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PUMA FAAS 500v2 Trail Shoe review

#ForeverFaster

Caution Endurance Event in Progress

Caution Endurance Event in Progress

PUMA have come along way since the days of the NightFox and the TrailFox trail shoes, so far in fact that it is almost hard to believe that those shoes and the shoe we are reviewing today come from the same stable. Not to say that the previous models were bad. Rather it is a testament to how technology and science behind manufacturing, state of the art, performance gear has advanced. As trail running popularity is growing in leaps and bounds (excuse the pun) all the major shoe manufacturer’s are keeping their fans happy with gear purpose built for smashing through the toughest of terrains. Some go a more balanced route like the PUMA FAAS 300v2 Trail Shoe which we reviewed a few months back and some go all out manic!

We are happy to report that PUMA have not neglected the most hardcore of the trail running community. Those that shun the idea of having to put time on the road, those of us who are offended by single shot skinny latte’s. Those of us who would rather have a double shot full cream cortado put some extra hairs on our chest. You get balanced and then you get crazy, and that is how we would describe the Faas 500v2 TR… certifiably nuts!! I mean just look at them…

Aggression personified in a shoe!

Aggression personified in a shoe!

Now before we get ahead of ourselves we are not saying that PUMA have nailed it and can now sit back, rest on their laurels while the other brands try to catch up. No, not at at all. They have come a long way since the TrailFox released in 2006 but they still have a ways to go, but more on that later. Lets dig into the specs and see what makes this shoe tick before we make any suggestions on improvements.

OutSole:

Right off the bat you can see these shoes mean business. Just look at that grip. If we had to liken these shoes to an animal it would hands down be a Velociraptor. If the unfortunate humans who became dinosaur food in Jurassic Park were wearing these shoes while running through the jungles we think they might have had a bit more screen time. With the claw like talons protruding from the bottom of the outsole there is plenty of grip, and confidence to go with it. We were almost too nervous to run easy in these shoes for fear of them slapping us and telling us to get a move on! As we see in pretty much every PUMA running shoe the Faas 500v2 TR features the brilliant ‘EverGrip’ technology which according to PUMA is ‘Abrasion-resistant’. If by ‘Abrasion-resistant’ they mean that the shoe doesn’t wear very fast then yes, I would say it is very ‘Abrasion-Resistant.’ I was happy to see that the lugs on the outsole did not crack or break off after some pretty long (7 hours plus on one instance at UTCT) and technical runs. Value for money will always be a major factor when purchasing a new pair of shoes and for us these shoes score brilliantly in durability. Think DuraCell Bunny. Multi-Direction lugs give you plenty grip on the up hills, through the technical singletrack and also provide some breaking force on the down hills.

Claw-like outsole.

Claw-like outsole.

MidSole:

The Faas 500v2 TR has a slightly more plush ride than the Fass 300v2 TR we mentioned earlier. With a stack height of 22mm at the forefoot and 26mm at the heel and a 4mm footbed there is plenty of cushioning without completely taking away any feedback you might want to get from the trail. A 4mm heel-to-toe drop encourages a midfoot strike which we like a lot. Even though you get some extra cushioning you won’t sacrifice on the weight. The shoes still weight in around the 340g mark. As the name suggests the Faas 500v2 TR features PUMA’s lightweight and versatile Faas foam midsole. The midsole is built to provide a more gradual transition from heel to midfoot by slowing down the rate of pronation. This is done by some ‘release grooves’ in the midsole. These grooves give a little more flex to the midsole by dispersing the force generated from running evenly throughout the midsole. While we found this worked fantastically well on hard pack or more ‘flatter’ surfaces unfortunately it did add a bit of instability on the super technical terrain. We found there was a little too much lateral movement at times causing the ankle to roll slightly to the outside of the shoe. Nothing major, but just enough to be aware of it. In terms of cushioning the midsole felt exactly like a Faas midsole, consistent in that it was comfy and smooth as the Faas foam is.

Plenty of grip to open the taps with confidence.

Plenty of grip to open the taps with confidence.

