Saucony Peregrine 12: Trail Running for the People
TAYLOR: Trail running gear has been around long enough that we have been starting to designate some marquis pieces. Think of brands like Montrail and shoes like the Cascadia — straight-up classics!
It is really in the following generation where the sport took off and so did the equipment to go with it. Somewhere in that space and time, Saucony launched the Peregrine line. It has been one of the most recommended and sought-after trail shoes because it gives you what you think you want and need when you step into the trail world. Great grip, foot protection, and a secure fit are all key characteristics.
With an ever-evolving scene, the Peregrine has maintained a lot of what it’s known for and, I would dare to say, that the 12 has been its most significant update yet. The Peregrine, which once was ahead of the game, is now trying to get back to that spot with a “simplification.” Saucony has slimmed this thing down and built it up all at the same time, and I’m here for it.
MATT: On the trail running scene, there are not many shoes that have the longevity from model to model as the Saucony Peregrine. On par with consistent favorites like the Hoka Speedgoat and the Altra Lone Peak, the Peregrine has now reached 12 installments. To last that long, you have to be doing something right, and historically the Peregrine has fit the mold as a solid and steady all-arounder that gets the job done and is modestly priced.
I enjoyed the Peregrine 11 and was excited to check out the improvements rolled out with this latest edition. Saucony looked to balance that fine line of providing continuous improvement without disrupting the things that work and keeping people choosing the Peregrine.
ALEX: The Saucony Peregrine is a classic. The improvements over the years keep this one on the top of the list as a go-to option for the trail runner looking to log long miles on varied terrain. I’ve logged miles in earlier versions and especially love the Peregrine ICE, so I was super pumped to get into these. The two major updates that I noticed in the Peregrine 12 were: 1) the significant drop in weight — over an ounce lighter than the 11 and 2) the completely redone breathable, stretchy upper.
ROBBE: As classic as this shoe is, this is actually the first time I’ve ever stepped into a pair of the Peregrine. It’s one of those shoes that’s up there with the Brooks Caldera in terms of legacy and ease-of-use, in that it usually accommodates anyone trying to get some extra traction on trails. And I always appreciate a light trail shoe, so I was excited to see what this version was all about. Let’s go.
TAYLOR: The big (or not so big) story of the Peregrine 12 is that this iteration is more than an ounce lighter than the last model. It didn’t lose any stack, underfoot protection, or grip. How is that possible?! At 10.4 ounces for a men’s 10.5, this is making its way toward the “lightweight” category where it has always belonged. The shoe has always looked light and fast. Now, it is.
So, how did this magic trim work? It’s just a simpler shoe in a lot of ways. It utilizes a softer, lighter, more forgiving mesh upper for starters, and many of the overlays were left out. I do not think the trade for welded overlays will hurt the Peregrine’s durability too much. The mesh hugs nicely from the toe to heel and has that “next-to-skin” comfort. It’s a slim and sleek design with not much fluff. And let’s face it, the Gold/Vizi Red colorway is a bombshell. Gimme’ more of that!
One aspect I have wanted more of from the Peregrine in the past was more lockdown. There has always seemed to be a slip here or there, but this one has incredible lockdown throughout the foot. It definitely has a slim profile. It also just feels like it is shaped a little better. A firm heel cup, padded hell, and higher “elf heel” need to have some credit too. More on all of this later.
Underfoot, a few things are working in the runner’s favor. Now, I haven’t run in the Peregrine since the 10, and the midsole name hasn’t changed. I am convinced that Saucony has tooled it to give PWRRUN a lot more character. It is still medium density and has the same stack (26.5mm to 22.5 mm / 4mm drop). There’s a little bit of rebounded cush, a little bit of responsiveness, and a little bit of protection — which is also thanks to a thin forefoot rock plate. The Peregrine 12 has some of everything but not a lot in either department. Another piece of this equation is that a PWRRUN+ sock liner is added to give a little extra cushion for each step. I felt this big time compared to past iterations! The combo of the sock liner and midsole immediately gives this shoe more range of terrain and distance. It’s not my first choice for a long day in the mountains, but it can certainly handle a couple of hours on most any terrain with ease.
Grip has always been a staple with this shoe. I mean, it is named after a falcon. The PWRTRAC outsole did get an update with a new lug pattern. There is no compromise in grip, though. The 5mm chevron lugs are multidirectional, and the rubber compound is outstanding on a wide range of surfaces. The lugs shed dirt, mud, and snow relatively easily this time around.
A couple of other minor features are a gaiter attachment. I could see myself using these in chossy terrain with a gaiter thrown on. Also, a lace “garage” strap runs over the top of the midfoot and holds laces securely on every run.
