Saucony’s marketing pitch: Maximum comfort and softness that lasts.
Upper: Perforated engineered mesh, inner gusset, midfoot strap.
Midsole: Full-length Pwrrun+ (E-TPU) foam. 10 mm heel drop.
Outsole: Carbon rubber.
Weight: 275 gms/ 9.7 Oz for a half pair of Men's US 9/UK 8/EUR 42.5/CM 27
Widths available: D - regular (reviewed), 2E - wide.
Previous model: Saucony Triumph 19.
Latest model: Saucony Triumph 21 (our review).
Country of origin: China.
For this review, Solereview purchased the Saucony Triumph 20 at full retail price; the proof of purchase is included in the review. We do not accept free samples for our reviews. We never publish sponsored articles.
In this review:
SUMMARY AND VERDICT
2012 doesn’t feel like such a long time ago. That year, we reviewed the Saucony Triumph for the first time, then in its 9th edition.
The Triumph 9 was an important milestone in the series, because it adopted an 8 mm drop over the 12 mm offset from the Triumph 8. It was also a product of its time, when EVA foam, and not E-TPU or Pebax, was the cushioning material of choice.
Back then, ‘assisted cushioning’ technologies were still a thing, so the Nike Air Max and adidas Springblade were considered to be running shoes. Saucony had its ‘Powergrid’ system, a tech that was put to good use on the Triumph 9.
The Saucony Triumph had its ebbs and flows. The 2014 Triumph ISO had a fake Powergrid which we predicted (correctly) to be dead on arrival.
Between 2014 and 2019, Saucony bet its entire running line on the ISOFIT upper – a convoluted midfoot lacing system that nobody asked for. The brand also had many wins along the way; the Freedom ISO and the novel stability system of the Guide and Liberty ISO come to mind.
The Triumph got back on track once it got rid of the ‘ISO’ system. That shoe was the Triumph 17, and things got progressively better from that point.
And that brings us to the Saucony Triumph 20 – a shoe that’s as significant as the Triumph 9 and Triumph ISO.
The Triumph 20 receives an extensive makeover with a brand-new midsole architecture and transformed ride character. The midsole is taller, softer, and has a higher heel offset of 10 mm.
In our view, the 20th-anniversary version is also the best version of the Saucony Triumph. It’s worth moving up from the Triumph 19, even after considering the $10 price increase.
It’s not pillowy soft by modern standards, but it’s noticeably more cushioned and bouncy than any of the previous models. The redesigned midsole also makes it easier to roll forward during transitions, thus making it easier to run faster in the new Triumph.
The overhauled Triumph is also a fitting adjustment to the changed running shoe landscape.
THE SAUCONY TRIUMPH 20 COMPARED WITH TRIUMPH 19
There are many updates worth mentioning, but we’ll first call out two of the most important ones.
The Triumph 20 is a ‘faster’ shoe in comparison to the 19, and that’s not just because it’s a half-ounce lighter. The midsole behaves rocker-like, so the push-offs take less effort than the Triumph 19.
The forefoot is relatively inflexible, and the overall transition quality has improved. The heel transition groove and redesigned outsole also help with a smoother loading process.
On the previous model, the foot had to work through the different layers of forefoot foam.
In comparison, the Triumph 20 has fewer foam layers. The Triumph 19 had an EVA footbed and an E-TPU topsole; the Triumph 20 only has a thicker Pwrrun+ insole – the same material that the midsole is made of.
That brings us to the second change – the Triumph 20 has a bouncier, consistent, and softer cushioning that feels less bottom-heavy.
The cushioning consistency is an improvement. There’s only one foam material (Pwrrun+) between the insole and midsole, as compared to three different densities on the Triumph 19. The previous model had a soft EVA insole, Pwrrun+ ‘topsole’, and a denser Pwrrun+ midsole.
The Triumph 20 does a couple of things better. The ride is more neutral, and that’s because the deep channel splits the heel crash pad into halves – this helps center the weight better. The midsole walls are raised to cup the heel – a feature that neither of the past models had.
Saucony appears to have tinkered with the Pwrrun+ formulation this time, so the midsole doesn’t feel as dense as the 18 and 19. The 20’s midsole is bouncier when compared to the denser cushioning of the T-19.
The outsole traction is an improvement, and that’s not just because of the better lug definition. Splitting the forefoot outsole into long strips creates a wider contact area, while creating a better working relationship with the midsole.
The Triumph 21 is based on the same midsole as the Triumph 20, so it’s not worth upgrading – unless you want a tighter fit. Our review of the Triumph 21 explains the changes. Just keep an eye on the prices so that you can get the Triumph 20 for cheap instead of spending new shoe money.
THE MIDSOLE DESIGN AND RIDE EXPERIENCE
You have to hand it to Saucony – while the brand lacks originality, it’s turned copying other brands into an art form.
The Endorphin Pro and Speed are based on the Nike Vaporfly form factor, whereas the Pwrrun+ cushioning uses the same base material as the adidas Boost. Also, anybody can see that the Endorphin Elite is a refined version of the adidas adios Pro.
