for those who love the outdoors

18 August, 2023


The rise of the super shoe

After the launch and near explosion of ‘super shoes’ onto the market, it seems like most people are now wearing carbon-plated models on race day. Here we take a look at some of the latest training shoes aiming to give you race-day level performance in a daily trainer.

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Many of the big brands are taking the learnings and technologies from their racing models and putting them into everyday trainers. It’s not just carbon plates, but the latest high-tech foams that are being utilised in daily mileage shoes.

Saucony – Kinvara Pro - £200.00

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The Saucony Kinvara Pro is a great example of a brand mixing racing and training shoe technologies to create something a little different.

The brand’s PWRRUN PB foam provides a layer of highly responsive cushioning as found on the Endorphin Pro model and combines it with the foam usually used on the everyday training shoe models, PWRRUN.

Of course, sandwiched between these two layers is a carbon plate. At 42mm deep, there’s no shortage of cushioning and what cushioning it is!

Saucony’s Speedroll midsole geometry gives the shoe an enhanced ‘rocker’ shape and this works particularly well in the Kinvara Pro given the deep stack of cushioning running all the way through into the forefoot.

From the word go, the deep stack height and responsive feel combine to soak up the impact of the road, but with an energised feel that simply keeps on giving. The shoe feels smooth and fast, encouraging a fast cadence and almost teasing you to increase the pace.

For me, the shoe has become a model that I’ve been reaching for more and more before heading out on my daily training runs. At anything from easy recovery jogs to faster-paced tempo runs, the shoe just feels great.

The real benefit of the shoe is that it provides that super responsive feel but in a more durable package. Saucony seems to have got the combination of the two midsole foams just right too, with the shoe offering enough built-in stability as well as the all-import ‘energy return’.

The upper of the Kinvara Pro is a relatively simple affair, not that it really needs to be anything else. It does the job well and offers a great fit around the foot, accommodating most foot shapes and sizes very well.


Name: Saucony Kinvara Pro

Price: £200 / $220

Weight: Men’s 269g / 9.5oz Women’s 240g / 8.5oz

Heel stack: 42mm

Toe Stack: 34mm

Drop: 8mm

New Balance – FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2 - £210.00

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The original version of the SuperComp Trainer from New Balance broke the rule book with a super-deep 50mm stack height. Above the World Athletics rules for competition, the SuperComp still provided a great option for those wanting maxed-out cushioning and carbon-plate performance.

Now returning in the v2, the SuperComp has been slimmed down somewhat to 40mm (bang on the World Athletics limit) yet still offers amazing cushioning and performance.

Utilising the brand's FuelCell cushioning and combining it with their Energy Arc carbon plate, the shoe has a real race-day feel with trainer durability.

The overall feel of the shoe is very similar to the brand's racing model with the differences coming down to a slightly restyled upper and different density of the FuelCell foam.

A contoured carbon plate sitting over a void in the midsole adds a highly responsive feel to the shoe and as well as feeling much more stable than the first version, the v2 has an overall feel of being much more centred or focussed on the forward propulsion. It’s a great, fast-riding shoe that has been my go-to choice for marathon-paced focussed sessions.

As with many shoes of this nature, the upper is a pretty straightforward design and here it has a durable feel to it despite being highly breathable and lightweight.


Name: New Balance FuelCell SuperComp trainer v2

Price: £210 / $180

Weight: Men’s 288g / 10.2oz Women’s 226g / 8oz

Heel stack: 40mm

Toe Stack: 34mm

Drop: 6mm

Brooks – Hyperion / Hyperion GTS - £140.00

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Ok, so bear with me on this one. While the Hyperion and Hyperion GTS might not be classed as ‘super-shoes’ as they lack a carbon plate, they do offer a nitrogen-infused, DNA Flash midsole and the two models combined provide options for both neutral runners and those requiring a little more stability. So, with a super-foam, versatile options and a non-super shoe price tag, they deserve a closer look.

Brooks add the GTS moniker as a suffix to their shoes that provide ‘Go-To-Stability’ versions of the neutral model, hence the Hyperion and Hyperion GTS.

These models now feature the brand's DNA Flash midsole material, a Nitrogen infused foam similar to that used in the range-topping Glycerin training shoes.

This foam offers a great level of ‘energy-return’ yet is very durable and it’s this great performance that makes the shoe both a great racer-trainer and a good value shoe.

The lack of carbon plate doesn’t matter too much, as, believe it or not, some people just don’t get along with them, finding them too stiff. So again, it’s always good to have options and this model ticks a lot of boxes.

The shoe is light, flexible and incredibly responsive in a very natural manner with nice feedback from the road and of course, for those requiring a little more support or control the GTS option provides.

If you want a fast shoe that’s uncomplicated, then this is the answer.


Name: Brooks Hyperion / Hyperion GTS

Price: £140 / $0

Weight: Men’s 224g / 7.9oz Women’s 207g / 7.3oz

Heel stack: 25mm

Toe Stack: 17mm

Drop: 8mm

ASICS – Superblast - £210.00

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Taking many of the design features from the Metaspeed racing models, the Superblast is essentially a super shoe for more frequent use.

