10 Best Triathlon Running Shoes Reviewed & Compared
There are solid sensible and sound reasons why shoe brands making running shoes offer variations on types of shoes and why they continue to be ever innovative in the type of shoe tech which is designed into shoes. When a shoe is true to the purpose you get stability, comfort, protection and a better individual performance.
A shoe which works for you as a runner may well not work for another runner, which means that you have to be very selective when you choose a shoe which will serve the purpose for you. Therefore we have reviews in which we find and present to you a variety of high performing shoes so you can accurately assess if the shoe is the right choice for you. There are times when a shoe will be updated and you might find we still offer the previous version and in such situations, it is because we know the previous model is tried and tested and the new version needs to prove itself. We do update the page and offer the most recent updated shoe models and at such times it is your choice to try out and test if the shoe works for you.
A triathlon is a high tempo race of which there are many variables that are encountered. And flat out, not all runners are even cut out for it. But, those who are must demand the same kind of abilities from their gear. Finding the proper footwear is probably the most important task, as everything hangs on having the best possible pair of shoes to get you successfully through the race.
- Asics Gel Nimbus 19
- Guidance Trusstic System
- Zoot Solana ACR
- BareFit internal fit system
- Pearl Izumi EM Tri N2 v2
- offset-shaped E:Motion
11 Best Triathlon Running Shoes
1. Asics Gel Nimbus 19
The Nimbus 19 proves to be a great choice for triathlon athletes because of its well-structured technology. The shaft measures as low-top from the arch for a wide range of movement. The midsole features FlyteFoam technology and Fluid Ride which provides the perfect combination of response and cushioning with a reduction in weight and exceptional durability. The Gel Cushioning Systems are located in the rearfoot and forefoot absorbs shock during strike and liftoff and allows movement on multiple planes of the foot as it transitions through the gate cycle. The Heel Clutching System Technology has an exoskeletal heel counter which provides improved support and a heel fitting environment. Lastly, the Fluid Fit upper technology combines multidirectional stretch mesh with stretch reinforcements that expand and contract to fit a runner’s foot like a glove.
Durability / Quality
The Nimbus 19 is made from Asics’ best quality materials. The shoes will stay prominently clean when running on trails and dirty terrains. After 100 miles they will feel as though you are pulling them out of the box for the first time.
Cost or value
Depending on where you buy the Nimbus 19 the price tag may be higher, but great deals are always available on Amazon.
- Low-top shaft
- FlyteFoam midsole
- Fluid Ride midsole
- Gel Cushioning System in rear- and forefoot
- Heel Clutching System Technology
- FluidFit upper
- Brand-new feel after 100 miles
- Some reviews claimed the shoe fit small or narrow in the toe box
2. Zoot Solana ACR
The Solana ACR (All Conditions Running) features a number of technologies to create optimal comfort and stability. Let’s discuss them. With an 8mm drop, the Solana is good for both midrange runs and “I’m going to be out here a while” runs. The sole is improved with extra traction created by injected ZVA – good for off-road running. With a specially designed upper, the Solana will keep you dry in wet weather conditions. With full-foot impact protection and wet road gripping lugs, athletes will find a stable run on all road conditions. Zoot’s premium fit system – BareFit – provides a seamless internal fit for a comfortable session. The outer upper is made from a weather-resistant treated material with closed-cell mesh to battle the wicked winter elements. To lock your heel in place, the Solana ACR has a 3D molded heel counter for ease of comfort. Lastly, for a smooth and even run, the Solana features constant ground contact.
Durability / Quality
The Solana ACR is made of Zoot Carbon Rubber for extended wear and long-lasting durability. Overall, the shoe is built for many miles.
Cost or value
With a moderate price tag, the Zoot Solana ACR is well worth the cost. You might even find a great deal on Amazon!
- High-mileage neutral trainer
- 8mm drop
- Injected ZVA for added traction
- Full-foot impact protection
- Wet road gripping lugs
- BareFit for seamless internal fit
- Weather-resistant upper with closed-cell mesh
- Zoot Carbon Rubber for durability
- Some reviews said the shoe is not as weather-resistant as advertised
3. Pearl Izumi EM Tri N2 v2
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. The nearly transparent Transfer Dry spacer mesh does an outstanding job of keeping the feet cool with plenty of airflow. Also, instead of traditional laces, the quick lacing system allows fast cinching adjustment for a perfect fit, or for quick removal.
These are an ideal choice for those summer events due the their high breathability. In all, there several option in this guide that offer fancier technologies and newer gadgets, but these are more than suitable for a fast tempo, high endurance race like a triathlon.
