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Product Review: Saucony Xodus Ultra

Saucony Xodus Ultra Trail Runners

The shift from hiking boots to trail runners is a trend that appears to be picking up some steam over the last few years. As this website is named FatManLittleTrail you can bet that I don’t do a lot of running on the trail or not, but I wanted to test out hiking in some good trail runners. I was sent a pair of Saucony Xodus Ultra trail runners to test out and I was pleasantly surprised and decided to write this review. Also, I was excited to see that the Xodus is available in both Men’s and Women’s which isn’t always the case on products I test. I also wrote an article about the differences between different footwear on the trails if you are interested.

As a disclaimer I would like to mention that I was sent this pair of Saucony Xodus Ultra shoes so that I could write this review. All opinions on this page are my own and based on my own experiences with this pair of shoes. I am not compensated for the opinions on this review. Your experience with the shoes may be different.

From Saucony

Before I get into my opinions I wanted to share some of the specs on the Saucony Xodus Ultra.

Saucony describes the Xodus Ultra like this, “For those who see the horizon and dare to explore further, meet Xodus Ultra. Specifically designed for the long-haul, it’s the ultra-comfort you desire for the ultra-distance you demand.” Here are the specs before I get into the review.

Specs

Price*
$150.00

Sizes*
7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, 10, 10.5, 11.5, 12.5, 13, 14

FEATURES & BENEFITS*

  • Get max spring with a full-length core of ultralight PWRRUN PB and added durability and support with a resilient PWRRUN Frame
  • New 6mm last designed specifically for long-distance trail running gives you the stable feeling you need in a more forgiving package
  • More comfort with a roomier toe box
  • Durable protection with an improved rock plate
  • Incredible grip and increased flexibility with a new 3-piece PWRTRAC outsole
  • Contoured sockliner hugs your foot for a perfect fit
  • More minimal upper decreases hotspots and a new debris shield keeps everything out
  • Trail outsole lug height: 4.5mmGaiter compatible: Yes
  • Lighter footprint: This style contains recycled upper materials

SPECS*

  • Category: Trail Neutral Running Shoe
  • Heel-to-toe Offset: 6mm (32.5mm heel/26.5mm forefoot)
  • Weight: Men’s 10.3 oz. (292 g), Women’s 9.1 oz. (263 g)

Colors*

Acid/Blue Raz (Shown), Black/Charcoal, Cool Mint/Zest, Sapphire/Vizired

*All spec information from Saucony.com at time of this posting and are subject to change.

Me in My Saucony Xodus Ultra handling rocky terrain.
Me in My Saucony Xodus Ultra handling rocky terrain.

What I liked

I wasn’t sure about trying trail runners but I am glad I did. The Saucony Xodus Ultra are a light-weight yet sturdy shoe that fits well and is way to stylish for someone like me. I also really liked the grip and traction. Here is a little more detail about what I liked.

Fit

I was really impressed with the way the Xodus Trail Runners fit. I have a wider foot which makes some shoes really squeeze me. The Xodus have a wide enough toe box that my foot has enough room to be comfortable even on longer trails. There is also a nice heal capture that locks the heel into place. That gets really important in preventing the heal sliding during incline portions of a hike.

These shoes also do a really nice job of hugging the foot while hiking. The sides of shoe are tight enough against the foot to feel solid but have enough flexibility so as not to feel constricting. Not only is it comfortable but it makes me more confident when I am hiking that I know where my foot will land and stay with each step.

The top of the shoe has a tight fit around the ankle that gives some nice support. The tongue has a piece of material that spreads to either side to help form a sort of seal. Having a tight opening around the ankle helps keep debris out of the shoe. It isn’t going to keep fine sand away but should keep twigs, leaves, and pebbles out. This also makes it a little harder to get the foot into the shoe but I talk more about that a little later.

