Pearl Izumi isoTransition women’s shoe review

Women's isoTransition

The dailymile lab is a group of dailymilers from the team who work with sponsors to test drive products. Check out gear reviews. If you are a manufacturer, or have a product you’d like us to review, email our sponsorship team.

Five of our female team members reviewed the Pearl Izumi isoTransition. Before we get started, here’s what Pearl Izumi is saying about the isoTransition


“Designed and developed with 2x IronMan® World Champion Tim DeBoom, the new isoTransition was built to perform when it counts – on race day. The quick-pull lacing system and self-draining midsole are designed to help you shave valuable minutes for your next PR. The breathable, Seamless Upper provides such amazing out-of-the-box barefoot comfort, you’ll swear that someone is tickling your little piggies. Amen.”

According to our ladies, these shoes are stylish and fit well. They reviewed them as a 4.6 out of 5 for style, and a 4.2 out of 5 for fit! What were their first impressions?

Vera L. “These are the lightest and flattest shoe I’ve ever run in.”
Jen S. “I liked the low heel drop and light weight of this shoe.”
Jodi C. “I can say with certainty that the these are my favorite shoes in my closet.”
Melodie P. “I loved how light they were without losing the comfort of support.”
Jenny J. “Really like the shoe. Super lightweight, never have to worry about the laces coming undone and really breathable.”
Ilona M. “The fit was perfect. I had no issues with blisters or anything during my test period.”

Probably the most important part of purchasing a new shoe is when you try it on in the store. It has to fit correctly, and make your foot comfortable, while giving your legs the motivation to get out and move. Our women go into a little more detail on how the isoTransition shoes fit:

Jenny J. “I’m having a tough time with shoe sizing. I think it may be a little loose but I think a size down might be too tight. Once I get running & my feet swell a little, the fit is right. I’d like to try 1/2 size smaller and wear them without socks to see if that makes a difference.”
Jen S. “I liked the wider toe box. The elastic lacing (similar to Zip or Yankz laces) was easy to adjust to get a proper fit around the top of the foot. It did require several adjustments the first several times but then seemed to stay put.
I did get a “hot spot” on the top of the left big toe but durning the first two runs in this shoe, but after that this was not an issue. I did race in these shoes for a sprint triathlon and did get one small blister on my right big toe on race day. Other than those minor issues, I was pleased overall with the fit.”
Jodi C. “Initially I thought the shoe was too small, but then it occurred to me that I should take off my socks when wearing these. They fit like slippers. They are the most comfortable running shoe I have ever owned.”
Melodie P. “I was supposed to get the Streak. I read the Streak ran small so I needed a half size larger than normal in them. But they ran out of my size in the Streak and sent me the ISO Transitions in an 8 1/2 (instead of 8), so they are too big. Other than that, the fit is fantastic.
These shoes have little to no drop from heal to toe. They are super light, and having the seamless upper you can run them without socks easily. That’s a big statement from me because I NEVER run sockless, but enjoyed it in these shoes, all rubbing and blister free!
A noticeable quality in these shoes is, though they are very light, and minimal, there is really good support in the insert. I have high arches, and found the insoles to be very comfortable.”
Vera L. “These shoes feel like they are giving your feet a hug – a nice soft flexible hug! I really like the bungie-cord style laces and the ease of slipping my sockless foot into the shoe. Felt true to size.”
Ilona M. “This was my first experience with a triathlon-specific shoe and wasn’t sure how they should be worn (learning from the others with more experience to either wear them sans socks or that socks should be very thin). Once I understood that to be the case, the fit was perfect. I had not issues with blisters or anything during my test period.”

At the dailymile lab, we like to test the shoes for what they’re designed to do, but also want to provide an objective balance. Our women tested the shoe across various pace abilities, and different training workouts.

  • Vera L. – Speed work
  • Melodie P. – Short training runs
  • Jenny J. – Speed work
  • Jodi C. – Short training runs
  • Jen S. – Run all my runs
  • Ilona M. – Short training runs

After getting outfitted with a new shoe, there’s nothing like taking it out for your first run with the new kicks. There’s always excitement when you first put the new rubber to the road, but mixed with it is a little anxiety over how the shoe will feel while you’re running. Will you be able to make it through the whole workout without any blisters? Will your foot cramp up because of the new arch? This is a minimalist shoe, so our ladies didn’t expect a lot of cushion, but they did find the shoe comfortable during their workouts.

