Monday, July 17, 2023

Saucony Triumph 21 Multi Tester Review: 5 Comparisons

Article by Steve Gedwill and Jeff Beck

Saucony Triumph 21 ($160)


Steve: The Saucony Triumph 21 is set to build upon the overhaul of the Triumph 20. 

The Triumph 21 features the PWRRUN + TPU foam found on the previous version, with the drop height also remaining the same at 10mm. The midsole seems to be unchanged (which is a good thing) we are just seeing some nice improvements to the upper here. The Triumph 21 also features some recycled materials , which is always a plus!

The Triumph has always been the go to plush neutral trainer in Saucony’s line up. I was excited to get my hands on the newest version, since the Triumph 20 was so well received. The question is, does this new upper improve the shoe?


Steve/Jeff: Same soft, bouncy PWRRUN + TPU foam

Steve/Jeff: Flat Knit upper is very comfortable

Steve/Jeff: New lacing system provides great lockdown

Jeff: Didn’t ruin any of the newfound greatness of the Triumph 20


Steve: Could be a little firmer to increase responsiveness

Steve/Jeff: Pretty plan style wise 


Weight: men's 9.8oz  / 279g (US9)  /  women's 8.8oz / 250g (US8)

Sample weight: 10.3 oz / 292g (US10.5)

Stack Height: men’s 37 mm heel / 27 mm forefoot ( 10mm drop spec)

$160 and available now at our partners including Saucony HERE

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Steve: I received the concrete/black colorway, which has some highlights of red, but overall it’s a pretty neutral design. The Triumph isn’t necessarily a flashy shoe, and some might appreciate the simple design, I on the other hand like a bit of flash! 

It may not look the part, but man is this one comfortable shoe! At step in you immediately notice the comfort of the flat knit upper, it hugs the foot, but provides a little stretch. I thas ample room and volume in the toe box, is pretty breathable with has great lockdown. I find my men’s 12 to be true to size. The new lacing system moves the runners knot higher up and closer to the ankle. I think the changes to the upper are another step in the right direction!

Jeff: Steve is 100% correct, the style is a little plain, especially the gray colorway Saucony sent. The benefit is that I’ve been doing double duty in them, wearing them to the office occasionally as well as logging most of my active miles in them - something that isn’t easy to pull off with nuclear color options.

Otherwise, my first impression was that they changed very little from the Triumph 20, which was the shoe I named as my favorite daily trainer as well as my overall favorite road shoe, so minimal change is a great thing in my book. And as you can see from the pictures, I’m not kidding when I say very little outside of the upper has changed.

That said, the upper has changed quite a bit. The knit upper is easily one of the best knit uppers in existence as many knit uppers limit a shoe’s breathability and/or lockdown, and this upper doesn’t have either issue. 

The toebox is about the same as last year; it’s pretty good for a traditionally shaped shoe, but not incredible. 

The gusseted tongue is slightly on the plush side, but not at all overly thick or heavy. There is a thin heel pull tab that’s decently functional, if a little underwhelming. 

Far and away the most striking thing about this upper was how effectively it locks the foot down.

Instead of having eyelets all the way down, what should be the second eyelet from the top is a folded over strap - not all that unique, we’ve seen similar construction in dozens of shoes over the last decade. What sets this execution apart is how much it grips the foot when you pull it tight. Every single time I lace them up, I’m almost taken aback by how much it grabs the foot. I don’t struggle with heel slip with most shoes, and in those few instances where I do, a runner’s knot usually takes care of it - but with this extra grip near the top, I’m guessing very few runners will struggle with heel slip with the Triumph 21. The Triumph 20 had a similar strap/loop in place of an eyelet, but it didn’t bring the same level of foot grip the 21 has.

Fitwise I’d got true-to-size for length, and there’s plenty of width even with the standard D width on my slightly wider than normal foot.


