Monday, July 20, 2020

Saucony Canyon TR Multi Tester Review: A New Max Cushion Door to Trail Option

Article by Renee Kursemark, Jeff Valliere, Canice Harte and Sam Winebaum

Saucony Canyon TR ($120)


The Canyon TR is a brand new model from Saucony with maximal cushioning (34mm/26mm), a PWWRUN TPU/EVA blend midsole and PWRTRAC 3.5 mm lugged outsole with a woven rock plate. It is aimed squarely at the door to trail niche.


Weight: men's 11 oz / 312g, women's 9.7 oz  / 275g

Samples US M9 11.2 oz / 317g, US W8 L:9.81 oz/278g R: 9.88 oz/280g US M10 11.64oz/330g 

Stack Height: 34mm heel / 26 mm forefoot, 8mm drop

Releases July 2020. $120

Pros and Cons


Renee: Secure upper, which well balances the outsole and total weight under foot

             Breathable upper

Comforting midsole and ride for long runs

Jeff V/Sam:  Secure, breathable and supremely comfortable upper, cushioning, versatility

Canice: Comfortable with good protection under foot and across your toes. The midsole provides good ground feel as well.


Renee: Heavy weight (may be more of an issue for smaller runners)

Pointy toe box (not an issue for me necessarily)

Jeff V/Sam:  A little unstable on rocky/technical terrain mainly due to extreme heel stack, a bit on the heavy side.

Sam: How much is to much.? I think the Canyon’s stack could be slimmed down to reduce weight and increase rear stability.

Canice: Heel hold is lacking in technical terrain and the shoe can roll under foot. The shoe also does not have a cushioned feel on road, and given the Canyon TR is a “door to trail” and back again shoe, it needs help in this department.

Tester Profiles

Renee is a former U. S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She runs a half marathon around 1:40 and hopes to get a full marathon at 3:30(ish) some day. Not today. But some day!

Canice is a 2 x finisher of the Wasatch 100, the Bear 100, Moab 100, Western States 100, and Leadman 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 in traditional road races and triathlons.

Jeff V.  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 63 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

Renee: My first impression was positive. I had the moonrock/mutant color, and I loved the look. Yes, the light color upper shows dirt and mud easily, but I had no issues getting the shoes clean after getting them muddy. 

Heavy rain did all the cleaning work for me. On foot, the shoes felt great for my feet thanks to the high stack of 34/26mm. I’ve been running uneven surfaces and long distances with light weight shoes, and my feet were starting to feel sore!

The Canyon TR fits a good gap in my shoe rotation with its high stack and comforting midsole (read on for the details!). Of course, it is heavy; in fact, very heavy for me. At 110-115lbs, wearing a 9.8 ounce (women’s size 8) shoe is substantial. The Canyon TR is my heaviest shoe ever.  That said, the shoe is well balanced because of the secure upper, making it heavy yet stable. I ran 80 miles to test the shoes, two runs at 20 miles, 70 miles total on country roads (one run in muddy/soft conditions and one run in the rain) and one 10 mile on flat pavement. Because of the weight, this shoe works for me on only long, slow runs: a place where it is and will continue to be appreciated.  

The shape is pointy in the toe box, which was not an issue for me, but I do think some runners might need to go up a half size. The toe box is not pointy enough to be too narrow in the toe box as compared to the Speedgoat 4, for example.  I typically wear a women’s size 8 (occasionally a size 7.5), and the size 8 worked well.  For runners between half sizes, I suggest trying the half size up. 

Jeff V:  I was immediately struck by the look of the Canyon TR, with it’s classy Gray upper, orange logo and lime tongue and laces which all mesh together really well.  Build quality and materials are clearly top notch and the outsole is very reminiscent of the Switchback.  Sliding into the Canyon TR was pure heaven for me, as the shoe fits my low volume just right, true to size and is exceptionally comfortable with a secure feel.

Canice: While most door to trail shoes focus on the road aspect of the run I was excited to see the Canyon TR had good protection under foot and across the toes. The Canyon TR looks like a shoe you would turn some quick miles in on the trail, and while the shoe fits and feels comfortable on, it leaves a bit to be desired both on road and the trail.

Sam: I was immediately struck by the road shoe like front and overall road look of the Canyon's upper, pointier than most trail shoes and the contrasting light gray bright mutant orange and green. 

