By Brian Metzler
If you’ve read some of my shoe reviews for the Six Minute Mile newsletter over the past year, you’ll know that I’ve become a fan of the small upstart shoe brand known as Atreyu. Part of the reason I like this company from Austin, Texas, is that I like cheering for the underdog, but it’s mostly because they make smart, sensible and affordable running shoes. Their latest release is a shoe called the Daily Trainer, which is exactly what you think it is – a lightweight, versatile shoe you can, more or less, wear every day of the week. OK, it’s not quite that simple, but it does have a cool story. Follow along to see why I like it.
What’s New: The Daily Trainer is an entirely new shoe, one that sort of combines the look and feel of Atreyu’s original Base Model and the Base Trail shoes. Yes, it’s a ‘tweener, so to speak, one that you can wear for moderate mileage on the roads, light, low-tech trails and, perhaps most importantly, just about everything else – going to the gym, riding a cruiser bike, walking around town and even light hiking. It is built on the same moderately energetic Supercritical EVA compound midsole platform as the other two shoes, has a full-length gum-rubber outsole that provides a smidge of traction when you need it and features an airy/breathable upper with typical Atreyu fashion smarts.
Fit/Feet/Ride: The Daily Trainer fits true to size with a medium-volume interior and a fairly snug toe box. (It’s not tight, but it’s not overly spacious either.) It has a comfortable step-in feel that’s a blend of softness and spartan-like feel. In that way, it feels like a glorified athleisure shoe – and that’s the whole point behind its development – that it makes you feel comfortable while doing anything in it, including just wearing it as a casual shoe. The ride is surprisingly good: more athletic than sporty, moderately soft, mildly responsive and fairly stable, too. Plus, with 30mm of foam under the heel, it’s plenty cushy and shock-absorbing. What else do you need in a shoe that you can lace up in a pinch and do just about anything?
Why It’s Great: It’s great because you can wear it for everything you want to do from a performance to casual perspective and everywhere in between. But don’t take my word for it. REI picked it up at select stores around the country this winter as soon as it launched for those exact reasons, and frankly that’s a very big deal. As more and more people are getting into running, the lines have been blurred between what a traditional running shoe and an athleisure shoe looks and feels like. REI believes the Daily Trainer is an ideal blend of both sides of the spectrum, one that will appeal to runners who fall into the weekend warrior crowd that REI serves so well.
Atreyu Daily Trainer
Weights: 8.1 oz. (women’s size 8), 9.3 oz. (men’s size 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 6mm (30mm in the heel, 24mm in the forefoot)
Why You’ll Love It: You’ll love it because it only costs $110, and you’re getting plenty of bang for your buck. (There are few other shoes you can find for that price, but even something like the $110 Brooks Launch 9 isn’t nearly as versatile as this model.) Atreyu takes pride in making lightweight, functional shoes that are decidedly not overdesigned. They say their shoes are simple and affordable, which is true, but sometimes those words can carry negative connotations that are interpreted as meaning “cheap” or “flimsy.” That’s definitely not the case with the Daily Trainer. You might not get 400 miles of running out of them, but I bet you’ll get 300+ miles (I have 125 or so miles on mine so far) and will really appreciate the lack of superfluous features that other shoes typically tack on.
Pro: This shoe is one of those that feels and runs lighter than its spec weight. What does that mean? The extremely lightweight upper helps give it a feeling of weightlessness so it feels much more slim, supple and nimble than its actual 9.3-ounce weight (for a men’s size 9). But because most of the weight is found in the midsole and outsole, it also means it’s really stable for a shoe that seems so agile.
Con: This isn’t a performance-oriented running shoe, so it definitely has its limits. Just keep that in mind if you buy a pair. Is it going to feel as good on your long runs as your Brooks Ghosts or feel as snappy on your speedier workouts as your Saucony Endorphin Speeds? No, definitely not. But it will feel pretty good in each of those situations and it will give you more versatility than either of those. Plus, you wouldn’t wear either of those models with jeans or casual clothes when you go to the coffee shop or movie theater.