A couple of recent shoe launches have our attention, especially Puma’s new nitrogen-infused model.
by Tony Dear
Who knew nitrogen gas could make a shoe more comfortable and efficient? Actually, the concept isn’t particularly new, but it still sounds a little improbable. It’s likely, however, the vast majority of readers do know when air was first used in an athletic shoe. The idea for adding compressed air to increase the rebound effect and save the athlete precious energy was born in 1977 when an aerospace engineer introduced the theory to Phil Knight. The Nike Tailwind (1978) was the result and it spawned decades of air-filled mid-soles with a certain Chicago-based basketball player benefitting from the technology the most perhaps.
Over time, the use of greenhouse gasses was phased out and nitrogen became the major player in athletic shoe-cushioning. Nitrogen lets the shoe absorb the energy of impact with the ground without the air being lost. That enables the shoe to return to its original shape. Brooks running shoes began experimenting with nitrogen about four years ago and has had significant success with its exotic-looking DNA Loft v3 shoe and Puma released its Alphacat Nitro earlier this week, harnessing nitrogen’s density to soften the meeting of foot and fairway.
The Alphacat Nitro is a light-weight, spikeless shoe with nitrogen infused into the mid-sole’s foam to create, Puma says, ‘energy return with every step’. The upper part of the shoe, called the EXOShell, features a soft mesh underneath a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) film which not only enhances support but is also waterproof (one-year guarantee).
The sole which features the formidably-titled ‘Dual Material Alpha Traction’, has a combination of appropriately-rugged-looking nubs and chevrons to keep you upright in all conditions. The Alphacat is available in both laced and Disc (Puma’s tongue-tightening system) versions.
Price – $160
Colors – Six colorways in laced model, four in Disc model.
Adidas Golf recently revived three of its most popular models – Superstar, Samba, and Stan Smith – in a limited edition capsule that will, no doubt, excite Adidas fans from Grand Junction to Holyoke. The popular Stan Smith model which first appeared in 2021 features a leather upper, 50% of which was made using recycled materials. The familiar Adiwear outsole is covered in nubs of differing heights providing excellent traction, and the PU cushioning in the mid-sole gives the Stan Smith a level of comfort that should make 18 holes plain-sailing. The Trefoil and Stan Smith logos on the heel give it a touch of class.
The Samba is, of course, Adidas’s iconic soccer shoe with the famous silhouette first being used for a golf shoe last year. The spikeless Adiwear outsole and EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) midsole provide all the stability and cushioning you need. The leather upper, like that of the Stan Smith, is made with 50% recycled material with the SAMBA logo embossed on the side.
The distinctive Superstar golf shoe was originally released in 2020 and features Adidas’s familiar three-stripe design. Unlike the Samba and Stan Smith, however, the Superstar has a textile upper with a rubber shell toe. The Superstar logo is embossed on the side of the upper. Six cleats along with a contoured ridge sole pattern give the Superstar terrific stability and traction.
Price – $140, grey/off-white
Price – $140, grey/white
Price – $140, grey/off-white
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