1. The problem with most waterproof trail runners is that they don't breathe very well. So instead of using a Gore-Tex-like membrane in the Syncroseeks, Pearl Izumi opted for a tightly woven, DWR-treated soft-shell upper, which kept our feet almost as dry as with waterproof shoes, without any clamminess.
2. Stepping in, we had a hard time not saying, "Aaahh." The seamless one-piece upper means no hot spots and no blisters. And with no mesh or overlays on the upper, there's nothing hanging out to snag on sticks or roots.
3. Put simply, they run well on all types of terrain. A three-fourths-length plastic frame adds a touch of pronation control and overall stability without clunky stiffness. While the fit is best for wider feet, the 360-degree wraparound laces keep even narrow feet locked down.
4. Our only gripe: the weight. But even at a relatively beefy 14 ounces, this shoe got raves from nearly every tester about its swift feel. "It's the type of shoe that gets me going fast," one said. Although the Syncroseek is cushioned enough to save your joints, the rubberized EVA midsole is springy and explosive, not sluggish.
5. Mud and wet rocks and roots weren't a problem for the low-profile rubber outsole, which impressed testers with its sturdy durability. The plastic frame underfoot doubles as a stone guard, while a solid but not overbuilt toe bumper also protects well on rocky trails.
14.1 oz, $115 pearlizumi.com