It’s not every day that a completely new brand focused on training, materializes. But what used to be a niche activity, is steadily becoming the mainstream and no longer is training just being used as the means to an end for sport specific reasons, it’s just something people do to stay healthy. Hell, it’s even become a sport in itself.
Honestly, I don’t blame people for not wanting to shoot their shot – With names like Nike, Adidas, Reebok, even NoBull, basically dominating the space…it would be a daunting to gain even 1% of that pie. R.A.D. doesn’t seem to be phased by the task though. They’re a new brand looking to disrupt the current training landscape with huge ambitions and a planet first mindset.
R.A.D. = Rally against destruction
The name has a few different connotations to me – First off, the play on how current manufacturing is detrimental to the health of the Earth. Second, there’s a certain rebelliousness to the name that screams “join us, not the mainstream”. Third, the vibe that matches their 90’s nostalgic marketing (I thought I was the only one that still said rad).
To launch their brand off with a SHOE no less, is ballsy…but that just kind of seems to be their approach on things. The RAD One is a trainer designed for uncompromising performance, all while being planet forward…but is it worth all the hype?
The design of the RAD One’s is pretty unconventional compared to what we’re used to seeing. It carries a fashion forward silhouette and breaks free of any hard lines or sharp angles. To me, it almost has an organic, Alien-like look to it. From certain angles, the shape almost resembles Yeezy 350’s, which if that’s the look they were going for, is a smart move.
For a brand new company with likely completely new processes, the construction was done very well. You would think that they had spent years in manufacturing already by how well the shoe is put together. All the materials feel like they were carefully selected and robust, but I could live without the (vegan?) suede upper material. It’s a total dirt magnet and when you get a smudge on them, it’s not coming off without tossing them in the wash. I will say that when the off-white upper gets completely dirty, it just ends up looking like a uniform grey. Once you accept that there’s no keeping them clean, life becomes easier.
Both sides of the shoe have mesh panels for ventilation and probably to lessen up the rigidity of the upper. Not that the suede is stiff in any way, but it is layered around the shoe in areas to contain your feet. There are also TPU panels in between the mesh and suede to further support your feet around the shoe. I think it would have been cool if these were some kind of 3M reflective material, but I could see them probably doing that in the future. There are no gaudy rope guards, flashy heel counters, or really anything obtrusive to the shoes design, which I appreciate.
Quite possibly the flashiest part of the shoe is it’s TPU midsole housing which does rise up slightly in certain areas to support the foot in the heel and midfoot. It’s not very noticeable where it does just by looking at them because it’s just follows the design of the shoe. The housing nearly runs 360 degrees around the shoe, save for the toe bumper, adding in another level of support for your foot. The shell is translucent and inside you can get a hint of the color the “Swell Foam” midsole is. That’s their proprietary 30/70 Sugarcane & fossil composition EVA foam; another one of the responsibly sourced materials on the shoe. While not completely 100% sustainable, it’s a step forward.
Underneath the shoe you’ll find a full rubber outsole with mulitdirectional tread pattern. The tread goes inwards and gives you a nearly flat outsole, besides the edges of the shoe which are slightly rounded. More so at the very back of the shoe for a slight rocker heel and in the midfoot to guide the rope, but it has a rounded shape to it nearly all around the shoe.
The current trend in training shoes is a slightly higher drop to alleviate pressure on the Achilles and these have a slightly higher than normal 6mm offset. Still feels relatively flat with the rest of how the shoe is designed. The toespring angle is minimal, easy to deal with and looks more aggressive that it actually feels. The weight hits a nice middle ground for lifting and plyometrics at 12.5oz/355g for a men’s size 10.
According to the website, they recommend that you go with a half size up from your normal shoe size. For me, I found that my true to size fit perfectly. I think people that have wider toes might have issues with how the toebox comes to a point, so if that’s you, go with that half size up. For me, I found that the shape perfectly conforms with my Morton’s toe. I do also have a bunion on my right foot that fits just fine so the metatarsal width seems to be plenty.
I don’t have particularly wide feet or collapsed arches and the shoes feel basically formed for my feet. Once again, if you feel like you’re on the wider side of the spectrum, I’d recommend that half size up. If I could compare the shape of these shoes to anything else, it would probably be closest to Nano X, Metcon 4, or Strike-Mvmnt Haze. Size according to those shoes and you should be good.
The strongest suit of the RAD Ones come in just how comfortable they are to live in. Keep in mind that might not make for the best training shoe overall, but it makes for a damned good daily driver. Ever since I’ve gotten my pair in, I’ve been wearing them non-stop for all that I do – in and out of the gym.
When it comes to running, I thought the RAD’s were a really easy shoe to pick-up and go in. They aren’t the lightest training shoe to run in, nor are they the most responsive, but they blend comfortable underfoot feel without ever being mushy or unstable. The shoe is good for both heel strikers because of the rocker and for midfoot runners because of the rounded sidewalls. I think anyone looking for a training shoe that can turn into a casual running shoe won’t be disappointed in the RAD’s running performance.
