Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Saucony Xodus 10: Any Trail, Any Surface, Any Road. Supreme Versatility, Maximal Performance, and Fun

Article by Jeff Valliere and Sam Winebaum

Xodus 10 ($150)

The formerly near hiker Xodus sees the most significant changes making it a great new option for a super cushioned, more maximal trail cruiser and as we found out much more.. It drops a massive 2.3 oz / 65 g as the midsole changes from Everun to the plush new PWRUN+  expanded bead TPU foam which is said by Saucony to be 3x more durable and 3x less temperature sensitive than EVA, 2x as flexible, and 25% lighter and absorbing 5% more impact than Everun. It weighs 11.7 oz / 332 g men's, 10.5 oz / 298g women's with a 31.5mm heel 27.5mm stack, 4mm drop. Releases 2/1/20. 

Jeff/Sam:  Unrivaled versatility, as the Xodus 10 transitions seamlessly from technical mountain terrain, to easily doubling as a road running shoe.  
Traction.  Cushioning.  Protection. Comfort.  Secure Upper. Smooth Transition.  Response.
Sam:  a superbly smooth and quite energetic ride on all surfaces from technical trail to road from a very well matched midsole bounce and outsole firmness and the woven rock plate's protection and light propulsion.  
Jeff/Sam:  Still a bit on the heavy side, but a vast improvement over previous iterations and they run lighter than measured weight.

Official Weight: men's 11.7 oz / 332g :: women's 10.5 oz / 298 g
  Samples: men's US9: 11.82 oz / 335g, men's US10: 12.25 oz / 346g
Stack Height: 31.5mm heel 27.5mm stack, 4mm drop. 
Releases 2/1/20.  $150

Tester Profiles
Jeff  runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 
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 just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 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.

First Impressions and Fit
Jeff:  I have run in a number of Xodus models over the years and have just been lukewarm on them, at least for running.  Traditionally they have been comfortable, well protected and well cushioned, but the weight has crept up and up, to the point where they had essentially become more of a hiking shoe you could run in and not at all a shoe I would consider for dedicated trail running.  That has changed entirely now with the Xodus 10, dropping ~2.3 ounces. 

It is very evident when pulling them out of the box and upon sliding them on, that this is a completely revamped shoe. The Xodus 10 feels significantly lighter, more streamlined, flexible and more responsive.  Fit is true to size, very secure, yet accommodatingly comfortable with room in the toe box for swelling and splay that should accommodate a wide range of feet without compromising security. The outsole is more versatile as well, reducing lug height from 6mm to 5mm and reconfiguring the tread design and adding locations for drilling in ice screws for traction or for drilling drainage holes.
Sam: I have nothing to add to what Jeff says above! I will add this is my first Xodus as prior versions in no way inspired me due to their weight. Given availability of samples I was sent a half size up from my normal 8.5 and the fit with medium socks is just about right, a touch roomy but very comfortable and secure.  Saucony wisely “insisted” we test the Xodus alongside the Peregrine 10, including pairs with the Peregrine and I am super thankful they did!
Sam: As with all 2020 Saucony trail and road shoes ISO Fit is gone in favor of a simpler, lighter and yet more secure and light approach to uppers.  I particularly like how well the welded overlays support without being noticed or constraining due to their great match in pliability.

Jeff:  The high abrasion mesh upper is excellent, providing an amazing combination of fit, comfort, security, flexibility and breathability.  The welded overlays provide very good support while the toe bumper integrates seamlessly with the wrap around rand for very good protection from rocks and minor splashing.  The booty style well padded tongue is a nice touch adding to security, comfort and step in ease. The lacing is very precise and secure, though the flat laces are a touch on the thin side and require multiple knots to keep from untying.  The heel counter is well structured and padded, providing great heel hold and stability.

Since I almost always run on technical trails and often venture off trail, secure foothold is a key factor for me, so I made a point to put the Xodus 10 through the ringer.  Given how comfortable, non constraining and accommodating the Xodus upper is, I was very pleasantly surprised to find that there was hardly any give (if any really) when pushing hard on steep technical terrain, rock hopping, running straight down steep fall line, aggressive side hilling. My feet felt securely locked in, stable and I feel confident.

