Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0 Review

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Zoot, long known in the triathlon world, offers a long distance training shoe as part of their lineup this year. Zoot has long been known for making a quality product, but largely focuses on product designed solely for use in triathlon events. The Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0 takes the best of technologies that Zoot has to offer triathletes and combines them with attributes that long distance runners desire in training shoes. The result is a lightweight neutral cushioned shoe that really does go the distance.

The minimal lacing and easy slip on upper make the Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0 an excellent choice for quick race transitions.

Testing the Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0

The testing period for the Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0 stretched over the course of a race season; they were not my primary trainer for the bulk of the season. I preferred to test these closer to my actual race, and then use them during my triathlon event to get a feel for both long distance training and how they performed during a race. While the bulk of my training was performed outdoors over varying terrain (concrete, gravel, outdoor tracks, and medium duty trails), I also managed to test them on a few indoor track runs and treadmill workouts. The Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0 was extremely comfortable on all terrain types. I didn’t feel they were structured enough to make any serious trail run attempts, but this is largely due to personal preference for a structured upper when tackling rough terrain. My longest run in them was a local half marathon, but on distances up to 5k I wore them without socks without any blistering or hotspots.

The upper makes them extremely comfortable, even for longer distances.

Features of the Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0

My favorite (and most comfortable) feature of the Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0 is the upper. This is where Zoot was able to shave weight to bring the shoe down to a trim 10.2 oz; while hardly featherweight, this is definitely lightweight for a neutral cushioned shoe. Zoot utilized a technology they dub “Ultrafit”, which is made from a stretchy mesh material. While other companies have mesh offerings, Zoot’s is the first I’ve tested in which the mesh upper kept me this cool and comfortable without allowing dirt and debris to enter the shoe. I typically am not a fan of mesh for this reason, as over long distance the debris will tend to irritate my feet – not so with the Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0. The lacing pattern in the upper is very unique as well, along with a keyhole pull up front and pull in the back. This is a feature that is very triathlon specific; it allows you to pull the shoe on without having to lace it up. I tested this several times before my race, and had it comfortable dialed in pre-race so that I could easily get out of my bike shoes and into these; it only took me a few runs to get this just right.

The reinforced Keyhole pull works great for easy entry into the shoe without untying the laces.

The midsole and outsole combination is also very well done in terms of cushion and comfort. While I put less than 100 miles on the Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0, I do have the impression after testing that the outsole is built to last the long haul. The combination of Zoot’s “Carbonspan+” on the outsole and “Z-bound” in the midsole really do provide the maximum amount of comfort. Zoot claims that the two paired together not only provide comfort, but reduce stress and fatigue by rebounding the runner’s energy efficiently. I found this to be mostly clever marketing, but I do agree with the fact that the cushion definitely does not get in the way of the run. Some shoes are bogged down by a mushy feeling midsole; the Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0 is balanced very well in terms of road feel vs cushion.

The carbon reinforcements in the outsole and midsole make for a lively feel on the road.

Final thoughts on the Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0

The Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0 is a great choice for triathletes and long distance runners alike; the neutral cushioning provides a great mix of comfort and balance without piling on the weight. Long distance runners will appreciate the comfort of the shoe, especially for high temp runs. Triathletes will appreciate the ease of entry and ability to used with or without socks. Overall, the shoe is great choice for both training and racing, and features multiple new technologies from Zoot. Head on over to zoot to check them out further in either of the two color offerings.

Zachary Rodasti: Zach's been testing gear with Active Gear Review since day one of the site, and just generally loves being outside doing any outdoor activity. He and his wife race year round, prefer long distance endurance events, and have raced marathons in multiple states nationwide. Recently, Zach added triathlons to his list of endeavors, and has competed in all distances up to a half iron. He has two young boys who are full of energy and get into all sorts of trouble on a regular basis - just like him.

View Comments (1)

  • Why is the bottom of the shoe coming off. I love these shoes but the black is peeling off easily. Now I have had to glue them back together. They are only 2weeks old. What's up with this

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