Okay, so if you’re wondering what the heck Craft running shoes are, you are probably not alone. Although I have known of the brand for many years I was recently surprised to see Craft release actual running shoes and even more surprised that they were of promising design and function. There are basically two models of the CTM Ultra. You have the carbon plated version and the other version without the carbon plate. Pretty simple, right? Otherwise they both share basically the same design, fit and feel. Although the “feel” isn’t exactly the same for both. Let me explain.
Craft has released the road shoe models called CTM Ultra which come in two flavors. A version with a custom designed carbon plate and a CTM Ultra “2” that is a less pricey option without it. Both are built on the same fit geometry which fit surprisingly well. Both are very energetic to run in, yet the carbon version has a noticeably more aggressive feeling of rolling forward. This is great for walkers as well or if you simply want your feet to turn over more quickly. I would say the carbon version is the fastest “feeling” shoe I have tried to date. Both versions of the CTM Ultra have great cushioning. For me the carbon felt more responsive, but the non carbon CTM Ultra 2 felt more cushioned. Not sure why perhaps not having the carbon plate or possibly it just has softer foam.
Speaking of the foam, these Craft shoes use in house Craft custom designed UD Foam Pro foam that provides a midsole with fantastic cushioning feel, energetic ride and durability that is…well, I have no idea as I haven’t had a pair long enough to give an honest opinion on it. Honestly, these models are both too new for probably anyone to tell you how the durability is, but my impression is that the foam is not low grade foam. Not at all, on the contrary the foam feels extremely high end. In fact the whole shoe has a very premium feel in hand and on the foot. One thing I can tell you is that the midsole is providing a very lightweight shoe. All the CTM Ultra’s that I see are well below 9 oz’s at what I believe is a men’s size 9. That’s very lightweight for a well cushioned training shoe.
Let’s talk about a very important POINT. The point of contact, that is. Let’s talk about the outsole that provides the grip you need for running and walking. And, these shoes do not disappoint unless you're on certain trails. The CTM Ultra’s have an outsole which provides great grip for most runs or walks from road surfaces, treadmill and even some trails. I say some trails because they don’t have the deepest lugs. So, if you are in my area of SoCal or somewhere which has desert dry dirt trails and not muddy, sloppy and slippery trails you should be just fine. I would be on the fence for the ladder though. Good thing Craft has other more trail focused running shoes available. I’ll be reviewing those in the future.
Okay, so we got carbon plates, we got an awesome responsive cushioned midsole and grip hungry outsole. How is the upper? How does the CTM Ultra 2 & Carbon fit? Well, it fits well. At first glance I’ll admit I did not think they were gonna fit well at all. The upper is super thin to the point you can see through it. Yet, it doesn’t feel cheap, as mentioned nothing about this shoe does. The upper has a high instep cut to it, but somehow and meaning seriously somehow it manages to fit well across the top of the foot. In fact the upper in most cases fit surprisingly well holding the foot in place as if there was some kind of voodoo magic going on. I can't tell you how many people I had tried on the Craft CTM Ultra’s that truly did not think they would fit well (including myself) only to be completely in shock by how well they fit. Now some didn’t like the fit and yes there were some that the upper was flat out too wide or deep for their feet, but that has been the lesser of my experience.
“For the walkers”
I think by now you can tell I really like the Craft CTM Ultra’s for running. But, how are they for walking? As someone who walks and runs I think walkers will notice the above average cushioning and the lightweight experience that these models offer. Some walkers will also really appreciate the rocker that the carbon plate offers.
What I am not so sure of and is my least favorite design choice of the CTM’s which is the typical high heel height difference from the forefoot. This is probably my only real disappointment with them. They have a 10mm offset heel to toe. Now I will say Craft spent an insane amount of R & D (research & development) on the design of these shoes so I am sure they have their reasons for this, but it still pains me that it is so high. 6-8mm’s would have been okay with me, but 10mm’s is out of the ballpark for myself. Keep in mind 10mm’s is the industry standard so you are most likely wearing shoes that already have this design and it totally doesn’t mean you should avoid them if you're walking, but just good information to know. And to be honest I actually did not even notice the heel height at first. I was taken by surprise when I was told they are 10mm’s. Again, Craft has done some kind of voodoo magic with the design of these CTM’s. It’s actually kinda creepy.
So, for walking I would say give them a solid try, especially the carbon version as the roll over at the ball of foot is exceptional for walking. If you need more cushioning than the rocker design of the carbon version then the non-carbon may be more your jam. Either way I think the CTM’s are a solid go for walkers who don’t need above average support and stability. This goes for you runners out there too. Make sure they provide adequate support and stability for yah. These are for the most part neutral support shoes and not in my opinion for someone with more than moderately unstable feet and ankles.
Let’s wrap this review up. The Craft CTM Ultra’s are without a doubt a nice surprise from this fairly unknown brand in the running shoe market. From the fun, super cushioned CTM Ultra 2 to the more stiff competitive CTM Ultra “CARBON” verison Craft has engineered a refreshing new take on premium running shoe design. Like I said, voodoo magic. I would say if you get the chance to try them on, do it! They fit well and run fast. Runner’s I think will enjoy their responsive feel and walkers will appreciate the cushioned midsole and everyone will love the lightweight feel.
As always. Run well, live well…..and walk well too!
Published by Jeff Robins, aka JR. This review is solely written for www.runnergy.com and unauthorized use is prohibited. The thoughts and opinions are of Jeff Robins and do not reflect or guarantee your experience will be the same. Jeff Robins was not paid or provided any compensation in exchange for this review nor has anyone approved this review prior to its release.
Jeff Robins is an employee of Fleet Feet in Agoura and is happy to provide any assistance or answers to questions on this or any other running/walking shoe. If you are in or near the Agoura, Ca area and need shoe fitting I am happy to assist you. For further information regarding training, gear and shoes please check out the www.runnergy.com website. Thanks for reading.