Other nice touches include the gaiter ring and lace keeper to keep the laces nicely in place.

Sam: We first tested PWRUN+ in the road Triumph 17 and all our testers enjoyed the plush and energetic ride. I did too, but thought the outsole got in the way upfront as it was stiffer and the shoe was also somewhat back weighted at slower paces. Not so here on trail or..road. 

PWRUN+, an expanded TPU bead foam similar to Boost and Everun in general make up, is a significant improvement over the heavy stiff Everun found in previous Saucony including the prior Xodus ISO 3. 
In the photo above the beads seem more consistent in size than what we typically see in TPU bead midsoles. Saucony says this expanded TPU foam is 3x more durable and 3x less temperature sensitive than EVA, 2x as flexible (we saw that), and 25% lighter and absorbing 5% more impact than Everun. While I can’t quantify as Saucony does it sure feels that way. I particularly note that in cold conditions the midsole feel doesn’t seem to change.

The PWRUN+ midsole is at the same time plush and soft and also energetic with some nice well controlled and not sloppy bounce (looking at you Boost) and it is of course helped along by a well matched PWRTRAC outsole which with the woven rock plate is decently flexible. Unlike many, if not most trail shoes, there is no “slapping” on road or firmer trail which is the sign for me of just the right flexibility and outsole hardness. Shift from road to trail and back, no matter, where the midsole is well cushioned, energetic, stable and fun.

Jeff:  The expanded TPU bead PWRRUN+ midsole is a huge improvement over the previous EVRRUN, as it is flexible, bouncy, lighter, softer and more responsive.  I have to say I was a bit shocked as to how quick and responsive the Xodus 10 feels on the trails on uphill, downhill and flowy singletrack, it runs like a much lighter shoe and I often forget that I am indeed running in a maximal shoe, until I find myself running on rocks, hard downhills and pavement where I am well aware of all of the protection and absorbing cush this shoe is providing.  Despite the 31.5/27.5 stack on 5mm lugs, the Xodus 10 with PWRRUN+ feels lower and more stable, and very predictable underfoot.

During my first run in the Xodus 10, I had a road approach to the trail and was very intrigued as to their road performance, they felt very smooth and the aggressive tread went unnoticed underfoot on the pavement.  I then decided to dedicate a 10k road run to them (well, half hard frozen improved dirt path) and the other half cement path. Total shocker, as the Xodus 10 just cruises easy and easily cruises fast! They are bouncy, yet incredibly smooth and absorb shock so very well, without me feeling the least bit beat up during or after the run.  I completely forget that I am running in a maximally cushioned/treaded trail beast (whose last version was really a heavy hiker).


Jeff:  The full length PWRTRAC outsole with woven rock plate provides very effective grip on a wide variety of surfaces.  I have not yet had a slip or tentative moment running on rocky technical trails, dry or wet, steep and loose off trail, compacted snow, slush, mud, etc…. And the now lower profile 5mm lugs and revised lug pattern add to the versatility by performing very well on the road.  In fact, I am not sure I have ever run in a shoe that transitions so well between road and trail, while being not just competent at each, but exceptionally good if not great at either and much of this is dependent upon this PWRTRAC outsole and it’s integration with the PWRRUN+ midsole.

Flexibility is very good, with excellent contouring and reasonable ground feel, while providing top notch rock/underfoot protection.

The outsole is truly any trail and road too. Quite amazing as the aggressive 5mm lugs do their job gripping snow and rock just as well as smoothly cruising road. I really appreciate the flexibility with rock protection here from the woven rock plate seen through the outsole in the picture below. It also includes locations for placing ice spikes/screws as well for drill out drainage holes. See below.
Sam: Just as versatile as the rest of the shoe, the PWRTRAC outsole performed superbly on all terrain including road where there was none of the usual slapping and firmness of most trail shoe outsoles. The black longitudinal parts appear to be a firmer rubber and likely help give the shoe its great torsional rigidity for stability over the soft PWRUN+ midsole. Clever, as the strips don't seem to interfere much with flexibility and provide a solid surface to screw in ice spikes. Grip on looser snow was also particularly good when combined with the relative flexibility of the shoe which allowed the lugs to really dig in with the foot. 