A bit worried about durability I then noticed the lower diagonal almost translucent overlays intended to provide some support and wear protection. The fit was true to size and consistently secure from heel to that locked to the platform with a no slop forefoot and some what the pointy toe box, not really an issue on my narrow to medium width feet. And given the 34/26 stack height and especially the heel such an upper is clearly in order 


Renee: The engineered mesh upper is comfortable and breathable. I ran two 20-mile runs in muggy 85-90 degree weather, and a good amount of air enters the upper. 

The flexible 3D print overlay goes across the heel around both sides and the toe box. The overlay was not intrusive for me and does provide protection from water and mud entering the shoe (to some regard because once it rains, water will enter through the upper regardless; there is a gaiter hook though). I found that the overlay provided some stability between the upper and the outsole. 

Overall, the shoe is well balanced and stable for that reason, even on uneven terrain. The upper is very secure throughout and the tongue provides enough padding without being too plush. The laces are a good length and I never felt that I needed to retie the shoes on my long runs (20 miles). The upper mesh is breathable, but tight knit enough so that water didn’t enter the shoes during moderate rain. In heavy rain, the shoes became heavy and the drainage was not the best.  An hour in the sun post-run and the shoes were dry throughout. 

The heel counter and collar were a perfect height for me: low enough to not rub against my ankles but high enough to be supportive. Overall, perfect upper for this shoe.  The toe box shape is pointy, which I mentioned in my first impressions. The shape didn’t bother me, and I had plenty of room for my toes. 

Jeff V:  Renee’s description above is spot on.  This is one of the best uppers I have experienced this year, fit for me is just perfect, a secure heel, secure midfoot with once and done lacing, just enough stretch to the laces and booty style tongue for ease of entry and added stability.  

Comfort is superb and while not necessarily generous in the forefoot, I don’t necessarily feel that it is at all constraining, however those who prefer more generous toe boxes might find it to be a bit pointy and the wrap around 3D print overlay does a great job with protection and security.  

The engineered mesh, while not the most minimal, is protective, durable, flexible and adequately breathable, even in temps in the 90’s, I never felt as though my feet were excessively warm.  Security is very good and I feel no movement at all when running fast on steep terrain or rocky technical trails.

Canice: I too enjoyed the upper of the Canyon TR but I found it to be a bit warm when running in 90˚ heat in the Wasatch Mountains. Nothing too crazy but if you’re in a warm climate beware. From a fit and finish perspective the upper is great. 

The tongue is a bit on the thick side but I like the extra cushion across my instep, so for me this was a positive attribute.

Sam: The others have described the upper well. The fit and feel is all of a piece and secure. Any “less” upper and the foot would struggle with the high stack height.


Renee:  PWRRUN as in Peregrine and Mad River with more stack than either.

I found the midsole very useful for my slow long runs. It’s not a plush cushion, but soft enough to be responsive. The shoe overall too heavy for my size and strength, but I do understand how bigger and stronger runners could push the pace. After running 20 miles on uneven surfaces, my feet were tired, but were never sore. And my inner ankles never hurt, which often happens in similar high stack shoes (Pegasus Trail 2, for example). My legs and feet were refreshed after my two 20-mile runs in the Canyon TR. The 8mm drop is ideal for road to trail; a lower drop might be more useful on technical terrain, but for a road in the mix, 8mm offers a good balance.

Jeff V:  I find the PWRRUN midsole of the Canyon TR to be very well cushioned, moderately firm and moderately responsive.  The Canyon TR is certainly not a notably fast shoe, but I find that I can move efficiently quick for long periods of time with great protection, comfort, efficiency and minimal impact.  The stack height is high, though given the height combined with the width of the shoe, I find them to be a little bit tippy on uneven, rocky terrain.

Canice: I agree with Jeff’s assessment. The midsole is good and provides good cushioning but it does not give the feeling of a lot of cushion nor does it have a lot of bounce or pop when running. I found the shoe to run fine but I would like either more ground feel or more cushioning for the door to trail portion of the run.

Sam: Plenty of cushion for sure here but as Canice notes not alot of pop and bounce. I really wonder with a 26mm front stack height if the woven rock plate is really needed for the door to trail purposes as my sense is it may be contributing to the fairly stiff ride and maybe to a touch of front instability. 

And yes they tend to be a bit tippy when pushed due to the 34mm rear stack on what is a relatively narrow, for the stack, underfoot platform.


Renee: The PWRTRAC outsole is similar to the Switchback 2 outsole, but the lugs are more spaced apart and slightly larger in width (not length). The lugs are small, which is good for a road-to-trail shoe. I found the grip to be good on dirt and loose gravel. In mud, the lugs are spaced too far apart, and for that reason, the dirt collects and struggles to fly off when returning to dry surfaces. I had to stop and scrape the mud off, which is not something I have to do for the Switchback 2. This isn’t a fault, as most trail shoes collect mud when I run wet country roads. Overall, the outsole works well for my country road running. 

