Monday, September 16, 2013

Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2 Review

Oh it has been a little longer than I was hoping between posts...but I suppose every now and again life seems to get in the way of perfect planning. has been quite a busy few weeks!!  I have been trying out some new shoes and wanted to share.  As I have not hidden in the past, I love my Rogue Flys, but I find wearing them too often on the road just wears down the lug too much, so I went in search of something new.  Enter the Pearl Izumi EM Road N2...yes I know it says trail review...I'll get to that.
   I had a pair of PI's a few years ago, and to be honest, I didn't like them, but watching some of the big names in ultrarunning lacing up to new emotion series caught my attention.
From Derrick Lytle Media. TO rocking the N1
Pearl Izumi Facebook photo credit. Mike Wolfe on JMT FKT
 Timmy Olsen runs in PI, Mike Wolfe finished his FKT in PI, and Nick Clark is always out and about in the PI's.  What the I read a few reviews and decided on the N2-a 4 mm drop, well cushioned shoe.  I just wasn't ready to go for the zero drop; and with an intro from the Pearl website like this, how could I resist:
                              "Your one-shoe quiver, the Project E:Motion Road N2
                                       is the perfect balance of light and fast with  just enough                          
                                     cushioning and durability to provide the maximum confidence 
                                     you need to go the distance."

Any shoe that claims to be the one shoe quiver deserves a few miles so I placed my order. I went with a size 8 in the Cherry Tomato/Blue...I just love the flashy color combos PI offers, it makes heading out the door that much more fun.  Anyway...flash forward to lacing up these beauties and heading out the door.  They felt so good out of the box I ran 15 miles and promptly went home and order the trail N2.  Ok so hear goes the review I promised.

Pearl Izumi started the EMotion series this spring.  They make a road, trail and tri shoe.  Each shoe category offer a 0mm neutral (N1) a 4mm neutral  (N2) a light stability (M2/M3) and moderate stability (H3).  The idea behind the series is the dynamic offset of the shoe to provide a smooth ride. For the best explanation i highly recommend going here because in all honesty, I couldn't really do that justice.

fresh fresh fresh.
   The shoe is certainly lighter than it looks.  At 9.2oz in a women's 8 it rivals many shoes in that light to mid-weight category.  The seamless upper material is stretchy but comfortable. The overlays are not restricting, but still keep your foot comfortably over the base of the shoe. In the past I have had blister problems on the tips of my toes...I ran a 50k in these this past weekend and didn't get a single toe blister...boom!  The heel and mid foot and slightly more narrow, really locking your foot in place so even on the steepest of downhills, there was no sliding.  The toe box is roomy, but not overly wide so you don't slip and slide all over..this shoe just has the right balance for the long run.

The traction on this shoe is solid.  It climbs well in rooty, rocky and gravely trails.  I have yet to hit a muddy uphill, by my guess is that it would still fair quite well.  The transition into single track, leaf covered trail, and wet mucky grass was solid, no slipping issues. During the race this weekend there was a hill with a 15.5% incline, and as the saying goes, "what goes up must come down."  I slid just a bit on the really steep rocky down hill, but to be honest I don't think any shoe would have taken the hill without slipping, but it was something I noted to myself during the race.

Bubble laces, that lock.
The other glorious piece in this shoe is the lace.  There are plenty of companies that add a bubble lace in order to prevent them from coming untied..but these nail it.  The lace is a bit thicker and softer so they really lace together tightly and stay that way.  The tongue, which is also the same soft material as the rest of the upper, keeps the knot from the lace off your foot so there were no pressure points or hot spots.  It also has two lace locks sewn into it so it keeps the laces from shifting, also preventing hot spots.

Cushy mid foot

While the shoe offers a 4mm offset, the mid sole clearly isn't the thin layer that many other companies use.  The shoe has a soft cushion feel under foot, but doesn't loose the ground feel so you can still get a solid foot plant and be sure you're not going to lose it.  There is a fused rock plate under the mid foot, so even the rocky sections don't make your feet turn to hamburger like other shoes I've tried.  The PI site says that the mid foot is a combination foam for shock  absorbing and energy return.  While it does indeed reduce shock and therefore fatigue over time, the energy return isn't quite as noticeable throughout.  It was more obvious on hard pack or concrete, which makes sense since you do need an opposite force to create return ( maybe??)

In my opinion Pearl Izumi nailed this shoe.  As of right now I'm planning on running the hundred in them.  The only other combo I"m considering is to start in the Montrail Rogue Fly and switch out to these for a smoother ride over night.  I can see why the big guns are sticking with this shoe.  Well done.

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