Sunday, November 20, 2011

Altra Adam Shoe Review

The Altra Adam has become my favorite all around minimalist running shoe.  However, it is not my favorite road running shoe, trail shoe, or casual shoe I have ever worn, but it is solid in every application.

The Adam is Altra's version of a mininimalist shoe.  Unlike the Altra Instinct, the Adam is a true minimimst shoe.  Like every other Altra shoe, it is completely level or what Altra terms as zero drop.  I find the Adam to be one of the best shoes at allowing a natural mid-foot strike.  The shoe just feels like an extension of my foot.

It has an extremely flexible, durable and thin out-sole with zero cushioning. The Adam has exceptional ground feel especially when the two insoles (support insole and strengthening insole) provided by Altra are removed.  I would say the ground feel is on par with the Vibram KSO.  When running on the roads, I take the insoles out but when I take the Adam on the trails, I put the "strengthening" insole in to provide just a bit more protection.  For me the Adam can handle just about any trail as long as it isn't too technical or rocky.   

I have put several miles on the Adam and the out-sole shows no wear to speak of.  Since there is no EVA to breakdown, this shoe can be worn until you wear a hole through the out-sole or the upper breaks down.

Also like the KSO the Adam has siped out-sole to provide greater traction.  The traction is adequate in most conditions that runners will face.  The only exception would be extremely wet sloppy trails.  

The Adam is extremely light weight.  My size 10.5 weigh only 6.3 oz making them one of the lightest shoes I own. The Adam is also foot shaped and thus has a wide toebox but not as wide as the Altra Instinct which I believe is a positve.  Any wider and the shoe would feel too sloppy.  I have worn the Adam on roads on the trails and just casually and it has replased my KSO and my Komodosport as my go to multipurpose shoe.  I can't say enough positive things about this shoe but it is not with out its faults.

The Adam is a great shoe but it is not perfect.  The upper of the Adam needs some work.  The actual material is very soft and moves very well with the foot.  It also breaths very well but  it has some large seams that caused hotspots on my first sockless run.  The seams have softened a bit since that first run but I tend to where socks with the Adam to avoid potential issues.

 The upper is also secured with two velcro straps.  One that cinches close to the ankle and one the cinches closer to the toes.  Velcro allows a shoe to be slipped on and off quickly but it can lead to some unwanted movement in the shoe.  I really appreciate a shoe that allows toe movement but I do not like shoes that allow my foot to slide forward or backward. Therefore, I used to tighten both straps pretty snug but I found that if the toe strap is too tight it restricts the movement of the toes and creates a hot spot where the the straps meets my pinky toe.

Now I only tighten the ankle strap to reduce movement of my foot.  However, my foot still has a tendency to slide around a bit in the shoe especially on trails where the surface is uneven.  Fortunately, Altra is coming out with a laced version of the Adam called the Samson.  This maybe my perfect shoe as it will have all of the great features of the Adam but should fix any of the fit problems with the velcro straps.  I am anxious to get my hands on a pair of them.

For the reasons mentioned above the Adam is not my go to trail shoe or my favorite road shoe or even my favorite casual shoe but if I could only buy one shoe for road running, trail running, and casual wear, the Adam would be at the top of a very short list.  As always, you can and should pick the Altra Adam up from the Natural Running Store.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kigo Drive Shoe Review

The Kigo Drive has recently become my new favorite casual shoe.  While minimalist running shoes have exploded, there are only a handful minimalist zero drop casual shoes on the market and Kigo has developed a truly great product to fill a large void in my shoe collection.

The Drive has everything that I look for in a minimalist shoe.  It is built completely level from the heel to toe.  This is often the biggest challenge I have in finding a casual shoe.  After running only in zero drop shoes, it feels awkward to put on any shoe with a large heel to toe drop.  The Drive features a 2 mm out-sole that provides great ground feel that is enhanced by removing the insole.  The out-sole also has more than adequate traction with their "fingerprint" tread.

With the out-sole only being 2 mm it is no surprise that the Drive is extremely flexible.

The Drive is also extremely light weight.  My size 10.5 Drive's weigh a measly 5.7oz without the insole.  The Kigo Drive features speed laces which quickly allow you to adust how snug or loose you prefer to wear them.  I generally like to wear them as loose as possible to increase the width of the shoe.

What really separates Kigo from many other shoe companies, is their dedication to create environmentally friendly foot wear that emphasizes using recycled material and low carbon output production.

While the Drive is a very good casual shoe, there are still a few elements that can be improved. The Kigo Drive toe box is wider than most traditional shoes but comes to a pretty abrupt point.  If Kigo rounded the toe box more the shoe would feel much wider. The out-sole is pretty flexble right around the arch area but directly under the forefoot the Drive is much less flexible.

The Kigo Drive has become my all around favorite casual shoe.  I have worn them in just about every setting except when dresser shoes are required.  They are extremely comfortable to wear without socks and even though I dislike wearing most shoes for any extended period of time, I do not mind having the Drives on my feet.  I have not yet run in these shoes since that isn't their intended purpose but I really haven't found any reason why they couldn't work as a minimal running shoe.  I have confidence that cinching the speed laces  down would secure the Drive enough to my foot to allow for any type of run.  That being said, I have enough shoes that are designed to be run in unless curiosity gets the better of me, I won't be taking these out for a run anytime soon.  As always if you want to purchase a pair the Kigo Drive.  I can't recommend enough getting them from the Natural Running Store.