Mizuno Wave Claw 3 review: is this crazy-looking grip any good?

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This Mizuno Wave Claw 3 review is not sponsored. I purchased this shoe with my own money

This is the first time I’m testing a Mizuno badminton shoe. Seeing that before top men’s singles player H.S. Prannoy from India switched to a Victor sponsorship, he was sponsored by Mizuno and played in their Wave Claw series (the second edition to be precise), I was curious how they’d compare to the usual suspects from Yonex, Victor, and Li-Ning.

This is the brand new third edition that has just been launched in spring 2024.

In this Mizuno Wave Claw 3 review, I’ll walk you through my testing of this badminton shoe and discuss if it’s worth considering as a recreational player.

Based on Mizuno’s confusing catalog and shoe descriptions, I’m categorizing the Wave Claw 3 as an all-around shoe. 

It’s the lightest one I’ve tested in that category at just 311.7 grams per shoe in my size 28.5 CM (size 44 in Europe). This shoe is NOT true to your usual badminton shoe sizes and I’m using half a size smaller, whereas in Yonex and Victor, 28.5 CM is a size 44.5 and for Li-Ning the closest is 44 1⁄3.

wave claw 3 on the scale

Let’s look at where this shoe falls in the badminton shoe matrix.

wave claw 3 shoe matrix

As usual, I’ve tested it for ten hours on court before preparing this Mizuno Wave Claw 3 review for you.

Mizuno Wave Claw 3 review and my experience

Let’s begin with my brief first impression of unboxing this shoe.

Unboxing and first impressions

At first glance, this shoe looks stylish in this orange and navy blue color scheme and the outsole grip looks wild — like a riddle in a tomb out of an Indiana Jones movie.

outsole on the wave claw 3

As I was breaking the shoes in at home before getting on court, my first thought was: WHOA! THESE SHOES ARE SOFT!

Not soft as in cushioned with padding, but as in the material used inside the shoe is super comfortable and soft. If you go try them on at a store, you’ll notice this immediately. They are easily the softest badminton shoes I’ve tried and I kinda wish my everyday shoes had such soft material.

Interesting.

Let’s get these shoes on court, and examine the crazy-looking outsole and grip first, shall we?

The outsole and grip

One of the first question marks I have when digging into a badminton shoe that isn’t from the big three badminton brands is whether the outsole grip is as gluey and sticky.

That’s supercritical no matter if you prefer a lightweight shoe for tournaments or a comfortable one for casual play as you’ll need to be able to move in any direction on a whim.

The outsole grip on the Mizuno Wave Claw 3 feels surprisingly nice. If you’ve been following my reviews, you know I prefer Yonex’s radial blade sole grip which is the one they put on all their flagship shoes.

outsole comparison - badminton shoes

The Wave Claw 3 grip feels just below that in terms of glueyness and slightly more sticky than what I’ve experienced on the Victor and Li-Ning shoes I’ve tested. That’s a pleasant surprise.

Insole

But what wasn’t a pleasant surprise was the insole.

I found myself sliding within the shoe and the insole felt as if it was moving around. I’m guessing this is due to sweat and I noted this down as happening several times.

Not exactly something that instills confidence when moving around the court. In fact, that’s almost a deal breaker for me. It’s about the same as I experienced in the Yonex Aerus Z2, so if you’re familiar with that and are fine with it, you might be fine with this one too.

The outsole and grip

95 %

The toe area and protection

The toe box doesn’t bring any surprises though. Since this shoe is on the lightweight side of things, the toe box protection feels like it’s one of the areas they’ve been stripping away to get to such a low weight.

It has a bit of protection, but you better not be late or do any hard stops on your lunges if you’re sensitive to toe fatigue from bumping against the front of the shoe.

I noticed feeling fatigued in my racket foot’s big toe as it was bumping against the front of the toe box on lunges. Personally, I prefer more toe protection.

The toe area and protection

70 %

The heel area

The heel had a good height to it, making my foot feel tucked in.

It’s nicely stiff, but much less than what I’ve experienced with the Yonex Eclipsion Z3 and Li-Ning Yun Ting. Combined with the soft material on the inside, it kinda feels like the Victor A970 Ace (which has the best heel in my book), but with a different approach.

