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Trail Running Shoes • June 29, 2022

Saucony Endorphin Edge Review: Ever Ride a Wildcat?

saucony endorphin edge - feature

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 9 oz. (255 g) for a US M9 / 7.8 oz. (221 g) for a US W8
  • Equal parts fun and fear, thanks to the PWRRUN PB midsole
  • Endorphin Trail? Never heard of it
  • This is as close to a trail-ready road racer as it gets
  • Available in August 2022 for $200

TAYLOR: Saucony must be runnin’ Snoop Dogg tracks through the office this year because the Boston brand is droppin’ it like it’s hot. The road and trail divisions are slinging stellar updates and launching hot new models.

From a new take on stability with the very fun Tempus to the excellent updates in the road Endorphin line (Speed 3 and Pro 3), Saucony is hammering out the hits. Then, there’s the trail side, typically the afterthought of the shoe segment. Not this year. Saucony is showing its love for the great outdoors, and no shoe says so more than the Endorphin Edge.

It may be a new shoe for the trail, but it takes a refined road recipe and cranks it up a little bit. The PWRRUN PB foam, SpeedRoll geometry, and plate are all holdovers from the Endorphin Pro, but the Edge has some new wrinkles.

Don’t worry, it’s nothing like the Endorphin Trail from last year, which was one of the most disappointing shoes we’ve ever worn. It was a mistake to put the Endorphin name on that tank and one that Saucony likely regrets (in case you missed it, that shoe was recalled due to significant manufacturing defects). The good news is that the Endorphin Edge is almost the exact opposite in all the right ways.

No matter its hits and misses, I know I’ve come to one conclusion after my miles in the Saucony Endorphin Edge: This shoe scares the hell out of me.

SAM: Trail running has always been the slower, wilder sibling to road and track running. Blistering pace is sacrificed for distance, technicality, and vert, and most of us wouldn’t have it any other way. We secretly love it when you log a trail activity on Strava and the average split metric swaps for vert gained.

Saucony’s trail offering for its blazing hot (and gloriously pink) 2022 lineup of super shoes is the Endorphin Edge. With its lightweight, high-stack PWRRUN PB midsole, split one-way flex Carbitex carbon fiber plate, and flashy colorways, the brand seems to be asking, “What if trail running was also just stupidly fast?”

MATT: A PWRRUN PB midsole foam that we love in the Endorphin road lineup, the same Carbitex engineered carbon plate that we loved in the Speedland trail shoes, and a hot pink, loud AF colorway? Holy smokes, this sounds like Frankenstein’s monster done right and done by a trail runner. Could this be the sweet redemption Saucony has been searching for since bombing the Endorphin Trail last year?

ROBBE: The boys above have covered everything, and I agree with it all. The Endorphin Edge blends everything we love in Saucony road shoes into a trail counterpart. So far, no one has been able to harness that road racing magic into a trail shoe due to the near-impossible task of mitigating the instability of super foams while keeping a shoe lightweight and comfortable. Has Saucony finally unlocked the secret formula?

saucony endorphin edge laces

The Good

TAYLOR: The Saucony Endorphin Edge is truly super. You can tell by both the on-foot experience and the recipe used. I mentioned that it scares the hell out of me, in part, because I cannot and do not want to slow down when I have this sucker on. It’s built for both speed and the long haul, no doubt about it.

One undeniable commonality throughout the Endorphin line (well, other than the Endorphin Shift) is a thick juicy slab of PWRRUN PB goodness. It’s a feeling that almost contradicts itself — uber-soft cushioning combined with a highly responsive bounce in a light package. This is the stuff of legends. Given such a significant stack height (36mm heel/30mm toe), it provides a true super shoe sensation yet remains highly protective. The mix of protection and bounciness gave me flashbacks to the Caldera 6 (the shoe I’ve put the most miles on this year), but the Endorphin retains that level of bounce with much more cushy goodness.

