Sunday, April 19, 2020

Reebok Panthea Review

Article by Mac Jeffries and Bryan Lim

Reebok Panthea ($130)


Weight:: men's 8 oz / 227g  women's 7.3 oz / 20g

Offset: 8mm

$130 Available now including at RoadRunner Sports here


Mac: I have had a little bit of a love/hate relationship with Reebok ever since they have broken back in to the “serious running shoe”market. Ever since Nike shocked the market with the Vaporfly 4%, other companies have been scrambling to keep up… but truth be told, Reebok (and Skechers, for what it’s worth) were nearly a year ahead of the chase pack by being willing to experiment with different types of midsole foams. 

While Saucony, Asics, Brooks, Hoka, et al were trying to convince us that “our EVA is springier now, too!”, Reebok was already producing their Pebax-based Floatride Foam in two incredible race shoes: the Fast and the Fast Pro. So, there is the love… where is the hate? Well, it’s admittedly selfish: Like the offerings from their parent company Adidas, Reebok’s shoes have been long, narrow, and only available up to a size 13. ARGH! Because, people with big feet don’t need lightweight, springy shoes, I guess? (Seriously, I get the economics of producing shoes in sizes off the sides of the bell curve - like trying to sell ice cubes in Alaska - that doesn’t make it any less frustrating, though.)   

But now, what’s this? A lightweight, Pebax-based trainer, available in a size 14??? Pinch me, I must be dreaming: introducing the Panthea, an 8oz trainer to compliment the Floatride Fast and Fast Pro. Let’s go! 

Bryan: Reebok has been a quiet achiever with limited but quality offerings in their running shoe range as it is oft overshadowed by its focus in the crossfit scene. As Mac has pointed out, the Fast and Fast Pro house the company’s flagship Pebax-based Floatride midsole. Where does the Panthea fit in? I think it is Reebok’s take at a performance oriented but versatile every day trainer. A jack of all trades but a master of being that perhaps, or maybe more! 



Mac: Firm midsole with good bounce. Excellent cushion-to-weight ratio. 

Bryan: Responsive midsole and durable outsole.


Mac: Last is somewhat narrow, especially around the metatarsals. Upper doesn’t give much. 

Bryan: Upper is on the thicker side, not ideal for warmer conditions.

Tester Profile

Mac is a former 275 lbs American football defensive lineman who took up running at age 30. Now, at 6’4” (193cm) 200 lbs (91kg) he has PRs of 19:19, 1:33:xx, and 3:19:xx. He runs 50-70 miles per week.

Bryan is a road and trail runner living in Melbourne, Australia. He is a consistent sub 1:25 half marathoner and is presently chasing a sub 3-hour marathon. He is 176cm/ 5'9" tall and weighs about 63kg / 140lbs. 

Editor's Note: We welcome Bryan Lim to the RTR team with this his first review. Bryan's run bio is below:

Bryan lives in Melbourne, Australia. He picked up running in mid-2016 as a stressed-out law school student and ended up running a full marathon as his first event.  

Ever since, he has focussed on becoming a better runner, with PRs of 1:23 in the half-marathon and 38:02 in the 10km. Bryan also enjoys longer distances and trail events, and has run the Oxfam 100km, Surf Coast 100km relay and recently his own driveway ultra (52km over 838 laps). He also enjoys running tourism, completing the Chicago Marathon, Toronto Half and Singapore Half in recent years. Whilst enjoying running, he has taken the community aspect of things with passion. Bryan is an accredited Athletics Australia community coach, was the running coach at adidasRunners Melbourne, runs his own local track club, Glasshouse Run Club and is a pacer at local races

First Impressions and Fit

Mac:Fun fact: “Panthea” translates into “all the gods” (think: Greek mythology). Maybe they just picked the name because it sounds cool, but there is an element of this shoe that tries to be All Things to All People: an affordable trainer made with foam usually reserved for $180-$275 racing shoes. I like it. 

Out of the box, these check all of the boxes: lightweight, good outsole coverage, and a fast - if somewhat basketball-shoe-ish - look to them. It’s too bad these don’t look like the Londons (ok, it is more accurate to say that it is too bad the Londons don’t come in a size 14, but I digress), but these definitely have a fun vibe going on. 

Sliding my 13.5E foot into the size 14s, I could tell that the shoe would work right away, but I was concerned about the (lack of) width of the toebox. My bone spur on the 5th metatarsal of my right (wider) foot was definitely getting a little more contact than I would like, and the w layer upper really doesn’t have much give to it. That said, the Panthea fits true to size and offers good lockdown; anyone with a D width foot should get along with these just dandily. 

Bryan: As Mac has said, my first thought when opening the box was that I had maybe bought basketball shoes. Then comes the traditional old school oval laces, akin to those on the Nike Air Bowerman series I grew up with. Despite this, the looks grew slightly on me. I think it must be the return of the Reebok Vector that is so subtly weaved into the engineered upper, at least for the black and white colourway. It looks like a retro classic with a modern twist. 

