Shoe Review: Zoot Ultra Kane 2.0

BACKGROUNDER:

Light Stability Trainer:

  • High mileage stability trainer
  • Specifically designed for the runner needing stability, maximum cushioning and those with heavy stride.
  • Weight: 10.8 oz. (Size 9)

The Zoot Ultra Kane 2.0

Long known for its apparels in multi-sport,  Zoot hasn’t been a major player in the running market much, as its niche has always been in the triathlon racing shoes. Now, it’s trying to unshackle itself from this exclusivity and has recently attempted to broaden its appeal by introducing models that would suit traditional runners to use them for everyday training and racing.

Zoot has recently been formally introduced in the Philippines and although it has been on the shelves of the RUNNR running store for quite sometime now, its presence is still not felt in the mainstream running community not like its more popular counter parts like Adidas, Nike, New Balance, Mizuno and other popular brands.

The Ultra Kane 2.0, part of Zoot’s “running” shoe category is one such shoe that has been introduced here in the country about 2 years ago.

CONSTRUCTION:

  • The upper of this version is made of nylon air-mesh which is a deviation from the original Ultra Kane which was made of  the TekSheen stretch fabric.  The Air-mesh was probably used to appeal more to runners although the same technology was used, the BAREFIT construction in the interior which gives it a glove-like fit and can be used sock-less.
  • Regular shoe laces were used for the 2.0 instead of the Quick-lace system that was used in their first edition that catered for triathletes

  • Their midsole technology is called the Z-bound, a lightweight and resilient compound that gives it a responsive ride. Z-bound has a very high-energy return. The result is less weight and great response.

Z-Bound Midsole

  • The outsole is made up of blown rubber or the ZBR  (Zoot Blown Rubber) a custom blown rubber that gives the footwear durability and extended wear time.

Zoot Blown Rubber

Other innovations used in this shoe are the CarbonSpan+ shank molded into the midsole which provides a smooth, stable ride and the Dri-Lex Liner Fabric which is antimicrobial that minimizes moisture,  foul odor and reduces hot spots that cause blisters.

FIT and FEEL:

The Ultra Kane 2.0 is a snug-fitting piece of rubber which is comfortable in the inside. The shoe’s soft tongue is sewed-in within the upper that stretches once you slip-in your foot. Runners not used to this type of slip-in shoes might find it a bit annoying but just loosening the laces and stretching up the tongue while pulling the pull-tab at the top of the heel will do the trick. Voila!

There’s instant comfort once you walk in it. The cushioning is immediately palpable although not so much as not to be able to feel the surface while running. It seems that the use of the laces seem secondary as the seamed-in tongue does secure the foot in itself. I didn’t feel any hot spots to cause any prospective blister and although the forefoot and heel cradle were roomy enough, it still hugged the foot preventing it from sliding from side to side.

Heel counter

PERFORMANCE:

Nice to be running on these shoes on several short and long runs and i’ll give the performance high marks. Being a neutral to slight pronator, i like the mild support it gave on the longer runs. The ride was lavishly comfortable, extremely smooth and soft from my heel to toe strike. I felt that i was running on my last leg of the Kona Ironman, so let me imagine just a bit.

The heel and midfoot fit are quite snug but the forefoot opens up a bit to the stretchable upper layer of the shoe. However, all the cushiony-feel when walking on it dissipates as you could feel the surface of the road when running which is a good thing.

The shoe is responsive and agile and i would venture that this would be an ideal shoes for long distance running, from half-marathon to marathon distances.

CONCLUSION and RECOMMENDATION:

The Zoot Ultra Kane 2.0 has everything that a good solid shoe should have: snug fit, enough cushioning and enough support to give runners who need more stability.

One noteworthy feature of the Ultra Kane 2.0 and all the other Zoot running shoe line-up is their attractive styling and color combinations. These shoes have their lineage in the triathlon with all the heel tabs, slip-in wear, sock-less comfort, fast performance and other new innovations introduced in their latest models.

This is an excellent buy!

A newer version of the Zoot Ultra Kane which is the version 3.0 has just been recently released and is now available at Planet Sports Stores, Riovana, Secondwind and the Brick Store.

