The Saucony ISO Switchback is a trail shoe that attempts to combine the fast, low-profile aspect of a trail racing flat with the ruggedness of a sturdy trail shoe meant for technical terrain. Does it succeed? Let’s find out!
When I first saw the Switchback, it somewhat reminded me of one of my favorite trail shoes of all time. I think it was called the New Balance MT100 (get off my back, ok? This was at least 10 years ago), and it was– I’m fairly certain– sold only at DSW.
Probably not really meant for all the running I did in it (including two road marathons), but man, I loved that shoe. And I think the Switchback is kinda similar, in that it’s not particularly fancy, aside from the Boa lacing system (and we will get to that shortly).
It’s a shoe, and you put it on your foot, and then you run in it. I mean, you should probably put both of them on, but you get my point.
One of the best things about the Switchback is that it provides excellent ground feel, and when I’m racing short distances on the trail, that is something I value. That’s not to say these are constrained to race days, but the Switchback wouldn’t be my first choice for long training runs.
The outsole of the Switchback is Saucony’s PWRTRAC, which is comprised, in this case, of lots of little nubby-looking lugs. I found the outsole to be decently grippy except during wet-rock stream crossings, but seriously, most shoes— trail or otherwise— aren’t super great on wet rocks. The nice thing about the lugs is that they’re spaced close together, so they don’t tend to trap rocks or debris.
The Boa closure is somewhat of a love it or hate it feature. It does require a bit of fine-tuning a few minutes into the run to get the fit correct, but otherwise, I’m a fan. Considering the trend towards excessive lace length that some shoe companies have adopted (ahem, Altra), it’s nice to not worry about catching your lace loop on a rock or a branch. I do think there’s the potential for this type of lacing system to create pressure on the top of the foot, especially during longer runs. Then again, I wouldn’t recommend these for anything longer than a 50K at most anyhow.
The ISO Switchback fits true to size, with decent room in the toebox, and weighs in at 8.3 oz. for a US W8. I was shocked when I saw the weight and thought it must be a typo; these feel much lighter.
The only negative I experienced with the Boa lacing system is that I had some heel slipping; I wasn’t able to crank the Boa closure down any tighter without it becoming uncomfortable, pressure-wise, but that meant less security in the heel. It wasn’t a huge issue, but something to note nonetheless.
My only other real issue with the ISO Switchback is the midsole. I read other reviews of EVERUN and wonder why I have, seemingly, a completely different experience with this midsole material. It just feels flat and uninspired to me.
The Switchback has a 4 mm drop, and I found myself wishing that there were a few more millimeters, maybe? (Yeah, I know I said I like ground feel, I’m a hypocrite). I just didn’t feel there was enough cushion in the forefoot. Not as much of an issue for short runs, but it limits the utility of the shoe for me.
Also: it kinda looks like a golf shoe.
If you’re a fan of EVERUN– and I know many, many of you are– you should absolutely try the Switchback. It’s a light, nimble racing-flat type of trail shoe with solid grip.
You can pick it up at Running Warehouse for $139.95 using the shop link below.Shop Saucony Switchback ISO