knitted upper brings new standards of fit, support, breathability and comfort. Over the last year or so the Flyknit Trainer and Racer have been adopted by hardcore runners and the streetwear community alike.
In the time passed since it’s low-key release and subsequent hype it’s been applauded by just about everyone. Whilst I can’t vouch for it’s performance from a serious athletic perspective, in the leisurely realm they shine strongly albeit not the most comfortable shoe due to the Zoom sole unit. Fast forward a year and in comes the Flyknit Lunar 1+, a combination of what one could argue are the two biggest leaps forward in running technology in the last decade. Fusing the Lunarglide+ 4 sole unit (albeit in a softer guise) to the Flyknit Trainer’s upper is a match made in heaven right? Well until now I’ve only been able to speculate but since Nike was kind enough to send me a pair to give a test run I can now come at this shoe with an educated opinion…
Aesthetically it’s not too different from the Trainer at first glance aside from the obvious sole change. However for the trainspotter the differences are vast. The toe shape takes a wider more forgiving radius from above, something that plagues the Trainer (and mores the Racer) with width issues for myself. There’s also a bit more fabric around the collar, although the released version (and the Trainer “v.2) come with a more traditional padding. I’ve also managed to get a pair with the normal Nike style laces although I’ve been seeing the majority of images sporting a more synthetic looking lace. The other main difference is in profile, with the Lunar equipped shoe seeming a little flatter and relaxed, I can’t figure out whether it’s the sole’s wavy pattern doing some sort of optical illusion or if indeed something has changed.
For those who aren’t keen on the colourway seen here which so happens to be the “lead” colour there’s about 50 other variants coming this year; including stuff that’s both ruder, more muted and everywhere in between. Over the time of wearing this Squadron Blue/Pink Flash colourway I’ve gotten numerous people commenting on them, most of which has been positive. I wouldn’t say this is a colour I’d choose myself, but sometimes it’s good to push yourself. One of the cool aspects to the knitted upper is the ability to work two colours into weave. The most dramatic use of this so far has been the HTM releases with their almost heather look, on this pair it’s more subtle with a mid grey woven in evenly amongst the blue giving it a bit more depth.
In more muted tones this would make a great everyday shoe, whilst the brighter hues are better if you’re wanting to make sure everyone knows you’re ready to run a marathon if it’s deemed necessary. We all like a rude shoe now and then though so it’s good all the bases will be covered.
For hardcore sneaker nerds the comfort of a shoe plays second fiddle to aesthetics. I can attest to this after years of wearing Puma Clydes in a size smaller than I needed simply because it “looks so much better”. Fast forward a few years, add a bit of age and (dare I say) wisdom mean comfort is playing more of a role in my footwear decision than before. That being said I’m still keen to get down with a blister or two if it means I’ve got something that brings a smile to my face on my feet. Enter the Flyknit Lunar 1+, where I was a bit worried at first…
The Trainer has treated my feet fairly well over the wearing period, no real blisters although I have felt them to be a bit narrow. Pulling the Flyknit version out of the box and seeing they looked more roomy I was stoked. Once on my feet I was surprised that they’re actually tighter than the Trainer at least initially. After wearing them for a few days I was freaking out as I had developed quite considerable blisters on my heels and I found my big toe going numb… Then the rain started and didn’t stop for a week. At this point I was pretty much ready to write these off as a complete waste of time and money. That may have been the blisters speaking, but c’mon they’re supposed to be comfortable! Also for the record, these are on-par with the Trainer in regards to wet weather perfomance; that is to say they’re both useless.
Fast forward through 5 days of torrential rain, threat of flooding and I had an epiphany. I was approaching this shoe wrong from the beginning. Being the serial sneaker collector/geek I am my natural tendency is to lace my shoes on the loose side, because shoes don’t look good strangled. Obviously the fact that I wear shoes that are a good few decades old also hasn’t helped when I realised that those whole Dynamic Flywire fanciness stitched into the uppers is actually there for a reason. Once I pulled the laces a bit tighter (note to Nike, the laces on this shoe are a bit long I reckon, you can have that one for free) the whole shoe took a big breath in and grabbed my foot. On most shoes this would result in some weird corset-like feelings, the Flyknit just wraps you up in the spots you need it and gives you some space in others. Hazzah! Needless to say the blisters are now gone and the whole shoe has softened up to make for one hell of a comfy ride thanks to that squishy Lunar goodness. The fact that the released version does get a regular padded collar lining means that you out there wont have to suffer for your profession like myself… You’re welcome.
One other thing I found whilst using these to ride is that with the people cages I use (because I ride BMX ’cause they’re awesome) the grip is fantastic. Unfortunately I found post-ride this was due to the fact the pins had actually dug their way into the sole’s foam, one of the pitfalls of taking most of the rubber away to save weight it seems. So there’s another lesson, don’t use these to run over beds of nails or other sharp obstacles. Maybe use a cross trainer for that.
After living with a pair of Flyknit Lunar1′s for a few weeks consecutively (much longer than I usually wear a single shoe) I can say that I’m pretty much sold on them. The fit’s great, the comfort is fantastic and best of all is they’re bloody fantastic to look at. This shoe is a pretty big deal for Nike and you can tell. They’re never one to shy away from a marketing campaign but so far the Flyknit movement has been one that has spanned across just about every continent, industry and subculture; that’s no accident. I still prefer the Trainer for looks, the Zoom sole has a better profile and the whole shoe seems much sharper. That being said each shoe serves a different purpose and for that reason you’ll still be able to buy new colourways of the Trainer once the Lunar1+ goes on sale, same goes for the Racer. I’ll still buy the Trainer, there’s some great colourways slated for the rest of the year, but I’ll be getting into the Lunar soled version as well because for everyday wear you can’t beat them. These drop next month locally and they’re be around the $220 mark I believe, get saving!