Craft Sportswear is a Swedish company which started out in the 1970s and have been making sports clothing for a number of years. In the past few years, they’ve started producing some interesting running footwear too, initially with limited range and availability in the UK, but in recent months more models have been introduced and imported.
One of the most interesting new shoes in the range is the CTM Ultra 2 (CTM stands for Craft Tailored Motion) which is a lightweight hybrid road to trail shoe, with a high stack and minimal upper but without the carbon plate technology found in the Craft CTM ultra carbon 2.
Craft CTM Ultra 2 stats:
Weight: 250g (men’s size 9)
Stack Height: 40mm / 30mm
Use: road or moderate trail surfaces
Foam: UD Foam midsole
Upper: One piece engineered mesh upper
As you can see from the dimensions, it’s a pretty tall shoe (just within the legal limit for a race shoe), but is surprisingly stable due to the slight overhangs of the midsole – you never feel as if you’re on stilts. Also, for a shoe with this much sole they don’t feel heavy or clunky and are nimble, coping with twists and turns pretty well.
The one-piece mesh upper is well ventilated engineered mesh, but is pretty unstructured which can be an issue for some runners – there’s no physical heel counter or much in the way of structural overlays. Personally, I find them extremely comfortable – they feel remarkably slipper like, but I can get good lockdown with no heel slip or pinch points. I did find I need to go down a half UK size as they seem to run a little large. It’s definitely not a thick upper and is very breathable making it really good in warmer conditions. One nice point is the use of ‘Boomerang’ footbeds – often seen in Inov-8 trail shoes, these have dozens of raised silicon beads on their underside which really increases the comfort level.
Although designed with longer distances in mind (hence the ‘Ultra’ in the name), they’re pretty forgiving over most distances, but they really shine as a daily trainer – especially for those days when your legs are feeling a little beaten up. Cushioning feels very slightly soft when compared to carbon plated shoes, but that definitely adds to their overall comfort. They do have a decent turn of speed if you want to push, but they’re not really out and out PB shoes over short distances. However, they could be a good choice as a marathon race shoe – they roll along very nicely due to a rockered sole and feel very smooth but snappy and responsive, but above all comfortable.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about them is their ability to tackle light trails as well as road surfaces. They’ve got durable and grippy 3-pieced lugged traction rubber outsole capable of coping with pretty much any surface you’ll find in and around Brighton – though they will struggle in deeper mud and aren’t going to be super speedy on the faster, more technical stuff.
The outsole material also means these are probably going to be pretty durable (at least in that area, but hopefully the midsole and upper will also go the distance) – I’ll let you know after a few hundred kilometres!
Overall, this is a shoe I’ve really come to love in the short time I’ve been using it and is definitely worth taking a look at if you’re in the market for a good all round daily trainer / potential racer which is happy on a variety of surfaces and over a range of distances…at £135 they may seem a little expensive but I think they’re a bit of a bargain given the amount of shoe you’re getting.
They’re not going to be easy to find in a high street running store (Kurt at Run in Hove stocks the clothing but not the shoes – yet!) but are available from some on line suppliers and direct from Craft: