10 Best Triathlon Running Shoes – 2021 Buying Guide

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
 Asics Gel Noosa Tri 11
Test Winner: Asics Gel Noosa Tri 11
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Like any shoe designed for a specific athletic activity, there are multiple factors to take into account. Triathalon shoes may just have the most factors to consider though.

From quick-lace capability, drainage, breathability, and of course durability, top triathlon running shoes need it all.

The good news is that we've spent countless hours testing and reviewing the best triathlon shoes on the market to help steer you in the right direction. Peruse our top picks below to get a sense of your options and then test a few models on your own. We'll be waiting for your feedback. 😉

Standout Picks

While these shoes look great, they are also one of the best shoes for triathlon out there. They are specifically designed with the triathlete's needs in mind and provide a secure and comfortable fit that will keep you moving and pain-free.
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The ASICS Gel Noosa Tri 11 has some great enhancements over the previous versions in the Noosa line. The upper improvements consist of lighter, more comfortable “user-friendly” materials compared to its predecessors. The improved construction has fewer seams that could result in irritating spots throughout the interior.
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The Newton Running Distance VI is a universal trainer fit both for stability runners and neutral ones. The running shoe is wickedly fast and surprisingly lightweight. Overall, the Distance VI is a propulsive shoe that provides ample energy for the greatest of athletes.
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The On Cloudflyer running shoes are an excellent pair of shoes for triathletes that love that barefoot feel. They are incredibly lightweight, comfortable, and exceptionally durable as well. They provide excellent cushioning and responsiveness, so take a look below if you are looking for a more barefoot feel!
This neutral runner has quite a unique sock-like design, which is one that is growingly common with Zoot’s footwear. The Ultra Race 4.0 is a fast, lightweight shoe that possesses all of the basics required of effective racing footwear.
Amazon Link
ASICS is a well-respected brand in the running community and their Kayano model is one of their most popular shoes. These shoes are supportive and great for runners with stability issues. They look great and come in lots of colors to choose from--so you don't have to worry about sacrificing style for functionality.
Amazon Link
If you are looking for a pair of shoes that will provide you with the additional support and cushioning that you need without sacrificing flexibility or weighing you down, these Hoka running shoes may be the perfect pair to consider if you are a triathlete. Yes, they are a little bulky, but they look great and come in several colors to choose from!
This is a neutral runner that seems to do really well with long distances. The Pearl Izumi EM Tri N2 doesn’t have a whole lot of updates from its previous version, but still offer quite a few benefits.
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The GEL-Hyper Tri 2, which is the second version in this line is a great pick for triathlon running. There were a few improvements that were made with this version, mostly involving the upper and outsole.
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If you need super affordable triathlon running shoes then they are the way to go. They look a little bulky, but they come in lots of colors to choose from, so they still look great. Scott has some great cycling shoes, so it's not surprising they have some running shoes as well.
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Criteria Used for Evaluation

Comfort

When we’re talking about multiple hours of consistent intense exercise, comfort becomes an important factor for each participant. Any kind of uncomfortable feature will expose the participant to a lesser performance; you can’t give your best if your shoes generate irritation, discomfort or pain in your feet.

There are multiple sub-parameters that fall into this category. To mention some of them, we examined features of the shoes such as arch support; this represents an important parameter, especially for those users who have arch issues (low arch, flatfoot), and it can impede a participant to perform correctly. The toe box can also impact the comfort of each shoe, as too much space will allow the shoe to bounce back and forth, and it will additionally generate an unnatural gait, as well as affect flexibility.

Another aspect of this parameter is cushioning. In order to perform for multiple hours, triathlon participants must have their shoes properly equipped with cushioning. The lack of cushioning will result in the heel and general foot taking most of the impact shock, generating not only discomfort but also pain and possible minor injuries.

Weight

During our search to bring you the best triathlon shoes, we included the weight of the shoes as a research parameter. The importance of weight drew our attention because it can considerably reduce the effort needed to carry on every single step. And when you are running in a triathlon, we’re talking about quite a lot of steps over a long period of time. Reducing the energy needed to execute each one of them can produce a decisive advantage when performing for long times over a long distance. Heavy shoes lead to heavy tired feet and legs which will slow a runner down.

