For better or for worse, the modern-day shoe buyer is often a virtual shopper, or perhaps a TOBO (try on, buy online) consumer. With fewer runners making their purchases through brick-and-mortar specialty running stores, the importance of fit and the ability to adjust for improved foot hold has grown much more important. The following shoes all feature customizable qualities for that just-right fit.
Arc’Teryx Norvan VT, $170
Weight: 10.6 oz. Heel-to-Toe Drop: 9mm With mountain running and rock climbing becoming a hybrid sport, Arc’Teryx has unveiled a shoe for it. In addition to the Vibram sticky rubber “climbing zone” outsole, it has a single lace to pull across the forefoot that will toggle the feel of the upper to optimize running or scrambling. Tightening the lace around an eyelet hook serves to put tension into the medial big toe for greater purchase on rocky surfaces, like that of a rock-climbing shoe. The upper also secures the foot with an internal stretch liner that wards off trail detritus, and the rugged TPU overlays help to up the durability of the breathable stretchy mesh upper.
Puma Speed Ignite NETFIT, $140
Weight: 8.5 oz. Heel-to-Toe Drop: 6mm Falling into the “why didn’t someone think of this before” category, Puma has made a breakthrough with a very simple “technology” of a net overlay that allows for a very custom fit. Instead of the normal eyelets, the upper has a supportive cargo-net-like overlay that not only provides structure but also a wide array of lacing options. The net openings serve as holes for the precise security that best suits your foot and form—be it with extra support, width, narrowness or even a stronger heel hold. (A few tips are on the shoe box.) This innovative lacing system is coupled with a bootie-like inner layer that forms to the foot.
New Balance FuelCore Sonic, $110
Weight: 8.6 oz. Heel-to-Toe Drop: 6mm New Balance teamed up with BOA for “dial-in” fit, thanks not only to the lacing system, but to the adaptive design of the unique upper that delivers a nearly seamless wrap with synthetic mesh and a bootie construction. The BOA fit system uses a dialed ratchet technology to twist in a personalized feel for a broad variety of foot shapes. The secure system holds the foot firmly to what is essentially the Vazee Pace midsole/outsole package. The twist dial also makes it quick and easy to put on the Sonic, increasing its triathlon appeal.