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.
Durability / Quality
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, applying increased grip on various road surfaces.
Cost or value
The price of these running shoes varies from average to expensive in price.
Seamless upper prevents irritation
The upper is extremely well ventilated
The quick lacing system adjusts to an optimum fit very fast
New Dynamic offset-shaped E:Motion is great for under-pronators
Energy Foam absorbs impact
Energy Foam in heel provides cushioning
Crash pad absorbs impact
Was a bit heavy for some users
Sizes may run small
4. Asics Gel Noosa Tri 11
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. Additionally, the Dynamic DouMax system in the midsole also help 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 foots natural gait.
The flexible DuraSponge Outsole, made from a blown abrasion resistant rubber, also adds some extra cushioning. 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 condidtions.
Durability / Quality
This company consistently puts out quality products that perform exactly how they are intended making them a reliable.
Cost or value
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.
- Enhanced upper with fewer seams
- Increased breathability
- Bunion Window protects big toe
- Propulsion Plate assists with good toe-off
- AHAR is highly durable
- DuraSponge outsole provides flexibility and cushioning
- Wet grip provides excellent traction
- Gel Cushioning System absorbs shock
- Solyte foam provides good responsiveness
- Dynamic DuoMax system provides for good transitions
- Guidance System & Guidance Line provide stability
- Elastic Laces are easy to adjust
- Runs a bit narrow in the toe
- Fits a half size smaller
- Some thought there could be more cushioning
5. Asics Gel Hyper Tri 2
The upper has been enhanced with a more adaptive design, removing the amount 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. Also, the new seamless upper construction has improved breathability all around, including with the perforated sockliner. Additionally, these come with elastic laces, which is ideal for quick on/off transitions.
Moving down to the Magic Sole ventilated midsole, we find a fair amount of comfort, while retaining decent response and ground control. The Gel cushioning system is used under the heel to provide great shock absorption and impact recovery.
Durability / Quality
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. Furthermore, the overall flexibility is enhanced even more by a flex groove which runs almost the length of the shoe.
Although these are number five on this list, this is a guide of the ten best shoes for triathlons. that means that these are among the best options out there, in terms of function, comfort and performance. These are worth considering.
Cost or Value
The price of this running shoe varies from average to expensive in cost.
- Seamless upper design eliminates irritation
- GEL cushioning effectively absorbs shock from impact
- Very light shoe
- 6 Drainage ports under mid and forefoot
- Highly Breathable
- Magic Sole makes it lightweight
- Very Flexible
- Asics High Abrasion Rubber is very durable
- Runs a bit small in size
- Some wish neutral colors were offered
6. Inov-8 Tri Xtreme 275
This is a highly comfortable and stable triathlon running shoe that has 6 water drainage ports making it easy to run in all types of terrain. It has a roomy toe box, its Meta Flex technology provides flexibility, and its Quick release lacing system allows you to slide them on your feet quickly. It is very lightweight and highly breathable.
Durability / Quality
There were very few complaints about the durability and quality of this running shoe it should last a long time.
Cost or value
The price of this running shoe is quite expensive, but well worth your money.
Has water drainage ports
Roomy toe box
Meta Flex provides flexibility
Fusion rubber is highly durable
Quick release lacing system
Has excellent traction
Can be seen as expensive
A very small amount of users experienced durability issues
7. Newton Running Distance VI
This racer features a tighter-tuned trampoline lug membrane for greater stability, responsiveness, and power. The Newtonium foam cushioning system provides increased comfort by placing the cushioning closer to the foot. The full flex zone allows natural splay of the foot. As for the upper, the lightweight mesh is breathable and flexible. The seamless upper gives increased ventilation and improved conformity. In the midsole, the Distance VI contains Action/Reaction technology, a biomechanical metatarsal sensor plate, enhanced medial midsole platform, high-rebound EVA, s.h.a.r.c. in the forefoot, and a high abrasion rubber outsole wedge on the lateral heel.
Durability / Quality
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.
Cost or Value
While the Distance VI has a higher price tag ($140-$270), the shoe is well worth the cost with its comfort and durability.
