November 15, 2018
By Greg Monteforte, PGATOUR.COM
Nike’s revolutionary React technology started on the court, moved to the track, and has now landed on the course. Rory McIlroy debuted the React technology footwear on East Lake’s fairways at the TOUR Championship at the end of September with the Nike React Vapor 2. The following week at the Ryder Cup, Nike outfitted many of its athletes on both teams with special camo colorways of the new kicks.
The React Vapor 2 features a similar sporty silhouette and upper design to its predecessor, the Lunar Control Vapor 2. Other carry-overs include Nike’s Flywire technology for a supportive fit, a TPU heel counter that stabilizes lateral movement of the foot, and the lightweight NIKESKIN upper that provides durability and flexibility.
Visually, the most noticeable difference is the hybrid outsole that contains a combination of Integrated Traction under the balls of the feet and removable spikes around the lateral sides and heels. This new design provides optimal traction, even at the swing speeds McIlroy is producing.
The biggest improvement to the React Vapor 2, however, is Nike’s innovative React foam in the midsole of the shoe.
The Nike React technology launched in June 2017 when Draymond Green laced up the Nike React Hyperdunk Flyknit basketball shoe, but the concept was born years earlier when Nike asked runners what they wanted out of their running shoes. The responses presented Nike engineers with a challenge.
The runners wanted better cushioning, better energy return, more durability, and less weight. Sure, these seem straightforward on the surface, but they are usually mutually exclusive of one another. Typically, a foam can either provide cushioning or energy return but not both. Soft materials absorb energy while firm materials deliver the most energy return. In the same vein, lightweight materials are not very durable.
To deliver the nearly impossible, Nike’s in-house chemists and mechanical engineers began testing various cocktails of ingredients. After more than 400 attempts, they arrived at a material that would become Nike React. This perfect combination of chemistry and processing produced a foam that was as soft and springy as it was squishy and stable. In fact, Nike’s research showed it delivered 13 percent more energy return than the latest iteration of Nike’s top-shelf Lunarlon foam.
This was just the beginning, though. To validate the work done in the lab, Nike put the React technology through more than 2,000 hours of testing with basketball players. Then, designers worked to put the foam into new shoe designs. To do this, they turned to data gained from pressure maps to see how athletes moved, in what direction they moved, and with what force. In turn, this data allowed them to shape midsoles and outsoles in ways to provide the support, cushioning and traction where they were needed most.
After rolling out the React technology to the basketball, running and sportswear lines, golf was the logical next step. PGA TOUR pros may not log the same miles as distance runners, but they do spend most of their days on their feet. Over the course of 72 holes, plus practice rounds and range sessions, happy feet and less fatigue could provide the razor thin edge needed to succeed on TOUR.
The Nike React Vapor 2 is now available in three colorways (white/white/black/metallic cool grey; white/midnight navy/metallic white; and black/white/metallic white). If you’re lucky, you may also find limited quantities of the special camo Ryder Cup colorway.