Now this is interesting. Really — look at the Puma evoKnit Ignite. That design should at least get some reaction from you, whether you love or hate it. Then you see who it is from and realize “Puma hasn’t done anything like this yet.” There are no big logos, it isn’t a low-top runner, no suede Clyde, but rather a knit, high top runner with a serious-looking ankle and heel lockdown piece. But, as you know on WearTesters.com, looks ain’t everything — or are they?
Really, it’s good. Not much to the design of the Puma evoKnit Ignite other than some blades, but even on wet roads I was secure. The black sections are called EverTrack and are almost a tire compound, sticky but durable (very, VERY little signs of wear after 2 months in the gym and on the road) while the white part is somewhere between the midsole foam and the durable black. Normally, a rubber this hard would make the shoe stiff and rigid, but with the flex grooves cut into the forefoot and the large diamond cut in the middle of the foot, the shoe flexes very easily for smooth transitions. Yes, this shoe did see some court time (only during warmups) and the traction did great on hardwood as well. Good all-around everything shoe, at least in this category. But wait…
Puma uses Ignite foam in the midsole and it does the job well. Not particularly bouncy or responsive, it nonetheless absorbed impact and dispersed it through the midsole very well. The Ignite foam makes up the complete midsole, so no difference in the forefoot-to-heel transition that makes for a slappy feeling. The feel is very Charged-like — basketball version, not the Gemini version. For shorter runs, the foam worked great, but for anything over 4-5 miles there was a definite feel of dead. Stay short and stay cushy, but don’t expect a feeling of “energy return” at all.
This is the shining point of the Puma evoKnit Ignite. Seems like every company is doing their own version of knit uppers and Puma made a good one. evoKnit is stretchy in the right places, tighter across the toes, and the only place with a backing of any kind is around the toebox where a glue wrap gives the sides a little shape and support — plus the heel counter. Overall, the material is extremely flexible and comfortable.
Even the higher ankle collar is smooth and I experienced no chafing anywhere. The downside: all of that stretchy and comfy knit is terrible for any kind of support or containment. It truly is sock-like in every way, but more on that two steps away. The straps are nylon and do NOT stretch at all; great for tying the ankle down and keeping the foot secure — at least in that area.
At first I thought the Puma evoKnit Ignite was WAY too big because it just felt sloppy and very unfinished. Then I actually tried the length and it was dead on — about 1/4″ between my toe and the end. So what happened?
All of that stretchy knit is tooooo stretchy, especially on the midfoot panels where the foot flexes and pushes. The lacing system is adequate with the number of holes but the holes are set too narrow; when pulled tight the laces almost touch in the middle and the foot still slides off the footbed. Heel lockdown is LOCKED DOWN — the straps do work, and the heel has segmented padding around the counter to really stop up and down action. If the midsole came up over the footbed or had some underlying strap system, like the Jordan Flightweb or Flywire, the performance would have been significantly improved.
If only the fit was better, this would have been easier, but anytime my foot moves off of a footbed, regardless of activity, I don’t feel secure or supported. I was honestly worried unless I was running on a treadmill or track — any road or rough surface was an ankle roll waiting to happen. When I said I wore these on the court, it was only for shooting and NO hard cuts or running. The Puma evoKnit Ignite worked great in the weight room on linear movements like leg presses, squats, and jump rope, but any lateral movement was out. On top of that, there is NO midfoot support; the shoe will bend completely down from toe to heel. With no stiffer foam or shank in the midfoot, injuries to the arch from overuse and stretching in the wrong direction are a definite concern.
Puma evoKnit Ignite Overall
Slated as a running shoe, the Puma evoKnit Ignite just doesn’t perform. I haven’t been high on the ankle-collar for running anyway unless it is for trail, and the Ignite will not take me on trail runs (or even to look at trails to run). Taken as a workout shoe, the evoKnit hangs in with good cushioning and fit. Taken as a street-style shoe with performance aspects and DNA? The Puma evoKnit Ignite is a winner.
Given a wide release, this shoe could be a huge hit based on the knit craze, the ankle sock craze, and the overall look, which is sick. Good first effort Puma, but you must make up your mind on the shoe and its target; improve the containment and you have a good runner or stay as is and enjoy the street lane.