Part of the fun of running triathlons is finding the perfect piece of equipment that will give you an edge over the competition and allow you to improve your times.
Lots of money is often invested in high quality triathlon watches, or superior cycling equipment, but at the end of the day the one piece of equipment that is going to make the biggest difference is your running shoes. In this article we look at the ten best triathlon running shoes for men.
There are several factors that influence what makes a good triathlon running shoe;
- Price – The price is important, yes everyone has different budgets, but a good deal is a good deal. When we review each shoe, we look if the price is good value for money or not.
- Weight – When running long distances, you are going to want as light a running shoe as possible, this is because every pound of weight will cost you energy the further you travel. Of course, it isn’t just being as light as possible. But if there are two identical running shoes and one is a bit lighter than the other it is clear which one is going to be more useful during a triathlon.
- Comfort – As with weight, comfort is something that becomes more and more important the further you run. How well a shoe fits is also a consideration when it comes to comfort.
- Breathability – How well ventilated a shoe is can also be important, again, the longer the race the more this becomes an issue.
- Durability – One of the most important factors. There is no use owning a running shoe that isn’t going to last for a very long time. Triathlon running shoes can be very expensive, the longer they last the better value for money they become. But durability is also important for how well you can run in them, a non-durable shoe will probably not be comfortable or breathable and will negatively affect your race.
- Flexibility – An often-overlooked factor, flexibility is crucial for good running performance. The more flexible a shoe is, the better it will allow you to run naturally. Think about running in the stiffest pair of walking boots and then compare that to running in your favourite running shoes, as you can see – flexibility is important.
Now that you know what criteria we will be using to assess each shoe, here is a list of the top ten best triathlon running shoes for men. Starting with 10 and moving on to our number one pick at the end of the article. Please remember that our views are subjective, and that not everyone will have the same priorities for triathlon running shoes.
Triathlon Running Shoe #10 Newton Tri-Racer MV3 Running Shoes
Newton Running is a running shoe company based in Boulder, Colorado that was set up by amateur runners who wanted better running shoes. By and large they have succeeded, though many of the established running shoe companies are still there and still competing against them.
The Newton Tri-Racer MV3 running shoe is definitely one of the lightest weight models on this list, it weighs around 159g for a men’s shoe. The shoe also has zero-drop, meaning that there is no height difference between the heel and the toe. It is basically flat. This allows your foot to land as naturally as possible, imitating how you would run if barefoot (without the unpleasant sensation of running barefoot on hot tarmac, through puddles, or over rocky ground).
Theoretically this can help reduce knee or hip pain while running and prevent injuries. Though there is little scientific evidence to back this. This lack of drop also makes the shoe very light, which is perfect for long distance runs.
The shoes also give great traction, with lugs that are anatomically accurate. This allows for greater flexibility as well as reducing your risk of slipping. Better traction will help you run faster, particularly if you are a front-foot runner.
The heel and toe have high-density EVA which allows for a good rebound which will improve your running speed and improve comfort through excellent shock absorption. The shoes are also incredibly breathable, using an ultra-light, highly breathable, fast-drying mesh. The shoes aren’t exactly waterproof, but quick drying is a great compromise. Perfect for any triathlete.
Overall, this is an excellent running shoe. The price tag is reasonable and thanks to the high-quality design, this shoe is highly durable making the cost per run very competitive. If you can get past the bright colours, you’ll own a truly excellent triathlon running shoe.
Triathlon Running Shoe #9 Zoot Ultra Race 4.0
The Zoot Ultra Race 4.0 is by far the most unattractive triathlon running shoe on this list, it’s not even close! However, who cares about style when it comes to racing? The Zoot Ultra Race 4.0 is perfectly designed for the fastest change over possible between cycling and running, with its ingenious lace-free tightening system. This is really a game-changer right here.
The Boa fast lacing system will save you valuable seconds while you make the transition from bike to running. Instead of having to tie your laces like you would with a normal pair of shoes you simply place your feet in the shoe and then pull a cord to tighten the shoe (like a drawstring bag).
Zoot sport is exactly the kind of company that would embrace this technology, they are specifically based around triathlon and have been since 1983. Another really clever aspect of these shoes is the Tri-dry water drainage system, making it one of the best shoes out there for running in while your feet dry. Remember, you will have spent a large portion of your day swimming through open water and your feet are unlikely to be bone dry after the cycling portion of the race.
A regular pair of running shoes would almost certainly be compromised here, with wet, slippy feet moving around too much inside the shoe and leading to discomfort and blisters. With the Zoot Ultra Race 4.0 you don’t need to worry about this because the shoes are incredibly good at draining water. Run through puddles to your hearts content!
The cushioning is excellent and the shoe fits like a glove (or should we say sock), provided you pick the right size. Users have commented that you should pick a half size up if you wear socks or stick to your usual size if you run without socks.
The shoe also has decent traction and is quite durable – though it may be better suited to Olympic Triathlons rather than Ironman Triathlons. These are really good racing shoes, the type you’d love to be wearing as you sprint for the finish line.
