Categories
Nike Reviews

NIKE REACT INFINITY RUN FLYKNIT 2 REVIEW

THE BUZZ

The Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2 is a durable, well-cushioned everyday trainer. It provides stability for neutral and over-pronating runners alike.

The React Infinity 2 is built on a full-length React foam midsole platform and serves up loads of comfort, softness and resiliency. At the same time it also provides a wide, sturdy platform for a variety of gait types.

Nike React Infinity Flyknit 2 - What's new

WHAT’S NEW

Runners can find the biggest updates to the second edition of this shoe in the knit upper. The lacing system is now secured with Nike’s Flywire system for a locked-down feel.

More padding in the heel collar provides a more comfortable and secure fit. And generally, the upper — which features a mix of both coarse, durable knit pattern and a lighter, more open pattern — offers more support and breathability than the previous edition. It is also a teeny bit heavier than the original version.

There is more blown rubber on the outsole in this model, which helps it deliver better traction and durability. Narrow outsole groves give it a performance-oriented flex and increase traction in all types of weather conditions.

Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2 - flex

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

The Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2 fits true-to-size with a comfortable interior and a medium width in the toe box. (It doesn’t fit quite as snug/narrow as most Nike running shoes, but it does have a high arch.)

The step-in feel is opulently plush, making it one of the best and coziest and most comfortable shoes on the market.

The ride is generally soft and very secure, but it seems ever-so-slightly firmer than the previous version. Although, this is without veering too far to the right of the comfort vs. performance scale.

Combined with the rocker geometry of the midsole profile, it results in a less bouncy ride than the first version. Instead, it produces more of a stable, responsive rolling sensation that tends to return more energy in every stride. It’s almost a boost of assistance in every stride.

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

Runners who appreciate cushioning and need stability in their everyday training shoes will love this shoe.

The Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2 can handle long runs, recovery runs and moderately paced tempo runs with aplomb. It provides a stable, consistent ride no matter what type of stride pattern or gait idiosyncrasies a runners might have.

Nike React Infinity Flyknit 2 - Pros

PROS

Nike specifically designed this shoe as a modern stability shoe to reduce the injury rate among runners who have significantly pronating gait patterns.

A study with North Star Sports Medicine Research in British Columbia revealed 52 percent less disruption in training due to pain or discomfort compared to the Nike Air Zoom Structure 22 stability shoe.

Unlike traditional stability shoes that rely on a firm wedge of foam under the medial side of the midsole, the React Infinity Run Flyknit 2 provides stability in a variety of ways. This is possible due to:

  • The wider footprint for more ground contact,
  • Reinforced guiderails around the base of the heel
  • The semi-firm and absorbent React foam.

The entire system of features is designed to help over-pronators maintain a neutral foot orientation while not encumbering neutral runners.

The addition of the Flyknit closure technology really improves the fit of this shoe. This allows for a more adaptable and secure fit across the middle of the foot and through the heel.

Combined with the padded, stretchy gusseted tongue and high arch, the upper really provides an all-encompassing wrap-like fit. (Runners with flatter feet might find the arch to be a bit too stout.)

The updated version of the React Infinity has less material between the insole and midsole, which means you’re closer to the foam. This helps create a more intuitive and responsive experience. The foam itself has a higher height, providing a plush feel. However, you can also feel the ground better for a more proprioceptive experience.

There’s a more much distinct rocker profile in this edition, helping smooth the transition from heel strike to toe-off. It starts with a flared heel for mitigating downward impact force, then it’s slightly concave under the middle of the foot and finishes with a rounded toe spring off the front.

Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit Cons

CONS

The only drawback of the React Infinity 2 is that it’s a bit heavier than many everyday trainers. However, it is still well-balanced from heel to toe.

It can be a workhorse for most of your running needs, but it’s a bit too hefty for shorter, faster workouts and up-tempo long runs. This is true especially compared to the well-cushioned, featherweight super shoes that many runners have in their quivers.

TECH SPECS

Nike React Infinity Flyknit 2 - Tech Specs

SHOP NIKE REACT INFINITY RUN FLYKNIT 2

Nike React Infinity Flyknit 2 - Men's
MEN’S REACT 2
Nike React Infinity Flyknit 2 - women's
WOMEN’S REACT 2
Categories
hoka one one Reviews

HOKA CARBON X 2 REVIEW

After it’s debut, the smartly updated HOKA Carbon X 2 is ready for the running season ahead.

THE BUZZ

The Carbon X returns after the successful first edition won races and set records. It proved itself among the best of the initial crop of long-distance racing shoes built with carbon-fiber plates embedded in thick, cushy midsoles.

The Carbon X 2 is a maximally cushioned neutral-oriented speed shoe. It has a staunchly rocker profile and an energetic vibe that promotes fast-cadence running.

Hoka Carbon X 2 - What's New

WHAT’S NEW

The smart updates HOKA Carbon X 2 to make this edition slightly lighter and cushier. It is more consistent and efficient and, ultimately, even faster than the original.

Specifically, the shape and positioning of the carbon-fiber plate have been updated slightly for smoother, more efficient transitions. The midsole is slightly thicker and slightly softer for a more plush ride. Add to that the new, extended Achilles-friendly heel tab improves comfort and fit.

