Saucony’s sincere efforts to introduce freshness into its running shoe line are now paying dividends – and rather spectacularly so.
When was the last time you heard of a Saucony shoe being sold out at launch, grabbed by keyboard-happy runners with blazing fast fingers?
And not just one model, but two? Yes, that’s what we thought. Never before, right?
Of course, we speak of the Saucony Endorphin Pro and the Speed. Two shoes with a rigid plate in their midsole that supposedly give them a distinct forward rolling transition quality.
And we say ‘supposedly’, because we haven’t run in the Endorphin Speed and Pro yet. We hope to change that as soon as they’re back in stock online. We purchased and reviewed the Endorphin Shift recently. But without an internal plate, it’s just not the same as the Speed and Pro.
Besides being sold out, we haven’t tested the Speed and Pro – so we’ve excluded them on this guide. But the internet reviews are overwhelmingly positive. And as a general rule of thumb, a sold-out status is almost always an indicator of running shoe goodness. So both the Speed and Pro are safe buys. While we appreciated what the Endorphin Shift had to offer, it’s not ‘best’ enough to reserve a spot on this guide.
The rest of the guide is filled with familiar names. The Ride 13. The Triumph. Kinvara et. al. You get the idea.
The old-fashioned Omni 19 looks lost in the sea of running shoe newness. But when you read our mini-blurb later on this guide, it’ll all make perfect sense.
This list is arranged in no particular order.
1) Daily neutral trainer: Saucony Ride 13
The Saucony Ride has been through numerous iterations – 13 to be precise. Despite that, its core character is all too familiar – that of a do-it-all neutral trainer that balances cushioning comfort with ride stability.
And what’s the secret of that longevity?
The Ride 13 achieves that by keeping things simple. Take a firm midsole with a single-density construction. Add some durable outsole rubber. Glue on a comfortable upper that fits most runners, and throw in an optional width. And finally, price it right.
Voila. You have a comfortable running shoe that marries everyday versatility with a peppy nature. And that’s what the Ride 13 is. Its firm Pwrrun outsole makes the ride cushioned and smooth, a combination that delivers capable performance under a wide range of running speeds.
And why is the new Ride have a ’13’ suffix instead of ISO 3? That’s because the new upper no longer uses the ‘ISOFIT’ midfoot design.
2) Max-cushioned Neutral: Saucony Triumph 18
Wow, time flies. Has it been a year since the Triumph 17 was released?
The Triumph 17 was a turning point in the evolution of this well-known franchise. For a long time, the Saucony Triumph struggled with an identity crisis. That had a lot to do with the revolving door strategy of cushioning technologies and upper designs.
The Triumph 17 left behind both the upper and midsole template (of the ISO 5), thus morphing into a completely different product. The Pwrrun+ foam replaced the firmer and denser Everun, thus making the ride softer and more responsive. The plush upper reverted to a traditional design instead of the ISOFIT straps.
In short, the Triumph 17 was the Triumph that everyone always wanted it to be; a deeply-cushioned running shoe that made long-distance runs uber-comfortable. The upper wasn’t perfect due to its somewhat narrow fit. But what it lacked in interior space, it made up in plushness.
The Triumph 18 is similar to the 17 in spirit, but is brand new from the ground up. There’s a new midsole, outsole, and an upper that improves by way of several refinements. There’s a wee bit more room in the front, and the heel collar doesn’t feel stuffy.
Though the exteriors look brand new, the 18’s Pwrrun+ foam feels as lively as did on the 17. So you get the same responsive and high mileage-friendly cushioning underneath a soft and secure upper.
Small tweaks to the outsole result in ride improvements. The ‘crystal rubber’ pieces have been replaced with softer lugs, and that means the midsole and outsole function better together.
The lowdown being – if you want a max-cushioning shoe for long-distance cruising or comfy daily runs, it’s very hard to go wrong with the Triumph 18.
Also see: The Saucony Hurricane 22 – it’s a stability version of the Triumph 17. We assume that the upcoming Hurricane 23 should be a closer match with the T-18 from an aesthetic viewpoint.
3) Cushioned Neutral: Saucony Freedom 3
Like the rest of Saucony’s line-up, the Freedom has received its fair share of updates. This particular revision – that of the (previously) Everun midsole evolving to the softer and responsive Pwrrun+ – completely changes the shoe.
One way to look at the Freedom 3 is to do so as a more cushioned variant of the Kinvara 11. In other words, this low-offset (4 mm) running shoe is also a versatile daily trainer.
Is there rotational value in owning both the Kinvara 11 and Freedom 3? We’d say yes.
Though both share the 4 mm heel-to-toe offset, the softer and bouncier ride of the Freedom differentiates it from the K-11. The midsole and outsole are more durable as well; the translucent ‘Crystal rubber’ of the Freedom lasts forever.
The Freedom 3’s upper has a snug and supportive character. We must say though, that the Freedom ISO 2 was the only Saucony shoe where the ISOFIT midfoot strapping system proved to be a good fit. That said, the new upper is equally functional – with interior comfort and a secure fit available in equal measures.
Also see: The Liberty ISO 2.
