Pearl Izumi Peak II
Photo Courtesy of Pearl Izumi

I love gear that serves multiple purposes. Anytime I can have one item that does the work of a couple I am happy. That was my hope for Pearl Izumi’s Peak II trail shoes. When I met this company at the OR conference in January, it was clear to me that they value style as much as performance.  Their colors are saffron, neon green, teal and fuchsia with electric purple. But I’m not often found on a fashion runway (quite the opposite actually) and neither are the shoes I wear.  My only requirement for my outdoor clothing is that it works well wherever I need it to go. So extra perk number one is Pearl Izumi’s edgy style. But if all they do is run trails and look pretty, that leaves them sitting in my closet more than on my feet. I trail run, but I also street run, hike and run errands around town.  What I found is that I loved doing all of these in my Peak II trail shoes.

There was virtually no break-in time, and they felt very similar to my street running shoes right away –  mesh and super light materials, perfect for city streets and around town. This was true as long as it was dry. My usual street running shoes work great except when it rains.  They are optimized for perfect, paved, dry conditions. In our “normal” weather, I end up with wet socks, squishy soles and things that make me want to cuddle up with a coffee and a book instead of going running when it rains. But Peark Izumi touts ”Weather no longer matters,” so I thought I’d put their Peak II trail shoes to the test in that regard. That wasn’t hard to do here where we have wet, soggy, muddy trail conditions for 9 months of the year. But first I thought I’d see how they fared in town. A perfect place to get my feet wet, so to speak.

I cast my loyal street runners into the closet and donned the bright teal and day-glow green Peak II trail shoes. Wet streets are a great use for them. Even in a light mist, my feet were dry and I was able to grab the streets and gravel I ran on.  Within 2 days they were broken in and felt like home. The stretchy tongue cleverly attaches to the arches inside of the shoes so you can slip into them easily. That’s nice since I am lazy with laces and hate the idea of velcro on anything besides my kids shoes. The designers were clever in several ways. The upper is completely seamless, even the decoration is not stitched on, it is fused somehow, making it lightweight, streamlined and minimal. Pearl Izumi also made improvements to this current Peak II design by reducing the sole, without sacrificing too much of the cushion needed to protect feet from the rough terrain of a trail.

I began to get comfortable in these shoes, aside from the color, which is far more stylish than anytime else I wear (see above comment about fashion). There is almost a slipper feel to them, covering the foot but still with a sole which makes it solid, like a full shoe (not like those finger-feet things). I wore them everywhere I went, in town, out of town, up trails, to the dentist. And I got so many compliments on my shoes I didn’t want to take them off. Everyone noticed the bright colors –  it was pretty hard to miss them. I’ve never received so many “shoe comments” before (see comment above about fashion again) and that felt lovely, but I still needed to see how they fared on the sloppy, muddy trails.

I did accidentally find a surface they don’t like though. Some wood floors feel “slicker than snot” as my mother would say. So test man made surfaces carefully with this sole. The muddy trail however was a breeze. They grip nicely on slab granite, muddy slopes and sloppy puddles. I felt confident on all the surfaces that they encountered on the trail with the exception of wet, finished wood. Anything with a texture grabs well and surely, but wet stairs were a bit slick. Still nothing like the wood floors I met, but still noticeable. They are far from waterproof though. Actually, they fare about as well in the rain as my street runners (which leads to coffee, book and couch, not running, unless you don’t mind wet feet).

Pros:

Lightweight, breathable materials

Immediate comfort

Awesome style

Cons:

Some wood floors and wet wood steps are a challenge for the soles (I really felt like I was on ice skates on 2 different wood floors)

Not waterproof (kind of a big deal in our climate)

Bottom Line:

I still love the shoes. They dry pretty quickly even after dancing in puddles, and they are still pretty day-glow green even through the mud. $120 is a tad steep, but overall not bad considering the style points you gain!

Technical Details:

Manufacturer: Pearl Izumi

Date available: Now

MSRP: US$ 120

Actual Weight: 9.7 oz per shoe, women’s size 10

Size/Model tested: women’s 10 (runs one size small – I am usually a 9)

Requirements: Size test since they run smaller than standard US sizes

Colors Available: Neon green and teal, saffron-orange and purple, fuchsia and purple

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