A stretchy Lycra bootie finishes off the Carbon X 2. This feature creates a gusseted tongue for a locked-down feeling at the mid-foot. It’s topped off with an engineered mesh upper that delivers breathable comfort.

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

The Carbon X 2 has a true-to-size fit with a medium width from heel to toe. It also brings in a little bit more room in the toe box. Compared to other carbon-fiber racing shoes, it’s a bit more roomy, especially in the toe box.

It’s a unique shoe that feels soft at step-in, but it tends to feel a bit firmer the faster you run in it. That’s a good combination that allows it to be comfortable, responsive, propulsive and fast. The most unique feature about this shoe is the rolling sensation of the ride.

Unlike some other super shoes with carbon-fiber plates that are bouncy, the Carbon X serves up a smooth, rhythmic, rolling ride. This stems from the distinct rocker geometry and catapulting sensation of the carbon-fiber plate embedded in the foam midsole.

There’s not much flex in this shoe, but it’s supposed to be firm and snappy. It’s takes a short amount of time to get used to it, but once you find that rhythm you’ll feel the energetic boost in every stride. It will feel almost effortless.

Hoka Carbon X 2 Review 2021

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

If you’re interested chasing a new personal best in the half marathon or marathon or want a proficient performance trainer for long runs and tempo runs, this is a definitely one every runner should consider.

While it’s a ideal choice for front of the pack runners, it’s an especially good shoe for committed age-group runners and middle-of-the-pack runners. This is because it accommodates a wide range of stride styles and encourages quicker and more efficient turnover for moderate paces too.

Hoka Carbon X 2 - Pros

For the encore edition, HOKA made some adjustments to the placement of the carbon-fiber plate. Embedded in the midsole, this allows the rolling vibe and energetic toe-off to be more accessible to every type of running gait. The plate is split under the flared midsole forefoot platform, allowing for optimal resupination to set up the toe-off phase of the stride.

The midsole of the Carbon X 2 is 2mm thicker and slightly softer than the original. This creates a more plush feeling from touch-down to toe-off. That includes slight changes to the cushy foam above the carbon-fiber plate and the durable and responsive injected-molded, rubberized EVA foam below the plate.

The outsole is made from a durable, injected-molded rubberized EVA. This provides a secure grip on wet and dry surfaces while also contributing to the propulsive ride.

Hoka Carbon X 2 - Cons

If you prefer or typically run in shoes with soft, compressible midsoles, the ride of the Carbon X might seem too rigid and rolling for you.

The Carbon X 2 much softer and more accessible than the first version. But it still a different ride than most carbon-fiber racing shoes that feature a soft, bouncy ride.

TECH SPECS

Hoka Carbon X 2 - Tech Specs

SHOP HOKA CARBON X 2

Hoka Carbon X 2 - Men's
MEN’S CARBON X 2
Hoka Carbon X 2 - Women's
WOMEN’S CARBON X 2
Categories
Reviews Saucony

SAUCONY PEREGRINE 11 REVIEW

If you’re looking for just one trail shoe for all of your off-road running endeavors, the Saucony Peregrine 11 is a good one to add to your rotation.

This trail shoe does everything well without any gaping shortfalls. The new upper design is on point for some head-turning looks on the trail. Read on for the full overview from Brian Metzler.

THE BUZZ

The Saucony Peregrine is a versatile, neutral-oriented trail running shoe. It has the comfort and smoothness of a road running shoe with a low-to-the-ground feel. Add to that it has a nice blend of cushioning, traction and protection.

It’s a classic, do-everything off-road runner. It’s ideal for smooth, rolling dirt paths, moderately technical routes with some rocks, roots, gravel and other obstacles, as well as sloppy trails with a lot of mud and moisture.

Saucony Peregrine 11 - What's New

WHAT’S NEW

The biggest update to the Peregrine 11 is a new upper that’s more durable and protective than the previous edition. It’s a nice final touch that completes this shoe as one of the most versatile and functional models out on the trails.

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

The Peregrine has a performance-oriented fit that secures each foot to the chassis of the shoe. This avoids excess internal slipping and sliding.

Although it’s only available in a medium width, it resembles the comfortable fit and feel of a road running shoe. It features a narrow heel cup and secure sensation at the mid-foot.

The toe box is compact but not restrictively tight, allowing toes to splay and flex as they adapt to different types of terrain. The step-in feel is soft, pliable and comfortable, but not overwhelming.

The moderate midsole cushioning is accompanied by a flexible rock plate. This allows for a cushy, flexible and protective ride doesn’t inhibit the natural movement of your feet on variable terrain.

The Peregrine isn’t exceptionally energetic, but it feels and runs lighter than its spec weight. This means it serves up an agile, go-get-it sensation on most types of terrain.

Saucony Peregrine 11 - trail running

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

Because it’s so light and comfortable, the Peregrine will appeal to a wide range of runners. From trail runners, from first-timers to those who frequently go off-road and also those who live and breathe nothing but dirt.

It excels as a versatile, three-season trail running shoe for mild to semi-technical, low-alpine, desert and woodland terrain.

