Earlier this year I purchased the Iguana Racers from Carson Footwear and right from the start the experience with this company was a happy one. I found out about Carson Footwear from stumbling across them one day on the internet and was intrigued by the brand. I decided to investigate the brand further and liked what I saw, so I needed to try some of these out.
Each pair of Carson shoes are made by hand in Oregon, USA. They have some of the most fun and cool colours and designs you’ll see on a running shoe. The hardest part is picking the design you want. I decided to go with the Iguana racer, which was the first design to go to market for Carsons. My experience started with me ordering the wrong size, Carson use a last sizing which is different from the current shoe sizing standards and despite using the sizing chart I got it wrong, the size I ordered was too small, not ideal when the shoes have already travelled from the US to Australia. The service from Carson Footwear was great, they promptly sent me a new pair and I returned the incorrect sized pair.
From my first run in the Iguana racers I immediately noticed they were different to every other pair of running shoes I’ve worn. Initially I thought they felt heavier than advertised but once I ran in them my opinion changed. The biggest difference is the polyurethane midsole/outsole that is zero drop with a 10 mm stack height. The polyurethane midsole/outsole is where most of the weight is in the shoe which makes the shoe have a lower centre of gravity which makes the shoe feel very light once running in them. Also the polyurethane reacts differently to a traditional EVA midsole as it absorbs the impact over a larger surface area giving greater ground feel. The advantage of this is it allows for more cushioning with less material under the foot, which is what we want in a minimal shoe. The polyurethane is remarkably flexible, 10mm under foot is not very much, but it is more than enough to give a smooth ride over all surfaces and a comfortable running experience. Like every good minimal shoe there is a wide and roomy toe box. With a flexible, light and responsive midsole and outsole the foot makes the decisions for the shoe rather than the opposite.
The upper material is extremely comfortable, made from a synthetic mesh, and very breathable in hot conditions. As said previously the upper are available in numerous fun designs. You will be asked about your shoes when you wear them.
The Iguana racers are head and shoulders the most comfortable shoes I have worn. I have now run over 400km in these shoes, they have been tested on all surfaces, technical trails of both dirt and rocks, as well as road and beach. They are responsive on the technical trails and although the tread is not extreme gives more than enough grip when needed. The feel is very smooth and comfortable for a shoe with only 10mm stack height, in my opinion this is the advantage of the polyurethane. Comfort on the road is fine, however I think they are best suited to the trails. Each time I run in these I feel like heading to a trail.
After 400km in the Iguana racers they are now firmly into my running footwear rotation. Whilst some shoes with traditional EVA midsole won’t last much longer than 400km, the Iguanas are just coming into their own. There is some visible wear to the sole but there are many more runs ahead in these shoes. So if you don’t like buying shoes every few months than these are for you.
Overall the Iguana racer is perfect for anyone comfortable running in a minimal shoe. If you haven’t transitioned to this style of footwear it will take some time. The comfort, ground feel and cool designs make sure the Iguana racers are a happy experience every time I run in them.