APRIL 1 – 

It’s spring; time for our Annual Shoe Review! The Shoe Review is a time-honored tradition – every running publication always does Shoe Reviews, seemingly every other issue is a Shoe Review, so it’s time Zola did one too. We will use the same format all the other top-notch magazines use, but since shoe companies don’t advertise with us we’re a little unsure what to base our awards on, so we’ll just make stuff up.



Who thought of these names anyway? How do you even pronounce it? “Hoka One One”.

The Hooka, Haka, Whacka – or whatever it’s called – is a nice green color, so it definitely scored high marks from our Review Panel of Leading Industry Experts, who like green. Their impressionable subconscious minds were also very impressed after seeing famous runners wearing this brand, the massive type font used on all the t-shirts, and the brand name being plastered everywhere.

The average age of our Expert Industry Leading Panel Review is 63 years old, all of whom have had at least one knee operation, so they also appreciated the maximum cushioning of this shoe.

It thus earns our coveted Shoe of the Year Award! The fact that Hoka was purchased by Deckers, who is throwing huge amounts of money at the sport and sent Zola a free ticket to visit their testing facility in the south of France, has nothing to do with winning the Award.

What our Testers Say:

I.M. Tookool, from Poughkeepsie, NY says,Studio portrait of young man

“Uh, yeah, thanks for the free shoes man, I really needed some new kicks. I couldn’t figure out how to tie the laces, they already seemed tied together with a little plastic thing-a-ma-bob, but that’s OK.”

Who this shoe is best for:

Old men; overweight people; trend-followers.



A great shoe with absolutely impeccable credentials, the S-LAB LOL-d9-Plus is very similar to the S-LAB J/K-p5 and the S-LAB CYA-8p, as well as the S-LAB WTF, and replaces the popular S-LAB OMG, and the S-LAB TMI-69 which was only sold in 13 countries, but not this one, except in certain states, and only during June.

Our Testers loved this shoe, praising it’s affiliation with the most famous runner in the world, it’s extremely technical and completely incoherent naming system, the association with all things french, and the incredible video’s of running the Matterhorn taken from a helicopter. The only drawback noted was that its blinding red color caused their wives to throw it in the trash when they weren’t looking.

The Salomon S-LAB LOL-d9-Plus was an easy winner of our “Hope They Advertise With Us Next Year” Award.

What our Testers Say:

Gandalf1Rickey Gale, from Lake Wobegon, MN says,

“I’ve looked everywhere, but I can’t find this shoe; I don’t know what happened to it. I hope they send me another pair, and hey, could you send me some lycra tights too?”

Who this shoe is best for:

Europhiles; attending techno-raves; older guys trying to pick up younger women.



La Sportiva took a bold new direction with this model, widening the toe box so it fits normal feet instead of only Italian super-models who have had their little toes surgically removed.

Another bold innovation are the shape of the lugs on the outsole; instead of the usual weird little squares, triangles, and other complex geometric shapes all the other company’s use that have nothing to do with function, Sportiva shaped their lugs like waves. This was so intriguing, the Helios is the only shoe of the entire Test we actually put on and tried. The waves worked well walking to the local bar, and would probably work really well on a trail. Sportiva has trademarked a name for these waves, but I can’t remember what it is, and don’t feel like reading the hangtag to find out, so you’ll just have to figure that out yourself.

What our Testers say:

michael-j-fox-movies-and-films-and-filmography-u5Luke Warm from Malibu, CA says,

“I love the black color, the yellow highlights, and the sticky rubber on those waves; it’s really rad at my skateboard park.”

Who this shoe is best for:

People who run rocky technical trails, as long as the rocks are smooth and rounded, because after all these years there still is no rock protection plate, which is why it won the “Close, but no Cigar” Award.



The MT 100 is an update from the MT 110, which is an update from the MT 101, but not the MT1010, and which has nothing in common with any of them, except they were designed by their famous runner, who actually doesn’t wear them.

Thus, the MT 100 wins our Best New Update, Sort-Of, Award!

Our Testers gave high praise for the name of the shoe, which is the only name out of the entire Test they could remember, and for the conservative earth-tone color scheme, designed at the exclusive Boston prep school the company owners daughters attend.

What our Testers Say:

Art Majors, of Williamsburg, Brooklyn says,jesus-was-a-hipster

“I was using these way before they became cool. I loved the 101; it was great. I hated the 110; the worst shoe in the world. Oh wait, I can’t remember, maybe it the other way around.”

Who this shoe is best for:

Hipsters; runners who weigh less than 125 lbs; biking to Starbucks on a fixie.



The 87th version of this venerable shoe has the same great features it’s had for the past 35 years, and thus would have won our coveted Shoe of the Year Award, except we were so sick of still seeing it we just couldn’t deal with it.

What our Testers Say:

Dot Matrix, of Why, AZ says,hipster-girl-by-katekillet

“I have bought every version of this shoe ever made. That was back in ’86, or maybe ’89, the year I almost won a race, in my age group. I could run an 8 minute mile back then. Yeah, those were the good old days. Did I ever tell you about the time I …”

Who this shoe is best for:

People who have pinned all their old race bibs onto the backside of their bedroom door.



Yes, they still make these, even after settling a lawsuit in 2014 for 3.75 million dollars. Fortunately, after selling gazillions prior to that, they could afford it. The 5-Fingers is one of the most famous shoes in the world, having been the poster child for the “minimalist” movement, even though none of the proponents of minimalism ever wore them.

We thus Award the 5-Finger the “Probably Should Update Award”.

What our Testers Say:

Hugh Donit, of Cool, CA says,Gollum.1

“I have been continuously injured for the past 5 years, but I’m absolutely positive that if I keep wearing these, they will cure my injuries, which started when I bought these 5 years ago.”

Who this shoe is best for:

Orthopedic Surgeons; people who ride recumbent bikes.

ASICS 2120


This is the running shoe that started it all. This is the granddaddy. The icon, the gold standard, the crème de la crème, the example of how to make huge sums of money by having footwear made in Asian sweat shops for $15 and selling them to wealthy white Americans for $100; the shoe that had nothing going on except color updates every 6 months requiring dealers to discount their existing stock and purchase more; the shoe with the sweeping marketing claims that are vague enough to prevent lawsuits; the shoe model all other shoe company’s have tried to emulate.

Thus, the 2120 wins our Lifetime Achievement Award.

What our testers say:

Utar Lee Klewless, of Boring, OR says,Beer Commercial Guy

“What makes this shoe great are it’s features; the ‘RG-8 Platform Support’, ‘X-9J Arc Compound’ and of course the ‘Special Unilateral Cross-Diagonal Banding Structure’, all really help my running.”

Who this shoe is best for:

Retired shoe company execs living on their yacht in the Bahamas.


Please Post Comments; we need your valuable feedback.  We will use it to improve our testing methodology in subsequent Gear Reviews.