Best women’s lightweight running shoes review 2015
Now the race season is here, it’s time to start thinking about the kit that will best get you from swim to finish line – and when it comes to the run, shoe choice is key. As a triathlete you’re well catered for but there are choices to make.
>>> Run shoes buyer's guide 2015
Do you run in your old faithfuls? (Not a bad choice if you’re a newbie looking to survive in comfort), or do you go for something a bit special?
And if you decide to splash the cash, should you pick a shoe designed with the needs of triathletes considered, such as the Zoots and Pearl Izumis below, or a racing shoe created with pure speed in mind, like either the Adidas or the Mizunos?
Well, we’ve included a range below – all tested over our 5k and 10k loops that incorporated fast flat sections, as well as a couple of sharp hills. Read on and find the pair that will take you to your next PB...
Adidas Adizero Boston 5
Price: £95 from www.adidas.co.uk
There seems to be a trend among shoe manufacturers to equate eye-popping colour with performance, but don’t let the understated looks of the Boston 5 fool you (although a neon-soled version is available).
This is a shoe that combines speed and comfort in a lightweight (210g) package that made every step of our 10k test loop feel like we were racing at our hardest – yet enjoying it at the same time.
That’s thanks to Adidas’s Boost technology in the sole, whereby tiny energy capsules are designed to return energy to you, keeping legs fresh and the pace high.
The Coolever mesh upper is light and super-breathable (hold these up and you can see daylight through them), while the Continental rubber outsole keeps them grippy in the wet. One note: go up a half-size, as sizing is pretty stingy.
Verdict: Not tri-specific, but for fast efforts these are the best we’ve tried, 92%
Pearl Izumi EM Tri N2
Price: £94 from www.madison.co.uk
One of only two truly tri-specific shoes in this test, the Em Tri N2 naturally draws comparison with the Zoots. With regards weight there’s little to choose between them, with the Pearl Izumi coming in at 224g for our UK6.
We found the tri laces on this shoe a little trickier to do up though, as there’s a sliding button toggle to navigate, but that’s a minor niggle.
Out on our test loop, the Pearl Izumi felt roomy and comfortable, although the weight of the cushioning in the heel led to a slightly flat feeling at times, meaning we didn’t quite get up on our toes as we’d like to.
The feel was similar to the Scotts overall, but with slightly more cushioning leading to a comfier overall ride. The linings are soft and breathable too, meaning we were chafe-free when wearing without socks – and a generous heel loop aids in transition.
Verdict: Comfy and tri-friendly, but they just didn’t give us that race-day kick, 80%
Mizuno Hitogami 2
Price: £85 from www.mizuno.eu/gb
The least expensive shoe on test is also the one that took top honours in last year’s race shoe test – and the Hitogami continues to impress in this second incarnation.
It’s gained a little weight since 2014 (204g vs 181g on our scales for a UK6), something Mizuno put down to a new two-piece upper, designed to give a better fit.
On test though, these shoes still feel nimble and Mizuno’s now well-established Wave and Smoothride technology do a great job of creating a sure-footed and flowing run gait.
Alongside the Boston Boost these are the shoes that feel most like performance racers, although in this test we found them just a little less cushioned than their three-striped rivals.
Also, they feel quite narrow, especially across the top of the foot. If they fit you though, these will serve you well come race day.
Verdict: Still a solid contender in its second incarnation – and at a great price, 86%
Asics Gel-Noosa Tri 100
Price: £114 from www.asics.co.uk
Aside from winning the ‘shoe easiest to spot in transition’ award, what else makes Asics’ 10th incarnation of this shoe tri-specific? Well, there’s the triathlon swim/bike/run graphics festooning it as well as a set of elastic laces.
But although the upper is soft, and there’s breathable mesh around the toes, the inside still includes different sections and a separate tongue that would make us think twice about ditching the socks. There’s no heel loop for easy fitting either.
Yet the weight is comparable to others on test (242g) and the shoe is aimed at longer-distance triathletes looking for pronation control.
As such it includes Asics’ classic Guidance Line technology as well as Gel cushioning in the rear and forefoot, making for a very comfortable run experience – it just seemed more training shoe than racer.
Verdict: More tri features needed to market it as a tri shoe, but a competent performer, 80%
Continue reading our guide to the best lightweight women's running shoes of 2015 (2/2)