Saucony’s rise to fame in the world running community began way back in 1898 in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. The brand is named for—and its logo is derived from—nearby Saucony Creek, but the company moved its headquarters to Lexington, Massachusetts, after athletic footwear maker Hyde Athletic bought it. It’s now among the many shoe brands owned by Wolverine Worldwide.
Innovative Running Brand
Saucony is one of the original running shoe makers, but it first gained wide appeal with runners in the ’80s and ’90s with innovative shoes like the Jazz, DXN, Shadow, and Grid. The Jazz garnered a following for its lightweight design, and it introduced a popular new technology, the MaxiTrac lugged outsole. In 1983, Saucony collaborated with NYC Marathon winner Rod Dixon to create the DXN, a high performance option that was based on the Jazz, but offered a lighter mesh upper and a bit more cushioning.
Later that decade, Saucony released the Shadow, which introduced EVA foam into the sole and TPU heel cups—technology that wouldn’t catch on across the category for years. Saucony continued to innovate in the ’90s. It released the Grid, which featured the company’s first curved last and the new namesake Grid midsole that offered more support and cushioning than previous models. You can still purchase modern versions of these classic shoes through the brand’s Originals line.
Saucony Tech Today
In the fall of 2019, Saucony debuted its Pwrrun+ cushioning in the Triumph 17. This TPU-based bead foam (Adidas Boost has similar chemistry) is 28 percent lighter than the brand’s previous EVA-based Everun foam. In our testing, we found Pwrrun+ much bouncier, more durable, more flexible, and more consistent across temperatures than standard EVA. The foam’s newest and lightest iteration is Pwrrun PB, which uses compressed Pebax beads in an internal lattice structure for a propulsive, springy ride.
How We Tested and Selected
To select the shoes below, we pored over Saucony’s deep lineup and newest releases, consulted feedback from our team of 350 wear-testers, and spoke with the brand’s designers. We also analyze data from the RW Shoe Lab, where we’ve run a gamut of mechanical tests. That includes checking (and re-checking) the energy return of Pwrrun foam, measuring the changes in midsole softness among several iterations of the Kinvara, and gauging the flexibility of TPU outsole rubbers and support frames. We also use our own running experience and knowledge of the market to parse out these 10 best Saucony shoes.
The Triumph is Saucony’s premium cushioned offering, and after a major update with the 17th iteration, the 18 features only a few light updates. Most notably, it now comes with a redesigned blown-rubber outsole for increased durability and traction. The main draw is the Pwrrun+ midsole, which delivers a comfy-yet-springy ride and saves weight compared to traditional cushioning materials.
—BEST FOR RACING—
Back in 2018, Saucony sent its pro runner Jared Ward three different carbon-fiber-plated shoe prototypes ahead of the New York City Marathon. After Ward ran a series of VO2 max and biomechanical tests in the shoes, one pair stood above the rest. That pair was the Endorphin Pro, and it helped him nab sixth place at NYC, making him the first American that year to cross the finish line. As Saucony’s elite go-fast offering, the Endorphin Pro follows through on its promise for speed with a carbon-fiber plate in the midsole creates excellent energy return, and it’s paired with Pwrrun PB cushioning—beaded Pebax material that forms a springy, durable foam. Then there’s SpeedRoll tech, which combines a cambered sole profile, an 8mm drop, and a dense, firm foam in the forefoot to help you roll forward in your stride and get maximum power at toe-off. Put simply, this is the shoe you want for busting out a PR.
—BEST FOR TECHNICAL TRAILS—
Now a decade old, the Xodus has a reputation as a real beast on the trail. The 10th version comes upgraded with Saucony’s top-tier Pwrrun+ cushioning, which helps cut down the weight from the previous iteration and ups the energy return as well. The rugged outsole is another highlight: Beefy directional lugs are designed to bite into technical terrain, and the tacky rubber Pwrtrac material delivers good grip on hard surfaces. It’s also topped with a Formfit upper that offers improved support and protection.
