We hope that you love our articles and find them useful and informative! In full transparency, we may collect a small commission (at no cost to you!) when you click on some of the links in this post. These funds allow us to keep the site up and continue to write great articles. Click here to learn about our review process and affiliate structure.

The Best Triathlon Running Shoes in 2022

 

Running is only 1/3 of the triathlon equation, but that doesn’t make choosing the right gear any less important. In fact, given the challenge of the event, triathletes might be even more demanding of their equipment than runners.

It’s not enough for shoes to be comfortable and supportive. The best triathlon running shoes also have to be easy to get into during transition, and provide enough performance to get you to the finish line after your swim and bike events as well.

We’ve reviewed over 50+ shoes to find the best options for triathletes and multi-sport athletes. We recommend the ASICS Gel-Noosa Tri 14, it has a 5 mm drop, a lightweight Flytefoam midsole, and a breathable, brightly-colored upper.

Keep reading for the rest of our top picks!

Top 3 Best and Favorites

 

ASICS Noosa Tri 14

 

  • Lightweight
  • Thin tongue
  • Toggled laces
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

 

Brooks Launch 9

 

  • Lightweight BioMoGo midsole
  • Anatomically-designed speed collar
  • Wide platform
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

 

Hoka Mach 4

 

  • Profly foam in the midsole
  • Lightweight
  • Strong arch support
CHECK MEN’S PRICECHECK WOMEN’S PRICE

Best Overall

1. ASICS Noosa Tri 14

The ASICS Noosa Tri 14 is a funky, brightly-colored shoe that will make you very visible on the running leg of your triathlon.

What We Like

The Noosa Tri 14 has been a popular tri shoe for many years. The 14th version has the same bright, exciting appearance as its predecessor, so if you’re looking for something your family and friends can spot easily from a mile away, these are perfect.

They’re extremely light, at just 7.1 oz per shoe. Although the Flytefoam cushioning is lightweight, it offers good support and cushion for a neutral foot.

A sleek, sock-like fit delivers step-in comfort. You can wear them with or without socks and there should be no chafing.

The thin tongue and toggle laces allow you to get a great lockdown on your feet, and the toggle also makes it easier to remove the shoes quickly during your transition. You’ll also be able to grab the tongue tab and back elf-ear for pulling them off quickly.

You should note that the tab at the back of the shoe is an elf ear tab instead of a loop. Some people may find this to be less user-friendly than a traditional loop tab, especially since you have a loop tab on the tongue.

Why We Like It

We love how these shoes stand out, but they’re also excellent for lightweight support and comfort as you go through your triathlon.

What’s New

The latest version of the Noosa has a redesigned upper with a sock-like fit. It’s lighter and more streamlined than the previous one.

PROS:

  • Lightweight and speedy at just 7.1 oz per shoe
  • Thin tongue and a tongue tab make it easy to get these off quickly
  • Toggled laces allow you to get a customized fit
  • Available in a variety of fun and exciting colors and patterns

CONS:

  • Some runners may feel that the elf ear tab is cumbersome
 

Top Value

2. Brooks Launch 9

The Brooks Launch 9 is a neutral shoe that can work for underpronators as well. It comes in a range of both funky patterns and plain designs, so there’s something for everyone’s taste.

What We Like

This shoe is a reliable and comfortable option for the trails. Its wide, stable platform suits those with wider feet.

It has a slightly rockered sole, which helps you to get a smoother transition and a more powerful toe-off, while reducing foot fatigue.

The Launch 9 uses Brooks’ BioMoGo foam in the midsole, which is comfortably cushioned but we wouldn’t call it plush. There’s a touch of responsiveness, but it’s not very bouncy.

This shoe features a thin tongue to help you get a good lockdown on the foot. It also has an anatomically-designed speed collar that lowers the weight of the shoe and makes it more streamlined so you can run faster.

A redesigned outsole sees the brand making a sustainable change, with eco-friendly Green Rubber on the outsole for traction.

If you have narrow feet, this shoe may feel too spacious in the midfoot for you. It has a naturally wide fit, so it may be best for those with medium to wide foot sizes.

Why We Like It

The Brooks Launch 9 is a stable, comfortable shoe that also comes at an affordable price. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s certainly reliable.