We made sure to select only the most lightweight designs out there. However, it’s not just having low weight; our picks consist of shoes that can offer superior functionality and performance while still sustaining a lightweight design. The features that we look for in a lightweight shoe include the materials of which they are made out of; this determines the base weight of the shoe. After this, other features such as additional technology or devices add up weight, so we focused on those shoes that maintain an overall lightweight design. This includes both base structure and additional features.

We took steps to ensure that our lightweight shoes on this list do not sacrifice support and durability for the sake of being lighter. A light shoe does no good if they wear out too quickly or are uncomfortable.

Breathability

For this buying guide, we compiled a list of shoes that provide a decent amount of airflow into the shoe and back out. This allows the feet to refresh while a participant is performing for long periods of time, preventing heat concentrations that can lead to further consequences such as excessive sweating of the feet, fungi and bad odor.

In order to provide enough breathability to stay in comfort, a shoe must be prepared to allow the flow of new air. We searched through the shoes that offer the most breathable materials, such as mesh and air mesh, which would provide enough air to enter from multiple areas of the shoe. We also took into consideration all kinds of technologies that improve the breathability of the shoes, selecting those which offered the greatest.

For even more breathability, we looked through some models that allow barefoot performance. While some users are against barefoot exercising, some others find it way more comfortable to perform without socks, seeing as it becomes more breathable when you remove them – but it’s just a matter of personal opinion.

Durability

Durability is a very important factor for our research on the best triathlon shoes. While a new pair of shoes might not deteriorate enough in one triathlon to affect performance, we looked for shoes that can provide enough durability to take multiple intense training sessions and triathlons. When you are running competitively you want everything working to your advantage and a shoe that doesn't detract from your performance.

Some triathlons shoes can come in very expensive, whether they’re cycling shoes, running shoes, or a hybrid of both. Not everyone has the option to switch from a pair of shoes after every triathlon, and even those who have the option don’t necessarily want to buy a whole new pair of shoes again. Afterall, that could get expensive really quickly for those who are running several marathons and triathlons a year.  We took into consideration those designs that offer great resistance against intense training and performance; from the base, shoe builds to the integrated features.

Sometimes the smallest things can affect the durability of a shoe; a deteriorated rubber sole can notably affect traction and completely kill the performance of a triathlon participant. We made sure to pick the shoes that were made out of the best materials, specially engineered to last a decent amount of time, and that offered the best features to give you a shoe you can fall in love with.

Flexibility

Flexibility is a must in every running shoe. Being this a triathlon buying guide, we ensured that our research included features that meet standards similar to those of high-quality running shoes.  In order to obtain a natural gain and to deliver proper strikes, flexibility must meet a high standard of quality and functionality.

For us, it’s important for the shoes to have the correct direction of flexibility. During our research, we looked for shoes with a multi-directional flexibility that provides a comfortable and functional performance while still maintaining enough stiffness to support the shoe.

Flexible shoes lend themselves to being shoes that are comfortable to wear when running triathalons.

Best Triathlon Running Shoes

1. Zoot Ali’i

Where to buy
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Zoot Ali’i
Amazon Link

While these shoes look great, they are also one of the best shoes for triathlon out there. They are specifically designed with the triathlete's needs in mind and provide a secure and comfortable fit that will keep you moving and pain-free.

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Comfort

Whether you are competing in the winter or the summer, you need to make sure you have the right pair of shoes that will help you go the distance and won't deplete your energy or endurance. Their slip-on design saves you time and makes transitions must faster and easier. They provide enough support for neutral runners and while they provide some stability, they aren't stability specific shoes, so keep this in mind if this is something you need in a running shoe.

Weight

These shoes offer lightweight cushioning that provides excellent energy return and is highly responsive. They are really durable and are designed to be worn without socks if that's something you want to do (although you can wear socks with them if you want to).

Breathability

These triathlon running shoes are really breathable and provide excellent ventilation to ensure that your feet stay cool and dry during all of your triathlons--whether you are competing or training.