Triathlon Running Shoe #8 Hoka One One Mach
Unlike the Zoot Ultra Race 4.0, the Hoka One One Mach is not specifically designed for triathlons, that doesn’t make it a bad choice though. In fact, we may even prefer it! What the Hoka One One Mach does well is allow you to run fast while feeling like you’re flying. These shoes are so well cushioned it is like running on air.
Okay, so with the amazing cushioning you’re not going to be sprinting at your fastest, but 1) most triathlon runners would prioritise comfort over speed (particularly in the longer triathlons) and 2) they are still surprisingly light at just 283g for a men’s shoe. This is positively heavy compared to the Newton Tri-Racer, but most runners will not notice the difference.
These shoes would be absolutely perfect for training, those long hard practice-runs where you work on your endurance and look to avoid any form of niggle or chronic injuries. You could still run a good race in these but you could also (if your budget allows) have a lighter pair of shoes for actual race day and use the Hoka One One Mach shoes as the ideal training shoes.
The shoes are very breathable, with a knit mesh upper allowing air flow to travel through the shoes as you run, this will really help you run during hot weather, and will also help your feet dry after the swimming/cycling. A beautifully designed, high-quality running shoe that is perfect for triathletes.
Triathlon Running Shoe #7 Nike Tri Fusion
You just can’t go wrong with a Nike running shoe, they are world famous for a reason. The Nike Tri Fusion is their attempt at a great triathlon running shoe. It’s also a very reasonably priced option. You might think that the “Tri” in the name signifies that it is designed specifically for triathlons, not so. It is actually referring to the tri-density mid-sole, which provides superior cushioning and will improve your running gait.
The shoe also uses anatomically placed flex grooves that will help improve your transition during long runs. The lightweight mesh that surrounds the upper makes this shoe one of the most breathable on this list and considering the price this is surprising.
The shoes are also one of the most aesthetically pleasing on this list, obviously this may not be a concern for the hardcore triathlete, but shoes that look gorgeous and feel amazing can help you feel better and look better too. The shoes combine comfort and durability very well, getting the balance just about right, something that many running shoes struggle to achieve. If you’re looking for a good-quality, high-performing running shoe at a reasonable price then the Nike Tri Fusion running shoe is a great choice.
Triathlon Running Shoe #6 Hoka One One Clifton 5
This is the second running shoe from Hoka One One that we have on this list, in fact the Hoka One One Mach is supposed to be an upgrade on this shoe. But we love the Clifton 5 and feel that it is actually the superior of the Mach (though only just). What you need to understand about Hoka One One is that they are designed for maximum comfort without impacting performance. This makes them fantastic for training runs, everyday use, and even for competition time.
Considering the amount of cushioning, these shoes are quite lightweight and will suit triathlon running well. The shoes have a padded insole which can improve cushioning and the sole is flexible enough to make running a breeze.
Like the Hoka One One Mach, the Clifton 5 is the ideal training shoes, suited to all types of terrain and long practice runs in all conditions. You can either wear them for race day or you can use them purely for training with a lighter shoe for races.
Triathlon Running Shoe #5 Puma Hybrid Astro
The first thing that you will notice about the Puma Hybrid Astro is the incredibly unique midsole, the cushioning looks like it is made of small polystyrene bobbles. Actually, the midsole uses a hybrid foam mix of ignite and nrgy beads. These provide excellent cushioning as well as amazing feedback. As your foot lands on the ground the cushioning will help to propel you forward, allowing you to travel fast and with fantastic technique.
The shoes are also very supportive, keeping your foot firmly in place throughout the run which will help with running economy as well as comfort. There is a net that surrounds the upper part of this shoe which is designed to increase stability keeping the area around the top of your foot nice and tight. The heel counter is incredibly flexible, which will help with stability as well as allowing you to run more naturally.
What’s great about the Puma Hybrid Astro is its durability, a lot of the design of this shoe has been based around providing stability, and these materials can help contribute to improved durability at the same time. Expect these shoes to last through hundreds of practice runs and races. If you are looking for a shoe that provides comfort, stability, flexibility, and will last a long time, then the Puma Hybrid Astro could very well be the shoe for you.
One thing that we haven’t mentioned is the aesthetic side to this shoe, it’s certainly a love it or hate it sort of look. The colour scheme is bold and the heel stands out. The midsole cushioning is certainly going to get attention, but whether this is a good or bad thing is really up to you!
Triathlon Running Shoe #4 ON Running Cloudflyer
ON Running is a Swiss running shoe company that specialises in lightweight, durable shoes that suit road running. The Cloudflyer running shoe is a great example of this. It uses Zero-Gravity cushioning to provide comfort without increasing the weight of the shoe, and has 12 “clouds” (raised pods on the sole) that are designed to reduce internal rotation when you land and increase stability.
The heel is cushioned with memory foam and uses an adaptive v-moulded cap which will keep your heel secure and stable throughout the run. A lot of people have been very impressed with the star lacing system. While not as innovative as the Boa used by Zoot, the ultra-thin laces are ideal for running.