The Weight

One of the main reasons people are making a switch from hiking boots to trail runners is the weight. The Xodus Ultra basically feel like I am wearing slippers on the trail. They weigh in at a measly 10.3 ounces (9.1 ounces for the women’s model)! In comparison the lightest pair of hiking boots that I have weigh weigh in around 16 ounces and some others get as high as 20 ounces.

While 6 and 10 ounce differences don’t seem like a huge amount, it can really add up after a long 12 mile hike. Also, ultra-light hikers know that every ounce counts! The nice thing was that even though the the trail runners are very light weight, they are still put together really well and are a sturdy piece of footwear.

The Saucony Xodus Ultra on the trail.
The Saucony Xodus Ultra on the trail.

The Look

Admittedly, I am a guy who believed that shoes only come in brown or black. I don’t get confused with being stylish very often. When I opened the box of the Saucony Xodus Ultra and saw the highlighter yellow shoes I was excited. Never have I gotten so many compliments on a pair of shoes in my life!

I also liked that the Xodus still look like shoes. I have seen trail runners that are thin and basically look like an thick sock. So for me, the fact that the Xodus still looked like a regular pair of running shoes was important.

There is also some functional value to having bright shoes if you hike around sunset and sunrise like I like to do. It just helps a bit with visibility.

The Grip

I was really impressed with the grip of the Saucony Xodus Ultra. Being my first trail runner I was a little concerned that the grip would be sacrificed for light weight and speed. The testing I did proved even the most skeptical (me) of hikers wrong. Here are my thoughts on those tests.

Slip Scale

On a slip scale from worst to best of: Oh-HOLY COWNO NO NOWoahNot Bad, I Got ThisNo Worries!

  • Flat Dry ground that is dirt or rock: No Worries
  • Flat ground that is a little damp or muddy: I Got This
  • Loose dirt: No Worries
  • Walking across rock boulders: No Worries
  • Declining down a flat rock: I Got This
  • Scree: Not Attempted
  • When bottom of shoes are wet: I Got This
Solid treads produce great traction and grip on the Saucony Xodus Ultra.
Solid treads produce great traction and grip on the Saucony Xodus Ultra.

Overall Grip

This was something I was very pleasantly surprised with the Xodus but the overall grip of the shoes was really high and comparable to every pair of hiking boots I have worn. I had this misconception that a trail runner would be built for more speed and less resistance but I was wrong. The grip was really solid and I felt very comfortable on the trails.

Bouldering and Rock Walking

Bouldering and walking on rocks was no problem with Saucony. My feet held while I was walking across a boulder field with no problems at all. I didn’t do any sheer slick rock to test but just a standard large boulder field and everything worked out great.

Snow, Slush, Ice

The version of the Xodus that I was sent are not waterproof so I did not attempt this. There is a version called the Xodus Ultra Runshield that is designed as a water resistant runner for winter that is available but I didn’t have a pair of those to test.

Damp Tread

As I mentioned I didn’t get the waterproof version of these shoes but I did have to cross some shallow creeks where the water didn’t make it above the sole of the shoe. Essentially just some melt running down a rocky section of the trail. While I didn’t swamp the shoe I did get the tread nice and wet. The thicker channels of the tread helped to keep just the tips of the tread wet and they dried really quick and the moisture kind of channeled away so there wasn’t much of a loss in grip while wet or dry.

The Saucony Xodus Ultra on the trail.
The Saucony Xodus Ultra on the trail.

Dry Trail

This is where the Suacony Xodus Ultra really shine. On dry terrain these shoes have some really amazing grip. The hold the trail and even dig into looser and sandy trails. Heading down hill on loose dirt even made me feel confident in my stopping ability when other shoes would have a tendency to slide. This really sold me on these trail runners as a viable alternative to boots.

Mud

I hate mud, mud is terrible. So, I am not going to judge any shoe on how they handle mud. I would rather walk on snow and ice than a trail that is 2 inches of mud that slips and slides underfoot.

