Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Saucony Guide 13 Review: Support without Feeling it (that much) and a Lively Responsive Ride

Article by Canice Harte, Hope Wilkes and Sam Winebaum

Saucony Guide 13 ($120)

Sam: The Guide 13 sees significant changes from prior models of Saucony’s lighter /support stability shoe. It gets a new midsole foam PWRRUN a TPU/EVA blend in a single slab with no longer in the mix the medial post of high density EVA foam typical of traditional stability/support shoes.

Instead of foam post we see an L shaped translucent TPU plate at midfoot. This approach is more focused on “guidance” than a firm block of foam and represents a growing trend in stability oriented shoes. Brands such as Altra (Paradigm) and Brooks (Ravenna and Adrenaline) are also going away from the firm foam post using supportive “rails” on the medial side above the midsole and often flaring also flaring the midsole below. Here Saucony chose to place the support element on the medial side wall of the shoe wrapping under the foot above the outsole with barely any flaring of the midsole on the medial side. The upper also see changes as Saucony gets rid of its ISOFit system replacing it with a more conventional lacing system. The Guide 13 is my first Guide as I have generally steered clear of posted shoes in the past but here was intrigued by the potential for more subtle support. I do appreciate a touch of stability but have not been wowed by the rails approach which often seems to make the shoe stiffer and harder to transition from midfoot than I would like.

Canice:  The big takeaway here is you get lots of support without feeling it. There are definitely “max” support shoes in the market that provide more support  but the Guide remains lively and fun to run yet supportive. Saucony has struck a great balance here.
  • Truly guided not brick like support. Very stable rear of shoe, with an agile front for such a big stack.
  • PWRRUN is a fantastic midsole. Lots of response (in concert with a great outsole) and a touch of bounce which takes its firmer edge off. A set-up to go fast  in daily training yet with stability
  • Solid value at $120 for a state of the art shoe.
Hope: Reflective Elements!

Sam: A bit lumbering and over supportive just after heel landing. Guide would be a total home run for me without or with less of the medial guidance plate and/or less continuous medial outsole coverage.
Canice: Not really a lot negative to report here. I guess if I could ask for anything, it would be to make the shoes lighter but the Guide punches above its weight class and delivers a great shoe.
Hope: Not that smooth of a ride -- I could feel the individual outsole elements


Estimated Weight:: men's 10.5 oz /298 g (US9) 
Sample: 10.27 oz / 291g US M8.5
Stack Height: 32.5mm / 24.5mm, 8mm drop
Available November 2019. $120

First Impressions and Fit

Canice:  If I walk into most any running store in America, they’ll tell me I need support and will likely try to sell me an orthotic of some type and some form of stability shoe. They might be right, but this is also a business tactic that most stores use to increase their sales. I should know as I owned a specialty running store and most sales reps and business conferences direct you to do this.

I am a lifelong neutral shoe runner and I hate the blocky feeling of stability shoes. I always feel like I’m standing on a post or like something is poking the bottom of my foot. But I have to say the Guide is the exception for me. I love running in this shoe. I find it supportive yet I never “feel” it when running and that is great. The Guide 13 fits true to size, is comfortable and has a nice spring to it when running. 

Hope: +1 to what Canice said! The treadmill and gait analysis videography at your LRS is meant to help them to sell you more stuff as much as it is for you to get a feel for the shoes. And yes, the Guide 13 lands in the “guidance” category (i.e. light support) more than the “support” category (i.e. heavy-duty support), so it doesn’t feel blocky or otherwise weird standing around.

My real first impression of the G13 has to do with the upper. Looking down on it from above, it has a pointed toe and isn’t obviously foot-shaped. The departure from ISOFIT back to a more conventional construction (now in the new paradigm of one-piece uppers) seems to have created an aesthetic challenge for Saucony. But the fit is what I would expect: my US W9.5 fit with a thumb’s width of room up front. The upper is soft and molds to my foot nicely. The padded heel collar is especially comfortable.

Sam: The fit is very secure contributing to overall security of the shoe. The weave is on the dense side, pliable yet with plenty of ventilation holes. While not an overly roomy, the fit is true to size. Saucony wisely focused hold at the mid foot to rear here leaving the toe box area overlay free and pliable.  Lace up is very easy and fuss free. The upper look is purposeful and conservative with overlay patterns nicely highlighting (and delivering) increasing support as you move towards the rear of the shoe.


Canice: The upper is soft and breathable and traditional in construction. The tongue has good padding, the cushion around your heel feels great and the upper fabric stretches with you as you wiggle your feet about.

Sam: Echoing Canice the upper is soft and pliable up front, very secure from midfoot back with a dense weave and a vertical thin overlays to really lock down the foot.

The ISO Fit is not missed here at all. The more conventional lace up with short notched lace eyelets (sort of a vestigial ISO Fit) works very well.
The tongue is moderately padded with no bootie. The rear collars well padded and on the firm side, certainly firmer in feel than the very plush soft and stretchy Triumph 17’s collars. A very solid foot look down.