The Peregrine 11 could be a great race-day shoe for trail running events from 5K to  half marathon. It could be a good choice for trail marathons too, but it doesn’t have hefty cushioning like some maximally cushioned trail shoes.

PROS: SAUCONY PEREGRINE

  • The full-length, flexible, plastic rock plate in the Peregrine provides ample protection. Pointy rocks, roots and other irregularities on the surface of the trail are eaten up without inhibiting the ability of the foot to move nimbly.
  • This is the second edition of the Peregrine with PWRRUN midsole cushioning. As a result, the new Peregrine feels softer but also returns a bit more energy than a lot of trail running shoes, especially when running at moderate to fast speeds.
  • The knobby array of outsole lugs provide exceptional traction on wet terrain and loose dirt. It has a moderate amount of cushioning, enough to keep sharp pointy obstacles and trail debris at bay but not too much to inhibit a proprioceptive feel for the ground. Our wear-testers loved running over muddy trails, wet grass and wet, sloppy terrain in this shoe.
  • The outsole has aggressive, 6mm directional lugs made from a new sticky rubber compound that is distinctively adhesive on wet and dry rock and wooden stair steps, but sheds mud with surprising ease.
  • Like its predecessor, the Peregrine 11 has a customizable outsole platform with 12 designated ports. These can be drilled through for improved drainage if you frequently run in sloppy conditions. Alternatively they can be used to add screws for enhanced winter traction on ice and snow.

CONS: SAUCONY PEREGRINE

  • Like its predecessors, the Peregrine lacks sufficient protection and girth for long, gnarly, rugged mountain trails. However, it is agile enough to handle shorter segments of rocky routes. However, the new upper does provide better sidewall and toe box protection than in the past.

TECH SPECS

Saucony Peregrine 11 - Tech Specs

SHOP SAUCONY PEREGRINE

Saucony Peregrine 11 - women's
MEN’S SAUCONY PEREGRINE
Saucony Peregrine 11 - Women's
WOMEN’S SAUCONY PEREGRINE
Saucony Peregrine 11 ST Version

SAUCONY PEREGRINE ST

Heading to more technical trails? The ST version of the Saucony Peregrine 11 is also available. This has a more aggressive sole (or would that be soul?) to take on more ambitious terrain. Add to that a new lacing system to dial in the fit to the challenge ahead.

SAUCONY PEREGRINE 11 ST
Categories
hoka one one

HOKA TO LAUNCH CARBON X 2 AT 100K WORLD RECORD ATTEMPT

What better way to launch a new long-distance racing shoe than to stage a world-record attempt to prove how fast it is? Introducing Project Carbon X 2.

HOKA ONE ONE will launch its new, fast and efficient Carbon X 2 carbon-fiber racing shoe with a multinational assault on the 100K world record on Jan. 23 in Phoenix, Ariz. and Chiba, Japan.

TWO RUNS, TWO CONTINENTS

With 62.2 miles of race-pace running, the Project Carbon X 2 event will be no small task. HOKA-sponsored ultrarunners Jim Walmsley, Camille Herron, Elov Olsson and Caitriona Jennings will be going after the record at 7 a.m. PST in Phoenix, while Japanese runners Aiko Kanematsu and Yoshiki Otsuka will be racing the same distance at 7 a.m. JST in Japan.

The current men’s 100K world record is 6:09:14. This is a blazing 5 minutes, 56.5 seconds per mile pace – set by Japan’s Nao Kazami in 2018. The women’s mark is 6:33:11 (6:19 mile pace), set by Japan’s Tomoe Abe in 2000.

Two years ago when HOKA launched the original Carbon X carbon-fiber racing shoe, Walmsley set a new world-best for 50 miles. He clocked a 4:50:08 at a similar ultra-distance time trial in Sacramento, Calif. HOKA says the new shoe is slightly lighter and faster with a smoother, more propulsive ride.

The U.S. event will be live-streamed for free at hokaoneone.com and the Japan event will be live-streamed for free at hokaoneone.jp.

Project Carbon X 2

HOKA CARBON X 2

The Carbon X 2 has updated curvy carbon-fiber plate technology, a lighter, softer and more resilient midsole foam package. The upper features a cleaner design to match the upgrade to the engine. It weighs 8.4 ounces (Men’s 9), a 5mm heel-to-toe offset and an MSRP of $180.

“At HOKA, we have grown into the brand we are today by setting lofty goals, not compromising, and taking a bold and unexpected approach to meet those ends,” says Mike McManus, Director of Global Sports Marketing at HOKA ONE ONE.

“Perhaps no shoe embodies that spirit better than the Carbon X 2 – designed without compromise to offer the very best in performance innovation to all athletes, empowering them to fly no matter their goals – and perhaps no event embodies it better than Project Carbon X 2: a chance for some of our elite athletes to try and go farther and faster than we once thought possible.”

HOW TO WATCH PROJECT CARBON X 2


Project Carbon X 2 will be live-streamed from the Phoenix, Arizona area starting at 7AM MST on January 23 at hokaoneone.com/project-carbon-x-2 ; and from Chiba, Japan at 2PM PST on January 22 (7AM local time January 23) at hokaoneone.jp/project-carbon-x-2.

