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Unpause Atlas: Full Length PEBA at a Value
By Chief Editor/Founder Matthew Klein

An increasing number of brands have begun experimenting with new midsole materials, slowly moving away from EVA based foams and using PEBA, PEBAX, nylon-based foams and more. However, with these new materials, many of these shoes are quite expensive. The Unpause Atlas challenges this with a ~$90 dollar shoe featuring a full length PEBA midsole and a midfoot carbon fiber shank. One of the rare shoes with this new midsole foam to feature a somewhat flexible forefoot due to only a partial length plate, the Unpause Atlas has entered a unique shoe into the market that is worth some attention. 

Unpause Atlas
Price: $90 (2890 Bhat)
Weight: 7.93 oz, 225 g (men's size 8.5) 
Stack Height: 35 mm / 27 mm
Drop: 8 mm
Classification: Lightweight Trainer

How to Order: Right now the only way to order is via Unpause's Facebook.


The Unpause Atlas is a lightweight trainer with a midfoot carbon fiber plate and a full length PEBA midsole. A breathable see through mesh upper sits up top, providing a slightly more narrow fit especially in the forefoot. A full length PEBA midsole provides a modernly bouncy and cushioned ride, while a carbon shank/plate in the midfoot provides a little rigidity on top of a fairly flexible forefoot. Best for those who want a slightly more flexible forefoot in a lightweight trainer or potentially a racing shoe, this is one of the most affordable options for those interested in a shoe with this type of midsole. 


The Unpause Atlas fits me true to size in my normal men's size US size 10. Initially it felt short, but this is due to a thicker toe guard and a strong taper at the toebox. This taper did not cause me issues over shorter mileage, but I have gotten blisters over 6-8 miles on my first toe. The fit is slightly snug throughout the length of the shoe, with a more narrow fit as mentioned through the toebox. The heel is normal to slightly snug and features a large but moderately flexible heel counter. Those who are sensitive to counters should be a little cautious, but I had no trouble thanks to the moderate heel collar padding. The front half of the upper is an extremely breathable see through mesh upper. This has been great for extremely hot summer days in Southern California and those who need ventilation will do well here. The tongue is wide, gusseted and secure. The laces are wide, thin and do not seem to interact with the upper well. I had an extremely hard time getting a good lockdown in the midfoot initially and have had trouble adjusting the laces to get a secure fit there. Security was not the greatest overall, and I had a great deal of slippage in the midfoot. For that reason and the toe guard, I would not suggest sockless running given the risk for blisters. Overall though, this shoe provides a snugger fit with a breathable upper for those who want a high level of ventilation. 


The Unpause Atlas features a full length PEBA midsole that provides a moderately responsive ride. The ride feels similar but slightly softer compared to the older versions of Saucony PWRRUN PB. This provides a cushioned and slightly softer ride regardless of where you land. There is an 8mm drop, although with compression of the sole feels more like a 5-6mm drop and at other times when I am landing really far in the back feels like an 8-10mm drop shoe. The heel transition is a little clunky given the posterior lateral flare.  This improves somewhat as the foam softens, but the Atlas feels better the farther forward you land. This transitions into a solid midfoot, where the plate quickly transitions you forward into a snappy but mild/moderately flexible forefoot. This was a pleasant surprise in a PEBA-foamed, plated shoe. This makes the Atlas a great option for daily training as the forefoot is not so stiff that it will only work during faster efforts.

Easier efforts have felt great in this shoe, with the exception of some instability I experienced given that this is a neutral shoe. On the other end of the pace spectrum, the Unpause Atlas does well at moderate to uptempo paces. The lighter weight makes it an excellent option to pick up the pace to tempo efforts. The softer foam and lighter weight (~8 oz in men's size 9) make it a great workout option. The slightly more flexible forefoot and clunky heel doesn't feel as good at extremely fast efforts (shorter intervals) and the speed tends to top out at tempo efforts. For that reason, this shoe will likely excel as a tempo/uptempo/fartlek shoe and potentially a half marathon-10k race shoe for those that do not want a full length carbon plate in their racing shoe. The durability on the outsole has been fantastic, although the smoother sole does not provide the most traction. I have almost 40 miles in my pair and have not been able to make a large impact on the outsole. Overall this is a unique shoe that will work for many as a workout shoe and others as a moderate distance racing shoe for those who land a bit farther forward or don't mind a little clunkiness in the heel. 


The Unpause Atlas is a neutral shoe with no traditional stability elements. There is a significant amount of lateral and medial flare in the rearfoot. While this resists some motion medially at the rear most portion, the posterior lateral flare does cause an early initial contact, which can pitch your foot medially as you transition forward. This is reduced somewhat as the midsole breaks in, but continues to push the foot more medial along its transition. The carbon shank adds some rigidity to the midfoot, but only enough to slightly offset the softer PEBA foam. The midfoot is not narrow compared to the rest of the shoe and there is a small guideline in the outsole. However, with the softer sole and current sole design, this shoe will work far better for those with neutral mechanics.


