Every once in a while a company comes across our radar that just has it. You know, the design of the product is functional and clean, the technology fits the use, and the target audience just fits. These situations happen more when the owners and designers of said product care — about the shoes, about the consumer, and about themselves. So I put miles on the LANE EIGHT Trainer AD 1. Here we go…

The Trainer AD 1 uses what used to be a non-traditional traction pattern but one that is gaining popularity lately. The outsole is a solid piece of rubber covered in raised ovals from heel to toe of various shapes and sizes. The rubber itself isn’t very thick but with the added thickness of the ovals there is some depth to the pattern.

While the traction starts off solid it improves significantly once the surface of the ovals gets a little roughed up. It reminds me of the floor grips you put on the bottom of furniture — weird, I know, but it works the same way. So far, durability is no issue either; the rubber shows the roughing I just mentioned and is dirty but is still intact across the foot.

Unlike another brand using a similar pattern, LANE EIGHT’s Trainer AD 1 worked well in wet conditions. Going down a steep incline while running in the rain (almost six inches of rain in October in North Texas people) I had no worries of slips or falls. The weight room was the same thing; while not an ideal heavy squat and leg day trainer, the Trainer AD 1 worked well while under the leg press or doing calf raises.

If you haven’t guessed yet, Trainer AD 1 means “all day” and this starts at the midsole. LANE EIGHT is using a full-length E-TPU (expanded thermoplastic polyurethane) midsole and while the look is similar to adidas’ Boost and Puma’s NRGY the feel is way more like Bounce (you know, if I was comparing). The LANE EIGHT is using the same system of TPU pebbles heat-molded together into one piece, then encases them in a TPU midsole cage that covers the entire midsole.

When you take the insole out, you can see the internal pebbles and feel the cushioning compress and respond. This normally feels great, and it does in the Trainer AD 1, but the compression around the edges of the midsole is not very conducive to any sort of high-impact lifting. Underfoot you will get a semi-firm ride with a bit of bounce back.

While exercising, the cushioning does a fantastic job of bouncing back your steps and jumps without being overly fluffy. The caging keeps the outward expansion of the midsole in check so there is minimal lag time for response (think of air jordan). This is especially important coming down from jumps or when you have a squat bar on your shoulders — you do not want the Trainer AD 1 shifting sideways from compression with 400 lbs on you.

Also, the insole is made of the same pebbles set into a foam. You can feel the pebbles from the insole under your foot and it feels…weird. Good, but weird, although you get used to it after about five minutes of wear. Super-comfy and crazy functional, the Trainer AD 1 cushioning is serious.

The Trainer AD 1 runs a little narrow and long, which is a bit of a problem for me. I like about a thumbs-width space between the end of my big toe and the end of the shoe. In the U.S. size 11, I had about a thumb and a half. However, the width at the midfoot was perfect, so I don’t think I could size down and be okay.

The fit of the knit is so good there was no sliding at all once laced tight, so I could deal with a little extra length (cue Michael Scott). The lacing system looks like it would do nothing at all, with the knit upper being almost perfect in fit, but it actually does a great job of pulling the leather saddle up and around the heel and midfoot to cut off any movement in those areas.

Also, inside the heel, you won’t find a large heel cup, but one that only reaches about the height of the leather rand. The stretch-knit collar of the Trainer AD 1 and the padding inside the Achilles area lock in your foot and don’t allow for any up-and-down extra-curricular activity. Function over form, unless you can do both, and the Trainer AD 1 does.

A knit lowtop couldn’t possibly have good support…except the jordan debut does, in abundance. Starting with the midsole, we come back to the caging of the cushioning. The TPU cage is stiff, which leads to a slightly clunky feeling at first, but laterally it holds you in and stays stable. The perimeter of the midsole also rises above the edges of your feet and helps contain your foot as you move laterally.

Also found in the midsole/outsole is a forefoot outrigger, something rarely seen in a shoe of this type (trainer/runner). Coupled with the cage and the siderails, your feet aren’t going anywhere the shoe doesn’t go first. The lacing system works with the suede and heel to keep you locked in the midfoot, which keeps your foot upright.