A few years ago, when Saucony re-introduced the Triumph with an expanded Polyurethane (aka the Everun) midsole, we thought, ‘Here comes another unoriginal adidas Boost copycat.’
However, Saucony did not stop there. Admittedly, while many of their successful products take inspiration from the other industry players, Saucony has found a sweet spot between flattery (of the imitation kind) and purpose-driven innovation.
If it isn’t obvious, we speak of the Endorphin Pro and Speed. These products were Saucony’s fresh take on the plate-in-a-midsole form factor made popular by the Nike Vaporfly.
For the sake of functional differentiation, Saucony made meaningful tweaks to its PEBA cushioning tech. These included a distinct geometry as well as a different construction. The midsoles of the Endorphin Pro and Speed are a cluster of fused PEBA globules rather than a single foam block.
The stiff rocker-shaped forefoot and internal plate deliver a responsive snap transition that feels similar to the Nike Vaporfly.
However, the densely packed foam globules give the ride a higher resiliency. It’s not all different from how Saucony adapted the adidas Boost concept for its Everun (now Pwrrun+) midsole.
Saucony’s sincere efforts to introduce freshness into its products have paid dividends.
Along with the Endorphin twins, Saucony has maintained its core assortment that’s comprised of staples like the Ride, Guide, Triumph, and Kinvara. Except for the Kinvara, the annual updates on most of the models are incremental improvements that will continue to retain brand loyalists.
There are early signs that Saucony will infuse some Endorphin-ness into the rest of its catalog. For example, the Saucony Endorphin Trail uses a unique mesh-covered Pwrrun PB midsole to deliver its trail-worthy cushioning. Since we lack any wear-test data on that shoe, it’s not yet included in this edition.
The Freedom 4 also switched to the lighter, softer, and responsive Pwrrun PB. Though it’s a nice running shoe in the 4 mm drop segment, we feel that the Kinvara 12 is good enough. For a PEBA-powered ride, one could consider the cushier Endorphin Speed. It costs only $10 more than the Freedom 4, but you get a lot more shoe.
This list of the top 10 Saucony running shoes is arranged in no particular order; the name of the shoe is prefixed with its best use case.
1) Daily neutral trainer: Saucony Ride 14
The Saucony Ride has been through numerous iterations since we first began reviewing the series. Nonetheless, its core purpose has stayed the same – that of a do-it-all neutral trainer that balances cushioning comfort with ride stability.
And what exactly, is the secret of that longevity?
The Saucony Ride is successful because it keeps 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. Here’s a comfortable running shoe that marries everyday versatility with a peppy nature. And that’s what the Ride 14 is. Its firm Pwrrun (EVA blend) midsole keeps the ride cushioned and smooth, a combination that delivers capable performance under a wide range of running conditions. Above the midsole is a E-TPU layer of Pwrrun+ ‘Topsole’ and a removable insole for step-in comfort.
We like the Ride 14’s improved heel collar and tongue, as this minor update elevates the level of interior comfort.
2) Max-cushioned neutral trainer: Saucony Triumph 19
The Triumph 17 was a turning point in the evolution of this popular shoe 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) and transformed into an entirely 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 easy on the feet. The upper wasn’t perfect due to its somewhat narrow fit. But what it lacked in interior space, it made up with a plush build.
The Triumph 18 was similar to the 17, and the Triumph 19 takes it further. It features the same midsole and outsole as the 18, but everything above it is brand new for 2021.
The interiors of the V17 and 18 felt stuffy due to the thick mesh and layering. The Triumph 19 deviates from that template, and instead opts for a perforated engineered mesh with a cleaner exterior.
It continues to be a comfortable and secure-fitting running shoe; it’s just that the fit experience feels more freeing due to the updates.
Under the redesigned upper is the familiar responsive and high mileage-friendly cushioning that excels at long-distance cruising or comfy daily runs.
Also see: The Saucony Hurricane 23 – a stability version of the Triumph 19.
3) Cushioned racer: Saucony Endorphin Speed V2
We’ve repeated this statement many times elsewhere on this site – the Saucony Endorphin Speed V2 is an excellent value proposition.
Which other shoe combines a Pebax foam midsole with an internal plate and sells for $160?
Even though the Endorphin Speed uses a Nylon plate, it achieves the same result as a Carbon plate. The curved placement of the plate introduces a propulsive aspect to the cushioned ride. Since the base of the plate is affixed to the forefoot, the stiff rocker-shaped midsole encourages the foot to roll forward.
Saucony’s Pwrrun PB midsole is very cushioned and very responsive. This implies that the E-Speed V2 melds mileage-friendly comfort with speedy ride manners.
The single-piece outsole is very durable and does not obstruct the cushioning delivery process – the strategically positioned cut-outs allow the midsole to deliver its signature bounciness.
The sleeved mesh upper is extremely comfortable and hits the sweet spot between interior space and fit security.
Also see: The Saucony Endorphin Pro V2.
4) Lightweight Neutral: Saucony Kinvara 12
Many good things have happened to Saucony recently, and the Kinvara 12 is one of them. The running shoe industry’s go-to daily trainer with a 4 mm heel offset got a brand-new upholstery and midsole.
The design transformation produces a shoe that brings it closer to the original Kinvara concept.
The updated bottom makes daily runs a breeze – thanks to its 7.5-ounce weight and the smooth, cushioned ride. The 4 mm heel-to-toe offset also makes it an excellent mid and forefoot-striking running shoe.
We’ll go as far as to say that the Kinvara 12 is the best in the series since 2012. Our detailed review takes an in-depth look at this model.
