The Puma Calibrate Runner is a lifestyle shoe that showcases Puma’s new cushioning technology, Xetic. Xetic is a 3D foam configuration that Puma created with MIT. The idea was to find the optimally shaped foam structure that allowed for a progressive cushioning experience throughout the footstrike. The vertical and horizontal “8” shaped holes, a pattern nicknamed “Recurve”, are built to compress differently during all portions of the footstrike and thus feel smooth and comfortable throughout the wearer’s stride.
Technology wise, that sounds freaking cool. But how does Xetic feel on foot? Read on for my take.
- Impact protection. As far as I can tell, the foam used on the Puma Calibrate Runner is an EVA similar to Puma’s Profoam. But when Puma turned it into Xetic, it improved the experience immensely. Jumping and hard landings feel much better than in a shoe with traditional EVA. Xetic’s pattern makes each landing feel softer. That’s important when running because it saves your ankles, knees, and back. After each run, my legs didn’t feel beat up. Our Discord member Ricardo, founder of SneakerWeb, wears his pair to a job where he’s on his feet for 8-10 hours a day and doesn’t have any issues. This type of impact protection makes the Calibrate Runner a great shoe for all day wear.
- Bounce. In addition to making the foam feel softer, Xetic makes it rebound faster too. When running in the Calibrate Runner, toe off was much better than expected given the huge slabs of heavier foam beneath my feet. Today’s running shoes prioritize quick toe off and running economy. If Puma pairs Xetic’s pattern with a lighter, bouncier foam it may create an award winning road running shoe.
- Flexibility. The stack height of the Xetic midsole is quite high. It’s about as tall as Puma’s premiere casual lifestyle shoe, the Puma RS-X. But, most likely owing to Xetic’s unique pattern, I didn’t have any issues with forefoot flex. That’s a really good thing for it’s viability as a performance cushioning technology.
- Insole. Though not as thick or as padded as the RS-X’s insole, it’s the same soft, resilient polyurethane. I always give credit when a brand includes a PU insole as the padding in them tends to last a lot longer than typical insoles.
- Fit. A true to size sock-like fit. The knit is the perfect tightness so wide footers don’t feel suffocated and narrow footers feel secure. It’s also fairly easy to slip on the Calibrate Runner as the collar has a lot of stretch to it.
- Traction. The traction pattern mirrors the figure 8s on the Xetic midsole. There’s even a mix of innies and outies with the filled-in figure 8s located at high wear areas. The pattern was a little slick at first but worked well during runs. If you’re using the Calibrate Runner casually, the pattern will last a long time.
- Looks. Just a clean knit shoe with some cool weave patterns on the sides and ample 3M.
- 3M. Puma adding so much beautiful reflectivity gets its own pro. The big side logos, small logos on the tongue/heel, and the entire midsole are reflective. Just a really nice implementation of 3M.
- Weight. Yikes. The Xetic foam midsole is super heavy and accounts for the majority of the Calibrate Runner’s weight. This is another reason a lighter foam compound is needed to really unlock Xetic’s performance potential.
- Support. An internal heel counter is pretty much all the support your get on this shoe. The weave on the sides does provide some structure but nothing substantial. I’d only recommend the Calibrate Runner for walking around and straight ahead running. You sit too high up to take any chances.
- Lacing. The laces snake through the upper in a way that reminds me of adidas Ultraboost Uncaged. So while you can tighten the laces, they don’t do much. This is a shoe that will fit about the same with or without laces.
The Puma Calibrate Runner is a nice introduction to Xetic cushioning technology. It gave me a good taste of what this new tech is capable of. The impact protection is noteworthy. With a lighter and bouncier foam in place of EVA, I can see Xetic on a running shoe I’d use for everyday training. For now, it’s a great looking casual shoe you can wear all day.
Where to Buy the Puma Calibrate Runner
Thanks to Puma for sending a pair to test. Puma was not given any editorial control of the review. This review is based on our weartesters’ experiences using the shoes for speed workouts, trail runs, treadmill training, long runs, casual wear, and more.