The Best Triathlon Running Shoes in 2018

Triathlon shoes should be lightweight and quick drying, while still providing the comfort and support of the best running shoes on the market. Some triathlon running shoes also have laces that make it easy to take the shoes on and off, perfect for a quick transition from the bike to run.

We’ve reviewed over 50+ shoes to find the best options for triathletes and multi-sport athletes. Keep reading for our top picks…


Top 3 Best and Favorites


Asics Noosa FF 2


The Noosa FF 2 is Asics’ flagship triathlon shoe. It’s a quick, lightweight shoe with a zippy design that dries quickly and goes on and off your feet fast.

The latest men’s and women’s version has FlyteFoam in the midsole to provide cushioning with energy return. FlyteFoam not only weighs less than traditional foam, but it offers some energy return in the form of added “bounce” as you run.

This shoe features seamless construction in the upper to reduce irritation and friction from seams and stitching. This is especially important when the shoe is wet, where annoying stitching can become even more irritating.

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 water or for running in wet or humid environments.


PROS:

  • Secure fit without rubbing
  • Durable
  • Fast and light
  • Wet Grip outsole

CONS:

  • 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 it Saucony introduced a lightweight shoe that doesn’t sacrifice cushion or comfort. It was created to be a perfect race and speed shoe for runners. It’s a great option for triathletes for a race shoe or short training runs.

Fast forward nine years and you will find only improvements in the Kinvara 9. The latest midsole technology combine with a still lightweight shoe to create an excellent experience for all types of runners.

This shoe features a new EVERUN top sole. EVERUN foam fuses thousands of foam beads for responsive cushioning and nice energy return. 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 drop that is signature to the Kinvara line. It helps to ensure a natural ride and feel. Finally, small rubber pods in high wear zones on the outersole add durability without any unnecessary weight.


PROS:

  • Extremely lightweight
  • EVERUN cushioning
  • 4mm offset
  • Runner’s World Editor’s Choice winner

CONS:

  • No overpronation control, best for neutral runners
  • Outer and midsole wear quickly

Zoot Ali’i


These ultra lightweight running shoes feature a custom designed upper by mixed media artist and Hawaiian native Keith Tallett. The Zoot Ali’i was inspired by Zoot’s hometown of Kona, Hawaii.

The upper features a Boa Closure System for a comfortable, tight fit with or without socks. The Boa system makes tightening and untightening the shoe fast and easy. Adjustments on the fly are also fast. Heel and toe pull-tabs in the upper also aid in quickly removing and putting the shoes back on.

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 nice traction in this shoe without sacrificing weight. The cushioning allows for a solid rebound in the mid-foot while providing extra cushioning for the heel strike.

These shoes are unisex, so they may feel too wide for some women runners.


PROS:

  • Breathable
  • Boa Closure System
  • BareFit lining
  • Carbon Rubber traction

CONS:

  • Unisex; watch size closely when ordering
  • Not good for low arches
  • Narrow fit (for men)

Skechers GOrun 6

 

The GOrun 6 running shoes are designed for speed and comfort. The nearly one-piece upper is breathable and features a knitted collar for a snug fit. You’ll feel like you’re wearing nicely fitting socks rather than running shoes.

The molded upper has no tongue, so you won’t have to deal with potential blisters from rubbing. A knit bootie around the heel provides a stylish and secure fit.

The shoe has a 4mm offset, like many of the shoes we have featured, for a natural running feel. The cushioning on the GOrun 6 is lightweight but provides enough protection while running.

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 early morning and late evening training runs.


PROS:

  • Nearly seamless, sock-like fit
  • Easy to slip on and off
  • Nice, lightweight feel
  • Great support throughout stride
  • Wide toe-box

CONS:

  • 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, it’s by far the most cushioned shoe with a fast and zippy design.

Based off the design of the Hoka Clayton, the Mach features the cushioned, fast ride, but offers a snugger fit in the midfoot and toe box. The Mach’s mesh upper provides breathability and reduces weight.

Profly foam in the midsole adds responsiveness and cushion, giving it a snappier feel than most other Hokas. The Mach is light enough for race day, but offers enough protection for everyday training runs.

The Mach comes out of the same brand that created the ultra-popular Clifton model. The Mach is designed to be a faster shoe than the Clifton, but still provide the cushioning Hoka is known for.


PROS:

  • Supportive and responsive midsole
  • Traction control for multiple surfaces
  • 5mm offset

CONS:

  • Shoe has a high stack height
  • Shock absorption on landing lacking slightly

Brooks Launch 5

 

The Launch 5 is not only a fast, responsive shoe – it’s also one of the best values on the market at $100.

The BioMoGo DNA midsole cushions your foot while also adding a rebounding, springy feeling. The outersole features a mid-foot transition zone that is designed to help you go from heel to toe quickly. The Air Mesh upper adds breathability to the upper and reduces weight.

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 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.

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.


PROS:

  • Wide toe box
  • Responsive and energy returning midsole
  • Stylish and appealing to the eye

CONS:

  • Not suitable for runners who overpronate
  • Not as cushioned as other running shoes

Salomon Sonic RA Pro

 

The Sonic RA Pro is designed for fast road running with just enough cushioning to keep your feet protected.

The upper is light and breathable. It features standard laces, but the design of the upper makes it easy to slip on and off.

The sole features wet traction and Contragrip, a sticky rubber compound. These are ideal for triathletes who want extra grip on wet surfaces. In addition, geometric decoupling on the sole allows for a smooth load and effortless transition while running.

Vibe cushioning in the midsole works to dampen vibrations from running. This allows for less wasted energy from your feet and legs.

Hot spots are all but eliminated by the Molded Ortholite Sockliner. The liner molds to the shape of your food to provide durable cushioning.


PROS:

  • Vibe technology for reducing vibrations
  • Breathable and moisture wicking
  • Excellent traction on wet surfaces
  • Ortholite Sockliner

CONS:

  • Lacks cushioning
  • Width can feel a bit sloppy for some runners
  • Sizes run big

Zoot Makai

 

This is a shoe created specifically for triathletes. It is made for a fast transition with a responsive ride. Unlike the Ali’i, this shoe has midsole posting for runner who overpronate.

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.

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, the extra comes from the added support for overpronators.


PROS:

  • Breathable upper
  • Responsive, good bounce
  • Well cushioned and comfortable
  • Z-lock laces
  • Made for triathletes

CONS:

  • 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 has 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. The ISOFIT lacing 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 support, likely due to the engineered stretch mesh upper. Unlike its sister shoe, the Freedom, the extra stability in the Liberty reduces the uncontrollable bounciness. Ultimately, it’s a smoother ride for runners who lack the perfect running form needed with the Freedom.

Breathability and comfort on the road 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.


PROS:

  • 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

CONS:

  • Priciest of the shoes on this list thus far
  • Short tongue, not comfortable for all runners

Asics Gel-Hyper Tri 3

This triathlon shoe is fast and light. It’s better suited for Olympic and sprint distances.

Excellent water drainage holes in the mid and outsoles and incredibly lightweight design with pull-on loop on the tongue will speed you through transitions.

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. The outsole is made of DuraSponge, which is a blown rubber compound that enhances cushion and durability in the forefoot.

The seamless upper helps reduce the risk of blisters and irritation.

Finally, the midsole features Guidance Line Technology to help move you through each step transition efficiently.


PROS:

  • Water drains well
  • Comfortable support from upper
  • Versatility
  • Stylish
  • Ultra-lightweight

CONS:

  • Sizes run small
  • Heavier than previous models
  • Not cushioned well for long-distance running