Putting them on finally, they felt fresh! They were true to size and width (D width) and I just knew I was going to enjoy my runs in them. The Pebax foam really has some pop in them, even when walking around on them. 


Mac:The Air Jordanesque upper of these is a real conversation piece, for better or for worse. The 2 piece upper consists of a neoprene inner layer that snugly wraps the foot, and it is encased by a translucent outer layer that is some sort of thin, stretchy plastic. The pinstripes that you see are simply where the texture of the outer layer covers up the red/orange graphics of the neoprene inner layer. 

This neoprene ends up being the perfect material for a tongue: just enough to protect your foot from the laces, and enough structure to keep from sliding around. 

The structure of the heel is interesting as well: it has two firm black plastic pieces - that might remind you of the rear of the Ultraboost -  instead of a traditional heel cup, and there is also a little suede tab that looks like it is meant to help you get the shoes on. I don’t need it, but it doesn’t get in the way or rub the Achilles, so I’ll allow it :-) 


It was a deja vu moment finding out that the upper consists of a neoprene layer, similar to the Adidas Solar Boost. Sitting atop the neoprene layer is a thin translucent plastic layer. Whilst concerned about the durability of the outer plastic layer, it has really held up after 110km including some very gritty runs through Melbourne’s very wet and windy early winter conditions. The relatively thick neoprene upper provides decent protection in such weather, but may not be suitable for warmer climates.

The winning aspect of the upper is the tongue. It is neither long nor puffy like traditional running shoes. It is thin, but thin enough to protect your feet from the laces. The underside is textured and serves well in holding its structure and place.

The heel cup is structured with two plastic pieces topped with a rather unnecessary suede tab that I initially thought was part of a very tall heel cup. That said, the heel cup is effective in preventing heel slippage when running at all speeds. I’ve even managed a 100m sprint in them!


Mac:This is what we came for, am I right? Reebok has been using Pebax - the same type of stuff as ZoomX in Nike’s Vaporfly - for a couple of years now, but only in their racing flats. (Ok, there is the Floatride Run, but with that goofy cage upper, that one is relegated to athleisure in my book.) Now, we have it in a daily trainer, and the results do not disappoint. The midsole is actually a combination of EVA and Pebax: the black layer is EVA to offer a little stability, and the white is the super-springy Pebax. (Full Pebax midsoles run the risk of being TOO soft; that is the main reason for the carbon plate in the Vaporfly.) I will also note that in comparison to the Floatride Run 2.0 we have an 8mm drop platform here vs. 10mm in the Run which surely along with a far less complex upper contributes to a weight drop of 1.2 oz / 34g for the Panthea. 


Now this is the golden part of the shoe. As you can see in the image above, the Pebax based Floatride midsole is stabilised and structured with an EVA layer on top. The EVA and Pebax are also wedged in triangles from the mid to front part of the midsole. The result, an incredibly lively ride that makes running in TPU and EVA based midsoles feel a little sleepy. More on that later.


Mac:Reebok has made some good outsoles in recent years, and this is no exception. The full-coverage rubber grabs well in all conditions, seems plenty durable, and even offers some traction on light trails (although the idea of wearing these for trail runs just seems funny to me; maybe the black version is better suited for them?) This outsole does what a good outsole should do; nothing more, nothing less. 

Bryan: Just like its parent company’s use of very grippy Continental outsoles, Reebok’s own iteration is as good. The generous placing of rubber throughout the base provides ample traction on wet and uneven pavement. I’m surprised the shoe retains its lightweightness at 227g for a men’s size 9 despite the extensive outsole provided. 


Mac:Firm Spring. While these aren’t in the same league as the Vaporflys - not all Pebax is created equally, it seems - these still offer a quick, secure bounce with zero mushiness. They are actually a little firmer than I would like for recovery runs, but anything with some effort behind it will be rewarded with some nice pop from the Pantheas. 13.1 miles about 7 minutes slower than my PR felt comfortable enough, even if my legs did feel a little beat up afterwards. Strides and 200s pass confidently and quickly. 

Bryan: Continuing on from my eagerness to share about the ride, it is brilliant and close to faultless. The blend of Pebax and EVA provides a relatively firm but responsive yet comfortable running experience. It is easy to run at recovery paces in them (5:30/km) but is able to transition into quicker paces easily. It’s one of those shoes where you are able to dictate pace easily in. The ‘pop’ associated with Pebax based foams is also appreciated on long runs. Never have I felt so comfortable running a 33km LR at close to my target marathon pace. 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Mac:The Panthea is a fully capable lightweight trainer that can handle quick paces easily, and I imagine it will be just fine on the long stuff for lighter runners. For $130, it definitely deserves a spot on your “worth serious consideration” list. 

Mac’s Score: 8.3/10

See my full ratings HERE.

