This review first appeared in Edition #17 of Trail Run Mag. available for free download (along with all editions) HERE.
I was ready to dislike the Hayate. Why? Nothing tangible, admittedly, aside from years ago, I had average experiences with an earlier Wave (too snug a fit eliciting hot spots), and rightly or wrongly, I never associate Mizuno with grassroots trail running – in terms of product or community support (Two Bays being the only real involvement with trail running I’ve seen from them in Australia). Ergo, I thought they as a company didn’t care about trail, so why should I care about them?
Fast forward a few years and I bump into newly-employed Mizuno staffer, Ash, whom I know from the trails. I know she runs trail. She loves trail. I know because I’ve shared some great singletrack with her. So we catch up and chat. She flings the shoes to test. Maybe, if they’re now hiring trail peeps, they actually – at least peripherally – care about trail? And everyone deserves a second chance, even big brash commercial brands.
Of course, a shoe’s performance on trail and its design heritage has zero to do with whether or not the local mob selling invests in a niche sport or not. Nike invests nothing in trail in Australia. Zero. Squat. But its trail shoes work for many. So let’s get these Hayate’s (meaning ‘fresh breeze’ in Japanese) on the dirt.
They plug the Wave Hayate 2 as the “thriller of off-road. Built for agility on difficult terrain, and speed on everything else, it is the ideal shoe for the off road race day and cross-country seasons.”
Its racer positioning on the trail totem pole is immediately obvious – put them on and the lightness, suppleness and comfort makes you want to trot off at pace immediately.
The upper presents as a fairly traditionally running shoe: mesh, straightforward lacing, a little too-minimal toe coverage for my clumsy liking. But on foot it is, as mentioned, comfortable as heck: you smile when you lace up.
Turn the shoe over and some of Mizuno’s more unique design features present: luggy X-grip traction up front bridged by an X-shaped separation under the arch which allows the fore and aft to move independently according to the terrain (more on the pros and cons of that in a minute). The lugs are spaced widely, allowing enough channel to clear mud easily. Up back the grip eases off some. On trail I was a big fan of the performance in latching on to all styles of terrain. Apparently the compound used is a carbon rubber for increased durability – I haven’t run far enough in them to date to comment.
The genesis for the Wave was apparently inspired by the way nature deals with impact forces. From Mizuno’s website: “From sound waves to tidal waves, waveforms spread and dissipate energy incredibly quickly. Inspired by nature’s simple efficiency, we created the world’s first … mechanical midsole.”
The idea is that as the shoe impacts the ground, the Wave inside the midsole actually reduces and redirects impact forces away from your foot, much like your car’s suspension does, offering high end cushioning without bounce and keeping your foot centered throughout the stride.
Most of that technology works through the rear and into the mid foot. Up front, for forefoot strikers, the ride is fairly firm – too firm for long runs on firm surfaces unless your conditioning and technique is up to scratch. But on flowy, technical trails especially those with some give (soft bush ground or rainforest carpets, for instance) these are a stellar choice. The feedback is first-class, making your run nimble and full of agility.
Some of that response is down to the X-groove under the arch. Designed to give independent movement between fore and aft, it certainly gives your foot the flexibility to do its natural thing. Sometimes this can backfire a little if you are seeking a bit more platform support from your shoe – especially in steep technical terrain where a little underfoot rigidity can benefit. Thus your foot sometimes has to work harder, making the shoe more suited to highly technical terrain that is not in the Big Mountain category – think 28km Two Bays rather than 100 mile Alpine Challenge.
The fit on the Hayate 2 is snug – something common to Mizuno trail models – the forward box on the smaller, pointier side; so these are not for runners with big, wide toe splays and those wanting them for the long run need get a half to full size bigger than usual.
Overall the Hayate 2s are an awesome racing flat equivalent for trail running – light, fast, grippy with great feedback and comfort, but their benefits fall away over the longer the run, and on firmer, steeper the terrain. As a runner who mostly runs medium-range technical stuff (20-50km) they are a great choice, especially for event days and when headed to my favourite, fun, fast, flowy trails.
Great for: grip, flowy, technical trails, soft packed, shorter runs, racing, cross country
Not-so-great for: steep mountains, hard packed long runs
Test Conditions: groomed trails (MTB), fire roads, semi-technical singletrack
Tester: Chris Ord, Trail Run Mag editor
Tester Mechanics: mid foot striker, tends to more technical style running