Thursday, April 25, 2024

Atreyu Base Model 3 Review: Small Changes that Add Up 4 Comparisons

Review by Michael Ellenberger

Atreyu Base Model 3 ($90)

Weight 5.9 oz (as tested, M8.5/W10): 6oz (as reported, M9/W10.5)

Drop: 6mm

Stack height: 21.5mm heel / 15mm forefoot (as reported)

$90. Available now at Atreyu HERE


I need to reveal my biases early here, and note that the previous versions of the Atreyu Base Model (version 1 and version 2) stand amongst my favorite trainers ever. In some form of dramatic irony, it is in the age that features plated, massive-stack, next-generation trainers that some of the cheapest, most stripped-down models stand out. 

But seriously, I love the concept of the Base Trainer (carried over here to v3): a truly no-frills, simplified daily trainer. The outsole is the midsole. The upper is (nearly) free of any overlays or design. There’s no heel counter, no variable-density foams, definitely no plate. It comes (at time of writing, anyway) in black, or white.

Atreyu has made some changes to the new version here - the most noticeable (and most significant) is the upper, which bears a striking resemblance to that on the Daily Trainer (which also received a 1.2 update - I wish more brands followed suit), but lacks the rear heel counter (Achilles tendons, rejoice!). Add a tweaked tongue to improve fit, and a sneaky improvement - an improved sock liner - and you’ve got enough upgrades to warrant the v3 moniker. 

In my v2 review, I wrote that “I don’t necessarily know that runners who were diametrically opposed to last year’s model will be swayed here, either.” While that sentiment remains true - v3 is more like v2 (and like v1) than it is different, this is the most widely-palatable of the three yet - and at $90, a shoe that I’d argue most runners should own.


Upper improvements are warranted and provide durability; 

Sock liners can make a big difference! 


Cons: Once again, the exposed midsole as outsole collects rocks and debris

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

I was actually a big fan of the older (v2) upper, and Sam and I noted some excess volume on the (similar) upper over on the Daily Trainer last year. So this change from v2 to v3 in the Base Model gave me pause… until I wore it. Fortunately, I think the team at Atreyu made the right call here - the enhanced 3D mesh construction is really comfortable, with none of the extra volume we noted on the Daily Trainer. The lack of a heel counter is once again a huge benefit, in my book.  

I had actually noted on a couple pairs of my longer-running Base Models (those with 400-500 miles) that a gap developed where the shoe flexes, right at the middle of the toe box. Whether that was the impetus for the change, I don’t know - but the mesh upper here feels a lot stockier, and while I don’t have as many miles on these yet, I am optimistic that the upper will be a bit more wear-resistant. I’ve even put a hole through one of the previous uppers on a trail run (I’ve owned more than 10 pairs of Base Models at this point, so lots of adventure!), and while mesh isn’t impenetrable to really sharp sticks, I do think the move here will provide more day-to-day comfort when it comes to durability.

A drawback? It’s a little thicker and, I’d expect, warmer (we don’t yet have hot temps here, though coming soon!). On the treadmill, I felt the difference between v2 and v3 in this regard - there’s just clearly more material there, and on a shoe that exists to be so… minimal, it stands out a little. To me, that tradeoff is worth it, but it does take the shoe a bit out of that “everything you need, nothing you don’t” category, if only slightly.

Midsole & Platform

Atreyu has maintained the same 6mm drop on the same new supercritical EVA compound that it released with the second version of this shoe. I feel the same now as I felt then; this is a good, but not spectacular midsole. Most of the benefit of this shoe, in my opinion, comes from having a “good enough” midsole with a really light and flexible platform, which allows it to “overperform,” so to speak. That’s been the same since version 1, and if you go in expecting “superfoam” quality here, you may be disappointed. 

This is personal preference, but I do think there’s a way Atreyu could bump up the drop to 8mm here and still preserve the “simplified shoe” persona (and I especially think the Daily Trailer could use the bump). Especially since Atreyu is keen on playing around with insoles (and to good effect, I shouldn’t neglect that the new molded vs die cut insole here is actually really comfortable and - I think - springy? It’s more cushioned than most, at the very least), I wonder if there’s a way they could have some modularized setup to vary the drop… just spitballing. But for me, a lightweight trainer with a little extra drop (like 8mm) would really fit the bill for “performance trainer” - even if 6 works just fine.  


