The RW Takeaway: The Outpace 2 is an all-around improvement from its debut model, and serves runners of all abilities well for short daily runs and stylish casual wear.
- New breathable mesh upper now has more collar padding and gusseted tongue
- Thicker midsole adds cushioning underfoot and uses a new, more responsive foam
- Updated last has a slightly wider forefoot, but the toebox still felt a bit narrow in the women’s version
Weight: 11.4 oz (M), 8.7 oz (W)
Drop: 8 mm
“Cole Haan—yes, that Cole Haan—made running shoes! And they’re...great?” mused Andrew Daniels, director of content for Runner’s World+. “These shoes are the surprise of the year for me. The fit is nice and wide; the soft and supportive midsoles feel just as good on a run as they do while working at my standing desk all day.” Other testers agreed with Andrew, giving high marks for comfort and cushioning, though the feedback on its ride was mixed.
Cole Haan launched the first Outpace last year as a shoe that let style-minded runners grab a single pair of shoes to carry them through the workday and into a run. The same idea continues in this second version. In some areas, the emphasis still felt more on fashion than on function. However, it works for runners like Andrew who dig good-looking, versatile kicks with support for their easy-paced runs up to six miles.
Rides Soft, but a Little Stiff
The midsole is made from a material called Superfeel. It’s an upgrade from the previously used Grandfoam, an injection-molded EVA—Cole Haan reported up to a 10 percent increase in energy return. In our testing, Grandfoam wasn’t astoundingly bouncy. This newer foam feels similar, but is a bit more responsive. There’s also more of it underfoot, and a squishy-soft insole gives the shoe a cozy step-in sensation. Though for some testers, that’s where the comfort ended.
The midsole is fairly stiff; a tester of smaller stature said it felt akin to “running in clogs or dress shoes.” Other than a shallow concave spine in the midsole, there aren’t significant flex grooves to let the shoe bend readily. It feels supportive while walking and standing but gives the shoe a choppy ride. “On longer runs, the shoe was too soft for me,” said another tester, who calls herself an extreme heel-striker. “I felt like I was sinking into a foam pit instead of getting good spring back.” Andrew Daniels, by comparison, is an extreme forefoot-striker; his heels never touch the ground, so he had an entirely different experience.
Built for Running, Styled for More
In testing last year’s debut Outpace, I struggled with the upper. The clear, see-through material was awesome for showing off patterned socks—a definite bonus for any sock dopers out there—but had a plasticky feel and didn’t bend or breathe especially well. (The dye on the un-padded tongue also stained my socks blue.) That’s history. Version 2 gets an airy knit mesh with a softly padded and gusseted tongue. “I really loved the collar design,” one tester said. “As an always-on-the-go mom, I can slide my foot in and out of the shoe quickly because the tongue stays in place. There’s just enough padding so it’s comfy yet unnoticeable.”
Words from the Wear-Test Team
Krista H. | Tester since 2017
Arch: Medium | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Forefoot
“I had never heard of Cole Haan making running shoes, and these really surprised me! They are super versatile in that they look like a casual shoe to wear around town, but perform very well for the serious runner. They’re light, well-cushioned, and didn’t require any break-in period. The toebox is slightly narrower than what I prefer; my toes felt a little more cramped than I’d like, but not so much as to create any blisters or hot spots. For me, the cushioning was adequate for longer runs—the longest I did in them was 10 miles—but didn’t make the shoes feel slow. I wore them for speedwork as well and was happy with their responsiveness.”
Stephen K. | Tester since 2012
Arch: Medium | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Heel
“This shoe had a smooth ride, but still felt snappy enough for fast efforts. I did much of my mileage at tempo pace (7:00-7:15 miles) and did speedwork at 6:20-6:30 mile pace. I ran on mostly road surfaces and the occasional gravel trails. The traction was great for roads but not as good on gravel, as the tread wore away quickly on the heel and rest of sole. On roads, the shoes felt stable—but not bulky—and had great cornering ability and responsiveness during speedwork. The support and cushioning didn’t seem to hold up over longer runs, leaving me feel beat up after 10 miles. But, the shoes were excellent for runs between four and eight miles.”