I’ve now been running in the PureConnect 2s for a while – about five months – so I thought it was time to update my initial review (which you can find here). I’d suggest at least skimming though that review first, because this really will just be an update on that. If you remember I trialed a black pair, and I later bought the blue pair. Now, in most shoes a colour change wouldn’t be a big deal – after all, it’s the same shoe, just a different colour.
Not what I found with the PureConnect 2. The two different colourways are actually made of different material. You can see that in these pictures:
The black shoe has a material that is much more finely woven that the blue. The blue shoe is also made from a material that is sort of double layered – there is the large weave material over a small weave. What this means is that the two different colourways wear in differently, and stretch slightly differently, and because of that they have very slightly different fits. I found that the blue shoe was just a little bit tighter than the black shoe, and I actually took out the innersole for a while, while the shoe stretched out a bit. It actually took a bit longer to feel at home in the blue shoes than the black. If you remember, I felt that I was able to really quickly find my stride in the black shoes right from the start. It took a few runs to get really comfortable in the blue shoes.
Specifically – the blue shoes don’t have as much immediate stretch across the widest part of the forefoot. After a few runs they are fine. I actually ended up getting two pairs of these – one black and one blue – and I run in both regularly. I still find – five months on – that the black colourway is a bit less snug than the blue.
Originally I said I was a bit disappointed at the flexibility in the forefoot. To be clear (as I was in the original review) there is a great amount of forefoot flexibility in these shoes. What I was disappointed with was my own expectation of what the toe-separator would do (you can see the mark where this in in the photo of the blue shoe above, but much better photos and explanation in the original review). I would like to firmly retract that statement. I think the toe separator is crazytown amazing. I think what is so wonderful about it is that it gives you a lot of self-directed grip. I expected more flexibility but what you actually get is more like the ability to react to the ground. It’s not a flex, but the ability to feel the ground, and – I hope this make sense – to wrap around the ground with your foot.
I just want to say I absolutely love the PureConnect 2. Having said that, I can really see why people wouldn’t really warm to it. I think it’s a shoe that’s marketed a bit as an ‘in between’ full-cushion and full-minimal shoe, but I really think that if you’re thinking of moving from a full-cushion shoe to this it will be a struggle. I had been running with Nike Frees before moving to the PureConnect and I found it a slightly difficult step down. Specifically, I didn’t have enough foot strength, even coming from the Nike Frees, to really get the most out of these shoes. As my foot, and ankle, strength has increased I’m finding it not only easier but more enjoyable to run in the PureConnect 2s. I did find it really easy to get into stride in the PureConnect 2s almost immediately, but the more I ran – and the more long runs I did – in these shoes the more apparent it became that the flexibility and ground-feel of these shoes was a bit above where my foot strength was. And, I’d like to say, I go barefoot in normal life wherever possible, I don’t just wear nice squishy cushioned shoes.
That is not to say that it’s not doable, but just be wary that to get the most out of these shoes foot strength is key. And, that, I think, is why I didn’t really get the toe-separation until I’d been running in the shoes for a while.
Anyway – in sum, I really love these shoes. They were great right away, but have been getting better and better and the strength in my feet increases.