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Saucony Endorphin Edge Review

A good first attempt at a carbon-fiber-infused trail runner, but the midsole is simply too powerful for the ultralight upper
saucony endorphin edge trail running shoes review
Credit: Saucony
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Price:  $200 List | $200.00 at REI
Pros:  Powerful midsole construction, ultralight, grippy
Cons:  Expensive, incredibly unstable on technical trails
Manufacturer:   Saucony
By Aaron Rice ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 20, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#18 of 19
  • Foot Protection - 25% 8.0
  • Traction - 20% 7.0
  • Sensitivity - 15% 5.0
  • Stability - 15% 4.0
  • Comfort - 15% 7.0
  • Weight - 10% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Saucony Endorphin Edge is a marvel of modern technology that we really want to work. This is one of the first shoes to hit the trail running market that employs a carbon fiber plate in the midsole. The carbon shank is designed to improve the power of your push-off and enhance stability as you transition through your stride. And the technology works as prescribed, offering an incredibly supportive platform that seems to resist breakdown. However, the energetic midsole completely overpowers the ultralight upper, resulting in an unstable shoe on anything but a gently rolling hardpack. The Endorphin Edge is a great option for those looking to cover long distances on double track, but anyone who enjoys running technical trails should stay away while designers go back to the drawing boards.

Editor's Note: The Saucony Endorphin Edge was added to our lineup on October 20, 2022.

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Pros Powerful midsole construction, ultralight, grippyUnbeatable fit, fantastic underfoot protection, doesn’t absorb much water, very stableUltralight, supportive, uncharacteristically agileUnparalleled comfort, unrivaled traction, ample foot protectionAffordable, comfortable ride, versatile crossover option
Cons Expensive, incredibly unstable on technical trailsExpensive, hard to get on foot, must wear above the ankle height socks, hard to stuff laces into garageLoose-fitting heel pocket, lack of trail feelingAggressive heel-to-toe drop, lack of stabilitySoft upper is unstable, lacks energy, inconsistent traction
Bottom Line A good first attempt at a carbon-fiber-infused trail runner, but the midsole is simply too powerful for the ultralight upperThe cream of the crop for trail running shoes delivers fine-tuned long run performanceAn ultra-supportive trail runner with an agile feel that is unlike any other HOKA shoe we've ever testedA legendary shoe that gets better by the year with minor tweaks to improve the performance of this specialty off-trail runnerA comfortable, consistent, and approachable shoe for those looking to crossover from roads to trail running
Rating Categories Saucony Endorphin Edge Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 HOKA Torrent 2 Salomon Speedcross 6 Brooks Divide 2
Foot Protection (25%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Traction (20%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
10.0
6.0
Sensitivity (15%)
5.0
6.0
5.0
7.0
6.0
Stability (15%)
4.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
8.0
Comfort (15%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Weight (10%)
8.0
6.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Saucony Endorphin Edge Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 HOKA Torrent 2 Salomon Speedcross 6 Brooks Divide 2
Measured Weight (per pair) 19.0 oz (size 9.5) 21.5 oz (size 9.5) 18.3 oz (size 9.5) 21.4 oz (size 9.5) 21.5 oz (size 9.5)
Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot) 35 mm, 29 mm 26 mm, 18 mm 23 mm, 18 mm 32 mm, 22 mm 25 mm, 17 mm
Heel-to-Toe Drop 6 mm 8 mm 5 mm 10 mm 8 mm
Lug Depth 4 mm 4 mm 5 mm 5 mm 3 mm
Upper Mesh, TPU with sockliner Anti-Debris mesh with sockliner Unifi REPREVE recycled mesh, TPU Synthetic mesh, Ripstop, TPU Mesh, TPU
Midsole Saucony PWRRUN PB foam, Carbitex Monoflex carbon plate Energy Save PU foam with Profeel Film rock protection HOKA ProFly: dual-density foam Salomon EnergyCell+ EVA Brooks BioMoGo EVA foam
Outsole Saucony PWRTRAC Salomon Contagrip MA Rubber Salomon Mud Contagrip Brooks TrailTack
Rock Plate? Yes Yes No No Yes
Lacing Style Traditional Quicklace with garage Traditional Quicklace Traditional
Wide Version Available? No No No Yes No
Sizes Available 7 - 15 US 4 - 13 US 7 - 15 US 7 - 14 US 7 - 15 US

