Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Craft Pacer Review: 4 Comparisons

Article by Sam Winebaum

Craft Pacer ($150)


The Pacer is called out by Craft as a shoe for “everyday runners seeking a fast nimble shoe that won’t weigh them down.”  True in my testing!

The star feature is the Px expanded bead TPE foam midsole. I can say star upfront as every Craft shoe with this foam has been a delight to run for me and the RTR team for its energetic, non mushy return and great vibration absorption with as a bonus very light weight.  Here we are at a 8.4oz  / 238g men’s US9 with a 36mm heel and 30mm forefoot on a broad and stable 100 mm heel / 85 mm midfoot / 100 mm forefoot platform. Lots of shoe at very light weight.

The uppers of every Craft shoe I have tested have been challenging. Always very light and breathable as well as comfortable, they often end up voluminous and hard to lock down to my narrower to medium feet. I was sure the ride would be great but could I make the upper work? Read on to find out.


Versatile one shoe in a runner’s quiver: any pace daily training to plate less long racing

Highly energetic, vibration absorbing midsole TPE midsole foam

Very light with substantial 36/30 stack height and stable broad platform

Comfortable, high volume, very light and pliable upper, for some may be a Con


Upper could use a bit more substance and lower volume back of the toe box.

Narrower to medium volume feet for sure will require a lace lock to secure rear and midfoot. I did (Sam) 

Most comparable shoes (with your name next to each)

New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel v4 (RTR Review)

ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 (RTR Review)

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 (RTR Review)

ASICS Novablast 4 (RTR Review)


Approx, Weight: men's 8.4oz  / 238g (US9)  /  women's oz / g (US8)

  Samples: men’s 8.15oz  / 234g US8.5  ,  oz / g US

Stack Height: men’s 36 mm heel / 30 mm forefoot ( 6mm drop spec) 

                      women’s  34 mm heel / 28 mm forefoot

Platform Width: 100 mm heel / 85 mm midfoot / 100 mm forefoot

$150. Available now.

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

As always Craft has beautiful modern simple designs. The upper is a quite thin very pliable single layer engineered mesh with no overlays whatsoever.  There is no toe area stiffening beyond slightly denser mesh in that area. The toe box is very generous in fit and secure in a relaxed way, somewhat surprisingly so given the soft mesh and lack of front structure.

The thin lightly grid mesh padded tongue has a short front gusset. The lace holder is equally pliable and especially so at the final lace up point, more on that later below in fit

The heel counter is semi rigid and quite high with very decent and comfortable padding at the Achilles collar. A good thing given the more minimal front upper but the ankle collars are more lightly padded with to the front of the heel counter that area very pliable. I think this padding could be more substantial and somewhat stiffer.

I am a perfect true to size in length with the toe area generous and well secured. Further back things get challenging. There is a lot of volume at the midfoot, all mesh and lace up overlays are super soft and pliable and the ankle collars quite broad and equally pliable. 

I despaired a bit after my first steps as things were so roomy. I solved the issues and got a good lockdown with a lace lock which pulled my foot back and more deeply into the rear of the shoe.  

It is rare I have to resort to a lace lock but here I did. You can see how tightly I had to lace them in the picture above. Using this approach I got a great secure fit even if there was a touch of lace bite. Runners with high volume feet should have no issues with the fit here.

Midsole & Platform

The secret sauce of many Craft shoes is their Px foam. It is made of expanded TPE beads. As far as i know it is not supercritical but sure acts like  it. It is a very light foam with both pleasing softness and has among the best vibration absorption.  It is also quick and decisive in return, more decisive than say Saucony’s PWRRUN+ foam also similar in feel but heavier. It is less dense and more springy than Puma’s Nitro foam but somewhat less springy and more bouncy than ZoomX. It is a more dynamic softer foam than ASICS Flyte Foam Blast +. Every RTR tester who has worn Craft with Px agrees it is one of the best if not the best training (if not racing foams) around these days. 

The platform is broad at 100 mm heel / 85 mm midfoot / 100 mm forefoot with a 36mm heel / 30mm forefoot stack so it both well cushioned and stable with a notable flaring of the heel (and deep heel rubber) leading to very stable landings despite the softness of the foam and smooth any pace transitions.

