Monday, December 19, 2022

Saucony Xodus Ultra RunShield Review: All Weather, All Trails (and Road) All Arounder

Article by Sam Winebaum

Saucony Xodus Ultra RunShield ($160)


The Xodus Ultra RunShield is a “weatherized” version of the dramatically updated and lightened Xodus Ultra, Saucony’s long distances focused trail runner . Our test of the regular Xodus Ultra (RTR Review) scored it very high for its fun energetic do it all ride with some of us feeling its upper support up front was a bit tippy and loose on more technical terrain. 

I was most curious to see if the clearly more substantial closed mesh upper of the Run Shield version helped improve the foot hold (somewhat of a weakness of the Xodus Ultra) as it does for the RunShield version of the Endorphin Speed 3 with its almost identical RunShield upper material.

There is about a 0.7 oz / 19g gain in weight from the upper (I assume as nothing underfoot changes) to a still very reasonable 10.34 oz / 293g US 8.5 sample for a weather resistant distance shoe with a big 32.5mm heel / 26.5 mm forefoot, 6mm drop. The RunShield and regular version have an identical midsole and PWRTRAC outsole with 4mm lugs.

In a nod to winters in New England where Saucony is based, it has local poet Robert Frost’s famous poetry on the inner and outer tongue and frosted maple leaves on the collars and sock liner. A very "cool" touch!

And to keep it real  I tested in early December on wet near freezing “woods”  trails in Maine with of course the stone walls and even the cemetery of a long gone farm along the path.  

But that was not the only test as I also ran them on the mostly hard packed dirt for 7 miles along Lady Bird Lake on a humid and warm day at The Running Event in Austin, Texas.



Friendly, softer and stable midsole: PWRRUN PB PEBA cushion core, outer firmer PWRRUN EVA/TPU carrier  

Easy moving at all paces: front flexible and flexible rock protected. 

Excellent trail to road ride although focus is trail. Ideal winter sloppy & snow roads trainer.

Comfortable and effective weather resistant RunShield upper tested in a wide range of temperatures and conditions from wet near freezing to mid 70’s F and 70% humidity 

RunShield upper clearly improves support and foot hold over the “summer upper” while also mellowing the over rigid heel counter of the regular. 

Only $10 more than non weather resistant upper version


Not a “hot” weather shoe

Quite soft if well protected front of shoe may get tiring at long distances on more technical terrain


Sample Weight: 10.34 oz / 293g US 8.5 

Stack Height: 32.5mm heel / 26.5 mm forefoot, 6mm drop

Available now. $160

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

The key and only difference I could see between the RunShield and regular Xodus Ultra is the upper. It is a very dense closed mesh with water resistance. While the regular upper was very comfortable and had some stretch, it had somewhat shaky forefoot to midfoot hold while I found its heel area in contrast somewhat over built and rigid in contrast to the front. 

The RunShield also addresses that over done heel counter with what seems to be a somewhat less rigid and less extended counter.

The non-stretch RunShield upper completely resolves the hold issues of the regular upper. The hold is consistent from heel to forefoot and completely secure. The last or fit shape feels the same but as we have a non stretch thicker upper with less give so wider feet may struggle a bit more here and there will be less room for foot swelling, likely less of an issue in colder weather than warmer.  Lace up is very easy and secure wrapping the foot completely and seamlessly with the gusset tongue an added plus. I have never had to adjust the laces on the run something I quite often had to do with the regular upper and its more pliable looser midfoot fit. 

I tested them on cold ( just above freezing) wet trails in Maine where with the Kahtoola Renagaiter and my feet remained dry and warm. 

I also tested them in Austin, Texas with temps in the mid 70’s Fahrenheit (24 C) with equivalent 75% humidity and I was not in any way overheated and only somewhat realized it was a weather resistant upper. 

Obviously there are some trade offs, but I think the increased security of the upper overall leans me to preferring the RunShield’s fit over the regular for trail running. I prefer the regular for the heat and smoother terrain and road where the lighter weight and increased breathability may be a  bigger plus than the increased upper support of the RunShield. 