Nonetheless, Saucony deserves a lot of credit for fine-tuning existing trends and technologies. Imitation flattery something something, as the saying goes.
adidas was the first to introduce the expanded Polyurethane technology nearly a decade ago, but it’s since struggled to gain a meaningful foothold.
The adidas Ultraboost seems to be stuck in a rut, and tepid releases like the Solarglide suffer from an identity crisis. Most of the missteps are adidas’s own doing; they could have made the Supernova Glide and Energy Boost the core of their assortment, but they chose otherwise.
On the other hand, Saucony has continued on an upwards trajectory. The Triumph 20 is what the adidas Ultraboost or Energy Boost should have been – a deeply cushioned trainer that’s capable of everything from everyday training to a marathon.
Earlier in this review, when comparing the Triumph 20 to the 19, we mentioned the higher level of cushioning and rebound.
It’s important to provide some context. The Triumph 20’s Pwrrun+ foam is not as soft and bouncy as the PEBAX foam of the Saucony Pwrrun PB (Endorphin Pro) and Nike ZoomX.
The expanded PU foam (Pwrrun+) is firmer in comparison and muted in its springiness.
In return, the Pwrrun+ foam is very durable and weather-proof. Unlike lesser foams like EVA or Nike React, the Pwrrun+ doesn’t stiffen at freezing temperatures.
On a relative scale, the Pwrrun+ foam used on the Triumph is softer and bouncier than the Triumph 17 – 19. The foam isn’t as compact or dense as the T-19, and that affects how the shoe feels under the foot. Runners switching from the Triumph 19 to the 20 will immediately notice the difference in cushioning and responsiveness.
The increased stack height and heel drop also affect the on-road behavior. The Triumph 20 has stack heights of 37 mm (heel) and 27 mm (forefoot), which is 4.5 mm higher in the rear and 2.5 mm taller in the forefoot than the previous generation model.
Keen-eyed readers may have also noticed that the Triumph 20 now has a 10 mm heel-to-drop, versus the 8 mm drop of the last model.
This does not have harm the Triumph 20’s compatibility with foot-strike patterns. The midsole is equally friendly for full-contact landings (midfoot) as it is for heel strikers. The wide forefoot and redesigned outsole layout help with sure-footed landings.
Besides the deeper cushioning, the Triumph 20 differs from the Triumph 19 in another important way.
It takes less effort to work through the forefoot, so the roll-offs feel easier at the end of the gait cycle. In performance terms, that makes the V-20 a ‘quicker’ shoe than the 19.
On the road, the Triumph 20 doesn’t feel like a shoe that weighs 9.7 ounces. Maintaining a 4:30 min/km (7:00 min/mile) pace over a 10K run doesn’t feel like a chore. The forefoot transitions feel more engaging than any of the previous versions.
As a non-Carbon-plated alternative, the Triumph is an excellent marathon shoe. The deep cushioning is available when called, whereas the well-designed midsole helps with smooth and stable transitions.
It’s also versatile and durable enough to be an everyday trainer.
The Triumph 20 is also great for heavier runners – unlike running shoes with soft EVA foam midsoles, the Triumph’s midfoot doesn’t collapse when loaded.
The heel has a soft beveled edge with a centered design. The bevel on the Triumph 19 favored the outer heel edge; that’s no longer the case. The landing zone has been redesigned with a deep transition groove and reconfigured outsole.
The deep groove centers the weight while also making the heel softer by allowing the midsole to splay wider.
The outsole layout is also new on the Triumph 20. There are no gaps on the outer edges of the midsole; the rubber outsole creates a heel-to-toe transition path.
Unlike the past Triumph models, the outsole is split into two sections under the heel. This revision makes the rearfoot landings smoother and softer at contact. The outsole on the inner side has a slightly larger contact area for support.
This version is the most neutral Triumph ever. The balanced midsole, deep groove, and split heel outsole work together to deliver cushioning with almost no bias.
The Triumph 20 has your daily runs and long-distance training covered, so your rotation will benefit from a low-profile racer like the Saucony Sinister or adidas adios 7. These speed-friendly racers are a better fit for short-distance races below 10K.
The Saucony Sinister is a better version of the Nike Streakfly – its Pwrrun PB midsole isn’t as squishy as the Streakfly. It’s also ridiculously lightweight, and reminds us of the discontinued Reebok Floatride Run Fast Pro.
IS THE SAUCONY TRIUMPH 20 DURABLE?
Besides its resilient cushioning, expanded PU foam (Saucony Pwrrun+ and adidas Boost) is good at two things. It’s extremely resistant to breaking down or ‘compacting’. The foam also doesn’t crease as deeply as EVA and PEBAX foams do.
A mileage of 450 miles should be easy to achieve. Based on Triumph’s record, the outsole compound should keep up as well.
THE UPPER DESIGN AND FIT
From a sizing perspective, the Triumph 20 is similar to the 19. The upper is true-to-size with a snug forefoot, and the toe bumper creates adequate ceiling height. This shoe is also sold in an optional wide.
