by Chris MacLeod
What was the first thought when I slipped on the Fluid3?
“Holy crap, this shoe is long!”
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.
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.
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.
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|
|Available Sizes||M: 8-13W: 6-11|
|*-We were unable to find certain specs for this shoe|
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.
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.)
Can’t you just see the cushiony comfort?
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.
Stay tuned – the Steady3 is up next!
Stop by to check out the Fluid3 and Fast4 and talk with the experts at Rogue Running – two Austin-area locations!