Just as in the Endorphin Speed 3, RunShield the upper perfects the fit and extends the range of the shoe to more technical terrain than the regular. While heavier in weight, I would call the upper more performance oriented. The fit remains very much true to size for my narrower to medium volume feet and higher arches and with no issues and as stated above significantly improved foot hold.


The midsole is made of two different kinds of foam. We have a central core of PWRRUN PB expanded beads PEBA foam as found in the carbon plated trail  Endorphin Edge (RTR Review) with an outer carrier of PWRRUN, an EVA/TPU blend to stabilize and contain the softer inner core so a construction similar to the road light stability Tempus (RTR Review). 

In the mix we also have a notably flexible woven rock plate just above the outsole. This rock plate design is also found in the regular Xodus Ultra Endorphin Edge, and Peregrine. 

The stack height, midsole as well as outsole construction of the RunShield is identical to that of  the regular Xodus Ultra.

The midsole is forgiving and energetic due to its PEBA core while remaining stable due to its outer firmer PWRRUN carrier. It has an easy going any pace feel due to its flexible forefoot and reasonable 6mm drop. The midsole is not explosively propulsive as in the Endorphin Edge with its all PWRRUN PB and full carbon plate and is far less rigid and more slower paces friendly. There is plenty of cushion for both trail and road given the 32.5mm heel / 26.5 mm forefoot stack height. 


The Xodus Ultra has Saucony’s customary PWRTRAC 4mm lug outsole in a 3 segment design with 2 longitudinal flex grooves which expose the woven rock plate. Grip on all surfaces has been excellent. On road surfaces, the lugs are noticed in cold weather more than warmer but the rubber, segmentation, and flexible rock plate prevent the outsole from being either over rigid or overly firm.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

The Xodus Ultra RunShield is no different under foot than the regular version. It has the same smooth flowing energetic ride with more flexibility and trail feel than its fairly substantial 32.5 / 26.5 mm stack height would suggest. The more substantial upper from midfoot to forefoot is clearly more supportive while the rear is less rigid. The ride has a mellow feel but a bouncy one energetic one and more so  than more mountain focused shoes (such as the Peregrine) would have due to the relative softness of the central PEBA core and the protective but thin rock plate. 

The weather resistance and touch of warmth so far has been great and and at the same time I was never overheated in decently warm temps in Texas. I do think the outsole may harden a bit in the cold but that is normal.

The Xodus Ultra RunShield, while heavier than the regular, is still light for a trail shoe and especially a weather resistant one with a high stack height of state of the art supercritical foam in the mix. It is for me a more versatile at least 3 season shoe as it has more support and as a bonus of course more effective weather protection than the regular version. 

At $160 ($10 more than the regular) for a weather resistant do it all shoe it has strong value. I would call it a trail to door shoe as it is fully road capable but its focus is trails not the road due to its outsole. It is a great option for winter snow covered sloppy roads, wet cold trails and really for any distance. Its strengths are towards longer runs in comparison to the Peregrine Ice + 3 its more agile tech trails cousin targeted towards more technical trail running in winter. 

If you like flex up front for climbing and for easy toe offs at any pace and a forgiving energetic ride with more than enough rock protection and with some trail feel, and now some agility due to improved front upper hold, it is a great choice. I can also see it as a great thru hiking and fast lighter pack hiking shoe and in it all black a commuter and walk the dog shoe as well while, of course in no way implying, it is not a super high performance trail runner.

Sam’s Score 9.6 /10

Ride: 9.7 Fit: 9.5 Value: 9.8 Style: 9.5 Traction: 9.5  Rock Protection : 9.3 



Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Saucony Xodus Ultra (RTR Review)

As covered above while the RunShield version is somewhat heavier it has better foothold and while not a “hot weather” shoe is yet more versatile.

Saucony Endorphin Edge (RTR Review

The Edge has an all PWRRUN PB midsole with a full carbon plate and 2.5 mm more stack height at 35/29. It weighs 1.2 oz less and has a non weather resistant upper. Its ride is taut and fast and I found it considerably less slow pace friendly and less versatile than the Xodus Ultra as it is really a race and fast paces focused shoe. 

