Finally some competition may have arrived for Inov-8 in the ultralight running shoe arena. Zoot shoes, at 8.4 to 9.5 ounces in men’s sizes provide serious contest to Invo-8 for sub 10 ounce shoes designed for the serous athlete. While Invo-8 has roots in trail running and fell running, Zoot Sports comes to the ultralight running shoe market from slightly different roots, the world of triathlons.
Zoot’s lightest shoe at 8.4 ounces
“We sat down with a handful of triathletes and asked them what they wanted in the perfect triathlete shoe…” said the product developer we spoke with at Zoot. The athletes stressed the following four points:
1.Speed of entry into the shoe-Grabbers on the heel and tongue quickly open the bootie for a speedy entry while the quick lace system allows for one-handed adjustment and even lace tension.
2.Biomechanics specific to triathletes-Because triathletes are running with less of a traditional runner’s gait coming directly off their bikes, the shoe is made to work with a shorter stride, closer to that used by walkers. The shoe is designed to cushion the walking striding foot. The shoes have a very light carbon fiber shank for a comfortable midfoot strike and low weight.
3.Tri-Dry technology-Allows water to flow out the bottom of the shoe through drainage holes.
4.Barefoot technology for non-sock wearing-Although few backcountry hikers will venture into the world of barefoot hiking (although we have seen it), the barefoot technology introduced here has low friction interior to prevent blisters while coating the entire inside lining with moisture-wicking, anti-microbial material (the low friction liner should work equally well to reduce friction and blisters when worn with a sock).
Zoot ultralight shoes include drainage holes for whisking away all extra moisture (holes denoted by arrows)
Three shoes are introduced by Zoot this year at less than 10 ounces.
Zoot’s complete lineup of ultralight running shoes
The ULTRA Race is the lightest (8.1oz-W, 8.4oz-M. $130). It includes the sockless technology made to reduce hot spots and blisters on the feet yet provide the support needed for a running shoe. One seam in the entire line eliminates any added friction against your skin. The shoe includes high carbon rubber bottoms and a carbon fiber shank.
The ULTRA Race sole
The ULTRA TT is the next lightest shoe (8.7oz-W, 9.2oz-M, $130). This shoe incorporates a blown rubber technology with a midsole cushioning compound for more shock absorption. The midsole cushioning is placed only in the midfoot and toe of the shoes for additional support. This shoe has toe and heel abrasion reinforcements.
Finally, the ULTRA Tempo+ trades increased cushioning for weight (9.1oz-W, 9.5oz-M, $130) by providing a dual-density midsole. All the other bells and whistles of the ULTRA TT are included as well.
Of the three shoes, the 9.5 ounce (266 gram) ULTRA Temp has the best potential for an Ultralight backpacking shoe or day hiker.