Categories
Altra Reviews

ALTRA LONE PEAK 5 REVIEW

If you only want one trail running shoe in your quiver of running shoes, the Altra Lone Peak 5 is an ideal do-it-all candidate. It’s a comfortably appointed and very reliable jack-of-all-trails without any major shortfalls.

Read on to learn more about the latest updates to the Lone Peak 5 from reviewer Brian Metzler.

THE BUZZ

Now in its 10th year, the Lone Peak is Altra’s most popular and versatile trail running shoe. It excels wherever the pavement ends.

The newest edition is lightweight and has a low-to-the-trail sensation like its predecessors. But, some dramatic updates have make this the best version yet.

The new edition on the Lone Peak serves up comfort, protection and performance on all types of terrain. It’s perfect from gravel roads, to dirt single-track trails to rocky, technical mountain routes.

Altra Lone Peak 5 - What's New

WHAT’S NEW

The Altra Lone Peak has undergone a major overhaul since last season. The midsole has been updated with a new layer of resilient AltraEGO foam. This new layer results in a considerably more responsive ride. The low-profile outsole is less aggressive than in the past and has been tweaked to provide better grip and durability. The upper has been upgraded with a more pliable feel, drainage holes and a better overall fit.

The internal rock plate embedded in the midsole has been upgraded to be provide better push-through protection and to be more pliable. This contributes to the smoother, springier and more flexible ride. The new stone guard was developed based on a pressure map of the foot with open perforations (almost like a mesh material), resulting in less material and a lighter weight without sacrificing protection.

Altra’s MaxTrac Outsoleuses direction sticky rubber lugs that prioritize grip and durability on uneven terrain. The outsole lugs are still toothy and grippy, but they don’t seem quite as aggressive and overbearing. This makes the new Lone Peak more versatile for a wider range of trails without sacrificing the reliable traction for which this shoe has always been known. The outsole rubber extends to the toe bumper, which is now stitched to the upper for greater durability.

Altra Lone Peak 5 - Fit, Feel, Ride

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

The refinements to the upper have upgraded the mid-foot fit of the Lone Peak 5, but it still has a high-volume interior. It has a medium/narrow heel and a wide forefoot. This allows the toes to splay as the foot rolls forward through the toe-off phase. (The Lone Peak 5 is available in two widths for men’s and women’s.)

This new edition has a bit of a softer feel when you step in and lace it up. This is thanks to the soft footbed and new midsole foam configuration. The ride is decidedly soft, flexible, lively and smooth — much more so than the previous edition — and that makes it conducive both slow and fast-paced running over a wide range of trails.

One of the keys to the great ride is the more flexible stone guard that offers protection from sharp rocks, roots and other objects on the trail without inhibiting the natural flex of your foot.

The Lone Peak 5 is much more nimble and agile than previous versions. In part, this is because the protection and outsole traction have been taken down a notch.

Additionally, Altra’s women’s models are built with Fit4Her Technology. This is a design system that caters to the specific anatomical differences of female feet. They feature specifically a narrower heel and mid-foot, a higher instep, a longer arch and unique metatarsal spacing.

Of note is all Altra shoes are built with a “Footshape” toe box that is wider and more rounded than most other shoes. This allows a runner’s toes and the transverse arch to splay and flatten to allow for more effective muscular output when a foot lifts off the ground at the toe-off phase of a new stride. It also helps alleviate your toes getting smashed

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

A wide range of trail runners will appreciate the Lone Peak 5, including those who are new to trail running and seasoned ultra-runners who log copious amounts of miles in the mountains.

The Altra Lone Peak 5 is soft and flexible enough to run on smooth dirt trails and has more than enough traction and protection to tackle gnarly terrain. It’s light and fast enough for racing any distance and durable and comfortable enough for training runs of any distance.

Altra Lone Peak - Pros

PROS: Altra Lone Peak 5

The new layer of bouncy and durable AltraEGO foam is a significant upgrade to the Lone Peak, and it puts a noticeable spring in every step. Even though the 25mm stack height and 0mm offset remain the same, the revamped midsole adds to the overall cushioning of the shoe and helps supply the comfort and flow similar to your favorite road running shoes. 

The reason Altra makes its shoes with a balanced, level platform is to allow the heels and forefoot of a runner’s foot to always be an equal distance from the ground. Unlike shoes with lifted heels and sloping profiles, Altra’s shoes create what the brand calls an optimal alignment and that cultivates better running form and encourages a low-impact foot strikes.

Altra Lone Peak - Cons

CONS: Altra Lone Peak 5

There’s no inherent stability mechanism contained within the structure of the Lone Peak 5.

It’s not a clunky or tippy shoe, but runners who are prone to wobbly ankles or off-center foot strike patterns might find the soft, squishy midsole to be less stable as some other models.

TECH SPECS

Altra Lone Peak - Tech Specs

SHOP ALTRA LONE PEAK 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles. He has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher. He occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado.

He’s the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times. He was and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine.

