As an obstacle course/adventure racer, my feet are the most important thing in my life (sorry to any girlfriend, family members or pets, but it’s the truth), and thus what I put my feet in is extremely important to me. I’ve ran through a gauntlet of racing and training shoes over the last few years, from minimalist shoes to what can basically be called hiking boots, I’ve ran/climbed/crawled and swam in just about every type of footwear imaginable. Reviewing shoes as an OCR racer is a fun experience, because I get to take into account things like “how well water drains” and “how the shoe performs when frozen and covered in mud”……I love OCR! So here is a gear review for all you crazy cats who love the mud as much as me and the Mud and Adventure Team!
Shoe: Pearl Izumi N1 Trail
Sizing: Pearl runs true to most standard running shoes. I’m an 11 in Brooks, Asics and Adidas, and kept with that for the N1 and it fits great.
Appearance: It’s definitely a cool looking shoe! The colors are sleek and the neutral midsole makes for a rounded appearance, but the shoe itself rides low and is very sleek.
Fit: Very snug, but a nice wide toe box. I logged 10 miles the first time I wore them and never had a single hot spot or blister.
Lacing: One of my favorite aspects of the shoe is the diamond lacing. A lose single knot holds tight on long runs. I’ve only had to stop twice in the few months I’ve been in the N1’s to tie them back up.
Tread: AGRRESIVE but not to the point where a few miles on the roads will kill you. They aren’t cleats like some trail shoes seem to have become, but they offer a ton of traction in wet/muddy conditions.
Water resistance/drainage: This was the first “substantial” shoe I’ve ran hard in for a while. Having been in minimalist shoes the last few months, I was hesitant to take these into the world of OCR and the heavy water/mud that comes along with it, but they preformed great! Water resistance is fantastic, and I am planning on crushing Worlds Toughest Mudder in several pairs of the N1’s. They drain great and dry fast, everything I could ask for.
Performance in mud: Ok, so I kind of made up this category, but I feel it’s relevant! I’ve had good experiences with the N1 in the mud, and they clean pretty quickly. I’m yet to get into a Spartan or TM in them yet, but as we speak am getting ready to head to a GoRuck Challenge tonight, so that will be their first big test!
Overall: Great training shoe. I found I got in the habit of training in the shoe that I race in, which I know see isn’t too smart. I’m able to log more miles than ever, with no discomfort, and without waking up the next morning cursing at my shoes. 12hrs of good livin’ tonight will be a great test for them, but I’m not worried one bit!