I remember when APL first started gaining traction in the sneaker space. While the brand launched in 2009, it was around 2016 that APL started popping up left and right on celebrity and influencer feeds, not to mention in real, everyday life. Naturally, being a women’s lifestyle writer, I had to get my hands on a pair, so I eventually went to Lululemon and bought the iconic TechLoom Breeze silhouette in a size 10. I was immediately intrigued by the slim lace-up (but ultimately slip-on) sneakers. And that sense of fascination has remained a mainstay for every APL launch since—including the newest APL McLaren HySpeed All-Purpose Performance Running Trainer, a collaboration between the brand, and the luxury sports car.
There's been a lot of hype around the APL McLaren HySpeed sneakers—and it's worth noting their price tag shoots them over $400 ($450 to be exact). The question is: Are they worth it, though? I put them to the test to find out.
Yes, the APL McLaren HySpeed All-Purpose Performance Running Trainers are ridiculously expensive shoes. That said, they’re also incredibly innovative and undeniably stylish, so if money is of no constraint, these uniquely-designed sneakers might be worth looking into (especially if you’re into cars, considering the collab).
Upper: Breathable (semi)non-stretchy TechLoom
Midsole: APL FutureFoam pods connected by a carbon fiber plate
Outsole: Etched rubber tread pattern inspired by McLaren’s performance tires
Weight: ~11.5 oz.
Size/Fit: Size up
Very breathable upper
Interior heel features three cushions for the perfect friction-free fit
FutureFoam midsoles encourage lightweight bounce in every step
The interior tongue seam causes friction (must be broken in)
The initial lace system makes tailoring them to your foot difficult
They’re expensive AF
Sit down and settle in for a top-down analysis of the APL McLaren HySpeed All Purpose Trainer. To put them to the test, I wore them for four days straight on my first-ever trip to New Orleans. They accrued over seven miles of walking distance, an hour of spinning (during THE TRIP at Les Mills Live), and an hour of BODYSTEP (also at Les Mills Live). Since returning, I’ve worn them on mile-long dog walks and to Orangetheory (a HIIT class). Here’s my honest review.
The McLaren HySpeed Trainers are made with a new iteration of APL's fan-favorite TechLoom fabric. While original TechLoom has ample stretch, the fabric featured in the McLaren is said to be non-stretch. Although it’s not nearly as stretchy as traditional TechLoom, it does have some give to it, making these shoes move with your feet, not against them. Like traditional TechLoom, the new version features endless perforation for an overall well-vented sneaker.
What’s unique about the upper is that it’s reinforced with super yarn in high-stress areas across the top of the foot to ensure your foot stays secure at rest and in flexion.
Homing in further on the design, let’s talk laces. APLs always come laced inverted—in that the laces are woven through the topside of the upper before criss-crossing over each other. I find that this type of lacing makes tightening and loosening sneakers a hassle, if even possible. Wanting to provide a genuine review, I tried the shoes on as they came and was annoyed with how difficult they were to pull on (even with the heel pull tab, which after an unfortunate experience with a pair of cowboy boots at Urban Outfitters earlier this year, I was nervous to even tug on). Knowing that the APLs couldn’t possibly be as stiff as they felt, I took them off and unlaced and relaced them normally, and found that the fit was superb—I can loosen and tighten them without a problem, and they feel better fitted to my foot as a result.
Considering the price of these shoes, I would’ve liked to see washable removable insoles to help prolong their lifespan. That said, APL and McLaren aren’t exactly known for thinking about such mundane matters—they are luxury brands, after all. Anyway, since the insoles aren’t removable, it’s difficult to share their exact specs, but I’d guess that they’re about a quarter of an inch thick and made with thin foam. Don’t get me wrong—they’re comfortable. They could just be more thoughtful given the overall design aesthetic.
While discussing the interior, let’s chat about the three plump cushions that protrude from the back of the shoe. Inspired by McLaren Senna seats, these cushions are designed to provide wearers with a comfortable and secure ride (er, stride). As such, they keep the foot fully stable, so as to prevent any and all friction along the heel (which is an issue I’ve found with other APL SKUs when ordering my regular size—more on that later). As someone who gets blisters easily, it’s notable that these highly-padded sneakers did, in fact, keep my sensitive ankles and heels comfortable step after step, mile after mile. That said, the tongue is stitched to the side of the shoe in the interior, and after many miles, the soft sides of my feet (though clothed in socks) were starting to feel the friction from those textured lines of thread. As such, if you have sensitive feet like mine, prepare to have to break them in a bit.
The APL McLaren HySpeed silhouette is particularly unique, thanks to its 3-piece midsole, which is comprised of two APL FutureFoam pods connected by a carbon fiber plate. The look is reminiscent of Nike’s AirZoom SuperRep 2 Sneaker, though, chicer and more refined. In short, thanks to the beautifully-designed midsoles, these shoes just plain look expensive. They’re that stylish.
Style aside, the carbon fiber plate is said to feature a “nitrogen infused midsole compound,” which, if I’m being honest, sounds like a whole lot of marketing speak. But since it's APL, you know years of thought went into it. In layman’s terms, this innovative midsole is designed to offer optimal responsiveness, and after wearing the silhouette all over NOLA, both in slow-paced and fast-moving situations, I can attest to just how well they cushion impact and boost propulsion. I can also admit that the highly-cushioned heel and forefoot pods take some getting used to, as it’s akin to wearing platforms—but I’m all for it.
The APL McLaren Hyspeed All-Purpose Trainers are etched with a tread pattern inspired by the car’s performance tires. In addition to the primary tread, the entire sole of the shoe is etched with a micro tread similar to a fingerprint to provide ample traction during various scenarios, whether it’s logging miles across asphalt, jogging on a treadmill, or scurrying to your gate across slick airport floors. Still, I wouldn’t wear these in rainy or inclement weather, as the tread is definitely designed with indoor exercise in mind. (That said, I don’t find them to be a great fit for indoor classes like OTF, as the bulky heel makes them difficult to securely strap into a rower.)
APL McLaren HySpeed sizing
APL is tricky in that, depending on who you ask, they’re true to sizing or you need to size up or down. Personally, I’ve always been a size 10 in every single type of shoe except for pointed-toe boots and heels—until discovering APL, that is. After the first couple pairs of APLs I tried—including the TechLoom Breeze and Bliss—I learned that the only way I could experience the same adoring reaction to the trendy (and convenient-to-wear) sneakers was if I sized up half a size—otherwise I’d get heel blisters after just a few hours of wear. So, when securing the HySpeeds, I made sure to go up half a size—and they fit perfectly. (The only APL SKU that I’ve found this doesn’t apply to is the TechLoom Tracer, in which case I found the 10.5 to be a bit too big.)
Are they worth it?
To say that the APL McLaren HySpeed All-Purpose Trainer is worth it would be to imply that spending almost half a grand on sneakers (which according to podiatrists, should be replaced every 12 months, no matter the brand) is a worthwhile investment—and for many (read: most) people, they aren’t. If you don’t have a budget, or you’re a die-hard sneaker and/or car fan, by all means, add them to your collection. They’re absolutely comfortable, well thought-out, and beautifully designed. But if you can’t swing the cost, no need to stress. Do they look absolutely awesome in your closet? Definitely.
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