Mizuno Wave Lightning Z3

8.0
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Mizuno Wave Lightning Z3 Review Facts
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The Mizuno Wave Lightning Z3 is very similar to the Mizuno Wave Lightning Z2, except bigger and better—the Z3 is the next step up and has been updated with exciting new technologies that the Z2 does not feature. The Z3 is the lightest shoe in the line. The biggest change from the Z2 to the Z3 is the upper: the upper section of the Z3 has been updated with mesh, synthetic, and more. The shoe also features exciting additions such as Parallel Wave technology in the outsole to help with stability, Dynamotion Groove to make the shoe more flexible, and a Sensorpoint suspension system to increase support. The trademark feature of this shoe is that it’s extremely lightweight, but that’s not all—it also has above-average durability, breathability, and flexibility. However, all of the great features of the Z3 probably won’t kick in until you’ve worn the shoe a few times. Out of the box, it’s disappointing, but give the Z3 time to break in and it will become the shoe of your dreams.

Pros
  • Dura Shield, PoWnCe, and synthetic upper work together to provide incredible durability
  • Most lightweight shoe in the line
  • Parallel Wave technology in the outsole disperses impact away from your foot and gives you a smooth ride
  • Dynamotion Groove helps with flexibility
  • Mizuno Intercool technology and AIRMesh in the upper provide great breathability
Cons
  • The Z3 is said to run small, which has created confusion and discomfort for some buyers
  • Out of the box, it is very stiff and will likely cause blisters until it is broken in
  • Traction leaves something to be desired
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The Mizuno Wave Lightning Z3’s outsole has Parallel Wave technology; this disperses the impact away from your foot, spreading it out and giving the shoe an excellent stability score. The Dynamotion Groove increases flexibility and agility, and helps cut down on forefoot instability. It also has a Sensorpoint suspension system—this connects the Wave plate to the floor and gives you that extra little bit of support to give you an easier landing and more accurate movements. XG (extra grade) rubber is also on the outsole—this is a bit like a gum bottom sole and is meant to provide high traction, although it might not always succeed here. On the forefoot area, the shoe has flex grooves, and there are also multi-directional patterns. The outsole package of the Z3 combines many elements that work together to give you a great shoe.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The midsole area features quite a bit of exciting technology. First of all, there is the PoWnCe (power plus bounce). The material is lightweight and durable. Other Mizuno shoes have the Lightning RX 3, but the new PoWnCe material is better as it gives you much more cushioning. Another important feature is the D-Flex (Diagonal Flexible) Groove that allows for an efficient body movement and the maximum amount of speed and power possible. Another lightweight material in the midsole (this one helps absorb shock) is the SR touch. It keeps your movements smooth and seamless, helping with both traction and comfort.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The low-cut upper is part AIRMesh and part synthetic—best of both worlds, and extremely durable and breathable. It moves with your foot, and it has a no-sew construction to give you the optimal amount of comfort possible. The upper also has a centralized lace-up closure; this gives you a fit that feels secure and snug. Overall, the upper of the Z3 should protect your foot from discomfort and painful blisters.
Weight
Weight

Weight

The entire Z3 shoe is very lightweight—only 10.4 ounces (men’s). The midsole package contributes a great deal to this—the PoWnCe and SR touch materials in the midsole are both extremely light. The Z3 is one of the lightest shoes on the market, and it is the lightest shoe in its line. If you want to feel like you’re walking on air, grab the Z3 and enjoy the stable yet lightweight shoe.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The Lightning Z3 has a Mizuno Intercool system that provides ventilation for the entire length of the midsole. This reduces both heat and humidity, ensuring that neither one will build up. A vent at the bottom of the shoe helps as well, and so does the AIRMesh in the upper; when wearing these shoes, air will never stop flowing around your foot.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Previous reviewers have reported being quite impressed with the comfort factor of this shoe. The rubber toe box is very stretchy, large, and comfortable. The fact that the upper is no-sew also means that your feet will be comfortable and safe from blisters. The Wave Lightning Z3 has an Anatomical Cup-In-Sole, which is intended to anatomically fit the bottom of your foot, and aids with comfort as well (it’s even removable). AIRMesh also helps ensure that your foot is good to go. However, it might take a while to get to this point: out of the box, the Z3 was very stiff and required an unusual amount of breaking in. Upon the first few wearings of the Z3, many athletes have said that they experienced an unusual and painful amount of blisters all over their feet. Another thing to keep in mind when purchasing is that many reviewers have reported the Z3 runs small, and getting the wrong size would certainly cause discomfort. But eventually, if you have the right size and as the shoe breaks in and adjusts to your foot, any discomfort should recede and all of the wonderful features that make the Z3 so comfortable should kick in.
Style
Style

Style

As far as style goes, most options of this shoe are offered with the body of the shoe being black and then neon stripes in varying colors running around the shoe. The stripes are bright—in colors like fiery coral and safety yellow (women’s)—but because the majority of the shoe is black, the neon colors are not too overwhelming. One design is a unique Stars and Stripes coloring (created for the Olympics) for those athletes who want to express their patriotic pride. The Mizuno Wave Lightning Z3 offers ample options whether you want to blend into the crowd, stand out from it, or something in between.
Durability
Durability