As an author, he has penned “Kicksology“, “Running Colorado’s Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner.”

Brian Metzler - Les Alpes
Brian Metzler - Trail racing
Brian Metzler - trail running
Categories
Asics Reviews

ASICS GEL NIMBUS 23 REVIEW

Journalist and shoe guru Brian Metzler puts the ASICS GEL Nimbus 23 through its paces. He shares what this new edition has to offer for runners in 2020 and 2021.

THE BUZZ

The GEL-Nimbus 23 is a premium, neutral daily trainer with loads of cushioning and comfort. The Nimbus has always been reliable daily trainer. It serves up softness and durability and this new version remains true to that with a little bit of energetic pop in every stride.

asics gel nimbus 23 - what's new

WHAT’S NEW

There are a few minor updates to the ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23 that make it a softer, smoother shoe. The GEL cushioning wedge in the heel is more expansive. This helps create a softer and more absorbing feeling in every foot strike.

The upper has been adapted slightly with a more accommodating lace eyelet configuration. It also features a more pliable mid-foot panel that allows for optimal mid-foot flexibility.

GENDER-SPECIFIC DESIGN

The men’s and women’s versions of the Nimbus 23 are specifically designed for the slight differences in the gait patterns between genders.

The women’s model has decoupled flex grooves in the forefoot and a softer plastic Trusstic support brace under the mid-foot. This encourages optimal flexibility and a slightly steeper heel-toe offset (13mm, as opposed to 10mm for men) for a more active transition from heel strike to toe off.

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

The GEL Nimbus 23 has the classic true-to-size fit ASICS is known for. It shares a snug, narrow-medium volume interior that secures the heel and mid-foot. However, it provides just a tiny bit of wiggle room in the toe box.

The step-in feel of the new Nimbus is nothing short of luxurious. This is thanks to the premium sockliner, padded heel collar and cushy, wide tongue. The slightly updated engineered mesh upper contributes to improved comfort, flexibility and breathability while also helping cinch down each foot to the chassis of the shoe.

The ride is soft, smooth, supple and flowy without any sense of awkwardness between heel strike and toe off. This edition of the Nimbus retains that vibe, only it’s slightly softer and more comfortable.

asics gel nimbus 23 - midblog

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

The GEL-Nimbus 23 has always been a great shoe for a wide range of runners with neutral stride patterns and a heel-striking gait.

TheNimbus is a neutral shoe, but it does provide a little bit of stability in every stride. This comes from the plastic Trusstic shank embedded in the midsole under the arch. That extra bit of structure makes this shoe a very good choice for longer runs when your gait starts to show signs of fatigue.

No matter whether you’re running 10 miles a week or 50 miles a week, the GEL-Nimbus 23 is a durable workhorse of a training shoe.

It’s best for slower to moderate paces, but its range can extend from short runs to long runs. It’s not going to be ideal for speedier workouts, but it can suffice for tempo runs and fartlek runs with longer fast segments.

asics gel nimbus 23 - pros

PROS: ASICS GEL NIMBUS 23

The Nimbus 23 has an invigorating dual-compound midsole that consists of a layer of light, soft and durable Flytefoam and a secondary layer of lively Flytefoam Propel, which serves up a bouncy feel with considerable energy return. The bottom line? It’s sufficiently cushions every foot strike and puts a little bit of a spring into every new stride.

The step-in feel and interior comfort features of the GEL-Nimbus 23 are exceptional. The soft heel collar secures the foot but goes easy on the Achilles, while the partially gusseted padded tongue wraps around each foot and stays in place as each foot moves through the stride cycle.

Our wear-testers love this shoe for long runs, recovery runs and random group runs at conversational pace. It’s one of those shoes that’s so comfortable, you barely remember you’re wearing it.

asics gel nimbus 23 - cons

CONS: ASICS GEL NIMBUS 23

As far as training shoes go, the weight of the Nimbus falls in the mid-range of the category. It’s not heavy, but it’s not as light as some of its contemporaries. You will probably only notice it if you have a penchant for lighter shoes.

TECH SPECS

asics gel nimbus 23 - tech specs

SHOP ASICS GEL NIMBUS 23

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles. He has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher. He occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado.

He’s the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times. He was and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine.

As an author, he has penned “Kicksology“, “Running Colorado’s Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner.”

Brian Metzler - trail running

Categories
hoka one one Reviews

HOKA CHALLENGER ATR 6 REVIEW

THE BUZZ

The HOKA Challenger ATR 6 is a crossover road/trail hybrid shoe that tackles many types of trail surfaces with aplomb.

The Challenger ATR is a soft, comfortable and accommodating maximally cushioned, neutral-oriented shoe. It’s versatile enough to handle both smooth, semi-rugged and mildly sloppy trails, as well as roads and bike paths on the way to a trailhead.

HOKA Challenger ATR 6 - What's New

WHAT’S NEW

If you ran in the previous versions of the Challenger, you’ll find the sixth edition has a similar fit, feel and ride.

The most notable change is a new, more pliable upper material made from recycled yarn . This really adds to the shoe’s smoother flexing demeanor. It also features a slightly updated lacing eyelet structure that helps keep your feet more secure on the run.

