Article by Mike Postaski Jacob Brady, Dominick Layfield, Renee Krusemark, Jeff Valliere, and Sam Winebaum
Saucony Xodus Ultra ($150)
Sam: The Xodus has been Saucony’s heavy duty (and heavy), deeply cushioned trail runner. It has been given radical makeovers in recent years but retained the style’s essence and purpose. The Xodus 10 then 11 brought the shoe from a near hiker in weight and purpose to an all around if still heavier trail performer which in a surprise was truly excellent on roads. With the “Ultra ” naming here Saucony signals the Xodus has become their Ultra racing and distances offering. We’ll see!
For the now renamed Xodus Ultra we yet again see striking changes. Most notable is another dramatic drop in weight from about 11.9 oz / 337g to about 9.9 oz / 281g in a US9, It gains 1mm more heel stack height while losing 1mm forefoot stack to move from a 4mm drop to a 6mm, so essentially equivalent cushion stack at far less weight.
The Xodus returns with a 4mm PWRTRAC outsole in a new 3 segment design with flexible woven rock plate and has a new upper and new ultra focused 6mm last.
How did they manage to so dramatically reduce the weight? Well, the heavy but bouncy and protective PWRRUN+ of the previous two versions is replaced with an outer carrier of PWRRUN similar to Peregrine 12 with an inner core of PWRRUN PB Saucony’s “super shoe” expanded beads foam found in the road Endorphin Speed and Pro as well as Endorphin Trail.
How would this now far lighter combination of foams perform on varied surfaces and for varied distances and would the Xodus retain its leg friendly ride? How would it compare and compete against shoes such as the Speedgoat, Mafate Speed, adidas Speed Ultra, Asics Trabuco 9/10, Altra Timp 4 and Mont Blanc, Brooks Caldera 6 and others is what we set out to discover.
Soft, bouncy, protected, forgiving ride – Jacob/Mike P/Renee/Sam/Dom/Jeff
Very smooth ride on pavement – Jacob/Mike P/Sam/Jeff
Flexible, agile yet well protected forefoot (woven rock plate): tech agile and road friendly Sam/Mike P/Jeff V
Highly versatile – Jacob/Mike P/Renee/Sam/Jeff V
Comfortable, nicely roomy, but still secure fit – Jacob/Mike P/Renee/Jeff V
Very low weight for a high-stack ultra-distance trail shoe – Mike P/Jacob/Renee/Sam/Jeff
But for laces and outer tongue, the upper is almost entirely recycled materials and vegan – Sam/Mike P/Jeff V/Jacob
Surprisingly fast and adept for road use: Jeff V/Sam
Lack of ground feel – Jacob/Renee
A bit tippy and loose in the forefoot for fast running on technical terrain – Jacob/Dom/Jeff V/Sam
Lacing system doesn’t allow zonal tensioning – Mike P
Heel counter while not over rigid is long to the front giving an overly rigid foot motion restricting feel Sam/Jacob I think it is “over rigid”! [Dom]
Midfoot could also use a few overlays to go with gusset tongue to better support the midfoot on tech terrain – Sam / Dom
Foot shape is a little weird. Xodus Ultra pressures my big toe medially – Dom
Estimated weight: men’s 9.9 oz / 281g (US9)
Weight Xodus 11: 11.9 oz / 337g US9
Samples: men’s 9.6 oz / 272 g (US M8.5),
10.2 oz / 288 g (US M9.5)
10.7 oz / 302 g (US M10)
10.4 oz / 294 g (US M10)
11.7 oz / 331 g (US M12)
women’s 8.78 oz / 249g (US8)
Stack Height: 32.5mm heel / 26.5 mm forefoot, 6mm drop
Xodus 11: 31.5mm heel 27.5mm forefoot stack, 4mm drop
Available June. $150
First Impressions and Fit
Mike P: There are two major impressions that stand out immediately, first – the fit, and second- the HUGE weight drop. In testing the Peregrine 12 in US 9.5, I found the fit super secure and just right for shorter, technical running. So I requested a 10.0 for the Xodus Ultra, hoping for a bit more space for longer runs, and was disappointed upon receiving a 9.5.
After trying them on, I immediately noticed that Saucony adjusted the fit to be a more accommodating “ultra” fit – without having to size up which I sometimes have to do. This is actually mentioned in their spec materials – a newly redesigned last with 6mm drop and roomier toe box. So as I find the new Peregrine fit perfect for shorter, technical running, I also find the Xodus Ultra fit perfect for longer, ultra distance/duration running in the same US 9.5 size. For reference – I had the Xodus 10 in US 10.0 and I did find those a bit short/stubby at the front, and also a bit squeezed in the forefoot. My Xodus Ultra in US 9.5 is far roomier all around and more comfortable than my previous Xodus 10 in US 10.0. In comparison to the Peregrine 12, there’s more space across the forefoot, more material over the top of the forefoot (so not strapped down), and probably about ½ thumb’s width extra in front of the toes.
