7 Best Triathlon Running Shoes in 2024

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen on
7 Best Triathlon Running Shoes in 2024
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From quick-lace capability, comfort, durability, and performance-driven technologies, the best triathlon running shoes need to have it all to meet the high volume of training and the actual racing (and recovery) hours.

As one of the hardest endurance sports anyone can do, triathletes need to have the right gears and support to maximise their athletic potential. Getting them is crucial to gaining an advantage in this sport.

To help you choose the right pair of shoes for your upcoming triathlon race, we’ve handpicked our top choices for review. After thorough testing on the road and at the lab, we then selected our best picks in different categories, from best overall and on-road performance to the best budget-friendly options.

How we test running shoes

We provide you with recent updates and comprehensive (honest) reviews on the best running shoes for triathlons available out there. We use proven methods to determine which models make the cut for our best selections based on their strengths and road-test performance.

Our entire approach involves the following:

  • We use our own funds to purchase all the shoes for this review. This is to keep us free from any bias, brand loyalty, and all that.
  • We bring the shoes to our independent testing lab. We cut them open and reduce the shoes to their essential parts. We then measure 30+ parameters, from cushioning to durability, breathability, and many others.
  • We test each model in high-mileage training and racing conditions to see its actual road performance and figure out its strengths and weaknesses.

Best triathlon running shoes overall

Nike Vaporfly 3
88
Great!

What makes it the best?

We ran with many triathlon running shoes in search of the best overall — and it’s no other than Nike’s Vaporfly 3. This record-breaker feels like it’s barely there and delivers unparalleled responsiveness for that podium finish. The comfort and stability of this hypersonic shoe make it a great racer, even for a full Ironman.

Weighing 6.5 oz (184 g), it’s feathery light compared to other racers that average 7.5 oz (213g). With less weight, it delivers as much (or even more) explosive speed than its counterparts. 

Despite its airy nature, Vaporfly 3 has a tall stack combined with the soft and responsive ZoomX foam, which makes our off-the-bike comfortable. It’s a leg-saver that allows us to maintain a strong and consistent pace over long-haul efforts. Meanwhile, the stiff Flyplate promotes energy return and stability.

The otherworldly, breathable upper also contributed to the light feeling. Made of Flyknit designed with intention, the weave pattern is denser in the forefoot area for structure and support. Meanwhile, the toe and midfoot areas are more perforated for better ventilation and flexibility. The engineered mesh stretches to accommodate wide or swollen feet. Yet for some of us with narrow feet, it feels too roomy and doesn’t have the snug race fit needed even if the laces are tied down.

Pros

  • Exceptionally breathable upper
  • Outstanding ZoomX cushioning
  • Superb choice from the mile to the marathon
  • Impressively low weight
  • Enhanced stability
  • Plush, cloud-like foam
  • Upgraded outsole for better grip

Cons

  • Uncomfortably large tongue
  • The heel is still too narrow
Full review of Nike Vaporfly 3

Best budget triathlon running shoes

What makes it the best?

Noosa Tri 15 is an eye-catching, versatile shoe that offers a balanced and supportive midsole in a lightweight package. It’s so comfortable that we can run many miles without socks—perfect for Tri(athlons). On top of this, it only costs £140, making it our best budget pick. That’s 35.6% cheaper than the £210 average triathlon running shoe!

Weighing 7.7 oz (218g), it’s at par with other racers (7.5 oz / 213g) while offering more comfort. It encourages effortless and efficient turnover—a great relief for our off-the-bike runs. Even on slower training days, we're equally at ease thanks to its natural feel. Our flex test confirms it's 28.3% more flexible than average.

The foam feels delightful, providing much-needed arch support and lateral stability for tired feet. The cushion doesn’t collapse easily even on fast corners. This is a pleasant surprise considering the foam measures 20.9% softer than average based on our durometer.

The soft underfoot is complemented by an airy mesh upper. Under our microscope, we saw large ventilation holes, explaining its 5/5 score on our breathability test. We didn’t feel any friction, making it comfortable to wear sockless—perfect for triathletes saving precious transition time.A potential time-costing factor is the absence of a heel tab. We recommend practising swift slip-on techniques to ensure seamless transitions.

