Craft Sportswear Pushes the Envelope With New Carbon Plate Trail Shoe

ATRA member Craft Sportswear has recently joined a small, but growing number of brands who are manufacturing carbon plated trail running shoes. As of October 2022, Hoka One One, Nike, Saucony, Adidas Terrex, Speedland, The North Face and Craft Sportswear offer shoes with carbon plate technology.

In recent years, carbon plates have become a necessary component of nearly any high performance road running shoe, and there is much anticipation about their potential to improve running performance not just on roads, but also on trails. Want to learn more about the impact of carbon plates in road running and their recent integration into trail running? Read my article “Are Carbon Plates the Key to Trail Running Supershoes?

Photo: Tayte Pollmann.

In the following article, I take a closer look at the key features of the Craft CTM Ultra Carbon Trail Shoe, explore what types of runners would benefit from this shoe, and compare it to other carbon plated trail running shoes on the market. (CTM stands for Craft Tailored Motion)

Craft CTM Ultra Carbon Trail Shoe

  • Weight: Men: 340g/ Women: 275g
  • Heel-To-Toe Drop: 10mm
  • Stack height heel: Men: 40mm / Women: 38; Stack Height Forefoot: Men: 30mm / Women: 28
  • Durability: High. 400+ Miles
  • Suggested Retail Price: $200 to $250

Notable Technology:

  • Lightweight breathable nylon mesh upper with no-sew TPU support elements.
  • Vault Foam™ midsole – ultra light, ultra high rebound.
  • Ultra rebound insole for maximum energy return against the foot.
  • Vibram™ traction outsole with Megagrip™.
  • Tuned carbon fiber plate with precision split for torsion and variable energy return.
  • Material: 100% polyester Jacquard+TPU no-sew, Midsole: 100% EVA Foam, Midsole insert: 100% carbon, Outsole: 100% Rubber.

Photo: Craft Sportswear.

Who Is This Shoe For?

The Craft CTM Ultra Carbon Trail shoe is designed for anyone seeking to maximize their performance in ultramarathon trail races. The shoe prioritizes energy return, durability, cushion and underfoot traction. The carbon plate technology allows the user to expend less energy with each step and potentially induce less muscular damage/fatigue, which can contribute to major performance gains over the duration of longer trail races. Specifically, 50-kilometer to 200-plus mile runners will benefit most from this shoe’s durability and energy return.

The Craft CTM Ultra Carbon Trail shoe will also be a good fit for runners who enjoy shoes with taller stack heights (cushion). For a relatively taller and larger trail racing shoe, it is quite stable. This is difficult to find for many shoes with higher (30 plus mm) stack heights. The carbon plate also helps mitigate what this shoe loses in the extra weight and bulk by gaining back energy return from the carbon plate. Ultrarunners who enjoy the “ride” of taller stack height shoes (Hoka One One Speedgoat, The North Face Flight Vectiv, etc.), should definitely consider trying on a pair of Craft CTM Ultra Carbon Trail shoes. Additionally, anyone seeking a shoe that will stand the test of time will enjoy the firmer foam and higher quality materials used in this shoe’s construction. It has impressive durability, even on the roughest of terrain.

How Does This Shoe Fit?

The shoe is made with “Craft’s Race Fit,” meaning it has a slightly more snug fit than traditional Craft footwear. The tighter fit is specifically engineered to improve performance at race-pace speeds. If you have a wide foot (or prefer more room in your shoes), it’s possible you might want to consider sizing a half size up.

Photo: Tayte Pollmann.

How Does This Shoe Compare To Other Carbon Plated Trail Shoes?

In general, shoe manufacturers are designing carbon plated trail running shoes in two styles: ultramarathon distance (races longer than 26.2 miles) and sub-ultramarathon distance (shorter than 26.2 miles). In contrast to popular marketing lingo, there is no “magic carbon shoe” that will be best suited for every type of terrain and distance on trails. The Craft CTM Ultra Carbon falls in the trail ultramarathon category. In comparison to sub-ultra carbon plated shoes such as the Speedland Hyper Performance Trail, Hoka One One Tecton X and the Saucony Endorphin Edge, it is heavier, built with more cushion (taller stack height), and is constructed with materials to withstand harsh conditions even after hours into longer races.

Other carbon plated trail running shoes suited towards ultramarathons, such as the The North Face Flight Vectiv and the Adidas Terrex Agravic share many similarities with the Craft CTM Ultra Carbon. Where Craft Sportswear makes a stand that’s unique from its competitors is traction and stability. This shoe prioritizes traction with its Vibram™ traction outsole with Megagrip™ technology in a way that few other carbon plated shoes are doing.This allows the carbon technology to function on rougher terrain, which contrasts most carbon plated trail running shoes that only have their best energy return on flatter, firmer trails. It seems that whether the trail is smooth or rough there is still the sensation of “spring” from the carbon plate in this shoe. The Craft CTM Ultra Carbon may have an advantage at races such as the Hardrock 100 Mile or UTMB where shoes must stand the toughest terrain for long distances. Lastly, the shoe falls in the middle of the carbon plated trail shoe price range at $200 to $250 and comes in a few different colors that really pop including Dazzle.

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