The weight drop is massive – my Xodus 10’s at a half size up, weighed 12.3 oz (348g). The new Xodus Ultra weighs 10.2 oz (288g). That’s just a massive, noticeable drop, and even under spec – which they have listed at 10.3 oz (assuming US 9.0). This clearly brings the Xodus out of the hiker/training shoe into the ultra-distance racing contender category. We often mention how shoes can run lighter than their weight. But when it comes to ultras, say 100K – 100M+, weight is weight, and it does tend to add up, especially in the latter stages. Glad to see that Saucony is really throwing their hat into the ring here in a serious way.
Dom: If I’m going to run a long way (like over 100 km) I like my shoes to feel plush. This is not a trait I like for everyday training, but on race day I’ll take as much cushion as I can up to the point where the shoe starts to feel like an unstable tower of foam. The Xodus Ultra feels targeted at this segment, with a big, plush sole. Some might complain about the shoe feeling squishy and not being “responsive” enough, but for me the Xodus Ultra feels lovely underfoot.
Dom: Apart from the pleasingly cushy underfoot feel, my first impression of the XU was that the last of the upper was an unusual shape. Or at least, not a good match to my foot. In most places the fit is roomy, but the toe box tapers in such a way that I felt my big toe being pushed inward (medially).
Jeff V: My first impression is one of wonder. The Xodus prior to version 10 was essentially a burly hiking/backpacking sort of shoe, much too stiff, heavy and for my preferences, uninspiring even for hikes with the family. The Xodus 10 and 11 ushered in a big overhaul, with a significant weight drop, new energetic expanded TPU bead PWRRUN+ midsole and a more flexible streamlined upper.
The Xodus 10 and 11 were really fun to run in, feeling super protective, secure and beefy, while simultaneously being energetic, even crossing over well to the road, despite the deep lugs and relative heft.
Enter the Xodus Ultra, dropping more than 2 oz. in my size 10 and adding 1mm of cushion, it hardly even seems to be related to the previous versions and I wonder why Saucony didn’t just come up with a new model name (as to not scare anyone off). Step in comfort is off the charts, with a secure feeling but relaxed fit upper, soft but supportive cushioning and a very light on the foot feel.
Fit is true to size, with a secure midfoot and heel, while providing a nice bit of wiggle room in the toe box, much of which is attributed to the somewhat soft and pliable upper material that has some give to it.
Renee: I received the Xodus 10 last year for review, but I had so many other shoes at the time that I forwarded my pair to another RTR reviewer. The Xodus seemed like too much shoe for me, and in terms of reviewing shoes, it wasn’t on my list of favorites. Big cushion, heavy shoes are not my favorites.
When the Xodus Ultra arrived, I knew it had a weight drop (yay!). Still, the Xodus Ultra seemed like too much shoe for me. As Micheal noted, the fit of the Xodus Ultra is, well . . . for ultras. Personally, I thought my low volume foot would be floating around in that upper. Not the case. The length and upper volume seemed “too much” at first, but it was not an issue while running. For sizing, I suggest true to size. Yes, you’ll get more length and volume than similar sizes (the Peregrine 12, for example), but the shoe is meant for ultra distances.
Jacob: The Xodus Ultra is an exciting shoe: the RTR team gave high praise to the last two year models (10 and 11) of the Xodus and the Xodus Ultra is dramatically lighter—I tested the newest Peregrine (12) which is fantastic. The neon green colorway and sleek styling of the Xodus Ultra matches the Peregrine 12. It is a maximally cushioned shoe, but doesn’t look or feel extreme. In hand the shoe felt hefty, but its weight it is quite reasonable, top-of-the-line even, for the stack, protection, and outsole ready for technical terrain. On foot it was roomy and soft, but felt secure as well. There is more toebox space compared to other 2022 Saucony shoes I’ve run with notably less pressure on my little toes, which is appreciated. The TPU beads sockliner + soft midsole makes it feel plush but energetic underfoot.
Mike P: I covered the toebox in my first impressions and fit section above. I’ll just add that the extra roominess in the toebox really works for me, and should also be very accommodating for most feet, aside from very narrow ones. If you do have very narrow feet, you may want to consider sizing down by a half. Saucony does a good job by “getting out of the way” with the rest of the upper. Midfoot hold is excellent, as well as heel hold. There’s no fancy heel padding shapes or designs – just a solid, non-rigid, decently padded collar, with a nice, secure heel cup shape. I had no irritation from the collar at all around the ankle and achilles. Sam mentions that he found the heel counter to be a bit rigid, but I didn’t notice that at all. The ride is a touch bouncy, so I’m sure that helps to stabilize the ride a bit.
[Peregrine 12 vs. Xodus Ultra in equal size US 9.5 – notice the roomier “ultra” toebox]
The gusseted tongue is also well designed in several ways. It’s well padded, more so than the Peregrine 12, and also is long enough where there’s no chance of it slipping below the laces.
