I’ve taken these sneakers grocery shopping many-a-time, and, funny enough, I even wore them on my moving day. That’s the ultimate test for a walking sneaker, if you ask me.
You can see the full criteria and testing recommendations for walking sneakers here. Below are my thoughts on how the Puma Calibrate Runners performed for each of our 2020 SELF Certified Sneaker Awards expert-informed criteria.
These sneakers fit true to size, and like a glove. I tend to get antsy, distracted, and uncomfortable when sneakers feel either too tight or too roomy, even though I know active sneakers are supposed to have a full half-inch of toe room. These have enough room—probably just under half an inch—that my toe never rubbed up against the front edge, even when I decided to randomly sprint for a hundred yards. At the same time, my toe never felt like it was floating in space. I’d attribute this happy medium to the mesh material that’s used for the shoe’s upper—it stretched with my foot, which allowed the width (and height, too) to be exactly what I needed, keeping me secure.
Shape of the Shoe
I have a pretty standard foot shape. My arches are non-problematic, my feet are medium width, and I don’t have bunions or any other foot conditions. I’m sort of like Goldilocks—too much support tends to bother my feet, as does too little support. I can’t do a sneaker that’s too wide or too narrow, either. If you, like me, are just a standard foot kind-of-person, then this pair may be great for you. I also liked that, no matter your foot shape, the Calibrate Runners have a naturally sleek look to them.
As I mentioned before, these sneakers have some sock-like qualities, which I really love for active walking—whether it be a walking workout or just a busy day where you need to rely on a pair of shoes not sliding, rubbing, or going anywhere. The top rim around the ankle is soft and stretchy, holding close to your skin without irritating it—another rare feat! It’s hard to find a shoe with such a lightweight upper that isn’t too light in the sole, too, which I really appreciated. It offers the best of both worlds.
Feel of the Shoe
The shoe feel is moderately cushioned. Unlike many foam sole options, these don’t sink at all. At the same time, the shoe does have a bit of give—they certainly aren’t rock hard. Instead, it simply feels like the shoe will do what you need it to do: it molds itself to your sole nicely, and due to the XETIC technology, you still get a good bounce and rhythm when walking.
How My Body Felt During and After Activity
The first time I wore the Calibrate Runners I wore no-show socks—the kind that only provides coverage over your toes and slightly up the back of the heel. Because of that, I got a bit of a hot spot on both of my achilles after that first long walk. However, I didn’t notice or feel the discomfort until around 45 minutes into the walk, making it thankfully unobtrusive. I let the blisters heal for a few days after—they both scabbed over quickly and were small in size. The next time I wore these sneakers, I wore more standard coverage socks and had no hot spots or blisters afterwards. Other than that, these shoes left my body feeling great. I had no foot pain or body discomfort in any way.
Company Return Policy
According to Puma’s online return policy, the company will accept free online returns within 45 days of purchase. They do require that all products are in their “original, unused condition for a full refund”—so be sure you really love these before you take them through the trenches. If you’re not buying directly from the brand, be sure to check the returns and exchange policy for the retailer you choose.
The Bottom Line
If you’re one to rock a sleek, athletic look no matter what level of activity you’re actually participating in, the Puma Calibrate Runners are for you. You can take them out on the town and then for a workout without having to stop home and change in between. They are comfortable, reliable, and perfectly reflect the aesthetics of a currently on-trend sneaker. If you’re intrigued but not sold, particularly considering the not-insignificant price of $140, I’d recommend keeping an eye out for more styles and colorways with Puma’s XETIC technology, which they’re planning on releasing later this year and next.