Sunday, June 06, 2021

Saucony Xodus 11 Multi Tester Review

Article by Shannon Payne and Jeff Valliere

Editor's Note: We welcome Shannon back to the RTR Test Team. She is a decorated mountain runner specializing in uphill including 3d at the 2014 World Mountain Running Championships and winning Mount Washington two times. She had to pretty much stop running due to a knee condition a few years ago, and took up uphill biking, and now is back running. We are thrilled to have her rejoin the crew!

Saucony Xodus 11 ($150)


Shannon: Some trail shoes are designed to be light and fast and racy, which will compromise cushioning and grip for weight and response.  The Xodus is not one of those shoes.  The Xodus fully leans into the maximally cushioned, protective, and grippy trail shoe to take on the long and difficult

Jeff V:  The Xodus 10 was a surprise favorite in 2020, a shoe with superb versatility, excelling on just about anything, from road, road to trail, buffed trails to technical mountain trails.  The Xodus 11 remains essentially unchanged aside from a re-worked upper.


Jeff V:  Versatility, Traction.  Fit.  Cushioning.  Protection.  Comfort.  Secure Upper.  Smooth Transition.  Response.

Shannon: Aggressive, Versatile, Improved Fit, Protective yet still flexible and some ground-feel


Jeff V:  Slight weight increase.

Shannon: Slightly heavy, Not as secure of a heel fit.

Tester Profiles

Shannon is a Colorado native currently residing in Northern California. NorCal is nice, but Colorado has her heart. Having run competitively for around 20 years, she was a 7x All American at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, was a 2x member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team, 2x winner of the Mt. Washington Road Race, and was 3rd at the 2014 World Mountain Running Long Distance Championship. Her favorite shoes currently include the Hoka Torrent, Saucony Kinvara, and Brooks Launch, and her favorite runs include anything that goes uphill. 

Jeff V.  runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 


Weight: men's / (US9)  /  women's / (US8)

  Official:    Men’s 9 11.9 oz. / 337 g

  Samples: men’s  10: 12.5 oz. / 354 g

Stack Height: 31.5mm heel 27.5mm stack, 4mm drop.

Available June 2021. $150  

First Impressions and Fit

Shannon: Having spent the last couple of years running trails predominantly in shoes such as the Hoka Torrent, Saucony Peregrine, and the Nike Terra Kiger, my initial out of the box impression of the Xodus was that there is a lot of shoe going on here. But, considering the purpose of the Xodus is to provide a highly cushioned, protective, and grippy ride over even the most aggressive terrain, I quickly forgave that minor transgression. 

The sizing is spot on, with a women’s 8 fitting with just enough space leftover, and I’ve always appreciated the generous toe box that this shoe provides, which is no different in this version. The new upper is certainly an improvement over the previous engineered mesh and it doesn’t sacrifice breathability. 

Jeff V:  Out of the box, the Xodus 11 is exceptionally familiar, with the same outsole, midsole and general look, with a minor retooling of the upper, particularly a slight re-working of the welded overlays and subtle styling modifications.  Weight feels similar, if slightly heavier, which the scale confirms a ¼ ounce increase.  Fit is true to size and to me is indistinguishable from the previous version.  

Like version 10, room in the toe box is accommodating for swelling and splay and should please a wide range of feet without compromising fit or security.


Shannon: As far as I am aware, the upper is the only tweak to this version of the Xodus. Here we get a new engineered mesh upper.I have always liked the generous amount of space afforded within the toebox of the Xodus and this despite not having a high volume foot, but on the downside, with that roominess I had also found that the engineered mesh often bunched and crinkled awkwardly when the shoe flexed on toe-off. Not enough to have been a deal breaker for the shoe, just something that I noticed, which is much less the case with new upper of version 11. 

Jeff V:  The upper is the only notable change to the Xodus 11, replacing the former high abrasion mesh with an all new engineered mesh.  

Fit and security seem to be equal when wearing side by side and in a blind test, I could not tell the difference between the 10 and the 11.

However the 11 is slightly more breathable.  The toe box is adequately roomy, but secure with great foothold overall through the midfoot and heel.

The toe bumper is sturdy as before, making travel through rocky, technical terrain feel confidence inspiring, in line with the rest of the upper being protective from odd rock bumps in talus and the like.


Shannon: PWRRUN+ is another variation of a TPU midsole (as was the prior Everrun) with more expansion of the TPU beads. While I’ve often been a bit turned off by full TPU midsoles like those found in older versions of the Freedom, several versions of the Triumph, and many of the Adidas Boost models due to their overly soft, and what I felt to be an inherently unstable feel I didn’t find that to be the case with the Xodus. Rather, the 4mm drop, broad foundation of the shoe, and the ample amount of rubber on the PWRTRAC outsole combined to give the shoe a stable ride, while still being allowing plenty of flex. There is enough material underfoot that I did not feel every rock and root that I stepped on, but alsoI  didn’t feel as though that put much of a damper on proprioception. All of this is to say, the Xodus does a good job of striking a balance between a midsole that has enough material to be a forgiving, protective ride, but doesn’t sacrifice flexibility.