Any good super shoe needs a carbon plate. That’s just science. However, this one is different. We’ve repeatedly seen that trail shoes need a carbon treatment all their own. Hoka’s recent Tecton X and Speedland’s offerings boast uniquely shaped carbon fiber plates that allow for more adaptability without surrendering responsiveness.

While the Tecton X uses parallel plates and Speedland opts for a full-length, removable plate, Saucony worked with Carbitex to formulate a whole new shape to meet its goals: the wishbone. The AFX plate connects to the heel and has two extensions that splay out to follow the outline of the forefoot. It’s flexible when bent in some directions while rigid in the other. Carbon plates typically stiffen the underfoot feel, but that’s not the case here. The foam and plate blend well together and combine nicely with the rockered SpeedRoll technology for a hyper-smooth ride over most terrain. I wouldn’t say it’s as snappy as the Tecton X, but it sure is happy.

As with almost all carbon-plated trail shoes I’ve run in, the plate is most noticeable when headed uphill or bombing back down. When ascending, the plate provides a little more rigidity for that springy pop under each step. It’s similar on the downhill but cranked even higher if you can give a slight lean forward.

Up top, I enjoyed the light yet durable upper. The engineered mesh walks the fine line between breathability and debris protection like a champ. Minimal heat-adhered bumpers surround the rim of the midsole for added durability. It’s an environment where your foot can stay for a long, long time if needed.

Flip the Endorphin Edge over, and you’ll notice Saucony’s classic outsole pattern. The PWRTRAC rubber and 4mm multidirectional chevron lugs give confidence on most surfaces, especially soft, wet, or chossy. It was also exceptional on pavement, even if it’s not the intended surface.

SAM: This shoe is fast. Lacing it up and hitting trails feels like tying two bright pink wildcats to your feet, and, oh boy, is it a blast. Running in the Saucony Endorphin Edge feels less like exercise and more like a relentless attack on the trails beneath your feet. Miles fall easily beneath the sharp bite of chevron lugs and the tendon snap of carbon fiber.

The thick PWRRUN PB midsole sucks up all the pounding you subject it to and feels springy and lively underfoot. Really, this midsole is just so good. My feet felt excellent at the end of every run, and the foam is that perfect mix of soft and exciting. I’m a mid-foot striker, and the 6mm offset and build were just right for my stride and strike pattern. It’s also deceptively durable — I expected plenty of tears in the hunks of exposed foam but found none.

The wishbone-shaped Carbitex plate constantly pushes you faster — I noticed a marked improvement in pace for effort on my usual routes and a noticeable amount of energy conservation on uphills. This can be invaluable in distance efforts if you don’t let the shoe burn out all that saved energy in increasingly faster paces. It wants you to go all-out, all the time, and it never settles down.

Wrapping the bottom of this wildcat is the claws. The 4mm chevron-lugged outsole has excellent traction on most terrains, and it has enough flex so the traction holds despite uneven terrain. The unique plate gives you plenty of trail feel (which is remarkable considering the stack of foam), although I noticed that it found a better groove after 15 or so miles. The upper is plenty breathable, and my vanity appreciates the clear mudguard that wraps the base of the uppers, invisibly saving my vulnerable feet from rocks and sticks.

saucony endorphin edge - lateral view

MATT: I know this word will show up a lot in this review, but for lack of a better adjective to describe running in the Endorphin Edge, this shoe is f-u-n. As runners, we often forget that we do this because we enjoy it. Running should be fun. This is that rare shoe that makes you smile just a few strides into your first run. Saucony has delivered with the Edge what it previously could not with the Endorphin Trail.

The PWRRUN PB midsole is the squishiest foam of any trail shoe I’ve tested. It even looks like it’s made from one of my kid’s squishy toys. All that squish is countered perfectly by the Carbitex plate, which provides rigidity and just the right amount of flex to feel that energy return when accelerating down a hill or pushing a hard climb.