Well, the outsole is the midsole here, and while it’s not the most durable shoe that exists, I haven’t had issues taking previous versions of this shoe to 400+ miles, and don’t foresee any changes here. Pictured below is a pair of my v2 Base Models with about 200 miles - there’s some noticeable wear to the outsole, but grip-wise, I haven’t had an issue (these shoes don’t excel in the wintertime, to state perhaps the obvious, though I’ve run enough winter miles in them to say they work just fine - for summer running, or even wet spring days, they’re awesome!).

Ride & Conclusion 

Like I said at the onset, it’s hard for me to be impartial on these shoes - I genuinely just love the concept, and the execution to match. But there’s a risk with every new version that Atreyu will shake things up enough just to lose their core focus, and I’m happy to report that with Base Model 3, they haven’t. There’s enough new here to really enjoy - starting with that $90 price point (which I think may get ignored, with every subsequent update - the price has crept up, but these remain one of the least expensive trainers around!), but little tweaks like a gusseted tongue and fine mesh upper add some premium performance to a shoe that really excels at just… letting you run! 

Look, it’s 2024, and there are bouncier, springier, 2x-priced (or more!) super trainers now, and I don’t think the Base Trainer is going to eat into that market share any time soon - but I’m still genuinely pleased that there’s a $90, 6mm, supercritical EVA-laden trainer that works well for all sorts of running, for easy miles to workouts. There’s always a next new thing around the corner - and I’m sure Atreyu has big things up their sleeves, too - but I’m happy to see the Base Model maintain its core values here. 

Michael’s Score: 9.5/10

4 Comparisons


ASICS Superblast (RTR Review)

Michael: This may be the least-super of the super-trainers (no plate, but a crazy stack and a crazy next-generation foam) and I have to say… I love it. I love it so much that of all the shoes Sam and I have shared (it pays to share a size 8.5 with the legend and figurehead of our site!), this is perhaps the shoe I most regret ever having to send away. But! There are some benefits to the clearly more stripped-down Atreyu - for one, I think the lighter underfoot platform make it a more versatile shoe for running fast. It’s hard to beat the Superblast for slow-medium distance, but if you want a progression, I think the Atreyu is a bit more ready to go. Moreover, I actually prefer the snugger fit of the Atreyu to that of the Superblast; I found the Superblast just slightly baggier than the Atreyu. Both great!

ASICS Novablast 4 (RTR Review)

Michael: The Novablast 4 is a bouncier, wobblier shoes than the BM3 (just look at the two platforms - totally different!). Even the wider width on the new NB4, compared to its predecessors, don’t fully stabilize it, and while it’s a fun run, I can’t help but feel a bit out-of-control running in it, especially fast. Ultimately, I think the NB4 is probably a more usable shoe for more runners (it’s definitely one I’d recommend to a new runner looking to train for their first marathon, for example), but if you’re contemplating the Base Model 3, you probably already have specific uses in mind - and for what it is, I don’t think the Atreyu can be beat.

Diadora Frequenza (RTR Review)

Michael: I didn’t join in the full RTR Frequenza review because, at the time, I didn’t have enough miles to form an opinion on it - I started with one run, 19 miles, and really wasn’t that pleased with it. My opinions on it have softened, if only slightly (it’s still too mushy for what it wants to be, and I find the fit both short and a bit overbuilt - but, that foam has bounce!), but if you want to compare the Base Model to the Frequenza as “performance trainers,” I definitely prefer the Base Model. The Atreyu bears a less springy foam, but the geometry of the Base Model means I often feel like I’m getting more energy out of each stride than on the Diadora. The Frequenza isn’t the bust I thought it may be at first, but I still prefer the Atreyu. 

