Zoot Carlsbad

7.3
7.3 score
[Editors rating (7.0) + Users rating (8.0)] / 2 = Runnerclick score (7.3)/10

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Editor rating: 7.0 / 10
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Zoot Carlsbad Review Facts
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Whether looking for a trainer that will perform on a long run or just a new pair for your daily jogs around your neighborhood, what every runner wants is a comfortable, responsive shoe that’s durable and dynamic that works well on the road and any other regular running surface. Although ultra lightweight trainers are highly specialized they may lack all-around ability, while some neutral running shoes have excellent support and comfort but are maybe a little too plush to provide a responsive ride. For the runner looking for a high-quality shoe that provides comfort, responsiveness, and delivers a smooth ride while being made to last, the Zoot Carlsbad is a design made to meet your daily training needs.

Featuring Zoot’s Z-Bound™+ midsole for superior protection and cushioning, its soft, responsive construction provides step-in comfort. This midsole also absorbs impact shock and delivers an energy rebound that reduces forefoot fatigue, making the Carlsbad a very comfortable running shoe that never feels too plush and doesn’t sacrifice responsiveness for cushioning. The Zoot Carlsbad’s outsole is also exceptionally durable and provides additional cushioning, covered in targeted carbon and blown rubber and featuring CarbonSpan+™ that provides great midfoot support and excellent toe-off. The upper includes BareFit™  open mesh internal liner that provides a fantastic fit with great breathability. Meanwhile, its seamless interior cuts down on the potential for developing painful blisters, keeping the foot secure throughout a ride and safe from irritation.

For a durable trainer that will deliver a comfortable ride on your daily workouts, long runs, or just quick sprints around the block, the Zoot Carlsbad is a shoe that fits a variety of exercises and activities. While there may be lighter trainers out on the market, and ones that come with a lower price, there are few that can match the comfort and quality of the Zoot Carlsbad.

Pros
  • Extremely comfortable midsole that retains responsiveness
  • Highly durable construction with a flexible upper and sturdy outsole
  • Breathable mesh upper keeps foot cool throughout a run
  • Colorful design without being too garish
  • Seamless internal that reduces irritation and blisters
Cons
  • Slightly higher-priced trainer
  • Limited color variations available
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

Durability is the name of Zoot Carlsbad’s game, and the tenacious outsole crafted for this trainer is certainly that: made of a combination of carbon rubber (ZCR) and blown rubber (ZBR), Zoot has excelled at making a dynamic outsole that provides great traction and durability. With the ZCR placed strategically in the heel and forefoot for protection against road wear and tear and ZBR elements in the forefoot that provide extra cushioning, runners can hit the pavement without worrying about the outsole losing its tread over time or succumbing to the rigor of the road.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The midsole cushioning of the Carlsbad has been updated with a dual density midsole that provides responsive cushioning while also absorbing impact shock and delivering a solid rebound to every footfall. The stress and fatigue felt on long runs is greatly reduced thanks to the Z-Bound™+ technology in the midsole that delivers a soft but responsive underfoot feel and excellent cushioning. For the runner looking to keep their foot comfortable but also retain responsiveness in their midsole, the Carlsbad aims to satisfy on both counts.
Upper
Upper

Upper

Another major update to the Carlsbad is its upper construction, which has been optimized to provide maximum comfort and breathability to keep the foot ventilated and secure throughout a run. With an internal support cage to provide better midfoot support and an open mesh coverage to provide an excellent fit after lace-up while retaining maximum breathability, the new upper of the Carlsbad matches performance with comfort.
Weight
Weight

Weight

Given all of the tech in the Zoot Carlsbad - from the dual layer Z-Bound™+ midsole to its CarbonSpan+™ - it would be difficult to keep the weight off to make it an ultra lightweight trainer. But considering that even with all of these features, the Zoot Carlsbad weighs in at only 10 ounces/283 grams, making it a slightly heavier than average running shoe. Although some runners may not find its weight the Carlsbad’s most desirable feature, for runners looking for comfort and durability this is a relatively small trade-off.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

If you’re out on a long run on a hot day, there’s nothing worse than wearing a trainer that doesn’t provide adequate ventilation. Fortunately, the Carlsbad’s upper is made of a highly breathable mesh that keeps the foot cool throughout a ride. Durable and comfortable, the construction of the upper uses the seamless BareFit™ lining to give the shoe a sock-like feel while also reducing potential irritation, and runners will appreciate how the Carlsbad fits snugly around their foot after lace-up without sacrificing breathability.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Perhaps the Zoot Carlsbad’s best feature is how comfortable it is. With a dual layer midsole that employs the proprietary Z-Bound™+ technology to deliver a responsive, but very soft, ride, the cushioning of the Carlsbad provides step-in comfort. Similarly, the sock-like, seamless BareFit™ lining also conforms to the shape of the foot while its mesh upper wraps comfortably around the foot after lace-up to keep the foot secure but cool and comfortable throughout a ride.
Style
Style

Style

Bright and kinetic, the look of the Zoot Carlsbad inspires the runner to start moving. Featuring minimal overlays that look like small streams over the upper mesh and just the “Z” Zoot logo affixed to the sides of the trainer, the Carlsbad looks like a running shoe that has no time for extraneous doo-dads, instead preferring a sleek aesthetic. In fact, Zoot made sure that both the runner and anyone else that sees the Carlsbad knows they made it, since their name appears no less than four times in various places on the shoe.

