apl streamline running shoe

Pancake-Inspired Running Shoes: What’s Up With APL’s $300 Sneakers?

These new hybrid runners got their design at a pancake breakfast. The finished product hits the street today.

It’s not every day that a high-performance running shoe loaded with proprietary technology gets inspired by a breakfast treat. But today is that day.

Athletic Propulsion Labs’ (APL) cofounders were walking through Tokyo when they stopped for a meal of traditional flapjacks. That’s when it got weird — the hot, fluffy discs would shortly result in a techy running shoe design.

Over a 2-year period, Los Angeles-based shoe designer APL whipped up a compound it calls FutureFoam. It then baked the foam into its new Streamline running shoe. 

FutureFoam may be the strangest proprietary tech in the Streamline, but it’s not the only one; the upper material is also novel. What are the details? How exactly did this “pancake shoe” happen? Read on to find out.

Breakfast of Champions: Pancake-Inspired ‘Streamline’ Shoe

The Athletic Pancake, er, Propulsion Labs Streamline shoe has:

  • road and gym use-capable design
  • a slanted shank plate, which encourages forward motion upon foot strike
  • a lightweight rubber outsole
  • 3D-molded heel padding
  • microfiber collar edges for heightened long-distance comfort

But APL is a proud innovator, and it clearly recognized the opportunity to generate mystique around its new shoe. The Streamline is, after all, the ambitious brainchild of Adam and Ryan Goldston, brother founders of “the brand that always pushes the limits of what is possible,” APL claims.

For the Streamline running shoe, the Goldstons started probing boundaries at their auspicious Tokyo breakfast. The siblings call the result their “most advanced running shoe to date” and a combination of “beauty and performance.”

The Streamline’s 2-year development process focused on making a midsole with the step-in comfort (think fluffy hotcakes) of a recovery shoe, as well as the performance and energy generation of a distance runner.

apl streamline neon green

And that’s where APL’s invention of FutureFoam comes in. Details on the new material are a little scant, but the brand shared that it designed FutureFoam “to deliver superior comfort, exceptional cushioning, and most importantly, speed.” Measurable metrics include compression, rebound, and energy return.

On the other hand, the Goldstons explained the wearer experience with a hint of the magical. “The midsole and soufflé insole are designed to give the wearer a pleasure-packed ride that is softer than they could imagine,” they said.

That’s when the language really gets weird. APL went on to specify that the midsole has “horizontal channels carved by the wind” to make each stride “smoothly flow through the air.”

We don’t know exactly what it all means, but if the shoe’s base does, in fact, include a wind-contoured pancake, we cannot wait to try on a pair.

Not Done Yet: APL Serves Up Even More Proprietary Tech

The Streamline’s midsole isn’t the only thing that gets esoteric in-house technology. For the upper, the brand developed a lightweight textile it calls AeroLux, which sounds almost as mysterious as FutureFoam.

apl streamline top profile

APL builds AeroLux with thin layers of “support and vector flow lines” to improve airflow around the foot and to reduce drag. From what we can tell, it looks like another lightweight upper blend.

“AeroLux is a responsive top layer that provides your foot with key support [and] reinforcement where needed,” the Goldstons said. They also mentioned that, with the new tech, the Streamline has APL’s lightest upper to date. Integrated lacing completes the shoe.

Streamline Running Shoe: Price and Options

The APL Streamline running shoe comes in a wide spectrum of colors (white on one end, leopard print on the other) for men and women. It retails for $300.

apl streamline leopard print

“The Streamline is an amazing blend of aesthetic and function that will elevate your journey,” the Goldstons said. “Run everything.” We assume “everything” must include the breakfast buffet line.

Learn more at Athletic Propulsion Labs.

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Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.