Like its predecessors, the Challenger ATR 6 is a good all-around running shoe that runs well on a lot of surfaces. It’s not exceptionally energetic for fast-paced workouts. However, it’s light and cushioned enough to offer smooth-striding consistency in most other applications.

The outsole features low-profile, 4mm lugs. These provide good traction running on dirt, gravel, over small rocks and roots and through shallow puddles. The lugs aren’t quite deep or aggressive enough for running over sloppy, muddy trails and dramatically technical terrain.

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

The HOKA Challenger ATR 6 accommodates a range of foot shapes and sizes, but is slightly wider in the mid-foot/arch and the toe box. (It’s available in two widths for men and women.)

Runners with narrower feel will have to snug down the laces tightly, but not to the point of being uncomfortable. The step-in feel is decidedly soft and comfortable. There’s an added plush sensation from the padded heel collar and cushy, partially gusseted tongue.

Out on a run, the Challenger feels soft and supple on all types of terrain. This allows the foot to move naturally without inhibition from foot strike to toe-off.

The rigid, internal heel counter keeps the foot securely in place. Add to this, the wider forefoot allows your toes to splay for optimal balance and toe-off on uneven terrain.

The HOKA Challenger’s low-profile lugs offer good traction on smooth dirt paths, mildly technical terrain and gravel roads. Add to that it can also feel as smooth as a road shoe on paved or concrete surfaces.

Although the soft midsole isn’t quite as energized or robust as some other shoes out there, our wear-tests suggest it should be a shoe that’s durable enough to get through about 400 miles of running.

HOKA Challenger ATR 6 - Mid Blog

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

The Challenger ATR 6 is a great option for road runners who occasionally run on trails or trail runners who primarily run on mild or moderate terrain.

It’s versatile enough to be the only trail shoe in your quiver. Or, it can be an ideal shoe for long runs on smooth terrain or dirt roads.

Hoka Challenger ATR 6 - Pros

PROS: CHALLENGER ATR 6

This edition of the Challenger weighs slightly less than the previous version and is lighter than many road running shoes. Combined with the “rockered” (or convex) geometry, you’ll feel a light, rolling sensation that promotes quick-cadence strides — especially on firmer surfaces.

The softness of the compression-molded EVA midsole makes running in the Challenger ATR 6 similar to running in your favorite road shoes, although slightly softer and a tad less energetic. That will be especially appreciated if some of your training runs include a variety of trail and paved surfaces.

Hoka Challenger ATR 6 - Cons

CONS: CHALLENGER ATR 6

The Challenger ATR 6 doesn’t have a lot of inherent structure in its midsole/outsole chassis, so runners who need or want additional stability might consider a trail shoe with more support or a more rigid outsole.

Although the Challenger can suffice on some more technical trails, it’s most at home on smoother terrain and not ideal of extra gnarly mountain terrain. That’s partially because it lacks a rock plate and offers limited protection with a from a minimally reinforced toe bumper.

TECH SPECS

HOKA Challenger ATR 6 - Tech Specs

SHOP CHALLENGER ATR 6

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles. He has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher. He occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado.

He’s the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times. He was and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine.

As an author, he has penned “Kicksology“, “Running Colorado’s Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner.”

Brian Metzler - Trail racing
Brian Metzler - trail running
Categories
Brooks Reviews

BROOKS ADRENALINE GTS 21 REVIEW

THE BUZZ

Most runners relish in a comfortable, smooth-riding running shoe. This includes runners who appreciate or need a bit of added stability in every stride.

With the new Adrenaline GTS 21, Brooks has continued to evolve its best-selling stability trainer. It has a new smoother, softer ride and more adaptable support.

Brooks Addrenaline GTS 21 - What's new

WHAT’S NEW

Brooks has slightly tweaked its GuideRails stabilizing technology to provide holistic support for a runner’s entire kinematic chain from the feet to the hips.

A new uniquely airy and supportive upper rounds out an exceptional update. The midsole has been updated with a longer segment of soft, plush DNA Loft foam. This combines with the more compliant Bio Mogo DNA for an optimal blend of cushion and support.

Brooks continues to evolve its GuideRails support system aimed at keeping the knee aligned. It does this with medial and lateral bumpers that nudge a runner’s foot back to the center if it veers too far to one side. It can provide maximum stability or just a hint of stability depending on your gait pattern. In other words, the support is there when you need it and not when you don’t.

The outsole retains the segmented crash pad design that provides sufficient traction, optimally targeted cushioning and improved flexibility.

The Adrenaline GTS 21 is slightly lighter than last year’s edition and considerably lighter than the version from two years ago.

The weight reductions have been made possible from the new engineered mesh uppers that lack any unnecessary decorative elements. The new edition of the Adrenaline GTS is virtually as light as the Brooks Glyercin premium cushioned neutral shoe.

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

Brooks has improved the fit, feel and ride of this popular shoe by making it slightly softer but more precisely stable.

The new upper gives the Adrenaline GTS 21 a more comprehensive and accommodating fit. It comes complete with a high arch, cushy tongue, padded heel collar, premium footbed, snug heel and wide toe box.

