Article by Nils Scharff, Jeremy Marie, Marcel Krebs, Renee Krusemark, Jeff Valliere, and Sam Winebaum
Saucony Endorphin Trail ($160)
Editor's Note: Saucony has paused the Endorphin Trail.
Our team has identified an inconsistency in the midsole component of a very small percentage of our Endorphin Trail shoes. While we thoroughly investigate the issue, we are pausing all marketing of the shoes."
Our test team has not as of yet noticed any issues. The affected version is the "Reverie" color way. The Endorphin Trail is expected to re emerge Spring 2022.
Nils: Last year’s Endorphin collection from Saucony was outstanding. Not only was the Endorphin Pro the first Non-Nike marathon super shoe which was able to challenge the omnipresent Vaporfly with its siblings the Endorphin Speed and Shift were among the best shoes of last year in their respective categories and fan favourites. While Speed and Pro were quite similar shoes, the Shift on the other hand was a bit of an outlier with another midsole foam.
What all three had in common were different but outstanding uppers, a high stack and last but not least the Speed Roll technology - that's what Saucony calls their impressively fine-tuned rocker.
When the first leaks of the 2021 Endorphin collection found their way onto different online platforms it looked like Saucony wanted to play it safe this year. Endorphin Pro, Speed and Shift 2 were all supposed to be upper updates. And I get it - don’t fix what ain’t broken. But it’s kind of boring for me as a shoe reviewer.
But then - BOOM - there it is! First pictures of a massively stacked Endorphin Trail hit the internet and of course expectations went through the roof. And now it’s here in my hand - let's see if the Saucony Endorphin Trail can live up to the hype!
Sam: I too was struck by the news of an Endorphin Trail. When we received the spec sheet I saw that its midsole foam would be the same PWRRUN PB PEBA pellet approach as the Speed and Pro have with a big stack height of 36.5 heel / 32.5 forefoot so approaching the road Endorphin Shift’s 38/34.
No plate for this rigid profile shoe but Saucony’s Speed Roll which immediately caught my curiosity as many high stack trail shoes lack flex for climbing, agility, and smoother terrain toe off. Would Speed Roll help fulfill those roles? We could also see an outer patterning on the midsole which is more than mere paint. It is a thin dense mesh web of support and protection.
The upper takes Saucony’s checkered flag motif beyond highlighting that’s for sure! The upper is a net mesh with many front black overlays, and more longitudinal thin translucent ones along with interior midfoot ones. So basically a thin heavily armoured single layer mesh. Would it hold the foot to the big platform?
The full coverage outsole has widely spaced 4.5mm lugs and appears to lean soft ground.
It all looks super promising but the 308g / 10.8 oz weight of my US8.5 (approx. 315g/ 11.11 oz in a US9) gave pause but then I realized how much stack and outsole was in the mix and that is only 0.3 oz more than the Speedgoat 4, a shoe Saucony is clearly targeting with their Endo Trail.
While Nils and Jeremy have many kilometers in theirs, I have one solid 7 mile trail run and an 8 mile most road with some trail in mine. Several others on the RTR team are currently testing for a next multi tester round of the review.
Jeremy: Saucony trail shoes have only gravitated around the Peregrine line for me, and more of the early versions - starting with the #2. I’ve always seen them as simple, light, effective shoes, but as years passed, they became more of built-up, long distance and quite heavy shoes and I think my last one was...the sixth iteration, which disappointed me to the point of ruling them out as an easy safe-buy.
I stayed clear of the Endorphin line last year but seeing all the positive reviews they got, they were high on my list, combining lightweight, cushioning, speed, and the Saucony fit that I know works well with my feet. When I heard about the Endorphin Trail, without seeing the specs, I was expecting, perhaps naively, a trail-worthy version of the Endorphin Speed: a lightweight, cushioned speed trail shoe with a slim outsole, close to the one found on the Switchback.
Well...how far from the truth it was! The first pictures proved me wrong big time. The Endorphin trail is a high stack, heavily lugged trail behemoth! Nevertheless, it comes with a standard Endorphin package: lots of cushioning thanks to the PWRUN PB midsole, Speedroll technology, a quite rigid midsole without a ton of flex despite no rockplate.
The weight was a bit of a disappointment, coming at 350g/12.5oz in my US10.5/EU44.5, the outsole and upper playing a big role here.
Clearly an ultra-trail oriented shoe given all the specs, but let see how all this tech comes together in this (first?) iteration.
Marcel: When Saucony launched its Endorphin Series back in 2020, the Endorphin Speed and the Endorphin Shift very soon became my go-to shoes for many occasions in my extensive shoes rotation. This holds true until today, which is probably one of the biggest compliments a shoe-tester can make considering the sheer amount of shoes we are reviewing each year. Therefore, the Saucony Endorphin Speed even became my Shoe of the year 2020. Having such a promising history with the Endorphin Line, you might imagine how pumped I was when I heard about the upcoming Endorphin Trail.
After the first photos became public, the thought of an Endorphin Shift for light trails came to mind immediately. Read on to learn to what extent this expectation has been confirmed and how the Endorphin Trail has then surprised me at one point or another.
Renee: I agree with Jeremy. When I heard “Endorphin Trail,” I immediately thought of a trail version of the Speed. The heart wants what the heart wants! Instead, The Endorphin Trail is very much the trail version of the Shift rather than a trail version of the Speed. Perhaps Saucony will offer a complete Trail lineup of the Endorphin Series. If so, I’m all in for a trail version of the Pro and Speed.
Nils/Sam/Jeremy/Marcel/Renee/Jeff V: Most protective shoe I’ve ever run in!
Nils/Sam/Jeremy/Marcel: Energetic ride!
Nils/Sam/Jeremy/Marcel/Renee: Very stable for such a big stack height!
Sam/Jeremy/Marcel: Easy, secure, no adjustment on the run lace up
Nils/Sam/Jeremy/Marcel: Speedroll works as well as on all it’s siblings - road and trail!
Nils/Jeremy/Renee/Jeff: Aggressive lug pattern provides good traction and refuses to catch mud!
Sam/Marcel/Jeff V: Superb upper which is up to the task of securing the foot to the big platform while not over constraining. Great implementation of a partial bootie, the tongue only.
Nils: It’s probably the best shoe I own for extended downhills!
Nils: It’s not soft (and is very stable) and therefore can handle technical terrain even with its massive stack!
Jeremy: Very nice mini-bootie tongue
Sam: Excellent door to trail option. Apart from noticing the outsole at the forefoot very stable energetic and smooth road ride. Better than Shift for me if heavier.
