The Best Triathlon Running Shoes in 2018
Triathletes are a rare breed, and require a shoe that stands above the rest. Not every running shoe will be up to the challenge, and not all athletes are the same, so we compiled a list of the 10 best triathlon running shoes to help you get a leg up.
Triathlon shoes need to be lightweight and water draining, while still providing the comfort and support of the best running shoes on the market. It’s a difficult task for manufacturers, but we’ve found some fantastic options.
Below we will provide a brief review of each shoe, along with some pros and cons to be aware of before you buy. As always, hitting the store to try these shoes on is always the best way to ultimately decide, but this list is designed to help you narrow your search.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Asics Noosa FF 2
This is Asics’ staple triathlon shoe. Both the men and women’s designs have been recreated with FlyteFoam technology to combine the comfort and bounce back of foam with organic super fibers that are designed to stop the foam from packing out.
Whether you run the Olympic distance or the sprint, the FlyteFoam is designed to keep you supported and keep pain at bay as you transition through phases.
This shoe features seamless construction to reduce irritation and friction from seams and stitching that can occur with other shoes. This is especially important when the shoe is wet, since wetness only keeps seams closer to the foot.
In addition the 10mm heel gradient shifts body weight forward to reduce stress on the legs. When your body is being pushed to its limits, you need a shoe that can extend the work beyond your legs and help balance your fatigue.
Finally, the Wet Grip outsoles on the Noosa FF 2 enhance traction on wet surfaces, making these a perfect shoe for a solid transition from sea to land or for running in wet or humid environments.
- Secure fit without rubbing
- Durable materials
- Heel gradient to decrease leg fatigue
- Wet Grip outsole
- FlyteFoam not well received for comfort among runners
- Size is a half to a whole size smaller than expected
- Colors not as appealing as previous models
Saucony Kinvara 9
The original Kinvara was released nine years ago with the intention of disrupting the market and creating a lightweight shoe without giving up any cushion or comfort. It was created to be a perfect race and practice shoe for runners.
Fast forward nine years and you will find only improvements in the Kinvara 9. The latest traction and cushioning technologies combine with a still lightweight shoe to create an excellent experience for distance runners.
This shoe features a new EVERUN top sole that is created through the fusing of thousands of foam beads for flexibility and unbeatable bounce. Add this to the seamless fit of the shoe, and you’ve got yourself an excellent ride.
The Kinvara 9 kept the 4mm heel-to-toe offset that is signature to the Kinvara experience to ensure a natural stance and take some pressure off the lower extremities. Finally, traction is added in the form of small rubber pods in high wear zones, to add durability without any unnecessary weight.
- Extremely lightweight
- EVERUN cushioning
- Seamless flexibility
- 4mm offset
- Runner’s World Editor’s Choice winner
- Not water resistant
- No pronation control
- Stiff platform
These ultra lightweight running shoes feature a custom designed upper by mixed media artist and Hawaiian native Keith Tallett. The design will stand out from the back as you make your way through the race day crowds.
These shoes feature a Boa Closure System for a comfortable, tight fit with or without socks. This closure system makes transitioning between phases ultra-smooth. The heel and toe pull-tabs also aid in quickening your transition times.
The BareFit lining combines well with the breathable mesh upper and internal structure of the shoe to give you an almost glove-like fit with optimal cooling and drainage.
The Carbon Rubber tread gives you great traction in this shoe, without sacrificing weight, and the cushioning technology allows for a solid rebound in the mid-foot while providing extra cushioning for the heel strike.
Another nice feature of these shoes is that they are unisex, so they are truly made for every runner. They are made with a high arch support, however, so if you have low arches, be aware of that before you purchase.
- Water resistant
- Boa Closure System
- BareFit lining
- Carbon Rubber traction
- Unisex; watch size closely when ordering
- Not good for low arches
- Narrow fit
Skechers Go Run 6
These are shoes designed for speed and efficiency. The nearly one-piece upper was made with breathability and features a knitted collar for a snug fit. You’ll feel like you’re wearing a nicely fitting sock rather than a running shoe.
Custom fit doesn’t stop at the sock-like knit collar either; this shoe also has a removable insole, so you know you will get the best possible feel. In addition, the shoe has no tongue, so you won’t have to deal with potential blisters from rubbing.
The shoe has a 4mm offset, like many of the shoes we have featured, to take pressure off of the legs and increase comfort. The traction on the Go Run 6 is placed perfectly to give you optimal support on all services.
Finally, this shoe has a pull-tab feature on the heel to help with speed and efficiency during transitions. It also has reflective qualities to make you more visible during road runs and practice.
- Nearly seamless, sock-like fit
- Easy to slip on and off
- Nice, lightweight feel
- Great support throughout stride
- Wide toe-box
- Foot position not kept stable by knitted upper
- Don’t tighten or loosen as precisely as other shoes
- Not ideal for flat feet or low arches
Hoka One One Mach
The Hoka One One Mach is slightly heavier than the shoes we have seen so far, coming in at 8.2oz for a men’s size 9 versus the 6oz range of the others. However, this shouldn’t scare you away, this shoe has a lot to offer for triathletes.
The offset on the Mach is 5mm, 1mm more than most others on this list. That extra millimeter of offset can help take some extra pressure off of your legs and make up for the added ounces you’ll be carrying.
Breathability is still at the forefront with Mach’s mesh upper, and the mid and outsoles are packed with technology to add responsiveness and cushion where you need it most.
Wishbone traction on the bottom of this shoe makes it a great practice shoe, but runners have reviewed it as an excellent race day shoe as well. This is a versatile shoe with excellent stability to help you stay in control even on the longest runs.