Atreyu Daily Trainer 1.0 (RTR Review)

Michael: Looking back at my review… dang, that white and gold Daily Trainer looks cool! But while I haven’t tried the slightly revamped Daily Trainer, my thoughts from that comparison largely ring true with this latest and greatest Base Model - it’s a more unique, minimal, and (in my book) fun option, but one that’s not for everyone. The Daily Trainer is more traditional in almost all categories, and the jump in cost remains (largely) inconsequential, so those who want to jump into Atreyu but want a beefier shoe should look to the Daily Trainer. Me? I’m sticking with my beloved Base Model.

The Base Model 3 is available now at Atreyu HERE

Michael is a patent attorney and graduate of Northwestern University Law School. Prior to law school, he competed collegiately at Washington University in St. Louis (10,000m PR of 30:21). Michael’s PRs include a 67:43 half-marathon (Chicago Half-Marathon) and a 2:21:19 marathon PR at the 2023 Grandma’s Marathon. Michael continues to race on the roads, and is chasing a sub-2:20 marathon and potential OTQ in the future.

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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Tom said...

I'm also a huge fan of these more 'basic' shoes (I find myself reaching for things like the Rebel v3, Kinvara 13, Adios 8 etc) which are becoming harder and harder to find these days with mostly everything going bigger, bouncier, softer (I suppose that's the phase/trend we're going through right now).

I'll have to see if Atreyu can deliver to Australia!

Tom said...

Ps. Looks like they do ship to Australia! Their website says the Base Model 3 runs short and recommends going up half a size. Would you agree? Cheers!

Bradeinhorn said...

Can't wait to get a pair. Big fan of Atreyu and current rotation is largely Base Model v2 on treadmill and sometimes on smooth road, Base Trail on trails and light trail/road runs, and Race Model for faster stuff (with a bit of Topos mixed in). I think the Daily Trainer pistachio will be my next pair, but I will always have a base model by the treadmill.

@Tom - I'd recommend always going up a half size with Atreyu personally and they seem to as well. Considering maybe even full size on the Trail as the upper is a bit stiffer than the others.

T H said...

A little puzzled that you'd prefer this to be a 8mm drop (so even less forefoot cushion? or more heel stack, which would add weight?)

Anonymous said...

I agree 1/2 size up. I wish they would make the last TTS. Every company actually. If you know why not change it? But I’m a TTS 13 so I do 14 and at least in my experiences I would take care with a full size up Base Trail. I think fine in general but in single track it literally rotated around my foot. Sorry rant over!

Anonymous said...

I don’t get the upper. As you and their founder say, “nothing you don’t need” is central, and a shoe most get no more than 300 miles don’t need more upper. Seems like a weird change, though the others seem good and price remains awesome. Still my favorite road shoe (seriously) is Base 2 and this seems just fine too

Anonymous said...

Agree with TH. The 8mm drop suggestion is odd…especially after recognizing at the outset that the very feature which makes this shoe stand out is its back-to-basics simplicity. Atreyu, if you’re ’listening’ this buyer appreciates the 6mm drop (8mm is a non-starter for me). The combo of moderate drop, moderate stack, no plate, no rocker, minimal upper, and critical foam are a win!

Anonymous said...

Sorry I missed all the fun comments! Somewhere along the line my Blogger notifications went awry.

Anyway - I would agree with going up .5 if you’re between sizes. I’m always in favor of a snugger fit as opposed to a roomier one, but I have worn both 8.5 and 9.0 in Base Models v1 and v2 without issue (just depending on what’s in stock) and would call a 9.0 (half-size up) a more “traditional” fit.

On the drop - to some extent, this is specific to me and my persistently sore Achilles (decades-long tendinopathy which benefits from higher drop shoes). But in general, I disagree with the sentiment that a no-frills shoe need be a lower-drop shoe. We think of 80s and 90s running shoes as being “stripped down” compared to the multitude of cushioning and plate technologies accessible now, yet the average drop on a running shoe was markedly higher than now. I won’t say that low-drop shoes are a fad (nor that 6mm is “low drop” - it certainly isn’t) but simply that I don’t think “8mm” and “no frills” are incompatible. As to whether that would add weight, I suppose it would - I don’t know the density of their foam but I suspect that 2mm rigged in the heel would not cause an a significant weight bump. I could be wrong.

Michael (author)