Sam: Very solid weight for substance (upper support, cushioning, big traction)
Marcel: Accommodating toe box even for wider forefoot
Nils/Sam/Jeremy/Marcel/Renee/Jeff V: No sugarcoating here - it’s a heavy shoe!
Nils/Jeremy/Jeff V: Warm upper!
Nils/Jeremy//Jeff V: A bit too slippery on wet rocks - not dangerous or unrunnable but you can feel that you are losing traction!
Sam/Jeremy/Marcel: Outsole leans soft ground and firm dry. Lower profile, more extensive broader lugs could reduce weight and improve versatility
Nils: No 2nd lacing hole for the runners knot!
Nils: Stretchy tongue and laces could impact foothold!
Jeremy: Upper is a bit constrictive on the midfoot, even after ~100kms I find it a bit too tight.
Jeremy: hotspots/chafing on the external side of the midfoot, on every run.
Jeremy/Jeff V: Immensely protective ride, but far too disconnected for my taste, slightly leaning on the clunky side.
Approx. weight: men's 315g/ 11.11 oz US9
Jeremy: US10.5 /EU44.5: 356g/345g - 12.55oz/12.16oz (Left/Right)
Marcel: US10 / EU 44: 341g/339g/g - 12.03oz/11.96oz (Left/Right)
Nils: US10.5 /EU44.5: 357g/357g - 12.59oz/12.59oz (Left/Right)
Sam: US8.5 308g / 10.6 oz
Renee: women’s US8 9.69oz/275g
Stack Height: Forefoot: 32.5mm, Heel: 36.5mm, Drop = 4mm
Available 7/15 from Saucony HERE $160
Nils is 30 years old, located in Heilbronn, Germany. "I've done all sorts of sports for all my life, often 5-7 times a week. But my young running career just started 3 years ago with a company run which I joined together with some colleagues in 2017. From there I never let go. I ran roughly 1000km in my first year, doubled and then tripled that number in 2018 and 2019. I've run 4 marathons to date with a PR of 2:57 marathon. My other PRs are 18:14 for the 5k, 37:33 for 10k and 1:23 for the half."
Jeremy MARIE, French, 40y/o. Running since 2013 and quickly transitioned to trails, focused on ultras since 2015 : TDS, Maxi-Race, “100 miles du Sud”, 90kms du Mt Blanc, GRP 120kms, Some shorter mellow races (Saintelyon 45kms, Ecotrail Paris 45kms…) with always in the mix road and flat running, but not many road races. Recovery/easy runs ~4’45/km - 4’30/km
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 64 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 48 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 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs if he is not enjoying to many fine New England IPA.
Marcel, 40 years old, works and lives in as a Legal Technology Consultant and is an avid Obstacle Course Racer (OCR). In addition to his fascination with shoe releases for road and trail, Marcel is also passionate about technical innovations and gadgets.
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 has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.
Jeff V. runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's.
First Impressions and Fit
Nils: Saucony’s theme for the release colourways of the Endorphin 2 collection is the checkered auto racing finish flag. On all four shoes you can find the black&white checkered pattern. Even the shoebox of my Endorphin Trail is checkered top to bottom. I must admit that I’m not the biggest fan of that design decision. When I saw the first pictures I thought it must be an April Fool’s joke. Last year Saucony killed it with all the great colourways their design department pulled off. In comparison that racing flag theme looked like an intern’s work to me. But as I’m holding all the Endorphins besides the Shift in my hands now, the design grows on me.
But design is a highly subjective matter anyways. Besides that - what stands out while pulling the Saucony Endorphin Trail out of the box for the first time? I would say first and foremost the aggressive outsole with its yellow, full rubber coverage. That thing looks mean! And then there’s a kind of coating covering the midsole. We were discussing here at RTR what’s the reason for that and which midsole compound hides behind that coating (more on that later). And then there’s of course the massive stack height. But that was kind of expected in an Endorphin.
Once slipping the feet in the Saucony Endorphin Trail I felt right at home. I don’t know how Saucony is doing that, but each and every of their models just fits in my standard size US 10.5 like it is custom made to my feet.
The ET is no different. Compared to the other Endorphins it definitely has more room in the forefoot which is very well appreciated. The upper is kind of stretchy and wraps perfectly around my feet and should do so for many. All in all the ET is more comfortable than I expected it to be. But to be honest: I had something more racer-like in mind. This one weighs 357g in my US 10.5 which is heavy, even for a trail shoe. Lets see what it can do on the trails besides that weight!
Sam: Ah the checkered flag motif of the mid 2021 Saucony releases! Here the whole shoe is covered with it. A totally different and unique look. And I say why not! Not only an air of mystery but striking and different as so many of this year’s hot shoes are pastels and bright cheery colors. Saucony clearly saying they mean business here and that the shoe is not the usual.
The fit is a perfect true to size for me. Plenty of appropriate well held toe box and midfoot room and a super solid heel hold. All without binding or squeezing anywhere. The foot truly feels as one with that giant platform no matter the terrain or pace. Lace up is super easy and during my first run I didn’t have to touch the laces once, very rare for me with a brand new shoe.
Jeremy: These are monsters! Even the box they came in was even substantially bigger than the others in the collection I received. Kudos to Saucony for putting their 2021 trademark color scheme - the checkered flag - on the boxes too. It clearly stands out from the crowd.
I liked this unusual design as soon as I opened the box. It makes for a totally different look, despite being basically white and black. Some subtle color touches infuses some...life and joy to the shoe: on the upper (on the tongue, laces “wires”) and of course there’s this big bright yellow outsole that begs for rocks, mud, roots and trails and seems to scream “bring out the harsh stuff, I can handle it!”.
And of course, with the shoe in hand, there’s no doubt that they’re made to go the distance: rugged, heavy, substantial...the ET are real behemoths.
The expression says “an iron fist in a velvet glove”, but I find the ET to be the opposite: an iron “outer” with a velvet inner.
The fit of the shoe is dialed-in - even a bit too much constricting for my liking, but without any pressure spots. The mini-bootie tongue, which offers a good amount of stretch, makes a good combination with the upper to ensure a nice and tight foothold. This kind of construction seems more and more common on trail shoes (On CloudUltra, S/Lab Ultra 3) and I think it’s a really effective design. The fit is TTS for me, and my usual 10.5US/44.5 EU fits like every other Saucony I have (safe from a Peregrine iteration that gave me gigantic blisters on the heels…), trail or road: a nice midfoot hold, solid heel hold, and just the right amount of toebox room. The fit of the ET really conforms to my foot shape.
Despite the volume of the shoes, they really feel like an extension of the feet - albeit a heavy one.