The Mach comes out of the same brand that created the ultra-popular Clifton models for years, so its lineage is that of success, but note that the Mach runs a bit larger than the Clifton models.
- Hot spots are the exception, not the rule
- Supportive and responsive midsole
- Traction control for multiple surfaces
- 5mm offset
- Shoe is chunky
- Shock absorption on landing lacking slightly
Brooks Launch 5
Take one look at the Launch 5 and you know that the goal of this shoe is to add energy to your runs. The BioMoGo DNA midsole cushions your foot while also adding a rebounding, springy feeling from the rubber within.
The sole of the shoe features a mid-foot transition zone that is designed to help you go from heel to toe quickly, while the Air Mesh upper brings breathability to a whole new level. The upper is so breezy you may not even know it’s there.
The Launch 5 comes in great colors and style for men and women, but doesn’t give up comfort or support for the look. This shoe is true to size so you can be confident in your size choice when you purchase.
This shoe is incredibly responsive throughout your stride. Some consumers described the cushion in the midsole as “cloudlike.” Brooks is taking comfort seriously in the Launch 5 with cushion and a wide toe-box to boot.
The Launch 5 is a serious upgrade from its predecessors, and has been incredibly well received in the running community, especially for long distances on the road.
- Wide toe-box
- Responsive and energizing
- Cloudlike cushioning
- Nearly no break-in period required
- Stylish and appealing to the eye
- Extra high arch support, not suitable for all runners
- Narrow through main foot
Salomon Sonic RA Pro
The Sonic RA Pro is designed for road running in all weather conditions and all times of year. This shoe has standard laces, but the build of the upper makes it easy to slip on and use without lace adjustments to help you transition between phases quickly.
The 8mm offset on the Sonic RA Pro is one of the best in the business. It allows maximum relief from knee leg pain, and is ideal for individuals who deal with knee pain or shin splints during long distance runs.
This shoe has been described as an ideal practice shoe, but can work in your rotation for race day as well since it’s extremely durable, breathable, and water resistant.
The sole features wet traction and Contragrip, so these shoes are ideal for triathletes who will potentially need traction on wet and uneven surfaces. In addition, geometric decoupling on the sole allows smooth load guidance and effortless transition.
Hot spots are all but eliminated by the Molded Ortholite Sockliner. The liner molds to the shape of your food to provide durable cushioning, but open-cell technology allows for breathability and aids in moisture wicking with or without socks.
- Vibe technology for reducing vibrations
- Breathable and moisture wicking
- Slip on with manual lace adjustments
- Excellent traction on wet surfaces
- Ortholite Sockliner
- Durability not a priority
- Bulky heel, difficult to get used to
- Width can feel a bit sloppy for some runners
This is a shoe created specifically for triathletes. It is made for a fast transition and with a responsive ride. The Z-lock laces offer both speed and standard lace systems to provide a custom fit for racing and training.
The molded 3D heel counter features a pull-tab for quick transitioning and the Barefit lining makes this a shoe that works with or without socks. The upper is a breathable mesh that is exceptional for cooling and eliminating hot spots.
The shoe has a great rebound on mid-foot strike and extra heel-strike cushioning. Carbon Rubber tread provides durable traction while keeping the shoe lightweight. In addition, the 8mm drop from heel to toe provides superior leg support.
The Makai is the heaviest shoe we have seen so far coming in at 9.7oz for a men’s size 9, so if you’re looking for the lightest possible weight, this one might not be right for you. However, it has the durability to stand up to consistent road use.
- Breathable upper
- Responsive, good bounce
- Well cushioned and comfortable
- Z-lock laces
- Made for triathletes
- Light laces may not tighten properly
- Heavier than others
- No variety of color or design
Saucony Liberty ISO
This is the shoe that won the Runner’s World’s Best Debut shoe for Spring 2018. It’s got a full-length EVERUN midsole for a more upbeat response and smoother transitions.
The 4mm heel-to-toe offset delivers a natural ride that relies less on your legs while the ISOFIT system contours to your foot and makes this shoe feel custom made. The shoe’s plush cushioning provides impact protection and comfort.
This shoe features pronation control that adds guidance and support to your run. It feels lightweight and dynamic despite the added cushioning and support, likely due to the engineered stretch mesh upper.
Breathability and comfort on the road or track make the Liberty ISO a great all around shoe for training and race days. Although this shoe is not water resistant or waterproof, the traction control on the sole can give you peace of mind on all surfaces.
The normal to high arch support is great for ensuring foot cramping doesn’t occur during your race, and keeps feet supported day in-day out.
- Great response and support mid stride
- Custom feel to fit
- Breathability in upper is top notch; no hot spots
- Protection for those who over pronate
- Built for durability and daily use
- Priciest of the shoes on this list thus far
- Runs about a half size smaller than other shoes
- Short tongue, not ideal for full lace-up
Asics Gel-Hyper Tri 3
This is a triathlon shoe through and through. From the excellent water drainage holes in the mid and outsoles, to the incredibly lightweight design and pull-on loop on the tongue versus the heel for quicker phase transitioning.
Despite being made for triathletes, these shoes are still excellent for tempo running or intervals. Long distance runners may have a hard time with the lack of cushioning in the midsole, but even Olympic distance triathletes will like the comfortable upper.
The Rearfoot GEL Cushioning System reduces the shock during impact and guides through the transition to mid stance well. The outsole is made of DuraSponge, which is a blown rubber compound that enhances cushion and durability in the forefoot.
The materials used to create this shoe are seamless, reducing the risk of blistering and irritation that running shoes are known for. Fnally, the midsole features Guidance Line Technology to help move you through each step transition efficiently.
- Water drains well
- Comfortable support from upper
- Sizes run small
- Heavier than previous models
- Not cushioned well for long-distance running