This shoe is meant to go fast, period. The synergy between the aforementioned midsole and plate, combined with a very comfortable and secure fitting mesh upper, really brings that carbon racer feel to the trails.

While not the most exciting component of the Saucony Endorphin Edge, the PWRTRAC outsole and 4mm lugs provide a solid but not spectacular grip across pretty much all terrains and conditions I put it through. Traction was on par with other Saucony trail models like the Peregrine and Xodus Ultra, which utilize a very similar outsole configuration.

ROBBE: Full disclosure, I’m coming at this from limited experience, only one 7-mile run (I’ll elaborate in the bad section). However, it was over technical terrain with some runnable flat sections through pines and decent climbs, mixed with stream crossings. So it offered the whole gamut of East Coast running.

What I noticed first is that Saucony did indeed replicate the racer feel in this shoe. The PWRRUN PB feels incredible underfoot, and the Speedroll geometry is as smooth and quick as the Endorphin Speed and Endorphin Pro on the road side. In short, it’s the first time I ever felt that true super shoe feeling in a trail shoe. When you hit a fully runnable section in this thing, it goes zoom, and you don’t want it to stop. With 36mm of cushion in the heel (30mm in the toe), the comfort level is there in spades as well.

Part of the successful equation is the light weight of the shoe. It’s challenging to pull off a high-stack trail shoe with an aggressive tread and keep it at a road shoe weight. Saucony manages to do this, and the result is max speed at any time.

The outsole tread and lug pattern are great on hard, muddy, or soft terrain (minus wet rocks). It grips everything it needs to in that regard and doesn’t feel harsh underfoot.

The Carbitex AFX plate is a nice touch and works well in this shoe. It’s necessary for stabilization in such a bouncy foam, but the asymmetric nature allows the shoe to remain flexible so that heel lift is limited and the natural flex of the foot is considered. When slamming downhills, it does not flex, providing some level of stability.

Shop Saucony Endorphin – Men Shop Saucony Endorphin – Women saucony endorphin edge outsole

The Bad

TAYLOR: This is the part of this job that pains me. The Saucony Endorphin Edge has been so highly anticipated. Yet, with every exceptional piece, there might be a counter for this one.

Most critically, the upper needs some work. The general shape is on point. It’s built on the same last as the new Xodus Ultra, so you’ll get some extra room in the forefoot.

In the Endorphin Edge, the looser engineered mesh does no favors with holding down the midfoot or heel. My foot shifted in all directions, which doesn’t happen very often. After a few runs, the upper and I were able to get a little more on the same page with some tight and strategic lacing. It didn’t help that the sizing felt off too. I’d recommend going down at least a half-size. Foot security is of utmost importance in a trail shoe, but quite frankly, it feels like an afterthought.

What made the upper issue increase from a moderate to a significant concern was partly the Speedroll design. Yes, it’s gloriously smooth on most terrain, however, cornering and more technical segments were treacherous. The roll angle and rapid transitioning can lead to some pretty scary situations. I blew my ankle out twice because of this. As toe-off approaches, the shoe tends to want to strike and roll over the laterally oriented toes causing more potential for rolling ankles, lack of stability, and less optimal power transfer.

Lack of stability comes in the rear foot too. This is undoubtedly a runner’s shoe. Walking around in the shoe reveals some side-to-side instability. Oddly (thankfully), it generally disappeared as I picked up the speed. If you need stability, this simply won’t be your shoe.

Less of an issue is the durometer of the foam. Running fast on steep descents might come with some bottoming out, especially in the heel.

SAM: This shoe is FAST. The problem with wildcats is that they can be quick, violent, and unpredictable. Running in the Endorphin Edge often felt like an exercise in riding a knife’s edge with speed on one side and a terrifying loss of control on the other. Technical downhills are heart-pounding and desperate. Several times I glanced at my watch to check my pace at the run-out of a descent and let out an audible “WHY?” when the pace was considerably faster than I would ever take that section usually.