Marcel: My valued colleagues have already summed it up very accurately: A very good heel hold, a massive sole and a spacious, but not really much wider toe box than the Speed 2 and the Shift 2 as well as absolutely true to size. The color scheme is indeed a matter of taste. For me personally: I like quite gaudy colors such as the typical red of the Salomon S-Lab series as well as some classic styles like the all black Inov-8 TerraUltra G270.. At the same time, I also prefer comparatively clean styles. That's why there's a bit too much going on visually for me in the ET. However, I do like the new color scheme of the Endorphin series - especially the Speed 2 and the Shift 2, where the color scheme also looks a bit summery. But as Nils already wrote so beautifully: The look knows more to please with every look.
Renee: I received my Endorphin Trail after reading the reviews of my fellow RTR reviewers. My expectations of a trail version of the Speed were already replaced with what I knew was a heavy, high-stack cruiser. I can’t fault the weight too much. The Endorphin Trail is not meant to be a light, fast, or nimble ride. Although I dislike heavy shoes, Saucony makes well-balanced trail shoes that fit me well and provide good comfort for several hours of running. For example, I continued to wear the Canyon TR and Peregrine 11 for my long runs months after completing my reviews. The fit is true-to-size. I wore a women’s size 8, which is what I wear in all other Saucony shoes (road or trail).
Nils: The upper of the Saucony Endorphin Trail is certainly one of the more comfortable ones I’ve worn in a trail shoe yet. The main material which wraps around mid- and forefoot is a mesh of at least two layers. From the inside it is even slightly padded. This feels nice and is for sure protective, but I have to wonder if that shouldn’t have been the first thing for Saucony to save some weight. In addition to the weight penalty the result is a very warm shoe as well. It probably wouldn’t be my first choice for a desert race.
From the outside there are some substantial overlays which provide additional structure. In addition to the big Saucony logos, a web of narrow and kind of transparent overlays also support the upper all around. That’s very similar to what Saucony has done with the Endorphin Shift 2 and Speed 2.
A pliable midfoot cage made of a perforated mesh with some denser fibers in the mesh for support provides even more midfoot hold.
A thick rubber toe-bumper protects all of your toes and a good part of the forefoot as well.
The tongue of the ET is made from a stretchy material, slightly padded and sewed directly onto the upper.
It actually isn’t a real tongue, but more of a sock or bootie like construction. The stretchiness of the tongue makes for a very versatile fit in the midfoot area. The ET should therefore a wide variety of foot shapes.
For my narrow midfoot, the tongue’s material overlaps a little. But I never noticed that on the run in any negative way. Pull tabs on the tongue and the heel help to slip into the shoe effortlessly even without a real tongue.
The lacing doesn’t use simple holes - which would have been the easy and lightweight option. Instead there’s a double line of thick ropes (blue) stitched all around the “tongue”. Within this line, loops come out to thread the laces through them. This construction looks and works well and is very robust. But in combination with the flat, but slightly stretchy laces, it’s a bit tricky to get a tight lockdown. It’s never loose or bad, but never as perfect as I wished it to be. I’m probably going to exchange the laces for something non-stretching. One important note: There is NO second lacing hole at the rear collar to utilize the runners knot!
Around the collar and the heel the Saucony Endorphin Trail provides medium thick padding, which holds my heel perfectly in place.
A substantial external heel counter reaches far in the direction of the midfoot and helps with stability. The latter hasn’t been an issue for me as an overpronator even with the ET being such a high stacked shoe.
Sam: Nils has described the upper well. Solid, very solid hold with no area over or under done front to back. In my recollection it has the first “bootie” type tongue that is both easy to slip into and totally secure.
Its 100% connection to the upper and central webbing strap with blue cords sewn in, and light interior padding cushion the laces and provide a bit of structure to what is a fairly thin material. Just works. During my first run after first lace up never even came close to having to adjust lacing even as the new shoe stretched as they all do during a first run. A really effective tongue construction!
Jeremy: Nils has extensively described the technical details of the shoe’s upper. It is for sure a well thought-out upper aiming for a very secure foothold. I think Saucony has done this in a very clever way using stretchy fabric parts where needed, and more padded non-stretch parts elsewhere.
The heel area of the shoe is the more conventional part and it is faultless. A nicely padded heel collar keeps the heel in place with great comfort, and it works perfectly no matter the slope. The black external heel counter extends far towards the midfoot and adds a nice stability touch which is necessary given the high stack of the shoe.
The midfoot area is probably the most remarkable in combining stretch/non-stretch materials: it’s really close to the foot, foot-hugging dare I say, but thanks to the stretchy bootie “tongue” and materials here, it allows for some foot swelling which is inevitable on longer runs. It also adapts to more foot shapes.
Unfortunately, I must have a very specific foot shape as I find this midfoot part a hair too constrictive, despite the stretch allowed by the upper. For instance, I find the midfoot part of the On Cloud Ultra more tuned, and I really enjoy the SLab ultra upper, whereas it is often described as constrictive….go figure…As a result, I’m running with the laces really loosely tied up, just as in the S/Lab Pulsar, as I don’t feel any slopiness doing so, and it gives my midfoot a tiny bit more space. But in the end...I’d really like to have some more volume here, which would not compromise a secure foothold I think - at least for my feet.
A very good point to this upper stretchy tongue is how easy the shoes are to put on and off, helped by the two straps on the heel and tongue. This looks like a detail, but being able to easily put a shoe on and off takes another dimension during an ultra-trail, after 10+ hours running in the mountains. This simili-bootie construction also works as a very light gaiter and I did not get any stones or gravel in the shoes.
As Nils shows above, there’s an inner “foot cage” around the midfoot to ensure an even better foothold, but I really wonder if this is necessary to achieve the same result: the outer mesh is really sturdy and packed with overlays: the big Saucony logos and the fine semi-translucent lines work well to add some structure to this area, and this insert only adds some weight, in my opinion.
The toe box is nicely shaped, even if it looks pointy on pictures. I think the effective toe-bumper with its large coverage of both the sides and the upper of the forefoot gives this illusion of a pointy toe box. My quite wide forefoot fits really well and I would not want more space which would compromise precision on technical terrain.
The laces have a bit of stretch. Nils find this a bit annoying, which I can understand if your feet are on the narrow side. With my more Hobbit-like feet, I think that is a nice move by Saucony using this kind of lace, and it works hand in hand with the stretchy upper. It might have felt awkward to have a stretchy bootie tongue and non-stretch laces.
One thing to notice is that those laces stay tied during the run, and their stretchiness allows for a very adaptive fit on the run, without having to untie them.