The top edge is smooth, and unobtrusive – no irritation or digging into your ankle. Similar to the Peregrine 12 – there’s also a bit of extra material that sits at the top of the tongue, situated right behind where the lace knot is. It shields the ankle from any bite from the knot. There’s also a mesh “debris shield” behind the lower laces. I can’t say for sure yet how well that works, but that is an area of the shoe where debris do tend to get trapped in the creases and work its way in. Paired with a gaiter, you should be able to keep most stuff out.
One “con”, and really my only one for the entire shoe is the lacing eyelet “rails”. Rather than using eyelet holes, there’s a strip of webbing material that’s sewn on top of the upper, tacked with thread between lacing loops which the laces thread through which is on the outside of the upper. I can see this being advantageous as far as keeping debris out, but it makes it more difficult to adjust the tension in different zones of the shoe. Sometimes I like to keep the lower laces looser and really snug up the top near the ankle. That’s really not possible with this lacing system, as the laces just slide through and tension becomes uniform. But with the roomier toebox, I haven’t had any issues with this yet.
Sam: The others have described the upper well. The main mesh is very soft and pliable, almost too much so. Accommodating and decently secure this upper is for sure comfortable and I think appropriate for the ultra naming here. It is not quite the massively supportive upper of the Xodus 10 but as the model is now more racing oriented than long slow haul I find it works well.
I do find something a bit off with the forward part of the rear of the shoe extending to the medial midfoot. The external extra molded element at the collars provides some rigidity but then ends early with the top collar and especially right around lace up a bit too pliable creating a bit of a disconnect in support. At slow paces I found the rear upper and heel counter a bit rigid and blocky. At faster paces that mostly went away and I found the lace up area and medial side below laces not quite as supportive as I would like.
There is an additional overlay (none on the lateral side) on the medial side towards the front but I think a touch more support is needed. Maybe a bit less stretchy soft gusset or another overlay further back. I once was surprised on an off camber landing that the lateral side, the rigid heel counter and side walls around the collars then the soft top collar “kicked” me over quite suddenly medially. Not a serious issue but I think there is a bit too much disconnect between all the soft and pliable of the upper and the robust rear hold and big high rigid heel counter and its extensions forward.
Dom: The midfoot region, in particular, has lots of stretchy elements: an elasticated tongue bootie, an additional layer (second tongue) over the top to keep out debris, and the aforementioned deformable lacing anchors (the “rails” as Mike dubbed them). Even the laces are stretchier than usual. On the plus side, all this makes sliding in and out of the shoe a breeze. But I found it had the unexpected side effect of making it hard to gauge the lace tension. After a couple of runs, I learned I had to tension the laces tighter than normal.
Renee: The details are covered by the other reviewers. I’ll add that I had a great fit (secure and comfortable) with the Xodus Ultra while running. On foot, the shoes seemed too big (too much volume and too much length), but after running in them, it’s obvious that the fit is meant for serious ultra distances (50, 100, 200! miles +) when stretch and room is needed. Even on shorter runs (2 hours and less), the fit is good. During a sloppy mud run, I had good security. For a tighter fit, a runner could half-size down, but using that reasoning I would simply wear the Peregrine 12 instead. I have plenty of height, width, and length in the toebox. Again, initially, the roominess seems excessive, but after running in the Xodus Ultra, the volume is appropriate for its use.
Jeff V: I love this upper and find it to be exceptionally comfortable. Lately I have been dealing with a bit of sensitivity in my pinky toenails (they are a mess and I should probably have them surgically removed) and of my current line up of review shoes, the Xodus Ultra has accommodated my sensitive toes the best with their forgiving forefoot fit and somewhat flexible upper.
For long distance runs/races, I think this will prove to be one of the most sought after shoes out there, in part because of this exceptionally comfortable and forgiving upper, which is also cool and well ventilated.
Of course the downside is foothold, where the compliant, non rigid upper materials have enough give that there is a bit of a compromise in security. For most of my running, I do not even think about it and honestly, the only times I became aware and had to back off was when descending very steep off trail hillsides, steep sidehilling and when moving fast down steep trails with a lot of rocks. Even then however, it felt under control and not particularly unsettling, but just enough to let me know I needed to back off a bit.
While running fast however on non technical trails, moderate trails and even technical trails outside of the specific more extreme circumstances previously listed, I never worry about foothold and feel confident.
As to Sam and Dom’s mentions of the heel feeling a bit off, I never really noticed what they are sensing and feel as though it provides good stability and support.
I agree with my colleagues regarding the lacing and feel as though this could be improved with a bit more precise lace retention which Mike so eloquently describes. I personally like when a lace has enough resistance when snugged through the eyelet that the retention is retained, without having to keep tugging for tension as you tie (which invariably relieves some and leaves the midfoot snugness less than intended). That said, this is only a very minor quibble and only an issue when I really want to over snug for tech terrain, but for the long distance cruising for which this shoe is intended, it will not be a problem.