The material package is excellent. The outer mesh balances ventilation with a supportive structure. The top of the forefoot has larger vents, whereas the area near the midsole has a denser knit for durability.
The tongue and heel lining are one of the softest in its class, so slipping inside the Triumph is a plush experience. The heel fit is very secure; the internal heel counter and high midsole sidewalls prevent slippage.
The heel collar uses two separate panels of mesh that are joined by a stitch-and-turn seam. This small change makes the Achilles area more pliable and easier to slip on.
For some reason, Saucony has an unhealthy fixation with midfoot straps.
Most of the time, it’s unnecessary – a frill that adds no functional value. In the Triumph 20’s case, the strap makes it worse. It affects the lacing pressure without adding any value to the midfoot fit.
The straps aren’t a problem per se. However, it creates a large gap between the 3rd and 5th lacing rows. So the small area between the 4th row and 6th row is where three rows of lacing converge; this creates a pressure hot spot on the foot.
This wasn’t a problem on the Triumph 19, as the lacing was evenly spaced. The last model did not have a strap either.
It’s worth mentioning that our Triumph 20 had round laces; other colors have flat laces. The round laces are a bit shorter in length as compared to the semi-elastic flat laces. The flat laces are nowhere as uncomfortable as the round ones.
(Edit: After publishing this review, one of our readers (thanks, Geoff!) pointed out the round laces tend to apply a lot more top-down pressure than the flat laces. Saucony uses the round laces on most of their reflective Vizipro variants, so this is going to be an issue across those models as well.
However, this doesn’t change the fact that a more even lacing distribution will improve the fit experience.
We got our hands on the reflective ‘ViziPro’ Triumph 20 variant meant for the darker months, so the upper came with reflective logos. The standard version isn’t as reflective.
The Saucony Triumph 20 will accommodate most orthotics. The thick Pwrrun+ insole can be removed and replaced with an aftermarket insole with minimal compromise to the upper fit.
As with any orthotic, replacing the stock footbed may result in a higher heel-to-toe drop if the heel of your orthotic is thicker than the forefoot.
PROS AND CONS
The Triumph 20 brings freshness to the crowded marketplace of cushioned trainers.
The Pwrrun+ foam midsole offers long-distance comfort without sacrificing stability or versatility. While the Triumph 20 isn’t a speed shoe, it doesn’t feel lazy when pushed hard. The expanded PU foam cushioning is extremely durable and resistant to creasing and cushioning loss.
Except for the top-down lacing pressure, the upper fits as it should – true to size, plush, and ventilated.
COMPARISON: THE SAUCONY TRIUMPH 20 VERSUS SAUCONY RIDE 16
On paper, the Triumph 20 is a premium version of the Ride 16 within the same neutral cushioning sub category. On the road, both these running shoes behave very differently.
Except for the thick Pwrrun+ insole, there are no shared materials. The Ride 16’s midsole uses EVA foam, whereas the Triumph 20 gets its cushioning chops from a 100% Pwrrun+ (expanded Polyurethane) midsole. Unsurprisingly, the Ride 16’s cushioning has a flatter quality and lower level of ride comfort.
Where the Ride 16 shines is as a versatile everyday trainer. The firm ride, lighter build, and semi-rocker midsole make it suitable for running speeds as quick as 4:00 min/km (6:30 miles).
On the other hand, the Triumph 20 excels over longer distances like a half-marathon and longer – that’s where the deep cushioning makes itself useful. The Saucony Ride 16 is good till a half-marathon, but we recommend the Triumph 20 for anything longer.
SHOES COMPARABLE TO THE SAUCONY TRIUMPH 20
Another premium trainer got overhauled for 2023 – the Asics Nimbus 25.
Just like the Triumph 20, the Nimbus 25’s brand-new form factor includes a rocker-like quality that improves its transition quality. The Nimbus packs a lot of softer cushioning while making the roll-offs easier than before.
The Nimbus 25 uses an EVA foam blend, so it’s softer than the Triumph. The outsole traction is where the Saucony Triumph 20 has a huge edge over the Nimbus’s mediocre grip.
The New Balance 1080 has always been a popular bridge between standard trainers (like the Brooks Ghost, NB 880, and Asics Cumulus) and max-stack distance shoes. It’s soft, just not sink-in soft.
Over the years, the 1080’s stretch-knit upper has been refined to near perfection. The midsole and upper produce a comfortable high-mileage trainer that also feels lively.
The Brooks Glycerin 20 is what you get if rock-solid stability is a priority. The DNA Loft V3 midsole isn’t super soft as Brooks claims.
As long as the expectations are managed, that isn’t a bad thing. The firm midsole maintains excellent form during the loading process, so the Glycerin 20 works for runners of different class types and gait patterns.
From a materials standpoint, the adidas Ultraboost Light and Solarboost 5 are the closest match. The Saucony Pwrrun+ foam and adidas Boost use the same material – except that they are processed differently. We recommend the Solarboost over the Ultraboost; the Ultraboost is a better lifestyle sneaker than it is a running shoe.