Durability

The outsole of these shoes are made of carbon rubber and many users report they are built to last. These shoes will last through several races and you can use them to train as well if you'd like. They are made of high-quality materials and they look great--they are probably some of the best-looking triathlon running shoes out there.

Flexibility

If you are looking for a pair of shoes that offer flexibility and a full range of motion, then you will love these running shoes. They allow for optimal range of motion without sacrificing any support or stability.

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2. Asics Gel Noosa Tri 11

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Asics Gel Noosa Tri 11
Amazon Link

The ASICS Gel Noosa Tri 11 has some great enhancements over the previous versions in the Noosa line. The upper improvements consist of lighter, more comfortable “user-friendly” materials compared to its predecessors. The improved construction has fewer seams that could result in irritating spots throughout the interior.

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Comfort

The Dynamic DouMax system in the midsole also helps slow the rate of pronation, making these an ideal choice for those who tend to over-pronate. These are packed with a bunch more features such as their I.G.S or Impact Guidance System which enhances the foot's natural gait.

Weight

The shock-absorbing GEL system is used in the rear and forefoot areas. The midsole is made of ASICS’ Solyte foam, which delivers responsive cushioning while cutting down on weight.

Breathability

In terms of breathability, these running shoes are pretty breathable and make sure your feet stay cool and dry during all of your triathlons.

Durability

This company consistently puts out quality products that perform exactly how they are intended making them reliable. They are a reasonably affordable choice almost every time. The GEL-Noosa Tri 11 is no exception and a great option for your next triathlon. For additional durability, AHAR (ASICS High Abrasion Rubber) covers the high wear area under the heel. Finally, the WET GRIP tread design allows the Noosa to function well over multiple surfaces in different climate conditions.

Flexibility

The flexible DuraSponge Outsole, made from a blown abrasion-resistant rubber, also adds some extra cushioning while still allowing these running shoes to be flexible and provide you with a full range of motion.

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3. Newton Distance VI

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Newton Distance VI
Amazon Link

The Newton Running Distance VI is a universal trainer fit both for stability runners and neutral ones. The running shoe is wickedly fast and surprisingly lightweight. Overall, the Distance VI is a propulsive shoe that provides ample energy for the greatest of athletes.

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Comfort

This racer has a trampoline lug membrane for greater stability and responsiveness. The Newtonium foam cushioning is placed closer to the foot in order to provide increased comfort. In the midsole, the Distance VI contains Action/Reaction technology, a biomechanical metatarsal sensor plate, enhanced medial midsole platform, high-rebound EVA and s.h.a.r.c. in the forefoot.

Weight

Breathability

This running shoe features a really breathable mesh that ensures that you get the breathability and ventilation that you need to keep your feet nice and cool--so if you are looking for breathability, these shoes are it.

Durability

The Distance VI is made of high-quality materials. Runners purchase the Distance VI time and time again while it lasts for hundreds of miles.

Flexibility

The full flex zone allows natural splay of the foot. As for the upper, the lightweight mesh is breathable and flexible.

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4. On Cloudflyer

Where to buy
On Cloudflyer
Amazon Link

The On Cloudflyer running shoes are an excellent pair of shoes for triathletes that love that barefoot feel. They are incredibly lightweight, comfortable, and exceptionally durable as well. They provide excellent cushioning and responsiveness, so take a look below if you are looking for a more barefoot feel!

Read more

Comfort

When it comes to comfort, these shoes give you all that and more. They have additional cushioning to ensure you stay comfortable without sacrificing the stability that you need. The features additional padding and their secure and seamless fir will prevent any blisters or chafing from occurring.

Weight

These running shoes are pretty lightweight—the female version weighs 8.5 ounces and the men’s version weighs just under 10 ounces!

Breathability

In terms of breathability, these running shoes feature a well-ventilated upper that ensures your feet don’t overheat. This combined with the secure fit provided by the shoes will ensure that your feet don’t chafe or develop any blisters.

Durability

These running shoes have a seamless construction that provides you with a secure and comfortable fit. This seamless design also improves the durability of the shoes, although they certainly are not the most durable pair of shoes on our list.

