Saucony Xodus ISO Review Facts
When it comes to running shoes, especially those designed to be used on trails or a wide range of surfaces, there are a number of things that the average runner needs to consider. A good shoe should have a comfortable fit, a great responsive feel, offer good support and stability, and provide a good overall traction over a wide range of surfaces. It also doesn’t hurt to be well made, durable and stylish as well. While it can be hard to meet all these criteria, and some would say nearly impossible, the Saucony Xodus ISO trail running shoe does come somewhat close to meeting the mark in a number of different categories.
If you’re running
over rugged terrain such as rocky ground, a trail with plenty of tree roots or packed down snow, these shoes can be a true asset. The outsole portion is fashioned from a combination of strong PWRTRAC and XT-900 rubberized material that offers fantastic protection overall from scrapes, debris, and abrasions, all while holding up quite well for the long haul. The outsole is relatively thick and can give the shoe a bit of a clunky feel overall, but there is little chance of a sharp rock or stick penetrating the material.
The midsole area of this shoe offers a bit of a letdown when it comes to overall cushioning depending on your preferences. The Everrun midsole provides a great deal of continuous cushioning
, which is nice, but many found that the 24 mm provided to be a bit on the stiff side. Running in this shoe is certainly not like running on a pillow, but it does offer some decent cushioning overall. If you’d rather have a shoe that offers a bit more of a firm feel overall, this is a great choice, but if you want something with a more softer touch, you might want to consider other options.
In truth, the upper portion of this shoe received truly mixed reviews, some of which found it to be either a welcome boon or a nightmare. There really didn’t seem to be much neutral ground. The upper portion was fashioned out of mesh material that was encased by a welded external framework that was dubbed as Isofit material. It also included a somewhat ridged heel area and toe cap for added stability and protection.
Truthfully, for many people, it is this welded framework that became the shoe's downfall. Many found that the Isofit design caused the shoe to be much too restrictive overall, and did not allow for enough natural movement of the foot. While it was designed to fit like a glove, quite a few found that the upper portion of their foot felt like it was caught in a foot
-numbing vise. Not exactly a good thing while running. With that being said, the upper portion does provide fairly good ventilation and protection from debris overall.
One of the areas where the Saucony Xodus did shine quite well was the overall breathability and ventilation
that it provided. The engineered mesh upper portion did allow for moisture to pass quickly away from the feet while running, and when the shoes got wet, they took a remarkably short time to dry, just a little under three hours.
Depending on your foot shape and size, these shoes are either fairly comfortable or going to be thrown in the trash after a single run. Again, there didn’t really seem to be much middle ground for most trail runners
. These shoes provided a fantastic fit overall, with a great comfortable feel out of the box, provided that you were blessed with a completely average foot size or narrow overall feet. In that case, the glove-like upper, relatively stiff cushioning and rugged and thick outsole combined to make a shoe that nearly conformed to your foot with every step.
However, if your feet were on the wider side, or a bit larger than a normal foot in your size range, these shoes are not something that you want to consider without sizing up by at least a full size. The tight fit that felt comfortable to the average wearer will often prove to be too confining and restrictive in your situation. Indeed, most people with a wider fit found these shoes to be painfully tight, often cutting off circulation to the toes and forefoot areas.
Another area that could be problematic depending on the runner’s preferences is the overall type of cushioning provided in the shoes. While there is ample cushioning throughout, nearly 24 mm thick along the length of the shoe, it is a bit on the firmer side overall. While it does provide a great springiness, it’s not soft by any means.
These shoes provide a low profile design that can easily blend into a number of different environments, and the color schemes overall are complementary and somewhat understated. While these shoes are certainly designed to work on the trail as a great overall running shoe
, they can easily pass for athletic shoes that you could wear around the house, to a family barbecue, or even on a short jaunt to the park.
For the most part, the Saucony Xodus ISO trail running shoe proved to be quite durable overall. The relatively thick outsole and rigid external framework with a reinforced heel and toe cap area helped to keep most debris and trail obstacles from causing too much significant damage. With proper care and maintenance, such as regular cleaning and tread maintenance, there is every possibility that these shoes would last for quite a few seasons.
In a very real sense, these shoes offer great protection from trail debris, dirt, sand, and rocks and roots. Where they fall a bit short, however, is in the area of protection from the weather or moisture. These shoes are not waterproof, or even moderately water resistant. While they do offer some minimal protection while running through puddles due to the relatively thick and impenetrable outsole, a simple rainstorm can quickly overwhelm them, leaving the runner to deal with a somewhat heavy and soggy shoe to deal with over the next few hours. If you’re planning on running in inclement weather, these are probably not the shoes you want to buy.
