Garneau X-Speed II$120 1 of 7
An entry-level pair of shoes doesn't have to sacrifice features or comfort. The X-Speed II comes in at an attainable price but still performs effectively for amateur triathletes.
The offset strap paired with a wide toe box allows for a secure yet unrestricted feel. Ventilation is a huge draw, as the Cool Stuff insole and mesh upper provides plenty of airflow--a welcomed feature on warm training days.
Compatible with both two- and three-bolt pedal systems, the X-Speed II is a great entry-level shoe perfect for novices just getting into the sport.
Shimano TR9$199 2 of 7
Don't let the metallic blue color deter you; the Shimano TR9 is a top-shelf triathlon racing shoe with a mid-tier price point.
The synthetic upper paired with the 3D mesh paneling makes for a highly breathable but secure experience, and the large, asymmetrical heel loop made putting the TR9 on in transition easier.
The carbon soles were impressively stiff--outperforming other, more expensive shoes on this list. The T1-Quick Strap adequately secured the foot, but we had to significantly trim each strap to keep them from clipping the crank arms on each rotation.
Specialized Women's Trivent SC$275 3 of 7
Specialized never skimps on women's specific products, and this reputation holds true with the release of the Trivent SC, which features the same high-performance materials as the men's version with a tailored ergonomic fit designed especially for women.
We loved the open-air mesh and found it to be extremely breathable and quick drying on even the hottest of days. The broad strap was snug and, when combined with the large, looped heel, made the shoes easy to pull on and off. Added bonus: The rubberized heel will keep you on your feet and off your butt during transitions.
Nalini Triton$290 4 of 7
With their distinct Italian look and feel, the Nalini Triton is a solid option for triathletes looking to upgrade.
The carbon soles were some of the stiffest we've tried, and we found the upper extremely comfortable without socks--despite not breathing as well as others on this list. The extra-long heel loop makes slipping on these shoes in transition a breeze, and you can secure the wide strap across the midfoot in several different angles.
Pearl Izumi Tri Fly V Carbon$180 5 of 7
Pearl Izumi's self-described "do-everything triathlon shoe," the Tri Fly V Carbon not only looks great, but it performs impressively, too.
Once broken in, the upper has a barefoot-like feel, and the uni-directional carbon soles are adequately stiff (and drain and breathe well, too). The unique strap pulls the inside edge of the upper around the foot for a comfortable and secure fit for long stints in the saddle.
Like most Pearl Izumi shoes, the Tri Fly V Carbon runs small, so size up for a more accurate fit.
Garneau TRI-400$324 6 of 7
Garneau's top-shelf offering features our favorite closure system: a wide strap at the opening paired with a BOA system around the midfoot. Highly adjustable and secure, we were able to dial in the perfect fit quickly and reliably--perfect for a quick transition.
The ultra-light carbon outsole adds to the featherweight feel of the shoe, and the Ice Fill Ergo Air and mesh upper provides plenty of ventilation. If you're looking for your next upgrade, the TRI-400 shoe checks all the boxes.