Since I first saw Pearl Izumi’s (PI) Project E:Motion Trail N2 shoes, I couldn’t wait to get my paws on them. Okay, first thing’s first..the black and blue two-tone looks awesome! My wife said they looked “pretty.” I said they look “electric!” DANG! These things are light but they have a substantial amount of cushioning to carry you for miles.
FIT & USAGE
If these shoes didn’t have lugs I would swear that they were house slippers. The feel really light with plenty of room in the toe box and padding around the ankle. There isn’t a lot of material layering on the seamless upper.
In my first couple of runs my laces were cinched down too tight and created some pain in the bottoms of my feet. Loosening the lacings solved this issue. The laces run through eye-lits at the top of the tongue and can potentially place undue pressure on the tops of your feet.
The N2 isn’t a narrow shoe – people with wide feet shouldn’t have any issues, and with a 4mm offset, it’s on the flatter side of many of its counterparts. It truly feels like a minimal shoe but with plenty of cushioning. My feet have zero tolerance for minimal shoes, so I really enjoyed this feature.
In the first couple test runs I kept the running easy and limited to fairly flat groomed trails. It wasn’t until I got on a mix of technical single track did these shoes really start to shine. I was attacking uphill ascents. This where the light weight comes into play. My feet didn’t feel sluggish and I could really focus on leg work. Downhill traction is good, I wouldn’t call it superior – the lugs don’t feel super grippy as other shoes I’ve tried. Tip-toeing through technical trail was a joy – these shoes are very nimble, which says a lot because the soles are fairly wide.
You can run on pavement with the N2, but I would keep it limited. The lugs are not conducive to the hard surface but a few miles on pavement to the trailhead will be fine.
The upper is seamless mesh material and feels kinda spongey. I didn’t have a chance to run through water (thank you drought), but I can see how these shoes would quickly dry out.
The sole is wide and offers good stability. As I’ve said, it has a substantial amount of cushion – for those who think that is important, I think you will enjoy this shoe.
The lugs are self-cleaning. Self-clearning, huh???I KNOW! RIGHT?! I came home after a running through mud and dirt and didn’t have any mud clumps. My wife declared her love for these shoes and I dodged having to vacuum the floor. YIPPIE!
The cradle is fairly deep and cups the heel very nicely. Again, no hot spots.
If a lightweight shoe with substantial cushioning with stability is important to you, I would encourage to take these for test run. The N2 can take you the distance for any ultra. Having scored Trail Runner Gear of the Year, 2013 Trail Shoe of the Year – it already has one of the best accolades a shoe could possibly hope to get. I really think you are going to see more and more PI’s on the trail – which is great. I think PI has really delivered itself.
Back to that color. I like wearing these shoes on the trail as well as on the town. I have received a ton of compliments.
Retails for $120.
Now, go out and run.