Upper protection is a bit on the minimal side with a flexible toe bumper and non continuous rand, so be careful in talus fields.
Jacob: The upper is simple, functional, soft, and comfortable with a high percentage of recycled material (only the laces and part of tongue are not). The increased toebox space compared to the Peregrine works very well for my foot shape, with great sizing and security on more mellow terrain.
On technical terrain, especially when running fast, the shoe can rotate around my foot, feeling a bit insecure. This leads to the Xodus Ultra not falling into the same category as the Hoka Speedgoat, which is much more narrow and borderline uncomfortable for me but also much more capable in technical terrain and mountainous descents. Lacing can be a bit tricky as there is not much friction between the nylon strap and laces and the tongue has a fair bit of soft compressible material. Overall, I think it’s a good upper: it is breathable enough, keeps dirt out, is comfortable and accommodating without being sloppy, and has good security in most terrain.
Sam: The midsole has an outer carrier of PWRRUN an EVA/TPU blend with an inner core of supercritical PWRRUN PB PEBA expanded beads as also found in the Endorphin Speed and Pro road shoes and Endorphin Trail.
The stack height is 1mm higher at the heel and 1mm lower at the forefoot than the Xodus 11 for a full spec stack height of 32.5mm heel / 26.5 mm forefoot with a 6mm drop whereas before the Xodus had a 4mm drop.
The new midsole foams which replace heavier PWRRUN+ all TPU foam (and to a lesser extent the segmented outsole and upper) lead to the gigantic 2 oz / 56g drop in weight. This weight drop due to less dense foam also leads to a somewhat less massively and deeply cushioned feel especially at the forefoot but a springier far lighter feel, more forefoot flexibility if less deep front protection.
The feel is pleasant and stable with a combination of nice central rebound from the PEBA core blending nicely with the firmer more stable outer carrier. The woven flexible rock plate is decently protective and plays nicely with the midsole to contour terrain better if more thinly than the more massive and isolating Xodus 10’s midsole which also included the woven rock plate. The new midsole for sure also shares the road friendly feel of the Xodus 10 and as on trail is now more agile feeling with more sense of the road. This is one superb midsole for just about any running terrain, distance, or pace.
Mike P: I took a manual measurement at the heel (which includes lugs as well as insole) and got a heel stack of 36mm. With a spec 6mm drop, that puts the forefoot at 30mm. That’s definitely on the upper/ultra end, in the range, cushion and protection wise, of the big Hokas. I manually measured the Speedgoat 5 at 36/32 and the Mafate Speed 3 at 38/34. Bottom line, the new Xodus Ultra stacks up competitively against the main go-to ultra-cushion contenders. You will not be lacking in relative cushion or protection, so you’re free to make your ultra-shoe choice based on other features such as security, fit, and ride.
[As measured – equal 36mm at the heel]
The responsiveness of the ride is improved from the previous Xodus 10/11 iteration. I found the Xodus 10 did have somewhat of a bouncy feel, but at 2 full ounces heavier, the ride tended to feel a bit muted by the overall weight of the shoe. No such issues with the Ultra – there’s that same somewhat bouncy feel, with some added softness – likely the PWRRUN PB core in the center + the thick TPU PWRRUN+ beaded insole.
At 10.2 oz and 36/30mm (manually measured), the ride is unencumbered by the overall weight of the shoe. The softer core + firmer PWRRUN carrier does work as advertised – the cushiness of the ride is welcomed, with the firmer carrier foam doing the job of keeping things stable. This is noticeable for me as I don’t have any ankle irritation which I sometimes notice in a more bouncy/unstable shoe such as the Endorphin Speed (V1).
Dom: For me the midsole is the star of the show. Although I don’t think it really makes sense to judge the midsole in isolation, since the running experience involves all elements in a stack that is carefully coordinated. Most notably with the Xodus Ultra, Saucony uses an extra bouncy TPU-beaded footbed that really makes this shoe feel special. (Note that Inov-8 also do something very similar with their ‘Boomerang’ footbeds.)
Dom: The Xodus Ultra feels amazing underfoot – provided you like big cushion. As with all super-cushioned shoes, ground feel is very muted, and the high heel can occasionally feel a little tippy. But this shoe can just soak up the miles and still leave your feet fresh.
Dom: The woven ‘rock plate’ visible through the outsole cutouts in the forefoot is excellent – in the sense that it is not really noticeable at all. The shoe flexes normally without any sudden discontinuities. What is noticeable is that rock protection is very good. When I deliberately tried to stomp down on sharp rocks, I could feel the prominence underfoot, but without any discomfort, but also without the ricochet effect of an overly stiff plate. I would say that Saucony judged this trade-off perfectly.
Renee: I’ll add that I love TPU footbeds and everyone should. The TPU and the midsole are a great combination. The midsole of the Xodus Ultra is soft, but it’s not annoyingly plush wherein you don’t have responsiveness. As an ultra-specific shoe, it’s not the fastest midsole or ride, but I thought it was fine on rolling gravel roads even for shorter only five mile runs so while the midsole is meant for ultras, it feels great on shorter recovery runs too.