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Well-cushioned for long runs
  • Works well across various paces
  • Specifically designed for triathlons
  • Unique design
  • Breathable and comfortable upper
  • Long-lasting outsole
  • Suitable for sock-free running
  • Excellent value at £140

Cons

  • Limited energy return
  • Tongue might be too thin for some
  • Not the best for heel strikers
Full review of Asics Noosa Tri 15

Best triathlon running shoes for Ironman

Nike Alphafly 3
89
Great!

What makes it the best?

With outstanding ratings from our lab and runners, Alphafly 3 proves it's a leg-saving, responsive, and breathable shoe. It delivers much-needed support and unwavering resilience that shines even better in long distances, making it the best for Ironman among triathlon running shoes.

We noticed this racer's strong and consistent energy, promoting smooth turnovers. We cut the midsole in half and found the FlyPlate and Air Pods integrated into the foam. These made our off-the-bike runs effortlessly fast! Proven by our 90° bend test, it emerged 144.7% stiffer than average, translating to a strong energy return.

This max-cushioned shoe provides comfort for brutal miles. Alphafly 3 features the world-renowned ZoomX midsole, that’s both bouncy and plush. This shoe elevates it further by adding a firm 29.3 HA top layer to enhance stability, which is crucial when our running form starts to change as the fatigue kicks in. 

Alphafly 3 is a breath of fresh air, literally! The shoe sits at a feathery 7.1 oz (201g) vs. the 7.5 oz (214g) average racer. We’re amazed at how stacked and light it is simultaneously! On top of this, it has a well-ventilated upper that secured a perfect score on our breathability test.

However, we don’t recommend wearing this shoe sockless as the Atomknit has a slightly rough texture that may cause blisters.

Pros

  • Remarkably lightweight despite its broad size
  • Best-in-class breathability
  • Excels in the marathon distance
  • Repositioned Air Pods offer a better ride than the v2
  • ZoomX foam delivers massive energy return
  • Aids in forward momentum, especially when legs begin to fatigue
  • Better than ever for 5K/10K racing
  • Finally smooth transitions!

Cons

  • Heel strikers might wear down the outsole quickly
  • The arch could still be a challenge for some
  • The sock-like tongue might not suit everyone
Full review of Nike Alphafly 3

Triathlon running shoes with the best comfort

What makes it the best?

The Metaspeed Sky+ gets the first podium spot among triathlon race running shoes when it comes to comfort. Our lab results and test runs agree - this pair exudes pure speed without being too harsh on the legs because of its plush cushioning and light weight. 

These race shoes house a stiff carbon plate resulting in a snappier toe-off in our brick runs. We couldn’t resist checking in the lab using our 90° bend test and discovered it’s 119.0% stiffer than the average! 

The exceptional combination of midsole softness and above-average stack heights kept our legs fresh even after cycling. Pressing our durometer into the cushion, it emerged 17% softer than the average. Even after testing it in freezing conditions, it only hardened by a mere 7.8% (average hardens by 27.2%). This means the foam will remain comfortable even in winter.

These lightweight shoes helped us soar to the finish line - weighing only 7.2 oz (205.0 g) vs. the average of 9.4 oz (267.0g). We had no encounters with blisters and hotspots, as the upper scored a 5/5 on our breathability test in the lab.

With an outsole 41% thinner than average, there’s not a lot of rubber to last many miles. Best to save this pair for your essential races.

Pros

  • Fast as hell
  • Buttery smooth transitions
  • Protective cushion
  • Comfy for long miles
  • Stable when cornering
  • Very very breathable
  • Heel lockdown is awesome
  • No more heel rubs
  • Fits just right!
  • Grippy on wet roads

Cons

  • Stiffer than before
  • Outsole lacks durability
  • Expensive
Full review of ASICS Metaspeed Sky+

Competition running shoes with the best stability

What makes it the best?

Running in the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3’s gave us an unparalleled experience in our test runs. Redefining a supershoe, it’s not only lightning-fast and airy, it’s remarkably supportive too. This speedster helps us shave off minutes without sacrificing comfort and support, making it our top stability triathlon shoe.

AP3’s results are outstanding but it’s our actual runs that amaze us more. While other racers tend to be unstable, AP3 is extremely supportive. Its forefoot measures 6.0 mm wider than average, providing more stable landings for forefoot and midfoot strikers. Even when turning at high speeds, the shoe had no lateral wobbles. This is crucial in avoiding injuries because leg fatigue creeps in during off-the-bike runs. Our manual twisting assessment further reinforces its torsional rigidity, scoring a high 5/5 rating.  AP3 releases a consistent supply of energy and comfort with its balanced mega-stack and rigid platform. Every stride feels powerful with its massive energy return. In our flex test, it ranks 57.2% stiffer than average, validating the insane responsiveness we feel. 