One thing to note is how hot this upper is, a consequence of a perhaps slightly overbuilt conception. My first runs in the Endorphin trails were in quite low temperatures (10°C) so I did not notice this, but since then the weather is finally nice in France, and the last two runs were under usual french spring temperatures (15-20°C) and I rapidly felt a lack of breathability. My feet were quite hot, and I think this is the reason why I felt some chafing/hot spot on the external side of my feet, near the pinky toe. I cannot see another reason for this, as there’s no inner seam there, and my feet are nicely hold and do not move in side the shoes.
The ET have a very...engineered upper, with lots of thought on how it is built, where some movement is allowed using stretchy materials and where not, and despite the slight lack of volume it is clearly an upper that will work with the majority of foot shapes. Personally, I think it’s a bit over-constructed, with too much material and is generally slightly overbuilt for my taste. Even considering the obvious long-distance orientation of the shoe, I can think of other models that have achieved this in a more streamlined way (I think of SLab Ultra line, and the On Cloud Ultra) without compromising foot hold and security. Simplifying the upper may lead to a generous weight reduction which would benefit the shoe, and still ensure sufficient stability despite the high stack.
Marcel: Looking at the upper, I was also initially worried that it might be a bit too firm and stiff and also too warm. However, this fear has not been confirmed for me at summer like- although still moderate - temperatures of 15-20 degrees. Only in the first two runs it was a little warm under the balls of the feet, but this was probably due to the fact that the midsole had to break in first.
The firm upper material in the area of the toe box provides sufficient volume and good toe protection. The very well constructed bootie construction provides great support. Unlike Jeremy, i did not have any problems with too much restriction in the midfoot area whereas i had those problems in the past with the Salomon S-Lab Cross 1, for example. The same applies to the classic, but for my heel shape simply optimal heel cup. Only when considering weight one asks whether the very far pulled up bootie tongue is really necessary. Yet this construction this may indeed prevent the penetration of stones and mud. However, this is not the case due to the classic heel cup at the ankles, so that a construction as in the Salomon S-Lab Pulsar seems to me as a more consistent (360 degree all-round protection through tight closure between upper material and foot) and above all a significantly lighter alternative worth considering. Even if you stay with the current concept, it seems to me that there is still room for a (significant) weight reduction in several places.
Renee: I won’t repeat the other reviewers too much. I found the upper comfortable, with plenty of room in the toe box. Because of the weight underfoot, I would have liked a slightly different lacing system to complement the sock-like bootie construction. As Nils wrote, there is no second lacing hole at the top. The gap between the top eyelet hole and the next eyelet hole is wide. Without a second top hole for the laces, I wish there was at least one more eyelet. The lockdown was good, but a slightly different lacing/eyelet pattern would help secure the fit around the ankle, which could also help offset the weight underfoot. I had to stop during two 2.5 hour runs to retie the laces to achieve a tight fit. The upper is overall comfortable, but the lockdown is not as good when compared to other Saucony trail shoes (The Peregrine comes to mind).
Jeff V: My cohorts sum up the upper very well, I have nothing new to add, but will reiterate how secure, comfortable and well protected it is. That said, I think the substantial upper is a bit of a double edged sword. I really appreciate the security and protection, which makes it a really competent shoe in rocky, rough terrain, off trail, talus and choss. On the other hand, there is a significant weight penalty here and it is a very warm shoe with little ventilation. They are a bit uncomfortable in the full heat of summer, but will be a good pick on colder days.
Nils: At a first glance it’s not obvious what the midsole is made of. That’s because it’s all wrapped around with a web-like 3D material.
I can just assume why that is the case. The obvious reason would be to protect the fragile material, which we know is Saucony’s PWRRUN PB. But the coating doesn’t look particularly robust either, as it’s made of a fabric similar to some more plasticy shoe uppers but it isn’t exposed foam either so we will see and almost all other shoes have exposed foam be it PB or EVA. Therefore I am thinking that another reason might be to prevent the midsole foam from squishing too far sideways while being compressed on landing. The result of that theory would be a firmer and more stable ride than PWRRUN PB offers in Endorphin Pro & Speed. And that’s exactly what it feels like - but more on that in the “Ride” section.
The midsole shape is of course rockered to provide the proven Speedroll sensation as with all the ET’s siblings. Besides that, the midsole almost looks like it is two parted by a horizontal line in its shape. At first , I hoped that this might be a hint for some kind of plate - but it is not. Not plate here. Saucony just tries to achieve more stability. The lower part is sloping towards the outside to provide a wider base, the higher part kind of wraps around the foot which enhances the stable characteristics even more.
The same wide base lengthens the heel area. This way it acts as a kind of a crash pad, which dampens impact forces and provides additional stability - especially on downhills (think of a moderate HOKA TenNine).
Sam: Nils describes the midsole well. The PWRUN PB by being wrapped with its outer web is firmer to pressing than the Endorphin Speed and Pro midsole. The web reminds of the HOVR shoes from UA where it was used to “contain” the soft insert there.
Is the actual foam firmer we don’t know but overall the feel is less bouncy, more directed with the energy return more consistent no matter the pace in feel if not quite (but close to) as exciting as those also more unstable road shoes, even on the road. The web clearly contains and directs energy up rather than out to the sides and this at all paces.
It is a more consistent and stable feel front to back than say the Speed has and this without a plate in the mix as there is none. I really don’t think any is needed for propulsion (Speed Roll) or protection (big 32.5 front stack including full coverage outsole). Compared to the new Salomon UltraGlide’s new Energy Surge foam, the feel is somewhat firmer with the rebound not quite as dramatic but more stable and clearly more responsive so in my view a feel more appropriate for a trail shoe with a lean towards technical terrain. Compared to the denser less exciting Speedgoat foam or Saucony own PWRRUN TPU/EVA foam the feel is more energetic, as protective, and at least as stable with even with the big stack height some welcome trail feel.
When combined with the geometry and stack height the Speed Roll, a distinct rocker to final toe off is a great add as it gives the big stack height, rigid profile very good climbing ability while on the flats it allows a smooth roll to toe off. None of the awkward difficulties to toe off on flatter terrain of a regular Speedgoat with the EVO version having a welcome greater flexibility than the regular SG which approximates what the ET has up front.
Jeremy: This is my first foray in a PWRUN PB midsole, and I must say that it raises my interest in the Endorphin road line even more. Hitting the sweet spot between responsiveness and comfort, the density of the midsole allows for a nice...connection to the ground.