Durability

The PoWnCe material in the midsole is very durable, as is the toe box with its sturdy Dura Shield, a protective structure covered in TPU parts. The Dura Shield is one of the many features of the Z3 that has been updated from earlier models such as the Z2, so the durability of the Z3 is much better than that of previous editions. The synthetic portion of the upper helps provide durability—all-mesh uppers tend to break down sooner, but the Z3’s upper is sturdier because it contains synthetic material as well. Previous reviewers have reported that they were blown away by the durability of the Lightning Z3 and they were very happy with the wear they got out of the shoe. The only part of the shoe that isn’t very durable is the tongue—although the rest of the upper is very sturdy, the tongue has been reported to show wear and tear.
Protection
Protection

Protection

The Mizuno Wave Lightning Z3 is reported to absorb shock well, meaning that your joints will always be protected. The front of the toe also has a Dura Shield to keep your toe safe—no painful stubbed toes when you’re in the Z3.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

The Mizuno Wave Lightning Z3 is a very responsive shoe for a few big reasons. First of all, it’s flexible: the Dynamotion Groove in the outsole and the D-Flex (Diagonal Flexible) Groove in the midsole provide ample flexibility, which helps increase responsiveness. Second, the Z3 is cushioned well—think about the Anatomical Cup-In-Sole, the comfortable AIRMesh, and all the other ways Mizuno worked to help cushion your foot—which means that it will provide energy back to you. And finally, perhaps the most important way the Z3 is responsive is that it allows a natural foot movement through the addition of the D-Flex Groove.
Support
Support

Support

The Sensorpoint suspension system in the outsole helps the Z3 to have good support all over the shoe. In particular, your heel should feel well supported from the Anatomical Cup-In-Sole.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

The Mizuno Wave Lightning Z3 is meant as a volleyball shoe, and so its traction and other features are specifically designed for the smooth floor of a court. But the Z3 also has adequate traction that makes it safe to use when running on the road. Just be careful the first few times no matter what kind of terrain you are on, since previous reviewers have said that it took quite a bit of breaking in before the shoes were good to go traction-wise.
Price
Price

Price

The price of the Z3 is definitely on the low end, which may be a red flag for some buyers, but keep an open mind when it comes to the Z3. Because of all the exciting technology—such as the Dynamotion Fit, PoWnCe material in the midsole, the D-Flex (Diagonal Flexible) Groove, and much more—the Z3 is a steal. Again, this might ring a warning bell—is it too good to be true? Past reviews speak of the durability, comfort, and breathability of this shoe, assuring any prospective buyers that the choice to buy the Z3 is a choice you will not regret.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The Z3 has a good grip due to the XG (extra grade) rubber with multi directional patterns and flex grooves on the outsole. Previous reviewers have said, though, that this required some breaking in before the full benefits of the traction really kicked in. Don’t expect the shoes to have perfect traction the first time you wear them or even the first few times, but do keep trying, and eventually the traction will improve. It still won’t be the best, but you will be safe.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

The Dynamotion Groove in the outsole is a big help as far as the flexibility of the Lightning Z3 goes. The D-Flex Groove in the midsole is also very flexible, as its name might suggest. The D-Flex gives you a natural movement pattern and lets your foot have plenty of space to stretch and move.
Stability
Stability

Stability

The overall angle of the Z3 decreases stability somewhat, and might not provide adequate stability to help keep your arches up. However, the Parallel Wave Technology in the outsole is intended to spread the area of impact, and should help keep you stable. The Sensorpoint suspension system, which connects the Wave plate to the floor, should help as well. The Anatomical Cup-In-Sole also helps keep your heel stable even if you should happen to land at a funny angle. The shoe is built to aid in side-to-side movements on the court and should help stabilize you during a volleyball match or a short run.
Drop
Drop

Drop

We were unable to find the drop of the Mizuno Wave Lightning Z3.
Key features
Key features

Key features

• The outsole’s Parallel Wave Technology creates excellent stability by spreading the impact away from your foot
• Dynamotion Groove generates outstanding flexibility
• Sensorpoint suspension system and Anatomical Cup-In-Sole give you extra support
• D-Flex (Diagonal Flexible) Groove in the midsole means the Z3 is very responsive and helps you reach your max speed because it allows for an efficient body movement
• Mizuno Intercool system plus extra AIRMesh increase breathability
• After some breaking in, the Anatomical Cup-In-Sole and AIRMesh keep you comfortable
• Dura Shield in the toe area gives you extra protection
• Low price considering how well-made the shoe is
Bottom line
Bottom line

Bottom line

The Mizuno Wave Lightning Z3 is a great shoe with only a few drawbacks: it runs small, it’s uncomfortable out of the box, and despite the XG rubber, it doesn’t have great traction. However, in every other category the Z3 knocks the ball out of the park. It has wonderful stability because of the Parallel Wave Technology, the connected Sensorpoint suspension system, and the Anatomical Cup-In-Sole. Mizuno Intercool and AIRMesh provide great ventilation that runs the length of the midsole. Finally, the Z3 is extra responsive because of Dynamotion Groove and the D-Flex Groove. The best part? You get all of this for a low price. Keep the Z3 in mind for your future road racing shoe as it would be a great choice.