Type A9 Released
Since our test period, Saucony has released the Type A9. The updates appear to be minor and mainly relate to the 3D printed overlay of the upper. Compare the two shoes below; the Type A9 is shown first, followed by the Type A8 that we tested.
We are now linking to the more readily available Type A9, but since we've yet to test this shoe, the review to follow is still our account of the Type A8.
Hands-On Review of the Type A8
For those of us who ran track, we know what it means to have race day shoes, especially the sprinters. You have your spikes for the meet, and you only bring them out a few times to train, but you spend most of your time doing workouts in regular running shoes. That's how the Saucony Type A8s will be for most runners. They're a bit tighter than is comfortable and a bit less supportive and protective than is desired for hours of pounding out the miles. But for PR-chasing and KOM-hunting, you'll be hard-pressed to find a faster, cleaner shoe. They didn't win an award, it's true. That's because most of us just want to train and race in the same shoe, so overall landing comfort played a larger part in the selection of award winners, and these are a bit closer to the spartan side of things. Still, they're great for gazelles who can redline at the front for an entire race.
To get a better understanding of exactly how the Type A8s compare to the rest of the field, we broke them down across our performance measures and looked at other top running shoes to see which ones did the best. Take a look at the breakdowns below to see if you find what you're looking for.
These kicks are extra lean, swift, and super sleek, but to get there, they had to make some sacrifices. One of those sacrifices was in responsiveness. Their firm Saucony Super Lite (SSL) EVA midsole does a fine job of returning energy, but because the shoe needs to be so lean, it's thin enough that you can feel every bump in the road. It also has very little in the upper to support or stabilize, instead relying on a tight fit to improve adherence to the foot. That works out for speedwork and pushing the pace, but it's not going to have the stability and responsiveness of some of the more robust stability models.
When it comes to responsiveness, you'll be relying on your feet to do the work. The thin slab of EVA primarily serves to protect your soles from rocks and pebbles.
This is a shoe meant for setting race day records, not trotting around the block. You can expect them to be less plush, despite the Saucony Super Lite EVA foam midsole. The sole is pretty thin and firm, so the generally bouncy EVA foam doesn't do a ton to cushion your feet. Then again, that's not a bad thing for these because they're meant to lay down the pace and you don't want your steps to be muddied by a big pillowy stack of foam.
The Type A8 is one of the lightest mass-market running shoes available and one the lightest shoes in our lineup. It comes in at just 12.8 ounces per pair of men's 11. Saucony got the shoe there by running an extremely lean SSL midsole and keeping the upper even leaner. That means there's almost no padding in the upper or cushion in the midsole. That helps make it fast as hell, but you get very little in the way of support and comfort. Still, if you're trying to set a PR, especially on runs under 45 minutes, you'll benefit from these.
12.8 ounces in a pair of men's 11. That's pretty wild.
The Saucony's thin mesh and light build have vulnerabilities, but the shoe is pretty sleek, so those weakness are limited. For example, the midsole is already firm, so the concerns over losing performance is much lower than in shoes with fat stacks and lots of plush cushioning. In its upper, it uses FLEXFILM, which can improve durability by protecting the underlying layers from abrasion and other damage. The outsole is also girded by CT-900, a premium carbon rubber to improve longevity. If you leave this as a race-only shoe, you can expect it to last quite a while, but serious training will probably get you through a few seasons.
It's tough to find issues with the Type A8's FLEXFILM and mesh upper. It's just tight enough for a locked-in ready-to-perform feel. The mesh is like a second skin with ever-so-much support. The collar padding is just cushioned enough not to be absent but does its job. It's not spartan, but it doesn't get in the way. The only drawback is the tongue, which slides a bit, bunches, and will rub against the upper part of the ankle if your socks aren't covering the top of the foot-ankle-leg transition. But because these are lightweight racing flats, you should be expecting this passable level of comfort. If you're after extreme padding and plush comfort, you'll probably want to take a look at the heavier, less nimble shoes.
These us a super thin, light mesh that breathes. The only thing keeping them from unmatched breathability is that the inside outer has a 3D print that's impermeable. Yet, it's one of the highest-scoring models for this measure. Even its heel is permeable, using open mesh to improve the breathability. The engineered mesh upper is already really thin, but the openings are also pretty wide, so there's a lot of aeration happening. The reduced upper padding also limits unwanted insulation and moisture collection, leading it to the top of the measure.
These are among the most breathable shoes out there, so they're excellent for hot weather.
Their going price is a fair ask for lightweight speedsters that rank among the best race day rides on the market today.
The Type A8s is absolutely one of our favorites, especially for speedwork. Like the Top Pick for Lightweight Racing Flat Brooks Hyperion, they're super close to track shoes. That's a bit of a double-edged sword, though, because they're top-end performers on the high-octane days where you're redlining the route, but on your low-tempo or maintenance days, they're not as comfortable or supportive as you'd like. But the Sauconys is the lightest in our lineup and are unmatched on short courses. If you're after a super lightweight speedster and a low profile and excellent breathability, we think you'll benefit from having a pair in your closet.
These felt really fast and they were fun to run in and get the sideways looks from across the road.