Zoot Ultra Kane 3.0 Review Facts
Zoot is an innovative brand that transformed the triathlon industry by introducing the one piece tri-suit. Years later, the brand ventured into the shoe territory and has since been making running shoes that are specific for triathlon races.
With the Ultra Kane 3.0, the company brings its talents in apparel design and applies them to a shoe that fits and feels like no other. That may be saying a lot but consider for a moment the logistics of designing a shoe that revolves around the challenges of running in a triathlon. You quickly realize that a shoe needs to function effectively and consistently in every category, from comfort to protection and everything in between. Designed as a stability shoe with maximum cushioning, the Ultra Kane 3.0 is the “smart” overachiever shoe in its class that’s prepared, skilled, and confident to handle the complexities of triathlon running.
The long distances involved in triathlon training, from the training phase to the actual race, can take a heavy toll on a shoe’s sole. For that reason, the Ultra Kane 3.0 is readily available for such high-mileage usage through the implementation of a thick layer of carbon rubber. Zoot refers to its outsole material as ZCR or Zoot’s Carbon Rubber. Carbon rubber is a studier and heavier and is commonly used in the shoe industry. It adds protection and durability to a shoe’s outsole.
The midsole features Z-bound shock absorption. This is a multi-density layer midsole that delivers several functions like responsiveness and durability. It weighs less and provides better cushioning and energy return than a standard midsole. It also protects against overpronation
. Z-bound is a unique technology developed by Zoot. It’s constructed from a material that is lighter than your average EVA midsole.
The upper has seen several upgrades from the last version, the Ultra Kane 2.0
. This time around, Zoot implemented the use of a single layer of fabric, which resembles one of their single-piece tri-suits
, to cover the top portion of the shoe. This piece of fabric works together with the shoe's asymmetrical lacing system.
There is also mesh material toward the central part of the shoe that adds breathability. On the inside, the shoe has padded walls and fabric material that fights odor and sweat.
Not much has changed since the last version. It still weighs roughly the same — 10.9 ounces for the men’s version and 9 ounces for the women’s. As a stability shoe, it’s meant to be distinctive from the ultra-lightweight triathlon trainer so it’s normal for it to carry a little extra weight. But weight has not been ignored and has been reduced where ever possible, especially on the upper and in the midsole, the two sections of the shoe that are the lightest.
The upgrades to the upper have paid off in the form of better ventilation. The single-stretch layer and the mesh material on the upper incorporate visible perforations that allow airflow into the shoe’s interior. For the 3.0, the holes in the mesh material have been enlarged, making this shoe more breathable than the last.
Great ventilation is just a part of the shoe’s overall comfort experience. On top of that, there are added features to keep your feet as comfortable as possible. For instance, Z Bound technology incorporates plush cushioning that reflects well when combined with other aspects of the multi-density layer midsole, such as the midsole’s lightweight build. Therefore, you not only have good cushioning but you also have the feeling of less drag on your feet, resulting in a win-win situation.
In terms of interior comfort, the shoe features a good amount of padding along with soft fabric lining. Together, with the inclusion of the single-stretch layer that makes up the upper, you have a shoe that feels great against every part of your skin. In addition, the tongue features a loop that works together with a heel tab for quick on/off lacing.
The Ultra Kane’s style, or lack thereof, is a reflection of its main purpose as a running shoe. In other words, it was created not for looks but for its technological function out in the real world. Say what you want about its physical aesthetics but we do feel that Zoot could've given us more color options. No matter how serious a triathlete may seem, there are many who still want to “dress up” on race day; and part of looking your best has to do with what you wear on your feet. So if you’re the type of runner that needs some more style appeal, the Ultra Kane 3.0, and its limited boring grey options
, will leave you disappointed.
Triathlons and resiliency are not autonomous of each other. Resiliency is required at every angle, both inside and outside the athletes body — everything from proper nutrition
to the right-fitting shoes has a stake in the completion of such a major feat
. Fortunately, the folks at Zoot are not immune to the ideas of producing quality products that can sustain high usage over the long run. (No pun intended.) And it’s not something that has been overlooked on the Ultra Kane 3.0 with its sturdy construction through the use of carbon rubber on the outsole and strong fabrics on the upper.
Just like comfort and durability, protection is another category that has not been overlooked. Several features are implemented to ensure that you stay injury-free throughout a race. A carbon shank improves toe off efficiency and there is greater motion control than there is in a flatter shoe. This is useful for when an athlete is transitioning from cycling to running. This is the time you’re most likely to have wobbly legs, and as a result, you may need a little extra help with your running form to prevent injury. On the inside, Zoot’s Tri-Dri with Dri-Lex technology protect against irritation and the elimination of sweat and odor. This helps to prevent any skin-related issues like blisters
and abrasions that can occur after long periods of running.
