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Trail Running Shoes • August 7, 2020

Saucony Mad River TR 2 Performance Review

saucony mad river tr 2 - stump

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 10.6 oz. (300 g) for a US M9.0/ 9.6 oz. (272 g) for a US W8.0
  • The trail shoe with the drill-by-number pattern on the outsole for customized drainage design
  • More cushion makes this a more enjoyable ride over last year’s version
  • Fairly versatile shoe that works on light to moderate trails for shorter distances

TAYLOR: “For not much changing, a lot has changed.” It applies to seemingly everything in life right now, and guess what– it’s sometimes a common theme among running shoes, like the Saucony Mad River TR 2.

Let’s get to the point– it’s almost identical to the original shoe. And for that, I give a thumbs up! To this day the original is the most comfortably fitting shoe I have ever worn! In terms of performance, it was a good option for soft ground and lighter trails but not as much of a feasible option for hard or technical trails mostly because of a lack of underfoot protection.

Version two makes a few subtle changes to key components to make it a much more versatile shoe. On one hand, that’s great. On the other hand, it takes away some of the best things about the original Saucony Mad River TR.

saucony canyon tr 2 - toe

The Good

TAYLOR: I think it’s worth noting that this is virtually the same shoe as the first version and that’s okay! Why overhaul a shoe that has a lot going for it already. I feel that Saucony made changes that were actually based on runners’ desires. Novel.

The whole purpose behind this shoe is to be accommodating. So you’ll notice that the fit is slightly wider and there are a lot of customizable aspects for you to tailor to your adventures.

Check out the PWRTRAC outsole with 4mm lugs. It’s enough for solid grip on most any terrain yet not too aggressive for some paved segments (I did have some slippage on wet granite and mud that made me a little skittish). Also, you’ll find a “map” of sorts that directs you to optimal positions for drilling holes for water drainage and/or sheet metal screws for grip if needed! Both work are well thought out and work wonderfully!

More all-terrain specifics are a gaiter attachment, elastic lace storage, and mudguard for when the going gets a little (or a lot) messy.

A low-profile (28.5mm to 24.5mm) with a slightly wider-than-average forefoot is identical to the first model. It’s nimble and secure. Of course, there are more specifically made models for being fast and nimble, like the Peregrine, but not many of those shoes are as accommodating in terms of fit as the Mad River.

One of the major changes I had hoped for with the Mad River was a more firm and protective midsole. Cha-ching! Saucony cashed in on that idea and it automatically makes this a much more versatile shoe. Even in the Rockies, the Mad River 2 handled a run that was a half-marathon’s worth of pounding over varied terrain surprisingly well. My feet and legs turned out fine! PWRRUN foam is used again. So, it does feel similar in a lot of ways, but the formula definitely offers a little more protection than the past model. Thank you, Saucony!

The overall ride feels very similar too. It’s on the stiff side in terms of not a lot of pliable cushioning. Have you ever tried running in a pair of Chaco sandals? The sensation is similar.. but in a good way. It pays some homage to the minimalist shoe style as compared to most other trail shoes out there. So, you’ll get a little more ground feel and a touch of responsiveness.

Shop Saucony Mad River – Men Shop Saucony Mad River – Women saucony canyon tr 2 - in hand

The Bad

TAYLOR: I’m sad hurt devastated to report that the upper was another major change to the Mad River 2. That does not mean it has a poor upper, per se. It’s just different from the original… and I liked the original much better. The new upper isn’t terrible, it just… is.

Previously, the Mad River TR had a booty insert and a soft flexible mesh. I loved it! It is, to this day, the most comfortable fitting shoe I have worn. This current version is more traditional with an integrated tongue. I really feel that the booty added a lot to make this shoe more unique in performance and fit. Now, a more durable engineered mesh is used. It’s breathable but not as comfortable as in the past. I’m not sure if they used it to be a “step down” from their other offerings or what? After all, the Mad River only cost $110. Whatever the reason, it’s changed… forever…ugh..I’m not bitter. YOU ARE! Okay, I’m bitter.

Even though the Mad River 2 is very versatile, there is definitely a cap on how far you will want to go. For starters, it’s on the heavy side at 11.6oz in a men’s 10.5. That’s not totally insane for a trail shoe, but– this is heavy for how little there is underfoot. Also, being that there isn’t much cushioning, a trail run of 25k or so would be pushing the limits to run comfortably in the Mad River 2. If you’re really wanting to push it for a race situation, you could probably do so.

Shop Saucony Mad River – Men Shop Saucony Mad River – Women

Saucony Mad River TR Conclusion

TAYLOR: Whatever the Mad River is named after, it must be pretty inspiring. The second version of the Mad River gets high reviews across the board in terms of fit/comfort, performance, and cost. Although, I would join a committee to get its old booty and upper back.

It shines on moderately technical trails and still is preferred in a soft trail situation. I do appreciate that the Mad River TR 2 is extremely versatile because of its trail-specific mods and overall fit. They are comfortable and nimble enough to hit about any type of trail you want as long as the distance isn’t crazy. Pick these up for a very modest $110 at Running Warehouse using the link below.

You can pick up the Saucony Mad River TR 2 for $110 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Saucony Mad River – Men Shop Saucony Mad River – Women

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