2018 Summer Shoe Buyer’s Guide

This season’s shoes are lower, lighter and simpler. We’ve tested 15 pairs, from updated old favourites to exciting newcomers.

Ryan Scott |

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18, R2 499

Image by James Garaghty

Those looking for old-school traction, stability and comfort will find it in the 18th version of the Adrenaline. Even though Brooks have made a few small changes, the brand has done nothing drastic to alter their popular neutral road shoe for overpronators. The diagonal roll bar is still prominent in the midsole foam, which offers stability and is now softer. The upper has fewer overlays and a sleek, simple mesh, which means the shoe feels more comfortable.

WEIGHT: 286g
GET IT NOW: brooksrunning-sa.co.za

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V4, R2 000

Image by James Garaghty

The laser-engraved, six-sided hex pattern on the midsole isn’t just geometrically pleasing; it’s designed to receive as much response from the contact point on the ground as possible, and to absorb and respond to those forces most efficiently from all angles. The upper is a snug fit, as it’s been enhanced over the midfoot and heel by New Balance’s Hydrowrap second-skin technology, which will feature on all of the brand’s shoes from now on. The good news for the growing number of runners looking for a smoother transition and ride is that the low-profile shoe has a 6mm drop from heel to toe.

WEIGHT: 241g
GET IT NOW: newbalance.co.za

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V8, R2 700

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New Balance have changed the geometric patterning from convex to concave, which means version 8 of this shoe is still a highly-cushioned, neutral ride. A new laser-engraving technology has been used on the midsole at the heel, which also increases cushioning. Despite a lack of motion-control devices, the shoe feels stable – thanks to a wide base, which flares out on the arch side, and the high-moulded perimeter of the midsole. Testers with wider feet praised the fit – which is roomy, but holds the foot securely. All testers appreciated the ‘underfoot’ feel that the foam provides.

WEIGHT: 314g
GET IT NOW: newbalance.co.za

Altra Duo, R2 299

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In its new road shoe, Altra has stripped away material from the upper but kept major cushioning underfoot. For those who aren’t familiar with Altra shoes, they all have zero drop between the heel and the toe. In the all-new Duo, 31mm of cushioning extends the full length of the shoe; and because the forefoot is broader, it has about as much foam as you can get in a shoe – expect to leave a large, deep footprint. For such a lot of shoe, Altra has managed to keep the Duo extremely light. An ultra-thin breathable upper is partly responsible; and a decoupled outsole moves with the foot, not against it.

WEIGHT: 247g
GET IT NOW: altrafootwearsa.com

Skechers GOMeb Razor, R1 749 (BEST BUY)

Image by James Garaghty

Meb Keflezighi’s training shoe delivers a little more protection underfoot than his race-day choice, the GOMeb Speed 4. But it’s still light and firm. “I loved the sleek fit, feel, and look of this shoe,” says Lauren Garfield, a physiotherapist from Stellenbosch, who regularly maintains a 4:50/km pace. “It was like running with nothing at all on my feet, and the turnover felt quick and natural. These are exactly the type of lightweight, easy and fast shoes that I think of when it comes to summer running.” The flat-knit upper is secure (it won’t stretch) and breathable, while the outsole is made from a thin web of rubber, for a mix of durability and flexibility.

WEIGHT: 172g (women’s size 7)
GET IT NOW: sketcherssa.co.za

Under Armour Speedform Fortis 2, R2 264

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The biggest change is in the upper, which is now made mostly of a breathable mesh that accommodates the shape of the foot with ease. It’s free of overlays and has a well-ventilated weave, which means your foot stays cool and dry. The UA Ultra Sonic Seaming system uses a Bemis tape inside the shoe, as opposed to coarse stitching; which means you can get away with wearing the shoes without socks. Rubber pods on the outsole are durable, but they’re not as smooth as you might expect from a road-running shoe. The overall lightness and comfort of the Fortis 2 will appeal to those looking for a versatile training shoe.

WEIGHT: 252g
GET IT NOW: underarmour.com/en-za

Puma Speed 600 Ignite, R2 599

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Usually, only the lower-numbered shoes in this range – the 100 and 300 – are associated with speed. But the outsole of this version of the 600 has an embedded propulsion zone and a decoupled heel. Combined with a midsole featuring a highly responsive dual layer of foam, it’s ideal for those looking for a faster shoe with a lot of cushioning. You still need to put in the hard work; but when you do, the shoe responds well to speed. Testers found it best suited to any distance shorter than the half marathon. A bonus: the Speed 600 Ignite comes with a free pair of Ignite Netfit 4 (usually R2 199), which features a new lacing system that allows you to lock down your midfoot precisely to your own requirements.

WEIGHT: 309g
GET IT NOW: Puma Stores, 021 551 0832

Saucony Triumph ISO 4, R2 800

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Everun cushioning extends all the way from the heel to the toe in the new Triumph. To get the most out of the shock-absorbing midsole, the outsole has been fully re-configured. Where in previous versions the tread used to run laterally, it now runs from heel to toe. Flex grooves adapt to uneven surfaces for a smoother ride. The ISO upper lockdown and extra overlays are just the same as on the Saucony Guide ISO (top right). Decreased profiles are all the rage in 2017, and this shoe is no exception: it has an 8mm drop off a 28mm stack height.

