Mizuno Wave Kazan General Info:
The Mizuno Wave Kazan is one of two new trail shoes Mizuno will be offering in 2014. These two shoes will be replacing the long standing Wave ascend trail shoe.
The shoe derives its name from a samurai battle standard meaning “move as swift as the wind, stay as silent as the forest, attack as fierce as fire, and be as undefeatable as the mountain”according to Mizuno.
I have to admit this got me pretty fired up about trying these shoes out on the trail. The Kazan will be Mizunos new flagship trail shoe, and is intended for use on any type of terrain.
My first impression of this shoe is that it looks like it could take some punishment. It has a rugged look to it and looks like it can handle anything. Materials are high quality and the lug pattern on the outsole is pretty aggressive.
The shoe hugs the heel nicely and is roomy from the mid-foot to the toes. Wearing them for the first time they feel light and are a little wide for my average width foot.
Mizuno Wave Kazan Sole Unit:
The midsole of the shoe provides a good amount of cushioning and also includes Mizunos wave technology that Mizuno uses in all of their shoes that is intended to direct impact away from your foot and act similar to the way a cars suspension.
The cushion and wave combination provided a semi soft ride that felt smooth and responsive. The wave is also meant to cradle and protect the heel agains excessive movement which I was able to feel while running in the shoe and it did what it is intended to do. My heel felt very stable.
In addition to the wave technology the Kazan has a groove in the mid foot of the sole known as an x-groove. It is intended to allow the forefoot to move independently from the heel adapting to all typed of terrain and to allow the shoe to flex where needed.
I found that this x-groove created a lot of instability in the shoe and gave the mid foot too much room to move. As I ran in the shoe, whenever I came upon uneven terrain the front of my foot rolled inward which caused the inside of the ball of my foot to strike rocks basically pinning the upper between the ball of my foot and rocks.
This I found to be very painful and frustrating. As a result of this happening I found it very hard to run on uneven rocky terrain due to fear of slamming my foot into rocks and causing pain. This was especially noticeable on slanted rocky terrain both uphill and downhill.
I found that it caused me to slow down significantly when running downhill on sections of trail that I am normally able to fly down with no issues. I also found the need to power hike some of the uphill terrain I would normally run.
The wave did hold the heel in place very well but the x-groove created a major instability.
From the look of the outsole I thought that the shoe would have very good traction on all types of terrain. The lug pattern is aggressive and almost looks similar to what a golf shoe looks like.
There are multiple circular pods that have spike like rubber lugging in addition to many independently placed singular lugs throughout the outsole. I found the shoe to have great traction on dry dirt, gravel and rocks.
Traction on wet terrain however was a different story. When running on wet terrain, the channels in between the lugs clog easily with mud and dirt. The result of this is very poor traction in wet conditions.
After a short time once the channels were caked with mud traction went out the window and I was sliding all over the place. This was especially noticeable when going uphill when traction is needed most.
I found that I was slipping all over the place and in steep sections it was almost like I was running in place. I would plant my foot and as I pushed off it would slide and it was almost like I was running in place, which added to my need to slow down and power hike sections of trail in order to keep moving forward.
Mizuno Wave Kazan Upper:
The upper of the shoe is made of high quality materials. The material feels thin but is very durable and was able to take a lot of punishment. There is also a wax like coating on parts of the upper that can be found on the top near the laces and extending down both sides.
It is clear and looks like it is intended for waterproofing purposes/ added protection but that is only speculation. When running in wet conditions I found that this shoe stays dryer for longer than your average trail shoe.
Tramping in small puddles did not cause the shoe to become soaked liked some other trail shoes. Once wet however it did not drain very well which is a negative when it comes to trails with creek/river crossings, or trails that are flooded.
The only signs of wear on the upper were on the inside of the shoe where my foot kept rolling inward and striking rocks. There is a large kick guard over the front of the shoe that gives added protection for your toes against rocks.
I would consider the upper in the Kazan to be of average comfort. It was a little too wide for my liking and at first it created a small hot spot right where the x-groove caused the shoe to flex. When the shoe flexed, a kink in the material in the upper was created that pinched my foot.
This went away as the material softened up and was broken in. My reasoning for considering the shoe too wide is that I felt my mid foot and fore foot sliding around uncontrollably in downhill running situations.
There is no feeling of your foot being held secure through the mid foot. The combination of this and the instability of the x-groove probably makes this shoe feel wider than it actually is.
Mizuno Wave Kazan Conclusions:
I have to admit that the shoe did not meet my expectations for an all terrain versatile trail shoe. In fact the first few runs in the shoe were very frustrating.
I started the shoe out on steep terrain with rocky , moderately technical trails and was disappointed. There was a constant rolling inward of my feet causing them to strike rocks again and again.
This eventually got to the point where I felt I needed to slow down so I could avoid damage to my foot which is not what I want to feel like in an all terrain versatile trail shoe.
I then moved to some smoother more well traveled dry, flat single track and the shoe performed great. I tried to attribute the instability on hilly/rocky terrain to me getting used to the shoe so I returned to the previously mentioned sections and sure enough the instability was still there.
I think that because the x-groove is in a stationary position, it limits the shoes ability to one point of flexion which causes instability when you need the shoe to flex from a different position.
The traction was also something I was disappointed in. I really expected this shoe to have fantastic traction but it just did not cut it. In wet conditions on flat surfaces it was bearable but it was truly frustrating on any type of hilly terrain.
A trail shoe needs to be able to handle wet terrain. There is no way around puddles, flooding, creeks or rivers when running on the trail and this shoe missed the mark.
This is all very unfortunate. Despite the negatives I found that the shoe comfortable and provided great traction and cushioning on dryer flatter terrain. Perhaps fans of Mizunos previous Ascend trail shoe will find this shoe as a good fit.
I have not run in that shoe. If you are looking for a shoe that is versatile and can handle all types of terrain, wet or dry then I do not believe this is the shoe for you. There are too many other options at the same price point that do a better job.
We thank the nice people at Mizuno for sending us a pair of Wave Kazan to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.