Here, a lightweight and comfortable ride delivers dependable performance whether you’re out for an easy 10-miler or higher-paced workouts. The upper fit and feel is perfect; the soft and breezy design disappears over the foot.
If you loved the Kinvara 10 and 11, you’ll discover the 12 to be a firmer shoe that leans harder into minimalism.
But that’s the kind of shoe the Kinvara was always meant to be, so all’s well.
5) Budget Neutral: Saucony Cohesion 14
Very few running shoes deliver price-value the way that the Cohesion 14 does. This $65 product offers running shoe fundamentals in a performance-ready package without appearing to be cheaply constructed.
Unlike many other brands that offer a flimsy all-mesh upper and a foam mono-sole, the Cohesion is solidly built.
And what you see is what you get. The cut-stitched-assembled upper has a secure and protective fit. It won’t win any trophies in the interior plushness or looks department, but it gets the job done.
A foam midsole with a 12 mm offset provides a firm, yet basic cushioning for the road. If a no-frills running shoe is all that you need, it’s hard to go astray with the Cohesion 14.
Also see: The Cohesion TR 14 – 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 4 mm drop midsole, and you get the 6-ounce Type A9. It’s a must-have if you want a Saucony shoe for fast training runs or races.
The outsole uses Saucony’s Pwrtrac rubber compound in a micro-lug geometry, so the Type A9’s grip on road, track, and treadmill is excellent.
7) Traditional stability shoe: Saucony Omni 20
The Omni 20 just got a complete makeover, so it doesn’t feel out of place the way the Omni 19 did. It may have an old-school medial post – aka a ‘pronation control’ thingy – but the midsole design is new for 2021, and so is the upper that’s based on the contemporary Saucony design language.
However, the changes are more than skin-deep. The redesigned midsole has a softer and smoother ride due to the articulated outsole design that exposes more midsole foam than the 19.
The inner side has a firmer foam wedge (aka the medial post) to create the traditional stability running shoe experience. In other words, there’s a reassuring zone of firmness for added support.
While we have never believed in the efficacy of a medial post with regards to slowing pronation, many runners prefer the sensory experience of a medially posted shoe.
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 running shoe with a medial post.
Not only does the Omni 20 have strong nostalgic value, but it is also a safe refuge for runners who crave the sensation of a firm medial post under the arch. This is very much a conventional stability shoe, and there aren’t many of those around.
With the Omni 20, one gets a conforming yet comfortable upper fit that’s now aligned with how other Saucony products are designed.
Below, the EVA foam-powered cushioning is delivered with a hint of medial side support. Also, the transition is pretty smooth for a dual-density midsole. The outsole is divided into hard-wearing landing zones and soft blown rubber sections to deliver grip and stability.
So what kind of runner is the Omni 20 meant for? It’s for someone who misses products like the older generation Brooks Adrenaline or the Nike Structure but wants something more cushioned and substantial underneath their foot.
Also see: The Saucony Echelon 8 – a stability neutral running shoe.
8) Cushioned mild-support: Saucony Guide 14
The Saucony Guide ditched the medial post several seasons ago, so this 2021 model is a ultra-firm neutral trainer of sorts – just like its predecessor, the Guide 13.
Having said that, the midsole has a plastic stabilizer to make the inner side more supportive. This is an idea that’s borrowed from the Saucony Liberty. The more supportive inner midsole is balanced by the raised sidewalls on the outer side. Like several other shoes (notably Brooks) that have raised sidewalls, this feature cups the foot for a higher level of support.
The Guide 14 has a neutral yet stable ride quality, the kind that works for daily workouts at faster speeds. Making that possible is a midsole that’s noticeably harder than the Ride 14. The molded insole and E-TPU ‘Topsole’ do their part by creating a layer of step-in softness.
Like most recent Saucony shoes, the Guide 14’s upper keeps it functionally simple. The foot is held in place by an engineered mesh upper with minimal yet supportive overlays. A soft and no-slip tongue and heel lining make the fit comfortable around the ankles.
9) Mild-support racer: Saucony Fastwitch 9
Last year, the Fastwitch 9’s upper and midsole was redesigned from the ground up. The V9 is a performance-led improvement over the V8; the extremely lightweight upper has a conforming and well-ventilated fit.
The midsole is all business, relying on a standard EVA foam setup. This design approach produces an excellent ground feel and transition economy. There’s a tiny medial post like the New Balance 1500V6, but it is barely noticeable.
The outsole uses the sticky Pwrtrac rubber compound for dependable traction, the same material that’s used on most Saucony trail running shoes.
10) Trail running: Saucony Peregrine 11
Most running shoe brands have an anchor trail product. For Saucony, the Peregrine is that anchor – and a very competent one, too.
The overall design and construction of the Peregrine 11 give it a do-it-all character. For example, the outsole has excellent traction and protection. On the technical trails, an internal rock plate creates an effective barrier against all things pokey.
At the same time, aggressive forward and rear-facing lugs made out of Saucony’s Pwrtrac compound deliver an excellent grip over various grades. The Pwrrun midsole is sufficiently cushioned and very supportive. This EVA-blend compound is also used on the Kinvara 12 and Ride 14.
The Peregrine 11’s lacing system is easy to use and very functional. The closed mesh and synthetic overlays are protective and effective at keeping the debris out.
The Peregrine 11’s multi-faceted personality makes a compelling case for itself as a do-everything trail running shoe.
The standard road version isn’t waterproof, but a Gore-Text variant sells for $30 extra.
Also see: The Saucony Peregrine 11 ST – a stability variant, or the Peregrine ICE+ – a Vibram outsole-kitted edition that grips extremely well on wet surfaces. Its traction on actual ice is average, though.