Steve: Featured here is the PWRRUN + TPU foam found on the Triumph 20, and hey when you find a winning formula stick with it. The midsole is very plush and comfortable and provides a nice bounce. The slight rocker geometry and 10mm drop  helps transition smoothly. I would prefer a little more ground feel, as slightly more firmness could make this shoe a bit more responsive.   

Jeff: Under the foot this might as well be the Triumph 20.1, it’s that similar. A year ago I raved about the new iteration of PWRRUN+, and that the initial flavor of it was soft but dense, and they’d traded dense for bouncy - all of that is still true. There’s a lot of squish both under the forefoot and the heel, and while I agree with Steve, a firmer ride could make it more responsive, I love the soft and bouncy nature of the shoe.


Steve: The outsole is virtually unchanged from the previous version. It features long segmented thin rubber that covers the majority of the midsole. I have no issues with the grip as it has held up well in some of this recent rain in the midwest. Plenty of flex here and the rubber doesn’t seem to reduce the softness of the midsole.

Jeff: Yup, same outsole as last year, and I continue to have no complaints whatsoever. Durability is great, and the tackiness of the rubber is impressive. 

A number of us have written about how impressed we were by Puma Grip featured on Puma shoes, Goodyear rubber featured on Skechers Performance, and Continental rubber on adidas shoes - and even though this outsole doesn’t have any name branding to it, I’d put it on that level. Phenomenal traction. Also, the exposed midsole isn’t problematic in its placement leading to early failures.


Steve: What I love most about this shoe is I honestly feel like I could run in it forever! The new knit upper disappears on foot, while the soft cushioning reduces impact. It doesn’t feel heavy or clunky and is very streamlined for a 37mm heel stack. 

The slight rocker geometry and 10mm drop does enough to keep you rolling forward, without being too aggressive, which is a good thing in a plush trainer. Speaking of Plush, the cushion definitely kept me well protected when I took these out for my 15 mile long run. There is something to be said for fresher legs after a long effort. Could the shoe be a little more responsive? Sure, but it does have plenty of bounce and let’s put into perspective that it’s a high mileage trainer, not a speed day shoe.

Jeff: Honestly, I couldn’t put it better than what Steve just wrote. It’s got fantastic levels of both soft cushioning and just a bit of a dynamic bounce that makes it great for just about any run. A year ago I called the 20 the softest and bounciest Triumph to date, and since they changed virtually nothing since then, I’d say that holds up.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Steve: I believe the upper update is a complete win here, it’s comfortable, breathable, and just feels fantastic on the run. The PWRRUN + TPU midsole is a known commodity and doesn’t disappoint. This is a shoe you can put a ton of comfortable miles on. If you are looking for a long run, high mileage non plated neutral trainer, this is the one. It is a bit soft, but I found it to still be quite stable. This shoe can work for a ton of easy miles or could be a half/full marathon shoe for runners around the 4 hour or more mark for a full marathon distance. Overall I think it’s a fantastic shoe and will definitely find a home in my weekly lineup!

Steve’s Score: 9.5/10 

Only deductions are for Style and that the T21 could benefit from some firmness to make the shoe more responsive. 


Jeff: First off, if you are wondering if you should pick up the 21 over the 20 - I answer that down below in the comparisons. Saucony killed it last year, so I’m glad they didn’t change much this time around. They slotted this shoe in the Goldilocks zone of soft and bouncy, making it an incredible daily trainer, or as Steve pointed out, it could make a great half-to-full-marathon shoe for slower runners (I ran the Chicago Marathon in Triumph 10 before carbon plated super shoes existed, and the 21 is a substantially better shoe). As long as you like soft and bouncy shoes, the Triumph should be in consideration for any part of your rotation.