Jeff V:  The midsole is identical to the previous version.  The expanded TPU bead PWRRUN+ midsole is amazing, as it is flexible, bouncy, light, soft and reasonably responsive.  The Xodus 11, for a somewhat heavy shoe, is still reasonably quick on the 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 11 with PWRRUN+ feels lower and more stable, and very predictable underfoot.

Road performance is also very surprising, offering a very smooth and somewhat energetic ride for a beefy trail shoe, further adding to it’s versatility and making a great door to trail option.


Shannon: Keeping with what the Xodus has always been, this shoe has an aggressive, durable outsole. 5mm lugs allow this shoe to able handle pretty aggressive terrain, but interestingly it doesn’t feel at all bad on tamer surfaces. While it’s incredibly dry here in Northern California right now and the abundance of trails are exclusively hard packed dirt, gravel, and scree, I can imagine that this shoe would likely excel impressively on wet, soft, and muddy surfaces as well as in snow.

Jeff V:  The full length PWRTRAC outsole with woven rock plate also remains unchanged from the Xodus 10 and 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…. With either the 10 or 11 and the 5mm lugs and aggressive lug pattern surprisingly go somewhat unnoticed and perform very well on the road.

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


Durability has proven excellent in the 10 and I expect the same from the 11 also.

I tested the Xodus 10 through the Winter and we published our review in January and even though I continued running in them beyond, I guess I had not run in muddy conditions.  Testing the Xodus 11 this Spring, it snowed and or rained quite often, providing some very muddy stretches of trails.  I found that this lug pattern does not shed mud well at all and clumped heavily, which was a bit frustrating and once clumped, grip was nearly non existent.  Of course much of this depends on the composition of the mud, but I ran the same stretch of trail the previous day in the Brooks Cascadia 16 and they shed the mud much better.  Something to keep in mind if you often run muddy trails.


Shannon: Given that this shoe has quite a lot going on underfoot in terms of cushioning material and outsole, it’s still a shoe that feels relatively nimble, although it is definitely a heavier option. A full PWRRUN+ midsole makes for a very flexible midsole, and to that end, the shoe moves with the foot very well. 

Despite its aggressive outsole, it’s still a versatile option and I was surprised to find that even on the couple of miles of road to and from the trail, the ride felt great, although this definitely is no road shoe. On top of that, again my hang up with TPU-based midsoles is that they often feel overly soft to me, but the amount of rubber on the outsole of this shoe in combination with the PWRRUN+ midsole makes for a good combination of feeling very cushioned without feeling like a blob of unresponsive mush that was given a pair of shoe laces.

Jeff V:  The ride is very smooth, stable, responsive, well cushioned, yet not the least bit mushy on both road and trail.  I find the ride most suitable for longer days at moderate paces.

Conclusions & Recommendations

Shannon: The Xodus is a great option for any trail runner encountering everything from a small amount of asphalt to gravel to sand to rocks to mud, even all in one run. 

While there was no big “wow factor” that stood out to me (and you’ve got to have a “wow factor” to get that 10/10) the Xodus is a trusty go-to option that would fit a lot of runners and work on a lot of terrain, and there’s really not a whole lot else you can ask for. 

This is not a light and frisky shoe like its little brother the Peregrine, and to that point wasn’t entirely my cup of tea (hence the 8.7 score), but its protective midsole and outsole definitely inspired confident steps. Bottom line: if you’re putting in solid miles on a variety of trail surfaces, this is a worthwhile shoe to have in your quiver.

Shannon’s Score: 8.7/10

Jeff V:  With the exception of the very minor upper reconfiguration, the Xodus 11 is essentially the same as the Xodus 10, which was one of my favorite shoes of 2020.  While a bit on the heavy side, the Xodus runs lighter and quicker than its weight would suggest and has excellent overall performance, fit, protection, traction and versatility.  It is a reliable day to day trainer for just about any surface, including door to trail and roads.  While I would likely not race in the Xodus, I think it would certainly be worthy of an Ultra distance race choice for many, where cushion, comfort, protection and fit are priority.

Jeff V’s Score:  9.7/10

Ride: 9.9, Fit: 9.9, Value: 9, Style: 8, Traction: 9.5, Rock Protection: 10, Weight: 9

As I said with the Xodus 10, the only real issue I have is the weight and still maintain the Xodus could still be trimmed a little bi


Salomon Speedcross 5 (RTR Review) 

Shannon: Of all shoes, the Speedcross is the one I feel most closely resembles the Xodus in terms of the feel, despite its much higher drop (12mm in the Speedcross vs 4mm in the Xodus). Both have significant amounts of material underfoot, making them quite “beefy” as far as trail shoes go. Although I do feel that the Xodus is much more flexible and doesn’t require quite the break-in period of the Speedcross. Both shoes’ functionality are quite similar, but overall I find the ride of the Xodus to feel much more quick and stable than the Speedcross.

