It's a celebratory and rare moment when a running shoe company gets everything right to make a minimal running shoe that is 1) well-cushioned, 2) responsive, and 3) lightweight. Rigging the first two in the same shoe is a formidable feat for most manufacturers: They can make a running shoe that's well-padded, but when you run in it, it feels either too soft, like jogging with giant, squishy candy circus peanuts strapped to your shoes, or too flat – dead, hard rubber slapping pavement, mile after unforgiving mile.
Footwear companies can also make a running shoe that's flexible and bouncy, but that's also woefully under-cushioned. What this can lead to is a feeling of athletic euphoria for the first mile – you're running, no, you're flying, you're like a cheetah, you have springs on your feet. But as you tack on a few more laps around the park, and the shock reverberations go up through your feet and lower-body extremities on every step, you feel the excitement dull as you vow to never run in these shoes again – if you can, indeed, run again.
The benefit of this meandering tutorial into footwear R&D is to demonstrate the significant feat Adidas accomplished earlier this month when it launched a minimal running shoe that nails all three criteria: wonderfully well-cushioned, extremely responsive, and yes, lightweight. In fact, at 6.7 ounces, the Feather 2.0 is one of the lightest running shoes around (excluding those from the barefoot running shoe world, better known as the land of injured runners). Yet, although it's light, the Feather 2.0 is sublimely cushioned, with lots of adiprene (code for the company's custom cushioning material) in the forefoot – an attribute grievously missing from some minimal shoes. And yet, although it's lightweight and well-cushioned, it's also responsive – like a nimble, little pair of pogo sticks for your feet.
Of course, there are a handful of other minimal shoes that are just as good as the Feather 2.0 – we're big fans of the Newton MV2, for example. But if you've tried lightweight shoes with no luck or are simply looking for something new, the Feather 2.0 might just be your magical quill. [$115; adidas.com]