—BEST FOR UPTEMPOS—
The Speed is the mid-tier training shoe in Saucony’s new Endorphin collection. It’s the more affordable workout shoe to complement the company’s Endorphin Pro model (above), which Molly Seidel wore to capture second place in the Olympic Trials Marathon. But don’t let the Speed’s lower price tag fool you: This is a highly capable shoe that excels at speedwork and distance runs, too. It utilizes the same responsive Pwrrun PB cushioning as the Pro, but instead of a carbon-fiber plate, the Speed gets a nylon midsole plate—this adds a snappy feel while increasing flexibility. Comfortable and fast, the shoe is a great racing pick for everyday runners, and it’s versatile enough to handle just about any workout regimen, no matter the distance involved.
In its fourth version, the Freedom has morphed into a do-it-all shoe capable of taking on everything from running workouts to gym sessions. Its revamped midsole features race-ready Pwrrun PB cushioning for a responsive and lightweight feel, and Saucony widened the sole slightly to provide more stability for lateral movements. The Formfit upper offers a comfortable wrap around the foot, and its engineered mesh will keep you cool when you crank up the intensity.
Available: April 2021
—BEST FOR MUDDY TRAILS—
Peregrine 11 ST
A wide platform and low drop give the Peregrine ST (short for “soft terrain”) its inherently stable feel, and an upgrade to premium Pwrrun+ cushioning offers more go-fast energy return. But you’ll find those features on the standard model, too. What sets the ST apart is its muck-loving upper and outsole: The toothy lugs add an additional 1.5mm of length, with more spacing between each to shed mud quickly, and the upper switches to an abrasion-resistant mesh outfitted with quick lacing. (Cinch the skinny bungee cords and stow them inside the tongue, and there’s no more fiddling with wet bunny ears.) Plus, the entire shoe is cloaked in its own mud guard; if that’s still not enough splatter protection, you’ll find additional loops to add your own gaiters. “It is rare that I can ever rate a shoe this high,” one tester said. “But the Peregrine was exceptional across the board—wonderfully responsive and capable across deep mud and loose gravel to snow, with an amazing fit that needed none of my usual lacing tricks.”
—BEST DAILY TRAINER—
Since the 13th version was a substantial revamp for the Ride, Saucony focused on smaller tweaks and upper improvements for this off-year update. The new engineered mesh is lighter and more breathable than the thick material of the 13, and the tongue, heel, and lacing see some crafted suede accents in place of traditional plasticky overlays. Besides that, not much has changed. The Ride still has a decidedly firmer feel from its mostly EVA Pwrrun midsole, which surprised testers who expected the buttery softness of the Triumph’s TPU Pwrrun+. It’s snappier and quicker than you’d think from a trainer that looks so cushy, according to one tester, who thought the shoe had enough cushioning for his half marathon but still felt fast during a 5K race.
Available: April 2021
—MOST CUSHIONED STABILITY—
An ideal trainer for runners who need more support, the Hurricane delivers as a stability shoe that doesn’t feel overly stiff and uncomfortable. Like its predecessor, the 23rd version has a generously cushioned Pwrrun+ midsole—for a plush feel without sacrificing responsiveness—and an embedded “support frame” (otherwise known as a medial post) that counters overpronation as you run. While the Hurricane isn’t especially lightweight, its slightly rockered platform helps keep transitions smooth and quick during long training runs when you want to protect your legs.
This 12th version nudges the Kinvara back toward its racing roots. It’s a touch lighter and much more flexible, like the shoe’s early models, with a snug midfoot and new blend of Pwrrun foam. Saucony tweaked the foam’s mix of EVA and polymers to boost energy return, and while it doesn’t pack the punch of the brand’s Endorphin series, it does feel firmer and more responsive. A slim layer of softer TPU-based Pwrrun+ sits on top to keep the shoe comfy as a daily trainer—that applies to long runs as well. That means it’s light and speedy yet able to withstand a ton of miles. “All in all, the versatile cushioning has made the Kinvara my go-to shoe,” one tester said. “Whether I’m going short or long, going out for a leisurely run or for speedwork and hills, this shoe is game.”
—BEST FOR MILD OVERPRONATORS—
The Guide is similar to Saucony’s Ride (above) but tuned to offer a bit more stability. Like its neutral sibling, the shoe has a Pwrrun midsole underfoot and a soft ankle collar and tongue up top that contribute to a comfy feel. The key differences between these two models are the Guide’s medial post and heel counter, which help support your feet as you run. Overall, the ride is a bit firmer and more responsive compared to the plush Hurricane—a good choice for runners who don’t like too much squish underfoot.
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