- Universal platform trainer for both neutral and stability runners
- Lightweight and breathable
- Tighter-tuned trampoline membrane lug
- Newtonium foam cushioning
- Full flex zone for natural foot splay
- Seamless mesh upper
- Biomechanical metatarsal sensor plate
- High-rebund EVA
- High abrasion rubber outsole wedge on lateral heel
- High price tag
8. Asics Gel Kayano 24
As for the mechanics of the Gel-Kayano 24, the shoe contains IGS (Impact Guidance System) technology to enhance the natural gait of the foot from heel to toe; FlyteFoam midsole technology for more response and less packing of materials; Fluidride midsole cushioning which combines support, weightlessness, and durability; Fluidfit upper mesh that stretches in multiple directions for a seamless, glove-like fit; exoskeletal heel counter that hugs the heel and holds it in place for stability; rearfoot and forefoot cushioning for impact-absorption on strike and lift-off; Dynamic Duomax support system added support and stability, vertical flex grooves for enhanced gait efficiency; Ortholite X-40 Sockliner provides moisture management and high-level breathability.
Durability / Quality
Nearly all reviews of the Gel-Kayano 24 praise the durability of the shoe.
Cost or value
With a moderate price tag ($160 on Amazon), the shoe is worth the cost.
- Impact Guidance System
- Heel Clutching system
- Dynamic Duomax
- Breathable upper
- Ortholite Sockliner
- Some reviews had issues with arch support
- The 24 is cut slightly differently than the 23, causing rubbing on ankles for some runners
9. Zoot Ultra Race 4.0
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 cal 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.
Durability / Quality
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.
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.
These have a really unique design that actually seems to work quite well. With these you can comfortably get through your run and turn some heads, both at the same time!
Cost or Value
These running shoes can be a bit on the expensive side, but most runners agree they are well worth the price.
Comfortable seamless upper
Very light construction
Non- traditional BOA lacing system
Drain holes assist in wet terrain
Zoot ZPU pattern of rubber lugs provide great traction
Z-Bound provides responsiveness
CarbonSpan+ provides stability
TekSheen upper provides flexibility
A little more expensive than what many would expect
Some runners had pain in the heel area
Limited color options
10. Scott Tri Carbon
Now coming in an unique tongue-less approach for a fastest wear than ever before, without reducing comfort. The wrap closure style assures an even faster wear to reduce important seconds, increase security and adjust the fit to every foot. The arch support is equipped with an ErgoLogic insole for top-class sustain. For breathability, the SCOTT Tri Carbon offers a 3D Nylon Airmesh Upper, combined with advanced Microfiber for the ultimate lightweight feature.
Durability / Quality
The outsole is covered with HMX Carbon, giving a flawless grip and providing superior peddling power and endurance. The RacingFit technology provides a slimmer fit that adjusts to the feet, which is enhanced by the synthetic leather WrapFit that provides greater comfort. Lastly, a PowerZone outsole was developed by scientists to provide an axial zone around the heel and a power zone that distributes impulse and energy through the rest of the outsole
Cost or value
These can be quite pricey, but they come equipped with so many benefits that make it well worth every penny.
Tongue-less approach for a quick fit
Great combination of flexibility and stiffness
Breathable microfiber airmesh upper
ErgoLogic insole provides adjustable arch support
Boa IP1 provides great support
Toe pads may wear quickly
Salomon S-Lab XA Amphib
This is a shoe which seriously performs on muddy waterlogged surfaces, giving precise and focused support, the lugs are heavy duty performers and bite down solidly while still allowing the shoe to give a rapid ride. The upper section gives a very good level of ventilation which means dryness is a positive feature. Overall wherever you run this shoe has features which ensure it can adapt to the challenge.
The lugs are designed onto the shoe strategically and ensure consistent reliable grip, the shoe interior offers a level of comfort which means you can even skip wearing socks, nice to note the shoe stays true to size, this shoe is designed for challenging surfaces, wet, muddy, loose, dry the shoe can take on any surface.
A light shoe with an impressive drainage which means your feet can stay dry or at least dry out fast.
For stability, the innovative heel box gives a level of FIT and performance which is very impressive.
The shoe is put together with a selection of durable synthetic materials which are quality sourced and work together to ensure comfort, performance and very protective on challenging terrains.
Slightly above moderate and a very good investment.
Designed for challenging surfaces and conditions
Very good grip
Entrance to the shoe is a bit narrow when putting on
The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation of the Best Triathlon Shoes
When it comes to triathlons, equipment is one of the most important things. The difference of equipment, such as clothing, bikes, and shoes can determine whether you’ll be the first or the second place. This is why we’ve set up a list of strict parameters to follow when researching the best shoes for triathlon participants to use.
Below we’ll explain these parameters, why we chose them, and the impact they have on the performance of athletes while wearing them.
Technology has entered a constant state of evolution ever since its creation and has been expanding to the widest variety of uses. Technology is now a part of some shoes out there, which is why we defined it as a parameter for our research of the best triathlon shoes.
