Saucony Peregrine 13 GTX Review: This Bird Can Swim
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Weighs 10.1 oz. (283 g.) for a US M9 / 9 oz. (238 g.) for a US W8
Slightly thicker slab of updated PwrRun
4 mm offset (Stack height unavailable)
A little more foam underfoot, but otherwise the same waterproof Peregrine you know and love
Classic technical terrain crushing, without the wet feet
SAM: It’s been a wet, sloppy winter in Baltimore. We’ve had cold and rainy stretches punctuated by abnormally warm days and no crisp snowfalls to add beauty to the drudgery. This means that trail runs have involved more skidding across muddy singletrack and jumping puddles than usual.
I’m someone who resists weatherproofing in my trail shoes — I shared this in our review of the Saucony Xodus Ultra Runshield (a shoe where the Runshield upper won me over) — but things have been so sodden I was glad to have the opportunity to try the Gore-Tex version of the Saucony Peregrine 13 in hopes that it would protect my feet from the mid-Atlantic slop.
Saucony has three new versions of their trail stalwart, and all three are built around the same last with the same PwrRun midsole, but each has specific changes meant to support specific types of trail runs. We’ve split up the load — Taylor has the Saucony Peregrine 13 (Taylor’s Version – ahem – I mean the regular version), with a breathable mesh upper and streamlined fit for technical trails, a PwrTrac outsole, and plenty of protection around the toebox. Alex has the gnarly Saucony Peregrine 13 ST, with a winterized upper with a quick lace system and integrated gaiter-like collar, and a PwrTrac outsole with oversized lugs, made for taking on wintery or swampy conditions.
Then, there’s me. I have the Saucony Peregrine 13 GTX, which lands about in the middle of the other two versions. The outsole and upper hew closely to the regular Peregrine 13, but with an integrated Gore-Tex bootie for complete water protection.
Since I’m already on the record with my disinterest in Gore-Tex trail runners, I feel like I’m starting this review on my back foot. The thing is, Saucony has already won me over on one pair of weatherproof shoes, maybe they can do it again.
SAM: On initial step-in, the Saucony Peregrine 13 GTX feels nimble, sleek, and capable. Saucony’s Peregrine is famously a narrow, aggressive, moderately cushioned trail shoe, and this version doesn’t sway far from its heritage. The upper is secure and feels stripped down compared to most other shoes in this range. The men’s shoe comes in an all-grey colorway with orange accents on lacing eyelets and cutouts in the outsole, and the women’s is the same grey with pink accents. The accents in the outsole are particularly striking.
The Gore-Tex bootie inside the shoe works well (I think — more on that later). It runs basically to the top of the shoe and through the tongue, so no down-sidewall dips in the waterproofing at the sides of the tongue like we found on the Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX. I stood in a fast-flowing stream with my toes and half the laces fully submerged for over a minute with no apparent intrusion. Saucony also very smartly made the outer layer of mesh around the bootie hydrophobic, so when you do get wet, you don’t take on extra weight.
The Saucony Peregrine 13 GTX is a stiff shoe at first. The Gore-Tex upper is naturally thicker than the standard mesh upper, and it doesn’t have much flexibility before you’ve run it through a ten to fifteen-mile break-in period. It feels like the toebox in this version is just a touch wider than the regular version to accommodate for the stiffness, and it’s much appreciated. After the break-in period, the upper softens nicely, and the slightly wider toebox is much more forgiving for wearing thicker socks or for those of us who like a little more room.
Inside the shoe, Saucony’s trademark FormFit lockdown shines better in this model of the Peregrine than some of the other shoes I’ve tried that employ it. It’s essentially just a stretchy, extended gusset that runs the length of the tongue, designed to hug your foot inside the lockdown of the upper. In most Saucony shoes, it isn’t particularly noticeable — it definitely doesn’t get in the way, but neither does it offer much more than any other gusseted tongue. In the Peregrine 13 (GTX and non-GTX), the material is more elastic and ever so slightly more padded, and it hugs closely around your midfoot. This makes the shoe just fit immediately on step-in. Tightening the laces adds extra security, and oh boy, does it work. The Peregrine 13 remains a sharp-clawed raptor for twisty and technical trails.
