Saucony Peregrine 12 Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
As you may tell by the version number, the Saucony Peregrine 12 is another trail running shoe with a long lineage. But according to the manufacturer, this newest iteration has received a "complete revamp," focused on cutting weight and enhancing speed and agility. Saucony's PWRRUN design combines a responsive midsole with a flexible rock plate and an internal sock liner to keep your foot comfortably in place as the shoe adapts to trail conditions. The redesigned PWRTRAC outsole sports deep 5mm lugs for a significant improvement in traction. The more minimal upper combines mesh with a TPU film in the forefoot to cut weight and improve breathability and ripstop nylon around the heel pocket for increased durability.
As a nod to its namesake bird, the Peregrine Falcon — known as the fastest animal on the planet, capable of reaching 186mph in its dives — the Saucony Peregrine 12 is designed to tackle trail running at breakneck speeds. Designers claim that their proprietary PWRRUN midsole absorbs 5% more impact and is three times more durable than other high-quality EVA foams commonly used in running shoes. But like the bird, these shoes are slender and lightweight and are not the most protective in our lineup.
Combined with a flexible rock plate and tall lugs, this shoe offers plenty of protection from rocks and roots underfoot. But to cut down on weight and improve speed, the upper is a thin mesh that is only moderately reinforced by a thin TPU film around the toe cap and sidewalls. The outsole wraps up to meet the rand for added protection when front pointing. But our feet felt exposed in sharp, rocky terrain and more than once painfully bumped our insteps when scrambling up through tight passages.
Much of the speed on the new Peregrine 12 comes from the complete redesign of the outsole, which offers a level of traction few other trail runners reach. The PWRTRAC outsole is covered with symmetrical, 5mm lugs that allow for a consistent rebound with each stride, no matter where your foot strikes. These agile shoes allow you to practically bound uphill and apply equal friction for a swift and stable downhill ride. The fiber-weave rock plate offers more flexibility than other, stiffer designs, which allows the sole of this shoe to mold and adapt to off-camber terrain. The proprietary PWRTRAC rubber isn't necessarily tacky but is stiff and energetic, providing a responsive rebound. While the combination of stiff rubber and deep lugs seems better suited to soft, loamy dirt, these shoes still perform admirably on dry, hardpack trails.
Thanks to the outsole design, these shoes don't require an exaggerated heel-to-toe drop to add propulsion. The 4mm drop is rather minimal compared to the average modern trail runner. And although the stack height — ranging from 26.5mm in the heel to 22.5mm in the toe — doesn't seem as thick as other options we tested, the overall average amount of cushion across the whole shoe is more than most. Combined with the 5mm lugs, your foot feels far from the trail; in many instances, the Peregrine 12 almost feels cleat-like. While this level of separation is great for minimizing impact, it comes at the cost of sensitivity.
Saucony's PWRRUN design intends to keep your foot locked into place as the shoe flexes and bounds through variable trail conditions — and it works, as this shoe tackles technical terrain with ease. But our feeling of stability in this shoe varied significantly throughout an average test run. The Peregrine 12 flies over soft or slippery ground, and the narrow platform nimbly front points through tight sections. But on flat-out sections and especially scrambling through rock gardens, the stiff, "cleat-like" feel is erratic and downright unsteady in spots.
Right out of the box, these shoes are objectively very comfortable. Our lead tester has a relatively narrow foot with a high instep, and the Peregrine 12 fits like a glove. The thin mesh upper and cushioned sock liner lend themselves to a lightweight, airy fit that is supremely breathable and drains water well if soaked. But subjectively, comfort may depend on your climate and situation. These shoes have a narrow last, and they are certainly a trail-specific shoe. If your daily routes include lengthy sections of pavement to access trails, or the trails themselves are mostly hardpack, you likely will not find the Peregrine 12 to be as comfortable as other options.
The Peregrine 12 lives up to the marketing claims, as Saucony designers did a great job stripping this shoe of any unnecessary material to improve speed and performance. This current version sheds an incredible 3 ounces per pair from the previous model –- the Peregrine 12 tips the scales at 19.5 ounces per pair for a men's 9.5 US. Even with a beefed-up outsole and midsole, this shoe feels minimalist thanks to its sleek, breathable, ultralight upper. Indeed, as the marketing material suggests, this trail runner has "no speed limits."
Should You Buy the Saucony Peregrine 12?
The Peregrine 12 is a fantastic option for those who like to tackle technical trails at breakneck speeds. This shoe performs particularly well in soft soils, on muddy trails, and in alpine terrain. But due to the outsole design, it is less suited to hardpack trails or running routes that combine dirt and pavement. The fit and last of the regular model are designed with narrow feet in mind, but fortunately, Saucony also offers this shoe in a wide version. This new model is a bit more expensive than the previous version but well worth the extra expense. The newest iteration is a proud addition to the Peregrine lineage, and despite not picking up an award, this shoe remains a fan favorite among our testers.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
The Saucony Peregrine 12 can be weighed directly against the Salomon Speedcross 6, our top pick for traction. But suppose you're looking for an equally nimble alpine runner with a bit more protection than either of those shoes. In that case, the La Sportiva Karacal is specifically designed to tackle this demanding terrain with similar grace and speed.
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