Kwicky Blade Light (2011)

As a brand, K-Swiss placed fourth on the Kona count shoe list. This is a great result for a company only recently focused on technical running. Critics may argue this high position on the list is due to a lot of sponsored athletes. And it's true that K-Swiss still has a way to go before it breaks into the elite ranks of tech running brands purchased by triathletes. Still, K-Swiss is currently the equal of Adidas in the Slowtwitch reader poll, and sits just behind New Balance.

Furthermore, if the Blade Run and Blade Race models were introduced a couple of months earlier K-Swiss would have placed even higher in the Kona shoe count, pros or no pros.

The latest model of the K-Swiss running collection is another lightweight training/racing shoe. The Kwicky Blade Light is built using the same midsole technology as in the Blade Run and the Blade Race. But the Kwicky Blade Light is lighter yet than the Blade Run.

The Kwicky Blade weighs a mere 9oz, exceptionally light for a shoe with enough cushioning to train in. That said, if you are an efficient, and not too heavy, runner with a midfoot or forefoot strike, you might be able to make do with this shoe for training. It grants almost the same feeling as the Blade Run. Personally I think this shoe will make an excellent racing shoe for a lot of athletes; Chris Lieto, who raced in them this past year in Kona, seems to agree.

The shoe features a slight medial post to add some extra stability. New on this model is a seam-free upper, which makes it a great shoe for sock-free running.

But a truly new development is the Ion-Mask hydrophobic technology. The Ion-Mask is a transparent coating which maintains breathability but gives the shoe a water resistant layer—not only on the upper but over the complete shoe. This process occurs at the end of the shoe's production, so the coating covers the upper, the laces and the midsole.

The thought behind this feature is when you are running a longer race—say, a half-marathon or longer—especially in warm weather, cooling off with lots of water poured over your head or sprayed over your body doesn't soak your shoes—no more squishy running.

The predominantly yellow shoe pictured is the women's version, the gray with yellow accents is the men's shoe.

[Editor’s note: Our capable editor-at-large for footwear Jeroen van Geelen owns Total Running, one of the more important running and triathlon retail establishments in The Netherlands.]