4) Lightweight Neutral: Saucony Kinvara 11
Many good things happened to the Saucony line last year, and the Kinvara 10 was one of them. The running shoe market’s go-to daily trainer with a 4 mm heel offset got a new change of clothes along with a brand new midsole.
The result of this transformation resulted in a shoe that felt closer to the original Kinvara concept. The redesigned bottom made daily runs a breeze – thanks to its sub-9-ounce weight and the smooth, cushioned ride.
The Kinvara 10’s upper was comfortable and well-ventilated, with no unnecessary layers crowding the upper.
Everything that we just said for the K-10 also holds for the Kinvara 11. Though the midsole changes to Pwrrun foam, it’s mere semantics at this point.
Here, a similar lightweight and comfortable ride deliver dependable performance whether you’re out for an easy 10-minute miler or slightly higher-paced workouts. The upper is a mite snugger in the forefoot than the 10, but it’s nearly perfect.
If you liked the Kinvara 10, chances are, you’ll take to the 11 too.
5) Budget Neutral: Saucony Cohesion 13
Very few running shoes deliver the price-value the way the Cohesion 13 does. This $60 product delivers running shoe fundamentals in a performance-ready package without looking cheaply made.
Unlike many other brands that offer a flimsy all-mesh upper and a foam mono-sole, the Cohesion is very well put together.
And what you see is what you get. The cut/stitched/assembled upper has a secure fit while being protective. It won’t win any awards in the interior plushness department, but it gets the job done.
A foam midsole with a 12 mm offset provides basic cushioning on the road. If a no-frills running shoe is all that you need, it’s hard to go astray with the Cohesion 13.
Also see: The Cohesion TR 13 – a rugged, off-road doppelgänger of the road Cohesion.
6) Lightweight racer: Saucony Type A9
The Type A9 is one level more cushioned than a full-blown racing flat. At an MSRP of $100, the A9 is excellent value. The lightweight upper fits and feels great, and the resilient midsole provides a fast and cushioned ride.
Combine the minimal upper and the 4 mm drop midsole, and you get the 6-ounce Type A9. An absolute must-have if you want a Saucony shoe for fast training runs or races.
7) Traditional stability shoe: Saucony Omni 19
Wait a minute. What is Omni 19 doing here in a crowd of running shoes with fancy cushioning and upper tech?
Or that’s precisely the reason why it’s on this list. With all brands pushing the boundaries of technical construction and materials, it’s refreshing to find a traditional shoe – with medial-posts and all that.
Not only does the Omni 19 have strong nostalgic value, but it is also a safe refuge for runners who crave the sensation of a medial-post under the foot. This is very much a conventional stability shoe, and there aren’t many of those around.
With the Omni 19, one gets an old-school yet comfortable upper fit. Below, the cushioning is delivered with a hint of medial-side support. The transition is pretty smooth for a dual-density midsole. A deep transition groove runs through the length of the midsole, and a full-coverage outsole provides both grip and stability.
So who should be buying the Omni 19? Someone who misses shoes such as the older generation Brooks Adrenaline or the Nike Structure but want something more cushioned and substantial underneath their foot. And with a decent upper, of course.
8) Cushioned mild-support: Saucony Guide 13
Just like the Triumph, the Guide ditches the ISO nomenclature by switching to a new upper design.
And that’s not the only change to Saucony’s popular stability shoe; a firmer medial post no longer exists. Instead, the Guide 13 draws inspiration from the Liberty ISO by using a plastic stabilizer affixed to the lower midsole.
So what you get from the Guide 13 is a neutral yet firm ride experience, the kind that works for daily workouts. It will be interesting to see what the new Ride and Hurricane will bring.
9) Mild-support racer: Saucony Fastwitch 9
The Fastwitch 9’s upper and midsole is redesigned from the ground up. The new Fastwitch is a better Fastwitch; the extremely lightweight upper has a conforming fit and breathes well.
The midsole is all business, relying on a standard EVA configuration and no Everun. This gives the shoe excellent ground feel and economy. There’s a medial post but like the New Balance 1500, but it is barely noticeable. The outsole uses the sticky Pwrtrac rubber compound, the same material used in most Saucony trail running shoes.
Saucony charges $10 more for the new Fastwitch but it is still a good buy.
10) Trail running: Saucony Peregrine 10
Every athletic footwear brand has an anchor trail running shoe. For Saucony, the Peregrine is that anchor – and a rather decent one, too.
The overall design and construction of the Peregrine 10 lend it a do-it-all persona. In particular, the outsole has excellent traction and protection. On technical trails, an internal rock-plates creates an effective barrier against the pokey rocks and roots.
At the same time, aggressive forward and rear-facing lugs made out of Saucony’s Pwrtrac compound deliver excellent grip over various grades. The Pwrrun midsole is well-cushioned while being stable. This EVA-blend compound is also used on the Kinvara 11, Ride 13, and the Endorphin Shift.
One of the things that we didn’t like about the Peregrine ISO was its ISOFIT strapping system. Too much on a trail running shoe, we thought back then.
Well, ISOFIT isn’t something one needs to worry about this time. That’s because the Peregrine 10 reverts to a traditional lacing system that is easier to use and very functional. The closed mesh and synthetic overlays are protective as well as effective at keeping the debris out.
The standard road version isn’t waterproof, but a Gore-Text variant sells for $30 extra.