Saucony Peregrine Ice+ 3 (RTR Review)

Sitting on a lower platform of all PWRRUN without the lighter PWRRUN PB core, the Ice ends up weighing the same as the Ultra. It is a more agile, more technical trails winter run focused shoe. Its special ice focused rubber compound was found by Jeff to have utility on hard packed snow and frozen granular and less so on actual ice. It is less all surfaces (including road) versatile as it is firmer with a more classic trail shoe ride.  Its fit is more precise and with the Ice Saucony chose as a softer more pliable RunShield mesh fit than the Ultra’s to keep things from getting too snug.

Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 GTX (RTR Review)

Playing in the same sandbox of all around versatility, and weather protection, the Nike has a Gore-Tex Invisible Fit upper, lower stack height, soft and quite bouncy React midsole. It is lower stack height and less cushioned up front but more agile and quicker feeling.

The Xodus Ultra RunShield is available at Saucony HERE and at our other partners below

Check out all our 2023 Run Shoe Previews HERE

15 Brands, Dozens of New Models

RoadTrailRun may receive a commission on purchases at the stores linked in this article. 
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun and are much appreciated. Thanks!

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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

Xodus Ultra RunShield available now!
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns

Xodus Ultra RunShield available now!
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Europe only: use RTR code RTR5ALL for 5% off all products, even sale products 

Men's and Women's SHOP HERE
  • 10% Savings Every Day*  5% Back in Rewards Cash
  • Test Run Shoes 90 Days Worry Free
  • Crazy Fast, FREE Shipping

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Use RTR code RTRTOP4 for 5% off all products, even sale products

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE Shipping on most orders over $40

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Men's and Women's SHOP HERE


Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by Following RoadTrailRun News Feed

Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook:  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun


Anonymous said...

Given that the sloppy fit and very thin upper on the original made it completely unsuitable for house-to-trail runs in a European winter, having a Runshield version seems a good idea, but Saucony has really missed a trick by not adding reflective strips (on the heel, especially) for the dark winter evenings.

Bilal said...

How did the Kahtoola gaiters fit and perform on these shoes?

Valerio said...

In reply to Anonymous: the Xodus Ultra Runshield actually do have a wide reflective strip on the back of the heel counter, almost full height, which is quite bright. It works for me.

I've done 130km in these shoes and they are a really good choice for European Alps low-altitude trails, any terrain, any pace, any weather, as accurately described in the article by Sam, but I've found some not-so-minor issues I feel compelled to share as we are talking about a 175€ (in Europe) shoe:
- first: the creasing. The outer PWRRUN frame creased immediately and got worse with mileage. Mine already have deep creases and have gained some extra flexibility as a result, which is not necessarily good. I'm not a light runner, at 76kg, but this is not something I like, especially since the exact same thing has already happened with my Tempus (a 190€ shoe), which shares a similar construction; I think Saucony should take notice.
- second: the lacing. The lacing system is kept unchanged from the regular Ultra, so is the fiddling needed to get a good initial lacing, albeit I must agree the Ultra retain laces tension way better than the regular ones during the run.
- third: the heel. I agree it is better than the regular ones, still the heel hold feels significantly looser than in the Xodus 11 or 10. As a result, I can feel heel slippages here and there, even after lacing using the recessed hole and having a strip of cotton inside the heel cup. I really wish they hadn't changed the heel cup from the 10, that one was perfect!
- fourth: durability. After 130km (significantly less than 100 miles) my right foot outsole, which is the one I tend to wear the most, has a couple of lugs severely worn out. This does not compare favorably to my Xodus 10 outsole which has 670km on the same trails and road to trails routes and it is still in better conditions.

Other than that, the shoe is extremely fun to run in, but I would not have minded at all a 20-30 grams weight penalty if it could have prevented these issues. Weight isn't *everything*. Just saying...

Happy new year and happy running to everybody!