What’s New

The Launch 9 has quite a few differences from the 8. Although the drop remains the same—10 mm—it has a higher stack height so it’s a little more cushioned.

It’s also about ¾-ounce lighter, which helps with speed on the trails. This version of the shoe also uses sustainable Green Rubber on the outsole.

PROS:

  • Lightweight BioMoGo midsole cushions your feet in all the right places
  • Anatomically-designed speed collar reduces weight and increases speed
  • Green Rubber outsole is grippy and eco-friendly
  • Wide platform ensures a stable landing and a powerful toe-off

CONS:

  • This shoe runs a little wide and may not be suitable for people with narrow feet
 

Best Cushioning

3. Hoka Mach 4

Hoka is known for their cushioning, and the Mach 4 is no different. While it’s not super speedy, it’s high in comfort and does a good job of cushioning your feet and joints.

What We Like

The Mach 4 has great, comfortable cushioning without being overly plush. While it’s not exactly barrier-breaking speedy, the cushion isn’t so soft that it makes you feel sluggish.

Profly foam in the midsole offers comfortable softness underfoot, with strong arch support that would suit runners with high arches.

To counter the softness inside the shoe, a rubberized foam outsole provides some stiffness. However, it does wear away faster than a full rubber outsole.

There’s a thin tongue and traditional lacing system that provides a great lockdown. An elf ear tab at the back of the heel makes it quick and easy to pull on and off during transitions.

Runners with wide feet should note that the shoe may feel snug at first, but will ease up the more you wear it until it fits comfortably. You should expect a break-in period. Also, the foam outsole wears out faster than regular rubber ones.

Why We Like It

The Mach 4 offers the ideal amount of cushioning for triathlon run legs—not so much that you feel weighed down, but just enough to protect and comfort your feet on rough ground.

What’s New

The Mach 4 has lost a little less than half an ounce from the 3, but every little bit makes a difference! Unlike the 3, this version also has a removable insole making it orthotic-friendly.

The toe box of the 4 is a little roomier than the 3, which is excellent for those who found the previous version to be cramped.

PROS:

  • Lightweight for speed on all surfaces, at just 7.85 oz
  • Profly foam in the midsole provides medium-soft comfort
  • Rubberized foam outsole is grippy and adds stiffness
  • Strong arch support is excellent for high arches

CONS:

  • This shoe is not as wide as other Hokas and will need a break-in period if you have wider feet
  • The outsole wears out faster than full rubber outsoles
 

Top Lightweight Shoe

4. Saucony Kinvara 13

The Kinvara is a comfortable daily trainer that makes an excellent triathlon running shoe thanks to its flexibility. It’s also very lightweight—the 13 is the lightest one yet—so your feet have a natural amount of flex.

What We Like

If the weight of your triathlon running shoes is something that you take into consideration, these are one of the lightest options you’ll find. An average-sized shoe weighs just 7.2 ounces.

Although the shoe is quite minimalist, it still offers a very comfortable upper and adequate PWRRUN cushioning to support and cushion your feet. It provides excellent support for runners who have high arches.

It also has a well-padded ankle collar, although the thinner-than-average tongue makes it easy to lock the upper down comfortably around your foot. The shoe has the classic Saucony wide toe box for forefoot comfort as well.

If the support and cushioning aren’t quite right for you, you can remove the insole and add your own.

Just note that if you have narrow feet, they may not fit very well. Even sizing down might not be comfortable as the length may be too short at the right width.

Why We Like It

The Saucony Kinvara 13 is an extremely lightweight shoe. It’s an excellent choice for those who want a minimalist type of shoe that’s fast and comfortable.

What’s New

The Kinvara 13 is even lighter than the 12, although not by much. The upper has been revamped and now has strategically-varied densities throughout.

Although Saucony mentions a more beveled midsole, the foam and everything else remains the same.

PROS:

  • Minimalist design that weighs just 7.2 oz per shoe
  • Excellent support for runners with high arches
  • Wide, spacious toe box reduces the chance of blisters and cramps
  • Removable insoles so you can add your own orthotics

CONS:

  • The Kinvara may not be able to get a good fit on narrow feet
 

Best Stability Shoe

5. On Cloudflyer 2.0

On Running is still relatively new in the running shoe world, but they stand out thanks to their unique style. These shoes are not your usual stability shoe, but they offer more than enough stability and security to control moderate overpronation.

