Comments: After about 6 weeks with my Trail N1s, I wanted to give an updated review (see my previous one below). I have to say that my experience with the Trail N1s differs dramatically from some of the other reviews. I've put in nearly 300 miles on them and they are the most fluid shoes I've ever worn. They are also one of the most versatile pairs of shoes I've ever owned. It doesn't seem that Pearl Izumi has been marketing these shoes as being versatile, but I'm running it all in them- from 45-minute tempo runs on roads (sub-6:30/mi pace at 7,000 ft) to 32-mi trail runs with plenty of technical terrain and elevation gain/loss. For me, the balance between firm and cushioned seems just right. My pace feels so light, effortless at times, despite the fact that these shoes are by no means the lightest out there. I do have to agree with some of the reviewers that these shoes do feel stiff and unresponsive out of the box. It does take a little time and effort to break them in. I think we live in a time where we expect these hot, low-heel drop natural running shoes to feel mind-boggling fluid and amazing right out of the box, which is unfortunate. Things have changed in the consumer world. It's almost as if our memories of a time when shoes were needed to be broken in have been completely erased. These shoes do indeed break in for one hell of a great ride. I apologize to the other reviewers who've had a bad go with these shoes- they are %0.
From: Ryan, Bishop, CA, USA
Comments: Unfortunately I have the same thoughts as Tom from Irvine. I have been running in minimalist shoes for about 2 years (MT110, Trail Glove, MT1010). I was really looking forward to the Trail N1 after all the hype. I found the fit too snug and the sole was too stiff. I ended up returning them after a couple of uninspiring runs. I'm sure there will be many that will love this shoe, but if you are looking for a shoe with a wide toe box and flexible sole, this is not a fit for you.
From: Glen, Collingswood, NJ, USA
Comments: I was hesitant about these, given that I have a very difficult time finding shoes that don't crush my toes. The Merrell Mix Master and Barefoot shoes are really the only things I've found that don't bother my toes at all. But I feel I need a bit more protection given my current training and racing mileage (50-100 mp/w, 50 mile mountain races). I have about forty miles on these, including some fairly hairy technical scrambling, and the fit seems snug but not uncomfortable. I think this is due to the solid mesh upper, wonderfully free of unnecessary overlays (which only add weight, limit breathability, and increase the likelihood of hot spots in my experience). I have experienced a bit of extreme pain in my right pinky toe while running sustained technical ascents, but that's happened in just about every shoe I've run in over the past two months: the afforementioned Mix Masters, MT110, Peregrine, Sense Mantra, and Stinson Evos (which crushed my big toes so badly that I had to give them up, despite the awesome cushioning). Overall these are the best thing I've found so far: I'm fairly certain that I feel the benefits of the heightened toe spring (although it's difficult to know where one's honest experience begins and the advertising ends with these sorts of thing), and they certainly perform better on pavement than just about any other trail shoe I've found (w/ the possible exception of Hokas and the wonderfully cushioned Peregrine). The grip is as good as it gets without going to something like the cleated Inov-8 shoes, and they feel incredibly secure, both in terms of traction and in terms of fit, during fast technical downhills.
Comments: In contrast to most folks here, I quite like the N1s and I am picky. They feel smooth and have more push through protection than some of my other shoes (Vertical K, S-Lab Sense Ultra). They are also very protective of my sprained ankle (Hokas). I only have 50 miles on them, but that includes trail runs of 14 and 21 miles with 2500-3000 feet of vertical on each run. My one complaint is that I think the shoe needs more room in the upper, i.e. toes can tend to rub against the top of the shoe but the fit is otherwise great. Is it a 50 mile plus shoe for me? Time will tell ...
Comments: The Trail N1 is quite a fun ride. Tim Olson (2012 Western States Champ and new CR holder) was seeking a low-to-the-ground, yet very fluid trail running shoe, and Pearl Izumi delivered. My turnover feels great- even effortless at times on the flats. There are some things about this shoe that the other reviewers describe that I do have to agree with. I do feel like I am on bit of a platform with this shoe, but the more I run in these shoes the less I notice this, as I truly do believe that it's the runner that has to seek out the feedback from the ground, not the shoe. The shoe also feels a bit narrow in the forefoot (and I have tiny feet for a dude), and the upper mesh did at first feel a bit restrictive, but I have mentally passed these hurdles and found the shoe to perform well, even on my longest run of 30 miles with over 5,000 ft of gain in them. I find that the traction performs admirably on a wide variety of surfaces...not terrific on loose, sandy terrain, but not bad either. I also run in the TrailRoc 255s, Brooks PGs and the NB MT110s, and the N1s have become a mainstay in my arsenal. I find that these shoes are built for performance, and I would recommend them only to folks who have solid biomechanics and can run well in shoes similar to what I wear (read above). These shoes will not turn an average runner into a fast, fluid runner; these shoes will complement the runner with good biomechanics seeking a performance-based trail runner. I am 5'6", 125 lbs and in training run 70-110+ mi/wk in mountainous terrain.
