Lurking around at RunRepeat on a late Sunday night, I found one of the most inexpensive offers and also had one of the highest CoreScores – making them hard to resist. Until this point, I had only had extremely positive experiences with PUMA running shoes.
Despite being one of the most inexpensive brands according to a big runrepeat study, PUMA had so far given me great running experiences with the PUMA Carson Runner (for speedwork and competition) and PUMA Speed 600 Ignite, a fantastic but underrated shoe with a high energy return, recommended for midfoot runners looking for a fast and springy ride.
PUMA Speed 600 Ignite was among the first wave of PUMA shoes with the newly developed Ignite foam midsole, which is PUMA’s response to Adidas Boost and Nike React midsoles. Apparently “energy return” is the new mantra in the running shoe business nowadays.
So, what could go wrong? Built around the great PUMA Ignite midsole, my previous brand experience in mind, the low price and high CoreScore – this couldn’t go wrong, right?
Time went by and the familiar red PUMA shoebox arrived. The color scheme sounded promising, Atomic Blue and Red Blast. Taste might differ, but I think the shoe looks sporty, timeless and elegant at the same time.
Despite the midsole being huge, it’s somehow softened by the arrow-like side patterns pointing forwards. A traditional toe box covers the front. The heel support seems a bit flexible. The outsole is made of red EverTrack rubber, ensuring long durability.
All in all, the shoe looks solid, a bit on the bulky side (370 gram in size 44), but with a sporty appeal albeit a bit conservative somehow.
Frankenstein’s first steps
Putting them on reveals a lot of things, this is not a shoe for everyone. At first, I felt like Frankenstein, walking like a living dead. The sole was very inflexible and hard to bend.
The good news is that it gets a lot better by time, this is a shoe that benefits from breaking in. After a few weeks, the sole had improved quite a lot in flexibility length-wise. Another great thing is that the shoe doesn’t feel as heavy as the weight suggests.
Wearing the shoe kept surprising me – apart from the recommended break-in, the break-in period revealed several things.
- This is a wide shoe. Despite trying different shoe lacing techniques, I couldn’t get a good fit. My feet are slightly narrow, and this shoe didn’t work out for me fundamentally.
- The shoe is true to size length-wise.
- The solid toe-box lacks a bit in height, resulting in black toenails, despite the shoe being wide. Again, different shoe lacing couldn’t relieve the pressure to a satisfying degree.
- A 12 mm heel drop made me alter my gait – this shoe forced me to land on the heels, despite being a natural midfoot runner. I felt held back by the shoe.
- The Ignite cushioning in the heel seems ok. It doesn’t have the springiness I know from the PUMA Speed 600 Ignite, despite it’s the same midsole, but it feels firm, does the job and doesn’t leave you with sore legs.
Bottom line, this is not a shoe for a midfoot runner with a slightly narrow foot.
This shoe is worth considering if you’re a wide foot heavy heel striker who’s looking for a solid and competent high-mileage training shoe. The shoe shows very few signs of wear and tear after 100 km/60 miles. They do the job and doesn’t leave you with sore legs.
Keep in mind
- A fantastic midsole isn’t everything, it’s just a part of the stuff that makes a shoe and doesn’t guarantee a fantastic running experience by itself.
- True to size isn’t worth anything if the width doesn’t fit.
- The drop is a key aspect in relation to your running style. A 12 mm drop is common for heel strikers. Midfoot strikers usually prefer 6-8 mm drop shoes.
- Check out the return policy before you buy your shoes. Some places have great return policies, others don’t.
Good to know
- Puma gears runners for a really plush ride with dynamic features by combining its Ignite Foam, which is known for its excellent responsiveness, with a 12mm offset. While the cushioning is not oversized, it does have a very luxurious ride without taking away the necessary pop of this shoe.
- A very innovative 3-layered mesh is also available for those who want the shoe. The layering adds structure and support to the lightweight upper that does not compromise breathability. A very supportive upper with maximum ventilation makes the run more secured and breathable.
- Puma usually uses a number of flex grooves in their shoes. In the Ignite Ultimate, the flex grooves are deeper and more numerous for that necessary flexibility and a little cushioning.
The cozy feel of this Puma running shoe continues in the spacious fit of the Ignite Ultimate. Most runners will consider the fit on the slightly wider side of a standard measurement. This means that those with medium to wider feet will get the most out of the shoe. Puma gives medium as the available width of the shoe. Sizing is spot on in options 6 to 15 for the men’s and 4 to 11 for the women’s.
Even at first glance, the shoe is very remarkable because of the substantial flex grooves from the heel to the forefoot. Puma designs the outsole this way to enhance cushioning and to make the shoe more flexible because of the near-maximum cushioning. A transition line or cut from heel to forefoot helps with the transition from heel to forefoot. Puma’s own EverTrack enhances the durability of the outsole.
The large Ignite foam gives the shoe excellent responsiveness. As it covers the entire midsole, it greatly improves the movement from landing to take off. Puma has a unique pattern in the midsole that works with the flex grooves in the outsole for more cushioning and flexibility.
A unique upper is displayed in the form of a 3-layered mesh. The design is engineered to deliver the ultimate breathability without the cost of structure and support. Puma’s metallic logo connects the lateral and medial side by passing through the heel. It helps with the heel support as it is also connected to a heel counter. Heel slippage is reduced by the heel support in this shoe. A regular lace-up closure holds the fit from start to finish.