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Shoe Review: Mizuno Wave Exceed Tour 5
The update is lighter, faster and primed for competition
Published Apr 30, 2022
Whether it’s a car, movie franchise or even a tennis shoe, updating an existing work is tricky business. There’s always a sense that something could be improved. In writing it’s common to chase one’s tail in an endless game of addition and subtraction. After all the tinkering and revisions, a basic question must be confronted: Am I making the product better or just different? In the case of the new Mizuno Wave Exceed Tour 5, an argument can be made for both. But ultimately the shoe ends up in a better place than where it started.
For this latest version, the Exceed Tour seems to have taken greater strides toward being more of a performance/game day shoe. The most overt shift was a significant drop in weight. My size 11.5 went from 13.8 oz. in the Tour 4, down to 12.6 oz. in the current model. That’s impressive dieting in just one generation. The shoe's profile was long and lean, best-suited for narrow to medium-width feet. It also seemed to run a bit long; if between sizes, choosing the smaller option is probably the wiser route.
The remodeled 3-D Solid upper was the other aspect that gave the shoe a more streamlined and aggressive approach. It was surrounded by a polyurethane cage for toughness and durability, with breathing holes punched throughout to promote better ventilation than the prior generation. The new all-bootie construction also offered a more connected feel than the outgoing model. It’s light and adaptable to conform to movement, but holds form enough to withstand intense direction changes. There was a greater feeling of being dug into the court and ready to explode toward the ball.
However, the revamped tongue was an area where the alteration brought questionable results. It’s wafer thin—basically zero padding—and somewhat short. The perk being it cut weight and sat well on the top of my foot without any sliding. The downside though, was the laces dug into the top of the foot when cinched tightly and all the eyelets are implemented (which I required for a more secure fit). I struggled with some pinching and pain on the top of my left foot for several sessions until the shoe broke in further, and I wore higher, more padded socks. The ankle also felt freer and less supported, but I didn’t suffer any rolling or twisting.
The heel counter was another source of puzzlement. The heel tab seemed unusually high. Probably not much more so than other models, but the severe drop to the collar gave it that appearance. Perhaps the extra length was done to offset the freedom of the ankle area, but I didn’t find it to be any more supportive. And, again, if socks didn't completely cover the ankle, tab on Achilles rubbing was noticeable. While essentially innocuous, it was still an odd look with no perceived benefits that drew some hard stares from opponents.
It’s light and adaptable to conform to movement, but holds form enough to withstand intense direction changes. There was a greater feeling of being dug into the court and ready to explode toward the ball.
Once I ironed out my lacing issues, the shoe proved fast, responsive and comfortable for its weight. Like a sportscar, it shifted into top speeds quickly and hugged corners well, if perhaps not as gently as a heavier, more padded model. The cushioning was just what’s required at this category— enough to absorb shock without getting spongy. The new Mizuno Enerzy material in the midsole was designed to promote energy return into stride, but it seemed that its low weight rather than its bounciness was what gave the shoe an extra gear.
The diagonal plastic groove in the mid-foot has been made more flexible to allow quicker pivots and turns. I happen to still have a pair of the Tour 4 and when I twisted both shoes—almost like wringing a towel—the older model did provide more resistance. That’s not necessarily a knock on the update; the greater flexibility could be a bonus to assured movers who want their shoes to adapt to their footwork. Count me a fan of the change. More plodding players who need greater stability and support may prefer something sturdier to prevent any stumbles in and out of cuts.
The outsole was largely unchanged from the several upgrades made to the Tour 4 for enhanced durability, including a rubber compound that is thicker in high wear areas, and an all-court herringbone design. The channeling and tread offered a nice level of grip and give for all surface play, with two valleys running through it for better traction and flex. A visible mesh underlay worked as a spring to help the shoe snap back into shape faster. It also comes with a six-month warranty, which is a rarity for shoes at this weight class.
For many sports enthusiasts Mizuno may still be more equated with running shoes, baseball equipment and golf irons, but the brand’s Wave Exceed Tour franchise should definitely be considered a contender in the tennis category. Even if a few of the revisions didn’t completely hit their marks, the fifth installment continues to evolve the shoe into a legitimate option for serious match play. It’s lighter, faster and more responsive than ever, while still maintaining a stable and comfortable ride. Just make sure you’ve got the right socks.