Nike seems to have finally settled into what their plans are with the Free: keep it simple. They had a couple years with the 3.0, 4.0, 5.0 dynamic, then trotted out the standard model, Flyknit, Motion, and Distance. Now it’s down to bi-annual updates to the standard and Flyknit, which have now premiered for 2018.
Nike has inserted a Lunar foam core to the shoes, making them significantly softer. This has pros and cons, but is seemingly aimed more at the casual wearer (as is much of the design). Lunar has notoriously low durability, so you’d basically have to get a new pair every year. This also makes the shoe very soft, however, and the toebox is nice and wide, to spread out them piggies. The sole also now has more grooves and pores, for greater flexibility. This all gives a feeling similar to walking on a shallow patch of sand.
The upper is much improved from the older versions. It no longer rubs the Achilles and moves well with the foot, but there is some tradeoff in lock-down. The laces are very ribbon-like, and actually managed to roll up and get twisted in our tests, placing more pressure on the top of the foot, so that’s a point off.
The good news, if you’re a minimalist, is that this is the most barefoot version in years (arguably ever). The Nike Free RN Flyknit 2018 is nice, but ultimately has limited usability.