Jeff V: This is one of the finest trail midsoles I can think of and I was blown away at how lively, cushioned and responsive the Xodus Ultra feels, be it smooth paths, moderately technical trails, rough trails, roads, uphill, downhill, flat, they can feel just as at home plodding along hiking, as they do running sub 6 min/mile pace on the road.
Cushioning is so deep and plush and my legs feel exceptionally fresh after running in them, yet they are firm enough to give adequate support and predictable control, which is oh so important with a high stack shoe and when negotiating rocks, roots and other trail obstacles. The woven rock plate integrates very nicely and provides amazing protection without compromising flexibility. While trail feel is somewhat muted by the deep stack height, I find trail feel to be reasonably good and the outsole/midsole combination with woven plate does a great job contouring over rocks and roots without feeling wobbly or tippy.
Jacob: The Xodus Ultra’s thick TPU bead sockliner above a PWRRUN PB superfoam with a woven rock guard is an excellent midsole combination that contributes to an excellent ride. It is protective, bouncy, and flexible. The rebound and leg-saving characteristics keep me moving along easily. Ground feel is a bit dull, but I can cruise along over most terrain easily while still being able to tell that sticks or rocks are there. The midsole contours adequately around features due to the relatively high flexibility. It’s a balanced design for a max cushion shoe, providing a bit of all I could ask for from a shoe.
The outsole is Saucony’s PWRTRAC with 4mm lugs in a new 3 segment configuration for increased flexibility and traction.
Mike P: Here we see a similar segmented design as in the Brooks Caldera 6 and the upcoming Divide 3. The new Peregrine also has a smaller segmentation at the rear, but that shoe focuses more on protection over shorter distances, and rides at quite a bit lower stack – therefore the extra rubber coverage works. The Xodus Ultra, at a much higher stack, utilizes the segmentation to maintain some flexibility – both front to back, and at the rear for heel landings. The platform overall is still streamlined, not overly wide, so the segmentation does work effectively. In comparison to the Caldera 6 – I find that shoe so overly wide that it’s hard for the tail segmentation to have much effect.
[Peregrine 12 vs. Xodus Ultra. The Xodus features more outsole segmentation to maintain flexibility with the higher stack. Both have flexible, woven rock plates]
The PWRTRAC outsole has been updated with a similar lug design and pattern as the new Peregrine. In comparison to both the previous Peregrine and Xodus 10/11, there’s a much less dense array of lugs. Traction is actually better as the lugs get more “bite”, and with more space between the lugs, it works much better to shed mud. Saucony’s PWRTRAC is a known commodity in terms of durability – there will be no issues there. With the added stack, I didn’t find those segmentation gaps affected protection in any way. I have not noticed any rock zingers underfoot, so the tradeoff for flexibility and ride smoothness is worthwhile.
Dom: As Mike describes above, Saucony have made smart choices with the outsole. Most notably in segmenting the outsole, dividing between front and back (to stop the shoe being too torsionally stiff) and further splitting the heel between left and right.
The latter step partially decouples the two sides, allowing one to deform more independently. This helps decrease the problem of the heel tipping over when the rear of the shoe lands off-center on a rock.
Dom: In terms of traction, I have no quibbles. On the trails in LA, the grip was excellent. On dry rock, sand, and grit the PWRTRAC outsole was great . I sought out a creek and wallowed around in the mud and water: everything felt good. My benchmark for grip on wet rock is Vibram Megagrip, and when I compared a Speedgoat on one foot and an Xodus Ultra on the other, I couldn’t really tell any difference, which means that wet traction is excellent. The only unknown is durability. I don’t personally have any other experience with Saucony outsoles to know how long the “PWRTRAC” outsole lasts.
Renee: I’ll add that the outsole works well in mud, as is the case for all Saucony trail shoes with similar lugs and outsole. I ran on loose dirt, packed dirt, and gravel.
Jeff V: The outsole has a very effective lug pattern and is also indicating a high level of durability thus far. I have found traction to be excellent overall, having run on steep rocky trails, talus, loose off trail and steep dirt, rocky slab scrambles, gravelly singletrack, dirt roads, some mud, snow and wet conditions.
My only hesitation is on wet rock, where I found myself slipping some and being a little hesitant, though to be fair, these were conditions that would have had most shoes at or near their limit.
Jacob: The outsole is a great all-arounder. It uses an effective spaced directional chevron pattern and a rubber compound that has above average traction in all conditions I’ve tested in (dirt, gravel, light mud, roots, granite, pavement). The outsole material is smooth, quiet, and responsive on pavement, which is amazing considering it provides very good grip on trails.
Sam: All I can add is that the outsole while sensed on road blends well with the midsole with no firm slapping (often a function of stiffness and rubber firmness and here we are flexible and relatively soft) as often found in trail shoes on pavement so in addition to any trail the Ultra is one fine door to trail and even road shoe.