The Pad

This was honestly my biggest concern with switching from hiking boots to trail runners. I plod along and kick things and step on rocks when I hike and I need something that is going to protect my feet. That made nervous that a light weight shoe wasn’t going to be able to provide the support and protection that I needed. I was wrong.

The pad on the Saucony Xodus Ultra is really strong. I literally hit it with my knuckles and it didn’t give an inch. I then went on the trails and stepped on the big rocks, tree roots, and sharp little pebbles that are present on Colorado trails. Nothing penetrated or even gave me discomfort on the bottom of my feet. The pad fully protected me with each step.

The Saucony Xodus Ultra handling some rocky terrain.
The Saucony Xodus Ultra handling some rocky terrain.

Another nice surprise was that there is actually a kick plate in the Xodus Ultra. The kick plate covers the front of the shoe and extends a really nice 1 3/4 inches down either side. It feels like a hard rubber that protects from all those branches or rocks that I just forget to see and end up kicking. I was really happily surprised to see such a robust kick plate and such really solid protection from the dangers of the trail.

Overall, I was really impressed with this part of my testing. The protection of my foot, which I thought would be the weakest point, turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the Saucony Xodus Ultra.

Waterproofing

The Pair of Xodus Ultra that I received were not a waterproof version. This is a downside to some of the trail runners. As I mentioned earlier, there is a water resistant version of the Xodus called the Runshield that is available.

The thing about waterproofing is even the best materials are going to add a bit of weight and effect the breathability of the shoe. So with a trail runner you really have to decide if you want an ultra light weight shoe or do you want an all season shoe. This is really just a matter of preference and not a bad mark.

What I didn’t Like

While I mostly really enjoyed the Xodus, they will take my blogger card away if I don’t find a few things that I didn’t like. As this is my first foray into trail runners, some of these issues are based on the difference between the hiking boots I usually wear and a new style of footwear.

Forward Lean

The Xodus want to run! Which makes sense because they are trail runners. What I found is that the design of the shoes encourages a bit of a forward lean of the body. This is prefect for runners who have more momentum going forward. Since I am using these shoes to hike at a slower pace, the forward lean had me wanting to take off running which became a small issue when heading downhill at a walking pace.

It took me a couple of hikes to get into a rhythm and adjust my balance on the downhills to prevent myself from getting to far forward. I think people who are more familiar with running shoes and trail runners won’t see this as an issue but being more comfortable on hiking boots it took me a second to get comfortable with. Just something to think of if you you make the transition between boots and trail runners.

Opening

I have a wider foot and trying to get my foot in the more narrow opening at the top of the shoe was a bit of a challenge. This is not really a big problem but I did have to use both hands to opening up the shoe a bit to get my foot in. Again, I am more experienced with hiking boots that are usually bigger and I can easily slide my foot in hands free. Not a big deal but something I noticed.

Video Review of the Saucony Xodus Ultra

Before my final thoughts here is a quick video review of the Saucony Xodus Ultra Trail Runners. If you enjoy the review make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to be the first to see my new content.

Wrap Up of Saucony Xodus Ultra

I was really impressed with my first foray into trail runners. The light weight shoes had great traction, protected my feet and were a comfortable fit on the trail. The Xodus felt great even on longer hikes. The big take away for me was good my feet felt even with the shoes being about half the weight of a traditional hiking boot.

The only small downside that I found was that there was a bit of a forward lean that took a little bit to get used to and the narrow opening, while protecting the ankle and keeping debris away, made it a little harder to get into the shoe. Also, this version wasn’t water resistant but that can be worked around.

While my style is more suited to hiking boots, a slow slog, I really enjoy hiking in the Xodus Ultra. I have begun alternating what shoes I wear on different hikes now. The light weight without sacrificing traction or comfort definitely makes the Saucony Xodus Ultra a great option for the trail.

Saucony Xodus Ultra on the trail.
Saucony Xodus Ultra on the trail.

More from the Fatman

For a list of other products that I have reviewed you can check my Product Review page here. If you have any products you would like me to review or any comments you can email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com or you can follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

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