Jeff V:  Both close in weight, but  I find the Xodus 11 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.

Hoka Torrent (RTR Review

Shannon: Ah, my beloved Hoka Torrent. In terms of drop, these shoes are both equal at 4mm, and the fit is very similar with a wider toebox. Both shoes have 5mm lugs and a similarly constructed outsole. I do, however, prefer the feel of the Torrent over the Xodus largely because the shoe felt quite a bit more secure on my foot. The narrower heel in the Torrent locked my heel in very securely, where I had to utilize the last eyelet to get a similar feel in the Xodus, but still had some slippage in the heel although that’s likely to diminish with time as the shoe breaks in further. In all likelihood, if you have liked one of these shoes, there is a pretty good chance you’ll also like the other.

Saucony Peregrine 11 (RTR Review)  

Shannon: Maybe the most obvious comparison. If you have familiarity with the Saucony line, you’ve likely come to know the Peregrine as sort of the Xodus’ little sibling. The Peregrine is a lighter, more minimal, race-ready shoe that still maintains its ability to go the distance, while the Xodus is essentially a beefed up version of the Peregrine that offers a bit more protection underfoot. Personally, I love the Peregrine as it feels like “just enough shoe,” And is a great option for faster runs or slower slogs, where the Xodus feels more like a clunker in comparison and something I would only run in on days when I’m just putting in miles (which admittedly is basically everyday right now). Both shoes excel at their intended purpose, but if you like a fast-feeling shoe that can still handle ample miles, you’ll probably find yourself reaching for the Peregrine.

Jeff V:  The Peregrine 11 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 11), but the Peregrine 11 does not match the Xodus 11 for it’s all around versatility, cushion and road performance.

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4  (RTR Review

Jeff V:  The Speedgoat has more cushioning and shares many of the same wonderful attributes as the Xodus 11, however I think those who find Hoka fit to be too narrow 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.


Brooks Cascadia 16 (RTR Review

Jeff V:  The upcoming Cascadia 16 is lighter, more responsive and has a wider toe box, yet with still very secure fit in technical terrain.  The weight difference alone is an advantage for running and especially faster running.  The lug pattern of the Cascadia 16 also sheds mud much better than the Xodus.

Topo MTN Racer 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Xodus is more cushioned, with a softer feel and weighs more than the MTN Racer 2.  Both however make fine all day, very protective shoes for ultra distances or solid, reliable, versatile every day trainers.  The Topo has better ground feel, while still offering great protection and has a superior outsole, specifically when conditions become wet and challenging.  The toe box of the Xodus, while accommodating, is less roomy than the Topo.

The North Face Flight Enduris (RTR Review

Jeff V:  The Vectiv Enduris weighs an ounce less and has a similar stack height to the Xodus 11, but has a more rockered shape that provides a bit more of an energetic feel at toe off.  Fit is comparable between the two, with secure fit and a little space in the toe box, but not roomy.  The Vectiv Enduris has a more stiff feel due to the Pebax plate and does not contour as well over rocks and undulations in the trail and I find it better suited to moderate to less technical trails, where the Xodus 11 has better all mountain competency.

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. No other compensation was received by RTR or the authors for this review beyond potential commissions from the shopping links in the article. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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Lito said...

Hello from Spain,

Another amazing review.

I have been using two pairs of xodus 10 following your reccomendations. The first pair on size 11.5 and since I noticed that was constraining a little bit my finger toes, I bought the next pair on size 12, and now my feet move a little more than desirable, that it is not good in the technical trails, with a lot of downhills where I usally run.
Apart from that, in meallow trails,the shoe is amazing.

In september I plan to buy a new pair of shoes, and I like the new Cascadia 16 (I used the Cascadia 2, and I like the fit) or the new salomon ultra glide ( I have used the X-elevate I and II, the ultra pro, the pro max 2 and sonic balance I and II, and actually I love the fit (I guess my feet are not very wide). My weight is 82 kgs and the distance is for marathon trail. What would you reccomend?

Gracias from Spain

Lito said...

sorry, when I said I have use de Cascadia 2, I meant the Caldera 2

Muldoom said...

Any recommendations for a trail runner to use for hiking on Southern California trails? I had good results wearing the Xodus 10 (thanks for that great review Jeff V. & Sam) over the last six months. Once temps started to reach 75, I stopped wearing gaiters and the mesh on the 10’s upper toe box doesn’t keep out the local fine sand. Any recent model standout as a better option - Xodus 11, Endorphin Trail, Cascadia 16? Thanks.

I find the RTR reviews very informative and helpful even though I am more heavy plodder than runner.