Hands-on Gear Review

Saucony Xodus ISO 2 Review

This low profile trail shoe is super protective, doing well on less technical terrains through all types of weather.
The Xodus ISO 2
By: Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 4, 2017
Price:  $130 List  |  $71.48 at Amazon - 45% Off
Pros:  Bomber underfoot cushion, dries quickly, anti-debris protective features
Cons:  Confined fit, less aggressive outsole, not sensitive
Manufacturer:   Saucony
68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 13
  • Foot protection - 25% 8
  • Traction - 25% 7
  • Stability - 15% 7
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 6
  • Weight - 10% 6
  • Sensitivity - 10% 5
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  • 5

Our Verdict

The Saucony Xodus ISO 2 is literally stacked with protective elements. It stands out for its 24mm of cushion (in addition to a rock plate), making it one of the most protective trail shoes we've tested. The only reason it didn't earn a nine out of ten is that its overlay mesh is penetrable by the finest particulates like sand. It's also not waterproof like our Editors' Choice winner, the inov-8 Roclite 305 GTX - Women's. While it's stacked with fantastic protection, this trades off for stability and sensitivity on the trail. The PWRTRAC V-grooved outsole does well on most surfaces, making this a great shoe to tackle all weather conditions (it also dries quickly!).

Product Update — July 2017
Saucony discontinued the original ISO and replaced it with the Xodus ISO 2, pictured above. We contacted the manufacturer to get more details on the update and have included some information below- so keep reading! Until we get our hands on the new version, this review continues to reflect the OG model.

This trail runner isn't nearly as comfortable as its cousin the Saucony Peregrine 7 - Women's nor does it perform as well overall. That said, it is more protective and if that's what you're looking for, this may be your next sole-mate (pun intended!).


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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The New Xodus ISO 2 vs. the Original Xodus ISO


Retailing for the same $130 as the original version, Sauncony launched the second iteration of this classic protective shoe in June 2017. While they assured us that no changes were made to the cushioning of the Xodus, there were some significant updates to the upper and heel, which we detailed below. You can see a side-by-side comparison of the shoes here with the new Xodus ISO 2 on the left and the original on the right.
The Xodus ISO 2
Saucony Xodus ISO
  • New Upper — According to the manufacturer, the upper is now constructed with a new hot-melt vamp layer for reinforced protection in what was previously a "more vulnerable" area of the shoe.
  • Heel support — While Saucony did let us know that there have been changes made to the heel support, we are still waiting for details on the specifics and will report back when we know more.

Because we have not yet gotten our hands on the new version of this shoe, the rest of this review continues to reflect the original Xodus ISO.

Hands-On Review of the Original Xodus ISO


The Saucony Xodus ISO is a low profile shoe that offers boatloads of protection from rough or rooted surfaces. We thought it was a decent trail shoe but lacked in the areas of stability, sensitivity, and overall comfort.

Performance Comparison



Foot Protection


If you're looking for a trail shoe that is similar to the Saucony Peregrine 7 but with enhanced foot protection, this is it! Featuring 24 mm of cushion in addition to a rock plate, you are bound to feel very little on the trail. The molded toe cap is hard while the internal sock-like liner does a great job at keeping larger particulates out (but not super fine sand).

The RUNDRY collar makes this shoe a perfect Uncompahgre for tackling ponds and streams, while the overlay fabric wicks well in light drizzles. That said, in downpours, it is not waterproof by any means. If you're looking for a shoe that has better protection from fine particulates or rain, be sure to check out the inov-8 Roclite 305 GTX - Women's or the Salomon Speedcross 4 - Women's for their impenetrable overlays.

The anti-debris mesh provides protection from most trail particulates - but it's not water resistant.
The anti-debris mesh provides protection from most trail particulates - but it's not water resistant.