WEIGHT: 315g
GET IT NOW: www.thesweatshop.co.za, or 021 557 8380

Saucony Guide ISO (update of the Guide 10), R2 500

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The first thing testers noticed was the modified midsole geometry, which is now made from a more responsive foam, PWRFOAM. The improved midsole, combined with the Everun topsole, means this shoe will hold its own no matter what distance the wearer runs. Perhaps the biggest update is the all-new ISOFit upper design, which is also the reason the name of the shoe has changed. The midfoot lockdown is more noticeable, as is the shoe’s increased breathability, due to the addition of enhanced mesh. This new system is a little bulkier than on the Guide 10 – especially at the eyelets for the laces, which could be a bit more subtle.

WEIGHT: 292g
GET IT NOW: www.thesweatshop.co.za, or 021 557 8380

Asics Gel Nimbus 20, R2 699

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The 20th iteration is a plush ride. A combination of FlyteFoam and FluidRide makes up the midsole, and gel cushioning provides shock absorption. Specific parts of the mesh on the upper are more breathable than others, and in other areas it’s closely stitched for added support.

WEIGHT: 306g
GET IT NOW: asics.co.za

Asics GT 2000 6, R2 299 (BEST UPDATE)

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Runners want pronation-control shoes that are also lightweight. In line with this trend, the sixth version of the GT 2000 has been completely redesigned. FlyteFoam – which is lighter and more durable – has replaced FluidRide in the midsole. The Ortholite and Duomax support systems have also been simplified, for a smoother transition. The upper is now a seamless wrap, which makes it the simplest, lightest GT 2000 yet. Testers were blown away by the unique, soft colourways for women.

WEIGHT: 303g
GET IT NOW: asics.co.za

Mizuno Wave Shadow, R1 899 (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

Image by James Garaghty

The Shadow is an all-new shoe that replaces the Sayonara. Mizuno’s performance shoe delivers a comfortable yet fast ride. It has a new Wave plate shape, which is responsive and helps you transition from heel to toe more quickly. Once the transition is complete, a stretchy rubber outsole flexes to assist with fast toe-off. The stretchy forefoot upper is able to move freely, and puts up little resistance. If your current daily trainer is the Wave Rider, the Shadow is a solid choice for speedwork.

WEIGHT: 306g
GET IT NOW: www.thesweatshop.co.za, or 021 557 8380


Image by James Garaghty

Hoka ONE ONE has built its reputation on massively oversized, maximally cushioned shoes, which is why the more mainstream Hupana caught our test crew by surprise. The shoe looks sleek. That’s because its geometry is in line with your everyday training shoes – the stack heights at heel and forefoot are slightly taller than average, but in line with well-cushioned shoes. The knit upper fits a little snugly, and the material doesn’t stretch much; but our runners say it remains comfortable, without any irritating hot spots. “The Hupana would be a great entry point to Hokas for someone who’s been interested in trying them,” says Aaron Bova, a 39-year-old university administrator from Pretoria. “They have the traditional Hoka cushioned feel in the heel, but in the forefoot you feel the road a bit more. Yet they still have great response, and bounce back off the road without being too cushioned.”

WEIGHT: 232g
GET IT NOW: Hoka, 012 660 0016

Reebok Harmony Road 2, R1 899

Image by James Garaghty

Reebok’s Floatride was awarded ‘best debut’ by Runner’s World last year. Understandably, testers were eager to try the new Harmony Road – and they weren’t disappointed. This is an all-rounder: a comfortable option for daily training, due to its soft landing and smooth transition from heel to toe. Its secret ingredient is high-rebound cushioning, created with the BASF company and placed under the heel. From the bottom, it looks like a bowl of pasta – tiny yellow tubes are steam-pressed in a jumble, and all the extra space gives the heel room to compress. The second version of this already popular shoe has an additional lightweight, adaptive medial-arch band in the upper, for more support through the midfoot.

WEIGHT: 300g
GET IT NOW: reebok.co.za

HOKA ONE ONE Arahi 2, R2 150

Image by James Garaghty

The first Arahi was also the first stability shoe from Hoka ONE ONE. It included a large band of firmer, medially-positioned, ‘J’-shaped foam and an exaggerated wide base, to prevent overpronation. (Most other shoes provide this kind of support via a medial post.) Hoka’s trademark generous cushioning is still a feature in the second version of the Arahi – it has a low overall heel-to-toe drop, at just 5mm. The upper is the only thing that has changed: new overlays make for a slightly altered fit.

WEIGHT: 263g
GET IT NOW: Hoka 012 660 0016

adidas UltraBoost Laceless, R3 299

Image by James Garaghty

Boost cushioning celebrates its fifth birthday this year. The outsole it’s used in spans the entire length of the shoe, offering wearers maximum cushioning and a plush ride. Testers experimented with UltraBoost Uncaged by removing the laces to see if the Primeknit upper fitted well enough to lock down the foot without the laces. It did, but in doing so it compromised the design. adidas responded by removing the laces, adding an enhanced compression and expansion zone over the area where the laces usually go, and redesigning the collar. The foot is now locked into place snugly, and yet it feels free. The result is a road-running shoe that performs over all distances, and looks just as good worn as a casual shoe.

WEIGHT: 298g
GET IT NOW: adidas.co.za

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