Mike P: I’m a big fan of the updated Xodus ride. As mentioned above, the clear feeling of bounciness in combination with the softness underfoot – really works for longer distances. The real test will be taking them out for a 50M+ race. I’ve had success with very cushioned shoes such as Speedgoat 4 and Mafate Speed 3, but nothing quite as “bouncy” feeling as the Xodus Ultra. I don’t foresee it being an issue, and I see the lighter weight being a big positive factor.
The ride feels smooth to me as a forefoot striker. I didn’t notice any instability in the rear as others have mentioned, outside of running in some very rocky terrain. I think some of that comes with the territory though, at a measured 36/30mm stack. The expectation is that over an “ultra” distance, you’d likely be running at a slower pace and more carefully in very technical terrain. At least that’s how I see this shoe positioned. Also keep in mind that you have a narrower platform than some of the more high stack ultra shoes out there. While that can make them feel “tall” on one hand, it also makes them a bit more maneuverable and agile, especially with the lighter weight. I.e. foot placements are easier to find as long as you’re paying attention.
[Much narrower platform in comparison to SG5]
They feel quite flexible for a high stack shoe – you don’t feel like you’re just landing on one uniform slab of cushion. The flex makes the ride feel more natural, and contours well over terrain, though ground feel is not quite there (a good thing though for ultra distance running). I do like the 6 mm drop in comparison to the previous version’s 4 mm, and the 4 mm of the Peregrine. There’s just a touch more comfort and positive forward lean is easier than with 4mm. I find in general 5-6mm is the sweet spot for ultra-oriented shoes.
Dom: More excellence here. The Exodus Ultra is plush without being mushy, and bouncy without feeling out of control.
Dom: I thought the only negative was in the heel. With any high-stack ultra cushioned shoe, there is always the risk of the shoe feeling unstable. I didn’t experience any instability with the front end of the Xodus Ultra, but the back end never felt quite as finely tuned. It’s difficult to pick apart the whole, but my opinion is that (1) the sole stack is just a couple of millimeters too high at the rear. The thicker the sole, the easier it is to tip over. (2) The heel counter is tall, stiff, and a little wide. The extra space around my heel meant that I didn’t have a good sense of when the back of the shoe was starting to twist, but once it’s twisting, it has a stronger tendency to rotate your ankle with it. Don’t get me wrong: this is not a showstopper at all. It’s more that because the ride is so generally great, you want it to go all the way to perfection.
Sam: A most pleasant and any terrain capable ride here. On the softer side, with noticeable rebound due to the central core of PEBA expanded beads with enough stability from the firmer outer carrier there is plenty underfoot here if not quite as bottomless in cushion as the prior Xodus which was so much heavier. Flexible and agile, easy flowing and fast this is one versatile and fun riding shoe. I do agree with Dom that the rear of the shoe (heel counter plus narrowish landing) is a bit rigid and tippy at slower paces.
Renee: Here’s the magic of the shoe. Big stack, heavy shoes are my least favorite. Saucony has managed to create a high stack shoe with a decent weight for its purpose with a smooth ride. The ground feel isn’t the best for fast efforts, and I can see how the security and stability might be an issue for runners who don’t have a good fit with the upper. For me, the flex, cushion, responsiveness, and midsole cushion is a perfect balance for a varied terrain across all day efforts (true ultras). The woven rock plate works well for balance and stability, which I think helps the high stack from becoming uncomfortable, which is a problem I had with the New Balance More Trail v2. I agree with Mike P. that the ride might work best for forefoot strikers.
Jeff V: The ride of the Xodus Ultra is among the best out there with deep cushion, springy response, stable, predictable, versatile with a nice smooth and energetic transition. I am a heel striker and have not really noticed any instability unless moving really fast over technical terrain, specifically steep downhills, where I feel like I need to exercise a bit of caution. The Xodus Ultra also has particularly good road manners, where I had a recent run touching in the sub 6 min/mile range and they felt so fast and energetic that I may as well have been running in a carbon super shoe (completely forgetting that I had just dropped over 1,000 feet of steep 30% gradient loose off trail down onto the bike path).
Jacob: The Xodus Ultra ride is a 10/10 for me. It is protected and easygoing when my legs are tired and quick and propulsive when I want to go fast. It is fun to run, feels like it keeps my legs fresh, and is as good on the pavement as it is on the trail. I am a fan of door to trail runs with at least ⅓ of the time on pavement, so having a shoe that runs well on the road without sacrificing anything on the trail is truly amazing. In addition, the ride provides a balanced amount of several characteristics (flex, rebound, softness, protection) while staying maximal-leaning. I generally like a softer, bouncy ride as the Xodus Ultra provides, but it is a standout even in this category as I don’t feel like it has anything I would improve on.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Mike P: I can’t say that I’m shocked by how much I like the Xodus Ultra. Based on RTR’s previous reporting, we were aware of some of the new features – it was just a question of how Saucony would put it all together. The big headline of the massive weight drop does not compromise cushion or protection at all, which was one of the question marks I had in mind. Also including the new TPU PWRRUN+ insole is a big standout feature – I’ve said it before, insoles of TPU or some similar material is the future. Cheap foam insoles that pack down and do nothing for you should be a thing of the past.