Traction


Featuring a super sticky PWRTRAC rubber outsole with V-shaped grooves, this material does well on most surfaces to include buffed out single track and rocky or rutted trails. It also performed well on packed snow and scree fields. However, it is not the best option for super soft surfaces like mud and deep snow. We found this shoe to slip and slid. Instead look for a shoe with deeper lugs like the Salming Elements or our Top Pick for Sloppy Surfaces - the Salomon Speedcross 4 - Women's if you plan on tackling the gnar on a regular basis.

The outsole does a great job sticking to all dry surfaces. But like many of the trail shoes tested in this review  it can't stick to the super wet stuff.
The outsole does a great job sticking to all dry surfaces. But like many of the trail shoes tested in this review, it can't stick to the super wet stuff.

Stability


The stability of this shoe is about average. Even though it features a low profile design with a 4mm drop, the stack height: width ratio is higher which makes it feel less stable than other super stable contenders that have a lower stack height: width ratio (like the La Sportiva Bushido - Women's). On the trail, it felt a little tippier and we found ourselves moving a little slower over technical terrain. As a result, we'd recommend it for more stable surfaces and less technical terrain, even though its protective features are meant for more technical trails.

The IsoFit frame provides a great wrap-around fit that enhances stability  despite the tall stack height of this shoe.
The IsoFit frame provides a great wrap-around fit that enhances stability, despite the tall stack height of this shoe.

Comfort & Fit



Comfort

With a plush stack height of 24mm, many of our testers loved the responsive cushioning this shoe has to offer. That said, its cushion is not as soft or plush as the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 4, making it feel more stiff and rigid (taking away from comfort). However, we did love the breathability of the upper.

Fit

Overall, the width was great for those with medium to narrow feet. As a neutral shoe, it offers no additional arch support and the ISOFIT upper wraps the foot for a very specific fit that feels confined. In our eyes, this is the biggest downside of this shoe. It made our feet feel more confined and there wasn't as much space to accommodate the height of the foot in the shoe (i.e. from the top of the foot to the arch of the foot) like the Saucony Peregrine 7. Some of our testers even reported numbness in their feet after running just one mile. As result, we'd recommend sizing up at least a ½ size to accommodate for this lack of space.

Overall, this shoe did not score very well in this metric. Even though it's stacked with lots of cushion, we found the ISOFIT sleeve to be confining and in some cases, cutting off circulation and causing numbness. In addition, the cushioning is not soft, but harder. As a result, this shoe earned a six out of ten in this category.

Weight


Feeling a little heavier on the foot then lightweight contenders like the Nike Terra Kiger 4 - Women's, this shoe weighs in at 10.3 oz. When wet it holds about 4.23 oz of water and is one of the quickest to dry (~3 hours). On the trail we learned that the RUNDRY collar does a good job at wicking water (which offers some water resistance) and dries out within minutes on the trail, (if running through streams or puddles) but it's not waterproof. If that's what you're looking for, take a look at the inov-8 Roclite 305 GTX instead.

This shoe is not the lightest out there  nor is it the heaviest.
This shoe is not the lightest out there, nor is it the heaviest.

Sensitivity


With 24 mm of responsive cushioning, sensitivity is an inherent trade-off. If you're in the market for a shoe that boasts both protection and sensitivity, be sure to check out the La Sportiva Bushido or the Saucony Peregrine 7 instead.

Best Applications


Given its performance overall, this shoe is best suited for any type of weather condition - rain or shine. Given its lack of stability, we would recommend it for even surfaces and less technical trails. Given its great protective features, we think this shoe would make a great hiker as well!

Value


At $130, we think this shoe is a little expensive for what it offers. It stands out for its protection in the form of cushioning and a rock plate, but there are other shoes that have the same types of features for the same or less money. For example, take a look at the Saucony Peregrine 7 (Our Best Buy award winner) for only $120 that features better performance overall for less.

Conclusion


The Saucony Xodus ISO stands out for its bomber protective elements but lacks in stability and sensitivity. If you're looking for a shoe that boasts a water-resistant gusseted tongue and huge amounts of responsive (not plush) cushion, then this shoe may be for you. Take it with you over less technical terrain or on your next backpacking adventure.

Amber King

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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