Pearl Izumi Peak XC Shoes

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Manufacturer Description

RACE + TRAINING TRAIL. Off-road speed and performance. Specifically engineered for use in racing and training distances ranging from 5k to Marathon, this lightweight trail shoe offers excellent protection, cushioning and durability without extra ounces. This is the race day shoe for the Pearl Izumi Smith Ultra team when being lightweight is the number one priority.


  • High Rebound SKYDEX forefoot propulsion pad with SKYDEX heel crash pad.
  • High abrasion seamless mesh construction
  • Forefoot stone bruise protection plate and flex grooves for a smooth, efficient ride
  • SKYDEX Heel crash pad
  • Full carbon rubber outsole for maximum traction and durability
  • High performance dual density EVA insole
  • 360 degree reflectivity
  • Size 10
    • Weight – 255 g (9 oz)
    • Stack Height – Heel (21 mm), Toe (11 mm), Drop (10 mm)
  • Retail – $115

YMMV Review

Design ★★★☆☆

Out of the box the Pearl Izumi Peak XC’s are light and feel solid.  The upper of the shoes are mostly mesh with a toe rand up front.  The laces connect to webbing that runs under the mesh and connects to the sole of the shoe.  The sole is a carbon rubber with little traction knobs.  Initially I had no issues with the materials chosen; it was not until I had put some substantial miles on these shoes that issues cropped up.

Over time I found that parts of the upper started to tear at flex points in the shoes.  Specifically for me, I had small tears near the webbing/sole connection points and the mesh over my toes at the bottom of the laces totally tore.  This actually led to the demise of my shoes after about 320 miles (10 miles into my Ultra-Marathon), see the picture.

I did talk to Pearl Izumi and they mentioned that some people had issues with this based on where your foot would bend but on the whole it was only a few people, lucky me.  They did offer to warranty but I felt that for a lightweight racer, 350 miles was not too bad.  The sole however was still going strong and had more miles left.

Fit ★★★★☆

I generally wear a size 9 and went with that on these shoes.  They were comfortable out of the box but I felt that they might have been slightly small.  I really did not notice it until after they got really wet on one run and may or may not have shrunk a little.  My own fault, I used heat to dry them.  They were still really comfortable and I used them for many of my long runs up to 40 miles without issue.  Even though the shoe was slightly small, even over 40 miles, I did not get bruised toes which were a plus.  The toe box is a medium width and I felt like the heel was not too tight either.  Overall the fit is quite roomy for a racing flat.

Performance ★★★½☆

I would consider these shoes as a hybrid shoe.  I used them on roads, urban trails, and some technical trails.  They performed well on the roads and urban trails.  The heel is 21mm thick and the toe is 11mm thick.  At 10mm drop this is slightly less than average but I could not distinguish much difference.  I am a midfoot striker and found these shoes to have good cushioning on runs up to 40 miles.

There is a protection plate in the shoes which helped on the more technical trails and larger rocks.  I was able to feel the ground a bit more that on more substantial trail runners but I like that feedback.  On the technical trails I ran on the shoes worked well apart from a couple of snowy and muddy sections encountered.  There is not a lot of traction on the bottom of these shoes so if mud and snow are common on your runs, these may not be ideal.

Torn Upper on Right Shoe

The Peak XC Shoes are a mesh upper in which I have addressed above. They breathe really well but also your feet can get wet really easily as well.  The shoes do dry quickly and when paired with wool socks, the wet feeling only lasted for a couple of minutes.  The lacing system has many eyelets and a padded tongue to keep your feet in place but to not have any major pressure points.  I felt that these shoes were really comfortable in that aspect, even enough to use them as my racing shoe for a 40 mile race without pressure issues.

Overall ★★★½☆

I really do like these shoes.  I was sorry to see them die.

Left Shoe Wear

While the fit was not perfect for me, the shoes are still really comfortable and excellent as a light weight trail shoe.  I would definitely recommend these shoes for urban trails and fire roads, but for technical trails it will depend on where you live.  The do perform admirably on roads but PI makes the Streak which is better suited.  Since I live a mile from the trail, the shoes got a fair bit of road use to and from the trails.  Depending on the runner you may have some upper durability issues but that seems to happen to only a lucky few according to Pearl Izumi.  The Pearl Izumi Peak XC Shoes retail for $115 which I think is a bit pricy for a lightweight trail runner.  This you will have to decide for yourself.  As always your mileage may vary.


  • Lightweight
  • Good Protection for the Weight
  • Good Warranty


  • Durability

Long Term Check-In

They are now dead but lived a good life; I adjusted my review to include my long term thoughts.

About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

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