I also had a weird issue with stride rebound on some rocks and roots. The plates on the Endorphin Edge sit right above the outsole — if you palpate crosswise across the outsole, you can actually feel the edges of the plates beneath the rubber — about half an inch in from the side of the shoe. This is speculation, but it felt like bad strikes on those edges, especially in the arch of my foot, would throw my legs off-stride wildly. I took several stream crossings at speed, careening madly off-kilter because my feet came off rocks in directions I didn’t expect. As a result, the fun mostly disappears in rock fields, and trails that lean sharply to one side are a chore as you try to keep your feet from bouncing with the slope of the hill. I don’t have ankle issues, but if you did, anything less than flat could quickly become treacherous.

While I didn’t have the same upper fit issues Taylor did — my moderately wide feet liked the room in the toebox — I definitely had to stop after a mile or two on several runs to adjust my lacing. After re-tying, it was great, but this isn’t something you want to be forced on you mid-race.

Finally, overall durability was good, but I already have a small rip in the outsole right where it sits over the plate. It’ll probably be fine, but outsole rips aren’t common in my experience.

saucony endorphin edge - top

MATT: I really was hoping to avoid any typing in this section because, in a similar vein to when I tested the Altra Mont Blanc, there’s just so much I love about this shoe. Alas, here I am writing to you from the wrong side of the tracks with a few points of caution. This shoe is 100% fast and 100% fun. The downside is that it’s tough to show restraint when going fast and having fun; without some of that, you may end up on a DNS or DNF list near you.

I think some of this was a mental thing, just knowing that with risks come consequences, but the combo of the high stack, marshmallow midsole, and an upper that could be a bit tighter, meant that I was constantly second-guessing myself on descents. I ran about 25 miles total over a handful of runs in the Edge, and I’m curious to see if my lack of confidence subsides in the future after I put more miles in on the shoe and continue to come home unscathed.

I mentioned above that the PWRTRAC outsole is good, not great. It works in almost all conditions, but I still find it a bit hard and not as tacky as I’d prefer. This only presents issues in wet and slick conditions or when needing to hit long stretches of pavement.

The issues with the upper weren’t major, but I felt things needed to be sucked in and tighter all around. It wasn’t a glaring issue like with the Craft CTM Ultra Carbon, but I found myself playing with lacing options and sock thickness combos to try and bridge the gap, and while those helped, I never got that ideal lockdown I was looking for.

ROBBE: First off, the shoe runs long. At least a half-size long, so make sure you go a half-size down (at least) when ordering. I retied the shoe at least four times, trying to get a somewhat manageable lockdown, and never really did. This is probably the root of most of my problems with the shoe, so take it with a grain of salt. That said, I had the same problem with the Hoka Tecton X and was able to make it manageable. There’s much more room in this upper, regardless of the larger size.

On uphills, you have to fight not to get any heel lift (even laced to the top eyelet), which, thankfully it’s a flexible carbon plate, or you’d be really screwed in that department.

As everyone else has said, this is 100% not a shoe that anyone with ankle/stability problems should be wearing (like me!). I half-rolled my ankles several times during my first run in this shoe, and one of those was on a totally clean section of trail where I caught a small rock underfoot. I gingerly made my way down rock-littered downhills because I was terrified. I basically never took my eyes off the trail. The heel, for whatever reason, feels the least stable of the entire shoe (likely because of that high stack and narrow width).

I also think PWRTRAC is terrible on slick, hard surfaces. It was awful in past shoes like the Canyon TR, and it’s not any better here, rivaling Nike’s outsole in that department. Be very careful on any creek crossings.

Lastly, as Taylor said, because it’s such a squishy foam, you can bottom out when slamming downhills, but luckily the plate is there to give you a bit of protection.