The Ultra Kane 3.0 version, Zoot’s latest Ultra Kane release

The Zoot collection at Riovana (BHS)

Shoe Review: “Walk, Don’t Run!” Mizuno’s BE Shoes

BACKGROUNDER:

PRE/POST Run Shoes:

  • The Mizuno “BE” is basically a  recovery shoe designed to be worn when you’re NOT running. A pre and post run shoe.
  • It helps strengthen the lower leg and foot muscles to improve running performance while aiding in the recovery of tired muscles
  • Inspired by the Japanese Waraji (Japanese 草鞋) sandals made from straw rope that were used in the past as standard footwear for the Samurai and the Feudal soldiers of Japan.

Wajari Sandals (photo credits terebess.hu website)

  • The sole of the Waraji sandals was designed to be shorter than the feet allowing the toes to move naturally up and down, to curl, grip and to activate the muscles of the foot
  • It’s not supposed to be used as a running shoe but just to satisfy your interest on how this shoe would feel like while running, you can take it out for a 3-5 km run (no more than that!) and just once!
  • Weight: 7.0 Oz.

Mizuno BE

I researched on the shoe even before its launching here in Manila and found out that it’s suppose to be worn when you’re not running. This shoe is often described as a toning shoe but that gives a negative connotation to it although it works to activate the toes and the muscles of the lower leg and feet, the same way as a toning shoe does.

The BE is Mizuno’s answer to the different recovery shoes that are out in the market. The K-Swiss Blade-Light Recover has been out in the market for about two years now while the New Balance has its own Minimus Life/Wellness Zero for post-run shoe wear.

While many runners will still prefer to wear flip-flops or slippers after a hard or long run, (including myself) make no mistake, the BE is a great casual shoe that’s great for walking, going to the mall or just wearing it to the office, if you’re allowed to wear one. This is one comfortable shoe to take anywhere!

CONSTRUCTION:

The upper is made up of a soft, suede-like canvas with breathable mesh specifically constructed on the top where the toes would normally be positioned. The toe-box is wide and roomy, designed anatomically to the shape of the foot.

The shoes insole is not removable while the midsole offers a lot of cushioning. The illustration above shows the shoes’ functions:

  • 1.  ACTIVATION SOCKLINER – Dips the toes to activate your muscles.
  • 2.  DYNAMIC FUNCTION HEEL COUNTER – Cups your heel to improve it’s cushioning function.
  • 3.  AP+ MIDSOLE- Offering cushioning and comfort at footplant.
  • 4.  BE FOOTPRINT OUTSOLE – Lightweight and durable.

The outsole

FIT and FEEL:

The BE has a nice, comfortable feel. It’s not snug by any means but it’s really made to make your toes relaxed and breathable. This shoe is one  flexible shoe i have ever tested. I like the footing which is soft but firm and there are no irritation issues with the upper and even on the heel-counter which is somewhat low.

BE’s sockliner dips just behind the toes, creating a space that allows the toes to flex and move freely, resulting in more muscle activity.

This is exactly how it feels in the toe area. Have you tried cutting the top area of an insole before because the shoe you probably bought was to narrow on the forefoot? I did this when i was just starting on running, i made bad decisions when buying running shoes when i didn’t try them on first before buying, that i ended up getting sizes that didn’t have enough space on the toe box.

So what i did was cut-off about 1.5 inches at the top of the insole, shaped them to conform with the trace of the toes and put them back to try them on. The toe-box felt roomier and the toes could feel the space that was cut-off. This is how the BE activation sock-liner feels.

Breathable mesh for the toes

PERFORMANCE:

From the first time i slipped on this shoe during its launching at Mizuno’s headquarters at Magallanes, i was sold. The inside of the shoe was very comfortable though one could easily sense what the Waraji sandals felt like, the gap of the insoles to the length of your foot. The midsole was pillowy and although there is a heel to toe differential of about 5-6 mm, the feel was like walking on a zero-drop shoe.

Although this shoe was meant just for walking, the inquisitiveness in me dictated that i should “test-drive” this shoe and took it on a short run the following day.

On that 4 km run, the shoe felt very light, meatier than the Vibram Five Fingers  “Speed” shoe but much lighter than the Reebok Realflex Transition shoe. The feel was responsive, tends to set you on mid-foot strike and glided well on asphalt road.

If we were not apprised that this shoe was made for walking only, i would have run another 4k on this without a problem. But there will probably be issues about its durability when taking this for runs so lets just leave it the way it was intended to be used, for the mall.

CONCLUSION and RECOMMENDATION:

After using this almost everyday on my daily grind for work, meet-up with friends, walking from place to place on errands, this shoe is very kind to the feet, no aches nor pains to the foot and legs, whatsoever.

Bravo, Mizuno BE! 🙂