Nike has been hyping up their replacement foam to Lunarlon for months, now. They’ve even bought giant billboards outside of major cities (we’re talking the size of an entire building, at least in Los Angeles). While everyone has takes on how it competes with Adidas’ Boost foam, we will be examining it purely from a performance and materials science perspective.
The good news is that as an advancement over Lunar foam, React foam succeeds. It’s a bit firmer, but never uncomfortable. It keeps most of the cushiness of Lunar foam, while feeling a bit bouncier and more responsive. It feels a little rubbery, and this is with good cause: React is a combination of traditional foam and rubber. This feels like a little brother to the ZoomX material that was rolled out with the VaporFly 4%. The ZoomX is much more speed-oriented, and certainly a better fit for race day, but if you aren’t going for a record, the Epic React is a great option, considering how light it is. It also works as a complement to ZoomX, being theoretically sturdier (we did not compare the long-term durability of React and ZoomX), but definitely feeling of the same family, so to speak. The shoe has a good transition, though nothing crazy, and some decent stability.
The upper was an odd fit. The Flyknit material felt a bit loose, but was perfect when we went half a size down. Nike nailed down the Flyknit upper in the 2015 Free 4.0, but seems intent on tinkering with it still, for some reason.
Does the Epic React deserve its hype? Yes and no. They definitely look cool and have a new technology. Are they revolutionary? No. They are the next iteration of a well-regarded line. We’ll see the continuation of React in the Odyssey, due to release in April 2018.