Sure, given the stack height, you won’t feel rocks under the foot and the amount of protection is tremendous, but it reacts very.. directly to the ground shape, without muting it, allowing for a good “understanding” of what’s under the foot. As a consequence, the run is both secure and conscious: you can react to the stimuli sent through the foot and adapt the next step. It is something that a softer midsole cannot offer ( padding and “lazy comfort” instead), nor can a bouncier one (I think of the FF Foam in the Trabuco Max, with its “rebound” feel that blurs ground lecture through the foot). This might sound a bit...immaterial, but this connection is something I always tend to look for in a trail and is one of the reasons I usually stayed away from the super-cushioned ultra shoes.
In the Endorphin Trail, I find it offers both long distance protection, comfort, and this connection to the ground.
The outer mesh may look like a design gimmick but it helps in securing the midsole foam, “packing it tight”. It sure adds a lot of stability to the shoe (high stack and too soft foam does not make for a good marriage), something that is also achieved by the wider base as Nils described.
This very responsive midsole, in combination with the SpeedRoll profile, which offers a late stage rocker, makes for an energetic ride with an efficient toe-off that works well at many paces.
Cruising on the flats is astonishingly easy despite the weight of the shoe, and this efficiency is equally impressive on the hills. It really makes the rigid profile of this high stack shoe less palpable.
The protection does not seem to lower during long runs and is very consistent, keeping the legs fresh even after some hard downhill pounding on a 3h run.
Marcel: Regarding the midsole, we all seem to have very similar impressions. Compared to the Endorphin Speed, the midsole is clearly firmer and more stable, something I favor in a trail shoe. The midsole provides a very comfortable and springy ride. At the same time, it is not mushy or overly soft at all. Even on very rocky terrain, the stability was very good and even without a stone protection plate, the running feeling was always very pleasant even on such challenging surfaces.
Due to the extremely responsive midsole asphalt passages are very runnable, which is the exception rather than the rule for many trail shoes.
Renee: I agree with the previous notes about the midsole. The feel underfoot is comfortable for miles, offering better responsiveness while running firmer/harder surfaces as compared to softer surfaces.
Jeff V: I find the midsole to be very stable, supportive and on the firm side, but not at all responsive. They cruise very well on downhills, not necessarily inspiring speed, but with so much cushion, protection and support, they easily just steamroll along over anything under foot. That said on uphills and flats, they feel a bit sluggish and even clunky, but this is in part I think due to the overall weight and size of the shoe.
Nils: Even if it’s an eyecatcher the outsole is maybe the least exciting part of the Saucony Endorphin Trail. It’s made of the good old PWRTRAC rubber which has worked for you in the past or has not. In my opinion it’s a mostly fine compound which has some flaws in wet or icy conditions. It’s not as bad or dangerous as Nike’s rubber or whatever Craft decided to use in the CTM Ultra. But you definitely can feel a reduced traction on wet rocks.
Besides the rubber compound, the outsole pattern of the ET is great! The 4.5mm lugs look sharp and aggressive and bite into every surface I’ve found so far on my roughly 70km of running on them. Additionally they are not very prone to mud collecting and are great at shedding mud if it sticks to the outsole (which it barely does). If you plan for a longer run or race in wet and muddy but not rocky conditions - I couldn’t think of a better outsole.
Sam: My run was on a dry trail with a mix of dirt, protruding rocks and roots. The outsole performed just fine. I particularly noted its front grip in combination with the Speed Roll on my shorter steep climbs. The big lugs also did not catch on obstacles as some such outsoles do.
The 4.5mm lugs are widely spaced which, while I did not run wet rocks, can be an issue in such terrain. As a soft ground to firm dry ground and dry rock outsole it performed very well. I do think reducing them to a more standard 4mm and increasing their contact surfaces might improve wet rock traction and smooth terrain performance but for sure this is not the awkward feeling “luggy outsole of say a Salomon Speedcross or other dedicated soft ground type shoes which struggle on smooth yet here as Nils writes the soft ground performance was excellent.
Jeremy: Given the amount of thinking that has gone beyond the upper and the midsole, the outsole might seem almost simplistic. But as far as I can tell from my own experience, the simplest outsole is usually the most effective one. The very classic looking, full coverage yellow outsole works for the majority of terrain: dry, soft, slight mud, uphill, downhill, versatility is the name of the game. The lugs pattern looks like the one from a Speedcross, but being only 4.5mm tall they are far more comfortable on hard ground.
My first 60kms in the shoes were on wet and muddy terrain. In the mud, I found the outsole pretty impressive for an all-purpose shoe. The mud-shedding ability of the shoes is spectacular. And gladly so, because given the weight of the shoes, I wouldn’t want to get 150g more mud stuck to it!
The front traction is very effective, and I think that the SpeedRoll profile is no stranger to that. Given the lack of flexibility of the midsole, without a front rocker and this outsole I think uphill traction might have been greatly compromised. Here, with the SpeedRoll profile, you can really bite the ground with the front lugs and get secure traction on steep hills.
The rear lugs are oriented the other way and work well.
The PwrTrac compound is a Saucony’s classic, and faces its limits on wet hard ground.
I have the same experience as Nils here: not as slippery as Nike’s outsole, not as dangerous as Craft CTM Ultra outsole, it’s on par with the bunch of versatile trail outsoles (Asics Grip, Salomon Contagrip). The lugs pattern makes the difference here: the ET offers less ground contact vs. a Slab Ultra for instance, hence leading to less secure traction on wet rocks.
Save from this point, there’s nothing really special to note about this classic, effective, all-purpose outsole.
Marcel: Jeremy summed it up in his last sentence very well: It is a good and very versatile outsole. It performs surprisingly well on asphalt too and therefore covers a broad range of use cases. Like the whole shoe, the outsole is quite massive with all pros and cons which come with that.
I can confirm the impression that the outsole performs very well in muddy terrain and especially does not hold the mud. Due to the bootie construction and the firm upper, I can even imagine it doing well in the shallow snow (But not ice!).
Renee: I echo everyone here. My first run was 2.5 hours on muddy dirt roads. The outsole performs very well in terms of shredding mud, and the grip with the 4.5mm lugs helps maintain movement forward without sinking in. I crossed a short paved bridge during the run, and immediately felt slipping. I did not run wet rock with the shoes, but I concur with the previous comments that the Endorphin Trail is not a good choice for wet rock.
I ran another 2.5 hours on dry, dirt single track trails. The outsole functions well there too. Given the stack height, the shoes run well on short distances of pavement as well
Jeff V: I found dry traction to be very good on just about any surface and steep off trail, mud shedding is good, but like my cohorts state, wet traction is just average. Durability thus far has proven to be average to slightly above average.
