I tend to be a little skeptical of running shoes from brands that aren’t the biggest names in the sport. Human feet are highly individual, so it’s hard enough to find holy-grail sneakers for walking and casual wear. If I’m going to pound the pavement (and my body) for miles and miles, I prefer to leave my feet in the hands of companies like Nike and Saucony, which have been at the top of their running game for decades.
That said, when an APL rep offered to send me a free pair of the new TechLoom Dream ($250, Athletic Propulsion Labs), I was curious to see if they could compete with my running standbys. Aside from the impressive list of features and stylish design, the claim that the sneaker performs as well on a run as it does on the go intrigued me. A shoe that can keep up with my workouts and my life—and look good doing it—sounded like, well, a dream, so I was eager to test it out.
Who these shoes are for
APL designed the TechLoom Dream to be an extra cushy, “all-purpose” running and walking shoe. Features like a stretchy sock liner, a soft but responsive midsole, and a cushioned collar are meant to add up to a sneaker you can jog, sprint, stroll, and bop around in.
Out of the box
I tested the black and white colorway, so there wasn’t an immediate wow factor when I opened the box—which is just the way I like it. I’m not one for flashy hues or edgy details, and I love that APL keeps their lines clean and their colors simple: I found them sleek as hell.
Upon further inspection, it was clear that the shoe was high-quality. The flexible material of the upper just felt well-made, and the thick, three-piece outsole looked super sturdy. I also thought the sneaker was surprisingly lightweight, considering it was designed to be extra soft and supportive.
Fit and feel
The stretchy sock liner made the shoes easy to slip on (and, later, off—a major perk, since I’ve decided I’m at a point in my life where I don’t have the time or energy to unlace my sneakers). Once I tied them and started walking around my apartment, I immediately noticed two things: My feet felt comfy and cozy, but my toes were a little cramped. I have a medium-width foot overall, but I need a little more, uh, wiggle room in the toe box, especially when running. My big toe was also almost at the end of the shoe, even though I went a half-size up, as I typically do in running shoes. I tried another APL style a few years ago and found that it ran small, also, so if you’re between sizes, I recommend going with the bigger one.
On the run
The “dream”-like cushioning is supposed to be the standout feature of this shoe, and while my feet were plenty comfortable when I was walking leading up to my run, the ride was a tad too firm when I picked up the pace. It wasn’t hard by any means, and it was fine for my shorter three-mile run, but if you’re someone who prefers a cushioned trainer like I do (especially for longer distances), this pair might not be for you.