The braided rock plate helps with stability, which again is great because I’m running uneven surfaces (and again, the stability is surprisingly great for such a high-stack and heavy shoe). 

Jeff V:  As Renee covers above, the PWRTRAC outsole with 3.5mm lugs are very similar to the Switchback 2 in shape, depth and look, however the lugs are larger and spaced further apart.  

I find this outsole to be surprisingly versatile and grippy on a wide variety of surfaces.  I have run them on packed dirt trails, dirt roads, pavement, gravelly trails, rocky technical trails, off trail, slabby rock and minor scrambling and the outsole has hooked up very well, with the only exception being on steeper, loose terrain and steep off trail, I would ideally look for a bit deeper lugs, but overall I am very impressed.  

Durability thus far appears to be above average.

Canice: For me running dry trails in Utah I had plenty of traction and found the rubber grips well on wet surfaces such as downed trees along the creek. When you see the outsole it’s obvious it’s not designed for really wet and boggy areas, but for a door to trail shoe it’s comfortable on the road and you’ll have plenty of grip on the trail.

Sam: A perfectly fine general purpose trail and door to trail outsole which likely will only be inadequate in very muddy or loose conditions. I like the smoother feel on hard ground of lower lugged denser array outsoles such as we see here. I found it handled smoother single tracks even with loose sand and gravel perfectly well.  I found the similar Swtichback ISO outsole superb on snow covered roads and as such will have me using the Canyon for longer snow road winter runs. 


Renee: I found the ride comfortable, overall. The shoe is well balanced for its weight and stack height, providing great stability for running hilly, uneven country roads. I did not run with the shoe on technical terrain/trails as it is heavy for me to control going up steep inclines and declines. I also do not run mountain/rocky terrain, so I can’t comment about the ride or grip in those conditions. I hiked a short 3 mile trail on the buttes in western Nebraska and found them comfortable for hiking with the outsole was good for rock and loose dirt. 

Because of the weight, my foot hits the ground slow and hard, so I wasn’t able to run anything but slowly with these shoes. For my slow long runs, that’s great. For shorter, easy day runs, the shoe is still too heavy. I like my easy runs to be around 9 min/mile, or about 1 min/mile slower than my marathon pace, and in the Canyon TR, I ran closer to 9:30 min/mile. For my long slow run, I don’t care about pace, so the Canyon TR works well. Definitely not a shoe I would race in or use for pace and tempo runs.

Jeff V:  I find the ride to be very smooth, comfortable and predictable on moderate and less technical terrain, a joy to run in, and adequate for long distances.  While cushioning and protection are certainly adequate for rocky and technical terrain, the Canyon TR is a bit unstable.

Canice: I found the Canyon TR to transition from heel to toe smoothly and the turnover felt natural. And just as I was starting to get into a groove with the Canyon TR, I started noticing the heel rotating under foot in technical terrain, which forced me to throttle back and alter my gate, which I was not psyched about. Generally speaking the ride is good but it has its limitations.

Sam: I found the ride extremely consistent on all surfaces, very well cushioned but on the firmer side and firmer and more stilled on road than the Endorphin Shift with the same PWRN foam midsole and more of it yet. The addition of the rock plate here and the lack of the Shift’s SpeedRoll action clearly shows. Non technical trails were fantastic to run, very smooth and fast for such a big shoe with a muted but not boring feel. Downhills went fine too until you get past what the incredible upper can do to hold you on such a high and relatively narrow heel platform.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Renee: I think the use and likeability of the Canyon TR might depend on the size and strength of the runner. For me, at around 110-115 lbs, the Canyon TR is heavy, and I can’t run anything but slow in these shoes; for that reason, I like the Canyon TR for my long, slow runs. 

The midsole is comforting (cushioned but not soft), the upper is secure, and overall the shoe is well balanced between all of its parts. The stack height provides comfort too, yet the shoe remains stable on uneven terrain.  For me, this is a great choice for my 20 miles (or farther) slow runs. For any other type of run, the Canyon TR won’t work, but it is appreciated and worn for long slow runs. The Canyon TR is a great choice for my back-to-back days of long runs. My only negative about the shoe is the weight, and I think that might not be an issue for stronger runners; the pointy shape of the toe box might be a concern for some.

