On’s ‘fastest ever running shoe’ weighs in at a feather-light 220g. Of course, the Swiss brand’s trademark ‘cloud’ cushioning remains, but the shoes other elements are stripped back to the extreme. The midsole, for example, well, there isn’t one. Instead, On have opted for a thin and flexible Speedboard – saving on weight and maximising the push-off phase.
The upper, too, is indicative of On’s drive to ‘deliver everything with nothing’; thin mesh is reinforced by an Exoskeleton design that keeps your foot locked in without feeling restrictive. The durability of the Cloudflash will be called into question if you’re looking to clock marathon miles, but for summer speed you won’t find a more responsive, at-one-with-your-foot option.
The Escalante might be a zero-drop road shoe, but it still ticks all the boxes when it comes to comfort. It’s also supportive and grippy, and the knitted upper hugs nicely around the top of the foot. Altra’s go-to wide forefoot space allows your toes to splay, while the sleek nature of the design keeps everything feeling locked in place.
The midsole, though, is the real star of the show and an exciting breakthrough from the Cheshire-based brand; offering a responsive and springiness to rival that of the adidas Boost and Saucony Everun. If you’re looking to switch to a more minimalist style of running, this could work as a transition shoe. But if not, the bouncy and cushioned nature of the sole makes it a solid option for shorter, quicker runs.
Divisive as a calculator, HOKA shoes split runners into two camps: those who think they’re the comfiest shoes in the world and those who see them as the antithesis of natural running. The Conquest 3 is a maximal stability shoe that’s unlikely to unite those camps, but it does what it aims to do brilliantly.
The upper is made from a breathable, air mesh material that does everything it needs to do without being anything groundbreaking. The real star of the show is the typically in-your-face, full-length midsole cushioning; complimented by a dual-layer midsole built with an EVA top-layer that provides a nice, firm ride, with all the protection and stability you could ever ask for.
The MetaRun was released in November of 2015 with all the fanfare and jargon-loaded promises that we’ve come to expect from a lead brand’s new shoe. With a new and improved FlyteFoam midsole – made with organic, instantly re-forming fibers – a small carbon stability system (AdaptTruss) and MetaClutch external heel counter, it certainly sounds like a marathoner’s dream.
And there’s no denying that it provides a smooth ride; the upper fits like a glove and the FlyteFoam provides just enough cushioning without hampering speed. Unless pronation detriments your running, however, the AdaptTruss stability system will feel clunky and unnecessary. Worth the considerable sum?