Puma and running are not two things you tend to think of in the same sentence, but I think they've made some huge steps towards becoming a genuine competitor. Recently they've exploded into the media with Usain Bolt being the face of the brand, and with that, they've received some excellent press. However their shoes used to be a little lacking. I used to own a pair of Puma Spectanas, and, at the time, thought they were great. However, having pulled them out from the depths of my wardrobe, have discovered that they are very very heavy. I realised that they were only good, because I didn't know any better. Having tried and tested some of the best running shoes out there, I now know better, and what I know now has made me realise that for a while, Puma were struggling in the running world. Even with the release of the new Faas Foam, on the first generation they were still not there. Big chunky midsoles and some 'interesting' designs meant that even in the much evolved state, they were still a few years behind the competition. You only have to take a look at the medial side of the Puma Faas 800s to see what I mean. Which is a shame, as the shoes themselves were quite good, but just lacking in some ares.
However, now into the second generation, we are starting to see an evolution, and a fast one at that. The new 500v2 and 500s are the particular stand outs in my opinion. Both offer a comfortable ride, and a 4mm heel-toe differentiation, which you get on very few shoes, and is tip-toeing towards Saucony Kinvara territory. The 500v2 has improved is looks and definitely holds up as a transition shoe, and a regular shoe in its own right, offering a little more in terms of an outsole than the Kinvara, and the 500s is in a similar position, however offers support for over-pronators. The heel has basically been shaved away on the lateral side, meaning that the support comes simply from more foam, rather than a denser material. It makes sense, and offers a very stable shoe, especially considering its weight. If you want a more substantial heel, you just have to look at the 600 series (again offering a regular neutral, and a support shoe) to get a more traditional 12mm heel in the neutral shoe, and an 8mm heel in the support version. But perhaps the best thing about all of Pumas new Faas range is the price. For the 500 series, you'll only be set back £75 (compared with Saucony Kinvaras £100), and the 600 range only costing £85. There are also some excellent racers in the 100 and 300 ranges, offering varying levels of cushioning, at a very competitive price point. We haven't even mentioned their new centre piece yet. The Puma Mobium elite promises something new entirely. The whole point is that the shoe adapts to you, no the other way around. The Mobium chassis and band expand and contract with your foot, offering stucture when you need it, but freedom when you don't. The more force you apply to it, the more spring it returns, propelling you into your next stride. If it delivers what it sets out to, it will be a very interesting shoe indeed.
All things considered, the Puma Faas is only getting stronger, and the only thing it's lacking now is a big media push to get people in the shoes.