Shop Saucony Endorphin – Men Shop Saucony Endorphin – Women saucony endorphin edge heel

Saucony Endorphin Edge Conclusion

TAYLOR: Buckle up, buddy, this one is a wild ride. The Endorphin Edge is one of those shoes that has all the wow factors. I’m not just talking about the deep cotton candy colorway either. This is one of the few trail shoes that resembles and performs like its road carbon-plated counterparts.

It’s a perfect shoe for Vin Diesel. Fast & Furious. Speed happens naturally with the high stack, lively midsole, responsive plate, rockered geometry, and lightweight package. This is a shoe for terrain that’s almost entirely runnable if you want to utilize all of its goodness. The furious part comes in the form of instability and lack of security. Many runs, especially involving moderate to technical terrain, felt like a gamble… but a gamble I keep taking and taking again.

The Endorphin Edge is that racing shoe that will keep you on the edge of your seat every time you step into it. It retails for $200 and will likely be worth it for those who race on moderately technical to very smooth trails.

SAM: I’m never one to resist pumping my adrenaline sky-high, and I love running in the Endorphin Edge. The high-stack midsole is a delight, and the plate geometry is built for trails and speed. It protects your feet, feels fantastic, looks terrific, and pushes you faster with each stride. It’s an exciting race day option for long efforts on moderate and easier terrain, even if it probably isn’t the best option for your everyday trail miles. Watch out for rocks and highly technical trail sections — this wildcat might bite.

MATT: Fun, there’s that word again. Despite a small grocery list of knocks on the shoe, I really love what Saucony has designed with the Endorphin Edge. This is a true trail racer that feels every bit the part. Yes, there are some concerns around just how much to trust the Edge with your precious ankles as you dive-bombs through single-track, but I hope that with extended miles, I will build up the confidence to push the pace and really take advantage of what the Endorphin Edge is built to do.

ROBBE: Look, you’re just not going to get an exciting trail shoe without a dose of danger. Those are just facts. You want a fast, lightweight shoe with a road race feel? You can do it, and it’s going to be wicked fun (more fun than any trail shoe I’ve ever run in), but it’s going to be absolutely nausea-inducing on anything less than moderate terrain. Longer distances on technical terrain may have your ankles asking what they did to deserve such a fate.

Net feelings? This is a fantastically fun shoe for those wanting that race day feel in a trail shoe. It’s worth the $200 just to experience that.

You can pick up the Saucony Endorphin Edge for $200 in August 2022 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Saucony Endorphin – Men Shop Saucony Endorphin – Women


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Taylor Bodin
Lead Trail Reviewer
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Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultra runner living in Estes Park, Colo., with his wife and daughters. Trail running is pretty much the only hobby he can manage right now and loves it. Every so often, he will pop off a race or FKT attempt because competition is pure and the original motivator for him getting into running anyways. When not running, Taylor is a 1st grade teacher, running coach (track & field, Cross Country, and Trail/Ultra athletes), and volunteers at his church.

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Sam Edgin
Mid-Atlantic Trail Reviewer
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  • Strava

Sam lives in Baltimore with his wife and two kids and spends his days fixing espresso machines for Ceremony Coffee Roasters. He runs with the Faster Bastards when he can, races ultras, and has been working on completing the AT section by section. He thinks the best days are made of long miles on nasty trails, but that a good surf session, a really stunning book, or a day of board games are pretty all right too.

All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Xodus Ultra, Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3, Altra Lone Peak

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Matt Kucharski
Mid-Atlantic Trail Reviewer
  • Strava
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Matt is a recovering triathlete who fell in love with running and left the dark side behind. Trail and ultra running are where he is most in his element, but he can still be found routinely running the streets in and around Baltimore with the Faster Bastards. Aside from running, he is a lover of coffee, mezcal, beer, and 90s country music.

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Robbe Reddinger
Senior Editor
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Robbe is the senior editor of Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. At home in the city, but country at heart. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.

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