Published on October 29, 2013
Puma Mobium Elite
Most new shoes carry a minor tweak to a previous iteration or, if we’re lucky, an actual advancement in design – the Puma Mobium on the other had comes bristling with potential innovation. So packed with new shoe tech in fact that Puma claim it sits in a whole new category of shoe – ‘Adaptive Running’.
Let’s start with the mobium band that gives the shoe its name. Flip the shoe over and the first thing you notice is the criss-cross middle section of an elasticated band that runs figure-of-eight through the outsole. Said to be inspired by the foots tendons, the mobium band acts like a bungee cord returning spring with each footfall for improved forward momentum.
Next, at the forefoot, cushioning, protection and flexibility come from what Puma are terming the ‘Expansion Pods’ – a disconnect forward that resembles a cross between a cat’s paw pads and a simplified sketch of what’s going on under the skin with the phalanges and metatarsals. Designed to compress on footfall landing and expand on toe-off these again are intended (in addition to cushioning) to help spring each step forward. Finally comes the ‘Windlass Chassis’ again inspired by the foot’s own architecture and uniting the shoe’s upper and lower with expansion and contraction to work through the full motion of the running gait.
But does it all work? A mixed yes and no answer – there is certainly a sense of the shoe adapting with the strike and toe-off and the cushioning through the forefoot is comfortable and responsive, but there remained an uneasy sense that we were running on top of tech (which of course is the case) and with this came a feeling of disconnect from the terrain. For those looking to transition to barefoot shoes the Puma Mobium might best be considered a training tool rather than a long-term shoe of choice; heavy footed heel strikers will reap little benefit and on longer sessions we found that comfort decreased with distance. Speed work and interval sessions suited them well, so again a training tool rather than a shoe we would consider an alternative to ‘traditional’ road shoes.
There’s also something quite retro about the overall design – plenty of choice in terms of colour certainly but the actual styling is distinctly old-school. The upper semi-mesh doesn’t breath as well as we had expected (positively sweaty on some runs) and the tongue – non-gusseted and with an annoying tendency to bunch and curl from the sides – would look more at home on cheap footy boots. There’s an overall felling here that all the hard work has gone into the fandangled soles and little or none into the rest of the shoe. It’s like putting Bugatti Veyron engineering into a Citroën C1 body.
There is much to be admired in terms of innovation (a great deal of it works very well) and at a not-unreasonable £85 the Puma Mobium Elite are work considering for either barefoot transitioners or those looking to target speed work. Further details at puma.com