Nothing much really...there's not much to this shoe. It takes minimalist shoes the the next level.
Some type of sockliner or a more seamless interior to make things a little more bare foot friendly.
So far...we think that if you can make it work without any rub or injury, it could be worth adding it to your arsenal for working on run form. We also like the possibility of using it as a short distance race flat. We're thinking mainly sprint distance type races at this point.
Another brand making big strides into the growing trend of minimalist running shoes is Saucony. They have a range of minimalist running shoes available and the Hattori is the most extreme example in the brand's lineup. This stripped down shoe is targeted at the "natural running" crowd. We can't help but think that this shoe will have some triathletes thinking "4.4 ounces, oh hell yeah, I just found my new racing flat." Well...maybe, but don't make that leap without getting accustomed to this type of shoe.
The concept is simple: Wrap the foot in as little material as possible, add a thin flexible sole and run like hell. Or at least that's what we think, of course actually pulling that off is a different animal altogether. Fortunately for us we just have to review the stuff.
We'll start off by saying that this is a shoe that you should definitely ease into. We've been easing our way into them for a few weeks now with mixed results. At this point we would be comfortable recommending them for sprint distance racing, possibly Olympic distance and not much more. We feel like pushing the distance much beyond that would be a stretch. Save these shoes for those extremely fast days when every second counts.
First off, the Hattori is super-duper, stupid light (yes, that's a new category) at a mere 4.4 ounces, minimal is putting it mildly, the Hattori is almost nonexistent in the weight department. This shoe also features zero heel to forefoot drop for the ultimate in that "natural" running feel.
We will say that this design makes it easy to feel your way through your running form. Meaning, it does promote a more natural running style (which is kinda the point) because it is so minimal you almost have to become a mid to forefoot striker. For example, we think it would be difficult or at least very uncomfortable for a heel striker to run with a heel striker's form in this shoe. So, if nothing else, the shoe could be a valuable training tool when it comes to working on run form.
Picture running barefoot, only you have a thin rubber sole glued to the bottom of you foot. That's pretty much what running in the Hattori is like. More slipper-esque than shoe-like, the Hattori is the lightest shoe ever in Saucony's long history of shoe designs, and the lightest we've tested to date.
The shoe has a very thin, flexible mesh-like material that stretches and conforms to the foot. This upper provides a glove-like fit that allows the foot to move freely. We are a little concerned about it's durability because it is so thin...only time will tell and we will have to update that category in a long term review.
We feel like this shoe suffers a little in the ventilation department, the material on the upper is lightweight and thin but it doesn't give us enough breathability. Or it may be due to the fact that since there's no traditional sockliner there's also very little material to absorb unwanted moisture. As anyone who has done much sockless running knows, moisture and bare feet don't mix. If you are a heavy sweater or you run in extreme heat like we do, just beware that this may cause some issues.
On the Road
Our first few test runs went great, we proceeded with caution when slipping into this shoe and our first test runs were only about 30 minutes long. After a couple of easy runs we thought this shoe was going to be the "shiz" but once we stretched it out a bit more (up to about 45-50 minutes with a bit more intensity) things went south in a hurry. The left shoe gave us some pretty serious rub in the heel area. There are a couple of rigid pieces in the back of the shoe, one on each side of the heel to provide some structure to that part of the shoe and for attaching part of the rear adjustment tab.
This is the area that has given us trouble on a few occasions. Not sure if it's our adjustment of the shoe, the shoe itself, or a combination that caused the problem. One thing we noticed is that when you adjust the heel strap it can cause the back of the shoe to collapse a little.
We've come across a few tricks we've used to help combat this issue. For starters, we recommend starting with a slightly looser fit out back than you think you may need especially if you have narrow feet. The shoe seems to conform a little more when it warms up. We also recommend that you unfasten the adjustment straps before you store these shoes. We have found that after running, especially when the shoes may be damp from sweat, unfastening these straps will keep the shoe from pulling against itself and collapsing in the heel area.
In keeping with the minimalistic theme, the Hattori uses an extremely flexible, very thin, mostly foam type of sole. You will also see a few hints of rubber for added durability and traction. The sole is extremely thin and flexible. It also gives you a bit of cushion (or at least a buffer from the running surface) but not much, so you will want to be sure to run on very smooth surfaces with this shoe. Even small rocks and debris will be felt with this sole, but it also gives you a pretty unobstructed feel for the road. We feel like the lifespan of this sole will be short lived but if you use it as a race day only shoe that may not be a huge concern.
Feels true to size. We think you'll want a pretty sung fit to get the full benefit of these shoes.
Certainly falls in the range of comparable natural running shoes, it's actually at the lower end of that range.
TriBomb Bottom Line
For triathlon, we think this shoe could be a valuable tool come race day, especially for short course racing. At TriBomb we're not sold on the whole natural running thing but we feel like you could make an argument for one extremely lightweight racing flat provided you can acclimate to the natural running style.