Upper:

This is where version 2 has received the most upgrades from the first version of the Faas 500 TR. The Upper has been upgraded with PUMA’s WeaveMesh technology. This provides the midfoot with a lot more support and really does make the shoe feel snug and fit well. One thing we notice with more ‘cushioned, higher mileage’ shoes is that they can feel cumbersome and a bit sluggish but the Faas 500v2 TR does very well to still give you a spring in your step. The WeaveMesh plays a big part in this. The Gaiter-compatibility and the Gusseted tongue will keep debris and unwanted irritations like little stones etc. out of the shoe, a welcome advantage when running for hours on end. PUMA were one of the first major brands to feature Ortholite’s EcoOrthoLite technology in their shoes. The technology has proved to be very popular and the Faas 500v2 TR features a sockliner made of that same technology. The benefits of this include advanced breathability, moisture control, and anti-microbial properties. All of these aid in preventing chaffing. Another great advantage for those long runs.

We also found that the heel cup and tongue of the shoe came up nice and high on the ankle which provide great support on the technical stuff. Even though the release grooves in the midsole let the shoe down a bit the added support on the ankle more than made up for it. Having said that if you prefer more movement around the ankle this shoe might not work for you.

The Upper as a whole looks incredibly solid. We have yet to see any tears or breakages in the mesh after a good few long runs in some dense terrain.

EcoOrthoLite Technology in the sock liner.

EcoOrthoLite Technology in the sock liner.

What would we improve?

So earlier I said that PUMA have come a long way since the TrailFox but that we still feel they have a little way to go before they have an industry changer on their hands (in the trail shoe department). As great as this shoe is we still believe there is something missing. You see I unfortunately blame Puma for this. I blame them because of a little shoe called the PUMA IGNITE. The IGNITE midsole has ruined the Faas midsole (and almost any other midsole for that matter) for me, the one piece IGNITE foam is so insanely comfortable and responsive the Faas foam feels like a stack of A4 pieces of paper stuck on top of each other with Pritt glue. Don’t get me wrong, the Faas midsole is comfortable! It has worked for PUMA for years! I have an 8 hour trail run in the blistering rain at the 2015 Ultra Trail Cape Town with no blisters or sore feet to prove it. The Faas midsole is fantastic, but stacked against the IGNITE midsole it doesn’t even come close.

We hope a day will come when PUMA start bringing out trail shoes with the IGNITE midsole as a feature, for us that would be a game changer! On that day Trail Runners perception of PUMA as a trail running shoe will literally change forever. Unfortunately that probably won’t be a reality for a good year or two, maybe even 3. So we will just have to be happy with the Faas foam for now, till our dreams of an IGNITE Trail are realised.

Grip for days.

Grip for days.

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Puma FAAS 300 v2 TR Review

Let me ask you a question? Why is it that you think we as runners read these types of reviews? Is it for insight, or is it maybe that we don’t always trust the marketing “schpeals” that come with the shoe? It could even just be for pure entertainment, for example I thoroughly enjoy watching the Ginger Runner reviews for a good laugh. Mostly though I think it is because we would like to know how the product handles in the real world on real trails etc. It’s easy to read a bunch of complicated high tech and fancy sounding words but until you actually run in the shoe, one has no idea how it is going to play out in the real world.

It is because of this fact that I believe Trail and Mountain Running as a sport is really starting to hit a sweet spot at the moment. 5 years ago we were very limited in terms of shoe options, as well as kit and accessories options. As the sport has grown and as more and more events are filling up the calendar companies are really putting their R&D budgets to work to ensure they stay ahead of the curve. (Sometimes they go a little too far ahead like these particular what-ya-ma-call-its??? but hey let’s not blame them for wanting to push the envelope). This also means that existing models are being revamped often, as technology improves and companies receive constructive feedback from their pro athletes and customers. What this means for us as trail runners is that we are no longer scraping the bottom of the barrel to find good quality products to feed our hunger for the dirt. Companies like Puma that were solely a lifestyle, road, track and field brand have started developing competitive ‘trail-specific’ shoes that are really going to shake a few tree’s once word gets out how good they actually are.

