When the original Neutron was released in 2016, many runners found the fit of the shoe to be slightly bizarre. The narrow toe box and wide heel cup made it specific to a very niche foot shape which may go some way to explaining why the Neutron part 1 failed to garner mass appeal.
Fast forward a couple of years and the Neutron is a totally different beast. Still very much a rugged off road shoe designed to appeal to alpine runners, the updated and revamped Neutron 2 comes with a new last that's much more suited to the demands of long distance mountain running. The key difference is that it's wider around the forefoot so there's more space for toes to spread and expand, which is a crucial feature for ultra runners and anyone venturing into alpine terrain.
Other notable mountain running-specific improvements include the TPU insert designed to simultaneously reduce accidental twists and increase the power and speed of the shoe in the push-off phase. These crucial updates combined with the Neutron 2's grippy Vibram Genetic II sole and Heel Tension System all help to facilitate efficient progress in the mountains and minimise the stresses and strains of travelling in steep terrain.
The changes are all good and have definitely improved the shoe's on trail performance but you can't get away from the fact that the Neutron 2's are just not that exciting. Don't get me wrong, nothing's really bad about this shoe, it's just that I can't help but feel like I've seen it all before.
The 6mm drop is standard and predictable, the weight is similarly unremarkable coming in at 580g per pair, and the profile looks very similar to the La Sportiva Akasha. That said, the Akasha is one of our favourite ultra running shoes of all time so if the Neutron 2 is capable of delivering a similarly impressive performance long term then we may be converted.
Only time will tell how it stacks up this coming running season but at first look the Neutron 2 looks set to be a solid and reliable off road performer. Think function not fireworks.