Saucony Xodus Ultra Review

This week we’ve been off road creating our Saucony Xodus Ultra review. The Saucony Xodus started life as a heavy-duty shoe designed for distance. It was heavy and robust, almost like a walking shoe. The latest version of this shoe, the Xodus Ultra has a focus on racing over ultra distances, which has led to a considerable change in the shoe.

When you pick up the Saucony Xodus Ultra it feels light. Now weighing in at 293 grams for a men’s size UK8. Compared with the previous version this is over 50 grams lighter. The heel to forefoot drop has also changed from 4mm to 6mm and the midsole is flexible enough to land midfoot. Many of us at Northern Runner use low or zero drop running shoes and store manager Craig enjoyed these (see below).

The saving in weight has come by using PWRRUN PB and PWRRUN frame. PWRRUN is the midsole material used in shoes like the Saucony Peregrine 12. This gives a firm and responsive feel. The PWRRUN PB is a light responsive foam used in Saucony’s Endorphin range, which feels soft but nimble. The forefoot has a woven rockplate to reduce the chance of thorns or sharp stones going through the shoe and causing bruising. The combination of these features is a flexible and cushioned ride. The shoes feel soft enough for running all day but responsive enough for picking up the pace. Ultramarathon distance shoes are often overly cushioned for to day to day use and feel a little clumpy. This isn’t the case with the Saucony Xodus Ultra. I would be happy to use these for my daily trail runs, as well as an ultramarathon adventure!

The lug depth is 4.5 mm and they are well spread out to avoid clogging (still happens in deep clay mud, as it does with all shoes). The Saucony Peregrine 12 grew in popularity mainly because of the traction that the outsole offers on a variety of terrain, whilst still being reasonably durable. The Xodus Ultra uses the same combination of rubbers and should therefore be as durable. The rubber is softer than a road shoe rubber as it’s designed to grip on wet surfaces like wood and rock. However, in our experience it is durable enough for a mile or so off-road on the way to your trail. The softness of the outsole and the cushioning makes the Xodus Ultra a nice comfortable shoe on the road as well as the trail, which is why they will do so well on mixed terrain that you’ll inevitably experience over longer distances.

Saucony shoes are narrower fitting, with a more pointed toe box, which is not usually my style. I was pleasantly surprised with the fit of the Xodus Ultra. The roomier toe box is broader at the toes to give a more rounded shape than the usual Saucony fit. This allows your feet the space to function naturally in your shoes and expand when things warm up. This helps reduce the chance of rubbing during long runs. They aren’t a typical 2E fitting shoe, but a generous standard width by all means. I thought they were a similar width and volume to the La Sportiva Akasha 2. Have you seen our La Sportiva Akasha II review?

Northern Runner’s shop manager Craig did the bulk of the test running:

“When I did some review miles in my Saucony Xodus Ultra I really enjoy running in these. I was surprised as I was expecting something totally different, given that I normally avoid many Saucony styles as they’re generally a lot narrower than I’m used to.

I found the fit similar to the New Balance Hierro v6, snug but not too tight. My feet felt cradled with my big toe kept straight. Plenty of room for my toes to move, but not slide from side to side. It feels like a comfy pair of slippers. Wearing them gives a ‘barely there’ feel as they are so light. The cushioning is very impressive. Light but springy without being too spongy. On the hills I didn’t feel like I was working harder by sinking into the sole, which is the feeling I get from a lot of very soft shoes. Going downhill feels amazing, as you’re being protected from the impact but without losing stability. Similar to how I felt in the Hoka Tecton X. The 6mm drop, though slightly higher than I’m used to, still felt quite natural. The Saucony Xodus Ultra isn’t too stiff in the midfoot, so it doesn’t feel like it is pulling you back onto your heel. That’s the feeling I get from a lot of shoes with a mid to high heel to forefoot drop.

The grip was very impressive. I ran on various surfaces such as road, gravel, grass, mud, forest floor and moss-covered paths. I didn’t have any problems with any of them. The rubber stuck to the wet and hard stones and pavements whilst the lugs dug into the soft soil. I wasn’t even aware that these shoes had a rock plate as they are quite flexible in the forefoot.”

In summary don’t be put off by the word ‘Ultra’ in the title of Xodus. Our review left us confident that the Saucony Xodus Ultra is a good all round trail shoe that will do everything from shorter daily trail runs for newcomers, up to long distance trail runs and ultramarathon racers for the most experienced runners out there. They have proven popular already and we can see why.

Other Considerations

La Sportiva Akasha II: These are also a 6mm heel to forefoot drop. The forefoot is a similar width and volume. The ride isn’t really firm but, firmer than the Xodus. This gives more feel for the ground. Here is a link to our review:
https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/la-sportiva-akasha-ii-review/

Altra Timp 4: Zero drop, rounded toe box with a similar soft cushioning. Here is a link to our review for more information:
https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/altra-timp-4-review/

Inov-8 Parkclaw G280: A snugger fit despite being Inov-8’s standard width. A much more flexible shoe. 8mm heel to forefoot. Here is a link to our review: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/inov-8-parkclaw-g-280-review/

Icebug Outrun: A straighter big toe with a broad rounded toe box gives these a more natural feel. The rubber gives exception grip in our experience. Here is our review: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/icebug-outrun-rb9x-review/

Scarpa Goldengate: A bigger stack height. Similar roomy fit. A very durable shoe for everything from daily running to Ultra’s. Firmer ride with a rocker. Here is our review: https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/scarpa-golden-gate-atr-review/

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