Renee’s Score: 8.9/10 (-1.0 weight, -.10 pointy toe box)

Jeff V:  The Canyon TR is a great max cushion, any distance, versatile door to trail shoe that can easily handle a wide variety of surfaces and terrain, from roads, dirt roads to moderately technical trails.  I found the upper to be exceptionally comfortable, secure and breathable.  Quality and durability thus far are proving to be excellent and the PWRUN cushioning is firm, but forgiving and moderately responsive.  It is by no means a fast or light shoe, nor is it made for all mountain use, but is a great option for those longer runs on moderate or easier terrain, recovery days and the like.

Jeff’s Score:  9.5/10

Ride: 9.3 - very smooth and comfortable ride

Fit: 10 - for my low volume foot, the Canyon TR is as good as it gets

Value: 9 - $120 is very fair

Style: 9.5 - this is a sharp looking shoe!

Traction: 9 - very good for the low profile lugs and versatile door to trail outsole

Rock protection: 9.5 - the flexible braided rock protection layer is quite effective, combined with the maximal cushion.

Canice: I have mixed feelings when it comes to the Canyon TR. On one hand, the shoe is comfortable and has a smooth ride on mellow trails and is offered at a fair price. On the other hand, the shoe is not particularly great on the road portion of the “Door to Trail” run and it’s not particularly great on the trail portion of the run. It’s good, but not great.

I hope Saucony keeps working on this style and dials it in. The Canyon TR needs to lose some weight and it needs to perform better on the road portion to really find its place in the lineup, but I would give these shoes a try if you’re in the market for a mellow pair of trail shoes.

Canice’s Score: 9.2/10






Rock Protection

Overall Score

Percentage of Total
















Sam: A door to trail shoe is always a challenge to create, balancing road friendly cushion and outsole with the more secure needs and traction of the trail. I was surprised that I actually preferred Canyon TR on moderate trail to road as Canice did.  The trail ride is just the right balance of slightly bouncy and at the same time stable cushion I like. 

The big stack plus rock plate lacked some pop, some easy road roll as the Endorphin Shift, Saucony’s max cushion road shoe with the same PWRN midsole with 4mm more of heel and 8 more mm of forefoot stack has. Shift comes in close to an ounce less in weight. The Canyon could lose some weight in comparison and in general. Shift for sure doesn’t have a trail worthy outsole but does have a very effective rear stabilizing extended medial heel cup which might have helped the Canyon solve that rear more technical trail stability issue mixing in a dose of the Shift’s Speed Roll or some additional flexibility by leaving out the rock plate. 26mm is plenty of forefoot protection without a plate for door to trail use.

The upper is fantastic, as I prefer a solid lockdown front to back and for me is the best of any 2020 Saucony trail shoe although at long distances or for wide feet the pointy toe may be an issue for some.

The Canyon at $120 is a solid value for a versatile max cushion moderate trail with some road shoe. 

Sam’s Score: 9.1 /10

Ride: 8.5 (30%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 9 (10%)Style: 9.5  (5%) Traction: 9 (15%) Rock Protection: 10 (10%)


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Compared shoes are of the same size for each reviewer unless otherwise noted.

Saucony Xodus 10 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  Close in weight, but edge to the Xodus, which also is more responsive, more stable, better traction and perhaps more versatile, however not quite as much overall cushion as the Canyon TR.

Sam: I agree with Jeff.  Xodus 10 is far more versatile leaning towards trail but a very fine heavier duty road shoe as well. Not light but you can go anywhere with a smile in the Xodus 10 with its bouncier PWRN+ all TPU midsole and impeccable security and stability. Canyon while lower cost has a ways to go to match its pricier stablemate.

Saucony Mad River TR 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  I find the MR2 to be more stable with better traction, but overall cushioning and underfoot protection, as well as ventilation is not quite as good as the Canyon TR.

Canice: The Mad River TR 2 outperforms the Canyon TR on both the road and the trail and is $10 less at retail.

Sam: Same midsole foam, no rock plate a bit more tractions profile, lower stack and the Mad River shines in the ride department as the Canice says. This said the Canyon upper has a considerably more secure upper if not as roomy and high up front.

Saucony Peregrine 10 (RTR Review):

Jeff V:  The Peregrine 10 is lower to the ground, more stable with better traction and lighter.  Peregrine 10 cushioning is also very firm, good for predictable technical and off trail speed, but for shorter distances.  The Canyon TR weighs a good bit more, but has far more cushion and is more appropriate for longer runs, less technical terrain and door to trail.

