RW deputy editor Joe tests the stripped-down, super-light and super-responsive Nike Hyperfeel
‘This is the future of our running shoes – more sensation and natural feel, but with the necessary protection,’ Tony Bignell, Nike’s Vice President of Footwear Innovation told me when I travelled to Nike’s HQ in Portland, Oregon back in June. Bignell is a runner, and struck me as genuinely passionate about the sport and pushing the boundaries of design to deliver what runners want from their shoes. And he was very excited about the Hyperfeel.
I shared that excitement when I got out for a run in them. First off, they’re incredibly light (just 147g for a women’s 5.5), with the whole shoe made from just seven separate pieces (compared to the 40-50 in traditional shoe construction). As well as cutting weight, this is designed to amplify feedback by stripping away extraneous layers, and the ground feel is superb. With the waffle pistons on the outsole coming through you feel every contour of the terrain as if you were barefoot.
In contrast to barefoot shoes, though, there’s a pretty efficient strip of cushioning material packed in there, too. And the one-piece, compressive ‘sock’ upper wraps around to lock that cushioning to your sole (with just a 3mm heel-toe offset). Overall, the sensation is that the shoe has almost become an extension of your foot, eliminating ‘play’ between the two.
I might have forgotten I was wearing them at all, but for one slight gripe on fit: I find the outsole last slightly narrow, which creates a little bit of pinch at the forefoot on my (admittedly rather wide) feet. I still love the feel of them though.
One word of warning: though it shares upper technology with the Free Flyknit, what lies beneath means this is definitely a more niche shoe. If you’re a heavy heel-striker, of just like the security of a chunkier midsole, it’s not going to be for you. But if you want super-light, fast and responsive with a second-skin fit and the cushioning lacking from barefoot options, you may find it’s love at first stride.
Available: From 5th September 2013