From: Ryan, Bishop, CA, USA
Comments: I've had the same issue as Tom from Irvine. I ran 4 miles with the supplied insoles and the didn't feel right. My next run I put in my blue Super Feet and ran eight miles and it was even worse. Ride is stiff and the upper is tight. I wanted to like these shoes and make them work but it's just not going to happen. Going to wait for the Saucony Peregrine 3 to release.
From: Mike, El Dorado Hills, CA
Comments: I was hoping for more of a Pearl-Izumi Streak II feel even for the trail, but these aren't it. (The Streak II are my favorite shoe ever.) They're ok, but not as soft or as flexible as the Streak IIs (which are advertised as a quick training and race shoe) or in some ways even the Peak IIs. The problem seems to be a hard outer sole, so maybe the road versions will be a bit better. (Why put a hard outer sole on a trail shoe???). The insole is cheap, so I put a pair of the Streak II ortholite insoles in them and this did help cushion them. I don't get much added propulsion from the e-motion technology on the forest singletrack around here, but I think that I can feel it a bit when on a more open flat. They soak up water, but drain pretty rapidly. The grip in the mud is rather loose, but not awful. So, all in all, I found them to be okay and better than many others, but not what I was hoping for, namely, a fast, softer, flexible trail shoes for the types of trails that we have here. But I'm an older geezer, so maybe the younger crew might find this in them.
From: Ron, Bloomington, In
Comments: I'm a bit excited cause I might have found my favorite new shoe. I'm coming from Salomon's Sense Ultra & New Balance's MT110 & MT1010. I was hesitant to buy this shoe because it's my first Pearl Izumi pair. I'm a 11 in New Balance and a 10.5 in Salomon. I went with the 11 and the fit is perfect. I highly recommend this shoe for runners who want a low offset, but need more cushion than what most lower drop shoes offer (MT110). The N1 isn't a light trail shoe though, weighing in at almost 10oz for size 9, but I feel that the extra weight gives me more confidence on the downhills. Unlike Tom Irvine's review I actually wear these with insoles and I couldn't be happier. The laces are the exact same as the MT110s. They have this twist to them that I believe helps the laces from becoming untied during a run. While I think the the Ultras and MT's have their place on the trail, I was looking for a shoe with a bit more of softer feel. The N1 in my opinion has a softer feel to it than the MT1010 and the Sense Ultra and much more than the MT110. I feel like I can run in N1 much longer without my legs feeling worn out after a 15+mi run and hey it works out ok on the road too. The upper feels great with and
without socks and doesn't feel too constrictive, but it does hug the foot closely and has a stretchy fell to it so you can wiggle the toes. Wearing the shoe my foot transitions through the running cycle easier...almost like I don't have to work as hard. I guess I could say that it makes my running experience "smoother".
From: Joe, ST.L, Franklin, TN USA
Comments: 2 of 5 stars. I returned them after one six-mile run. I normally run in NB MT110 or MT1010 but had knee and shoe durability issues so was looking to change. After reading glowing reviews of the N1 Trail, I scooped a pair up as soon as they were available. Note: I ran without the insoles. The shoe didn't fit right with them in (too tight all around my foot, but would have been much too large if I'd gone up a half-size) and I didn't like the lack of ground feel with the insoles either. So if the insoles add some magic to the shoe, then this review doesn't apply. Otherwise, the shoes seemed cheap. The soles felt dead, not dynamic at all. Contrary to the reviews, I felt none of the benefits of the "new" sole design. Rather, it felt sort of memory-foam-ish, with my foot sinking in and then no rebound. The uppers feel clunky compared to what I'm used to--the upper is unnecessarily bulky towards the heel of the shoe and not wide enough to allow full toe splay in the front. They look durabl
e but I didn't wear them long enough to find out.
From: Tom, Irvine, CA, USA