Jen S. “This shoe was light and comfortable with good ventilation. I did not have any knee pain post run and I was easily able to keep proper running form in this show. (sidenote: knee injury in Jan, in PT for 3 months and we changed my running biomechanics. PT wanted me in a lighter shoe like this)
I liked the low heel drop and light weight of this shoe. I did several short training runs right out of the pool or off the bike-the water did drain well and the shoe dried rather quickly.”
Jodi C. “Considering this is my first pair of “minimalist” shoe, there is much to get used to. When running on the treadmill I focus mainly on my form and I can feel the shoe helping me land more on the balls of my feet than heels (I am a heavy heel striker).
When running outside on the sidewalks, the shoe feels insanely light and freeing. There is no rubbing, pinching, or any sort of discomfort. I was nervous about sweaty feet causing blisters, but not even that has occurred. I do also wear these shoes for my daily dog walk of 1.5 miles every morning. They are easy to slip on in a half sleepy state at 4am.”
Jenny J. “I haven’t gone on any longer runs than 10 miles in them but would like to work my way up. There’s not much to the sole, which I like…I just don’t want to risk an injury by ramping up the mileage too quickly. Shoe felt light and fast–I don’t think that was all in my head. They have less to them, so I didn’t feel like I was clomping around for my tempo runs.”
Melodie P. “Like I mentioned above, they are light, which I really like in a shoe. The lighter the better if you ask me, but not to the point where I feel like I’m running on concrete barefoot.I loved how light they were without losing the comfort of support. Personally, I like running shorter 3-6 mile runs in these. With my feet, I felt like there wasn’t enough padding in the forefoot to run longer distance. But could see how with enough training it wouldn’t be a problem. I think they would be excellent Tri shoes for most Tri athletes. Though I personally couldn’t see running long distance in them.”
Vera L. “These are the lightest and flattest shoe I’ve ever run in. I loved being able to feel the road and the TM belt through the soles. Minimal padding but great for speed work. I felt like I was in control of the shoes at all times. Easy to get into a nice fluid stride and quick pace.”
Ilona M. “I really enjoyed these shoes a lot. As a middle-of-the-pack runner, and someone who hasn’t done any triathlons before, there were a few surprising elements that I encountered during my workouts (which consisted of a number of walk/runs and runs on a large variety of running surfaces (pavement, gravel, sand, grass, dirt, mud, blacktop, concrete) under a both wet and dry conditions. They performed very well during all conditions and on all surfaces, except I found them to be extremely slippery on wet, water-logged wooden surfaces. Biggest plus for me: I was very impressed with how the shoes made my body simply want to run. Early on during the test phase, I had planned to break them in on a couple of walks; in each case, these walks became short runs (3-4 miles) because my feet felt so light and so good in them. Last year, I was having hip issues and my sports doc advised me to wear motion-control runners (Brooks Ariel); so, I was curious how the IsoTransition shoes would be received by my body. While I didn’t wear them on runs longer than 4 miles, I was very pleased that they offered me plenty of support and didn’t cause any hip (or other) issues.”

At the end of the review our women loved these shoes and would buy them again. This is a great minimalist shoe, and a quick favorite for our team.

Jen S. “I really liked this shoe and the ISO Transition is now going to be my ‘go to’ triathlon racing shoe. Not only was it comfortable, it is SO good looking, a very stylish shoe! I plan on working my way into bigger miles with this style shoe (the biggest run was only 6 miles) and wearing them for my Half Iron distance tri in Sept.
I got so many comments and compliments on this shoe during training and racing. Many people did not know Pearl iZUMi did a running shoe/trialthon specific shoe and lots of folks were willing to check it out and give it a try.”
Jodi C. “I can say with certainty that the these are my favorite shoes in my closet. I look forward to being able to increase my distance per run in them over the summer. Currently I am doing 2 miles.
One thing I would like to point out. I opted to wear these shoes yesterday while working as RD for a race. I was nervous I would be doing too much running around all day long and thought I might hurt myself, but they were the best shoes to wear! It was rainy and wet and with every step I took I could feel the water just push out of the shoe, not fester around my feet. And when I needed to run quickly from point to point I felt light and fast all day long.”
Jenny J. “Really like the shoe. Super lightweight, never have to worry about the laces coming undone and really breathable. They have a great feel. I have a neutral gait and they work well for my foot strike. I like the lean toward minimalism, too… less shoe is more. My quickest runs have been in this shoe! They make me want to sign up for a tri.”
Melodie P. “I enjoy these shoes, how easy they are to slip on with the pull string laces. The super light weight, the great insoles, the seamless upper, combined make this a comfortable shoe. They are fun, easy, breezy shoes! I would certainly recommend them to runners and especially Tri athletes.”
Vera L. “As a non-triathlete (runner only), I really love running in these shoes. The longest run I took them on was a 7 miler, and it is the fastest and easiest 7 mile run I can remember enjoying. My form seemed more efficient. Running in these shoes made speed work and short training runs almost effortless.”
Ilona M. “Very impressed with them. Again, as someone who had no prior experience with this class or type of shoe, there were a few surprises along the way for me. For example: when taking them out for a spin on a rainy day, having water from wet grass or puddles come through the shoes so easily caused a bit of a startle at first; but, I understood why this race-specific shoe needs to have this porous quality. The only problem I found concerned its performance on wet wood/plywood. After returning from one rainy run, when I stepped on my wet wooden deck, I found them to be very slippery on this surface — much more so than other runners I’ve worn in the past. All-in-all, I was very pleased with the IsoTransition shoe and greatly appreciated being able to test them out.”

Check out Jenny J.’s individual review on Believe in the Run

About Thomas N.

Thomas Neuberger is the founder and editor of Believe in the Run, a website dedicated to reviews on running gear and running events. Thomas has always been a gear head that gets excited by the smell of new eva foam. When he's not working as a marketing consultant for the companies in a venture fund group in Baltimore or spending time with wife and two sons, you can find Thomas on the roads and trails around Baltimore, MD. Big goals this year include a 3:10 marathon, a sub 20 minute 5k, and Completing two ultras.
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