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Pearl Izumi Project EMotion N1 trail running shoe review

The men's Pearl Izumi N1 trail running shoe.
The men's Pearl Izumi N1 trail running shoe.
Pearl Izumi

Pearl Izumi N1 trail running shoe


When Pearl Izumi developed their new EMotion line, they wanted to make a shoe that would provide a more fluid running experience on both roads and trails. The idea was to create a simple shoe with a high quality foam midsole that would work to help propel a runner forward.

Each shoe in the EMotion line has a “Dynamic Offset” midsole, meaning the height offset between the heel and the ball of foot continually changes from landing thru toe off. This creates a smooth transition, reducing forefoot slap and shock.

The N1 Trail is the lightest EMotion shoe in the trail series, weighing in at 8.9 ounces in a women’s size 8. It’s not as minimal as the Pearl Izumi Peak II, but the little extra beef makes it a great shoe for ultras. Pearl Izumi Ultra Running Team member Timothy Olson wore the N1 at the 2012 Western States 100, winning the race and setting a new course record.

PI sticks with the seamless upper for the EMotion N1. The shoe is comfortable right out of the box. The mesh upper has a glove-like fit, but it’s stretchy enough to move with your foot as it expands.

The outsole is a little stiffer than the Peak II, offering better rock protection for long distances on technical trails. The outsole is also more aggressive, providing excellent traction on slick surfaces. The lugs are designed to be self-cleaning, helping keep dirt, mud and tiny rocks from getting stuck in between.

The “Dynamic Offset” midsole is impressive. While it’s probably much more noticeable in the EMotion road shoes, the N1 had an extra fluid feel on the down hills, making descending even moderate grades feel a little like flying.

Overall, the N1 is an excellent neutral shoe for both racing and training. It may be the lightest in the EMotion trail series, but the sole is rugged enough to handle almost any terrain and distance.

The Pearl Izumi N1 is available online for $115.