What ever happened to the Legend React, anyway? https://weartesters.com/new-nike-react-model-legend-react-solves-durability-issues-react/ (Crickets).
Either it’s still coming, or Nike changed the name to Odyssey to hail back to their long-time stability shoe trademark name. I’m not just talking the Air Zoom Odyssey of a few years ago (I reviewed Odyssey 2 in 2016), but THIRTY FIVE years ago!
A friend in my running group fondly remembers a Nike Odyssey of old that had a completely straight last—quite different than today’s hourglass Odyssey React, which also bears no resemblance to the Air Zoom Odyssey mentioned.
This may be my favorite shoe from Nike so far (no, I have not run in the Epic React) with its synchronicity of low weight, (very) light stability, reasonable price, and cushion that hits a balance between comfort and responsiveness and excels in durability, similar to Boost.
I like running in the Lunarglide 9 a bit better because it’s not quite as narrow (even with half size smaller in Lunarglide) and has a softer, “snugger” upper fit without the lateral pinching that comes with tightening the laces the way I like in Odyssey.
BUT, the Lunarlon foam compresses so fast that any shoe with React has an advantage toward longevity. What is Nike React foam similar to? Really it feels the most like their Lunarlon and kinda like an adidas Boost layer.
It also responds similar to Brooks’ DNA foam up front but is pretty soft in the heel.
The lightweight midsole does not protect from rocks. l was surprised (given the medium sole thickness) to feel a lone medium-sized stone jam into the ball of my foot, on an easy run down city streets.
A quick slide on a thin patch of mud during a misty run proved the minimal outsole not up to the task of traction in unideal conditions.
Nike Odyssey React General Info
This is a scaled-back, $30 cheaper, version of the Nike Epic React. They replaced the more expensive Flyknit upper with a mesh, which is flexible but not quite a stretchy.
This is okay for me, because I like having a bit more structure to the upper; I just wish it was a millimeter or two wider. Going sockless or giving the laces more rein eases too-tight areas.
I don’t feel any discomfort on the top of my foot from snug laces but feel a slight lateral pinch if tying normally. The Odyssey is also more durable with increased rubber coverage on the outsole, but it’s less breathable.
Both shoes contain a full-length React midsole, which is my favorite foam from Nike. It fits slightly small and narrow, so definitely consider going up a half size.
Back to what the new React foam feels like. To best answer this question I ran with the Odyssey on one foot and a bunch of other shoes on the other, results below. (All shoes listed were half size smaller than Odyssey.)
First off, these shoes feel amazingly similar. I like the Lunarglides soft, snug upper fit just slightly better.
But immediately I can actually feel the compression under the forefoot of the Lunarglide, with less than a hundred miles on the shoe = that’s a big negative for the Lunarlon foam.
Structure is a more stable shoe all around, but it’s heavier, the foam slightly more firm, and the heel a bit more loose.
Unlike the previous two Nikes, I can tell that I have a half size smaller in this one.
The Flymesh upper with Flywire cables on the older version offers a better fit, but the upper and a half size smaller Odyssey React would definitely pinch my foot: it’s narrow and not as giving as the Epic’s upper.
Odyssey 2’s foam is more firm and has a 2mm higher drop. I prefer the feel of Odyssey 2 for speedwork, but the lighter weight of Odyssey React balances out this benefit.
As an all-around trainer, the newer Odyssey version wins hands down. The stability offered is similar, with the Odyssey 2 slightly more stable (which I did not find all that stable in the first place). The Odyssey React feels more like a neutral shoe.
Moving on to other brands…
Odyssey React’s length is similar to the half size smaller in Ravenna, and they both are modeled for a narrow fit. (For that reason, I should have gotten the half size bigger in Ravenna.) These are very very similar shoes.
Ravenna’s medial forefoot is a higher bevel (both midsoles slope; Ravenna’s slopes more) offering a stronger counter to pronated foot motion.
The outsole is more typically rubbered, and the heel is more firm (so it’s a more stable, slightly stable shoe). But wow does this React react like Brooks DNA.
React foam is very similar in feel and performance to its biggest competitor, Boost, except it’s lighter.
In Adizero Tempo, we find a thinner Boost layer than Odyssey React’s midsole, which helps to even out the weight difference and also EVA sidewalls which add a touch more stability to the shoe. It’s less “cushy” but still soft.
Forced to choose, I’d run (another) marathon in Tempo, over Odyssey, because of the more minimal feel; stable touch; and soft, responsive midsole, the latter that both shoes share.
That said, Odyssey is an affordable, durable, all-around trainer that is light enough for speedwork and comfortable enough to pad the feet during high mileage.
