The temptation to be hyperbolic in my work is always present. So when I write that the Atoms 001 are probably the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn, that can be taken with a grain of salt. It’s just. Over the past few years, however, I’ve tried all kinds of shoes for running and walking, including ones that don’t need to be tied, in an effort to prioritize fashionable comfort. The styling of the Atoms 001 may be questionable, but there’s no denying their cloudy feel from the first moment you put them on.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the brand, Atoms is a New York-based start-up. It officially released its first model, the 000 in 2019. Now Atoms are back with a second shoe. Instead of taking a bold leap, this seems like more of a refinement and iteration of its first effort. Given their name – 001 – that makes sense. While 000 could be seen as a test or prototype, the 001 feels like a definitive statement of what an everyday shoe should be, capable of handling long 12-hour days.
- Excellent cushioning with an instant wear-in feel
- Elastic laces are convenient to put on
- The minimalist style may not be for everyone
- Limited color choice at launch
Buy from Atoms.
Atoms 001 upgrades
My wife and I tried the Atoms 000 shoes and were impressed. They were immediately comfortable and gave the step a little spring. The new 001 looks very similar, but they have a few specific upgrades to elevate them above that first model, while the 000 also continues to be sold.
The midsole and outsole have been redesigned to focus on stability; anti-slip traction has been improved; there are better flex points; and three times the amount of copper wires above the 000 on the insole – to guard against odors – have been added. The tongue has been modified to stay in place better and the inner heel has been padded where the Achilles tendon strikes.
Overall, the idea is that the new 001 is more robust, more comfortable and able to handle harsh environments. One of the uses mentioned by the company is a 12-hour hospital service for medical personnel.
While I could definitely see and feel a lot of improvement between the 000 and 001, it wasn’t a drastic leap. Unless you know what to look for, it’s easy to overlook the changes. A newcomer to the brand won’t care what came before, but perhaps an existing customer was hoping for a bigger departure for Atoms’ second shoe design.
Atoms style, fit and feel
At launch, the 001 shoes are available in black, white and olive green. There were also red and purple colors as part of a limited pre-sale, but these are no longer available. The whites have a translucent midsole and outsole in photos, but in person the effect is less dramatic. The entire sole of the shoe looks substantial and it is the visible part that differentiates it from the previous model.
Atoms shoes, as they currently exist, are simple. They are one color with a nondescript silhouette. At first glance, I was a bit disappointed that almost nothing changed in the styling of the new 001. Styling is subjective, so you’ll have to decide if they match your look. Personally, I found that the comfort of the shoe outweighs its minimalist design.
The first time I put on the Atoms 000 I felt like they had already been broken in and worn for months, although they still retained the springy cushion of a new shoe. The 001 retains that feeling. Similarly, the elastic laces, taken from the old model, still work the same way to allow your feet to put on without needing to be untied.
I noticed the increased stability of the 001 shoes touted by Atoms. It’s subtle, but there aren’t the same spongy edges along the sole as with the 000. I didn’t feel unstable in the 000, but I appreciated the increased attention to this area in the 001. Also, I definitely would’ I didn’t think to ask for this enhancement, but I can see how it helps people who are on their feet all day.
Most of the time when I wore the 001 shoes, I ended up forgetting that they were on my feet. Once I put them on and started going about my day, they hardly ever crossed my mind. Being forgettable is one of the best compliments I can think of for giving a pair of shoes. That meant they didn’t get in my way or have wear time.
Should you buy Atoms 001?
The 000 and 001 models of Atoms shoes are easy to recommend and easy to wear. The padding under my feet was still palpable. If I’m traveling, going to a conference, or just know I’m going to be walking a lot throughout the day, these are the shoes I would typically choose.
The 001 shoes are only $30 more than the 000. I think the added grip and stability of the new Atoms provide enough value to easily justify the extra cost. That is, if you like the colors available for the new shoes. The whites I wore were fine for the summer, but I can’t wait for the expanded color options to come surely in the future.
Buy from Atoms for $159.
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