A $300 Running Shoe? APL Streamline Review
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ROBBE: When we first were asked to review the Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL) Streamline, I thought: “Oh, cool, another lifestyle brand trying to do a running shoe. This should go well.” Nevertheless, we reached out because why the hell not, and they were more than willing to send their shoe into our meat grinder. I’ll be honest, I was primed to put a handful of miles in this and denounce it as wannabe garbage from the get-go.
And that was before I found out they cost $300.
But that was before I actually ran in the shoe, which changed my entire perception about it. Because holy shit, a lifestyle brand actually made a very, very good running shoe. Not without its faults, but we’ll get into that later.
So who is APL? I’d never heard of them (though apparently, a lot of people have), which may be due to the fact that we live on the East Coast and they are Los Angeles-based. Also, I don’t follow basketball, but apparently they created quite a buzz when the first shoe they ever made was banned by the NBA, because it essentially had a spring in the toe. And this was like six years before any Vaporfly controversy.
Clever marketing ploy or legit performance footwear – who’s to say? – but it worked. The founding identical twin brothers of APL (think Winklevoss bros of footwear), Adam and Ryan Goldston, pivoted off their exposure and expanded their basketball shoe into a diverse line of casual athletic and fashionable footwear, which has been wildly successful.
And here we are, with the APL Streamline. Let’s see if this shit is for real or if it’s just another West Coast tech bro who wants to tell you how enlightened he is after watching one YouTube clip of Wim Hof while drinking Ayahuasca inside an Airstream* Airbnb in Palm Springs.
*Please, please don’t tell me that’s where they got the name of this shoe.
THOMAS: APL? Nah. Never heard of them. Now I feel like the Drake meme, at first I’m a no, and then I was a hell yes.
ROBBE: I’ll point out the best thing first, because it was the most surprising aspect of the shoe for me: the midsole. According to APL, the Streamline midsole “features APL FutureFoam, a proprietary blend with an EVA foundation designed for a lightweight, long-lasting and responsive ride. The two-piece midsole design encompasses a forward-leaning, co-molded hardened EVA midfoot shank to promote forward motion through the gait cycle. The shank is rigid enough to provide midfoot support but soft enough not to hinder compression.”
Grab some Scooby Snacks and the Mystery Machine, cause these meddling kids made an EVA midsole that’s about as non-EVA as you can get, and I don’t know how they did it. In fact, we thought it may have been a supercritical midsole with how well this shoe ran. It’s light, bouncy, and maybe one of the most fun midsoles of any daily trainer we’ve tried this year. It has to be the best formulation of EVA we’ve tried to date.
The stack height of 30 mm/20 mm provides an 8 mm drop that keeps you on your toes, but not severely. Looking at the midsole, you’ll find horizontal “channels” that supposedly make each stride flow smoothly but in reality, are probably just there for looks and to cut weight. The forward-leaning EVA shank plate does allow for a bit of extra propulsion and let me tell ya – this shoe picks up. From easy days to tempo, it can do it all.
The upper of the streamline is called APL AeroLux, “a lightweight woven textile that is breathable and strong with thin layers of support and vector flow lines to improve airflow around the foot and reduce drag.” Again, they’re really playing up the whole Streamline thing. Reduce drag… yeah, okay. It’s just a mono-mesh upper with a design on it, we don’t need to put lipstick on what is already a fairly attractive model.
Now, what does actually reduce drag is the fit of the upper which is narrow and quite form-fitting. Some will hate this, others will feel extremely locked and loaded and ready to rip in this shoe. I felt the latter, though the toe box is more narrow than a Nike that went through the dryer on high.
The tongue is non-gussetted with a microfiber collar and trim, but I had no issues with slippage, because of how form-fitting the upper is. The collar and heel fit much like a Nike Vaporfly (more on that later) in that it’s not exactly a great fit, but it works generally fine. While I don’t particularly like the laces (like, at all), the lacing structure itself provides a great lockdown, so I had zero issues with slippage.
Outsole coverage if more than adequate (in fact, they could probably cut some weight by trimming it down), and while I didn’t find it to be the stickiest substance ever, I also didn’t have any major issues running in the rain.
All-in-all, I found myself enjoying runs in this shoe more and more, and didn’t hesitate to take them out at any time. Plus – they actually do kind of look cool, and if someone knows what you’re wearing – then you get to ring the status symbol victory bell.
THOMAS: I have narrow feet, but the shape of the Streamline scared me cause it looked as narrow as a cowboy boot, pointy toe and all. When I tried the shoe on I thought, ‘this ain’t gonna work.’ The toe is too narrow and the ankle collar rubs under my ankle bone. I was nervous to take these out on a run.
However, I was immediately encouraged by the feel of the midsole. The FutureFoam feels somewhere in between New Balance FuelCell and Fresh Foam. It is light and has a slight rebound. The non-removable Soufflé insole (their words, and yes, it’s the most pretentious midsole name ever) adds a little squish to the comfort as well.
