Gear Closet: Pearl Izumi Streak II Running Shoes

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Over the past few weeks I’ve been posting my thoughts on a couple of pairs of running shoes that fit squarely in the “minimalist” category. Two weeks ago I posted my thoughts on the Sketcher’s GObionic shoes and last week I shared my impressions of the Form from Skora. In both cases I appreciated how lightweight and comfortable they were, although I found that they were a bit too minimalist for my longer runs. That isn’t the case with this weeks entry, the newly redesigned Streak II from Pearl Izumi.

Form fitting and comfortable the Streak II looks much more like a traditional running shoe than either of the other two pairs I reviewed. Tipping the scales at 7.8 ounces (221 grams), these shoes weigh about the same as the Skora Form, but are nearly two ounces heavier than the GObionics. Sketchers definitely wins the “most minimalist” award out of this group.

Those extra two ounces are put to good use on the Streak II however, as they felt more solid and supportive on my feet than any of the other minimalist shoes I’ve tested. In fact, I had less fatigue in my feet and legs following a run using these shoes and they have been more than accommodating on even my longer routes. I’ve used these on 8-10 mile runs without much problem at all and they certainly seem capable of going just about any distance I could possibly throw at them.

I wouldn’t have guessed that would be the case following my initial impressions of the Streak II however as they were the only pair of shoes that gave me a blister while running in them. Their snug fit caused some uncomfortable rubbing in the initial break-in period, but fortunately that break-in period didn’t last long. By the second or third run they were no longer causing blisters and were simply a joy to run in.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times already in this review that these shoes are form fitting and that is an important thing to keep in mind. If you have wide feet, the Streak II might not be for you. I also had to get them in a half-size larger than normal, although they were still quite snug on my feet. Personally I appreciate a tight fit in my shoes, but not everyone will like the way these feel on their feet.

Pearl Izumi has impressed me with the construction of these shoes as well. After more than a month of regular use they still appear as if they just came out of the box and they haven’t lost a bit of support either. For a minimalist shoe, they have held up very well under some difficult conditions.

Despite the fact that these shoes look a lot like a traditional running shoe, there were times when I was reminded that they are still minimalist footwear at their heart. For instance, one of my regular running routes takes me off road and onto a trail for a few miles and the rocks on that trail can pierce right through the soles of the Streak II and directly into the bottom of your feet. Pearl Izumi has designed these shoes for the road and I suggest you keep them there. I’ve even managed to pick up rocks in the sole and have a twig jam directly through the bottom of the shoes, which were harsh reminders that you can pay a price for running in lightweight shoes. That said, when on smooth pavement, running in these shoes can be sublime.

Of all the minimalist shoe I’ve test recently, the Streak II are my favorite. But that isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy running in the other shoes as well. The Streak II just happened to fit my feet, and running style, quite nicely and I appreciate what they have to offer. At $115 they’re also reasonably priced for the level of performance they deliver.

Running shoes are a difficult thing to recommend as we all have our personal preferences and, lets face it, brand loyalties. What feels good on my feet may not feel right on yours. These three pairs of shoes are all great choices for those looking to go minimalist, but in my case, the one that was most like a traditional shoe was the also the one that worked best.

Kraig Becker