We’ve had great things to say about Saucony’s PWRRUN midsole in the past, and while it’s moderately firm here, the upgraded EVA foam is the perfect durometer for ripping down technical trails. It’s stable and responsive, and protective enough there’s no worry of stray rocks punching into your foot. The Peregrine 13 GTX isn’t too awful in hybrid use, either. Sure, the outsole feels a little cloppy on tarmac, but the midsole is just soft enough to make streets and sidewalks pleasant.
The PwrTrac outsole is roughly the same lug configuration that you find on the Xodus Ultra and the Endorphin Edge. We’ve always liked it, although here, the rubber seems to be a little harder than in either of those other shoes.Shop The Shoe - Men Shop The Shoe - Women
SAM: Look, I think Gore-Tex is an incredible fabric that has proven its usefulness over decades as a leader in the outdoor industry. All the hiking boots I’ve owned have had Gore-Tex liners that kept my feet dry over thousands upon thousands of stream crossings and days post-holing through the snow. Companies keep putting it in their shoes because it works.
And just about every trail runner I know would rather run with wet, cold feet instead of in Gore-Tex. Most of that, I think, is that a large percentage of runners just don’t care to buy a shoe that is useful only on very wet, cold days. Most runners don’t even go out on days like those, and those who do (like me) see $18 wool socks as just as viable a solution as a $160 pair of Gore-Tex trail shoes.
The other, perhaps more significant, problem with a Gore-Tex trail shoe is that it’s only one step above putting your foot in a (decently breathable) plastic bag. We all sweat when we run, even on frigid days, and Gore-Tex simply struggles to keep up with the heat our feet can create on a run. That heat stays trapped, which, although good for warmth, makes us sweat, and our feet end up just about as wet as they would have been in a breathable mesh upper.
I said I thought the test I did on the waterproofing mentioned above was successful because I really couldn’t actually tell if water got in or not because my feet were already wet inside the Gore-Tex liner, and the cold stream water adjacent to my wet socks felt like intrusion. I just didn’t notice more wetness. Functionally, it didn’t matter if the waterproofing was 100%, and ultimately, between Gore-Tex and Saucony’s upper construction, my feet came out of the stream far less wet than they would have been and not even remotely waterlogged.
Once I step off my Gore-Tex soapbox, there aren’t many true issues with the Peregrine 13 GTX. The close technical fit is a bit too narrow around the toebox for comfort over long miles, but this isn’t sold as Saucony’s long mileage shoe. To complicate the narrowness, there’s an odd cutout in the medial side of the toe guard, right beside my big toe, that became a little uncomfortable over longer runs as my toe continually rubbed against it.
Finally, this seemingly harder PwrTrac outsole rubber is even worse on wet wood than other formulations, and I had a difficult time keeping my footing on rocky stream crossings. Wet rocks aren’t usually a struggle for PwrTrac shoes, and it’s a little odd that the shoe built specifically for wet conditions would fall short there.Shop The Shoe - Men Shop The Shoe - Women
SAM: My whole Gore-Tex screed aside, the Saucony Peregrine 13 GTX is exactly what it needs to be. You aren’t buying a Gore-Tex shoe unless you know what you’re getting your feet into, and you absolutely cannot go wrong with this one. It’s comfortable, has great lockdown for technical trails, and really excels at keeping your feet warm and dry (at least from the elements outside the shoe).
On cold, wet days, the Peregrine 13 GTX is an excellent choice for avoiding the shock of cold puddle water between your toes, and the Gore-Tex and mesh upper keeps waterlogged shoes from weighing you down.
You can pick up the Saucony Peregrine 13 GTX for $160 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.
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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 PeakMore from Sam