Hope: Questionable looks aside, this is a good upper. As the guys have indicated, it’s soft without being too plush and it offers confidence-inspiring lockdown with room to wiggle the piggies.

Sam: The PWRRUN midsole foam here is a TPU EVA blend. A responsive yet well cushioned feeling foam it will be in shoes such as the Guide 13, Kinvara 11 and  3 new flavors of the Peregrine 10. It is somewhat firmer more responsive (in combination with the outsole) than the all TPU PWRRUN+ found in the new Triumph 17, Saucony’s neutral pairing to the Guide 13.

I must say I prefer PWRRUN so far to PWRRUN+ as it provides great cushion while not being mushy or overly bouncy. Yet unlike straight EVA, there is also a touch of welcome bounce here, not much, but just enough. The midsole has not exactly an easy days soft feel but an everyday hard miles feel.

The TPU guidance plate was noticeable when the shoes were new but after a few runs has faded into the background but still no mistaking it there is some extra medial support.

Hope: Sam has this pegged, and he has the goods on the specs and positioning. PWRRUN offers more directed cushioning than PWRRUN+ which feels more like an updated version of Boost. It didn’t make a big impression, but I appreciated the resilience and responsiveness of the cushioning. Good (especially if you need extra support), but not world-beating.

Canice: The funny thing is the marketing of this shoe is spot on. It’s well cushioned and responsive. It’s like a Subaru, good at everything but not great at any one thing, which is what makes it great.


Sam: The outsole has plenty of durable rubber and unlike the Triumph 17 no crystal type rubber. I prefer the more responsive feel of "real" rubber finding crystal rubber oddly soft.
The Guide is also quite flexible or more accurately flows well at toe off given the Tri-Flex outsole up front with its very adequate cross shoe gaps to the midsole, something the Triumph 17 could use. 
The TPU plate extends to the outer edge of the inner blue midsole above
The extensive firm medial blue rubber for sure contributes to the shoe’s stability and may be more of a factor in that area than the side wrapping to underneath TPU plate. I wish for a touch less continuous rubber on the medial side and maybe less or a more segmented TPU plate underfoot.

Canice: The outsole is par for course and does it job well. I have not experienced anything much one way or the other and give it a thumbs up.

Hope: This section is usually where I have the least to say. Assemble an outsole with at least average durability, good grip in the rain, and that doesn’t contribute too much weight and I’m happy. So I was surprised when I could feel the different pieces of rubber that make up the G13’s outsole (heel piece, medial piece, forefoot piece) while running. I’m hardly a good casting fit for royal role in “The Princess and the Pea,” so that I was sensitive to this was unusual. I think a softer rubber compound would work better here. Grip is good and durability is great.


Canice: Going back to the fact that the shoe is a stability shoe and I can not feel it, I have to give this two thumbs up. I find the ride to have a medium feel as it relates to “liveliness” and  times I feel it is a bit dense on heel strike, but it has a nice balance between the two.

Sam: No question this is a stability type shoe but also for sure of the more mellow stability variety.  The rear of the shoe is super stable without totally overwhelming or being harsh and blocky as hard post stability shoe are. I agree with Canice it is bit dense on heel strike but also not bottom heavy there or overhanging as I found the Triumph 17 to be. The ride from the PWRRUN midsole is excellent: plenty of cushion and highly responsive with more than decent front flexibility. I do wish for a touch less plate and medial outsole coverage as while transitions were fine I could use a bit more get up and go after heel landings. 

Hope: My experience mostly mirrors Sam’s: I would’ve appreciated less outsole as it made transitions feel somewhat choppy. Recognizing that this is a light-support shoe that could help people who need it, I’m chalking this up to “not meant for me” and accepting that I’m not going to love everything about the feel of a guidance shoe when I’m a neutral runner who almost exclusively trains in neutral shoes. It’s just doing its job!

Conclusions and Recommendations

Canice: At $120 you get a lot of shoe for your money. The Guide 13 is stable without feeling it, it has a nice ride and overall it’s very comfortable. If you’re looking for moderate stability, give the Guide 13 a try.
Canice’s Score 9.7 /10 

Hope: This one is not for me, but if your gait truly warrants a bit of stability, the Guide 13 is a good option that happily comes in at a wallet-friendly price. Saucony has created a shoe that provides support without a blocky medial post. The comfortable upper fits well and those who complained about ISOFIT(not me, I liked it!) will be happy to find that it’s easier to achieve lockdown quickly with this updated non-ISOFIT design.
Hope’s Score: 8.35/10
Ride: 7 (50%) Fit: 10 (30%) Value: 10 (15%) Style: 7

