The trendy Ultra SST (aka Shapeshifter Ultra) has been on the market since last year, and it demands your attention.
Shapeshifter Ultra is unlike any other shoes Vasque has designed. It’s a bold-looking running shoe, but there’s more to it than just the vibrant upper.
It wasn’t a long time ago when I had my pair of Shapeshifter Ultras and the moment I laid eyes on them, I knew I’m in for some cool, high-tech features. I know the words “high-tech” and “shoes” don’t always coincide, but Vasque’s Shapeshifter Ultra makes for a comfortable, well-cushioned shoe that doesn’t sacrifice performance. It’s Vasque’s response to the maximalist trend, with its cushy, oversized EVA midsole, effectively eliminating unnecessary layers that are often found in many other running shoes.
Keeping the weight low, the midsole is stitched directly to the upper part of the shoe, extending into the outsole, and into the insole and heel counter. The shoe’s slip-on “bootie fit” can easily be adjusted with a few cranks on its Boa lacing system, which is a nice feature that allows you to dial in a secure fit. This comes as good news for someone like me with a narrow foot and custom orthotics.
With its overall design, Vasque has created a shoe that protects your foot even in rough terrain, while still having pretty good trail feel.
Shapeshifter Ultra aims to conform to your foot and the terrain both through materials and its overall design. It’s created to flex independently and boost your agility, especially on the trails.
Vasque certainly took a risk with Shapeshifter Ultra, veering away from their usual design concept. The kicks are perfect for those looking for a heavily padded, well-cushioned ride.
The winning qualities of this novel, maximalist design lies in its surprising stability, responsiveness for being so far off the ground, and its unique style. The shoes are also reasonably lightweight (considering the shoe comes with so much padding). The Boa lacing system, in particular, is great at securing my feet. In my opinion, Shapeshifter Ultra reigns supreme in recovery runs and in door-to-trail runs, where the foam can absorb some of the pounding.
Because of its higher-volume, non-breathable upper, the Shapeshifter Ultra could lead to some problems with pressure, hot spots, and irritation, especially from the rubbery insole. As the name suggests, the shoe is adaptable, especially in the midsole. However, this leaves some people complaining of a lack of energy turn. Some people may also complain about the wide fit, which may not be particularly impressive in terms of traction or comfort. Perhaps someone with meatier feet should test these kicks to see if it works fine.
Shapeshifter Ultra works best for relatively non-technical terrain, and works great even in mud or other wet surfaces because of the height of the water-proof material around the foot. The shoe’s mixed-tread outsole is just as perfect on pavement and dry, hard-packed trails; although you might suffer on rougher trails.
I won’t be putting aside my Shapeshifter Ultra anytime soon, though. They work fine for me, and they’re doing their job well in providing comfort and security for my feet. There have been mixed reactions from other Shapeshifter Ultra users, though. But at the end of the day, the ultimate judgment will have to be left to the trails.