I think I’m in love. It’s pretty rare for me to put more than 50 miles on a single shoe in one month given the number of reviews that I’m working on at any given time, but since mid-August I’ve run almost exclusively in two shoes: the adidas Gazelle and the Saucony Grid Type A5.
I recently reviewed the adidas Gazelle, which is a truly awesome shoe, and next up is the A5, which I’ve managed to log 70+ miles in so far (including speedwork and several 13 mile plus long runs). Simply put, the Grid Type A5 has exceeded my expectations in nearly every possible way and has earned a spot on my feet for my Fall A-race – the Smuttynose Half-Marathon on September 30.
I did try out the previous iteration of the Saucony Grid Type line, and it was not a positive experience. The Grid Type A4 never fit me quite right, and I managed to injure myself running a marathon in them a few years back (peroneal tendonitis). Thus, I was skeptical of trying the A5 since the sole was the same and only the upper had been updated. However, since the fit of the upper was my main issue and the A5 is a relative bargain among running shoes these days, I ordered a pair to review. I’m glad I did!
I initially ordered the A5 in my usual size 10, but the fit was clearly still not right. I debated sending them back and giving up on the shoe, but opted to give them another try and ordered a half size up. What a difference a bit of space can make! The fit went from iffy to absolutely perfect, and the improvement over my experience with the A4 has been dramatic. I’ve come to the realization that my feet may have indeed changed shape as more and more I find myself opting for 10.5’s instead of my old standard size 10.
The beauty of the Grid Type A5 is it’s simplicity. This is a no frills shoe, and that’s what I love about it. The upper is minimally structured and highly breathable, and for the most part it’s suitable for sockless wear (more on this below). There is a small plastic heel counter, though it extends only about halfway up the heel and is not really noticeable when the shoe is on foot. Arch support is present, though again minimal and barely noticeable to me.
In terms of fit, I’d say the A5 (half-size up) is comparable to the Saucony Kinvara 3 – not particularly wide, but fits my foot without any noticeable restriction. I’d say it’s not quite as roomy in the forefoot as the Mizuno Universe, but a bit more roomy than the New Balance RC5000 (and much wider through the midfoot compared to the RC5000). For some reason, and I can’t put my finger exactly on what, Saucony shoes seem to fit me really well, which might be why I’ve had such good experiences with many of them.
I mentioned above that I’d return to the issue of sockless wear, and here lies my one and only complaint about this shoe. I don’t like the pull-on-string on the back of the heel because when running sockless in them the knots that hold the strings in the holes in the upper rub against my skin and cause hot-spots. Not a problem with socks on. I’d recommend they ditch the string and instead use a pull tab attached to the outside of the heel.
The sole of the Grid Type A5 is again brilliant in it’s simplicity. With a stack height of 16mm heel:12mm forefoot the shoe rides close to the ground, and at 4mm drop it nails my sweet spot for a racing or distance shoe. The outsole is substantial for a flat, with rubber coating the margins of the heel and grippy rubber nubs dotting the midfoot and forefoot. After 70+ miles mine have held up quite well – all of the nubs are still present and there is very little wear on any of them. Another feature of the sole are the drainage holes that extend up and down either side of the midline – these allow the A5 to shed water incredibly well, but do catch pebbles (though I I can’t feel them when lodged in so it doesn’t bother me at all).
One of the things I really like about the sole of the Grid Type A5 is that because it has a low stack height, it’s flexible both longitudinally and torsionally (twisting). Good torsional flexibility has become one of the features that I look for in a shoe, and most traditional shoes with a big thick sole simply do not allow this. Torsional flexibility seems to prevent shoes from being too slappy.
Finally, the A5 weighs in at 5.8oz in size 9 according to Running Warehouse (I wanted to weight mine, but they’re soaked after running 14 miles in them earlier today). Thus, it’s heavier than the Mizuno Universe and New Balance RC5000, comparable to the adidas Hagio (the Universe, RC5000 and Hagio are my other three top racing flat picks along with the Grid Type A5), but a few ounces lighter than a transitional shoe like the Kinvara.
So that’s really all I have to say about the Grid Type A5. I can give no better recommendation than to say that I’ve loved every mile that I’ve run in them, and have turned in some of the best training runs I’ve had in years with these shoes on my feet. Picking them as my race shoe for the Fall was an easy choice! To be honest, this is what a running shoe should be – no frills, just a simple upper and only as much cushion as is necessary for me, and what seems to be decent durability. And best of all, the shoes are reasonably priced - they’re currently on sale at Running Warehouse – I’m tempted to pick up another pair!.
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