What We Like

Overpronators will appreciate this shoe for many reasons, including the excellent shock absorption and plush feeling provided by the cloud pods on the unique outsole.

It’s not a classic stability shoe with built-in features to prevent overpronation. But they do have plenty of features that provide excellent security for the foot when you’re wearing them.

A midfoot stability tube built into the upper hugs the foot and helps you get a great lockdown. Other features that work together to keep your foot stable include a semi-rigid external heel counter and a stiff Speedboard that prevents the common inward twisting associated with overpronation.

Helion foam in the midsole provides good support for a medium to high arch, as well as offering comfortable padding.

Underneath the foot, the CloudTec pods do an exceptional job of absorbing shock. The design has been slightly altered on this shoe to provide a flatter, more stable platform.

The uniquely-shaped outsole may catch stones or dirt inside the CloudTec pods. You may need to clear this out on a regular basis to prevent debris from building up inside the pods.

Why We Like It

These shoes are stable and secure, but also extremely comfortable thanks to their unique and unobtrusive stability features.

What’s New

The upper has been redesigned in a sleek single piece with improved breathability, and an external heel counter has been added for extra stability. It has a more plush tongue than the previous shoe, for a more comfortable lockdown without creating hotspots.

The tongue also features an elastic layer that helps to keep it snug. Extra padding has been added around the ankle collar and the sockliner was redesigned for a higher level of comfort.

PROS:

  • Subtle support features that stop the feet from rolling inward
  • Redesigned CloudTec elements for better stability
  • Midfoot stability tube creates a snug fit and a good lockdown
  • Built-in Speedboard prevents torsional rotation

CONS:

  • The unique outsole can catch stones or dirt inside of the cloud pods
 

Top Wide Toe Box

6. Topo Cyclone

Topo Athletic isn’t the most well-known running shoe brand out there, but they’re an excellent choice for runners who need space in the toe box and a lightweight design.

What We Like

The Topo Athletic Cyclone features an unusually wide toe box, providing you more than enough space to spread your toes out comfortably. Those with bunions, hammer toes, or metatarsalgia will appreciate this extra space.

In the midsole, a unique Zipfoam compound provides a good combination of comfortable cushioning and responsiveness, so you can get a good toe-off.

It’s also a very light shoe, weighing just under 8 ounces for an average-sized men’s shoe, and even lighter for the ladies’ shoes.

Light but strategically-placed rubber on the outsole helps to keep you safe on a number of different surfaces.

However, the minimal cushioning around the heel may lead to some heel slippage. This could be rectified by wearing thicker socks, but that’s not always the optimal choice.

Why We Like It

Those who need spare room in the forefoot will appreciate the wide, shapely toe box on the Cyclone. It’s also light and quite minimalist, so they don’t feel hard on the feet.

PROS:

  • Wide, anatomical toe box offers space for toes to spread out
  • Proprietary midsole compound offers both bounce and cushioning
  • Lightweight, weighing just under 8 ounces per shoe for an average-sized men’s
  • Strategically-placed rubber gives you good grip on a number of surfaces

CONS:

  • The minimally-cushioned ankle collar may lead to heel slippage
 

Most Breathability

7. Salomon S/Lab Phantasm

Salomon is known for their trail shoes, but you can take these road shoes anywhere. The S/Lab Phantasm is one of their lightest offerings, and it’s even worn by world-renowned ultra-runner Kilian Journet.

What We Like

The Salomon S/Lab Phantasm’s minimalist design makes it light, easy to wear, and extremely breathable. A single mesh layer hugs your foot, while being porous enough to allow air to flow easily through the upper and keep your feet cool.

Everything about this shoe is minimalist. The upper is thin, even around the ankle collar, with a thin tongue that allows you to get a great lockdown across the top of the foot.

There’s also only a small amount of cushion underfoot, although it does have good energy return. The reverse camber rocker design reduces foot fatigue and helps you to speed up with less effort.