One thing that did surprise me – in a very good way – is the updated ultra-oriented fit of the new Xodus. As a stickler for forefoot space and comfort over very long distances, for me Saucony hit a home run with this one. Perfect balance of security, space, and comfort. Value-wise, you can’t go wrong. The Xodus Ultra will be super durable, and handle runs of any distance. With the low weight, they’d even be a great pick for shorter runs over easy/moderate terrain if you need some comfort underfoot. Saucony Trail 2022 on fire !!!!
Mike P’s Score: 9.85/10
Ride: 10 – Soft underfoot, a touch bouncy, flexible, and smooth
Fit: 10 – Secure with good volume all around in the forefoot for ultra distances
Value: 10 – Highly versatile for medium-ultra distance training and racing, even short runs
Style: 9.5 – I like subtle and sleek
Traction: 9.5 – Proven PWRTRAC rubber, updated & better lugs & pattern
Rock Protection: 9.5 – Not absolute, but you won’t feel much, if anything
Dom: I really enjoyed the Saucony Xodus Ultra. True to its name, it provides plenty of cushion for long ultras at a competitive weight, landing within a few grams of the benchmark Hoka Speedgoat 5. The ride is plush and springy, without feeling unstable. The upper is light, stretchy and comfortable.
However, when a shoe is so generally great, it makes the niggles seem much more significant. For me there were three key downsides. Firstly, the shoe last just didn’t suit my foot. But there was enough room in the upper that my forefoot didn’t feel crunched. Like Mike, for me forefoot space is non-negotiable and the Xodus Ultra passes that test. Secondly, the stretchiness of various elements in the midfoot, while making the shoe very comfortable, compromised the foot retention. Thirdly, something about the back end felt slightly off: a little less heel-to-toe drop and a softened/downsized heel counter might help here.
Ride: 9/10 – Really nice. Plush, bouncy, but still stable. I loved the forefoot feel: heel not quite so great.
Fit: 8/10 – Decent, but not a perfect match for my foot. I wanted a narrower heel, and less midfoot stretch. Toebox also pushed my big toe inwards.
Value: 8/10 – At $150, sneaks just under Hoka Speedgoat ($155), Altra Timp ($160)
Traction: 9.5/10 – No outsole is optimal under all conditions, but this is darned good.
Rock protection: 9.5/10 – Just about perfect for an ultra distance shoe.
Dom’s summary: Overall a really great product from Saucony. On their first foray in the ultra trail market, I would say they are right up there with the best of breed.
Renee: I share similar conclusions as the other reviewers. The Xodus Ultra is one of the best shoes in its category. As far as high stack/cushion ultra shoes go, the Xodus Ultra is not overly heavy. Underfoot, the midsole is comfortable with a good balance of bounce and responsiveness. While the fit and length seemed too voluminous and long for me at first try on, I had no issues while running and I think that the fit is perfect for ultra distances. Even on shorter runs, the extra volume/length was not an issue, although its true purpose and use is for true ultras.
Renee’s score: 9.5/10 (-.25 fit length/volume might be a tricky balance for narrow feet, -.10 focus and control needed to maintain control/speed downhill on uneven terrain, -.15 cost/use is limited to true ultra distances)
Jeff V: I’ll admit that even though I was aware of an upcoming new Xodus, I knew very little about it and this one caught me entirely off guard, but after the huge revamp and amazing weight drop and performance boost of the Peregrine 12, I should not have been surprised at all.
The Xodus Ultra is in my opinion a do it all sort of shoe, that is equally adept at any distance, any pace, almost any terrain/surface and has amazing versatility. I really enjoy the fun and energetic ride, the deep cushion that leaves my legs feeling fresh, the exceptionally comfortable and accommodating upper, everything just integrates so well into a very well rounded package. There is so much cushion and protection in an impressively light and streamlined package, not at all feeling like a big, bulky maximal shoe.
Jeff V’s Score: 9.8/10
Rock Protection: 10
Jacob: Saucony did a lot right with the Xodus Ultra—lower weight, a TPU-bead sockliner and PEBA in the midsole, a new more accommodating last, and usage of recycled materials for the upper—which led to it being an awesome shoe overall. It has a performant and enjoyable ride that is soft, bouncy, easygoing, protected, and excellent on road, a versatile and capable outsole, and a comfortable and secure fit.
For cons, I agree with Sam and Dom that the rigid heel counter interferes with my motion in a negative way, and on technical terrain the comfortable, relatively roomy upper feels a bit tippy and limits my ability to run. In summary though, the only weak point for me is faster running on technical terrain, which is a fine tradeoff for how excellent the performance is otherwise.
