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Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro IV Clipless Trail Shoe

Dana Allen reviews the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro IV clipless trail shoe, Blister Gear Review

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro IV

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro IV Clipless Trail Shoe

Features:

  • P.R.O. 1:1 Anatomic Buckle Closure
  • Quick drying, highly breathable mesh/synthetic upper
  • Low cut construction
  • Dual density EVA X-Alp outsole/midsole
  • Carbon rubber lugged outsole.
  • SPD Compatible

Blister’s Measured Weights:

  • Left shoe: 454 grams
  • Right shoe: 461 grams
  • Total weight per pair (with cleats): 915 grams

MSRP: $110

Size Tested: 44 (US 10)

Reviewer’s Feet:

  • 9.75” long
  • 11” instep / mid-foot arch circumference
  • No notable abnormalities (sixth toes, heel spurs, etc.)
  • Street shoe size: Either 9 or 9.5 (I’m often in between sizes)

Test Duration: 7 rides

Test Location: The wilds of Vermont; Colorado Front Range

Here’s what Pearl Izumi has to say about the X-Alp Enduro IV:

“The X-Alp Enduro IV offers award-winning X-Alp performance and comfort and with the security of a ratchet buckle system and the versatility of our ground-breaking X-Alp sole [sic].”

I wanted to test the latest version of the X-Alp Enduro IV because of the claim that Pearl Izumi makes about its versatile, “ground-breaking” sole. If you read my review of the Mavic Alpine XL you’ll understand why, but in a nutshell:

Mountain biking happens in the mountains where there are rocks, roots, mud pits, and Sasquatch. So why would you wear a modified road bike shoe with “lugs” made of hard-as-metal rubber that do an excellent job of sliding off every natural surface while walking? Sure, they pedal fine, but do you really want to take a digger when you dismount? I don’t.

And apparently, I’m not alone. A number of shoes have come out over the past few years that cater to those who want a shoe with a more practical, walkable tread pattern. Pearl Izumi was actually one of the first brands to offer such a shoe with the original X-Alp.

However, even with what looked like a tread pattern better suited for scrambling around in the mountains, those X-Alps were heavy, were slow to dry, and lacked a sophisticated closure system. None of those things are true of the new X-Alp Enduro IV.

So in this review, I’m going to report on how the new Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro IV pedals, and begin to evaluate its walkability compared to several other similar shoes I’ve used. I haven’t been able to hike and walk around in the shoe in every condition I want to yet, but so far, the X-Alp Enduro IV seems like a very solid contender in this class of walkable trail shoes.

Features and Construction

The X-Alp Enduro IV features a tri-strap closure system. The lower two straps are hook and loop, while the upper one uses a ratcheting buckle. All three have a tiny amount of stretch in them, which is nice as it allows your foot to flex the material a bit while walking and riding.

The tongue underneath the straps is well-padded and simple, made of a light foam/mesh combination that provides adequate comfort while remaining lightweight.

There’s not a lot of mesh on the X-Alp Enduro IV, as you see with some lighter, racier shoes, or even on older versions of the X-Alp Enduro like the Enduro III. They are mostly constructed of synthetic fabric with a relatively small patch of ventilating mesh on top of the toe box, and a couple small patches on the sides of the forefoot.

Dana Allen reviews the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro IV clipless trail shoe, Blister Gear Review

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro IV

The X-Alp Enduro IV’s full EVA mid-sole and carbon rubber outsole is bonded to a fiber-reinforced shank in the middle of the shoe. This shank is roughly half of the overall length of the shoe and is centered at the middle of the sole, leaving the toe and heel without a reinforced shank, which allows for some flexibility while walking.

Fit

I’m often in between a US size 9 and a size 9.5 in street shoes. My size 44 (EU sizing) Enduro IVs are a little roomy in the toe-box, both laterally and longitudinally, in front of my big toe. This shouldn’t come as a real surprise, as a size EU 44 typically equates to a US size 10 or a 10.5. Pearl Izumi’s own sizing chart equates a EU size 44 to a US 10.

