With the announcement that Pearl Izumi will be exiting the running market in 2017, panic is hitting the streets and trails. Well, maybe not panic, but since the announcement we have received several inquiries about what shoes are suitable replacements to Pearl Izumi shoes.
Firstly, most Pearl Izumi shoes have a unique feel, so a direct replacement is not always possible. Secondly, the shoes are not disappearing tomorrow. Shoes will be available through the end of this year and there should still be available inventory during the first quarter of 2017. That being said, inventories will start to diminish and size availability in a preferred color or model will start to become scarce as the year progresses. If you love a certain shoe, it would be worth buying a pair or two over the next 4 months.
As I said above, Pearl Izumi shoes do have a unique feel, but we think these alternatives will be your best bet.
Road N3 ($130): The New Balance 1080 v6 Men’s | Women’s ($150) is the #1 option for a replacement. The shoe has a rounded heel and a similar toe spring, which creates a slight rocker similar to the Road N3. It also has a wider base and full contact sole, like the Road N3. I would also argue you get a better fit and more plush material in the upper of the 1080 v6. At a higher price, the adidas Ultra Boost Men’s | Women’s ($180) is a smooth riding shoe that will deliver a different experience with the stretch of its PrimeKnit upper. It’s like have a super comfortable sock on top of your foot. This shoe will feel softer when you walk in it, but when running the ride is pretty similar. The Brooks Glycerin 14 Men’s | Women’s ($150) gets a little further away, but may be the answer for some.
Road N2 ($120): This shoe is a little harder to replace, but the versatile Saucony Ride 9 Men’s | Women’s ($120) and Nike Pegasus 33 Men’s | Women’s ($110) are great shoes. These shoes won’t roll the same way as the Road N2, but both fall in the middle of the soft-firm continuum. These are also two shoes that are getting high praise on the message boards as the one shoe to do all of your running in. Maintenance runs, long runs, tempos, intervals easy days. Serious runners are loving these shoes. Another good option is the ASICS Dynaflyte Men’s | Women’s ($140). Pretty smooth and a similar road feel.
Road N1 ($115): You’ve got two great options here. The New Balance Zante v2 Men’s | Women’s ($100) is a smooth riding dynamo and is $15 less than the Road N1. It’s more curved than the Road N2 but has a good universal fit, full contact bottom and similar road feel. The Scott T2 Palani Men’s | Women’s is another great option. It has a more pronounced rocker than the Road N1 and a higher static heel-toe offset, but throw that out the window and focus on how the shoe feels. If you do that, you will find Scott gives you a similar experience. And to a greater extent than Pearl Izumi, Scott is a brand making great shoes with a unique feel that no one knows about.
Road N0 ($100): The hugely popular Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 ($80) has a smooth ride and amazing versatility. It’s also a great value.
Road M3 ($135): This is a pretty unique option. The ASICS GT 3000 4 Men’s | Women’s ($130) is as close as you can get. You will get similar pronation support and high quality shoe. It might be a little softer in the heel than is preferred, but could be the answer from some. This shoe tends to get lost as it falls between the GT 2000 and Kayano, but it’s a great shoe in its own right.
Road M2 ($125): Three years ago, I had a friend who was a long time ASICS DS Trainer wearer but wanted to try something new. I recommend the Road M2. It wasn’t love at first run, but after about 50 miles, my friend was a convert. So it only makes sense that the reverse would hold true. Thus, the ASICS DS Trainer 21 Men’s | Women’s ($110) is a good bet especially if you are a midfoot striker. The New Balance Vazee Prism Men’s | Women’s ($100) is likely a little too firm, but is the next closet option.
Road H3 ($140): This ones a little tougher to replace. Here are some options with similar support for overpronation. The New Balance Vongo Men’s | Women’s dissipates shock in a way that feels very similar to the Road H3. The ride is a bit softer and the shoe has a lower heel-toe offset, but the overall feel is the closest to the Road H3. The Saucony Hurricane ISO 2 Men’s | Women’s ($160) has the same static heel-toe offset and a fairly smooth ride, but still feels quite a bit different. The Mizuno Wave Paradox 3 Men’s | Women’s ($140) is a little firmer, but the heel-toe transition is close enough that some will enjoy this as an alternative.
Trail N3 ($135): You’ve got three shoes here that hit different aspects. The narrower fitting La Sportiva Akasha Men’s | Women’s ($140) is not a great fit comparison, but it has a smooth, cushioned ride. It has better traction for loose terrain, but isn’t as comfortable on hard surfaces. The Saucony Peregrine 6 Men’s | Women’s is closer in fit and also has a similar ride. It’s a touch less cushioned and performs better on loose terrain than hard terrain. The very traditional Brooks Cascadia 11 Men’s | Women’s ($120) may seem like an odd choice but it has a surprisingly smooth ride and does great on a broad variety of surfaces.
Trail N2 ($125): There are several options here with each shoe hitting on a different aspect. The Inov-8 Race Ultra 290v2 Men’s | Women’s ($130) has a similar firmness to the Trail N2 and a smooth ride but it rolls differently from heel to toe. The Scott T2 Kinabalu 3.0 Men’s | Women’s ($140) has a rocker design that provides a similar roll but has a more aggressive outsole, meaning it does not do as well on the hard stuff. The Nike Wildhorse 3 Men’s | Women’s ($110.00 ) has the same static heel-toe offset and works great on loose terrain and roads just like the Trail N2. It’s a great choice if you’re a midfoot striker. In 2017, the New Balance Hierro v2 ($125) is likely a great option. Time and again as I go through each shoe, I have seen New Balance Fresh Foam shoes are worthy options.
Trail N1 ($115): Just like the Train N1, the Montrail Fluidflex F.K.T. Men’s | Women’s ($110) dissipates shock in away that the shoe disappears underfoot, but the heel-toe transition has a different feel. Even thought the New Balance Vazee Summit Men’s | Women’s has a 10mm heel-toe offset, it is included here because it runs like a 4-6mm offset shoe. The Vazee Summit tread is deeper and more spaced out than the Trail N1 for better grip on loose terrain, but it also runs very well on hard surfaces. The Topo MT-2 Men’s | Women’s ($100) is a little more agile and super smooth. A little further removed, the Nike Kiger 3 Men’s | Women’s ($125) feels like more shoe but is actually lighter and will go anywhere the Trail N1 would go.
Trail M2 ($130): There are not many trail shoes with built-in support for overpronation. The New Balance Leadville Men’s | Women’s ($125) has a little less support, but should work. It has a great ride, but it is also going away in 2017 with no replacement.
Note: after completing this article, I realized there is another forthcoming option to replace the Road N2. The New Balance Boracay is returning to the US in February 2017. The Boracy v3, may be the closest replacement for the Road N2, but I need to get my feet in them before I make the final call.