Midway through my first outing in the shoe, a smile cracked across my face. I was loving the ride. My toes weren’t rubbing and my ankle wasn’t irritated. I admit I was ready to bash these trainers, but there I was finishing my run, getting out my phone, and texting Robbe to tell him that I thought we had a legit trainer here.
Not certain the first run wasn’t a fluke, I wore the shoe for the rest of the week including a 16-mile long run with some faster paces mixed in. I found myself liking the shoe more and more. The lightweight airy upper, the ample cushioning that isn’t too soft or too rigid, the solid traction from the outsole won me over. The shoe has a nice lean to it that encourages you to pick up the pace too. Even after I had plenty of miles in the shoe, more than enough for a review, I kept going back to it.Shop APL Streamline – Men Shop APL Streamline – Women
ROBBE: While the ride of this shoe is almost enough to ignore the minor mishaps, I should still point them out. First off, the design looks like it’s ripped straight from the Vaporfly handbook, especially the upper. Replace the streamlines pattern with a Swoosh and things are looking real Phil-Knight-like.
The laces are honestly embarrassing for a $300 shoe. They look like they were designed by somebody who’s never run a mile in their life, and they feel cheap as well. Someone said it looks like the netting from a basketball net, and I couldn’t agree more.
The heel counter is really high. Like, you shouldn’t wear no-show socks with these for more than a mile or you may be coming back with a raw Achilles and a run of regret. It doesn’t help that the heel tab is an abrasive plastic and is sewn inside the heel counter. If I designed a shoe to sabotage someone’s Achilles, this is how I would do it. At the very least, use a nylon blend for the heel tab.
As I said above, the toe box is very narrow. I don’t really mind narrow, so it only bothered me a bit, but it will bother some people a lot.
And then there’s the price. Three-hundred dollars is a lot and you can definitely find a shoe that performs as well for $100 less if you’re looking strictly for performance. But if you’re looking at buying an APL, that’s probably not all you’re looking for.
THOMAS: Robbe mentioned the feel and look of the laces, but what I didn’t like about them was more in the utility category. The lacing setup is difficult to adjust. To get the right fit, I needed to tighten them up and to get my foot in and out I had to loosen them. It is a little bit of a pain, but once the shoe was set up, all was good.
I mentioned the high collar bumping up against the ankle bone and the narrow toe won’t work for some runners.
I’d also agree that the shoe gives off a distinct Vaporfly vibe.Shop APL Streamline – Men Shop APL Streamline – Women
ROBBE: I gotta say, I was really, really surprised by this shoe. While it doesn’t embody all the parts of a pure running shoe, it is apparent that a lot of work went into the shoe, and it is more than passable as a fashion-to-running piece of footwear. The ride itself is as good as any shoe out there, and definitely the best of any “non-running” brand we’ve tried. It looks good, it feels better, and it performs as a running shoe should.
If you are simply looking at buying an APL and wondering if you can actually run it, you most definitely can. That said, I would still look to change some things going forward if they’re trying to find more justification for the price point. Truthfully, most runners (or humans in general) aren’t going to buy this shoe, ’cause they already spent their stimmies on Dogecoin or a down payment on the Elon bot. But for those who do (and for whom the price tag doesn’t matter), they won’t have any regrets and will probably think it’s the best running shoe they’ve ever worn.
THOMAS: I really really like the APL Streamline. Forget the price, forget that the company isn’t known for running shoes. Purely on a running experience valuation, the shoe shines. With this review, I focused on the shoes and how they felt to run in. If you do that and have a foot that fits the shape of the shoe, I can’t imagine you wouldn’t enjoy the Streamline for daily training and even speed work. It may be a fashionable shoe, but it also has teeth.
As for the price, is it worth it? I can’t tell you. What makes an iPhone better than a Google Pixel? Why is a Rolex more than an Omega? Does a Steak at Fleming’s taste that much better than one from Outback? There was once a day, long, long ago, when jaws dropped at a $275 racing shoe. Those days are gone.
But other companies are filling in the gaps on the ends. Atreyu on the simple construction, budget side of things, and Speedland on the premium component, limited-run side.
The APL Streamline doesn’t seem to have expensive tech incorporated, and there are other trainers that feel as good to run in as the Streamline at a lower price. But there is a price people are willing to pay for status and exclusivity. If they’re happy with purchasing a status shoe that works for some everyday miles, they won’t be disappointed.
You can pick up the APL Streamline by using the shop link below.Shop APL Streamline – Men Shop APL Streamline – Women
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Robbe is the senior editor of Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. At home in the city, but country at heart. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.
All-time favorite shoes: Nike Epic React, Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 Runshield, Asics Metaspeed Edge+More from Robbe
As the founder of Believe in the Run, Thomas’ goal is to help runners pick the shoes and gear that will make their running experience the best that it can be.
All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Kinvara 2, Hoka Clifton 1, Nike Alphafly Next%More from Thomas