Nils: So how do all these features sum up? Does the Saucony Endorphin Trail live up to the hype and is it a super shoe for the trails? Kind of, but not quite. First and foremost: The ET offers the most protective ride I’ve ever experienced in a trail shoe. Your Speedgoats are going to feel low stack and squishy in comparison - especially in the forefoot. Therefore the ET is probably the best choice if you wish to protect your legs from extended downhill pounding. Especially as the PWRRUN PB provides some good vibration dampening.
You can confidently hammer through most terrain in the Saucony ET. Traction is mostly great especially on soft surfaces and because of all the material and overlays it’s stable and provides a strong foothold even for my narrow foot. You don’t need to be afraid of technical trails because of that.
The Speedroll geometry works as well as in all Endorphins. It really doesn’t matter if you run uphill, downhill or neither of those. You just want to cruise along in the ET and it feels surprisingly effortless given the weight of the shoe. But that’s not only because of the Speedroll, but probably caused by the PWRRUN PB foam in the first place.
The midsole is the star here and provides not just a protective, but a highly energetic ride! It’s somehow firmer than in Endorphin Speed and Pro. And that is good as it provides the stable platform you need for such a big stack height in a trail shoe. Otherwise the ET would barely be runnable on any kind of technical trail. But Saucony realised that from the beginning and put a lot of effort into stabilizing the shoe. The result is a max cushion, max stability trail monster with high energy return, which can handle any terrain and any distance.
Sam: I totally agree with Nils’s last sentence. The ride is energetic, stable, and highly cushioned with the combination of PWRRUN PB and its outer wrap and the Speed Roll the magic sauce here (along with the upper’s security in bonding the foot to the platform). Add to that the huge level of protection and you have a highly versatile ride for most trails that doesn’t leave all the fun behind. The PB midsole in the ET clearly gives the shoe a lively and dynamic ride that was in no way unstable, mushy or squirrly in trail I was particularly impressed how stable, agile, and protected the forefoot was while the heel remained stable and very deeply but never overly soft. As I got a feel for them my pace picked up and I confidently ran through the moderate roots and rocks on the MTB single track I tested on. That confidence is not always the case on this track. Maybe it was the cool weather but I do think it was mostly the ET!
My second 8 mile run was mostly road and here too the ride was stable, energetic, and smooth. Yes I noticed the weight some as well as the big forefoot lugs but compared to its sibling the Shift it is smoother, somewhat softer and springier and clearly more versatile as max cushion road and trail combo.
Jeremy: Given the amount of material packed into the shoe, the ride is clearly on the stable, heavy side of the spectrum.
On the positive side, the ride remains responsive and energetic even for this amount of shoe. The combination of the PWRUNPB and SpeeRoll profile makes for an effective ride. It’s propulsive, efficient no matter the trail profile, flat or sloped. As described earlier, I like the density of the midsole which allows keeping consciousness of the ground while being protective in the meantime.
The amount of protection is really astounding, and this is by far the most protective shoe I’ve run in. Even after my longest run with the Endorphin trail, during which I’ve pushed the pace on some downhills, my legs were fresh.
Yet, this is also way too much of a shoe for me and it does not go well with my preferences. I’m not debating the shoe’s efficiency, as I think it perfectly achieves what it is designed for: offering protection, traction, and stability despite the height of the midsole. It’s clearly an ultra-trail monster that’ll deliver even on technical terrain.
But I find it on the verge of being clunky to run in. The weight sure is a culprit here, but it’s not the only one. I like having a bit more flex in a shoe, a thinner upper, and a bit less stack, even with a bit less protection. I like to forget the shoes I’m wearing and it is not something I’ve managed to do in the ET. The upper is a bit too constrictive for me and I feel it during the run. When fatigue sets in, I find that I have much more difficulties just “cruising” with them, perhaps due to the lack of flexibility and the SpeedRoll not being as effective with a tired-legs gait. And in these moments, I clearly feel the weight of shoes.
All in all I must say that I lack a “wow” factor with those shoes, despite all the qualities they have. It also confirms that I tend to like more traditional stack heights even for ultra-distance trail shoes.
Marcel: While we have very different opinions on some multi-tester reviews, I think the picture is quite clear on the Endorphin Trail. This also applies to the ride.
The running feel is very good due to the great midsole. Yet, the shoe is also comparatively heavy, which at the same time clouds the joy for the ambitious runner a bit.
At the same time, however, one should keep in mind that not everyone is on the trails with the same ambitions. Therefore, the weight will probably be of secondary importance for someone who is comparatively comfortable on the road or who is going on a longer run/hike tour. Rather, these runners will appreciate the excellent cushioning, the good sole profile and the great support in the shoe.
Renee: The Speed Roll final rocker is similar to the Endorphin Shift, although far less noticeable. On muddy and soft terrain, it is not very noticeable. I feel the Speed Roll on dry, smooth surfaces, namely on flat stretches when I was able to run with smooth even strides. Surprisingly, I was able to run on my toes during steep inclines, but given the weight, that’s not something I could do for miles and miles. I can’t push the pace in these shoes given the weight, but at a slow pace (with some speed walking/hiking mixed in), the shoes are great for long efforts when speed is not a concern.
Jeff V: I really enjoy and appreciate the ride of the Endorphin Trail. It is smooth, fluid, predictable, stable and protective, but do not find them to be the least bit energetic or inspiring of speed. I find that they shine at slower paces, particularly hiking and even carrying heavy loads, which I tested carrying a 45 lb pack for several miles.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Nils: I really like the Saucony Endorphin Trail, but at the same time I am a little sad that it is not the lighter racing option that I expected. It’s obviously a Speedgoat competitor and is mostly as versatile as HOKA’s all time favourite (revisit the outsole section!). But for my type of running, which at the moment is limited to 42km max, it’s just too much shoe. Even for Alpine Trail Marathons with lots of elevation I would rather choose something lighter because of the climbs. Sure you’d be happy to have that midsole on any downhill, but the weight penalty is just too high. Therefore the Endorphin Trail will be my first choice for long training runs and whenever I decide to leave the 42km mark behind me. Due to the fine rockered ride and the energy return of the PWRRUN PB it is kind of a super shoe for the trails - just a heavy one.