Balancing Softness

The majority of PEBA, PEBAX or Nylon based midsole foam shoes on the market have a full length plate of some sort. This is often necessary given how soft many of these foams are. Some level of rigidity is often needed to balance out that instability. However, this often limits the flexibility of the forefoot. This is beneficial for some, but may not be for others. We have referenced the study by Mcleod et al. (2020), which among a few others have demonstrated that different people benefit from different levels of stiffness. Plates of any kind serve to increase the longitudinal bending stiffness of a shoe. Most of this research is usually done with full length plates. Research on those without full length plates is not as common. We do know that the best plate designs are the ones that line up with the metatarsophalangeal joints (toe joints) (Ortega et al., 2021). Where exactly the axis of this joint is will depend on several factors, including the shape of the foot/feet, the length of many of the long bones of the foot (phalanges, metatarsals), the size of the joints and a few other factors. This only takes into account one part of the foot, as different people will have different levels of mobilities in the forefoot, midfoot and rearfoot. A shoe like the Unpause Atlas is unique in that it has a moderate length carbon plate that does reach into the forefoot, but still allows some flexibility at the MTP joints. This makes the shoe feel less snappy, but allows a more natural transition while adding rigidity to the midfoot. This adds some versatility into easier miles, but also for those who may not respond well to extremely stiff forefoot transitions. Others who need the rigid rockered ride seen in many super shoes (ie those with forefoot mobility deficits) may not do well in a shoe like this, but for others wanting a shoe with a plate that doesn't inhibit forefoot motion, this is a unique option. 


Healey, L. A., & Hoogkamer, W. (2022). Longitudinal bending stiffness does not affect running economy in Nike Vaporfly shoes. 
Journal of sport and health science11(3), 285-292.
Mcleod, A., Bruening, D., Johnson, A., Ward, J., Hunter, I. (2020). Improving running economy through altered shoe bending stiffness across speeds. Footwear Science, 1-11. 
Ortega, J. A., Healey, L. A., Swinnen, W., & Hoogkamer, W. (2021). Energetics and biomechanics of running footwear with increased longitudinal bending stiffness: a narrative review. 
Sports Medicine51(5), 873-894.


The Unpause Atlas is a great first start for this company. I have enjoyed some shorter mileage in this shoe, but there are several ways to improve this. The first would be to reduce the lateral flare and angle the bevel more laterally. The majority of rearfoot striking runners land there, so that will ease the transition onto the platform. It may be beneficial to have some mild sidewalls for guidance. While this is not a stability shoe, if you are going to use a higher stack height of softer PEBA foam, you are going to want some methods to keep the foot on the platform. The upper materials feel a bit lower quality, but do the job. The toe guard absolutely needs to be replaced. That has caused me several blisters and tapers the toe box to an uncomfortable level for my first toe. This can easily be reworked and should be changed to allow a more neutral alignment of the first toes. It may also help to add some additional reinforcement around the midfoot as that does not feel secure. This will help with some of the overall security and may even make the shoe feel a bit faster. 


The Unpause Atlas is for those wanting a lightweight trainer with a full length PEBA midsole, a midfoot carbon fiber plate and a snug fit in an affordable price. The fit is breathable, slightly snug with a tapered toebox. The full length PEBA midsole feels moderately bouncy underfoot, with some rigidity in the midfoot and some flexibility in the forefoot. The ride is a little clunky in the rearfoot, but features a solid transition off the front of the shoe. Best for uptempo and tempo efforts, with some additional versatility into daily training and 10k to half marathon distances, the Unpause Atlas is a great first entry from this brand. 


Fit: B/B- (Snugger fit with tapered toebox. Difficult to get laces secure. Breathable mesh, but feels a little cheap)
B+ (Comfortable lightweight PEBA trainer for easy mileage, uptempo and tempo efforts)
Stability: B- [Neutral] (Decently neutral and not unstable, but posterior lateral heel flare causes early initial contact that pitches foot inward without adequate guidance)
DPT/Footwear Science: B- (Solid first version, but tapered toe box combined with slightly more narrow sole and flexibility of forefoot may be irritating for some people with sensitive toe joints. Upper needs to be reworked at toe box and better guidance methods are needed for a foam this soft and with this much stack height)
Personal: B (A great budget racing/PEBA shoe for those who want to test the waters in this type of shoe)
Overall: B/B-


Unpause Atlas
Price: $90 (2890 Bhat) at Unpause Facebook Page

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your
local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at Unpause for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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