Inside of the box, doing the shoes fare just as well doing your standard set of day to day plyometrics. Burpees are easily handled with the help of the toe bumper to give you a grip assist in getting up; not to mention the fore foot is extremely flexible so it doesn’t burden your feet much. Box jumps and rebounding felt sure and comfortable. I never felt like my timing was thrown off from the cushioning. I had no trouble hitting long sets of double unders – my feet were never bothered from repetitive bounding nor did I ever lose my hand-foot coordination.
For rope climbs, I found the shoes to be adequate, but not great. The shoes do a pretty good job of channeling the rope downwards, but going up, there isn’t much of a lip on the outsole to bite into the rope. You will have to do a little bit more work with how you grip the rope, at least for the j-hook method. With shoes that have more of an edge, I can rely on just pushing down with my right and pulling up with my left. For these, I had to bring the rope up and around my right to get it to catch. Some people do that normally but that’s not how I typically climb.
Still, for a shoe that has nothing mechanically that influences the design of the shoe to do climbs in, they did fairly well.
A lot of comparisons have been drawn towards the Nano 8, which was notoriously comfortable. I would personally go a step beyond that and say that these are the new, most comfortable training shoe. Or most comfortable training shoe that still suitable to lift in…
Even with all that comfort, what good would the RAD’s be if you couldn’t lift in them? As always, when you move the needle further in one direction, its going to suffer in the other. Finding a delicate balance between the two is the great training shoe conundrum.
I found that for most lifts, they do great – They’re not exactly something I’d rely on to hit my 1RM’s with but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try anyways. The lifts that the RAD’s excel at are the slower stuff where you can get your feet set before you go. I haven’t had really heavy squats programmed over the last couple weeks but I was squatting my 80% for reps, without noticing the midsole cushioning being unstable at all.
The stack height at the rear of the shoe does seem a little high but I didn’t find it to be a detractor when deadlifting heavy either. Power delivery wasn’t as direct as something that’s closer to the ground but I still found it adequate enough to deadlift 545 in the shoes. The drop/toespring also didn’t feel like it wanted me to choose whether I wanted to be either forward or backward; it felt predominately flat and grounded.
For Olympic weightlifting, I found that the wide, flat contact heel made for some solid landings. Keeping your feet planted throughout the pull to extension was also easy to do without rocking back and forth. Cleaning was definitely easier to do than snatching as receiving in a front rack is just inherently more stable than receiving overhead. Snatches were generally okay, though I did notice the weight wanting to bring me more forward after I received the bar. Heel stability is great and if you can land perfectly every time, the shoes won’t really interfere with the lift. Forefoot stability could be a little better though…
Where I found the RAD’s to be lacking the most was their lateral stability. During lunges, my feet were twisting and turning to stabilize the weight on one foot, the problem is that the RAD’s allow that to happen a bit too much. It wasn’t to the point where the shoes were unusable, but I didn’t feel that the shoes were as easy to find my balance in as more stable trainers. I felt the same issue during dumbbell front squats – having to balance the weight and stabilize my feet proved more difficult than I would have liked. Torqueing my feet outwards just made the shoe twist into an unstable position.
All in all, I would still say that the RAD’s are great for most lifts, most of the time; day to day stuff, and most of the weights that you’ll find in a competition. Let’s be real here, just how often are you going for 1RM’s anyway?
After the shoes came out at WZA, all I saw were people posting positive things about the RAD Ones. To me, that’s a red flag…no shoe is perfect, but of course no ones going to go out of their way to leave disparaging comments about something they paid money for, especially something with all the hype. Maybe that made me hypercritical of the shoe and left me trying to something bad about it. The truth is, I’m just nitpicking – these shoe are top tier and I absolutely love working out in them. They’re not without their faults, as no shoe is and in order for the shoes to get better, you have to talk about them.
For me, the RAD’s are perfect for day to day training. Something that is as comfortable to wear to the gym as it is to do a hard workout in. It doesn’t prioritize the things that you won’t do on a daily basis like rope climbs or 1RM’s, leaving room for more usability towards the stuff you’ll find yourself doing every week. I won’t be giving up my Metcon 7’s or Haze for these, but I’d gladly welcome them into the rotation and I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up being my most used shoe this year.
I think the biggest downside to the shoe is the price tag – $150 for a brand new, relatively untested (until now), “no-name” shoe is going to be a hard sell for most people aside from CF-sneakerheads. We already live in an age where people don’t want to spend the standard $130 on a pair of shoes. That makes me worried that the RAD’s will live on the outer fringe of CrossFit shoes and won’t get more of the recognition they deserve. IMO, they’re totally worth $150 as I would add that extra $20 just for the sustainability aspect alone, but I know I’m not the majority.
So if you’re reading this, take the plunge. It’s cool to be different and different is RAD.
- Comfy day in and day out.
- Build quality you’d expect from a company making shoes for a lot longer.
- Surprising stability despite soft midsole.
- The suede is a dirt magnet.
- Could use some help with lateral stability and torsional flex.
- I’ve seen cases of the midsole cover wearing down prematurely (wall walks).
- $150 price tag is going to keep people from buying them.
- Styling isn’t for everyone.