Jeff:  The ride is very smooth, stable, responsive, well cushioned, yet not the least bit mushy on both road and trail.

Sam: Jeff is totally right. An uncanny combination of smoothness, quite bouncy cushion, and smooth flexibility on absolutely any terrain or for that matter road with impeccable stability and security. The ultimate road to any trail hybrid ride. In fact for me, the best maximally cushioned plush road ride to date and a great shoe for recovery runs and moderate paces on road.. Just wished they were lighter as while weight truly isn’t as noticeable as the scales would indicate it is there. Want less weight at a mere 8.8 oz / 249 g  with the magic PWRUN+ ride, the woven rock plate and a BOA closure? I can wait for the Swtichback 2 (RTR Preview), also converted from Everun to PWRUN+ and coming  later this year 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Jeff:  I am incredibly impressed with the Xodus 10, not just from the perspective that it is a huge advancement for the Xodus model, but this shoe is supremely versatile.  First and foremost, this is a trail shoe and does that job remarkably well, perfect for full days on your feet, Ultra distance events, short runs, high mountains, technical trail, off-trail, door to trail, you name it, the Xodus 10 does it well.  As an additional bonus, the Xodus 10 runs remarkably well on the road and while not road shoe, can cruise many miles at a decent clip with no trouble in the least. The Xodus 10 is an ideal daily trainer for just about any surface, condition or duration, will fit a wide variety of foot shapes and sizes, is durable, well cushioned and protective.  If you are the one shoe in the quiver type, this is your shoe.
Jeff’s Score:  9.7/10
Ride: 9.9, Fit: 9.9, Value: 9, Style: 8, Traction: 9.5, Rock Protection: 10, Weight: 9

While the Xodus 10 is certainly one of my favorite shoes and biggest surprises in some time, I think that the Xodus 10 could still stand to trim a ½ oz or even an ounce.  Styling, at least in the black colorway I received for review is a bit bland, and hopefully will be available in a more appealing colorway.

Sam: An incredible all terrain, and any road, maximal cushion shoe and a total shocker. The versatility and utility is off the charts from daily training on any surface, to any trail run even the most rugged, to ultra racing, to hiking. Thus it gets a perfect 10 for Value below  The weight is up there for sure, the only reason to deduct some fractions from Ride but not really as noticed as it could be as the ride is so smooth, energetic, and cushioned. I agree with Jeff the styling of our samples in all black is a bit to stealth (and very hard to photograph!)
Sam’s Score: 9.6 /10
Ride: 9.7 (30%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 10 (10%)  Style: 8 (5%) Traction: 9.5 (15%) Rock Protection: 10 (10%)

Comparisons Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Saucony Peregrine 10 (RTR Review)
Jeff:  The Peregrine 10 is a bit lower to the ground with a more firm midsole, is lighter, less expensive and has a more secure and performance oriented upper.  The more secure upper, firmer midsole and lower stack make the Peregrine more appropriate for faster running in technical terrain (though no problems with Xodus 10), but the Peregrine 10 does not match the Xodus 10 for it’s all around versatility, cushion and road performance.
Sam: agree with Jeff 100%

Salomon Speedcross 5 (RTR Review)
Jeff:  Both close in weight, but  I find the Xodus to be a much higher performer with less aggressive tread, yet still overall better traction, better response, better stability, better versatility and comparable comfortable fit.
Sam: The only place Speedcross might outperform the Xodus is in very deep soft snow or mud,

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 (RTR Review)
Jeff:  The Speedgoat has more cushioning and shares many of the same wonderful attributes as the Xodus, however I think those who balk at Hoka fit will prefer the Xodus.  The Xodus is also more responsive and while not as light, feels as light, is more stable, more agile, with better ground feel and runs better on the road.

Salomon Sense Ride 3 (RTR Review)  
Sam: While Sense Ride 3 is an ounce lighter, the Xodus is way more fun to run and just as stable and secure and is better cushioned particularly at the forefoot.  Xodus deeper chevron lugs also performed better on soft snow trails while they are less noticed on firm ground including road, 

Brooks Cascadia 14 (RTR Review)  
Jeff:  The Cascadia 14 was one of my favorites for 2019 and shares many of the same attributes of the Xodus 10.  The Cascadia is a bit lighter and perhaps overall quicker, but Xodus has a more grippy and versatile outsole, a more cushioned midsole and better road/road/trail performance.

