Road Trail Run: Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 Initial Review: A Lighter, Softer Giant!

Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 ($150)

Introduction

The Endorphin Shift joined the uptempo Speed and racer Pro as the long run, max cushioned, up tempo trainer in what in 2020 was the then all new Endorphin line. And a super successful line it has been for Saucony with focused offerings for different run types all popular and pleasing in their own right. The Shift got an upper update for its v2 as did the other models. 

With V3 of all three we see quite dramatic evolutions with lighter weights for each.  The Speed 3 (RTR Review) gets a somewhat broader and softer platform which is also more stable leaning it a bit more towards daily training but staying the same in weight, while the Pro (RTR Review) jumps up to the max stack height “legally” by World Athletics allowable for racing while reducing its weight with a softer ride that broadens its use to more runners and more run uses.   


So what did Saucony have in store for the Shift 3? Well for sure in the trend of the other two lighter weight, 0.9 oz /  26g  lighter than v2 with a slightly higher stack height to a near max “legal” 39mm at the heel with the 4mm drop remaining unchanged. 

A new midsole geometry with a more symmetrical rear plastic clip with the heel very deeply embedded in the midsole, a new upper and a thick 7mm PWRRUN+ sockliner join the changes. 

I have gone on an initial 6 mile run including a short A/B run with v1 on the other foot and share initial impressions (and will update after more runs) ahead of our multi tester review. Note that I ran v1 but not v2 of the Shift. 

Pros:

Very light yet substantial on foot

Softer, more forgiving midsole foam and some flex unlike earlier versions

Still stable and plateless

More secure upper, especially at the rear. Very comfortable too.

With deep rear medial clip removed, stability is moved forward through the side walls geometry

with ride is more fore to mid foot focused with a more aggressive SpeedRoll (also may be a Con for some)

Still $150.


Cons:

Not as friendly to slower paces and heel striking as prior versions. Lower feeling heel. 

Less of a long roll sensation due to the softer foam, more medial support, less outsole coverage, and as before 4mm drop


Stats

Weight: men’s oz 9.5 oz / 269 g (US9)  /  women’s oz / g (US8)

Sample: men’s  9.24oz  /  262g US8.5

V1 men’s (US9) 10.4 oz / 295g -26g

V2 men’s (US9) 10.4 oz / 295g -26g

Stack Height: men’s mm 39 heel (measured) / 34 mm forefoot (spec)

$150. Confirming US release date.


First Impressions, Fit and Upper

My pair is striking in its all white with subtle gold accents. The mesh is light and airy and quite unstructured, reminding more of a slightly thicker version of the Endorphin Pro v1 upper than the Shift v1’s upper.


The fit is true to size with great heel hold from the new clip and lightly and adequately padded collars with the inner collar linings having considerable texture and grip. Side by side with v1 the rear hold is clearly improved if less plush. I did not test v2.

The midfoot is held by a combination of a soft stretch gusset tongue and bands of quite thick but very pliable overlays running from the middle of the mid foot to the rear.

The tongue and lace up is particularly well executed with the same stretch mesh as the gusset lined over the lace up inside with another layer of smoother mesh with some sock grip and then on the outside a triangular logo which has some depth (to protect from lace bite) and bridges the width of the lace up. 

Lace up is very easy and very smooth through the eyelets and fuss free.

The toe box is unstructured and relatively broad. There are well placed overlays over the top of the top bumper with a bit of stiffening below that around the sides.  

The sockliner made of PWRRUN + TPU is about 7mm thick, most are 4-5mm thick, and not light at 31g. For example, the Endorphin Shift v1 and Endorphin Speed 3 EVA type sock liners weigh 16-18g. This ultra thick sockliner for sure contributes to the softer more plush vibe of the shoe compared to earlier versions. Never mind the white and gold launch color!

If you have a higher volume foot you can easily swap out for a thinner one in your collection. I tried the original and a thinner one and noticed minor differences in fit with the thin one providing more volume. I wore thicker Darn Tough socks and suspect with thinner socks I would prefer the higher volume supplied sockliner at my true to size medium to narrower feet.


The fit is clearly true to size for me with plenty of toe box room for splay. I only note a touch of top pressure from big toe side front overlays. The fit is generally more precise especially at the rear than my v1 sample which was a half size up from my normal.