This leads me to think that the shoe in a size 43 (US 9.5) would have offered a better fit in terms of length and volume, however the shoe in a size 44 still performed well. All in all I would strongly recommend trying this shoe on for size before you buy, especially if you’re often in between sizes.

The 44’s fit is more precise laterally around the midfoot (I didn’t have a ton of room for my foot to move side to side, which is very important). Once I had cinched down the hook and loop straps and tightened the ratchet buckle, the shoe felt secure through the middle of my foot, though not overly snug. I did have to ratchet the top strap all the way down to achieve a proper fit, but again, this is likely due to the size 44 being just a bit on the large side for me.

There were no pressure points on the top of my foot and only one minor ‘hot spot’ on the outside of my forefoot—though I typically feel this with new shoes, and it disappeared after an initial break-in.

The X-Alp Enduro IV’s heel pocket is deep and snug, with no pressure points, and I didn’t notice any heel lift in the shoe.

In general, the X-Alp fits similar to other trail shoes made with walking comfort in mind (e.g., the Mavic Alpine XL, Teva Pivot, and Five Ten Maltese Falcon) in that it fits more like a street shoe than the tight, no-compromise performance fit of a shoe like the SIDI Dominator, or a carbon-soled, thermo-moldable mountain bike shoe. The X-Alp Enduro IV’s roomier fit doesn’t help its pedal performance (though I still found its pedaling performance to be quite good), but it probably helps make the shoe more comfortable for hiking and walking around.

4 Comments

  1. el puerco May 30, 2014 Reply

    “volume”? these are not ski boots. how about instep height, heel width, toe box width?

    you know, the way most people fit their shoes.

    fine job plumbing the ENDURO niche as bandied about on facebook.

    what, you didn’t know that other companies made shoes? really?

    so much for blister being best & most honest. can we settle for douchiest and most arrogant?

    • “volume”? these are not ski boots. how about instep height, heel width, toe box width?”

      JE: We find “volume” to still be a pretty useful way to talk about both shoes and ski boots. It gives a quick synopsis of how the shoe fits without getting into specific measurements, since (1) most people don’t take a ruler to their shoes, and (2) taking measurements on footwear that isn’t made of hard plastic isn’t particularly reliable or accurate. We’re disinclined to parrot the measurements that might be (but often aren’t) provided by the manufacturer because in our experience, every company measures their product a little differently, and comparisons across brands don’t tend to be very useful. And Dana does provide his instep measurement, discusses the heel pocket, and talks about the width of the toe box.

      “fine job plumbing the ENDURO niche as bandied about on facebook.”

      JE: ?

      “what, you didn’t know that other companies made shoes? really?”

      JE: ? In addition to the X-Alp Launch, Dana discusses five other shoes made by five other companies.

      “so much for blister being best & most honest. can we settle for douchiest and most arrogant?”

  2. Kevin August 17, 2014 Reply

    Have been wearing a pair of X-Alp IIIs for close to 2 years now and they are showing no signs of wear and tear despite serious abuse. I’ve started to get a little worried that when they do eventually give up the ghost that I’m not going to be able to find a good replacement … so good to know that the IVs are out there waiting in the wings. I ride a lot of long extended trails in tough conditions so really needed a shoe that could handle hike-a-bike sections and the IIIs have never disappointed. I’m not one to lock in to a particular brand or model and always open to trying new things, but the Alp-X is an exception to that rule for me. With shoes a lot of fit and comfort comes down to your foot and the last the shoe is built on … so really, really happy in that regard. One big point to make here is the fairly affordable price in relation to performance. Five stars.

  3. Merzukhi March 7, 2015 Reply

    Hi, Thank you for your review. I am planning to try clipless, Has been riding flat with 510 for years.
    My concern is about the sizing. My shoe size is similar to yours – 9 or 9.5 for sport shoes. What size would you go for? 42 or 43 in Pearl.

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