It is as comfortable as any shoe in the Brooks line, but it’s also as secure as any stability model on the market.

The beauty of this shoe is that that stability is delivered subtly and almost imperceptibly. It offers you just the amount of support you need when you need it. Otherwise, it feels and performs like a cushy neutral shoe, with a soft, accommodating sensation when your foot hits the ground and a smooth, rolling sensation to the toe-off phase.

The ride is mildly energetic, but not at all bouncy or lively like some other daily trainers.

Brooks Addrenaline GTS 21 - what's new

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

Runners who want, need or appreciate stability-enhancing support in every stride will really enjoy the Adrenaline GTS 21. It’s a durable and reliable everyday training shoe.

The Adreanline GTS 21 a great long run shoe and recovery shoe. It can be sufficient for tempo runs in a pinch, even though speed isn’t its forte.

It might not have the range of a lot of its contemporaries, but for a stability shoe it’s a gem.

If you have just one horse in your stable, the Adrenaline GTS 21 can be a good choice to be the only pair of shoes in your quiver.

This could be a good choice for a half-marathon or a marathon shoe for a committed mid-pack runner. It’s not ideal for running shorter and faster workouts and races.

Brooks Addrenaline GTS 21 - Pros

PROS: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21

The Adrenaline GTS 21 is built on a midsole platform made from DNA Loft foam and BioMogo DNA. DNA Loft is a lightweight blend of EVA foam, rubber and air that provides a good balance of durability, smoothness and comfort in the heel and along the lateral edge to the forefoot. BioMogo DNA is a cushioning foam that includes a nontoxic natural additive encourages anaerobic microbes to munch away 50 times faster once it hits an active, enclosed landfill.

The new Engineered Air Mesh upper is soft, pliable and comfortable, but it offers specific support where your foot needs it most. It hugs the foot from the top, side and front and keeps it securely attached to the footbed.

We love this shoe because it feels like a comfy, neutral-oriented cruiser, but it provides understated support and stabilizes every stride without any extra bulk or awkwardness of traditional stability shoes.

Brooks Addrenaline GTS 21 - Cons

CONS: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21

While this shoe is lighter, smoother and more flexible than previous editions, the Adrenaline GTS doesn’t have the liveliness to handle faster track and fartlek workouts as well as some performance-oriented stability models.

TECH SPECS

Brooks Addrenaline GTS 21 - Tech Specs

SHOP ADRENALINE GTS 21

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles. He has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher. He occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado.

He’s the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times. He was and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine.

As an author, he has penned “Kicksology“, “Running Colorado’s Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner.”

Brian Metzler - Boulder Running Company
Brian Metzler - trail running
Brian Metzler - Trail racing
Categories
Asics Reviews

ASICS GEL NIMBUS LITE 2 REVIEW

Coming to JackRabbit, the ASICS GEL Nimbus Lite 2 is a fabulous update on the well-received first edition from 2019. Read Brian Metzler’s review and ready yourself for it’s arrival at JackRabbit stores and online late November 2020.

THE BUZZ

The encore edition of last year’s inaugural ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite is a soft, lightweight, neutral-oriented everyday trainer that will put a bit of a spring in your stride. It’s a reliable high-mileage shoe for a wide range of runners. The new edition is much more versatile, comfortable and stylish than the original.

The Nimbus Lite 2 is somewhat of a hybrid between a traditional cushioned everyday training shoe and a lightweight performance trainer.

You can consider this edition your trusty everyday-of-the-week shoe. Alternatively, you can pick and choose the days you’ll use it based on the running on your schedule.

ASICS GEL Nimbus Lite 2 - What's New

WHAT’S NEW

Even though last year’s original GEL-Nimbus Lite was well-received, this year’s version has been exceptionally revamped and refined. The eco-friendly Flytefoam midsole is softer, more pliable and more sculpted this time around. The internal GEL cushioning packets are softer and noticeably more resilient.

The revised seamless, engineered knit upper is comfortable and effective. This has helped lower the overall weight by a half ounce per shoe.

The wide outsole remains unchanged, with a mix of exposed foam and carbon rubber segments at key places. These are placed to align with common foot strike patterns. The slightly wider footprint allows for maximal ground contact and a touch of inherent stability. The small carbon rubber sections provide enhanced durability and traction in high wear areas.

As with the previous edition, there is no hard plastic support shank under the arch. This means the Nimbus Lite 2 is infinitely flexible and rolls easy from heel to toe.

The bright color motif and modern aesthetics of the GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 puts among the most attractive shoes in the market. We all know that feeling good on a run starts with looking good and this one delivers! There are numerous reflective elements integrated into the shoe, providing greater visibility at night and low-light hours.

ASICS GEL Nimbus Lite 2 - new and improved

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

The step-in feel of the GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 has a soft and plush feel with a performance-oriented fit. The rear of the shoe has a compact fit with a lightly padded heel collar and a thin exoskeleton heel clutch. The saddle is nicely integrated with a lacing system and new engineered knit upper that adapts to different foot shapes and volumes.

The GEL Nimbus Lite 2 feels moderately light the moment you lace it up. When you start running though, it feels light and energetic once you’re in motion.