In a multi-density midsole, the firmer density layer will have the greatest amount of bounce-back resulting in a burst of energy. Other areas of the midsole will have varying functions like cushioning and durability. Zoot’s Z-bound midsole is fabricated from lighter materials than standard EVA. This results in a greater bounce back effect since the shoe is not limited by any extra weight. The end result is a continuous process of energy delivery after every step during the gait cycle.
Advertised as a “stability shoe with maximum cushioning,” the Ultra Kane 3.0 has a higher stack height than a neutral trainer. It provides motion control and stability which become crucial during triathlons for the fact that fatigue can diminish running efficiency and performance. Neutral runners may find that this type of shoe is not suited for their running style and may want to opt for a shoe with a lower drop ratio
. The Ultra Kane will work best for runners with a larger frame
who are not as fast and require more guidance with their stride.
The Ultra Kane 3.0 can sustain heavy footsteps on the pavement for a good number of miles. Carbon rubber outsoles are designed for high usage and this shoe is no exception. It does not have any special water drainage features which can sometimes be necessary if you happen to be running in wetter climates. Therefore, it is better suited for races that take place in drier climates.
The Ultra Kane can cost as much as $150, making it a fairly expensive shoe. Nevertheless, it's important to keep in mind that a shoe outfitted with this much technology and innovation places it in a premium class. So you will be paying a lot more but you are also getting a lot more shoe. Now if only the company could include some more appealing color combinations then it would justify the heavy price tag.
Soft blown rubber is produced through an injection process which makes it lighter than carbon rubber, which is heavier and sturdier. Carbon rubber’s thicker material generates greater gripping. Running shoes usually combine a mix of rubber materials in order to achieve different functions and the Ultra Kane 3.0 is no different. With its ZCR outsole, the carbon rubber portion offers the most grip when handling the pavement. It also incorporates horizontal grooves and some minor squared lugs for greater effectiveness in this area.
The single layer of fabric that cloaks the upper is referred to as “Teksheen” by one of Zoot’s founders. It’s made from 70% nylon and 21% spandex. Power stretch fabric is used in compression garments
produced by Zoot. The company is no stranger when it comes to knowing how to produce products that are incredibly flexible. They clearly nailed it with the Ultra Kane’s upper by making a shoe that has a precise, almost personalized fit, for the individual runner. It adapts to your foot’s movement and allows for ample mobility.
Identified as a stability
shoe, the Ultra Kane 3.0 controls motion and guides a runner with any mechanical deficiencies in his form. It might be safe to say that the Ultra Kane helps to address the issues of the novice triathlete who will encounter more setbacks as a result of fatigue and inexperience. Part of that will include things like tired and unstable legs which will affect running performance. With the shoe’s higher stack height and stability focused midsole, it is designed to lend a helping hand.
Forefoot height measures 13 mm and heel height measures 25mm, resulting in a 12 mm drop offset. As a stability shoe, it incorporates a higher drop ratio than a neutral trainer. Consequently, runners looking for speed efficiency may not benefit from this class of shoe. It will be most beneficial for runners who may be more prone to fatigue-related issues and who require additional direction in their runs.
• Z Bound midsole for more cushioning and less weight
• 12 mm heel to toe drop
• CarbonSpan+ and Carbon Shank for increased efficiency
• Multi-density layer midsole
• ZCR Outsole
• Tri-Dri with Dri-Lex technology features anti-microbial fabric
• BareFit - Seamless internal construction for sock-less wear
One thing is for sure and that is the Ultra Kane 3.0 is very unique in its own right. It’s a highly advanced shoe that is going to appeal to the techy runner who is looking to benefit the most from running shoe technology. Mainly, it is going to appeal to the triathlete who is looking for a little extra help on race day when heavy tired legs are going to get the best out of him or her.
Through the smart use of specialized fabrics and midsole technology, the Ultra Kane 3.0 is the answer to many of the challenges that come along when the going gets tough. It keeps you cushioned, protected, dry, and comfortable. More than just a loyal running shoe, the Ultra Kane 3.0. takes a lead role by providing stability, motion control, and protection so that a runner can have a safe run and reduce the risk of injury. Sure, looks-wise, it may not get you into the cool kids running club. But this is meant for the serious triathlete that wants to cross the finish line and be motivated to do it again.