Do you Karhu? (Part II)

by Chris MacLeod

What was the first thought when I slipped on the Fluid3?

“Holy crap, this shoe is long!”

FluidLength

I dropped down a size and the shoe STILL fit like this.

Perhaps I should remember this the next time a customer is upset about how “big” their shoe is. Buying a Karhu is like shopping at Chico’s; everyone’s a size 2! (Gentlemen, don’t worry about understanding that last sentence.)

The next thing I noticed about the Fluid was how light it felt on my foot! This was quite odd, given that the Fluid is technically about half an ounce heavier than the Flow, but let’s just accept that if you want someone to estimate weight by hefting an object, I might not be your go-to person.

I think the reason this shoe felt “lighter” to me was its stiffer last, which gave the shoe a more responsive, “springy” feel than the Flow.

FluidBend

Not so flexy now, are we? (Ouch, I think I pulled something in my hand…)

The Fluid is still a tad heavier than I would choose for a 5K, but I could see using it for quality work. Full disclosure: My Flow fan friend (say that 3 times fast) calls it a “long run shoe”, so I perhaps I’ve just gone completely off the range on this one?

Drop-wise, the Fluid feels low, but not zeroed out, which I personally prefer. (The prodigal daughter writes shoe reviews, hehehehe!)

I might have to bite the bullet and admit I’m a cushion fan, because I also liked that I couldn’t feel the fulcrum as much in the Fluid, as compared to the Flow.

I’m starting to sound redundant with all the things I “liked”, so I’ll just say it flat out: I really LIKE the Fluid! I would never have pulled it off the wall for myself were I not expressly intending to review it, but I’ll take it as a life lesson that I shouldn’t be afraid to try new things.

The only real down side of the Fluid for me was that in addition to fitting long, it was also a bit wide on my narrow feet. Even cinching down the laces, I could just generally feel my foot moving around in this shoe.

FluidWidthWhy do shoes always look like this on my foot?

Of the four Karhus, the Fluid3 and the Steady3 (review to come) fall noticeably in the “too big” camp. They also came out at the same time, leading me to wonder if there was a machine calibration change somewhere on the assembly line.

Fluid3 Verdict

Pros: Light, responsive ride with enough cushion to stay comfy over longer runs.

Cons: This shoe is huge! Who do you think I am? Bigfoot?

Overall Verdict: For most runners, the Fluid3 would likely make a solid everyday trainer or a good transition down from more structured shoes. It’s not a racer, but it’s no pillow either.

Karhu Fluid3 Specs
Weight 8.9 oz
Heel/Toe Drop 8
Design Features Construction:

  • New “EV-icient” EVA foam midsole
  • Karhu Fulcrum technology (higher durometer EVA)
  • High-abrasion rubber on outsole
  • Open mesh upper
Available Sizes M: 8-13W: 6-11
Available Widths Standard
MSRP $125
*-We were unable to find certain specs for this shoe

Fast4

Remember that history lesson at the beginning of all this? As you can tell, Karhu is a brand that fills me with nostalgia. The Fast4, in particular, takes me right back to 1989.

Which is not a knock on the shoe in any way! I’m going to go ahead and ruin the ending right here: I LOVE this shoe. I’m just not 100% sure my reasons are entirely objective.

Technologically speaking, the Fast has the same basic features as the Flow and the Fluid. The fulcrum, the cloth upper, the crazy colors…all present.

But, as the “most supportive” of Karhu’s neutral shoes, these modern features are accompanied by a distinctly old-fashioned amount of cushion and structure.

FastMedial

Also, they’re purple, and I totally had a pair of purple gym shoes when I was six!

As you can see from the picture, the Fast also has a more “old-fashioned” amount of heel lift, with a full 14 mm of drop from heel to toe. With the recent takeover of low- and no-drop shoes, this is a legitimate rarity in running specialty.

The other feature of the Fast that can be tough to find these days – Adidas Boost’ shoes aside – is cushion. This shoe is soft all over (except for a surprisingly noticeable – and reassuring, if you tend toward overpronation – amount of arch support).

The toe is downright squishy, but not so built up that you feel like you’ll trip over it, and the heel feels like it includes a pre-installed heel cup. Which, granted, was disconcerting at first, but I stopped noticing the slight “bump” after about 3 minutes in the shoe. I suspect it would settle with wear.

Of course, all this cushion and support do mean that the Fast isn’t exactly a lightweight model. At 11 oz., it rivals bigger support shoes like the Brooks Adrenaline in weight, which explains my gut feel that for me this would be a long run shoe. As much as I love this shoe, it just can’t match the Fluid or the Flow in terms of the responsiveness I would want for track work.

That said, if you told me to pick a shoe to go run 20 miles in, the Fast would be a contender. (It also passed the “stand around” test with flying colors…I could work in this shoe all day.)

FastBend

Can’t you just see the cushiony comfort?

Fast4 Verdict

Pros: Pure cushioned comfort! Also, support. And purple!

Cons: A bit heavy with a large heel-toe drop that might feel a bit 1989 to you, too.

Overall Verdict: The Fast4 is a solid, grind out the miles shoe for those looking for a comfy ride. It does not feel “lightweight”, but if you yearn for the old days of solid stability, the Fast may be for you. Though advertised as a neutral shoe, I felt the Fast had adequate support for a severe over-pronator like myself.

Its sheer comfort could also make it a great option for those prone to impact soreness.

MensFastWallProof that the men’s version is not purple.

Stay tuned – the Steady3 is up next!

—————

About RogueStop by to check out the Fluid3 and Fast4 and talk with the experts at Rogue Running – two Austin-area locations!

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3 thoughts on “Do you Karhu? (Part II)

  1. I love the purple colour! Also good to see that they have solid arch support from your bending test. Would you say this is a good option for people with flat feet to get the needed arch support? When it comes to running shoes for flat feet I have always been a Asics GT fan. How would you say they measure up against each other? here is the link for you reference: http://happyrunningfeet.com/the-best-running-shoes-for-flat-feet-3-critical-tests/

    looking forward to your view.
    Thanks,
    Maya

    • Hi Maya,

      Sorry to be slow getting back to you, and hope you’re staying warm!

      To fully answer your question, I would probably have to know which of the GTs you’re running in. We carry the 2000 here at Rogue, and it’s definitely one of the most supportive shoes on our wall when it comes to motion control. In my opinion, it’s actually the “most” shoe you can get at Rogue, though it’s probably more upper-middle by industry standards. We are big believers in running in the lightest shoe that you can without getting hurt, so we don’t carry some of the truly “motion control” shoes (like the Beast or the Wave Prophecy, for example).

      That said, we still consider the Fast to be on the “bigger” end of our neutral category. I would say that it has a lot of cushion, but not necessarily a lot of support in terms or traditional posting. That said, it’s always hard to do a direct compare with Karhus, since the Fulcrum just feels different!

      If you’re looking to switch to Karhu from the GT line, I would probably start by checking out the Steady, which is their stability shoe, and more specifically designed for pronation control. I won’t even go into the whole debate of “should we try to control pronation”, but I am a firm believer in making conservative steps when trying to move to a lighter shoe, so as to minimize injury risk. The Fast could be a pretty big jump, but if you want to give it a try, I’d take it on some short easy runs to start just to see what you feel.

      I hope that helps, and thank you so much for reading!

  2. Pingback: Do you Karhu? (Part III…the final part) | The Rundown

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