I’m picky about the heel area, so when I don’t have much to comment on that’s a good thing.

The heel area

80 %

Cushion and shock absorption

Did you notice that unusual round circle on the outsole just now?

Somewhere around there, where the toe box meets the rest of the shoe, there’s a separation or some cushioning, or something that feels slightly softer or more padded.

The inside of this shoe, even while wearing shitty old socks, is damn soft despite having limited cushioning.

That certainly helps the comfort, but like with the toe box, it feels as if the cushioning in the midsole underneath your feet has been stripped away in favor of an overall lower weight.

Cushion and shock absorption

70 %

The fit + upper area

In this region, there are several smaller items you and I have to cover. Let’s start with heat, ventilation, and breathability.

I didn’t notice any heat problems, but that’s to be expected due to the lightweight.

On the other hand, the fit in the upper area isn’t bad but isn’t amazing either. The very top area of the shoelace feels like it’s slowly loosening up while playing and the tongue is slightly moving around.

I’ve noticed this with several other badminton shoes, so even though it’s common, it’s annoying and some badminton shoes have solved this well.

But here’s the real issue.

It’s hard to tie the shoelaces so the upper area feels locked in without it biting into the side of my ankle. This bite happens mostly on the non-racket foot and has left a visible mark on my skin (I’ll spare you the picture).

This happened before with the heel on the Eclipsion Z3, which fixed itself after a while. In this case, it didn’t get any better during my ten hours on court in these shoes and I felt forced to switch to a second pair of shoes during two-hour sessions on several occasions.

It helped to loosen the shoelaces, but I don’t like that looser fit out of fear of injuries. Perhaps I tie this pair of shoes too tight, but I tie them as I feel it’s comfortable depending on the model I’m testing.

For me, that became a question of whether I’d rather have loose shoelaces or the side of the upper biting my ankle. Oddly enough I didn’t feel any hint of this as I was breaking the shoe in at home before getting on court.

The fit + upper area

80 %

Durability

Since I’m unable to test each pair of shoes to the end of its lifespan, I’ve got a few clues to give us a sense of how they’re holding up.

The first is the lunge tear on the non-racket foot, which takes a beating when we’re lunging and grinding the side of the shoe against the floor to control the movement.

This looks to be in good condition compared to other badminton shoes after the same amount of time on court, but it appears that there’s less padding to protect against this than on other shoes so I wonder if that’ll become an issue soon.

lunge tear

Another clue is the outsole tear, on the outsole, also on the non-racket foot. This looks fine, so no complaints there.

outsole tear

I’ve noticed some white stuff on the side of the shoe and I’m wondering if that’s miscoloring from sweat. It doesn’t cause an issue, but it’s ugly and I don’t know where it comes from as I’m careful to take care of the shoes off court.

Durability

90 %

Let’s move on to summarize this Mizuno Wave Claw 3 review.

The Wave Claw 3 conclusion

POSITIVE


The outsole grip is surprisingly good and the inside is crazy soft.

NEGATIVE


It’s too fatiguing for my liking and the bite on the upper side of the shoe is not pleasant.

I feel slight fatigue near the bone that goes to the big toe underneath my feet, even after playing. It’s not bad, but it’s unusual, and probably because my feet are used to more padding from other badminton shoes.

I also noticed feeling fatigued in my knees after playing, which is not something I normally feel except when testing shoes with less padding and lower weight.

For an all-around badminton shoe, this pair feels super light and quite low to the ground. I can see why they might be fun for competition rather than training, especially for us slightly older players.

Ultimately, after playing I’m asking myself: would you rather feel more tired but with no fatigue (from a bulkier, more padded shoe) or fatigued in your feet and legs?

Only you know what you prefer.

A quick search online suggests that the Wave Claw 3 is slightly more expensive than Yonex and Victor shoes (and some similar Li-Ning models) in several countries. Considering that slightly painful ankle bite that doesn’t seem to disappear, it isn’t worth it for me.

