Trail running shoes. Most of us start as road runners and as we move toward trails we get excited about the idea of new and specialized shoes for our off road pursuits. Problem is, trail surfaces vary a lot more than road. Running on a sandy trail is a lot different than running on a path that is actually a series of small boulders. Can one shoe effectively take on all terrains?
Mizuno says YES and is now offering their best design for an all terrain trail shoe.
Wave Kazan: $119.99, 8 ounces, 12mm ramp
Thanks to over a year of feedback from elite ultra runner Michael Aish (taking 3rd at Leadville 100 in Wave Kazans), Mizuno’s new trail shoe offers some very promising features.
Amazon Affiliate Link: Mizuno Wave Kazan available with Amazon Prime.
Lightweight yet protective: I have two opposing desires with trail shoes. On one hand (or foot), I want a light shoe that allows me to “feel the trail”; in other words, I want feedback from each step about the surface beneath my feet so I can react quickly. On the other hand, I don’t want to wince at every sharp rock I happen to step on. These shoes do incredibly well balancing the two. Wave Kazan gives me better feedback than my other trail shoes, but still protects my feet from feeling every little thing.
Adapts to uneven surfaces: Wave Kazan is designed to allow the heel and the forefoot to move independently. This gives you more feedback about the surface of the trail you’re on. Also, when the surface is uneven (which it often is), this feature gives you more contact with the ground. More contact = better stability, control, and power. They call this design feature the “X-groove” midsole.
Solid, multi-directional grip: Trail running isn’t as straightforward as road running. Running slightly sideways down a suicide descent or up a banking trail turn are all part of the fun. The soles have excellent grip on different suraces, whether climbing, descending, stepping forward or sideways. This is thanks to the “X-Stud” outsole design.
Why I recommend Wave Kazan:
Simply put, I recommend Wave Kazan because they transition well from road to trail.
Why does the road matter? Most trail races I’ve done start on paved road/fire road or at least a portion of the run will be on paved road/fire road. In the past I’ve regretted wearing my sturdier (i.e. heavier) trail shoes when the majority of the race wasn’t technical enough to make their added grip/protection features worth it.
I wouldn’t have any such regrets with the Wave Kazan. They do not feel clunky on the road. I love that I can take these from road to trail and back with ease!
What I can’t speak too:
I haven’t taken these shoes on a spin in the mud or snow. I believe the upper partially protects your foot from moisture with a transparent coating around the lace holes, the inside of your foot. Essentially, the areas where water from puddles would be most likely to soak into your shoe.
I also can’t yet speak to how long they’ll last. They just came out last month. I’m betting on running trails in them for the rest of the year, though!
2015 UPDATE: I’ve now ran in the mud and taken them through many trail miles (albeit fairly tame trails). I still highly recommend these shoes and have been super impressed with their performance in wet/slick conditions. They’ve been just as durable as you’d expect from a well made shoe. I still use them, over a year later, for light trail miles.
What do you look for in trail running shoes?
What feature is most important to you in trail running shoes?
Do you like bright colors, or shoes that don’t show the dirt/mud as much?
Do you run trails in your regular road shoes?
What is the most technical trail you’ve ran?