Overall, the Peregrine is a pretty solid mix that would fit somewhere between a Brooks Catamount and Merrell MTL Skyfire.
MATT: In discussing improvements, let’s start with a couple of the biggest, which go hand in hand — the upper construction and the weight. The Saucony Peregrine 12 drops over an ounce from the 11, which wasn’t a super heavy shoe to begin with. My size 10 came in a tad under 10 oz., and they feel light and nimble on foot.
The upper is where repeat customers will notice the most significant change. It’s stripped down to a much more minimal construction with redesigned pliable overlays to lend support where necessary. There is also a sock-liner insert that provides a comfortable and secure fit. The sock-liner contains PWRRUN+ cushioning to provide added comfort.
The shoe feels faster than previous versions. I’m not sure if that is from the weight trimming, the PWRRUN+ liner, or the addition of the newly redesigned rock plate, but it’s likely the synergy of all of the above. While testing in the cold of winter, I actually think the redesigned upper will function well in warm temps. It seems to breathe really well and shed moisture.
The PWRRUN Midsole and PWRTRAC outsole are carryovers from the Peregrine 11, so not much has changed here. However, the 5mm lugs are arranged differently with the newest version, focusing on more efficient shedding of debris.
I have found the PWRTRAC outsole to be very effective all-around. It is grippy across various terrain and, combined with the 5mm lugs, provides a secure plant in the ground. I also booted a few rocks and roots on my last run, and the added protection in the toe area is solid and kept me from absorbing any damage.
The overall ride feels smooth, turnover feels fast, and you feel secure going fast regardless of trail conditions.
ALEX: I was pretty distracted by “The Bad,” but before I get into that, I will take some time on the redeeming qualities of the shoe.
First, the shoe looks great. The new colorways are vibrant and fresh, reminiscent of a box of tropical Mike and Ikes. As previously stated, it is also very light. A women’s 8.5 weighs just over 8.5 oz.
The upper is lightweight and highly breathable — these are going to keep your feet cool and drain well in the summer months. For winter runs, your feet are going to be cold. With any luck, the shipping and distribution issues will persist, and you won’t have to make that choice. The upper is also armed with well-placed overlays, including a welded toe bumper that is super protective from roots and rocks. The rock plate and dense PWRRUN midsole will offer ample protection, and the lower stack height means you still get some ground feel.
The aggressive PWRTRAC outsole is equipped with 5mm lugs that are well oriented for great traction and grip in pretty much any conditions and terrain. I am also a fan of the minimal tongue and secure lacing system.
ROBBE: What I really appreciate about this shoe is that it seems like it’ll just work for a majority of runners, especially those new to the trail. Like, if someone asks me, “which trail shoe should I get?” I’d probably just tell them to get this. There certainly isn’t anything super special about it unless you count the 10-ounce weight in a package capable of handling most surfaces. Now that I think about it, I guess that is kind of special.
It’s hard to say exactly how I ran since my experience in the shoe was a 12-mile technical trail run in 12-degree weather. As anyone knows, EVA firms up real good in those temps, so the ride itself felt pretty firm. But in average temps, PWRRUN provides a pretty nice overall ride, standard in what you’d find in an everyday daily trainer. I actually enjoyed the somewhat narrow feel of this shoe and liked how it performed on the trails. The 5 mm lugs give it some teeth, and the light weight makes it nimble when picking around rocks and roots.
The traction on the Peregrine 12 was pretty solid. I felt secure on the surfaces I encountered, ranging from roots to wet rocks to rocky trails. It’s funny because I’ve tried shoes like the Saucony Canyon TR in the past with PWRTRAC, and it absolutely blows, so much so that I still think the Canyon TR is one of the worst trail shoes ever made aside from the total recall of the Endorphin Trail.
This shoe will be a lot more fun in the summertime as the midsole will soften up, and your toes will feel great in the airy mesh upper.Shop Peregrine 12 – Men Shop Peregrine 12 – Women
TAYLOR: I’ve mentioned it already, but this shoe is slim and trim. Though security is top-notch, comfort doesn’t exactly follow suit. I have a reasonably average foot width, and most shoe shapes don’t bother me. I fell prey to the Peregrine yet again. The midfoot is just too slim. I do not feel it after initially slipping them on, but after 30-45 minutes, I can feel that forefoot constriction. It’s important to know that I have a flared joint (aka bunion) on one foot. However, both feet felt the tightness. I would say that this time around, it was not as severe because of the more minimal overlays. It is a bummer, though, because I want to put more time into this shoe. I’m just not sure it is worth paying for it over the next day or so. The crunchy forefoot reminded me of shoes like the Nike Wildhorse or the VJ Spark.