Mizuno Wave Claw 3: the verdict

Aske

This all-around badminton shoe is lightweight and has an unusually soft interior.
Fit and upper area
80%
The grip and outsole
95%
Toe protection
70%
The heel
80%
Cushion and shock absorption
70%
Durability
90%
Value for money
75%
The fatigue-o-meter (lower score = more fatigue)
50%

Summary + the beasty score

Mizuno’s Wave Claw 3 badminton shoe is on the lightweight side of the all-around category.

It’s fast, soft on the inside, and has a great outsole grip. The fit didn’t work well for my feet as the side was biting into my ankle and the insole felt like it was moving around while I was playing.

Its pricing is on the higher end compared to similar badminton shoes from more established brands. You might like this shoe if you prefer low-weight shoes with slightly more comfort than ultra-low-weight ones.

76.3%
Hey fellow beasty badminton player,

I include links to buy the gear I review and if you do, the store pays me a small commission. That doesn’t change your price and you’ll get more play-tested gear as a result but I thought it was fair to let you know.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

I appreciate your support,
Aske

Technology and marketing used in this shoe

TechnologyNotes
Mizuno WaveUnique technology that provides both cushioning and stability and can be engineered for all types of runners.
PownceAn exceedingly lightweight midsole material with excellent comfort and resilience properties.
Mizuno ENERZYMidsole material with excellent softness and resilience.
D-Flex GrooveA specifically engineered diagonal groove in the midfoot area allows the player to turn at maximum speed and power by efficiently transferring natural body movement and shift in direction.
XG RUBBERHigh performance rubber which provides strong grip and the high durability.

This is the official ad for this shoe – they went all-in on the anime style. I tried embedding it with no luck.

Which badminton players are best suited for Mizuno Wave Claw 3?

Who Mizuno Wave Claw 3 is suited for

This shoe seems best suited for tournament players or players wanting to trade fatigue for performance at all costs. 

Players with smaller frames and fewer kilos to strain their joints might enjoy this pair as well.

Alternatively, if you like the Yonex Aerus Z2, but want slightly more comfort, you might like this shoe.

Who Mizuno Wave Claw 3 is not suited for

This shoe doesn’t feel like a good fit for casual recreational players who want to prevent or avoid fatigue, or if, like me, you’re not particularly slim with a small body frame.

Mizuno Wave Claw 3 compared to other similar shoes

Let’s compare this shoe to other similar ones. 

At the time of writing this, I didn’t have access to my Yonex Aerus Z2, 65Z3, or Dial 88 3 (2024 gen) which are the most similar in terms of weight so I’ll have to come back and update this when I’m able to get them on court head-to-head.

Mizuno Wave Claw 3 vs Victor A970 Ace

The Wave Claw 3 strikes me as a shoe that’s optimized for trying them on at the store.

Their ultra-soft material reminds me of cushioning mixed with a stiff touch, but on court this feeling doesn’t last without more padding. Instead, the much lower weight in the Wave Claw becomes the benefit provided that type of shoe doesn’t fatigue your body.

On the other hand, I found the Victor A970 Ace’s fit around the ankle much better and with no ankle bite. It feels more cushioned in the midsole and toe box as well. 

The upper part of the toe box comes across as more stiff, which feels kinda nice, but I don’t see any clear effect on your performance.

I didn’t think about breathability and ventilation while playing in either of these two shoes, which makes me think that it’s good enough.

The Wave Claw 3 comes in at 311.7g while the A970 Ace comes in at 351.6g, both in my size 28.5 CM (size 44 and 44.5 in Europe).

Mizuno Wave Claw 3 vs Li-Ning Yun Ting

The Wave Claw 3 feels so light in comparison to Li-Ning’s Yun Ting, which makes sense as it’s about 15% lighter.

Where the Wave Claw’s upper heel has little extra padding, just the basics with a touch of stiffness and a good fit, the Yun Ting’s heel is much stiffer and injury-preventive.

You’ll experience a meaningful difference in speed, weight, and even bulkiness between these two shoes as the Li-Ning shoe is on the heavier side of the all-around category due to its injury-preventive qualities.

I felt fatigued in the side of the big toe, as I have with many shoes while playing in the Wave Claw 3. The Yun Ting still has room for improvement in the toe box, but this is one area where it feels much better for my feet.

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