For the record, it goes against every fiber of my selectively nerdy being to forego capitalization of proper nouns. So, dear reader, please know that when I write “lululemon”, I’m simply abiding by the company’s own standard set forth in the marketing materials I received. Great. With my conscience clear and still clinging to the ever-controversial Oxford comma, let’s get on with the review…
Truth be told, footwear isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when I think of lululemon. But over the last couple of years, the brand has developed a small lineup of performance and recovery shoe options to accompany its activewear, the lululemon Chargefeel 2 among them.
I will leave it to the wise reader to determine what exactly the name “Chargefeel” is meant to conjure in our collective hearts and minds, but let’s at least find out together how this second iteration fares in the overall performance picture.
lululemon Chargefeel 2
Release Date: August 8, 2023
Weight: 9.1 oz.
Sizing: True to size for a snug fit, half size up for wide footer or those that want more room
Also available in a Mid version for $148
How Does the Author Train?
Annie trains daily with a focus on running, strength training, and mobility. Most of her running is structured with the half-marathon distance in mind. Her cross training—which consists of mobility work and activations, cardio kickboxing/HIIT workouts, strength and recovery yoga, and other bodyweight strength training—is all geared toward overall health and longevity, functional movement, and staying as injury-free and flexible as her not-so-naturally-flexible body allows.
What is the lululemon Chargefeel 2?
The lululemon Chargefeel 2 is a cross training shoe intended to cover a broad range of workouts. It comes in both a Low version (tested here) and a Mid version. lululemon describes the shoe as follows:
“Bounce for running. Agility for training. Do it all in chargefeel 2.”
Welp. If we could just get some clarity on the capitalization front, it would really help my brain…
The brand looks to deliver that promised versatility via dual-foam cushioning tuned for both lateral cuts and forward motion.
There are two structural pieces that blend into the midsole on the medial and lateral sides of the heel area, presumably to aid with stability. They did help keep me centered on the platform, but I occasionally felt the medial piece against the side of my foot a bit more than I would have liked. It wasn’t painful, but I noticed it. The sensation thankfully faded into the background as testing continued, so it either broke in a bit, or I simply got accustomed to its presence.
The mesh upper and lightly padded tongue give the shoe a slipper-like feel. It’s soft, silky, and very comfortable (Oxford comma FTW) (Editor’s Note: stay in your lane Annie!). The lululemon Chargefeel 2 offers lots of flexibility while still providing good hold and enough structure to feel secure. I never worried about sliding around inside the shoe regardless of what type of exercise I was doing.
The way lululemon incorporated breathability along the sides and on top of the forefoot is effective, and it also happens to give the upper the aesthetic bonus of a visually interesting texture.
The promo materials describe the outsole as “mapped”. So, today is your lucky day if you’ve always thought to yourself, “I like this outsole well enough, but I think it would really sing if only it were mapped.”
The website clarifies that what we’re actually talking about here is pressure mapping, but I prefer a world in which I could stumble upon buried treasure if I just follow the path laid out on the bottom of my shoe.
I digress…Sorry, Drew. Though, I feel like you’re at least used to it by now, so there’s that…. (Editor’s Note: I actually can’t disagree here, a treasure map on the bottom of a shoe would be cool)
Right, the fit!
Fit & Sizing
Given the broad use-case for which the lululemon Chargefeel 2 is intended, I want to draw attention to sizing options.
In a dedicated running shoe, I almost always go a half size up from my true (measured) shoe size. This allows for toe splay and continued comfort if any mild swelling occurs over extended efforts. For a training shoe, I might be more inclined to go with my true size for the sake of staying nimble for multidirectional movement.
Seeing as the Chargefeel 2 is meant to fill both fitness roles, I had to pick a side of the fence on sizing. As someone with an average-to-slightly-wide forefoot and having never worn a lululemon shoe before, I played it safe with my (half size up) running shoe size.
I tend to prefer a little more wiggle room rather than not enough, so I was very happy with that choice throughout testing. The lockdown was consistently solid for me, so it didn’t present any concerns about function or safety and never felt sloppy.
