About a year back, I remember running in the first Zoot Solana, which also happens to be the first Zoot shoe I have ever tried. I was training for a triathlon and experimenting with a lot of different shoe combinations, but even in the original review we did you’ll see that we found something very compelling from a company not always known for running shoes. The new version is out and we were curious, so we put it through its paces again.
Construction: The Upper
The Solana 2 features an entirely mesh upper with only a few heat molded overlays near the heel for support. The big standout is then BareFit liner which allows you to easily wear the shoe without socks, but its just as comfortable with them given the lack of seams internally. The internal support cage gives you even more support in the upper and their trademark Z-Bound insole provides added cushioning and durability.
The mid on the Solana 2 is composed of compression ZVA which is really just Zoot’s proprietary EVA compression technology. Its designed to give you maximum rebound and comfort while allowing you to maintain a natural stride even at distance, so think soft ride and super responsive.
If you take a close look at the outsole you will find these larger carbon rubber tread pieces which are designed to provide the best traction without adding any additional weight. The shoe is also full contact allowing you to maintain a consistent connection to the ground and aid in transition from heel to toe.
Style and Aesthetics
The Solana 2 comes in two color ways, the blue/yellow combination we tested and then also a blue navy/white version as well. Zoot’s gear feels like summer, the beach, and the color options all reflect this as well. Its definitely not for everyone, but I find the connection they make to their roots through color design really compelling.
Before I jump straight into the test portion, let me offer up just some initial thoughts. I have run these pretty regularly for quite a while and while I stick to the 13 mile and less range, there is something just really simple and compelling about this shoe. I don’t feel like this shoe tries to break a lot of new ground, but just reinforces what I like about the original. It’s a simple shoe and this isn’t negative commentary on its design, structure, or aesthetics, instead I find it to be a positive. It’s profile is very well-known, it looks like most other running shoes and while it has a slightly larger toebox (just a bit), the visual and support structures are the same as most shoes. The thing I find so compelling about the shoe is the fact that they can command a very high level of performance, while remaining easy to wear. It’s a simple issue in that you can just throw them on. Sure they were designed for triathletes, so you can go sockless and don’t have to worry about blisters, but the fact you can wear them for 10+ miles straight out of the box is the most impressing. They don’t preach to neutral runners or stability runners all that much, the shoe will just deliver and you can dial it up or down pretty well without a lot of thought which is also a huge bonus. So again, super simple shoe, very compelling and at the price point the Solana at two comes in at, it’s really just something people should try.
A quick thought on the run test because I just covered a lot, but what I’ll focus on is the fact that they haven’t changed the recipe. The shoe is so much like its predecessor that even the small tweaks that were made are almost negligible in terms of performance. The sole is still responsive throughout the mid, the upper still breathes really well, and the lacing system for whatever reason just feel spot on. The other thing I love about putting on the shoes is that I just want to be at the beach. Every time I look at Zoot gear I am immediately transported to Hawaii, Southern California, you name it because this aesthetic really speaks to it and it’s ingrained in their persona. I tend not to look at the shoes for really long runs (over 13 miles) because I think there are better out there, but this doesn’t mean you couldn’t. There is plenty of cushion to take you there and farther.
To sum it up, the Zoot Solana 2 is a great update to the Solana. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, the performance is still fantastic, and it does exactly what the Solana did which delivers performance in a inexpensive and well-designed package. I really wish more people would see Zoot as a valid competitor in the running space instead of just tri, but until that happens don’t sell them short. Very solid stuff.
Technical Stats, Pricing & Availability
- Weight: 9.5oz (size 9)
- Drop: 8mm heel/toe
- MSRP: $100.00
- Available: Now