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Saucony Endorphin Edge nicely compliments the ever-popular Peregrine series as another ultra-lightweight trail runner. But the Endorpin series takes their speedy shoes to the next level by layering a Carbitex MonoFlex carbon fiber plate onto the already energetic foam of their proprietary PWRRUNPB, dual-layer midsole. Thanks to an ultralight mesh upper, Saucony designers packed all of this technology into a shoe that weighs a mere 19 ounces per pair (men's 9.5 US). Unfortunately, ultra-powerful and ultra-lightweight don't always pair well together; this shoe needs more structure from the upper to truly unlock the potential of the carbon fiber midsole.

Performance Comparison


saucony endorphin edge trail running shoes review - this shoe proves that, sometimes, you can't have it all. the...
This shoe proves that, sometimes, you can't have it all. The carbon-fiber injected midsole simply outdrives the ultralight upper of the Endorphin Edge.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Foot Protection


Carbon fiber is a rigid compound. Most carbon plates are stiff in all directions, which can present serious problems for runners who need a shoe to match the natural flexibility of their feet. A Monoflex plate is different. This carbon fiber insert is stiff torsionally (side-to-side), providing extra support and stability. But it is asymmetrically flexible in the fore-aft direction, allowing the shoe to flex with each stride. When you flex the Endorphin Edge in your hands, the potential energy stored in this carbon fiber plate explodes kinetically as the shoe snaps back into form. Running, it feels powerful — not necessarily stiff — and offers a very solid platform for such an ultralight shoe.

saucony endorphin edge trail running shoes review - springy, lively, energetic; whatever words you want to use to...
Springy, lively, energetic; whatever words you want to use to describe it, the carbon fiber plate of the Endorphin Edge is flat out powerful.
Credit: Jill Rice

An additional nylon rock guard offers additional support and mostly guarantees protection from any terrain underfoot. As we've alluded to, none of the issues with the Endorphin Edge stem from problems with the midsole construction but rather from the upper. Like the Peregrine 12, the majority mesh upper offers minimal protection from bumps and lumps when the going gets tough. The prescriptive rocker of Saucony's proprietary SPEEDROLL geometry feels like it directs your foot to pronate to promote drive and propulsion off your big toe. This wouldn't be an issue, except that the toe box and bumper are so thin that our testers often smashed their toes in technical terrain.

saucony endorphin edge trail running shoes review - the ultralight mesh upper of the endorphin edge doesn't provide much...
The ultralight mesh upper of the Endorphin Edge doesn't provide much structure, or protection, despite the light TPU wrap around your toes.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Traction


The Endorphin Edge is much more of a hardpack cruiser than a technical trail mover and shaker. The 6mm drop is average among our lineup, but the 35mm heel stack height is substantial. Although this shoe's geometry is designed for powering through long runs across simple terrain, the carbon fiber platform makes this shoe a climbing machine by providing a solid platform for consistent strides uphill. The sagittate, 4mm lugs of Saucony's proprietary PWRTRAC outsole do a great job of pulling through mud without clogging, and the wide lug pattern handles rocks really well. Once again, it's not the outsole's traction that is the issue, but rather the way the overall design works (or doesn't) together. The traction may be great, but the Endorphine Edge is flat-out unstable in uneven terrain.

saucony endorphin edge trail running shoes review - the outsole design of the endorphin edge is very similar to the...
The outsole design of the Endorphin Edge is very similar to the Peregrine 12. But by shaving off 1mm of lug depth, increasing the drop by 2mm, and boosting the stack height by nearly 9mm, these shoes offer a very different experience when it comes to grip.
Credit: Jill Rice

Sensitivity


Unlike other lightweight shoes we've tested, you shouldn't expect much trail feel out of the Endorphin Edge. Not only is the stack height at the top end of the spectrum — tapering from 35mm in the heel to 29mm in the toe box –--but the carbon fiber midsole construction is designed to absorb and deflect any resistance underfoot. You could think of it as a carbon fiber Formula One car absorbing friction through a corner to deliver maximum power output. Looking closely at the construction, most of this shoe is comprised of the midsole; the outsole is relatively thin in comparison.