In fact, it hugged my foot nicely through the midfoot and heel but opened up comfortably in the forefoot. Given that the main place I favor a bit of extra width is indeed that forefoot area, I might have been able to get away with my true size as well. Whether or not that has anything to do with the shoe being designed on a female-specific last, I couldn’t say. But it did happen to suit me well.
The bottom line, however, is that unless you’re a true wide footer (in which case, I’d recommend going a half size up), it may come down to your personal preferences as to whether to favor your usual training shoe fit or your usual running shoe fit for optimal sizing on the Chargefeel 2 Low. For me, my running shoe fit was the way to go.
HIIT & Cardio-leaning Strength Work
The shoe shone best for me during cardio kickboxing, Tabata-style intervals, and other HIIT workouts that required a wide variety of sharper, uptempo movements.
It had enough cushion for plyometrics but avoided being too squishy when lateral stability was needed for things like skaters or other explosive, side-to-side motions (which I wouldn’t dare attempt in the majority of my dedicated running shoes).
It also felt locked down and stable enough for bodyweight/functional strength work or when intervals called for lighter free weights.
And I have to say, I enjoyed that (pressure-)mapped outsole. It had ample grip for things like burpees and mountain climbers on a hardwood floor, but it didn’t stick so abruptly that it became a hindrance to more complex moves involving quick pivots and rotation. The traction was well balanced for my purposes, allowing me to feel both agile and sure-footed.
No More Annoying Shoe Changes Mid-Workout
If the inconvenience of having to change your shoes between your warmup or cooldown cardio and the rest of your gym routine has kept you from getting the most out of your training in the past, you’ll be glad to know that the lululemon Chargefeel 2 can successfully bridge that gap and help get you through your session more efficiently.
It is indeed capable of a few miles on the treadmill and has an unobtrusive, neutral feel from a running perspective. And its lateral stability properties as a cross trainer made it a good choice for pre-run activations, dynamic warmups, as well as for post-run stretching.
Potentially Fewer Shoes in General
This will of course depend on your aesthetic preferences, but the lululemon Chargefeel 2’s understated silhouette and neutral look could transition well to life outside of the gym for many people, adding a little more value proposition to what is otherwise a relatively mid-range price tag in this category of performance footwear.
To be fair to lululemon, the shoe does what it sets out to do. But it likely comes as no great shock that the Chargefeel 2’s strength of versatility means it’s going to falter when measured against more specialized shoes that firmly occupy a single fitness lane. There will naturally be scenarios in which you’ll need to instead reach for one of those more focused options.
Not for Targeted Running Days
For example, despite enjoying my pre- and post-run routines in the comparatively stable lululemon Chargefeel 2 and feeling confident in its ability to cross over to cardio equipment in the gym, I wouldn’t want to take it out on the roads for longer distances or when the goal of a given day’s run required more demanding paces.
Not for Heavy Lifting
Similarly, if you lift heavy, you’ll do best to rely on your trusty Reebok Nanos or similar, as you’ll require more balance and a much sturdier, flatter platform than you’ll find here in the Chargefeel 2. As for our CrossFit-loving friends… Wait, you probably aren’t even reading this because you know that your affinity for rope climbing alone will shred this upper to ribbons…(Editor’s Note: She lost the Crossfitters as soon as she opened this article with a paragraph on proper capitalization).
Speaking of ribbons, the supple materials that give this upper its slipper-like feel could come at the cost of durability. The comfort outweighs that concern in my case, as I don’t usually find myself rapidly burning through uppers. But if you’re the type of athlete who is notorious for beating up on your equipment, be aware that the lululemon Chargefeel 2’s upper is not likely to withstand much in the abrasion department before showing it.
lululemon Chargefeel 2 Summary
The lululemon Chargefeel 2 Low is a versatile cross trainer that definitely leans toward the cardio fitness side of cross training rather than the weightlifting side. If your main gig includes a few treadmill miles, some floor work or circuit training, a HIIT workout, or your favorite general fitness class, you’ll find a ready training partner in the Chargefeel 2.
The lululemon Chargefeel 2 can also conveniently take you through the rest of your day without loudly broadcasting the fact that you just came from the gym. It may, however, be unable to refrain from proudly asking passersby, “Have you seen my outsole? It’s mapped.”