Zoot Makai

7.9
7.9 score
[Editors rating (7.9)] = Runnerclick score (7.9)/10

Our RunnerClick score is based on our editors overall rating compared to the user ratings in order to generate the most accurate and unbiased score of each product we review.

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Zoot MakaiReview Facts

The Zoot Makai has been a very polemic lightweight trainer. Contradictory reviews are all over the place describing the amazing features of the shoe and the terrible qualities of it. We are going to make a very objective and centered review positioning the shoe in an intermediate point. We will describe the highlights and the questionable areas of the Zoot Makai.

Designed as a neutral shoe, the Makai is designed to promote the natural motion of your foot. Just like other Zoot running shoes, they provide remarkable cushioning for great comfort. They also provide extra support for overpronators and are ideal for short runs and training sessions. They are known to be good for short distance runs on paved roads. The style of the shoe, regardless if you like it or not, stands out from the rest.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable; good cushioning
  • Highly responsive
  • Optimized breathability
Cons
  • Not very durable
  • Tricky sizing
  • Not reliable lacing system
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

Made for running short road distances, these shoes come with a basic but great outsole. The carbon rubber outsole provides excellent traction and durability. The rubber component is hard enough to provide extended durability, yet is light and flexible enough to provide good responsiveness and excellent traction. The lug pattern in the forefoot area is designed to provide comfortable traction for more powerful take offs. The pattern in the heel area is made to provide stability and traction for landings. The lugs are not very deep as they are made to run over paved roads. Reviewers noted that the has good grip when running on wet surfaces.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The midsole of these shoes is a full length Zoot EVA (ZVA) that goes from the heel to the toes providing great cushioning, responsiveness and rebound. The ZVA midsole promises to provide light weight cushioning and reduce fatigue from running. It is flexible enough that is able to provide a spring-like feeling. The bounciness is a protection mechanism that absorbs shock from the impact of landing and distributes it all along the midsole to transform them into smoother heel to toe transitions. All of that is possible thanks to the ZBound+ technology. The energy return from these shoes is very good thanks to the outsole components.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The breathable mesh upper is very light but strong and allows to have an optimal ventilation. A Race ZLock lacing system that provides both speed laces and standard laces for racing or training is featured in the upper. Some reviewers are not very happy with its efficiency. A Molded 3D heel cup locks your foot in the right position providing more support and helping to smoother transitions. A second layer in the inside is called the BareFit. That internal construction is seamless to provide a more comfortable fit. This system provides a great sock like feeling to the shoe, hugging your foot tightly but gently for extra responsiveness.
Weight
Weight

Weight

These shoes are very light. Every component of the shoes is made to provide lightweight performance. It is 9.7oz for the men's shoe and 7.9oz for the women's shoe. The weight depends on the size of the shoes. The light weight of these shoes will help you run faster.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

Much of the surface area of these shoes is covered with highly breathable mesh that provides optimal ventilation to the inside of the shoe. The BareFit internal seamless construction and the DriLex technology enhance the moisture wicking properties of the upper to keep you cool and dry. The body loses a lot of heat through the feet, so keeping them cool will help you with the temperature control of your entire body. The Makai are able to wick away moisture to prevent the formation of blisters and hot spots. When wet, the shoes are able to dry quickly, reviewers have pointed out.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Zoot running shoes are recognized for providing plush cushioning to the runner. The Zoot Makai are not the exception. Remarkable cushioning from all angles make these shoes very comfortable. For some reviewers there is too much cushioning in the collar, creating friction with the skin. The BareFit technology used in the seamless internal construction is one of the highlights of these shoes. Reviewers have said they felt extremely comfortable even when wearing these shoes without socks. The good breathability will keep you dry and cool for enhanced comfort.
Style
Style

Style

A very unique style is what these shoes bring to the table. With limited but well combined and bright colors, the Makai manages to bring its own style. A large Zoot plastic logo welded in the mesh upper makes them look unique but sleeker than other shoes. The overlay that makes part of the heel cup is designed to show geometrical patterns in different colors. The ZLock lace system helps provide a smooth look to the shoes. Reviewers are divided between the ones who really like their style and the ones that think its very ugly. You decide!
Durability
Durability

Durability

One of the major drawbacks of these shoes is the lack of durability. Users have reported that they do not manage to provide 200 miles of use before they break apart. Some reviewers couldn't use their shoes for more than 3 months because they broke. It seems that the problem is not much about individual components, but is more about the overall construction of the shoe. Each of their components is designed to last longer, but when combined, they do not do a good job in terms of overall durability. The durability is limited but you can enjoy plush comfort from these shoes to their last days.
Protection
Protection