Salomon’s Road Contagrip compound on the outsole provides excellent grip for a number of different surfaces.
Salomons are known to run slightly narrow, so this shoe may not work for men with wide feet. They are also unisex and may feel too wide for women with narrow feet.

Why We Like It

These are the perfect triathlon running shoes for the hot summer months. They’re the most breathable shoes we’ve come across, and they’re also so light that you’ll hardly feel them on your feet as you fly over your route.

PROS:

  • Extremely lightweight, at around 7 ounces per shoe
  • Single-layer mesh upper delivers exceptional breathability
  • Minimalist Energy Surge midsole offers good energy return

CONS:

  • The minimal-cushion design is not for everyone
  • This shoe may not be suitable for men with wide feet and women with narrow feet
 

Best Fast-Drying Shoe

8. On Cloudflow

On’s lightweight, sleek Cloudflow is perfect for summer weather. It’s moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and breathable, ideal for wearing in the heat.

What We Like

The Cloudflow is a sleek and lightweight shoe, designed for speed and comfort. It’s minimalist and not extremely padded, but that keeps the weight down and helps you to improve your speed on the trails.

A light, sleek upper hugs your feet and allows plenty of air through for ventilation. This helps them wick away moisture and dry quickly, whether your feet sweat a bit or you run through a puddle.

It’s also designed to help improve your performance. A built-in Speedboard flexes with your foot and helps to smooth your heel-to-toe transition. It also has a mild rocker bottom.

Underneath your feet, you can see the CloudTec cloud pods, which absorb shock on every step and protect your joints.

Thanks to their unique, split-down-the-middle outsole, these shoes actually offer some good protection against both overpronation and supination. Almost anyone can wear these shoes and get a good deal of support from them.

The thin tongue is quite long and may rub on the front of the ankle bone. This could be annoying or even painful for some, but it won’t necessarily happen with every runner.

Why We Like It

The On Cloudflow is a lightweight shoe that wicks away moisture, dries unusually quickly, and has excellent breathability. It’s a great choice for summer running.

PROS:

  • Engineered mesh upper is moisture-wicking and quick-drying
  • Built-in Speedboard and rocker facilitate an explosive toe-off
  • CloudTec pods absorb shock and protect your joints
  • Provide excellent support for both overpronation and supination

CONS:

  • The tongue is long and may rub on the front of the ankle
 

Best Race Shoe

9. Saucony Endorphin Pro 2

Triathletes who want a light, speedy, and super comfortable shoe should definitely consider the Endorphin Pro 2.

What We Like

This shoe is surprisingly fast! Every feature is geared towards improving your speed on the road or trail, so if you’re looking to improve in that particular area of your racing, this is a worthwhile shoe to consider.

It has a lightweight, sleek upper with a moderately cushioned ankle collar. Nothing is plush, but it’s also not as minimalist as you may expect for such a speedy shoe.

The thin tongue is gusseted, which is less common but appreciated in a race shoe.

PWRRUN PB foam in the midsole offers the best of both padding and energy return. Your feet will be protected against shock but you’ll also get a bit of bounce.

This is helped by the addition of a carbon plate, which adds a nice snap on the toe-off. A rocker bottom works with the carbon plate to make your transitions effortless.

Triathletes with wider feet will be happy to learn that this shoe has a naturally wider-than-average fit, so it should fit like a glove on medium to wide feet. Those with narrow feet may have some trouble getting a good lockdown.

This is definitely a race shoe, which means you shouldn’t be using it for slow, relaxed runs. The shoe can be unstable at lower speeds, so it’s not right for you if you want a relaxed training shoe. It’s also not ideal for those with narrow feet.

Why We Like It

This shoe is super light and built for speed. With its carbon plate, rocker bottom, and highly responsive midsole, there’ll be no holding you back!

What’s New

The upper is the only part of the shoe with updates. The placement of the ventilation holes has been slightly changed, and a loop has been added in place of a traditional eyelet, which helps you to get a more dialed-in lockdown. A small pull-tab has also been added to the tongue.