Midsole

We get 1-2mm more stack height of Saucony’s new lighter, softer, and more resilient PWRRUN to come in at a maximal 39mm heel / 35 mm forefoot. While not as light as PEBA type foams, this flavor of EVA/TPU blend is darn light. For reference the Hoka Bondi 8 (RTR Review) with the same stack height and somewhat broader platform comes in 1.5 ounces heavier and that is for sure felt on the run as I have been testing the Bondi 8 recently as well.


The feel is softer than the earlier versions to pressing and on the run. There is truly a bottomless cushion here now, a bit more pleasant feeling than before and a touch less firmly responsive in return.

There is no plate in the mix as in the Speed and Pro or competitors such as SC Trainer from New Balance (RTR Review).

To stabilize all that foam Saucony uses a symmetrical rear classic clip with the heel sitting very far down into the midsole around the clip.

This is instead of the big wrap around TPU heel counter used in v1 and v2 which had dipped yet lower to the medial side with the foot sitting not as deeply if much at all in the midsole. 

We are still very stable but the heel now feels lower I think due to the softer foam and changes further forward. 

Saucony compensates for this through a fairly deep if narrow rear torsional groove to help the foot move to transition, but for heel strikers I think it could be deeper and more pronounced, along the lines of the SC Trainer. And removing foam there would reduce weight yet more!

While v1 and v2 pretty much ended the stability elements near the heel with an extension through its wrap up outsole, v3 through its higher vertical midsole side walls feels like the support medially is moved forward. 


While the shoe after one run has developed some flex but is not completely broken in, the platform now for me favors a more mid to forefoot strike over prior versions


Outsole

The outsole is very similar to v1 and v2 in overall design but we do see changes.

What doesn’t change is that the rubber is firm and should be long lasting.

The medial midfoot rubber is narrower and no longer wraps up the side walls. The front rubber keeps the raised outside lugs but goes to a single central strip which interestingly is lower than the white exposed foam around it. I imagine they will become level with some wear.


While stiff out of the box the shoe now has some flex and more so that my v1 already after one run with considerably more miles on it.


Ride and Initial Thoughts

I did a short run with v1 on one foot and v3 on the other then changed to v3 on both feet for 6 miles at an ending pace of 9:49 per mile, so on the slow end of what the shoe is designed for and my training paces but it was hot!


Side by side the v3 clearly had a more secure rear hold than v1. 

V1’s ride was somewhat firmer and less bouncy, more snappy responsive. V3’s ride was softer and had more rebound. 

I found v1’s roll to toe off longer passing midfoot a bit easier with the SpeedRoll more subtle than v3’s. v3 felt lower at the heel and seemed to favor (the softer foam and the more aggressive forward medial support) a more forward strike, reminding me a bit of the New Balance More v3 in that respect. I tend to heel strike at slower paces and low drop softer shoes usually work better for me at faster paces than I went today.


The Shift 3 is following the trend of the Speed 3 and Pro 3 as it mellows its ride a bit with a softer, easier flexing platform. While I clearly, clearly appreciate what Saucony has done with the Endorphin Pro 3, one of my top any distance race choices of the 2022 so far and with the broader softer more easy flexing Speed 3, one of my top faster daily training picks with Shift 3 I will need more runs to determine its range and utility. 

So much stack, no plate, softer foam, 4mm drop, a fairly minimal outsole is a tricky combination to pull off. So far I am feeling the Shift 3 may be a bit too much of a “friendly” giant for slower paces and my tendency to heel strike which with the v1 wasn’t the case with its firmer ride and more structured outsole.  It felt a bit plodding. Next run will be more uptempo and I will update here ahead of our full multi tester review which will also include many comparisons.


I am thinking of the following for comparisons in the full review.Reviews of all can be found HERE

Any others you would like us to compare to please comment. 

Saucony Ride 10

Saucony Tempus

New Balance Fresh Foam More v3 (and when possible v4)

New Balance  FuelCell SuperComp Trainer

ASICS Glideride 3

Hoka Bondi 8

Hoka Carbon X3

Salomon Glide Max

We are awaiting word from Saucony on US release date for the Shift 3.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’