Saucony are producing some of the best shoes on the market by creating some great tech and keeping things simple; and there's a skill in that. Their shoes regularly feature in our Best Shoes list so here, we decide what are the very best Saucony shoes of 2020.
A great, all-round training shoe. The Guide offers a plush, cushioned ride that makes it a good choice for those everyday miles. The Ride ISO 2 has a new jacquard mesh upper for a more adaptable fit, thanks to an updated ISO fit system.
A light, responsive trainer thats very flexible and could prove right for those that supinate. The TPU based midsole has a springy feel and with an upper that wraps around the foot snugly, it's undeniably a comfortable shoe. A great shoe for faster training and makes a wonderful marathon racing shoe for the masses.
Light, well-cushioned and durable. For a neutral runner looking for a really comfortable shoe capable of virtually anything in training, look at the Triumph 17.
The Saucony Guide 13 is a well-priced everyday stability running shoe. It has a firmer yet cushioned ride and a comfortable upper.
A firm favourite of our testers as the Kinvara delivers a smooth ride with great cushioning in a lightweight package.
In 1898, on the banks of the Saucony River in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, Saucony was founded. The company made leather shoes back then but became increasingly interested in athletic footwear when they realised that the sports shoes of the early to mid 20th century left a lot to be desired. That said, Saucony didn’t seem to become involved in athletic footwear until 1958 when they produced a running spike named the 7446. Now that is hardly and catchy name, but the spikes would have been light for the day as they were made out of kangaroo skin and as older runners will tell you, kangaroo is beautifully soft and feels great on the foot, especially back in 1958!
At the same time, a Russian immigrant known by A.R.Hyde, was operating Hyde Athletic Industries, a company making sporting footwear for a number of brands such as PF Flyers, a hi-top that looks like a Converse boot and who are now owned by New Balance. A.R.Hyde had been operating since 1910 but by the late 60’s, had bought Saucony and moved it to their factory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a stones thrown from downtown Boston. Their timing was impeccable.
Saucony, like Brooks and Nike, benefitted massively from the American running boom of the early 1970’s. They spent the 70’s building reputation and making quality running shoes, that said, innovative brands like asics, brooks and adidas were certainly not troubled by the emerging Saucony.
Saucony’s reputation went from strength to strength in the 80’s when many of the classic styles were produced. Several of these have become leisure shoes and Saucony have a thriving business in selling these now vintage models today. In 1980, the Trainer 80 was released, followed by the legendary Jazz in ’81.
Saucony were sponsoring Rod Dixon, one of the famous flying Kiwi’s who had an incredible pedigree. His range of ability was outstanding having run 1:47.6 for 800m in 1973, 3:33.8 for 1500 in 1974 on the track before switching to the roads later in his career, to win the New York Marathon in 2:08.59 in his own, Saucony Dixon racing flats.
In 1984, Dixon was used to launch the DXN Trainer and Saucony really started to introduce more technology into their models. It was lighter than the Jazz and had better cushioning due to the incorporated tech, but in 1985, another classic model was introduced to the line, the Shadow.
You can see from the advert for the Shadow how little the shoes had moved on over the decade before the Shadow was released. Using basic die-cut EVA midsoles to provide the cushioning was common back then but the DXN Trainer and the Shadow, started to cement Saucony’s reputation as a very credible running brand. It featured a tough TPU ‘cupped’ heel counter to help lock your heel in and for all round strength, and a well-cushioned EVA midsole.
The Grid – Ground Reaction Inertia Device – was released in 1991. Packed full of great technology, the Grid was an instant hit and the latest version is still in their running line today. The 1991 model can be found in fashion stores worldwide such is its reputation with the fashionistas! Saucony describe GRID as, ‘negative space carved into strategic zones to create sweet sport absorption’, the earlier version of the GuideRail we guess. The ’91 model offered more support and better cushioning than ever before in the Saucony range. The technology was really sound and it is still used in the line today with the PWRGRID+ cushioning system.
Saucony picks up the pace
Modern day Saucony really stepped up a gear in 2009 with the introduction of the Kinvara model. It was inspired by research on athletes who requested a more natural feeling ride, so, the Kinvara was introduced with a 4mm heel drop. The shoe was stripped down to bare essentials without compromising on the essentials – great fit and lightweight cushioning. The Kinvara has gone from strength to strength and is now in its Kinvara 11 guise.
