Veja Condor 2 Review
Stack Height: 27mm heel / 17mm forefoot
Old-school fashion “running sneakers” go green.
The Condor, even in its second version, is new to the US running market because the eco-friendly, Paris-designed, Brazil-produced, ethically-leaning company made its domestic splash through the fashion entrance. Models, actors and other famous customers were drawn to Veja’s green image and petroleum-free standard, not to mention the company’s use of sugar cane, rice waste, fair-trade cotton, wild rubber from the Amazon, and recycled plastic bottles. The Veja factory’s fair wages, transparency, upcycling and customers’ ability to trace materials back to their source were also a draw for the see and be seen set. More than half (57% in the Condor 2) of the shoe is bio-based or from recycled materials. The brand took four years to develop the Condor and Condor 2 and their running line remains a work in progress, with the Marlin, featuring a 6mm drop, coming soon.
This Is the Shoe for You If …
Your impact on the Earth matters more than the performance of your shoe while running on earth. It helps that you’ll look good – from both the “I care” and a fashion lens – in those shoes.
“Running sneaker” best describes the Condor 2, which felt old school in its stiffness and lack of roll-through flow, but provided plenty of underfoot protection and a consistent ride that won’t degrade over the course of a run. The firm midsole feel can likely be attributed to the foam’s bio-based material makeup, using 51% sugar cane and 5% banana oil, with a thin, responsive-cushioning insert underfoot, made from 30% natural latex from Brazil and 70% synthetic latex. The outsole consists of 30% Amazonian rubber, 31% rice waste and 39% synthetic rubber, and boasted some impressive traction, especially on wet surfaces.
Testers raved about the eye-friendly nature of these natural shoes, appreciating that the muted colors didn’t scream out the way many of today’s Sno-cone-bright running shoes do. As to the fit, which seemed to adapt to the foot with a short break-in period, the upper provided a flexible but not stretchy hold, one deemed to be “generally comfortable,” with an accommodating straight shape and ample volume. The uppers, made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and castor oil, were tight in spots but not in others, somewhat inexplicably so. But the lacing was rather adaptive and, accordingly to one tester, “very secure and stable feeling.” Note, Veja’s European sizing conversion is a little different so be careful when translating to US sizes.
The natural midsole ingredients didn’t cook up the best performance when it came to the shoe’s ride, which testers called, “rather flat,” “not lively at all,” “rather generic,” and lacking in much cushioning or rebound compared to most modern training shoes. Nor did the midsole offer much in the way of “road feel,” which a tester attributed to the 10mm drop and midsole stiffness. The foam’s performance reminded one tester of EVA from previous decades, which delivered a ride he called “lacking the pop we’ve come to expect today, but perfectly adequate.”
The Condor 2 is well suited as a travel shoe, where they’d serve multiple purposes throughout the day. They’re ideal, one tester remarked, for a casual “let’s go get an Aperol Spritz by the sea in the South of France.” And they are fine for the easy shakeout runs we often do on a vacation — but not, testers agreed, for long days or speed sessions. Closer to home, they’re a great shoe for a relaxed run that ends at a brunch.
Mostly, the test team had very kind words for Veja’s environmental and ethical mission and hoped the shoes progress on the performance front.