By Jesper Petersen
We take a closer look at 4 cool trail shoes by Saucony and give you an overview of which model fits you best.
I have tested the trail shoes Saucony Xodus ISO 3, Saucony Koa ST, Saucony Peregrine ISO and Saucony Switchback ISO, which differ among each other on several points. See the comparison table below, as it highlights the differences between the shoes, and read the evaluation of each individual shoe further down below in this article.
Comparison - Saucony Xodus ISO 3 vs. Saucony Koa ST vs. Saucony Peregrine ISO vs. Saucony Switchback ISO
Saucony Xodus ISO 3
– For long distances and maximum comfort
Maximum shock-absorption and maximum comfort! That is what you get with the Saucony Xodus ISO 3 – the most comfortable trail running shoes I have ever tried.
Xodus ISO 3 shares many of its properties with neutral top-range models for running on road (Saucony Triump ISO and Saucony Freedom ISO), and they have gone all out with this one.
Xodus ISO 3 has, like the Triumph ISO and Freedom ISO, a midsole that only consists in Saucony’s best foam material, the EVERUN, and which provides a formidable and very suspensive shock-absorption.
The Xodus ISO 3 also has a trail specific version of the popular ISOFIT upper. The fit is supreme – not least because it is super easy to adjust how tight it is over the insole to find the right fit. The ISOFIT upper on the Xodus ISO 3 is more tight-fitting than similar uppers on normal running shoes for road. This helps minimize the chance of getting dirt into your shoes when you are running off-road.
The heelcap on the Xodus ISO 3 is much more stable and supportive than what you normally see on running shoes for trail. It ensures great protection and stability, which can be very useful for those long runs where you start to get tired in the end.
The outsole consists in a combination of the rubber materials PWRTRAC and XT-900. Together they provide great grip for many different types of surfaces and excellent durability.
The only negative thing to mention about the shoe is its weight. With its 380 g (size 42), it is among the heaviest trail shoes on the market. In its defense, it must be said that as soon as you put the shoe one, you forget that it is heavier than the average shoe. But, you should probably not get this shoe if you want to set a new record on a 5 km route.
Saucony Xodus ISO 3 is perfect for ultraruns, long distances, or the one who just wants maximum comfort when you move out there in the terrain. You get a level of protection and comfort here that is quite unparalleled.
Saucony Koa ST
– For the most challenging conditions
Saucony Koa ST is the shoe that loves mud! With its super aggressive outsole with 8 mm studs, this shoe is designed to keep you on your feet and drive you forward no matter how soft, muddy, or challenging the terrain is. I have never seen or tried on a shoe that has as much grip as the Koa ST. It is wild!
The upper is made in a synthetic Flexfilm material that repels mud and moisture. It is not 100% waterproof, but the shoe is, compared to most other trail shoes, super easy to clean after a muddy run. The upper is durable, elastic, and provides a great and flexible hold of your foot. And, it also closes tightly around your foot, so that mud, branches, small rocks, and dirt have a hard time getting into the shoe.
The toe box is asymmetrically shaped, which means that, in comparison to other trail shoes, your toes will have a bit more space.
The Saucony Koa ST also has a quick lace system that makes it easy and simple to adjust the fit (should that be needed) on your run.
The low heel-drop and stack height (the distance between the surface and the foot inside the shoe) provides a great connection with the surface, so that you can quickly react to changes in the terrain.
The midsole is moderately shock-absorbing and relatively firm. It feels just right, as the shoe is primarily designed for running on softer surfaces.
There is a stable toe cap on the front of the shoe, which protects your toes against shocks.
Run in soft (and muddy) terrain. The long studs on the shoe are quite flexible though, which means that you can easily use the shoe on firmer surfaces. But, it is best suited for soft terrain where it ensures maximum grip!
Saucony Peregrine ISO
– For speed across all distances
Saucony Peregrine ISO shares its name with the fastest animal in the world, the peregrine. That is probably not by accident, as the Peregrine ISO invites you to run fast in all kinds of terrain. The Peregrine ISO
combines a relatively low weight, excellent grip, and high comfort, making it the perhaps most all-round trail shoe on the market!
The quite aggressive outsole has 6 mm studs and is made of a super adhesive rubber mix called PWRTRAC. This mix ensures sublime grip and traction on all surfaces.
The midsole consists in PWRFOAM topped with EVERUN, giving you a super smooth and comfortable running experience. The shoe reacts quickly when you change direction or do a quick launch, letting you handle the most challenging trail routes brilliantly!
The upper is made of a soft and comfortable mesh that is very breathable and fits you really, really nice. On the front, there is a reinforced toe cap for rocks, branches, etc.
Saucony Peregrine ISO is the obvious choice for the one who wants a bit of everything. It is light, fast, and super all-round. The shoe is best on and off-road in woods, but it can also handle mud, rock, and even short stretches of road, if you happen to meet that on your run.
Saucony Switchback ISO
– For a free and natural running experience
Saucony Switchback ISO is a light, fast, and very flexible trail shoe. The shoe is in many ways a trail specific version of the popular road shoe Saucony Freedom ISO.
Saucony Switchback ISO stands out from the three others in this test on several points. First of all, the shoe is equipped with a BOA-closing, letting you tie the shoe by turning a wheel. This means that you can quickly adjust how tight it is and that you are ensured a great and tight fit above your insole with its excellent hold. At the same time, there is actually a lot of space around the toes. The reason is that the Switchback ISO is the shoe with the most space widthwise of the four shoes in this comparison.
Even though the midsole consists of 100% EVERUN (like the Saucony Xodus ISO 3), the shoe is not as soft and shock-absorbing as the Xodus ISO 3 or the Peregrine ISO. It feels a bit firmer under your foot. Instead, you have the very best feeling of the surface in the Switchback ISO, meaning that your balance is better and that you can react more quickly to changes in the terrain.
The outsole is the least rough out of the four shoes. This means that the grip of the shoe is not quite strong enough if the surface is very soft and muddy. But on all other surfaces, it stands strong and firm. And out of the four shoes, this shoe is best suited for running longer stretches on firm surfaces and road, whenever you come across this on your run.
You should pick the Saucony Switchback ISO, if you want a light, fast, and flexible trail shoe with a great feel for surfaces, and a shoe that allows your foot to move a bit more freely and naturally than the other shoes.