Another discomfort comes from the opposite side of the shoe. A really firm heel cup serves well in the security department but comes up short in comfort too. It rubs consistently on my heel. Over an hour run, it’s not a huge deal. When I went further, it became a much more noticeable discomfort.
MATT: I’ve had the pleasure of testing the new Peregrine in some downright freezing conditions here in Maryland the past few weeks. I bring this up because it exposes a few flaws in the shoe that may not be an issue in warmer weather.
First off, the PWRRUN midsole really hardens up in these cold temps, making the ride pretty harsh. The ground feel was tough to judge fairly with the midsole feeling very brick-like. I think the review would be more positive if tested in the spring.
The new upper is quite thin, which I like and think will pay dividends in the summer months, but if you wear these in cold temps, you may want to ensure you pair with a thicker/warmer pair of socks.
One last thing is that after just a few runs, I noticed some staining of the upper material in the thin sections. It seemed that the combination of black socks and the light orange material caused some color to “bleed.” I have seen this before with brand new socks, but that was not the case here, so just something to be aware of.
ALEX (THE BAD): So you know the athletes on your Strava feed who consistently post those 9.99 or 19.99 or whatever.99 mile runs? Like just shuffle out the extra .01 miles, amirite?! (Lookin’ at you, Ben Johnson). Well, let it be known that the Saucony Peregrine 12 turned me into one of those runners because my Achilles demanded that when I got within eyesight of my front door, the run had to end.
The changes to the upper made this one feel way too small. The midfoot wrap felt too snug and made the shoe feel very narrow. I also noticed that my toes found the front of the narrow toe box even on a minor descent.
ALEX (THE WORST): The rigid heel cup and collar curved in at just the right amount and angle to put pressure on my Achilles and make it quite angry. That thing typically gets really fat (aka swollen and overused) in the late summer and fall months and retreats to hibernation in the winter. Waking it up before spring is never good.
ROBBE: Apparently, Alex’s Achilles saw her shadow, which means spring is around the corner. Good for us, not for her Achilles. I didn’t have any issues with the Achilles, nor did I really have any problem with the fit. I mean, honestly, I didn’t really hate anything about this shoe, but I also didn’t love anything about it. Now again, I was running in 12-degree cold — I mean, our damn cold brew was freezing right after we poured it when we tried to trailgate post-run.
I would definitely save these for the warmer months, there’s just not enough there to keep your feet warm, and the PWRRUN just turns into a brick in those super cold temps.Shop Peregrine 12 – Men Shop Peregrine 12 – Women
TAYLOR: Just like Thor losing power to his hammer momentarily, this shoe has fallen short of living up to its name for a short while. The new Peregrine 12 can rightfully take its name back as it very much does mimic its namesake bird of prey. This shoe is light, fast, and nimble — which does come with a price in this case. This year’s update also makes the package a lot more versatile by slimming in some areas and adding some comfort and performance measures.
I would definitely grab for this shoe on shorter (2 hours or under) runs on a wide variety of terrain. Whether you want to tag a peak or roll along on some muddy singletrack, the Peregrine 12 could be a solid option for a lot of people (with slimmish feet).
MATT: I think Saucony did a really good job of applying improvements to a classic model without disrupting the things that have made the Peregrine popular in the first place.
The new upper is a winner in my book, and when combined with the tried and true PWRUN midsole and PWRTRAC outsole, you have a really solid all-around trail shoe.
I would be mindful of the impact that cold temps will have on the quality of the ride, but if you live in a warmer climate or can rotate these in during milder temperatures, that would be my recommendation.
The Peregrine is a really solid choice for someone starting out on trails or that person who doesn’t want to break the bank but still wants a trustworthy and reliable shoe that they can trust on singletrack, fire roads, gravel, and anything between.
ALEX: Even though my fellow Peregrine 12 reviewers had no issues with sizing, you might want to go for a test run in them before you commit to your standard size. I can’t say I would have had the same experience if I had sized up, although, given my affinity for roomy, wide, foot-shaped shoes, this isn’t going to turn into a go-to for me. My grumpy Achilles tendon and metatarsalgia-prone feet made me put that in writing.
ROBBE: Well, it’s been one of those reviews with differing opinions. And while I don’t love this shoe, I think this is a great shoe for someone looking to get into trail running who doesn’t want to break the bank. Or somebody who wants a shoe that you can take out for 3-6 miles in the warmer months and have some fun in. The Capri Sun colorways help as well. Get juiced, y’all.
You can pick up the Saucony Peregrine 12 for $130 on January 25 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Peregrine 12 – Men Shop Peregrine 12 – Women
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Is there anywhere to get an equivalent to the PWRRUN+ sock liner/insole?