Which brings me back to this review, the cool cats at Puma South Africa very generously sent me a pair of the FAAS 300 v2 TR in the recently launched ‘NightCat Camo’ edition and straight out the box these shoes were made to impress. (For our review on the ladies FAAS 300 TR version 1 click here.) Looks wise they are stunning, as you can see from the images they really are a very photogenic shoe with the “360 degrees of camo-inspired reflectivity which makes you visible in the dark” (hence the name ‘NightCat’). Let’s face it, running is way better when your kit looks cool whether it’s in the day time or at night :)

2015-03-07 09.00.01-1The outsole features a high abrasion resistant rubber in high wear areas which gives the outsole added durability, all that means is that they have put a material that lasts longer on the parts of the shoe that usually wears down the fastest. Trail shoes take a pounding on sharp rocks, loose gravel, and running through mud so added durability is always a plus in my book. This is also one of the key features that makes this shoe a great trail to tar shoe, not all of us live in the Alps or at the Western States trail head so some tar running is usually needed to get to the trail. These shoes are great for that, one of my favourite features of this shoe is that they are just as comfortable on the road as they are on the trail.

The multi-directional lugs, which are found in most trail shoes worth looking at, provide that added stability and grip on the steeper descents. We trail runners appreciate that extra stability when things get a little hairy. I will be honest, when I saw the outsole I thought to myself that Puma might have made a decent road shoe with some off road capabilities. Thankfully looks can be deceiving and I was sheepishly surprised after taking the shoe onto the trail and finding out that the grip was magic. The shoe holds it’s own out on the trail and they did not shy away from the technical rocky sections. The rock grip of the shoe is decent, I experienced very little slippage jumping between the larger rocks. It usually takes me a few runs before I can ‘trust’ the capabilities of a shoe to really open up the taps. After only a few km’s into the first run I felt like I had been running in the shoe for months which is one of the best things Puma has going for this shoe. Have you ever met someone for the first time and after a coffee and a good chat you feel like you have been friends for years, that’s what it was like for me and the FAAS 300 v2 TR.

The outsole can't wait to get a grip!

The midsole, as with all the other FAAS models, Puma has gone with their FAAS Foam which is a lightweight one-piece blend of foam and rubber and it really is light and it really is comfortable, oh and it really is fast! This shoe is light, in fact they are just over 230g for a pair of size 8’s which by our standards is very pleasantly light. Again the comfort of the midsole and the lighter weight make it a great tar to trail shoe. Not everyone has the finances to buy a pair of shoes for every kind of terrain so if you are looking for a shoe that isn’t a “jack of all trade’s and master of none” but actually performs when you need it to this is definitely one of the best shoes out there. The FAAS Foam takes the impact of the tar as well as protecting the foot from sharp rocks on the trail. There is no rock plate but I found that it really isn’t necessary as the midsole provides adequate protection, this also keeps the shoe very flexible and allows for a fast roll off on the toe, as you can see from the image below.

The flexibility of the shoe is great!

The Upper of the shoe has been designed really well, it features minimal ‘no-sew’ overlays which provide great support to the foot. On the trail the more support you get the better. The ‘no-sew’ overlays also mean less abrasion on the foot inside the shoe, this helps to prevent blisters very well. The shoe breathes and displaces water incredibly well, having water sloshing around in the shoe after running through a river or a stream is not fun at all, thanks to what Puma calls it’s “Air Mesh Upper” water is able to escape fairly quickly and your foot can breathe better on those hot summer days. One of the fun features that I have begun to appreciate is a small ‘pocket’ at the top of the tongue that you can fold the laces into, I hate having laces flapping around while I run so this was a great feature, plus it keeps the shoe looking super fast and sleek which my OCD enjoys thoroughly.

The only issue I have with the shoe is the narrow toe box, although in the shoe’s defense I do have freakishly wide feet so for a normal size foot they would more than likely be fine but I personally did find the toe box quite narrow. As you can see from the image below it could actually be the sole itself which is a bit too narrow for my feet (see how my foot stretches out over the sole in the load phase). Next time I will go for 1 size up (like I had to do with the New Balance Fresh Foam) and see if that makes a difference. If you, like me, have a more wider foot try fitting a half size or full size bigger than you would normally go for.