saucony endorphin edge trail running shoes review - with 35mm of material in the heels, the endorphin edge is one of the...
With 35mm of material in the heels, the Endorphin Edge is one of the fattest trail shoes we've ever run in.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Stability


An equitably wide platform offsets the stack height of the Endorphin Edge. The outsole tapers away from a surprisingly wide toe box, and the rest of the shoe has an ample last through the midfoot and heel. Unfortunately, this does little to improve stability. Simply put, this is one of the most unstable shoes we have ever run in. The issue seems to be that the highly energetic midsole overpowers the ultra-thin, ultra-lightweight upper. Even locking down the laces so tightly that we were cutting off circulation across our instep, we couldn't keep our feet from bouncing and sliding around inside the upper frame.

saucony endorphin edge trail running shoes review - this is as about as adventurous as we wanted to get with the...
This is as about as adventurous as we wanted to get with the Endorphin Edge, and even this was pushing it. The power derived from the midsole simply isn't backed up by enough structure from the upper to make this shoe even relatively stable.
Credit: Jill Rice

The unfortunate result is a trail runner that is incapable of sidehilling, is downright scary to run in technical terrain, and isn't very stable on anything but rolling double track. Hopefully, designers can overcome these issues by redesigning an upper that offers more structure, which seems like it would offer more support for the powerful midsole and ultimately improve the stability of this promising platform.

saucony endorphin edge trail running shoes review - rather than technical terrain, we much preferred running long...
Rather than technical terrain, we much preferred running long, mellow cruisers with the Endorphin Edge.
Credit: Jill Rice

Comfort


The midsole construction of this shoe is well-designed. It is prescriptive without being overly so, offering a level of support and comfort akin to a stiff memory foam bed. However, the shape of the Endorphin Edge is odd. The design is hourglass shaped: a relatively normal width in the heel pocket tapers through a very narrow last in the midfoot, opening up into an overly wide toebox. Even though it includes a sock liner, the platform is too wide, and the upper otherwise doesn't offer enough structure to keep your foot from sliding around inside. Not to sound like a broken record here, but our biggest complaint is that the upper needs more structure to support the rest of the shoe.

saucony endorphin edge trail running shoes review - while the fan-favorite peregrine 12 is a tight-fitting trail runner...
While the fan-favorite Peregrine 12 is a tight-fitting trail runner, the Endorphin Edge is much wider in the forefoot. This makes it a better option for long-distance running, but much worse for technical trails.
Credit: Jill Rice

Weight


Tipping the scales at only 19 ounces per pair for a men's 9.5 US, it is insane how much technology Saucony designers have packed into this ultra-powerful platform. To provide some context for that weight, this shoe is nearly 10mm taller than its cousin, the Peregrine 12, yet weighs half an ounce less. However, the Endorphin Edge runs superlight on flats but is so squirrely in technical terrain that you feel like you cannot let loose for fear of this shoe propelling you into an ankle sprain. What's the point of an ultralight shoe if you can't use it to run fast?

saucony endorphin edge trail running shoes review - although these numbers are impressive on the scale, the powerful...
Although these numbers are impressive on the scale, the powerful Endorphin Edge ultimately proved itself much less capable due to its ultralight design.
Credit: Aaron Rice

Should You Buy the Saucony Endorphin Edge?


There will always be trail runners like ourselves who find new shoe technology irresistible. In their first attempt, Saucony has tried to make a shoe that is the best of both worlds: super powerful while remaining ultralight. The result is that these two characteristics seem to cancel each other out, at least when it comes to technical trail running. We have high hopes for this super shoe and are excited to see how this platform develops. But comparing performance to price point, we would only recommend the Endorphin Edge for those running or racing long mileage over simple terrain, like forest roads.

What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?


The Saucony Endorphin Edge is directly comparable to the Saucony Peregrine 12, except that the latter has been finely tuned over twelve iterations. If the allure of carbon fiber is too much to ignore, the HOKA Tecton X incorporates similar technology. Although it is not nearly as grippy as the Endorphin Edge, it is much more stable in variable terrain. For a similar level of foot protection in a shoe with a much more stable platform, our highest recommendation is the award-winning Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3.

Aaron Rice
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