Nike Steaming Lounge: Shoes that fit like a glove
Nike's super hi-tech FlyKnit shoe gadgetry has been doing the rounds for a while now. Even British athlete Mo Farah has been showing off his FlyKnits, winning gold medals in them at the Olympics.
The concept of FlyKnit is fairly simple: strip away as much of the panelling and weight you find on a conventional trainer, to give an incredibly lightweight and comfortable shoe. It works by weaving different types of yarn into one single upper, so you have a shoe quite unlike any other.
Some of this yarn behaves like a jumper if you heat it enough, in that it shrinks. With the Flyknit Lunar1+ Nike has cleverly woven different types of yarn, some affected by heat, some not, into the upper and then created a machine that will steam fit the whole shoe to your foot.
Pocket-lint paid a visit to Nike Town in London's Oxford Circus to give the machine a go. We had been imagining some sort of giant kettle that Nike was going to cook our foot in. What we got was a sort of Harry Houdini-style black box, sitting in the middle of the Nike store, with steam billowing out of it.
Those who opt to pick up any set of Nike FlyKnit trainers can use the machine free of charge. In fact, if you head into Nike Town with a pair you have already bought, they will steam them for you even after purchase.
So how does it work? Nike takes your trainers from you, places them into the black box upside-down and then closes the lid. Down they go, Han Solo style, into the machine where they are heated by the steam.
The shoes resurface after a brief blast with the steam, moist and ready to be moulded to your foot. You put the Flyknits on and are then treated to a rather enjoyable hot foot massage while they are shaped to your foot.
It certainly is impressive and all the excitement of the steam machine does make it feel like you are picking up a set of shoes from the future. But does all this steam-filled fanfare really make a difference?
Well the Flyknit Lunar1+ is an incredible shoe before you have even started blasting it with steam. FlyKnit tech is on the absolute cutting edge of trainer design and, for those who haven't run in it, like nothing else.
On the bottom of the trainers is a layer of Nike's Lunarlon foam. Think of it like a soft cushion for your foot, much more comfortable than anything like Nike Air provides and a lot less weight. Loads less in fact, with the whole shoe weighing just over 200 grams.
We had a run in the Flyknits before we had them steam fitted just to see what sort of a difference it made. The comfort was definitely there already, but we will say that if you plan on getting them steam fitted, going for half a size bigger might be handy.
After the fit, the Lunar1+ really comes alive. The main difference is in the toe of the shoe, where Nike has place the most adaptable part of the yarn in its weave. You get a tight but not uncomfortable fit, which when coupled with the weight, makes it feel as if you don't have a shoe on your foot.
The back of the Lunar1+ gives a bit more support than Nike's other Flyknit shoes, which does mean you get quite a bit of added comfort while running. We imagine that, when steam fitted, a set of Flyknit Runners will feel like a second skin.
So the Steaming Lounge is definitely worth it for the serious runner and the Lunar1+ could be the shoe for fitness fans to go for. The best bit is, if you pick a set up elsewhere and just happen to pop by Nike Town, they will do it for you in 30 seconds.
Nike says the steam fit should last forever. It does say, however, that if you went running on a really wet day, some of the shape could be lost. To be honest, we really wouldn't suggest running in the wet in a set of £140 trainers unless you desperately want to.
The Nike Lunar1+ trainer is available now for both men and women in a variety of colours.