Big changes can sometimes push fans of a running shoe away from a new model, but Mizuno decided to change things up with the Wave Sky Waveknit 3 anyway.
The next generation of Mizuno’s Wave Sky line is noticeably different from its predecessor, the Wave Sky 2, both aesthetically and materially. And we found lots to like about the new iteration that should help Wave Sky fans transition seamlessly into the third version of the shoe.
The most obvious difference is the addition of Waveknit to the shoe’s name. Mizuno knit the new upper, which gives it a fresh look and feel. But Mizuno also removed its ubiquitous Wave Plate technology from under the heel, making the Wave Sky Waveknit 3 the first everyday training shoe from Mizuno without the plate—and it won’t be the last.
Fleet Feet runners laced up the shoe for their regular workouts and quickly felt the differences in the new Wave Sky. In this review, we’ll tell you what we thought of the updates, how they affect the shoe’s performance and who we think will like it.
Weight: 9.3 oz, women’s; 11.3 oz, men’s
Drop: 10 mm
Use: Everyday trainer
Surface: Road, track
From the sleek upper to the redesigned midsole, there’s a lot to like about how the new Wave Sky 3 feels.
The Waveknit upper makes the shoe stand out. Like the same upper that debuted on the Waveknit R2, Mizuno used the knit construction to give the shoe a modern look and lightweight structure. All of our testers found the upper comfortable and pliable, so it never felt like it was constricting or fighting against the natural bend of their feet.
Designers purposefully used a very open knit pattern at the toe box, which makes a large vent above your toes to dump heat and let sweat evaporate. The holes are big enough that if you wear brightly colored socks, you’ll see them through the upper when you look at your feet.
A rigid internal heel counter gives the shoe excellent structure around the back of your foot. There’s plenty of cushioning back there, too, and designers wrapped it in a smooth fabric so it won’t chafe (but, despite the silky feel, these aren’t meant to be run in barefoot. We recommend wearing a good pair of running socks to avoid blisters).
The premium heel structure and extra padding lend the Wave Sky 3 a plush step-in feel. Throw in a padded tongue, and the shoe cradles your foot all the way around as you take your first steps.
Mizuno used a classic lacing pattern to cinch the shoe down. But instead of traditional eyelets that run up each side of the shoe, the middle three lace holes are made from loops of burly fabric sewn onto the upper. The lace runs through each loop before finishing on two eyelets at the top of the shoe.
Our testers like the overall fit of the shoe when it was laced up, but they didn’t notice any difference in performance from the lace loops.
One tester who has wider feet felt the shoe ran slightly narrow, but other testers with average-width feet didn’t have any problems.
Beneath all the obvious updates, Mizuno also used a new foam combination in the midsole to make up for removing the Wave Plate.
Mizuno’s Wave Plate is a thin but rigid piece of plastic that designers sandwich between layers of midsole foam. Mizuno says the plate disperses the energy created at impact, provides arch support and delivers a smoother heel-to-toe transition.
Traditionally, a version of the Wave Plate has been in every shoe Mizuno makes, including the classic Wave Rider 23 and the venerable Wave Inspire 15. By changing its midsole shape and materials, though, Mizuno achieved a soft, smooth ride in the Wake Sky 3 without the plate.
The new midsole uses a combination of two foams: XPOP PU (a polyurethane foam) and the Mizuno Foam Wave, which does the work of the Wave Plate without any rigid plastic. But even without the plate, the Wave Sky gives you a consistent and smooth transition from heel to toe.
Underneath, Mizuno left a bit of the new XPOP foam peeking through the midsole. Mizuno made the new foam by forming bouncy polyurethane beads into a sheet and slipping it into the shoe’s cushioning. Mizuno says the XPOP gives the shoe more bounce.
Our testers like how the new setup feels underfoot. The foam is firm enough to get a good push off from, but it’s still soft when you land. One tester says she likes that Mizuno ditched the Wave Plate because it let her feel the foam better.
Another feature that stood out was the outsole. In some other Mizuno running shoes, there is a gap under the heel that can pick up gravel or other debris if you’re not careful with your steps. That isn’t a problem in the Wave Sky because Mizuno left only a shallow channel that runs from the heel to the midfoot, which doesn’t have the depth to hold onto any unwanted passengers.
A rugged and durable rubber outsole protects the midsole foam and provides ample traction on wet pavement. Another Fleet Feet tester says she got caught in an unexpected downpour that flooded the path, and her shoes stuck to the pavement admirably—even when her running partner in a different shoe slipped.
The Mizuno Wave Sky Waveknit 3 is almost an entirely different shoe from its predecessors.
Mizuno swapped the mesh upper in the second version for the previously mentioned Waveknit in the third, and they removed the Wave Plate from the cushioning. With the new upper, Mizuno removed the web of overlays that criss-crossed the Wave Sky 2 for a cleaner look and streamlined silhouette.
The changes trimmed about .2 ounces from the men’s shoe, though the weight of the women’s shoe didn’t budge.
The lacing loops sewn onto the Wave Sky 3 are new, too—the Wave Sky 2 used traditional eyelets all the way up each side—but the classic lacing pattern isn’t different. Both shoes have an empty eyelet at the top of the shoe to let you customize your fit.
Despite the changes, the Wave Sky Waveknit 3 is still a premium-cushioned running shoe designed for neutral runners.
Fans of the previous Wave Sky might balk at the removal of the Wave Plate, but we think it made the shoe even better.
The new all-foam midsole is easier to feel without the Wave Plate, and it still provides a soft ride and smooth transition. Capped with the Waveknit upper, the new Wave Sky Waveknit 3 is a durable, high-quality running shoe that’s well-equipped for neutral runners logging big mileage.
Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.
By Evan Matsumoto. Evan played many sports growing up but didn’t go pro in any of them. Now, he’s the digital copywriter for fleetfeet.com and editor for the Fleet Feet blog where he writes about different foam densities and engineered mesh uppers.