I had pretty much settled on Nike Free RN as my running shoe of choice for the road. The added bonus of Nike is that it is often pretty easy to pick stuff up in a sale. My last pair were at the end of their life and needed replacing so I ordered some more (in the sale!), received notification they were shipping (sooner than I expected) and then just after that another update saying they’d been delayed. Fair enough, it is “this year” after all, I wasn’t in a desperate rush for them so I could wait. After a couple of weeks I got in touch with customer support and they said I could cancel or wait a bit longer so I decided to wait. Over a month later overall I got in touch to cancel* because I’d stumbled across an alternative: Hylo Running [V1].

Hylo have done what other brands have been talking about for ages. Adidas have their FUTURECRAFT.LOOP project, but its first release is spring/summer next year. Hylo are here now, with (probably) a more sustainable shoe and the same circular process.

Nike have a reuse-a-shoe programme, but you either need to return to a store (my nearest is 280 km away) or pop into a London (only?) store to get a reuse-a-shoe bag which you can then use to return at a DPD collection point, but if you can get to a London store to get the bag you might as well just return your shoes there, surely? So mine are going to landfill. Eesh. Not great. Although I can’t but help think it’s better to run and chuck shoes than not run.

Hylo are also at a reasonable price point. As mentioned, I usually try to get Nike stuff in the sale, but if I were to buy Free RNs new they’d be £95. Hylos are £100, but supposedly with £10 back when you return at the end of their life.

Are they any good for running though?

  • They are lightweight. This is good to me… they are about the same as my Free RNs.
  • They look good off your feet… they look like proper running shoes. On my feet, looking down at them, they look a little bit school plimsoley, but that could just be because I got them in black (any other colour was going to get too dirty).
  • I’ve run 5kms and 10kms fine; According to Strava I even ran my second fastest 10k in them. At 20km… well I’ve only done one run, but they felt a bit firmer than I like and am used to towards the end of the run. I think they are somewhere in-between Nike Free RNs and Nike Terra Kiger (from when I’m running on the road to get to the off road bits). I have crappy knees and so I like something a bit softer for pure road. I will have to try again and see as it could have just been how I was on that day; I have since tried a 10k with the front half of my old Free RN insoles under the Hylo insoles to add a bit more padding with the added benefit of reducing the drop a touch (these have more drop than I’m used to) and that seemed a bit better; And it also saved a tiny bit of my old shoes from landfill.
  • They are really pretty flexible. Not a million miles away from Free RN. I like this too.
  • The uppers are not stretchy at all. So you do have to tie and untie laces. Where as on Free RN I tend to tie once and then lazily slip off/on forever more. This is not a big deal (I have to tie laces on my Terra Kiger too).
  • They have collapsible heels though. I love that. And even without any stretch/elastic there has been no heel slip.
  • It is nice having soles that don’t get stones stuck in them, but they don’t feel that grippy to me. I’ve run on damp roads and never felt like they were going to slip, but they didn’t feel sticky either. I’ve since run on icy roads and didn’t fallover. So I’d say they aren’t especially grippy/sticky, but they aren’t slippy either.

I’d say so far so good. My main hang-up and worry is around that firmness. I’ve only done 64km on them though so I’ll just have to see.

* - Typically they turned up about a week after I cancelled. I haven’t opened the box yet. I either need to return them or pay for them - if I return them I’m worried they’ll refund me money I never paid for them. So I’ll probably just try to pay for them and use them in approximately 736 km time.

[EDIT: 2021-09-08] Long term review thoughts.