Flexibility

If you are looking for a flexible triathlon running shoe, you will love this one. The midsole provides some cushioning and the entire shoe is pretty flexible to allow for full range of motion as well as that barefoot feel you may be looking for.

5. Zoot Ultra Race 4.0

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Zoot Ultra Race 4.0
Amazon Link

This neutral runner has quite a unique sock-like design, which is one that is growingly common with Zoot’s footwear. The Ultra Race 4.0 is a fast, lightweight shoe that possesses all of the basics required of effective racing footwear.

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Comfort

The TekSheen upper material is designed to be adaptive and very stretchable, giving the wearer a foot-hugging fit. Instead of traditional laces, these are secured by what they call their BOA system. It is basically a thin cable that tightened or loosened by a dial located on the front. Also, instead of holes or loops, the lacing cable goes directly through the overlay straps. This method allows a more custom and snug fit after adjusted.

Weight

The Z-Bound midsole foam that is used is pretty responsive and extremely light. You’ll also find Zoot’s CarbonSpan+ in the midsole, which is basically a carbon fiber insert that provides a bit more torsional stability.

Breathability

These running shoes are incredibly breathable thanks to their upper mesh. If you want to make sure your feet stay cool and dry, these are certainly the perfect pair of shoes.

Durability

The combination of blown rubber and their ZPU patterned lug design allows the outsole to perform well over various surfaces. Finally, also have a few drainage ports located under the forefoot for water release.

Flexibility

In terms of flexibility, these running shoes allow for optimal range of motion. They are really pliable and unrestrictive--but they still provide a good amount cushioning and stability.

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6. Asics Gel Kayano 25

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Asics Gel Kayano 25
Amazon Link

ASICS is a well-respected brand in the running community and their Kayano model is one of their most popular shoes. These shoes are supportive and great for runners with stability issues. They look great and come in lots of colors to choose from--so you don't have to worry about sacrificing style for functionality.

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Comfort

These shoes feature a Flytefoam midsole and gel cushioning to increase shock absorption and improve your gait. If you overpronate or if you are a heel striker you will find the little extra weight is worth the prevention of pain these shoes will provide you. Since they specifically address overpronation it's easy to say that these shoes offer lots of stability so you don't roll your ankles.

Weight

At 12 ounces, these are on the heavier side--however, they provide additional support and stability which is why they weigh more.

Breathability

Although these are not the most breathable pair of running shoes on your list, they certainly allow for excellent well-ventilation so your feet will stay feeling great no matter how far you are going.

Durability

Nearly all reviews of the Gel-Kayano 25 praise the durability of the shoe. They utilize high abrasion rubber on their outsoles and even their mesh upper can take a beating. Overall, these are really durable shoes and the new model does not disappoint.

Flexibility

They are responsive and their mesh upper makes them both breathable and flexible--so your feet stay cool and dry while also moving freely.

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7. Hoka One One Clifton 5

Where to buy
Hoka One One Clifton 5
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If you are looking for a pair of shoes that will provide you with the additional support and cushioning that you need without sacrificing flexibility or weighing you down, these Hoka running shoes may be the perfect pair to consider if you are a triathlete. Yes, they are a little bulky, but they look great and come in several colors to choose from!

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Comfort

These running shoes offer a midsole made of EVA foam and their sockliner adds additional comfort. However, they do have a wide platform which makes them a little less responsive. Users also report that they offer a narrow fit, so make sure size up or measure your feet to make sure they will fit if you are ordering online.

Weight

The male version of these shoes weighs in at just under 9.5 ounces and the female version weighs in at 7.6 ounces—so these shoes are definitely lightweight without sacrificing any of your other needs.

Breathability

When it comes to breathability, these shoes do have additional features to ensure breathability. The upper has breathing holes and their secure fit prevents chafing and blisters. Actual users praise these shoes for their breathability and sweat-wicking capabilities.

Durability

If you want a durable pair of running shoes, these hold their own, although their midsole is a little less durable than some users would like. The outsole is made of high abrasion rubber and can take a bit of a beating.