In a very real sense, we have to give Saucony a bit of credit. The design of this shoe is clearly one that is meant to provide a springy and responsive step. The combination of the thicker outsole and shoe length midsole cushioning combine to create a firmness and springiness that is fairly good even over a longer haul.
However, the execution of the shoe does leave a bit to be desired. For starters, the relatively heavy and thick outsole does make the shoe feel somewhat bulky and weighed down. This is somewhat of a disappointment, especially since the treads on these shoes provide phenomenal traction in rocky terrain.
Overall, these shoes from Saucony provide good support, but they aren’t anything to write home about. The offer neutral pronation, and is great for those who don’t have too much trouble with ankle instability. The arch support is certainly adequate for the average runner, but those who require a little bit extra in that area will probably want to use inserts if they are set on this particular shoe.
One area that these shoes do excel in is in the contoured support provided by their interior Comfortfit liner. In a very real sense the interior of the shoe, combined with the external framework provides a snug and very supportive fit for the average runner. It also provides for a somewhat natural movement of the foot, if not a whole lot of room.
Generally speaking, the Saucony Xdos ISO trail shoe is designed for trail running, especially if that trail is over more rugged or rocky terrain. Tree roots, small rocks, and steep short inclines are really no match for the thick outsole and large, rugged lugs in the tread. If you run in any kind of mountainous areas, these shoes will work quite well.
However, if the terrain you like to run in is a bit more varied, these shoes may not be the best overall choice. They were shown to perform poorly in areas of loose terrains, such as gravel, deep snow, sand, or rockslide areas. Simply put, they need something firm and grounded for the tread to grip well. If the terrain moves beneath your feet, the outsole of this shoe is too thick to flex adequately to adjust to the changes.
If you’re looking for a shoe that is in the moderate range of most running or trail shoes, you will be pleased by this choice. Prices for this shoe can easily fall into a budget and are reasonable.
Not surprisingly, the overall traction of this particular brand of shoe is quite good, especially in uneven terrain. The tacky and durable outsoles combined with the rather large lugs make short work of rocky, rugged ground or even pack snow. It also grips nicely in both dry and wet conditions. However, it does need something to grip in order to excel, so areas of loose dirt, gravel or sand may prove to be a bit problematic overall.
Given the thickness of the sole overall and the firmness of the midsole area, these shoes don’t offer much in the way of flexibility overall. That is not to say that the shoes are unbearably stiff; there is a measure of flexibility that does allow for somewhat natural movement overall.
Comparison to Other Brands
In truth, there are quite a few running shoes and trail running shoes that perform just as well if not better than the Saucony Xdos ISO brand in individual areas. Both the Inov-8 Roclite 305 GT and the Salomon Speedcross 4 offer superior inclement weather protection, and the Salming 4 is much better at dealing with looser terrains. In addition, the La Sportiva Busido running shoe was found to be more stable overall than the Saucony Xodus ISO.
With all that being said, the Saucony Xodus ISO does come close to topping the list when it comes to moving over rugged terrain and durability overall. If these shoes work for you, and you care for them properly, chances are they’ll outlast just about any other brand on the market today.
Sadly given its overall support and firmness, as well as the external framework, these shoes don’t offer as much stability as hoped for. While the overall construction would seem to promote stability overall, the ratio between the height of the shoe and the width is somewhat high. This high ratio causes the shoes to feel a bit more unstable or top heavy. Quite a few users complained of the feeling of walking on an uneven balance beam.
The Bottom Line
The Xodus ISO trail running shoe from Saucony provides a mixed blessing to most runners, especially if they enjoy the great outdoors. It excels over rough terrain including hard pack snow and rocky areas but falls well short of desired performance over loose ground. It provides fantastic protection from debris but offers little protection from the weather. These shoes provide a great overall firmness and responsiveness, but their comfort level for anything other than the average person is problematic at best. In addition, the price falls into the moderate range for trail running shoes, so the price isn’t really a determining factor in the purchase of these shoes.
All in all, there are quite a few shoes on the market today that perform better, but there are also a number that don’t measure up to the bar set by Saucony. If you’re looking for an average shoe that performs well enough, this will do as well as any other.