Our Favorite Trail Running Shoes
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Pearl Izumi E:Motion Trail M2 Review
The Pearl Izumi Trail M2 ($125) has been a popular option for the bulk of the trail running crowd looking for an everyday trainer. Find out why in the follow in-depth review.
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Pearl Izumi E-Motion Trail M2 Review Transcript
The Pearl Izumi Trail M2 comes from the E-Motion line which was launched this year. The M2 stands for midfoot stability: the “M” is midfoot, “2” tells you the amount of cushioning. Previously on iRunFar, we looked at the Pearl Izumi Trail N1 (N = neutral, 1 = amount of cushioning). This is a slightly more stable, slightly more cushioned version of that trail shoe. It offers a dynamic offset in the heel-toe drop that ranges from 4 to 7.5mm, offers a seamless upper, and has some other great features. So what we’re going to do now is get up close and personal and take a closer look at the Pearl Izumi E:Motion Trail M2.
We’ll start off by taking a look at the outsole. On the bottom here, we can see we have a medium to low-depth tread pattern all the way across the bottom. We have both reverse lugs and standard facing lugs. So whether we’re going uphill or downhill, we’ve got brakes or help with climbing. We can see some cut-outs here in the middle where the rock plate is. This rock plate is not super hard as you can get some twist in here, but it is definitely enough to keep things from poking through. Really, it’s a general purpose outsole. It’s going to work across a variety of different types of trails—groomed trails, technical trails—you’re going to have enough down there that is really going to help you though in mud. And slop, it’s probably not deep enough to help through that. But for the most part, it’s going to get you through 90% of the trail conditions that are out there and should perform well across all of them. I also wore this on the road a fair amount and really felt good about the way that it felt. They didn’t have enough lug there that it would interrupt when you’re on a road section.
Next up, we’ll move into the midsole. The midsole, at first glance, really looks like it’s one piece and one kind of foam all the way around. But what happens as we get into this section right here in the middle, there are actually a couple of spots here where you can see a slightly different type of foam right here under the arch. You really have to look for it even with the bare eye, so I don’t know that the camera will pick it up. Right in here there is a spot where this is actually a different type of foam. You can feel a seam back here and there is one up here. It’s a slightly denser type of foam which is like a post but it’s not significant. When you push your thumb in here, you can kind of feel the difference. It’s going to be more dense here, less dense in the heel and the forefoot, but adding just enough pronation control—more of a fatigue post, I would say—to give you a little extra bit of stability or bounce back when your form falls down later on in a race. As we move through the midsole, it’s a medium cushioning, I would say. It’s above that minimal-type feel. It is firm. It is responsive, but there’s enough there that it gives you just the right amount of cushioning without being too bloated and losing too much feel for the trail.
As we move up into the upper, this is one of the best parts of the shoe, I think. Pearl Izumi has been doing this for awhile now and I feel like they’ve really gotten it right on this shoe, at least for me. They have a seamless upper. As we look around on this upper, we have some welded overlays on here that are adding some structure and stability that are going to use our laces and attach at the top to really make a nice grip on the shoe. But as we move our hand around inside of it, there are very, very few seams. You can hardly feel any at all. They call it a seamless upper, so that makes sense. You’ll notice a little bit of stitching, and there is going to be some stitching here where the tongue is going to attach. This is a non-gusseted tongue here which is a little bit of a let-down. It is a wide tongue and it is fabric so it’s not large foam or anything like that, so I feel that it creates a nice seal inside of the shoe without letting debris in other ways. That tongue goes just below this, a quarter way down this part of the shoe on both the medial and lateral sides. Again, this is a seamless upper. You’ll notice a couple layers of mesh here, so it’s very breathable. My toes were able to move in it well.
Another thing I think is a nice improvement in this year’s E-Motion line versus something like last year’s Peak II was the amount of room in the toe box. This is a size 9. In the previous Pearl Izumi’s, the toe box was very low and very narrow. I had to go up almost to a size 10 before I could really feel like it was comfortable and then I had way too much shoe hanging off the end. These, to me, fit true-to-size and because of the taller toe box and the mesh up here, it really lets your toes wiggle around. So there’s a lot of room up front that allows your foot to expand as needed. Also, there is just enough protection. We have a toe bumper on the front and some kind of suede fabric here on the sides that are going to add extra reinforcement to keep punctures out. This is not hard so it’s not going to really deflect everything. You do have a relatively good toe bumper here on the front that is going to help kick things off to the side if you connect with them head-on.
As we move to the back, we do have a heel cup in here. You can see where that starts as we push this down. It is a molded heel cup. Again, overall feel of this shoe: very good fit, very glove-like fit. This was not something that bothered me going uphill our pounding downhill. I felt like everything held in nice and tight. I didn’t really notice anything too bothersome about it.
As we move around here and look at the laces, you can see they have these sausage link-type laces which are going to help the shoes stay tied a bit better. It creates these little gaps here where the laces interlocks with each other and gives a nice tight hold. If it does start to come loose, it unloosens slowly versus all at once which keeps you from tripping over your feet if it does happen to you. The ankle is slightly padded but not overly padded. It’s definitely padded enough to provide security, protection, and comfort. Lastly, we’re able to tighten that up and cinch that down very tightly as we can see that this piece of fabric from both sides links around back of the shoe so we can create that tension here and give us a little bit of extra security around the cuff. Again, this shoe felt great out-of-box, and has a good, secure fit for someone like myself. I was really pleased overall with it.
In closing, this is one of the best first-feel shoes that I’ve put on, maybe ever. It was one of those shoes that I put on and right out of the box had a great feel with the seamless upper and just really felt great on my foot. It offers a great midfoot wrap. It offers adequate traction. It offers just enough stability for someone like me who is not a fully neutral runner or is not able to run a lot of big miles in a neutral shoe. The dynamic offset just feels good. I don’t know if it’s a 7.5 or a 4mm, but I’m coming from running most of my miles in a 10mm drop trail shoe. I didn’t feel like this put an extra load on my Achilles or made me do extra work for lack of a better term. It just felt right. So if you’re like me and need a little bit of stability and a little bit more cushioning over the neutral or the minimal type shoes, go check out the new Pearl Izumi Trail M2.
If you have any questions or comments, leave them below the video and thanks for watching. We’ll catch you next time.