Flexibility

Despite the amount of cushioning, these running shoes do have a good bit of flexibility so they are pretty pliable—although they certainly are not the most flexible option on our list, especially during their break in period.

8. Pearl Izumi EM Tri N2 v2

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Pearl Izumi EM Tri N2 v2
Amazon Link

This is a neutral runner that seems to do really well with long distances. The Pearl Izumi EM Tri N2 doesn’t have a whole lot of updates from its previous version, but still offer quite a few benefits.

Read more

Comfort

In all, there several options in this guide that offers fancier technologies and newer gadgets, but these are more than suitable for a fast tempo, high endurance race like a triathlon. The construction of the upper is a seamless one. This growing trend allows a significantly reduced chance of blister-causing irritations on the interior of the shoe. Also, instead of traditional laces, the quick lacing system allows fast cinching adjustment for a perfect fit, or for quick removal.

Weight

The 1:1 energy foam midsole gives the proper amount of responsive cushioning, while also providing decent energy return. Combine that with the shoe’s 1:1 shock absorption foam, the impact felt during each heel strike is greatly reduced. Furthermore, the offset shape of the midsole allows the user to run with a more free and responsive ride through each gait cycle. They do all this without weighing you down and being a lightweight shoe.

Breathability

The nearly transparent Transfer Dry spacer mesh does an outstanding job of keeping the feet cool with plenty of airflows.

Durability

Improvements over the previous version were subtle but effective. The blown rubber outsole provides quite a bit of flexibility and traction. There is also what they call a Flow Line Element that follows the runner’s cycle, providing increased grip on various road surfaces.

Flexibility

These triathlon running shoes are pretty flexible, although they do have a little bit of a break in period. So, although these running shoes are flexible, don't expect these shoes to be the most pliable on our list.

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9. Asics Gel Hyper Tri 2

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Asics Gel Hyper Tri 2
Amazon Link

The GEL-Hyper Tri 2, which is the second version in this line is a great pick for triathlon running. There were a few improvements that were made with this version, mostly involving the upper and outsole.

Read more

Comfort

The upper has been enhanced with a more adaptive design, removing the number of overlays that the previous version utilized. The heel of the first version seemed to be slightly stiff and restrictive, not moving properly with the user’s foot. This has also been corrected in the Hyper Tri 2.

Weight

These triathlon running shoes are pretty light in weight and definitely won't weigh you down when you wear them.

Breathability

Also, the new seamless upper construction has improved breathability all around, including with the perforated sock liner. Additionally, these come with elastic laces, which is ideal for quick on/off transitions.

Durability

The outsole is completely different on this version, using their newest technologies in its design. The DuraSponge blown rubber outsole has been reinforced with ASICS’ high abrasion AHAR rubber compound in high wear areas such as the heel and forefoot, for greater durability and traction.

Flexibility

The overall flexibility is enhanced even more by a flex groove which runs almost the length of the shoe.

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10. Scott T2 Palani

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Scott T2 Palani
Amazon Link

If you need super affordable triathlon running shoes then they are the way to go. They look a little bulky, but they come in lots of colors to choose from, so they still look great. Scott has some great cycling shoes, so it's not surprising they have some running shoes as well.

Read more

Comfort

These shoes have a breathable mesh upper that will help keep your feet cool and dry--which prevents chafing and blisters. The use of the brand's Eride Technology provides runners with a lot of stability, that allows you to run efficiently and keep your pace. Their Aerofoam Midsole provides great cushioning and their wider toe box allows your toes to splay out comfortably.

Weight

These triathlon running shoe are a little on the heavier side, but they won't weigh you down--and they certainly look bulky but they are not as heavy as you would expect them to be from a first glance.

Breathability

Durability

These will last if you take care of them and keep them on the road, otherwise, they are not as durable as other shoes on our list. A really affordable and great option if you are just starting out or if you don't compete in a lot of triathlons.

Flexibility

When it comes to flexibility, these Scott shoes fall somewhere in the middle--they are pretty flexible but not the most flexible selection on our list of reviews.

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Inside RunnerClick Pro, runners of all strengths come together to meet and support one another, get answers to burning questions, learn from experts, participate in personal challenges, and more.