Another focus for the Cloudflyer team was to make their shoe as agile as possible, while triathlons don’t often require much lateral movement you still need agility when racing. The agility is mostly down to how light the shoes are. The shoes weigh just 255g. They are designed to be used for training rather than racing, and their marketing is quite clear about this, though you could still get a good race out of them in our opinion!
Triathlon Running Shoe #3 Newton Distance 7
The second shoe on our list from Newton Running, this time we are looking at the Newton Distance 7 a road running shoe that suits triathlon running down to the ground. The cushioning system that Newton Distance 7 employs is seriously impressive. It has been described as “trampoline-like” because the bounce back from each landing is incredible, allowing you to spring forward with every step.
According to Newton Running this keeps your energy levels higher than regular running shoes does, it’s quite hard to gauge whether this is true or not though! The flexibility in the Newton Distance 7s is excellent, the full flex zone on the base of the shoe allows your feet to splay out properly as your foot hits the floor, which really helps with running biomechanics.
The shoe is very durable, allowing you to train in all conditions (though stick to road racing) and will last you a lot longer than many similar running shoes. The shoes are really good at expelling water too, which is great for the removal of sweat or water while you run. This helps to keep the shoes nice and light and will help you run faster for longer.
Another really cool feature is the aesthetic design of the Newton Distance 7s. Particularly the black and yellow combination. The shoes look seriously good with bright colours and a nice shape.
Triathlon Running Shoe #2 Asics Gel-Noosa Tri 11
Our 2nd favourite triathlon running shoe comes from Asics, it is the Gel-Noosa Tri 11. This shoe not only looks stunning, it is one of the most breathable running shoes out there. The lacing system is very clever too, making these shoes incredibly quick to put on your feet during changeovers. The Asics Gel-Noosa Tri 11 is also one of the most durable running shoes on this list, able to withstand whatever you can throw at it.
While there are lighter running shoes on this list, the Gel Noosa Tri 11 is very lightweight at just 230g for a men’s shoe considering that it is primarily a support shoe which focuses on stability. These shoes are often quite a bit heavier, so in comparison it is actually ideal.
The cushioning of this shoe is decent, Asics have added rearfoot and forefoot GEL cushioning systems which are designed to handle the impact shock of landing on hard surfaces as you run or sprint as fast as you can. Stability is enforced with the dynamic DuoMax support system.
Where the Asics Gel-Noosa Tri 11 shoe really stands out from the crowd though is with its breathability. The mesh that surrounds the upper allows air to circulate around the foot, the shoe also drains water really well – which prevents the common issue that breathable shoes have during bad weather where they become waterlogged.
This works great in triathlons though as most triathletes will still have damp feet when they come to the running stage. Having great ventilation and drainage could really help reduce shoe weight and give you that small edge.
The traction in this shoe is also really good, making it ideal for road racing in bad weather, helping you to avoid slips and create the right amount of tension with each step to drive you forward. Considering how well this shoe performs in traction, breathability, comfort, and race performance, the price for the Asics Gel-Noosa Tri 11 is an absolute steal. Definitely grab a pair while you can!
Triathlon Running Shoe #1 Asics Gel Kayano 25
The final shoe on our list is in our opinion the best triathlon running shoe for men at the time of writing. There are so many positive features, but the cushioning is a great place to start. The Asics Gel Kayano 25 has both rearfoot and forefoot cushioning which is designed to reduce shock during impact when your foot drives off the ground. This will allow you to run faster and for longer.
Another feature that helps these shoes stand apart from the crowd is the Impact Guidance System (IGS) technology. This is technology designed by Asics to mimic the natural running gait of your foot by linking components so that when you land it is as if you were barefoot. There are many other ways in which Asics attempt to recreate natural barefoot gait, such as the Guidance Trusstic System Technology which improves structural integrity around the midfoot.
The shoes also have SpevaFoam 45 Lasting foam which covers the entire length of the shoe, again this is ideal for improving comfort, stability, and for recreating natural foot gait while you run. All of these features combine for an unrivalled running experience, all in a well-priced, well designed running shoe.
What makes this such a great triathlon shoe is the durability, the comfort, and the way that it has been designed to recreate natural bare-foot running. All for a ridiculously generous price! This shoe is excellent value for money. While it may not be as good during the transition as some of the triathlon-specific running shoes we’ve mentioned (i.e. the Zoot Ultra Race 4.0) it more than holds it own when it comes to performance. This is our favourite triathlon running shoe.
As you can see, this list has been made up of running shoes that are triathlon specific, as well as running shoes that are so good that they can excel in the triathlon. Sometimes you want to find the best shoe that was solely designed for a sport (triathlons, cross-country etc) and hopefully you’ll find the ones we’ve picked suitable. But sometimes what you really want is a shoe that is so good at what it does it could be used in most sports and still excel.
This list combines both types of shoe and represents the pinnacle of triathlon running shoes. The list is in order of our favourites with #1 representing the best, but each shoe on this list is a worthy choice. Think of these as ten great shoes, and then decide for yourself which one best represents your own needs.