PROS:

  • Built-in carbon plate boosts speed with little effort
  • Highly effective rocker bottom design makes transitions easy
  • High-energy PWRRUN PB midsole for increased speed
  • Naturally wide fit makes it suitable for those with wider feet

CONS:

  • The shoe may be unstable at lower speeds
  • Not suitable for those with narrow feet
 

Top Carbon-Plated Shoe

10. ASICS Magic Speed

If a carbon plate is a necessity for you in a triathlon running shoe, we highly recommend the ASICS Magic Speed. It’s an excellent choice for both training and racing.

What We Like

The ASICS Magic Speed is a racing shoe, designed for speed. It is a carbon-plated shoe, but interestingly, it only has a partial plate—in the midfoot and the forefoot, to facilitate a snappy toe-off.

This helps to keep the weight of the shoe down and encourage flexibility and bounce where it’s really needed.

As well as the plate, other features work together to make the shoe faster. A minimalist, streamlined upper and lightweight Flytefoam midsole help you to move comfortably and encourage speed.

While you’re moving faster, AHAR+ rubber on the outsole in a unique, grippy pattern helps to keep you safe on a number of different surfaces.

These shoes fit somewhat narrow. Runners with wide feet may find these uncomfortable and might prefer to choose a wider-fitting shoe.

Why We Like It

This shoe has a partial carbon plate in the midfoot and forefoot, which boost the responsiveness while keeping the weight of the shoe down.

PROS:

  • Minimalist, streamlined upper encourages speed
  • Lightweight, responsive, Flytefoam cushioning
  • Midfoot and forefoot carbon plate for a springy toe-off
  • AHAR+ rubber on the outsole for excellent traction

CONS:

  • This shoe runs narrow, so it may not work for those with wide feet
 

Triathlon Shoe Buying Guide

You’ll need to know what races you’re most likely to compete in as a triathlete, as this will impact the type of shoe that you need. If you’re participating in short-distance triathlons, you’ll need shoes with less support than if you’re planning to do half or full Ironmans. Knowing what you personally need will help you select the best shoes for you!

Training Shoes vs Racing Shoes

Training shoes and racing shoes should be different for triathletes. Trainers can be a typical running shoe…whatever works best for the triathlete. Everyday trainers tend to have more cushioning than racing shoes, and weigh more as well. You’ll be able to log 200-400 miles on them, and they will last longer than racing shoes.

By contrast, racing shoes should either drain water or dry out quickly—or both— and have quick-tightening laces.

Weight

Running shoes for short tris, such as sprint or Olympic distance, should be fairly lightweight and minimal.

By contrast, running shoes for half or full Ironman distances will need to have more cushioning and support. You may be able to use your trainers for full Ironman distances and above if needed.

Laces

Look for shoes with laces that can be put on and tied quickly. BOA laces are great – these offer a great fit and can be cinched up quickly.

You can also add stretchy and quick-tie laces to an existing pair of shoes. We think these are the best.

Breathability

Since you’ll be coming out of the water and putting your shoes on (you probably are wetting them anyway to get sand off), you want a pair of shoes that will dry quickly. Nothing worse than squishing for extended periods of time while you run.

FAQs

What are the benefits of tri running shoes?

There are a variety of benefits of tri-specific running shoes, because they are designed with triathletes in mind. They are normally seamless so they can easily be worn without socks, allowing for a quicker transition. In addition, they have one strap that opens outwards, making it significantly quicker and easier to take them off.

Tri running shoes also have a pull tab at the heel, making it simpler to pull the shoe on at the bike-run transition. If you decide you will also be cycling in your running shoes, the pull tab gives you a way to anchor the heel of the shoe to the bike to speed up your T1. Finally, tri running shoes have great ventilation, which will keep your feet cool as you prepare to run.

How can I improve my tri running shoes?

There is a simple way that you can improve your tri running shoes (and your transition time)! For just a few dollars, you can add quick-laces. These make it easier to take shoes on and off, ensuring a smoother transition. Quick-laces are stretchy bungee-style laces that allow you to take them on and off without retying every time.

Quick laces are not only helpful on race day, but also during training, as they save you time. The quick-laces will take a little bit of time to set up—probably around 15 minutes—and you’ll have to invest some additional time to make sure that the tightness and fit is right for you, but once you figure that out, you’ll be good to go and will probably never go back to normal laces again!

Ben Drew

Ben Drew

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.

The Wired Runner
Logo