Blake Snow

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Review: Nike Lunar Glides are unattractive but competent, light, and smart running shoes

Nike Lunarglides

Although the inventor of modern running shoes, Nike doesn’t have a reputation among distance runners these days. Said athletes usually wear one of five brands: Asics (which Nike first sold as a distributor in the ’60s), Mizuno, Brooks, Saucony or New Balance. You just can’t “do it” in Nikes anymore, at least without looking like a corporate shill.

Putting the brand aside for a minute, it’s obvious Nike’s top of the line running shoes are just as competent as others, even if they’re not sold in running boutiques. Vibram is the only manufacturer that may end up having a technological advantage. Until then, the rest are all designed with big R&D budgets, and they’re well-cushioned, stable, and light. The same is definitely true of the recently released Lunar Glides by Nike.

Despite its peculiar, almost off-putting looks, the shoe is radically functional. As part of Nike’s Free (aka barefoot) line of running shoes, the Lunar Glides are rated as a “10,” it being the most like a traditional shoe (“0” being completely barefoot). They feel nothing like running in Five Fingers (although they look better), but deep grooves in both the out- and mid-soles make the Glides feel more flexible, while providing excellent grip at the same time.

Additionally, the “Free 10” label is more than marketing parlance, as the shoes are super light—right on par with Asics. At the same time, they are comfortable and stable, thanks to thick mid soles with raised sides to discourage pronation. The lightness comes at the expense of durability though. Unlike most Asics, which use fish net-like fabric to protect the uppersole, the Lunar Glides sheath your feet in soft cotton-like fabric. They breathe like a dream, but they tear easily. After falling last month, I ripped a hole in the fabric near my big toe. My sock isn’t showing (yet), so hopefully the inner layer of fabric won’t follow suit.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of the Glides, however, is that they come with Nike+ baked in. Insert the pebble like monitor in a fitted hole underneath the insole, and you’re good—no exterior lace jacket required. Granted, a sensor holder works just as well, but they do run $10 extra. (The Glides retail for $80-100 depending on the store.) Although deserving of its own review, I’m sold on Nike+, as it encourages a faster pace better than a stop watch. Plus, it keeps track of all my stats, so I can compare past performance with present.

Back to the elephant in the room—are you capable of wearing the Swoosh and everything it stands for (blase status, a sweatshop past, corporate-ness) as a runner? You decide. Just know that Nike still makes great footwear. And Lunar Glides are equally as comfortable as $150 running shoes made by sexier brands.

Coming up next: Fibram FiveFinger Classic, Nike Free 3.0

Review based on retail pair of Lunar Glides provided by Nike.