Protection

These shoes provide good shock absorption qualities that will protect you from the impact of landings. Your knees and hips will be less likely to get injured thanks to the ZVA midsole and its shock absorption and distribution properties. The molded 3D heel counter provides good heel support. It locks your foot in the right position, enhancing smoother heel to toe transitions and provides extra stability to your ankles. The BareFit internal construction creates a very comfortable and protective environment that decreases the risk of getting blisters and hot spots.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

Highly responsive runs are what you can expect from these shoes. Zoot is known to be a brand that designs shoes that provide a great combination of responsiveness and plush cushioning. The ZVA midsole is very flexible and provides a bouncy feeling that generates good energy return. The full length midsole featuring the ZBound+ technology makes possible to have a very cushioned and responsive run. These shoes will definitely make you run faster. The BareFit construction snuggles your feet with the right amount of pressure in just the right places to provide a custom feel. It enhances the fit and the responsiveness and provides superior control and precision.
Support
Support

Support

The great cushioning features of this shoe makes it really good in providing support during your runs. From the outsole, the flexible carbon rubber compound provides a good wide surface with great traction. The ZVA midsole manages to bring plush cushioning, flexibility and extra full length support. The BareFit internal liner makes possible a custom like fit that is able to move with your feet and be more supportive. They provide support for over pronators. Promoting a more neutral run, the shoes will feel comfortable and supported when you roll your feet inwards when running.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

The Zoot Makai are running shoes designed to perform their best on paved roads and on short distance runs. It is a versatile urban shoe that loves running on the asphalt. Road, tracks and light gravel are good surfaces for running with these shoes. The outsole provides great traction in off roads tracks as well, reviewers have said. We recommend not taking them for off road runs, however, because it may compromise the durability of the shoes. The upper is protective enough for an urban environment but will not provide the same protection against the debris of off road trails.
Price
Price

Price

For some users the price of the shoe is too high, for others its just fine. The suggested price of the shoe is $135 USD, which is indeed a bit more than the average for its category. However, for that money you can get one of the most comfortable and cushioned running shoes in the market. The price can be higher or lower depending on the size and if its for men or women.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The carbon rubber used in the outsole provides good traction overall. The best traction you can get is when running on paved roads in dry weather. However, the outsole features good grip even in rainy conditions. The outsole is very light but powerful. The lug pattern helps to get good traction on light gravel as well. The lugs are not very deep but bring good directional traction to the shoes. The lug pattern in the heel area provides good traction for the most precise landings. The fore foot pattern enhances the responsiveness of the shoe.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

These are very flexible shoes from the outsole to the upper. The carbon rubber outsole is flexible enough to provide a more natural and powerful strike. The ZVA midsole provides a comfortable bouncy and flexible feeling that goes from the heel to the toes. The light and breathable mesh upper adapts to the movements of your feet with ease and comfort. The BareFit technology in the inner lining of the shoe fits like a sock to your foot. These are very flexible, yet able to provide a secure fit and enhance breathability and blood circulation. The ZBound technology in the midsole enhances the flexibly of the shoe providing more efficient gait cycles.
Stability
Stability

Stability

The stability of these shoes has been a matter of discussion among the reviewers. For some, the shoe feels very stable and provides enough support, for others it feels very unstable. The instability of the shoes is mostly caused by the lacing system. For some users, they feel the foot slides too much in the shoes because the laces do not allow a tight fit. When using regular laces, not the racing lacing system, the shoes feel more stable. The heel cup provides a good lock to your foot and the upper really does a good job providing the stability you need when you need it the most.
Drop
Drop

Drop

The Zoot Makai running shoes have an 8 mm drop. That drop promotes a more natural gait cycle that provides less impact for your knees and hips.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

- BareFit upper
- No sew internal construction
- ZBound+ midsole
- Zoot Carbon Rubber outsole
- ZLock lacing system
- Molded 3D heel counter
Bottom line
Bottom line

Bottom line

Despite the controversy of certain features of the shoe, the Zoot Makai has been recognized as one of the most comfortable neutral shoes by the majority of users. The plush cushioning they provide is one of their best features, and they manage to do so while staying very lightweight. The BareFit seamless internal construction is one of the favorite features for the reviewers, and thanks to their light weight and comfortable fit they manage to feel like wearing socks. The lacing system can be adapted for racing laces or regular laces. Based on the reviews, we recommend to start using the regular laces and them move on to the racing ones. That way the shoe adapts to your foot first providing a custom like fit before moving to the racing laces.