Its airy build keeps things light on our feet—a great relief in endurance runs. At 7.7 oz (218g), it’s 18.0% lighter than the average. Another refreshing element is the extremely ventilated upper that effectively prevents hotspots and blisters.

Adios, heel-strikers! The heel isn’t as accommodating as the forefoot, measuring 6.3 mm narrower than average.

Pros

  • Supreme stability... in a supershoe!
  • World-class energy return and cushioning
  • Feather-light and agile
  • A dream come true for marathoners
  • Wonderful breathability
  • Top-notch grip, even in wet conditions
  • Outstanding outsole durability
  • Accommodates wide feet

Cons

  • Risk of heel slippage
  • Lacing can be tricky
  • Not suited for heel strikers
Full review of Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3

Competition running shoes with the best cushioning

What makes it the best?

Among triathlon shoes, Endorphin Pro 4 delivers the best cushioning while maintaining consistent support, exceptional power, and unmatched comfort. In and out of the lab, it proves a supershoe can feel good on foot while running at full speed.

Our off-the-bike runs feel more bearable with the elite-level midsole. It offers bottomless cushioning, rising to 38.1 mm, with its dual-density layers. Our durometer reveals the top is a plush yet springy 18.5 HA PWRRUN PB for leg-saving relief, while the foundation layer is a firmer 22.0 HA PWRRUN HG for surefooted strides.

This speedster is the wind beneath our wings, with its airy build and Speedroll technology. Our scales confirm a mere 7.8 oz (220g), 17.3% lighter than the average. Adding to its feather feel is its superior ventilation. Meanwhile, the S-shaped carbon plate sandwiched between the two foams effortlessly propels us forward. The insane responsiveness comes from the shoe’s stiffness, which our bend test confirms is 137.5% above average.

Its tough elements guide our foot alignment to prevent ankle rolls. Apart from the firmer foam and the stiff carbon plate, it has high torsional rigidity. We found it hard to twist, scoring an above-average 4/5 score. 

While EP4 has the makings of a racer, its focus on comfort pulls back a little from top-level supershoes. Those who crave peak record-breaking performance can check other options.

Pros

  • Durable upper and outsole
  • Spacious upper fit
  • Enhanced midsole comfort
  • Great value at £230 for a supershoe
  • Versatile across all paces
  • Ideal for heel strikers
  • More stable than ever

Cons

  • Slightly heavier than v3
  • Less suited for forefoot strikers
  • Competitors may feel quicker
Full review of Saucony Endorphin Pro 4

Best triathlon running shoes for speed training

What makes it the best?

Triathlons are demanding events and become even more gruelling in the run portion. In this final stretch, efficiency is key, and we discovered in the lab a shoe that’s energetic yet responsive: the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4. This featherweight is versatile and stable across all paces, making it our top speed trainer among triathlon shoes.

Honouring its moniker, ES4 delivers a steady stream of energy in our intervals. Embedded in the midsole is a nylon plate which offers a gentler experience than carbon plates. Our bend test confirms it’s at par with the average road running shoe, which makes it incredibly flexible for a plated shoe. This translates to a vibrant yet comfortable experience that’s suitable for any training.

We handled longer workouts with ease since the cushion was comfy enough for daily mileage. Its above-average 36.2/27.5 mm stack absorbed landing impact and promoted a bouncy ride. We felt stable even while cornering at full speed, which is largely due to the balanced cushion, as confirmed by our 22.3 HA durometer measurement.

ES4 can double as a racer with its light weight of 8.4 oz (237g), 10.9% below average. As an effort to minimise weight, the tongue is a minimal 2.0 mm. We warn caution of lace bite, especially during long runs.

Pros

  • Remains lightweight
  • Excels at all paces
  • Great for track workouts
  • More spacious fit
  • Bouncy and enjoyable ride
  • Enhanced stability over v3
  • Suits daily training
  • Exceptional value

Cons

  • Slightly heavier than predecessor
  • Could be a bit firm for some
Full review of Saucony Endorphin Speed 4
Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.