A running sneaker can easily look stylish and with Athleisure passing the acceptance test to consequently go mainstream, it’s no longer just a possibility but more of an everyday reality. PUMA’s timing has been impeccable because it defies the wider bloated perception that a runner needs to have suede or goretex slapped on its upper to be accepted as a “lifestyle” shoe. Not that one would have expected anything less from the leaping cougar in this rapidly growing sub-culture, the skeptic in you just wants to know – is it good enough?
Right ahead of its ramp debut for the HUEMN x PUMA show at the Amazon India Fashion Week 2017 in New Delhi, I got lucky to get my hands on their much talked about runner from the Core pack – The PUMA IGNITE Limitless Core in the all black colorway and here I am with a detailed breakdown of the same.
TECHNOLOGY & MATERIALS
The cougar brand has always done its own thing. In fact, Puma have pioneered many things they seldom get credit for. I’ll save those things for another article, but it’s important to have that precedent before we discuss the more technical details.
Pfffttt…Technical Details? It’s a shoe! What are you on about?
Let’s dive into its spec sheet and then try to make sense out of it. Shall we? I’ve highlighted the features and their explanation is mentioned as bullet-points.
- Clam-shell construction comprised of four-way stretch Ariaprene for a fitted yet breathable feel
- Remember the Nokia Communicator? It had a clam-shell construction wherein two sections of the same container would fold via a hinge. Think of a similar hinged construction for a shoe but with a different material instead, which allows the different sections to come together for a glove like fit around your foot.
- To accomplish this fit, PUMA used a highly elastic material called Ariaprene which is synthetic rubber designed to feel and perform like a second skin. It is a better version of the typical neoprene booty found in skating and running shoes, except that it’s much more breathable. Ariaprene allows for unrestricted movement and the proprietary foam-core technology can be used in a wide range of material applications. Some examples are: Knee sleeves/bands, football cleats, performance jackets, etc. Ariaprene boasts a certified water-based eco-friendly lamination despite being stretchable, that doesn’t irritate the skin making it an excellent material in terms of comfort and durability.
- TPU Kurim midfoot cage, TPU heel clip and gore forefoot strap for ultimate support and durability
- Thermoplastic Polyurethane Kurim midfoot cage refers to the patterned cage on the lateral and medial side of the shoe.
- The criss-cross square-like pattern on the mid-foot is made of Kurim, a material that has properties like abrasion resistance, flexibility, hydrolysis endurance apart from being environmental friendly. The cage sits on top of a Kevlar infused mesh for ultimate protection and durability. The Kevlar infusion protects the mesh from cuts and tears which the typical lower quality mesh design is mostly susceptible to. Yep, the same kevlar they use in bulletproof vests is now in your shoe! The TPU also appears on the heel as an added piece for extra protection while the elastic strap on the forefoot makes sure your toes are not wiggling about inside the shoe. This provides added stability and structure to that mammoth toe-box at its maximum width. GORE is famous for its protective fabrics used by law enforcement officers and firemen. Still with me? Keep reading.
- Reflective detailing for visibility at night
- 3M reflective paint which is light-sensitive. The branding on the tongue, the cougar on the heel and the forefoot elastic strap have this reflective detail and look stunning at night or even in shade during day time.
- High-shine full-length TPU jewel piece runs along the top line of the tooling for a supportive ride
- Just above the midsole, you can see a full length shiny black piece of TPU with IGNITE written on it.
- Injection-moulded EVA mid-sole for lightweight performance
- A super-hot Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) in liquid form and blowing agent(s) is/are injected into a mold which is usually less than half the size of the actual mid-sole. After some time, when the mold is opened, an EVA mid-sole literally jumps out of it. This sudden expansion outside the mold increases its size considerably but soon, it contracts and shrinks once it cools down. During manufacturing, this expansion-contraction process is crucial. Injection molding leads to zero wastage as the mid-sole uses the exact amount of EVA required. Many injection molded mid-soles tend to be lighter which keeps the overall weight of the shoe under check. We’re almost there, keep going.
- Full-length IGNITE Foam drop-in for superior energy return
- IGNITE foam is a new polyurethane sole that provides responsive cushioning, maximizes energy return and delivers the same in both hot and cold conditions. It took PUMA 9 years to develop this new foam which is much more flexible and lightweight giving the wearer that extra bounce/rebound compared to current EVA soles commonly found in performance sneakers. You should believe that because the foam has been tested by none other than Usain Bolt! Yes, it’s the red foam showing through the cutouts on the shoe’s out-sole.
- Crystal rubber out-sole pods provide full ground contact and traction without weighing you down
- The out-sole has rubber pods protruding out of it. This is because it was crafted in the out-sole crystal rubber pylon pressing mold. The result is an anti-slip grip and plenty of traction for you to stay on your feet. Oh and congratulations, you’ve made it through!
If there’s one thing the R698s have taught me, it’s the importance of the .5 sizing. I’m a UK 9 as far as PUMA is concerned which translates to a US 10 in men’s size. On top of that, I am a (D)Medium which is the standard width for most of the shoe brands across the board. Thankfully, the shoe fits true to size with the collar sitting flush on the ankle. There’s no weird rubbing that eventually causes rashes around the ankle, typically with lower quality collars. The ankle doesn’t feel weighed down and the Ariaprene as well as the forefoot strap work amazingly well in tandem.
The shoe is easy to put on and doesn’t have an exaggerated collar. Even though PUMA have included a very sturdy pull tab, you don’t quite need it because the forefoot strap stretches out as you slip your foot in to adjust the elasticity. The first thing that hits you is how spacious the toe-box is. If you wear this right after slipping your feet out of a flat skate shoe for instance, you’ll feel an immediate roll towards the toe. However, if this is the shoe you wore first thing in the morning, the word “kickstart” and all its puns would come alive. There’s just enough wiggle room in there and thanks to PUMA’s use of Ariaprene, it fits like a glove without your foot being constricted. My biggest fear was the IGNITE foam “drop-in” and I was afraid it would try to overcompensate for the IMEVA mid-sole’s inherent flaws as a technology over CMEVA, which would in-turn compromise the overall stability.
However, the arch support is phenomenal and the IGNITE foam activates like Derek Roddy’s double stroke kick-drum just when you need the juice. The way it interacts with the IMEVA mid-sole is mind boggling and I could easily put this shoe on for hours without having to complain about anything.
This is a goddamn spaceship compared to what you have in your wardrobe and on your feet right now. The looks of the IGNITE Limitless Core might not appeal to everyone, specifically the forefoot strap. But that’s the whole point of the shoe – it’s aggressive, edgy and raring to go the moment you want to take off. It’s bold and talks tough but it has all the technology and the materials to back it up. PUMA know what they’ve created and there are Hi-tech and Extreme Hi-Tech versions available in the IGNITE LIMITLESS series which offer even better stuff like PU sealed toe-box for waterproofing and red crystal outsole.
Less is more. Skip over the rubbish purchases and grab this pair while you still can because the Athleisure segment is about to get hectic and all you have to do is show up.
This feature is not sponsored by PUMA® or any of its related entities. ThatShoeGuy® was not asked to state certain details as “facts” or omit certain details. The product was obtained for journalistic purposes ahead of PUMA IGNITE LIMITLESS’ upcoming ramp debut at the Amazon India Fashion Week 2017 and is an unbiased review of the pair purely from an informed consumer’s point-of-view.
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