Nils’ Score: 8.75/10
Ride: 8.5 - Fit: 9 - Value: 9 - Style: 6.5 - Traction: 8.5 - Rock Protection: 10
Sam: Saucony has delivered a totally modern new take on a max cushioned yet agile, stable, and versatile trail shoe with on board, and as of now only seen in their speed road shoes a “super foam” midsole. By incorporating energetic PWRRUN PB with the outer support web and Speed Roll, the fun energy of their road Endorphin is brought to trail with no compromises beyond potentially the 11.15 oz weight
To achieve the level of cushioning, stability, upper security, and big outsole the fractions of ounces and grams do start to add up but they are only 0.3 oz / 9g more than the Speedgoat 4. Here for me we have a better fitting and far smoother running all surfaces shoe with yet more cushion, a more dynamic ride and more protection. It sets a high bar in the category of max cushion, any trail and even road worthy shoes.
As with Nils, I do think Saucony should try to whittle away weight potentially focusing on the outsole design and lug depth. Minor quibbles for one of the most fun, energetic, deeply protective and confidence inspiring (vital for old no longer as quick and agile me) trail shoes I have run in recent years. Often, deep protection and cushion comes at the expense of stability, agility, and some trail feel but not so here. If you are seeking a max cushion, highly protective and stable trail (and road) ride with some super foam zing the Endorphin Trail sets the bar high.
Sam’s Score: 9.37 /10
Ride 9.4(30%) Fit 9.5(30%) Value 9(10%) Style: 9(5%) Traction:9 (15%) Rock Protect:10(10%)
Jeremy: My expectations on the Endorphin trail may have been misled by the “Endorphin” name. The ride is energetic, stable, and the shoe offers loads of protection for trail running, and will no doubt be highly durable. But I wanted to see a light trail speedster, where the ET is a heavy trail monster. Putting aside my personal preferences, the shoe is hard to fault and it’s a very nice incarnation of a modern high stack energetic trail shoe using one of the latest super foams.
But all this makes for a ride that I find a bit clunky, and surely the weight of the shoe does not help here. Just like Nils, I find it to be too much of a shoe, and even for an ultra-trail I think it wouldn’t be my first choice. I find it efficient, protective, but not that enjoyable to run in, as it packs my feet in an inflexible package from top to bottom.
Jeremy’s score: 8.4/10
Ride 7.5(30%) Fit 8.5(30%) Value 9(10%) Style: 8(5%) Traction:8.5(15%) Rock Protect:10(10%)
Marcel: I find it more difficult to draw a conclusion in this case than as I can in most other reviews.This is due to the fact that there is no predecessor model of the Endorphin Trail which usually makes it easier to mentally classify a shoe before the first run. In this case, we only knew that the shoe would be a member of the Endorphin family, which naturally creates a certain level of expectation. And compared to this expectation, I think Saucony surprised us all. However, this does not have to be a bad thing. Because a maximum cushioned shoe with a great energy return will certainly be appreciated by many runners. And not everyone probably pays as much attention to the weight as we crazies here at RTR;-)
Nevertheless, it would be my wish for Saucony (and it should also do the sales figures some good at the same time) to see the ET merely as a prelude to a whole Endorphin trail shoe series. This way Saucony would have the chance to conquer the trail world in a similar way as they did with road shoes with the original Endorphin series:
In addition to the ET reviewed here, my other big wish would be a lightweight alternative based on the Endorphin Speed. With a minimalist upper (while maintaining good midfoot support), a comparatively thin and low-profile outsole, and a weight of ~250g for a US10, this would be an exciting alternative to the Salomon S-Lab Pulsar, which is currently still unrivaled in its field.
The current ET would also benefit from a less cluttered upper and a slightly reduced outsole and weight to make a very good shoe an even better one. I'm curious whether the Endorphin family in 2022 see appropriate growth - my fingers are crossed in any case:-)
Marcel’s score: 9.13/10
Ride 9.0(30%) Fit 9.5(30%) Value 9(10%) Style: 8(5%) Traction:8.5(15%) Rock Protect:10(10%)
Renee: The Endorphin Trail is what it is: a high-stack, max-cushioned, heavy trail shoe. As such, they are a good choice for runners who need high-stack and cushion for all-day cruising efforts. The overall comfort is great and the performance on soft and muddy terrain is excellent. There are, however, other options max-cushion high-stack trail shoes that are not as heavy as the Endorphin Trail. Structurally, the weight is my only negative about the shoes along with the lacing system. Thankfully, we have a slew of comparisons below to help runners decide if the Endorphin Trail is the right option for their max cushion trail shoe.
Renee’s Score: 8.5/10 (-1.0 weight, -.25 lacing system, -.25 slick on hard, wet surfaces)
Jeff V: I am conflicted about the Endorphin Trail and was initially a bit disappointed given the weight, bulk and lack of response. I had high expectations that this would be a fast and sporty shoe, so it took me a bit to recalibrate and reset my expectations. Once I let all of that go, I came to appreciate their supreme support, stability and protection. I would recommend them for very long, yet slower days of running or hiking over technical terrain and after carrying a heavy pack for a number of miles, I am confident that they would be very good for backpacking or through hiking.
Jeff V’s Score: 8.8 /10
Ride: 9, Fit: 9, Value: 8, Style: 8, Traction: 8, Rock Protection: 10
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
More comparisons to come as more testers join the review.
Saucony Endorphin Trail vs. HOKA EVO Speedgoat (RTR Review)
Nils: The EVO Speedgoat is my racing shoe of choice for trail marathons (42K). I hoped for the ET to be a competitor, but because of its weight, it’s just not. The SG rides softer and in comparison especially the forefoot feels lower to the ground and less protected. Due to the more pronounced rocker and firmer ride the ET is more stable and also runs more energetic as long as you can ignore the weight difference ( 60grams in my size 10.5!).
If you compare the ET to a regular SG 3 or 4 the midsole stack comparison is the same.
But the shoes get closer in terms of weight (0.3 oz more for the ET) and stability. Now it’s more a choice of weather and terrain. The Vibram Megagrip is everything you wish for on (wet) roots, stones, rocks (= harder trail surfaces). On softer surfaces like gravel, sand and mud the aggressive lug pattern of the ET comes to play and probably outperforms the SG. And finally on fire roads, packed dirt roads and singletrails (=neutral trails surfaces) it comes down to a more aggressive rocker and more energy return in the ET vs. a softer ride and less weight in the SG. Choose your demon! True to size!