Sam: Stability/support shoes are not my usual but I enjoyed the Guide 13. Those who typically run with support type shoes likely will really dig its lighter touch, less blocky approach. If you are a more neutral shoe runner looking for a touch more stability, especially when tired but with hard miles to do, the Guide is an excellent choice  They are an excellent value. The new PWRRUN midsole is outstanding in its lively combination of cushion and response. I do think Saucony could go yet further in reducing the plate size or segmenting the outsole coverage more at mid foot and not lose the stability characteristics of the shoe and deduct in Ride below for that.
Sam’s Score: 8.9 /10
Ride: 8.5 (50%) Fit: 9 (30%) Value: 10 (15%) Style: 9 (5%)

Comparisons  Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
Saucony Guide ISO 2 and earlier Guide models
Sam: I did not run prior Guide models so am not able to make that comparison.

Saucony Triumph 17 (RTR Review)
LEFT: Triumph 17 RIGHT: Guide 13
Sam: Weighing exactly the same, the Triumph 17 is the neutral cousin to the Guide. Softer, bouncier, less responsive Triumph has a superior upper in terms of comfort. I prefer the Guide’s more streamlined smoother heel landing and more agile toe off. If it wasn’t for the somewhat overdone guidance features of the Guide, for my preferences, hands down the faster ride and better forefoot agility and flexibility of the Guide. I can’t wait for PWRRUN in the next Kinvara, coming soon!

Hope: The Triumph 17 is a bit ponderous (so much shoe, so much midsole!) for my taste and the Guide 13 is a guidance shoe that meets stability needs I don’t have. That being the case, I’d slightly lean towards the Triumph 17, but in a first for me, I’m going to punt on this -- if you like a super soft shoe and are willing to deal with a bit of extra weight, consider the Triumph 17. If you like a firmer, more responsive ride or need a touch of stability, consider the Guide 13.

Brooks Ravenna 10 (RTR Review)
Sam: The Ravenna is considerably lighter. I found that its Guide Rail stability system was overly long and stiff. Its midsole is not nearly as responsive and is firm in a dull way whereas the Guide 13’s is far more lively.

Hope: I wasn’t enamored of the Ravenna 10’s overly harsh heel (it desperately needs more sculpting!), but this is a gorgeous shoe with a flawless upper. I’ve kept it as a walkaround shoe. For running, choose the Guide 13.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 
Sam: I did not review the Adrenaline GTS 19 but did run it. Yet more and amplifed of the same comments I made about Ravenna 10. A real chore to run the GTS 19 for me. This said it has a wonderful upper that is more comfortable yet than the Guide 13’s.

Hope: The Adrenaline GTS 19 was far too blocky in the medial arch and heel for my taste. Like Sam, I did appreciate its fine mesh upper. The Guide 13 is a better buy in my book.

adidas adizero Tempo 9 (RTR Review)
The Tempo is about 0.5 oz lighter and with a mildly dual density Boost midsole for medial support and also features an exterior of the mid foot midsole stabilizing overlay. The Tempo is a faster, aptly named “tempo” shoe, but not the everyday trainer the Guide 13 is. The Tempo upper is not nearly as polished and comfortable particularly towards the front where overlays get in the way.

Tester Profiles
Canice is a 2 x finisher of the Wasatch 100, the Bear 100, Moab 100 and Western States 100 as well as many other Ultras. He regularly competes in Expedition Length Adventure races with his longest race to date 600 miles as well as traditional road races and triathlons.
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 62 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the 1:35-1:41 range and trains 40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 165 lbs.

The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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Anonymous said...

I currently run in the Saucony Ride ISO 2 but am considering a mildly supportive shoe for some of my runs. Would you say the new Guide 13 runs firmer or softer than the Ride ISO 2 on a run? Thanks for your comments.

Sam Winebaum said...

Need to pull out Ride ISO 2 to more closely compare but about same firmness for Guide but more cushion especially forefoot and a touch more rebound due to the TPU in with the midsole EVA. Sam, Editor

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sam

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam, How does it compare with the Hoka Rincon and Skechers gorun ride 8, from moderate to fast paces and cushioning levels, is it firmer or softer underfoot. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Hello... compared to Hoka's Arahi 4?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
The Arahi 4 is less overt in its support feel underfoot as essentially it comes from two layers of foam whose firmness is not that different Please check out our comparative with Guide, Arahi 4, GT 2000, and here: https://www.roadtrailrun.com/2019/11/reviewed-and-comparedhoka-one-one-arahi.html
Sam, Editor

Marybeth said...

I have been running in Saucony Ride 10s and cannot find them anywhere in my size. Would the Guide 13 be a reasonable shoe to choose to replace the Ride 10 or is there a better choice?

Unknown said...

Has anybody in RTR ran in the Guide 13 TR. I am wondering if they will be a good option for road to trail type running, specifically the marathon part of some of the full distance triathlons I do. I would probably appreciate some good, cushioned support when I'm tired during these races.