It does not go to the extremes of more stack height and more platform width especially at the forefoot (and weight) of say an ASICS Novablast 4. This is where Craft’s statement of “nimble and fast” rings true. It has a bit less stack and platform width than some competitors but with a superior foam delivers the versatility and pleasing ride.


The outsole is Craft’s customary great rubber with plenty of it.  Made up of 4 separate pads they wisely leave the center and midfoot open to decouple front and back. 

There is a nice rocker supplemented by a flex point (developed during the first run) near the first lace point from the front. I like a combination of a rocker and some flex in my trainers. 

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

The first words that come to mind running the Pacer are very light, very well cushioned with a clear, quick and pleasingly soft and friendly return from the midsole and despite the very light weight it is stable.

The upper is yet again from Craft friendly and comfy but overly voluminous and pliable and for some maybe tricky to lock down. I was able to get a good lockdown with a lace lock but I do think the final lace up area and ankle collars could be more substantial or maybe a thicker tongue gusset included.

Of the many daily trainers I have tested over the last year or so the Pacer has among the very best rides as it balances lightweight, a great foam feel and an outsole that adds just enough response without being over firm or over rigid. This is one versatile shoe suitable for any kind of daily training (except maybe fast speedwork due to the wide platform and upper). It can also be a great option as a plateless longer race shoe.

Initial score: 9.4/10 with all deductions for the upper hold

😊😊😊😊 1/2

4 Comparisons 

New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel v4 (RTR Review)

Lighter yet a 7.3 oz  / 207g (US9) with a slightly lower 33 mm heel / 27 mm forefoot and same 6mm drop stack height these are close competitors in the very light do anything shoe category. The New Balance is broader in platform and a touch less nimble feeling The roomy and secure Rebel v4 upper is fuss free, unlike the Craft’s. Craft’s foam and outsole is superior to the Rebel's, more decisive in return and less mushy in feel.  Both are super fun to run but overall the Rebel gets a slight nod from me.

ASICS GEL-Cumulus 26 (RTR Review)

The latest Cumulus is different than its predecessors and the Pacer in having a stiffer near plate like front of the shoe and more secure upper. This makes it a good choice for faster workouts and runs than the Craft.  This is despite weighing 0.8 oz greater more than the Craft bt at a still reasonable 9.1 oz  / 258 g (US9) with its heel 2mm higher than the Craft with forefoot the same. The Craft pulls ahead on versatility as it is equally as capable slow as fast while its foam is somewhat softer and more pleasant to run.

Puma Velocity Nitro 3 (RTR Review)

The Puma upper is totally locked down and secure and has less volume than the Craft’s so higher volume feet will be happier in the Pacer. Underfoot the dual foam combination of supercritical Nitro and EVA foams leads to a stiffer, somewhat firmer and more stable ride. Overall the words that come to mind for each: “Serious'  for the Puma, more Playful and Fun to run for the Pacer.

Novablast 4 (RTR Review)

Considerably higher stacked at 41.5mm/33.5mm and weighing 0.7 oz more, the Nova is more cushioned but also less agile than the Pacer and is a bit lumbering and harder to turn over in comparison, especially at slower paces.  Its upper is light but secure enough and will present fewer problems than the Pacer’s.  

Our full multi teaser review is coming soon

The Craft Pacer is available now at our partners

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Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 66 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2023 was Sam’s 51th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he gets very very lucky. Sam trains 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run, hiking or on nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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Anonymous said...

You have the weight in grams wrong, both places you have it as 283g but 8.4oz is 238g

70's Teen said...

Yep - and he lists the sample size (8.5) weight as " 8.15oz / 234g." I'm guessing the 238 correctly goes with the size 9.

Anonymous said...

Yes sorry. About 238g for a US9 Sam Editor

70's Teen said...


Both the Pro Endur and the Nordlite Ultra have outstanding insoles to enhance their wonderful midsole foams (I actually think the Cr foam is better than the Px, except at fast paces). Is the Pacer likewise blessed?