Jeff V: Entirely agree with Nils
Saucony Endorphin Trail vs. Salomon UltraGlide (RTR Initial Video Review)
Sam: Two top new shoes for 2021 both sharing energetic next generation midsoles. The Salomon is softer and bouncier while the ET is springier. The UG is a flex type shoe with some rocker while ET of course is a rigid shoe with a rocker. The UG weighs 1 oz / 28g less and has less stack and cushion and less front protection, a more easy going toe box and a more versatile outsole. Both can go Ultra but the ET is more stable, more cushioned and protective, and its upper more secure on rougher terrain while UG is your fast more cruiser trails choice,
Saucony Endorphin Trail vs. Saucony Xodus 10/11 (RTR Review)
Sam: Saucony other big stack trail shoe the Xodus has a PWRRUN+ TPU midsole so is denser in feel and bouncier and heavier by 0.7 ounces. It is a more traditional flexing shoe with no rocker and somewhat less stack height. It can handle any terrain road or any trail with a less aggressive outsole pattern that may make it somewhat more road surface favorable than ET. Both prove a trail ride doesn’t have to be a an overly firm dull ride when stacking the cushion
Sam: Both have somewhat softer and decently energetic rides and weigh less with the big stack, more then a full ounce less. Neither shoe’s upper or traction can hold a candle to the ET and are more door to trail type shoes and mellow groomed trails cruisers. ET can do all of that leaning more decisively towards technical trail use than either.
Saucony Endorphin Trail vs. ON Cloudultra (RTR Review)
Nils: These are actually two quite similar shoes. Both are made for longer distances in technical terrain. Both offer a stable and more firm ride. Both have great, sock-like upper constructions. Both have great outsoles. So where are the differences? Well in the first place the Cloudultra was TOO firm for me, while the ET strikes the right balance of a firm and protective, but energetic ride. Additionally the ET has better shock absorption and it’s rocker rolls better for me. The outsole is deeper and more aggressive and therefore works better on soft surfaces. The Cloudultra on the other hand climbs a little better, is a little lighter and has better traction on wet & hard surfaces. But unfortunately it was barely runnable for me, while the ET is a lot of fun! Both are TTS!
Jeremy: The upper of the Cloudultra works better with my foot shape, is less substantial and achieves an equally efficient foothold in a more gentle way. Style is no match also.
The On is a bit lighter, and feels lighter when running too. Mud traction is better in the Endorphin Trail, as are mud shedding abilities, but the CloudUltra takes the lead on hard surfaces and wet rocks. But the firmness of the Swiss shoe kills it for me. Like Nils I find it barely runnable due to the firmness of the midsole, its unresponsiveness, whereas the Endorphin trail is responsive, protective, and offers great shock absorption.
I feel far better in the Cloudultra, as long as I don’t run...but we’re talking running shoes here, and the Endorphin Trail is the clear winner.
Saucony Endorphin Trail vs. Craft CTM Ultra (RTR Review)
Nils: Another high stack shoe with the “Ultra” in the name. But while the ET is made for trails and can handle any terrain, you should stay on (fire-/forest-) roads with the CTM Ultra. The outsole just isn’t made for real trails and there’s barely any lockdown or foothold which would give me confidence to leave the roads. The CTM Ultra runs much lighter and is a little more bouncy (but not quite as agile) than the ET. But the CTM and I just didn’t get along, therefore ET wins by far! Both TTS again (US sizes!).
Jeremy: As far as I enjoyed it on the road, I would not take the CTM Ultra on technical trails due to the lack of foothold and of course the outsole disaster on everything wet.
On dry trails and fire roads, I choose the CTM any time without a doubt.
Saucony Endorphin Trail vs. Saucony Endorphin Shift (RTR Review)
Nils: The Shift is one of the ET’s siblings and probably the closest one because of it’s stack, drop, weight and firmer ride. Obviously it isn’t made for trails but can handle non-technical stuff quite well, because if of its high amount of stability. The ET is even more stable and adds an aggressive trail outsole and the energy return of the PWRRUN PB midsole to the outstanding Shift. Both are great shoes and while the Shift was one of my favourites of last year the ET surely has the potential to be one of 2021! Both TTS!
Sam: Compared to its sibling the Shift it is smoother, somewhat softer and springier and clearly more versatile as max cushion road and trail combo. Yes the outsole of the ET is more noticed especially at the forefoot. Take the Endoprhin Trail, reduce its outsole to a road outsole, lighten the upper and you would have a Shift 3 that would be off the charts. Saucony?
Marcel: I’d like to add to Sam’s wishlist to use the Midsole of the ET in the Shift 3 too. As far as the comparison of the current models is concerned: The Shift has the much lighter and breathable upper and is significantly lighter. In addition, the midsole is firmer in the Shift than in the ET.
Saucony Endorphin Trail vs. Salomon Slab Ultra (RTR Review)
Jeremy: The SLab Ultra hits the perfect blend of protection, agility, comfort, traction, fit...well, it’s my perfect ultra-shoe. The ET is far more cushioned and protective, but there’s too much of it for my needs, even for 20+hours trail races. The rocker profile makes for smooth transitions but I prefer a bit of flexibility and a natural running gait to the more directed one forced by a rigid, high stack shoe. Put the ET’s weight on the scale and the choice is easy for me: The more classical, and I find more…”simply efficient” SLab shoe. Maybe the ET midsole in a simpler, pared down shoe, might be the goldilocks shoe?
Saucony Endorphin Trail vs. Asics Trabuco Max (RTR Review)
Jeremy: The Japanese shoe is way more traditional with a less effective upper that I never managed to get a nice fit with. The midsole material is bouncier but I find this to be disturbing on the run. Even with the minimal weight difference I found the Asics to be less clunky to run. They both rely on a high stack, rocker profile midsole to achieve the same smooth roll and transitions and I think with similar results. Traction is equally effective on both. I have more fun running in the Asics, but dislike the bouncier midsole. A hard choice between the two...On more technical terrain I think I’ll choose the Endorphin Trail. The Trabuco will work better for me on every other terrain.
Saucony Endorphin Trail vs. Inov 8 Trailfly Ultra G300 (RTR Review)
Sam: The Trailfly checks in at 0.8 oz / 23g more and that is felt. It has a flexible hinge at midfoot vs the rocker of the ET. Its wet rock traction should be superior to ET. If your runs and races involve a considerable amount of walking and highly technical terrain and the distances are long, very long it may be a superior choice but otherwise ET for me.
Saucony Endorphin Trail vs. Topo MTN Racer 2 (RTR Review)
Sam: Somewhat lower stack at 30/25 and 0.7 oz /20 g lighter, the Topo has less cushion but still plenty and a decently lively midsole with a combination of effective light rocker and some flex. It does not have the dynamic feel of the ET or its deeply protective platform. Its Viibram outsole should be superior on wet rock, while the ET will have superior traction in mud. The Topo, due to its lower stack and outsole likely would be a better and more agile choice for highly technical rockier terrain while the ET will shine on smoother faster terrain due to its rocker and for longer distances. As a Topo, the toe box will be more accommodating for wider higher volume feet.
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