The midsole is comprised of a single layer of next-generation Flytefoam. The high heel-toe offset gives it a thicker/softer sensation in the heel and a slightly firmer feeling in the forefoot. That allows for comfortable heel-striking strides and snappy toe-offs, especially at higher speeds.

The ride is soft and smooth but also extremely agile and lively. This combination inspires quick-cadence running and a slightly faster pace than most everyday trainers.

The new engineered knit upper of the GEL Nimbus Lite 2 is soft and pliable, but it also offers a touch of support from thin, lightweight 3D-printed overlays (built into the ASICS logo). These help keep the foot locked down on the run. The shoe is just wide enough in the forefoot for the toes to wiggle and splay, but not loose enough to feel sloppy.

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

The GEL-Nimbus Lite 2 is a great choice for a wide range of runners who run with a neutral-oriented gait. Those who appreciate lightweight everyday training shoes will be well-suited to this new edition.

It can be a do-everything training shoe for runners who prefer neutral shoes without much structure or support. It’s also capable of inspiring long runs and faster efforts like tempo runs and fartlek runs.

It could also be a race-day shoe 5K to the half-marathon for novice to intermediate runners.

TECH SPECS

ASICS GEL Nimbus Lite 21

SHOP ASICS GEL NIMBUS LITE 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles. He has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher. He occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado.

He’s the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times. He was and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine.

As an author, he has penned “Kicksology“, “Running Colorado’s Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner.”

Brian Metzler - Les Alpes
Brian Metzler - trail running
Categories
Altra Reviews

ALTRA PARADIGM 5 REVIEW

THE BUZZ

The Altra Paradigm 5 is the ultimate long-haul road runner when it comes to cozy comfort, smart cushioning and moderate control.

The new edition is a soft, smooth-riding max cushioned high-mileage stability shoe with extraordinary shock absorption and energy return attributes.

Tester’s Take:This shoe soft, poppy and fun! It feels like a cushy neutral shoe, but it provides subtle support of a stability shoe.”

Altra Paradigm 5 - What's New

WHAT’S NEW

Altra redesigned and rebuilt the Paradigm and came up with a much better performing shoe this time around. A new upper and integrated Guiderail system is integrated into the springier AlterEgo midsole/outsole chassis. This creates a better fit, feel, ride and look.

The Paradigm provides subtle stability from its medial GuideRail system and the slightly firmer SabiliPods. These pods define three zones of balance for a runner’s foot as it rolls through the gait cycle.

This shoe has an internal heel counter and stabilization unit that integrates with the rear part of the midsole. This helps to reduce awkward movements or inward rolling after impact with the ground.

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

The new Paradigm fits true to size to slightly wider from heel to arch to toe box. However, like all Altra shoes, it has a roomy forefoot that allows your toes to flex and splay.

The step-in feel is exorbitantly plush but not mushy, and the smoothly lined interior gently cusps the rearfoot and midfoot.

On the run, the Paradigm has cushioning for days, but it also serves up precise handling that keeps your foot moving forward without overbearing control.

This new edition is energetic and moderately bouncy, soft but not definitely not sloppy.

Altra Paradigm 5 Review

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

Runners who tend to run a lot of miles and need or want a bit of structural guidance will rave about this shoe. And committed Altra customers, especially those who have run in previous editions of the Paradigm, will absolutely love this shoe.

The Paradigm is the ultimate tool for medium to long runs, well-appointed for recovery runs and light and energetic enough for racing from 10K to beyond the marathon.

Note: The reason Altra builds its shoes on a level platform is to allow the heel and forefoot of a runner’s foot to always be an equal distance from the ground. Unlike shoes with elevated heels and sloping profiles, Altra’s shoes create what the brand calls an optimal foot alignment. This cultivates better running form and encourages a low-impact foot strikes.

Altra Paradigm 5 - Pros

The refinements to the Paradigm have made it slightly lighter and more lively, which helped make it more versatile for a wider range of running. It won’t be your first choice for faster, interval-based workouts, but it’s a shoe that runs lighter than it feels and can hold its own on longer up-tempo efforts.

All Altra shoes are built with a “Footshape” toe box that is wider and more rounded than most other shoes, thus allowing a runner’s toes and the transverse arch to splay and flex to allow for more effective muscular output for natural stability and optimal propulsion at the toe-off phase of a stride.

Altra Paradigm 5 - Cons

One thing to consider about the new Paradgim is that it’s built on a level or “zero-drop” platform and it might take some time to adjust.

Ultimately, we think it’s a great setup for a lot of runners to help their feet move and flex naturally. But if you’ve been running in shoes with a high to moderate heel-toe offset, consider make a gradual transition into Altra shoes built on a level platform.

ALTRA PARADIGM 5:
TECH SPECS

Altra Paradigm 5 - Tech Specs

SHOP ALTRA PARADIGM 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles. He has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher. He occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado.

He’s the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times. He was and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine.

As an author, he has penned “Kicksology“, “Running Colorado’s Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner.”

Brian Metzler - Les Alpes
Brian Metzler - trail running