Saucony Triumph 17  (RTR Review)  
Guess what, while heavier I much prefer the more balanced and more flexible Xodus, on road before we even take it to trail for all more moderate paces where the Triumph struggles for me and is not as much fun even as it shares the PWRUN+ midsole with the Xodus.  

Mizuno Wave Sky Waveknit 3 (RTR Review)
Sam: My 2019 favorite cushier recovery road trainer is easily dethroned in 2020 by the far more versatile, smoother, softer and more energetic Xodus and that is saying something.

Xodus 10 releases 2/1/20

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Jeff Valliere said...


mark said...

Enjoyed the review guys. How would you compare the Xodus to the Salomon XA Elevate
for technical trails or a 50k? I'm trying to find a good replacement for the XA's.

Sam Winebaum said...

Thanks Mark! Both Jeff and I really really liked the XA Elevate and it is a worthy comparison. I will also let Jeff chime in but the Xodus has a somewhat roomier upper especially upfront. The XA is firmer and more responsive while Xodus is softer and bouncier and about equally stable front to back. I very much liked XA on the road as a firmer stiffer kind of trail shoe. It was fast with lots of pop and of course great on the trail. The Xodus is overall easier on the legs, more cushion, more flexible if an ounce heavier. I think the Xodus would take me on longer runs on any terrain than would XA
Sam, Editor

Jeff J said...

Wow, sounds like Saucony really nailed it with this revamp. Can’t recall almost any review where you guys waxed so eloquently about a shoe? Impressive to say the least. Would like to see your other New England native tester Jacob? give these a whirl. I believe he’s a Speedgoat fan and would be interested in his thoughts. It’s officially now on my list of shoes to test for White Mountains torture and by golly also what a good sloppy conditions winter road option which I need. Now please let black NOT be the only color option.
Also, is this going to be available in a Gore-Tex version as well?

Jeff Valliere said...

Mark, Sam gave a good comparison. I would likely favor the XA Elevate on runs that involved more off trail, rock hopping, scrambling, steep side hilling, etc.... Though the Xodus 10 would truthfully handle all of the above very well too. I would for sure favor the Xodus 10 for longer distances, as it has a softer, more well cushioned feel and more accommodating toe box for a full day of swelling and comfort.

Jeff J: I think the Xodus 10 would be a great New England shoe (I spent my first 20 years in NH), I would not hesitate to pick these for a quick Huntington/Tucks/Lions Head sort of loop. Not sure on Gore version, but would not be surprised. I think there will be other colors beyond the black (see Sam's TRE preview video).

Jeff Valliere said...

Actually, video from Outdoor retailer:

mark said...

Guys thanks for the detailed responses. It was your review of the XA that got me to buy them
and after 3 pairs, I'm leaning toward the Xodus now. As nice as the XA is, it would definitely be nice to have
some more cushion.

Jeff J said...

Comes in a steel blue color also apparently. MUCH better

Jeff said...

Great review as always, thanks! How do you think this shoe would perform for a warm weather ultra? And if the course is dry and not to technical would you choose the upcoming Canyon TR with it’s smaller lugs for a smoother ride? Eying these shoes up, along with the Caldera 4, Speedgoat 4 wide and the new Olympus for San Diego 100.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Jeff,
The Xodus has a fairy dense but pliable more conventional mesh upper. While I have not personally run them in warm weather I think it would do fine and very likely would be great for keeping dust out. As far as its lugs vs "smaller" for me zero issues on firm terrain. In fact on road an amazingly smooth ride, the best I can recall for such a highly cushioned shoe. Not that I am doing a 100 as of now it would be my choice for any 100 especially a smoother one but I would also take it anywhere most technical.
The Speedgoat doesn't flex much at all and may be to much shoe for the course despite having great cushion.
The Caldera 4 should also be in consideration. While I did not personally test yet it definitely fits the bill for such a course from what I can tell. See our just posted review at the link below.
Sam, Editor
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