Notice how my foot stretches over the sole in the load phase.

I do believe Puma has made a massive effort to improve a number of key areas of the shoe, some areas I would have liked to see an improvement were left out (specifically wider toe box) but the version 2.0 is monumentally better than the version 1.0 – in fact it is probably the best improvement I have ever experienced between different models of a shoe on all the brands of shoes I have run in. The key is that they made lots of small adjustments that most people might miss and say ah it looks just like version 1. Trust me, it is not! Those little adjustments and improvements add up to one great shoe. When those pesky software updates come out for my iPhone I don’t always install them, some of them are lame and change my phone so much I don’t even recognise it. This, though, is definitely one of those “software updates” you want to do. #ForeverFaster

lightweight flexibility turning into speed :)

 

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PUMA Faas 300 Women’s Trail Shoe Review

 

PUMA Faas 300

The ladies will like this!

If I think of female super hero’s Cat Woman usually comes to mind, for me she has always been one of the best and most fiercest of all the female super hero’s. Being one of DC Comic’s master’s of villainy she would always prove to be a fierce rival and a force to be reckoned with. Her Cat-like agility and stealthy thievery enables her to thwart even the strongest and toughest of opponents. If Cat Woman had a hobby, it would be trail running, and she would be pretty darn amazing at it with her fierce agility and power.

Now unfortunately for the ladies out there, you can’t all be Cat Woman but fear not because the team at PUMA have given you the next best thing, the PUMA Faas 300 Trail Shoe. Designed specifically for ladies who crave those cat like reflexes and agility that Cat Woman seems to enjoy so much!

Sole of the PUMA Faas 300

Right out of the box it is clear that this shoe means business. The sole of the PUMA Faas 300 is littered with claw like lugs just waiting to tear at the dirt and rocks as you whisk along the single track, just like Cat Woman would leap and skip between buildings with her loot on a moonless night in Gotham. Running on wet, muddy or loose gravel will give you great confidence in the grip of the shoe, our tester even said, “They are super grippy, I could even probably walk up an acute angled wall if all the odds were in my favour.” Once you hit the hard pack don’t think yourself crazy to stop and check if the lugs (read claws) have retracted into the sole as the spacing between the lugs (read claws) and the comfort of the Faas Foam gives you a wonderfully smooth and flat ride on the harder stuff.

Staying with the sole lets look at the midsole, PUMA have used their Faas Foam throughout the midsole which gives the shoe a great ride and is very comfortable (according to our lady tester, Lona Trew-Browne). They say a cat always lands on her feet and with this mid and outer sole any lady is going to be happy to land on her feet on a rugged and technical trail. One of my favourite aspects of the PUMA Faas 300 is how PUMA have managed to give the shoe a decent and comfortable amount of cushioning while still keeping it light, agile and in a ‘minimal-shoe’ bracket. The one thing that it is missing though(which has been added to the V2 model) is a rock-plate which along with the Faas Foam keeps the shoe nicely flexible but does slightly lack in the under-foot protection department.

Heel to toe drop on the PUMA Faas 300 will bring you out at 8.0mm with Heel Height of 26.4mm and a Forefoot Height of 18.4mm. These measurements with the pliability of the Faas Foam gives you a very lightweight shoe weighing in at fierce 8oz. (or 225g).

The PUMA Faas 300 Upper

The Upper has not let down in the comfort and agility department either with a padded tongue as well as a cushioned heel bridge. PUMA have gone with an upper that is reinforced with their Translucent Webcage Technology and has a dual density mesh throughout which is very effective in keeping dust and dirt out of the shoe.

The Look

One benefit of buying shoes that are made by one of the largest Lifestyle and Sport Shoe manufacturer’s in the world is you are sure to get some great colour options. This particular pair came in a flaming purple which will definitely turn a few heads, yet it is dark enough to hide the dirt a bit longer than a lighter colour.

So there you have it ladies, there can be only one Cat Woman but thanks to the team at PUMA everyone can run like her.

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