With a combination of the brands FF Blast+ and FF Turbo midsole materials, ASICS have created a lightweight and highly responsive shoe that is capable of daily miles with added oomph!

At a faster pace, the shoe comes alive and the responsive midsole with the aggressive forefoot rocker encourages a quicker cadence and pace.

Even without a carbon plate, the shoe feels aggressive on toe-off, perhaps thanks to the combination of the dual midsole layers and the ‘illegal’ (for racing) 45mm stack, which in itself necessitates the need for such a strong rocker design.

The FF Turbo gives the ‘spring’ while the FF Blast helps out with general cushioning and improves long-term durability making this a great all-rounder.

Again, a simple, lightweight mesh upper does the job and keeps the weight down while the outsole provides much more coverage than the brand’s racing models to improve durability.

The shoe does look rather big and bulky, but the lightweight means it does disappear around the foot and it certainly falls into the racing shoe weight domain.

The ASICS Superblast is a unisex fit, meaning it is essentially built on a men’s last that goes down to accommodate the smaller women’s sizes. With that in mind, women should be cautious of the overall fit and particularly the width of the shoe and perhaps visit a local retailer to try the shoes in the first instance.


Name: ASICS Superblast

Price: £210 / $280

Weight: unisex style 239g / oz

Heel stack: 45.5mm

Toe Stack: 37.5mm

Drop: 8mm

HOKA – Mach X - £160.00

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The Mach has always been a performance training shoe but now it's been taken to the next level with the addition of a new PEBA and EVA midsole as well as a Pebax plate.

PEBA is a type of midsole foam used in a lot of running shoes; it’s the soft spring stuff and the Mach X is just the second shoe from HOKA to use this newer midsole foam. The other shoe in the brand’s line-up is the Rocket X2 and apart from that model, all the shoes, even previous generations of the Rocket X simply featured the more traditional EVA foam midsoles.

The addition of PEBA foam brings the brand right up to speed in terms of technology and means they’ve finally caught up to the competition.

The Pebax midsole plate sits between the PEBA and EVA foams and takes the place of a carbon plate. The feel is similar enough to that provided by a carbon plate and if it means it keeps the shoe at this price rather than £200 plus then that’s a good thing.

The ride of the shoe is soft and almost bouncy and with the combination of plate and midsole rocker, it provides an enjoyable daily running experience.

It’s a shoe that is designed for a daily performance training, but it’s light enough to be a racer and responsive enough to keep pace with many other racers on the market, so it’s a very versatile option for a wide range of runners.


Name: HOKA Mach X

Price: £160 / $0

Weight: Men’s 266g / 9.4oz Women’s 227g / 8oz

Heel stack: 39mm

Toe Stack: 34mm

Drop: 5mm

ON Cloudsurfer - £150

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Another shoe that isn’t technically a ‘super shoe’, is, the Cloudsurfer from the Swiss brand On.

The seventh-generation update could well be the best running shoe yet from the brand. It doesn’t feature a carbon plate or indeed a speedboard, the brand's full-length board that adds a responsive feel to many of the brand’s models.

This shoe uses a new midsole configuration, Cloudtech Phase. This computer-designed configuration of the familiar Cloudtech makes the Helion foam compress and sequentially collapse, a little like toppling dominoes.

The whole midsole package, the foam and the design provide a soft and responsive feel that takes the shoe and the brand into new fit and feel territory. The shoe is softer and more flexible than any of their other models and is simply a joy to run in from the very first step.

The upper uses a new, dope dyeing process which requires 90% less water in its production and the upper now uses 30% recycled content thus becoming more environmentally aware.

Soft padding around the ankle collar and heel welcomes your feet inside and the plush feel continues around the rest of the upper, with the tongue having just the right amount of padding to feel comfortable without feeling too thick or heavy.

Without a doubt, the Cloudsurfer (7) is the best shoe yet from On and perhaps shows a new direction for the brand’s running models.


Name: On Cloudsurfer

Price: £150 / $160

WEIGHT: Men’s 245g / 8.64oz



DROP: 10 mm

Paul Freary


Athletics runs in the Freary family. Paul’s father, Mike held the British 10,000m record in 1969 and Paul himself has been running for over 45 years.

As an athlete Paul has won Northern and Inter-County golds at 5000m as well as British half-marathon and trail running titles.

His claim to fame is beating Steve Cram over the classic mile distance on the road in Bermuda, a distance where Paul’s personal best in 3minutes 56seconds!

Having worked in the running industry for over 25 years he’s worked for Puma, Fila, Nike and adidas as well as now owning his own running store. An expert in video gait analysis, Paul is ideally placed to write authoritative reviews of running footwear, gadgets and gear.

For 2023 Paul has his targets set on improving his 2:39 marathon from Berlin in 2022.

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