Tag Archives: forever faster

Don’t Run, IGNITE!

Yes, we know this is a road shoe :) Trail Runners also run on the tar, occasionally, and since we hate wasting the amazing grip of our trail shoe on the tar here is a review of a road specific shoe so you can save your lugs for hugging the mud.

Enter the Puma #IGNITE:

Don't run, #IGNITE

Don’t run, #IGNITE

Every now and then a shoe comes out that even before you have seen it in the flesh you know it is going to be a great shoe! It is usually accompanied by a very good marketing campaign and a few pro athletes throwing their hard earned experience in with the shoe to create a demand that will hopefully exceed the supply, and catapult the companies new creation into legendary status. Has Puma achieved that with the IGNITE? Have they set a new industry standard? First impressions would say a definite “hell yeah”!

Puma, for me, has always been one of the coolest and hippest brands of shoe out there. Their Lifestyle collections are jaw droppingly stunning, but if I am brutally honest I have often found that they haven’t quite been able to carry that innovation, style, class and industry shaking ‘PUMA-ness’ into their performance ranges as well as I would have hoped. There is no denying the shoes are good, Usain Bolt wouldn’t be running in them if they weren’t, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that Puma was missing a shoe for the non-lightning-like and aspiring speedsters to enjoy and thrive in. My hopes were realised when a comet came crashing into my life. A comet in the shape of a brand spanking new pair of the recently launched Puma IGNITES!

The IGNITES are designed from the inspiration of a comet.

The IGNITES are designed from the inspiration of a comet.

Once they cooled down enough after entering the earths atmosphere at a serious speed I was able to put them on for the first time and man were they comfortable! The soft, ultra-thin suede tongue was the first thing I noticed. There is nothing worse than a thick tongue digging into the top of your feet and these are so thin you actually forget they are there, yet they still disperse the lace pressure perfectly over your foot. The sock liner is a molded EVA and is another great feature that adds to the comfort. The fact that there are no sew lines inside the shoe means the shoe really fits around your feet like a glove, making your IGNITE experience a really fast one.

Puma have labelled this shoe their “most responsive running shoe ever” and they are not wrong. The IGNITE midsole is made from Puma’s PU foam which offers a high-rebounding ride which really does disperse the impact of the forces generated while running extremely well, yet the shoe still offers an incredible amount of response and feedback through your feet which enables you to turn all of that cool sounding stuff into some serious speed! Some shoes are so focused on cushioning that you lose out on actually feeling what’s going on underneath you, you are basically made to run with pillows strapped to your feet at the expense of all your agility, power and fun-factor. The IGNITES take the best of what’s out there in terms of cushioning and still allows you to run like a cat through your city. Mobile. Agile. Free. Lets face it this shoe is hot, probably one of the best looking shoes that have been launched in the last while. The designer, Jacob Garia, designed the shoe around a comet. We think he nailed it!

Outside is free.

Along with the cushioning and responsiveness the shoe is incredibly light off the toe as you roll through your running gait, some shoes feel lethargic through the ‘toe-off’ phase but Puma have given the shoe amazing flexibility through the forefoot flex grooves. The other aspect of this I really enjoy is that the shoe actually stays together at the points where the forefoot flexes and moves as you run. Some shoes start pulling off the mid-sole or the logo starts separating from the upper as the shoe flexes and it is really annoying, the quality Puma have nailed with this shoe is going to ruffle some serious feathers in the industry. The mid-sole also features some clever and very cool looking Chevron flex grooves along the side of the sole, at first I thought it was just for show but they add a decent amount of flexibility to the sole which again turns effortlessly into some serious speed. Thanks to Puma’s EverTrack technology the high-wear areas of the shoe are beefed up with some added durability.

No excuses, only endorphins.

No excuses, only endorphins.

Not only are the clever cats at Puma clever enough to design this stellar shoe but they are also clever enough to know that people don’t just buy brands for the sake of buying brands, people buy brands because they want to belong to a community. When you buy a pair of IGNITES you are not just buying a pair of shoes, you are buying into a community. With the connectivity of social media that is not just a local community, but a global one. Thanks to Puma’s app, PumaTrac, runners looking to get fit have run out of excuses. City’s compete against each other using their various hashtags (for us Capetonians it’s #IGNITECapeTown) and the app features a variety of rewards and challenges to accomplish. If ever you needed some decent motivation, this is it. The other day I found myself not feeling like a run but then the thought of JHB, Durban or even Mumbai catching up to us was enough to make sure I laced up my shoes and hit the ground running. #NoExcuses.

2015-03-27 14_FotorPuma are completely revolutionizing how their customers are responding to their brand and their products. Now instead of just being one of the top shoe salesman in the world they are facilitating everything a runner needs for success in his or her running career. They are literally creating a platform for the brand to be there for their fans. Every. Step. Of. The. Way! They have built a world wide community, which is why they can confidently say, “Don’t run, #IGNITE!”.

Puma… We the fans, salute you!

Don't run, IGNITE!

Don’t run, IGNITE!

 

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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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