With a thick outsole outlined by a bright yellow with a dark blue sole and the upper either in Navy or white, the Carlsbad is more subdued than many comparable running shoes. However, there have been a few complaints that style choices are limited (it comes in only two color patterns: either Plutonium/Navy/Subatomic Yellow or White/Navy/Spring Green), but these choices are both aesthetically pleasing without being garish or overwhelming.
Protection
Protection

Protection

There are two areas that offer maximum protection from the road in the Zoot Carlsbad: its outsole and midsole. Its outsole is constructed from targeted carbon rubber in high-wear areas while areas that provide support and comfort in the outsole are made of blown rubber, a combination that provides excellent protection while also offering support and comfort to the midfoot. The dual layer midsole is similarly constructed with protection in mind, with the Z-Bound™+ midsole providing excellent shock absorption so the wearer won’t feel the sudden jostle of the ground upon each impact. However, as durable as these elements may be, the upper is constructed of a porous mesh that provides little protection from the elements, and the Carlsbad is best in ideal running conditions.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

Thanks to its dynamic Z-Bound™+ midsole, with every shock-absorbing impact, it rebounds with an energetic response, helping runners get the most out of every stride. Besides this, the carbon rubber contact points of its outsole allows for a responsive grip on the road that provides runners with a great amount of surface control.
Support
Support

Support

With neutral arch support, a dual layer midsole, and a layer of CarbonSpan+™ at the midsole, the Zoot Carlsbad provides great support for the neutral runner. While this is not specifically a support shoe, runners will find a comfortable ride in the Carlsbad in their daily run.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

Made for hitting the road in comfort and style, the Zoot Carlsbad’s outsole is a combination of carbon and blown rubber that provides durability and reliable traction on regular running surfaces. However, this is specifically a running shoe meant for regular dry running surfaces such as pavement, asphalt, and tracks and will not perform as well on muddy or slick terrain.
Price
Price

Price

While not outrageously expensive, the Zoot Carlsbad is a moderately priced trainer. Its weight may disappoint some runners looking for a more lightweight shoe in this price range, but for the runner looking for superior comfort without losing responsiveness, for its price the Carlsbad delivers in this area and functions smoothly as an everyday trainer.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The tread offered on the Carlsbad may not be the most tenacious on the market, but its durability certainly is attractive. With its traction points made of solid carbon rubber, runners don’t have to worry about the tread wearing off quickly, unlike some heavier tread shoes. With a moderate grip, the Carlsbad performs well enough on standard hard running surfaces, but it’s not a shoe for climbing or even trail running. But it does provide solid grip and good surface control on asphalt and pavement.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

With its mesh upper with minimal overlays that nonetheless provide a solid rib cage, the Zoot Carlsbad is a surprisingly flexible shoe that aims to keep your foot snug and secure after lace-up. Although its outsole is a sturdy construction that doesn’t offer much in the way of flexibility, runners will find the solid support of its outsole and the flexible upper an attractive and comfortable combination.
Stability
Stability

Stability

A well-balanced shoe with a solid outsole and a midsole made of Z-Bound™+ technology, the Carlsbad keeps the underfoot comfortable while its flexible upper secures the foot in place after lace-up. Its CarbonSpan+™ at the midsole also provides great midsole support while the Carlsbad offers neutral arch support. However, this is not a stability shoe. Instead, it’s been designed for the runner with a neutral pronation in mind.
Drop
Drop

Drop

With a 10mm drop, the Carlsbad has a standard running shoe drop. As with so many of its features, this is not a minimalist shoe and certainly not a zero drop shoe. As such, the neutral runner will find its drop in line with what can be expected with a shoe of its design.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

- Excellent midsole thanks to Z-Bound™+ technology
- Dynamic outsole made with carbon rubber for durability and blown rubber for comfort
- Highly breathable mesh upper that keeps foot firmly in place after lace-up
- Sock-like seamless BareFit™ open mesh internal liner
- Very durable trainer that retains its traction even after heavy use
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

For the runner looking for a combination of comfort, responsiveness, and durability, the Zoot Carlsbad delivers on all fronts. Loaded with tech that provides an incredibly comfortable ride and offers additional support, runners seeking a more plush trainer without losing responsiveness with greatly appreciate the effort that’s been put into the Carlsbad on this front. Besides this, its durability has been noted by runners as a selling point, where it keeps its tread and stays in good shape even after heavy use.

Although its price point may be a little higher than what some runners are looking to spend, particularly on a trainer that’s slightly heavier than the average running shoe, for the amount of technology and comfort the Zoot Carlsbad offers, this may be a fair trade-off. With a stylish but not overwhelming aesthetic and a solid construction that offers a firm, sturdy outsole and a flexible, breathable upper, the Carlsbad is for runners that require more comfort in their ride and are looking for a daily trainer that will keep delivering after many miles are put between first step-in and long after they’re are well-worn - but they certainly won’t look it!