In 2011, after research carried out in the Saucony lab, the brand found that by lowering the heel drop (the difference in height from the forefoot to the heel on a shoe) from 12mm to 8mm made a big difference to how the runner ran. The trend for years had been ‘bigger is better’, especially for the workhorse distance running models. Now Saucony had discovered that by lowering the drop to 8mm reduced the pressure exerted on the hips, knees, calves and ankles. The foot lands more on the midfoot area which is better for the leg in terms of impact, but also means you get a better drive off. Check out their video here, it explains it really well.
The findings led to changing some of their models and introducing new models with an 8mm drop. The first shoe to benefit was the Guide 5 above.
Saucony (like most brands I guess), love a name for this latest technology. EVERUN / PWRRUN+ / ISOFIT – the list seems all consuming so let us explain the basics.
PowerGrid and the later PowerGrid+ are older technologies now. The tech was a layer of the premium Grid foam which sat in the midsole layer. It was pierced with square holes that delivered more bounce and a smoother ride. Landing on the material spread the shock. PowerGrid+ was a lighter version of PowerGrid.
Everun was introduced in 2015 and Saucony have used EVERUN in a wide range of models from workhorse high-mileage shoes to faster paced trainers. EVERUN is created by ‘steam-fusing’ TPU beads to create a very flexible and durable foam. Saucony claim it is 3 times more durable than an ordinary foam while delivering 83% more energy return making the shoe extremely responsive. Its flexibility certainly aids transition from landing to toe-off.
EVERUN is used in two different ways: as a full package midsole for a max cushioning and smooth feel, or if you require a firmer riding shoe, they have added a 3mm topsole layer to deliver a more responsive feel.
Shoes that enjoy the full EVERUN experience include the Hurricane ISO 5, Triumph ISO 5, Freedom ISO 2 and the Xodus ISO 3.
Shoes that share the topsole EVERUN experiance include the Jazz 21, Kinvara 10 and the Echelon 7.
PWRRUN+ is Saucony’s latest midsole technology. It delivers a springier feel compared to EVEUN and it’s a lot lighter – 25% lighter! Made up of beads (it’s reported to be similar to BASF’s Adidas Boost material), it absorbs impact more quickly and returns that impact 5% more quickly so you get more of a ‘spring-off’. It’s twice as flexible as EVERUN so on-foot comfort and transition should be great, and it is 3x more durable. The massive upside of that is that more durable shoes last longer and are therefore, better value for money. PWRRUN+ is featured in the Triumph 17 and the Hurricane 22 models.
ISOFit uppers have been with us since 2015. The mesh offers a sock-like feel due to an inner mesh sleeve which supports the foot. It’s an engineered mesh upper to deliver strength where it’s needed around the midfoot and more open in other areas for increased breathability. ISOFit uppers typically have supportive TPU straps that cradle the foot and this is where the laces tie in to. They have been designed to eliminated pressure points on the foot and to eliminate upper material bunching or creasing. The fit is more ‘bespoke’ and it allows your foot to move naturally as it would through the gait cycle rather than being held in an unnatural position.
FLEXFILM – Is attached to some uppers in the range. This heat-welded overlay is the best way of adding strength to areas that need it (i.e. around the lace holes) without adding weight. No stitching, no additional layers – perfect for stripped back shoes.
Outsoles get a look-in to the tech. Saucony have a neat herringbone looking design to their TRIFLEX outsole. The tech ensures that the impact forces are dispersed over a wider area while maintaining flexibility in the key areas. Traction should also be good. Shoes featuring TRIFLEX include the Liberty ISO 2, Omni ISO 2 and Echelon 7.
PWRTRAC is Saucony’s sticky rubber material placed on some of their trail shoes. It’s durable but provides really good grip on surfaces like we stone so the shoes would be great for longer adventure races for example. The latest Peregrine 10 features PWRTRAC rubber.
Saucony are now part of the Wolverine World Wide Company and are very firmly established as one of running’s premier brands. Solid, not flashy, all about running performance and have been for decades now. We can’t see that changing.