Being triathlons such a demanding and active sport, we searched through the shoes that featured the highest technology in general; from shock absorption heel technology to microfiber upper builds with built-in devices to enhance breathability. You would normally think that equipment and gear have no influence on the results of a triathlon. However, the impact that technology has on each pair of shoes allow triathlon participants to enhance their performance like never before.
Some of the technologies that we looked for during our research mostly included designs that provide superior flexibility and full contact; this will allow users to obtain the maximum impulse off every gait. The outsole, midsole, and insole technologies play an important role when it comes to bounce and shock absorption; these can determine the endurance of a participant by assisting them in traction and reducing the effort it takes to perform an extra step, hence enhancing endurance and power.
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 strike, and when it comes to a triathlon, we’re talking about quite an amount of strikes. Reducing the energy needed to execute each one of them can produce a decisive advantage when performing for long times.
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.
Lastly, the lightweight shoes can’t lack other important features in order to reduce weight. They must meet high standards of sole thickness, cushioning, and shock absorption while still maintaining a low weight.
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 certain eminence.
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.
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.
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.
Other Important Factors to Consider When Selecting the Best Triathlon Shoes
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.
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. 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 assured to pick the shoes made out of the best materials, specially engineered to last a decent amount of time along with all their incorporated features.
Triathlon shoes can go from running shoes to cycling shoes and a combination of both. During our research, we made sure to include shoes that cover every need of a triathlon participant; while some prefer to buy a specialized pair of shoes for each activity, some others rather obtain a pair of hybrid shoes that support all activities equally.
We compiled a list of all three kinds of shoes (cycling, running, and hybrids) in order to fulfill all needs. For those triathlon participants who like specialized pairs of shoes for each activity, we performed a thorough research in order to find the pairs of shoes that can be equipped more easily, as we know each second counts during a triathlon. We also kept in mind the rest of the criteria employed for this investigation of course, so we only selected those shoes that can reduce important seconds while still offering an outstanding performance.
We kept in mind the specialization of each model, taking into consideration the performance they have in relation to their respective sport. For cycling shoes, we looked for high standards of stiffness and traction in order to maintain a solid peddle grip, as well as those which are able to keep up with fast motions and deliver very intense movements.
The materials of which the shoes are made out of were an important factor for our investigation, seeing as the materials employed in each shoe can affect a large list of other criteria such as lightweight breathability, comfort and durability.
We looked for materials that would provide enough support while still maintaining all of the previous criteria of our research. This includes the materials used for additional features, such as custom insoles and reinforced outsoles. In order to select the best shoes, we looked for high-quality materials such as thermoplastic polyurethane, synthetic leather, carbon, microfiber, kevlar and foam-blown polyurethane to provide the ultimate features to a triathlon performer.
Q: Are there triathlon shoes for pronation and supination?
A: Depending on your symptoms, there might be the right pair of shoes for you within this list. While the shoes might not be especifically engineered to compensate any particular symptom, they can be adapted to your anatomy through additional equipment (E.G, add a custom inner sole if you have arch issues).
Q: Is it bad to use regularly worn shoes during triathlons?
A: The newer, the better. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll have to dump your shoes after each triathlon. As long as you feel comfortable with them during training or competences, and there are no internal or external deteriorations, you don’t need to replace your shoes.
Q: Should I use a single pair of shoes for triathlons, or multiple?
A: We recommend you to use a pair of shoes for each activity if you can. Specialized shoes are engineered to offer the upper hand in their respective activity, having a large list of benefits that you might not get from a regular pair of running shoes. However, many athletes compete with a single pair of shoes.
Q: Should I use the same pair of shoes for both training and competing?
A: It’s not really necessary to switch between training shoes and competing shoes. Once again, as long as they’re not deteriorated, you’ll perform just fine. Wearing the same shoes for both activities will indeed deteriorate them faster, but it saves you from buying multiple pairs.
Q: Is expensive equipment necessary for a triathlon?
A: All you need to participate in a triathlon is a pair of sneakers and swimming gear. We provide this list in hopes of assisting you in your search for the most advanced and functional pair of triathlon shoes. While quality will give you a notable difference, you can compete with any pair of running shoes.
H ere are some sources we used while conducting our research:
- When to Ditch Your Shoes, Triathlon Informative Magazine, Sep 26, 2016 ,
- Triathlon vs Road Shoes, Cycling and Training Website, Jun 25, 2015 ,
- Shoes for Ironman Triathletes, Fitness and Sports Source, Oct 11, 2015 ,
- Running Shoe Materials, Global Footwear Manufacturer, ,
- How Running Shoes Work for Dummies, Informational web guide, ,