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Friday, September 2nd, 2011 at 5:07 pm  |  2 responses

The FIT: adidas adiZero Feather

Easy to love, hard to hate.

by Sandy Dover / @San_Dova

In the NBA world, athletes in that particular universe are subject to physical rigors that most laypeople cannot comprehend. For the elite basketball player, his/her body is his/her literal temple and principal livelihood, and while the roughly 400 players in the NBA put their bodies and minds to the test daily and yearly, those outside of that realm (in the so-called real world) also have become just as conscious about their fitness and health. The FIT is a series that will concentrate on the Fuel, Information and Training (F.I.T.) that it takes for both NBAers and laypersons to be at their very best in the world, as well as focusing on the literal Food, Intelligence and Technology that also comes into play in our physical fine-tuning—because after all, without having the vital fuel, guidelines and tech advancements to feed our bodies, help us better absorb and process what’s necessary, and make the labor efficient and effective, we don’t have much to advance our collective health and performance. The FIT is here to bring to light what can make us all the uniquely tuned creatures who we presently are and can continue or aspire to be.

At 6.2 oz, to say that the adiZero Feather is light is like saying an elephant is heavy—they’re super light! To be perfectly honest, outside running in my track spikes back in my track & field days in high school, these are the lightest running shoes I’ve ever worn, truly. They are very comfortable and ultra-breathable. The cushioning is excellent and the shoe supports my weight with no issues (I go 5-10 and between 195-200 pounds with a significant amount of muscle on my frame, so underfoot support is pretty important to me). The adiZero Feather feels really bouncy, not unlike the adiZero Crazy Light, but I don’t feel like the shoe will fly away from me. It fits close to my foot and actually feels like an extension of my foot, even though it’s not built on a minimalist or barefoot-seeking last.

While the weight of the shoe certainly makes the shoe a great novelty in the feel aspect, what makes the light weight valid in its particular form in the adiZero Feather is found in the shoe’s support. The support of the shoe is what pulls together the reason for there even being any hoopla about it in the first place, and the support of the Feather is supreme, and there are a number of factors for this.

The full-forefoot adiPRENE+ foam is something that substantiates the shoe as far as how it feels; combined with a particular strong EVA foam compound, the adiZero Feather achieves a good level of density that is not too soft, while also submitting a soft cushion for the foot in its midsole. And speaking of the sole, the adiZero Feather employed a very intelligent design of the midsole and outsole by voiding out the midfoot of the lateral edge of the shoe altogether, between the forefoot and rearfoot, and partially voiding out foam under the arch of the shoe while maintaining a medial midfoot bridge; by doing this very thing, it saved the shoe from gaining unnecessary weight upon being made, it adds flexibility on the flex of the foot while in the shoe and it provides a unique kind of arch support that allows the Sprint Frame and midsole to do more heavy lifting without the foot taking any more impact stress in the arch.

The Sprint Frame in the adiZero Crazy Light plays more of the equivalent to a supporting actor’s role in a blockbuster movie, but in the adiZero Feather, it stars. A major reason why the shoe tested so great with me is because it has the best transition I have ever experienced in a running shoe, and I believe firmly that the Sprint Frame is why it is so. It is a full-length thermoplastic plate, literally from heel to toe, and it is the barrier between the upper and the midsole. Normally, when other shoe employ the use of a shank plate to support the arch and distribute stress, it is found only on the underside of the arch and usually embedded outside or within the foam midsole; in the adiZero Feather, because it is located directed above the foam midsole, shock absorption is more just when foot-strike stress is undertaken by the shoe, and here’s a greater thing about it—even though the Sprint Frame would make a typical shoe less flexible (when compared to the minimalist shoes of the moment) because of its rigid nature, it is still strong enough to flex with the foot; the intelligently-voided midsole and the Sprint Web upper compensate to assist in giving a great degree of flex in the shoe without compromising the support and stability necessary in keeping the foot strong underneath. The engineering of that is sheer intelligent design at its finest.

Adidas’ Sprint Web has now become a major feature in the adiZero series of footwear, and it is just as big an addition to the adiZero Feather. In the Feather, the Sprint Web lines the upper and acts as a sort of welded belt buckle when the shoe is tied. Combined with the unique use of CoolEver mesh (a strong, open-hole mesh), the Sprint Web allows the shoe to be universally cool and light, and it gives the adiZero Feather the ability to endure the tension of activity without being torn apart—simply put, the shoe is has an impressive tensile strength. The Sprint Web and CoolEver mesh being combined together, as a result, give the adiZero Feather another benefit of having a one-piece upper (with some additional reinforcements at the toe and heel); the upper fits like a second skin because of these features and provides something very close to the 1:1 fit that is desirable with all athletic shoes. As an added bonus, the great fit and support from the Sprint Web makes the adiZero Feather’s lack of a heel counter even less irrelevant, because the heel locks in with the rest of the other areas of the foot when the shoe is securely tightly (and as an aside, the synthetic three-stripes laces are incredibly strong, light, and easy to lace up, reinforcing the upper of the shoe even more without unnecessary bulk and weight).

All in all, I cannot think of a better shoe in which I have seriously ran. My gait was not compromised in running in the adiZero Feather at all, and the light weight of the shoe kept my energy intact. It is a great performer in training. It is not perfect, but it is close, which I say to express that there only a couple of things that hold the adiZero Feather back; one thing the shoe could’ve used more of was adiWear rubber under the forefoot. Just enough of the midsole foam is exposed in the more high-wear area of the sole to potentially bury these shoes earlier than you might like to, if you run in these shoes very regularly; after my first two runs, I had already began to see the exposed foam wear a little bit, particularly around the edges of the foam where the Sprint Frame is highly visible in the forefoot area of the bottom of the shoe. Also, without orthotic insoles, those with medium and high arches may not take to the adiZero Feather’s flat stance in the midfoot; because I have low arches, it made the shoe that much better for me, but this is not the case with everyone. Simply put, I had the best running experience of my life in the adiZero Feather, and I do not doubt that many others will feel the same way.

For more information about the adidas adiZero Feather, go to shopadidas.com or Eastbay.com to buy.

Sandy Dover is a published novelist and web & print magazine columnist in the world of publishing, while doubling (or quadrupling?) as a sports product tester and fitness advisor in the fitness world (with the two worlds often colliding). You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at About Me, Facebook and Twitter.

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