Nike Romaleos III

I’ve owned a pair of Nike Romaleos III‘s for approximately one year and here are my thoughts about this pair of squat/Olympic lifting shoes.

Value: 7/10

Quality: 8/10

Appearance: 8/10

Customer Service: n/a

Overall: 7.5/10

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After one year of use

Value

I am probably late to the game of weightlifting specific footwear, my shoe history has been cross trainers, Chuck Taylors, Onitsuka Tigers, bare foot and even the Vibram Five Fingers (what was I thinking??).

I purchased my pair of Romaleo III’s during a sale on the Nike website for $145 including tax & free shipping, they normally retail for $200 + tax. I couldn’t justify $200 for a single pair of shoes that realistically will only serve me one purpose.

The problem with the value proposition of the shoe, is that it is a very specific piece of equipment, that cannot really be used for anything other than squats and Olympic style lifts. My programming doesn’t include any Olympic style lifting, so these are purely squat shoes, that I will sometimes use for bench pressing, due to the raised heel. I will generally use them for the rest of a workout that has squats programmed, since it doesn’t affect any of the other lifts for that day (I wouldn’t recommend them for deadlifts, unless you want to have a little higher of a deficit to work against).

Each of the three big shoe companies has their own raised heel squat/Olympic shoe variants in current production: the Reebok Legacy Lifters ($200), Adidas Leistung 16 IIs ($225), Adidas Power Perfect 3.0s ($130), Adidas Crazy Power RKs ($175), Adidas Powerlifter 4s ($100), and this doesn’t count a couple of other smaller, niche shoe companies that purely release shoes specifically built for powerlifting, Olympic lifting.

The three main rivals in the segment are right around the $200 MSRP mark and I’ll be reviewing the Adidas Leistung 16 IIs in the near future after a year of testing. I’ll hold off on any further opinions regarding comparisons, since I don’t have any experience with any other lifting shoe. The only thing I can say is that it may come down to personal preference based on appearance, heel height and closure systems.

The shoes come with a comfort insole and a hard insole. These are nice inclusions, I opted for using the hard insoles, as it just feels a little more supportive than the comfort insole. Comfort really isn’t an issue, since I use the shoes just for squats, which takes up maybe 30-50 minutes depending on the workout. I’m doing nothing else in the shoes, other than the occasional bench press (sometimes I’m too lazy to switch shoes mid workout), so the shoes don’t get much wear and tear.

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The only thing showing wear and tear is the sticker

Due to the limited nature of the shoes, these don’t get used as much as my other shoes, notably the Reebok Nanos or the Adidas CrazyPower RKs, both of which don’t have nearly as high of a heel lift and have a more flexible sole, so walking isn’t awkward.

Quality

I have been quite impressed with the build quality of the Romaleos IIIs. After a year in, the shoes look relatively new, except for some minor scuffing on the soles and exterior. They took a couple of weeks to be completely broken in. A minor guff I have with the shoes are the laces and the placement of the rough part of the velcro, ast he laces catch on the mid foot velcro strap, causing some fraying on the laces. At first I was worried it would lead to faster lace tearing, however, as it happens, the thin laces that are included have been holding up just fine after a year and don’t look like they’ll be fraying apart anytime soon. So I consider it now just an annoyance, rather than anything serious.

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The laces sticking to the ‘rough’ part of the velcro strap

On first look, the eyelets for the laces looked quite thin and would wear out quite quickly, however after almost a year of use, there hasn’t been any wear and tear. I haven’t been gentle with tightening up the laces and the lace eyelets haven’t broken or even loosened over time. The two eyelets at the top have an extra wire/lace around the lace eyelet to help with tightening the top of the shoes.

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The mid foot strap is holding up just fine, along with the stitching holding the strap in place on both sides of the foot. Again I haven’t been gentle with tightening the strap and have on occasion had to loosen the straps after one set, because it felt too tight on my feet.

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Even with the strap tightened with an empty foot, it doesn’t drag on the ground

The insoles also don’t show any signs of wear and tear. Due to their nature, the hard insoles will probably take a while to deteriorate, there is almost no give other than the fabric depressing. I would guesstimate that my socks compress more than the insole & sole of the shoe put together. I don’t have any experience with the classic wood and leather squat shoes, but having the soles on these shoes underfoot whilst squatting is a night and day difference when compared with anything else. This comes down to personal preference and pretty much have squatted in non-squat shoes since I was 16, I also didn’t know any better nor paid any attention to my feet during a squat.

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From the factory
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After one year

The Romaleos 3 sole is a TPU (Thermoplastic Poly Uerthane) plate, with a honeycomb pattern. This grips well to most surfaces, I squat on either concrete, bare wood or horse stall mats and I haven’t had any issues with my feet sliding out on either the concrete or bare wood. The solid nature of the sole also makes it hard to walk around, so I tend to only wear them for squats and remove them after squatting is done for the day, purely for comfort of walking around the gym for the rest of the session.

Appearance

This aspect of the review is purely subjective and I found the shoes themselves to be aesthetically pleasing. I’m not a fan of overly flashy shoe styles, so the simplistic nature of the shoes really appealled to my tastes and I even opted for the more plain black and white color combination.

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Color options from the Rogue website

The raised part of the heal is an eye catching feature, when compared with the solid look of the competition. I didn’t like the look of it at first, my initial impression was it wouldn’t be solid. However over the last year, I have grown accustomed to the stylings and actually like the look of the support ridges. I would say that the ridges in part were designed in an effort to reduce the weight of the shoes, which weigh in at 408 grams. If it weren’t for the rigidity of the shoe, they are so light they would make a great every day shoe.

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Customer Service

The only thing I had to do was return a pair, as I normally order a size up and down in case the shoes run too large or small. Nike’s policy is very nice in that it allows you to do free returns and refunds for unopened shoes. Covering the return shipping is a great service that they provide, which saves the end consumer roughly $15-25 depending on where in the country you are located. The process was super simple, as Nike includes a return form AND label. Simply fill out the form and place the label on the outside of the box (I recommend taking a photo of the label for your records and it also allows you the ability to track the return box) within a week of Nike receiving the box they returned the money to my account. Super simple.

Other than that, I had zero interaction with an actual person at Nike, so can’t really judge Nike’s customer service on any level other than their return/refund process.

Overall

This was my first pair of dedicated squatting shoes and I was very impressed. The best part of using the shoes is that my feet felt more stable and connected with the ground than squatting in bare feet. I assume this is due to the extra support around the foot as well as the design of the base. The metatarsal strap also aids in the stability due to the cinching in of the foot bones themselves.

One of the big issues I had with deciding on whether to purchase these shoes, was the more general question of, if I should be squatting with a raised heel shoe. This was a big issue and I experimented with the raised heel and am a convert. It does come down to personal preference as well as individual body mechanics, here are a couple of videos that go into it in detail:

Squat University – Should you wear weightlifting shoes?

Ben Pollack – When should you wear squat shoes?

With so many frequent sales happening from both Nike direct and other retailers such as Rogue, I wouldn’t ever pay MSRP of $200 for the shoes. As of December 21st 2018, Rogue has a few color options for $159.96 (+free shipping) and Nike has some other color options for the same price. For the lower price I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these shoes.

I have flat and wide feet and found the fit to be fine. It was as comfortable as possible with a sole that doesn’t flex. After a year the front section of the shoes have broken in and it’s slightly less awkward to walk with a normal gait, by slightly less I mean I still walk around like I’m in snowboard boots, but it’s not nearly as awkward is it once was due to the little flex in the front section of the shoe. This flexion hasn’t affected their stability during the squat in anyway.

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