Saturday, May 06, 2017

Saucony Zealot ISO 3 First Runs Impressions Review: The Zealot Relaxes Some More

Update: see our full in depth Zealot ISO 3 review here
The Saucony Zealot ISO 3 ($130, available nowe) is softer overall and more flexible, especially up front, than Zealot ISO 2 (review here).
Its weight drops  0.77 oz/ 22 g over its predecessor,  My size 9 US weighs 8.6 oz/244 g, women's 8 comes it at 7.3 oz/ 207 g.  It's great when shoes lose weight!
Stack: 26mm heel/ 22 mm forefoot, 4 mm drop

The ISO 3 flex grooves are deeper and give the shoe a long easy flex.

The firmer medial side midsole of the ISO 2 is replaced by an entire midsole of a single density of Saucony high rebound PowerFoam, formerly only used in shoes with PowerGrid.

PowerFoam is also used in the midsole of the just released Ride 10 and is close in feel to Skechers 5GEN, Hoka's RMAT in the Hupana and Salming's new Recoil in the EnRoute all injected EVA blends with some pop. A bit less bouncy and firmer than RMAT, a bit firmer than Recoil especially in heel, it sits for me somewhere between the 5GEN in the GOrun 5 and GOmeb Razor with a firmness a touch softer than the Brooks Launch 4 but more energetic than the Launch. 

The front outsole rubber is softer than the Zealot ISO 2, and a touch to soft for my taste. (Update: Saucony is telling me my pre-production sample may have softer than spec front outsole rubber).
The heel rubber is the same very firm and effective for pop off the heel and road XT900 rubber of the Zealot ISO 2. It has less of it but it's still a nice responsive pop of the road from the heel outsole rubber while at the same time there is also a bit less heel landing shock.

The ISO 3 gets an engineered mesh upper. The widely spaced ISO loops and lacing relieve all  top of the foot pressure, super effectively but hold the foot well . They surely also contribute to losing some weight as the ISO 2 had thicker exterior straps. Two straps extend diagonally to the midsole from each big lace green loop.  It has is a more relaxed fit than ISO 2 and should also fit higher volume feet well.  I was sized up half a size but would better fit at true to size

This should be a very comfortable and lively long run shoe and I am thinking especially well suited to be a marathon racer.  The ride is smooth , soft up front. I wish the outsole rubber was a bit firmer up in front as I also felt the Ride 10 should have but my early sample may be off.  In many ways despite being a more substantial, more cushioned and much more modern shoe I consider the Zealot ISO 3 to be a successor in the line up to original early versions of Kinvara, a natural riding low drop shoe,  While it is a bit less snappy and softer, it still has that great Zealot pop off the heel to transition and a higher rebound cushion overall. Quite frankly I am not sure the Everun layer under the insole is even needed with PowerFoam.
Saucony Zealot ISO 2

The Zealot ISO 3 in comparison to the Zealot ISO 2 (RTR review) has a far more accommodating modern upper and the best implementation of ISO Fit to date, is lighter, has softer midsole PowerFoam instead of SSL EVA, is considerably more flexible and has a softer forefoot outsole, to soft in my opinion. Overall it gains in comfort but loses a bit of snap for me.

The Zealot ISO 3 may remind some of the Skechers Performance GORun 5 review here with it unstructured relaxed upper and soft bouncier ride but here there is a better foot hold for me and I appreciate having firm thick heel rubber under such softer midsoles.

If you prefer somewhat firmer and stiffer with a shorter flex and with a more traditional upper and drop head over to the Saucony Ride 10 (review here). I personally prefer the higher achilles collar of the Ride to the fine but low slung one of the Zealot. If you prefer firmer, lighter, and stiffer with more firm responsiveness head over to the Hoka Clayton 2 (review here). Saucony's Freedom ISO (review) is somewhat softer and bouncier and despite an identical 4mm drop feels lower. It is less structured in its heel support and road feel. The Saucony Kinvara 8 is lower weight but we found the heel to be soft and not particularly lively with its more traditional SSL EVA midsole (review here).

Full Zealot ISO 3 review soon.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!

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silverm said...

Thanks for the review! I had the 1st Zealot, which I enjoyed. How much differentiation is there between the Zealot, Breakthrough, and the Ride? They seem pretty similar in cushioning, drop, and weight. How would you choose between them?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Mark, I have not run in the Breakthru but of the 3 it is the only one with the old school SSL EVA midsole, firmer with less bounce. Breakthru also has an 8mm drop as does Ride 10 but the Ride 10 has the new lively PowerFoam as does the Zealot ISO 3. Increasingly I am seeing the Z3 as the more cushioned, more modern all around successor to the early Kinvara. It is softer and more flexible all around than the Z2 and lighter as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm most excited for this one. Big fan of the first Zealot, not so much of the second. The Kinvara 7 are just a bit too narrow and firm for my liking. This one should do nicely. Thanks for the review.

Bill said...

Hi, thanks for the review. Despite how many folks are still apprehensive to try Skechers, I have had great success with them -- especially the latest Go Run 5. I've run marathons in Hoka Clifton's last 3 years but recently have a snarky PF/achilles problem in one foot. After all the requisite PT and drills etc, I tried different shoes and the flex in the Go Run 5 has healed the problem. Now I'm on a search for a little more substance/structure to support my foot over 26.2 than the Go Run 5 provides without losing that great underfoot flex that my PF so needed. Since you include the Go Run 5 in your comparison here, perhaps you are the only person I can find who has tried both lol. Do you think I am barking up the right tree here, is the Zealot ISO 3 a candidate for what I am looking for, flexible cushioned underfoot and a bit more structure in the upper? Thanks for any thoughts you may have.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Bill,
Yes the Zealot ISO 3 has more structure and is not quite the slipper the GR 5 is. GR 5 for sure is comfortable but not enough structure for me for longer stuff. Have you looked at the GO men Razor, a firmer more responsive flavor to the Run with a more supportive upper although a wide heel cup at the base. Review comparing to GR 5 here I think you may find the Zealot ISO 3 a step up in cushion and support without being overwhelmingly so. Another to look at the new GOrun Ultra R2 only 8.5 oz, super cushioned with a great upper but stiffer flexing. Definitely very supportive from upper to under foot for such a light shoe. We just posted our review here.

Sam. Editor
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Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Bill, realized after I replied that you were commenting on our first impressions review. Our full in depth review of the Zealot ISO 3 is here We have 10 comparisons including a short one to the GOrun 5. Sam, Editor