Jeff’s Score: 9.95/10

Ride: 10 (50%) Fit: 10 (30%) Value: 10 (15%) Style: 9 (5%)



Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Saucony Triumph 20 (RTR Review)

Jeff: The biggest question of all - should you go 21 or 20? The upper is definitely better on the 21, but the 20 upper was pretty good to begin with. If the upper was problematic, say the thick and unbreathable Triumph 18, then it’d be a very easy yes. Instead, they gave a full redesign to something that didn’t need much changing, and while it ultimately is better for it, is it *that* much better for it? As much as it pains me to say this (because right now the Triumph 21 seems destined to show up a few times on my Shoes of the Year 2023 list) I think budget conscious runners should absolutely scoop up the Triumph 20 on a deal while they can. You’re still getting a phenomenal shoe. And at a certain point last year’s stock will run out, and then pick up the 21 and see for yourself how great the upper change is. 

ASICS Gel-Nimbus 25 (RTR Review) 

Steve: I like to call the Gel-Nimbus Cadillac like, notoriously comfortable and luxurious, but also big and bulky. The Nimbus 25 is in its own class of comfort, but a bit clunky. The Saucony Triumph 21 on the other hand gives you all the plush comfort you need, but it is a lighter sleeker package (much like a Lexus or Audi). I’m rolling with the Triumph, unless it's a very slow recovery type run. 

Jeff: I think this is my first review with him and I’m liking this Steve guy. I've long been a fan of comparing shoes to cars and appreciate the metaphor. He’s right, the Nimbus is much more cushy, with one of the best tongues in the game and a wider toebox, but it’s truly for easy days only. The T21 bounce gives it a versatility that the ASICS just doesn’t have.

Nike Pegasus 40 (RTR Review) 

Steve: The Pegasus is a well known workhorse trainer that is beloved by many. The Pegasus is a bit firmer, but lacks the bounce and softness that the Triumph provides. Both uppers are quite comfortable, but the lockdown on the Triumph is slightly better. You’ll get a ton of miles out of both of these shoes, but I prefer the ride of the Saucony Triumph here. 

361 Spire 5 (RTR Review)

Jeff: The Spire 5 has a similar beaded TPE midsole and the stack heights are close, when worn A/B you can feel the Triumph’s extra bounce as well as slightly higher stack. The Spire has a bigger toebox, which is appreciated, though the Triumph feels just a bit wider everywhere else. The Spire brings a slightly more performance based ride, but ultimately I favor the Triumph’s blend of soft and bouncy.

Puma Forever Run Nitro (RTR Review)

Jeff: Puma’s big cushioned trainer with subtle stability elements brings a similarly plush philosophy to everything and blends soft and bouncy well. The Triumph has a wider toebox, and has a more cushioning ride both up front and in the heel, with noticeably more bounce. I really enjoyed the Run Forever, and runners who need stability could do much worse, but when worn against the Triumph it pales in comparison.

Skechers Performance GoRun Ride 11 (RTR Review)

Jeff: The 20 was the Triumph’s big leap forward, and the 11 is the GRR’s equivalent. It features a new midsole iteration, called HyperBurst Ice, and it’s got plenty of soft bounce to make most runners happy. And while the GRR11 is far from lacking, when worn against the T21 it feels a little thin in the forefoot due to its carbon infused plate for the most part. Both great shoes, but I lean toward the Saucony.

Triumph 21 is available now


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Tester Profiles

Steve: A former high school track runner, turned physique competitor who then jumped back into the running scene. I’m 37 years old, 6’0 tall, 175 lbs and currently running 30-40 miles per week. My most recent Half Marathon time is 1:45:59 and I am starting my build for the Chicago Marathon this Fall. I am from Tampa, Florida originally, but have called Chicago, IL home for the last 5 years. I’m a huge running shoe geek and work in the craft beer industry!

Jeff Beck is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup, and as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 20 miles per week on roads and trails around Denver, CO (and sometimes on the treadmill when the weather gets too much for a Phoenix native). Jeff only got into running in his 30s, as a result his career PR's are 4:07 for the marathon and 5K at 23:39. Jeff has finished several ultra marathons, from 50K up to 50 miles, and is still debating if he wants to go down that road again.

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'.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How does Triumph 21 compare to Magnify Nitro 2?