RIDE: The Panthea offers nice, firm spring, but it left me feeling pretty sore after extended efforts. FIT: The upper securely hugs the foot, but it felt a tad narrow in the toebox. 

VALUE: Pebax performance for half the cost of the Vaporfly or the Run Fast Pro? Um, yes, please! 

Bryan: This is a great everyday running shoe that does it all. So much so it has now become my go to shoe, especially when I can’t decide on which shoe to wear or what sort of a run I am heading out on.  

Bryan’s Score: 9.5/10 

Ride: 10 (40%) Fit: 10 (30%) Value (including durability): 9 (15%) Versatility 8 (10%) Style: 7.5 (5%) 


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Reebok Floatride Fast   (RTR review)

Mac:The racing version of the Panthea, the Fast comes in at the same price, same midsole material, and lighter weight (with less cushion, of course.) I consider the upper on the Fast to be superior, as it molds to the foot better. Get both; the Panthea is a perfect compliment to the Fast.

Reebok Floatride 2.0 (RTR initial video review)

Mac:Again, similar prices, and this time, similar (advertised) purposes. The Floatride was a great midsole sabotaged by a gimmicky, uncomfortable upper; the Panthea is the shoe that the Floatride SHOULD have been and it weighs 1.2 oz /34 g in a US9,  If you loved the feel but left disappointed by the original Floatride, then the Panthea is for you! 

Adidas Adizero Adios 5 (RTR Review)

Bryan:At the same retail price, the Adios 5 is worth a comparison as it has fallen out of light as a racing shoe and is seen more as a training shoe. Whilst the Panthea is capable of speed sessions, the Adios pips it in this light. The predominantly Lightstrike midsole sits in contrast with the Floatride midsole as it is firmer and snappier. The Adios 5 still has a racing pedigree built in it and unlike the Panthea, I would not use it as an everyday mileage shoe.

Adidas Adizero Boston 8 (RTR Review)

Bryan:This is a shoe that is designed to be an uptempo trainer that is capable of running at a myriad of paces. Similar to the Panthea, there is enough protection in the Boston’s build for it to be an everyday mileage shoe. The upper is reminiscent of the Panthea’s, albeit more breathable and versatile. Whilst the Boston 8 looks more current of the times, the Panthea is definitely the more responsive shoe to run in. As with the Adios 5, there is some racing pedigree behind the Boston 8, and the ride is firmer and snappier than the Panthea. It really comes down to preferences on this one! 

Asics Novablast (RTR review)

Mac:Again, similar prices and purposes, but these are polar opposites in their feel: the Novablast feels like a soft trampoline in the summer, while the Panthea feels more like a tightly secured drum. Both can be great; it just depends on personal preference . If you found the Novablast too soft, then give these a try. That said, the Novablasts are probably my favorite pure-trainers in my collection today, and there aren’t many shoes I will take over them. For what it’s worth, wider feet will be happier in the Novablast. 

Skechers Performance Razor 3 Hyper (RTR review)

Mac: One of the best non-plated lightweight trainers on the market today, the Razor 3 has a similarly innovative midsole at a similar price point and narrow fit, but with a softer feel. The Razor adapts to the foot better and has a bigger range of paces. If you prefer a firmer feel, go with the Panthea, but otherwise, the Razor is your best bet.

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was a personal purchase The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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JazzRunner said...

I've been running in the first generation Reebok Floatride Run Fast for about a year and, except for the narrow forefoot, really like it.

Mac's notes on comparing the Floatride Run Fast with the Panthea cites several areas of comparison, but he doesn't mention fit. How does the Panthea's fit compare to the Run Fast's?

Mac cites that the Run Fast has less cushion than the Panthea. How is this accomplished? Thicker mid-sole? Different mid-sole composition? Thanks for any insights you can provide. And thanks for the great reviews.

Anonymous said...

It is hard for me to compare the fit, as I had to squeeze into a 13 in the FRRF, and the Panthea actually offers a 14. Nearly every Reebok (and parent company Adidas) shoe suffers from the same narrow-ish forefoot, and I ended up needing to cut a little slit to allow for my Tailor's Bunion.
The FRRF simply has less material in the midsole than the Panthea, but they honestly aren't that far apart. To my knowledge, the midsoles are identical in composition, and only slightly differ in thickness.
I hope that is helpful!

Jon M said...

Hi there, what distance does the Panthea run up to?

Unknown said...

Hey, any comments on expected durability in terms of miles on these shoes (and the run fast too for that matter)? are they 100 Milers like the VF or 200 like the endorphins? thanks!

Jon M said...

I think these would be expected to wear for a longer duration. You may want to check the Doctors of running website as they have reviewed this shoe as well. This shoe has a very similar tread to the Run Fast, so a higher mileage should be expected, like 400 miles or more, depending on the user!

Unknown said...

How is the it as comfortable as memory tech ?

Anonymous said...

Picked these up for $58 today on the Reebox website. Crazy for a shoe with these midsole materials. Can't wait to try them out. Thanks for the review.