Hoka Speedgoat (RTR Review)

Renee: Between the Speedgoat 4 and the Canyon TR, the Canyon wins. I can’t wear the Speedgoat 4 because of the narrow toe box. So, although the Canyon TR toe box looks pointy, it was nowhere near as narrow for me as the Speedgoat 4's. The Speedgoat 4 would be a better choice for technical terrain and racing, and some runners might prefer the rocker ride of the Speedgoat 4 for controlling pace across long distances.  

Jeff V:  I find the Speedgoat 4 to feel more plush, and more responsive (probably in part due to the rockered outsole), with better overall traction, particularly traction in loose conditions.  The Canyon TR upper however offers superior fit, with stability not nearly as good as the Speedgoat.

Canice: These are very different animals. The Canyon TR has a very nice upper and a good midsole package. The Speedgoat 4 is a high cushioned trail machine designed for taking on any Ultra you dare put in front of it. The Canyon TR is meant to be a mellow trail shoe that you can run on road or trail.

Nike Pegasus Trail 2 (RTR Review)

Renee: Overall, I would choose the Trail 2, only because I can use it for a variety of paces, but I strongly prefer the Canyon while running long distances on harsh, uneven surfaces. The Trail 2 was painful on my inner ankles on uneven surfaces. Both the Trail 2 and Canyon TR are max height and cushion shoes that are pushing my limits for the weight of a shoe. In my size, the Canyon TR weighs .6 ounces more and feels much more heavy than the Trail 2. The upper and total lockdown of the Canyon TR is much better than the Trail 2. Overall, the Canyon TR is much more balanced and far more stable, making it a better choice for uneven surfaces. The Canyon TR is a shoe that works best (for me) on only one type of run: my 3-4 hour, very slow runs. It’s just too heavy for me, but very appreciated when I need to run slow and have my ankles and feet supported. I think stronger/bigger runners could probably push the Canyon TR to faster speeds, but I can’t. The midsole of the Canyon is not as plush as the Trail 2, but still soft. 

Canice: I found the Pegasus Trail 2 to be unstable in the heel on technical terrain as I did the Canyon TR, but the Pegasus Trail 2 is insanely fun to run on dirt roads due to the high level of cushioning and bounce you get when running. The Canyon TR wins the day on rock protection.I would love to see the Canyon TR developed more in this direction but with improved heel stability.

Sam: I concur with Canice but did not find the Trail 2 as "insanely fun" on dirt roads. It was fun through. I would give the traction edge to the Canyon 

Nike Wildhorse 6 (RTR Review)

Canice: The Canyon TR outperforms the Wildhorse 6 on road and smooth trails, and the Wildhorse 6 outperforms the Canyon TR on technical trails. They’re similar in cushion but the ride is different between the two. The Canyon TR has a smooth transition from heel to toe and the Wildhorse 6 has more ground feel and stability.

Hoka Stinson ATR (RTR Review soon)

Jeff V:  The Stinson is much softer and cushy and while the upper is excellent, not on par with the Canyon.  Stinson is much wider and more stable.  Canyon TR traction is better for a wider range of terrain with a more sticky rubber compound.

Salomon Sense Ride 3 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The SR3 is a little lighter, but both are close in performance, cushion and overall versatility.  While the SR3 is by no means an all mountain shoe, I find traction and stability to be superior and thus a bit more adept on technical trails.

Sam: Ride 3 a superior mountain/trail shoe for sure, more stable and about equally as cushioned  but not a shoe to take that much on the road where Canyon can go with greater ease.

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was a provided at no charge. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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Anonymous said...

I was really hoping this would be my next road to trail shoe but the instability And narrow toe box puts me off. I’m a big fan of the Shift and love it for the added stability as my left foot over pronates. I’d love a recommendation for a fun light trail shoe that is fairly light but stable. I love the look of the catamount but wonder if this wouldn’t be right for me either? Great review as always! Thank you

Unknown said...

Do you know when these will be available? Keen on picking up a pair and I heard release date of 1 July, but still don’t seem to be on sale yet.

Lazaros said...

Hi, in terms of fit how does the Canyon TR compare to the Ride13. I have tried the Guide 13 TR but that is no good for me as the support it provides is too noticeable and the part between the toe box and laces (is it called vamp?) is too narrow for me.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Lazarnos,
Fairly similar with the Ride 13 maybe having a touch more width (really more about a more pliable upper) but there there iare a slightly noticed stiff pieces (end of lacing plus a stiff reflective tab in that area. Not an issue for me but there. Note the Ride 13 is a flexible shoe whereas the Canyon is a more rigid profile. Ride 13 is a great road shoe . My 2020 daily trainer of the year. See below for reviews
Sam, Editor
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Lazaros said...

Thank you Sam, this is useful.