The EVERUN(TM) midsole is more squishy than React. In that sense Odyssey feels more stable and responsive. Normally I would expect Hurricane’s wider forefoot to contribute to higher stability in the toe-off, but the extra-soft material diminishes this benefit.
Both shoes have a wide, anchored tongue, which contributes to a secure feel (in all of Saucony’s ISOFIT lines). Saucony’s shoe is much more plush all-around, than Odyssey; l prefer the more streamlined, breathable, responsive, and (surprisingly) more stable Odyssey.
Odyssey React is a couple ounces lighter than (half size smaller) Vongo v2 and has an upper somewhere between the original Vongo’s security and the v2’s flexibility. The shallow toebox is similar.
What really surprised me is how Odyssey’s extended internal arch provides a similar feel to Vongo’s Varus wedge midsole (higher medially).
This arch also makes Odyssey feel more like Vongo’s low drop of 4mm despite a manufacturer’s statement of 10mm.
The wide, flat tongue and snug fit of Europa gained my favor right away. It’s very similar to Odyssey (slightly better, with the lacing loops), but this later shoe extends the boundary even more by attaching the “tongue” to the baselines.
Nike Odyssey React Sole Unit
This shoe has the same midsole as the Epic React, and I was surprised to see in the Epic review that Tom noticed the same thing I did about the 10mm offset in these shoes.
It “feels less significant” than other 10mm drop trainers, I think due to the raised, sloping arch in the shoe, which my medium arch has mixed feelings about.
I like it on the run, can get uncomfortable during casual use; I’m guessing a flat arch well not prefer this shoe.
(But let us know in the comments!) Back to the feel, when I first put them on l thought it was a 5mm (or so) drop, but after getting some miles on began to recognize the med-high slope underfoot.
And how does this React react? It feels soft like the Lunarlon but a bit more bouncy, kinda squishy like a similar thickness of boost foam-not quite as malleable as Saucony’s Everun.
At the end of the day, it’s one of my favorite midsoles, tied with (a thin layer of) Boost and Brooks Biomogo DNA, each with its strength, React’s being lightweight, soft durability.
The React midsole extends the full length of the sole, with a firm plastic piece that wraps the heel and dips down on the medial aspect.
The foam is covered by patches of rubber under the heel and larger pieces under the forefoot than Nike put in the Epic, which has proven to make the shoe more durable than the more expensive shoe.
Testers who have worn both do not feel a difference in the sole units between the two shoes beyond perhaps a touch more of a firm toe-off from Odyssey’s rubber-patched sending zone.
The grip is a fair-weather friend that works well on smooth surfaces and in the rain until you happen upon a slight patch of mud—then all bets for traction are off!
Nike Odyssey React Upper Info
The flat neoprene “tongue” of this shoe is thin but soft and comfortable, and extends down to wrap the entire midfoot like a booty, similar in style to Epic’s knit tongue/bootie/sleeve yet more protective of the upper foot.
It’s reminiscent of Saucony’s ISO series with the anchored tongue, yet extends all the way back to the ankle bones for a more snug, comprehensive wrap.
From what I’ve read about the Epic React Flynit, the neoprene tongue in Odyssey protects the top of the foot from laces digging in (l didn’t feel any discomfort), and the jacquard-weave vamp is less flexible, which some (including this reviewer) find more secure.
Some users complain of the shoe being hot, but I had no problems running intervals in 77 degree temps one day (with socks). (This comes after testing Ultraboost X, which if wearing socks was hot just sitting still.)
The smooth inner feel of the shoe makes socks optional. As with Ultraboost X, socks snug up a narrow heel (Odyssey’s heel fits smaller than UX’s), or their lack helps ease any tightness toward the ball.
The heel is plush-yet-thin (how’d they do that?) resulting in a snug, soft, lightweight fit and is also capped with a smaller than normal heel counter that nevertheless gets the job done, securing the heel.
Nike Odyssey React Conclusions
Nike Odyssey React fits squarely in this new paradigm for envisioning stability running shoes that has been emerging for the last few years (or, at least that’s how long I’ve been tuning in to it).
The relatively stiff midfoot (it bends if you force it) is lightweight; a minimal-yet-functional heel counter guides the foot; and the light, snug upper is medium-flexible.
Add in the comfy-yet-responsive sole unit (without added weight mid foot) that adds a touch more durability than Epic with larger rubber patches, and we have a shoe that is on the neutral side of “light stability.” (It all depends what you’re comparing it to.)
This emerging “light stability” category is where I find my groove, and Odyssey React is a solid all-purpose trainer that hits the mark while doubling as an appealing shoe for all-day wear.
We purchased a pair of Nike Odyssey React from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.