I recommend the Xodus Ultra for all runners. It is versatile and fun to run; any runner would get good use out of it. For me, its competence on the road will make it very useful for weekly door-to-trail runs of any distance and pace (workout or recovery). It is a contender for me for ultra distance racing as well depending on the course. It’s a great companion shoe to the lighter, nimbler Peregrine 12 and if you want to do everything on the trails, get both and get running.
Jacob’s score: 9.5/10
Ride: 10 (30%), Fit: 9 (30%), Value: 9.5 (10%), Style: 9 (5%), Traction: 9.5 (15%), Rock Protection: 10 (10%)
Sam: Nothing but superlatives for the Xodus Ultra. Light in weight with an energetic and stable deeply cushioned midsole, a comfortable upper and a smooth flexible ride on all surfaces. Saucony sets the bar very high here, challenging in many categories and not only in the ultra game but as an all arounder and door to trail shoe. Given its versatility it is a great value.
It is differentiated from the Peregrine, their more tech trails shorter distance offering to provide runners clear choices or why not both! It retains most of the ride comfort characteristics of the Xodus 10/11 at far, far less weight if in a bit less protective less dense underfoot package.
My only quibbles and they are minor is that I think the heel counter is overly rigid with the midfoot in contrast on the medial side needing a bit more support, so a small disconnect. And a lighter heel counter could save yet more weight!
Sam’s Score: 9.47 /10
Ride: 9.7 (30%), Fit: 9.2 (30%), Value: 9.8 (10%), Style: 9.3 (5%), Traction: 9.5 (15%), Rock Protection: 9.3 (10%)
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
Saucony Xodus 10/11 (RTR Review)
Mike P (10.0): The Xodus Ultra is a complete revamp from the previous complete revamp. I did some long training runs in the Xodus 10, but I never considered racing in them due to the weight creeping up on me at the end of those long training runs. The new Xodus is over 2 ounces lighter! I find the fit much better as well, the new toebox is excellent. I also want to stress that the Xodus Ultra in US 9.5 is more roomy in the toebox than my Xodus 10 in US 10.0. Saucony really adjusted for an “ultra” fit – no need to size up for extra space. Midfoot and heel security for me does not suffer at all with the new “ultra” fit.
Jeff V: Mike nails it. I’ll add that I tested both the 10 and 11 and everything holds true for both models.
Sam: I would only add that the Xodus 10/11 had denser and yet more protective cushion.
Saucony Peregrine 12 (RTR Review)
[Little brother, meet big brother]
Renee: I agree. The Xodus Ultra is the big brother (or sister!) to the Peregrine 12. Saucony’s team did great with this match up. The Peregrine 12 lost weight from the previous version without compromising its ride. Likewise, the Xodus Ultra is lighter than the previous version. For shorter efforts when ground feel is needed, the Peregrine 12 is the better shoe. For distances past 50k, the Xodus Ultra will work better for runners needing more cushion and protection underfoot. I wore a women’s size 8 in both. The Xodus Ultra has more length and volume, but I don’t think it’s worth half sizing down, particularly because the Xodus is meant for ultra distances.
Mike P (9.5): Renee sums it up perfectly. Saucony really hits the mark with this one-two punch. If the fit and feel of these shoes works for you, you can pretty much cover all of your trail running needs with a quiver of two. Last weekend I went for a trip with some mixed mountain running, muddy trails, and ski hill vertical climbs – these are the two shoes that I brought with me. I’d likely bring these two along for any trips where the trails and terrain is new and unknown.
Jeff V: Agreed with all that Mike and Renee stated, especially the two shoe quiver comment, as you would hardly need anything more (well, maybe add Gore for winter months. I will add that the Peregrine has a much more locked in upper, that in addition to its lower to the ground stability, makes the Peregrine an ace in the techy terrain.
Saucony Mad River TR 2 (RTR Review)
Mike P (10.0): The Mad River TR 2 has one of the roomiest toeboxes out there, but the upper is quite loose and insecure. That’s about the only aspect where these shoes are vaguely relatable. The ride of the TR 2 is flat and dull, it’s over an ounce heavier, and the traction is more than a cut below. Go Xodus Ultra for any and every run.
Jeff V: Agreed with Mike on all points. The TR2 is a solid shoe for a reasonable price, but it never really inspired me and after completing review, never touched it again.
Salomon Ultra Glide (RTR Review)
Sam: At essentially the same stack height and weight and both with energetic softer midsoles, the Saucony is simply more shoe. Its upper is somewhat more secure, its ride more stable, its rock protection superior and its cushioning a somewhat better blend of forgiving cushion and stability especially at the forefoot where the yet softer all Energy Surge midsole Salomon is a bit thinner and shakier.
Saucony Endorphin Trail (RTR Review)
Renee: I’ll be honest. I have not run in the Endorphin Trail since I reviewed it. The upper fit and security were not great for trails and its purpose/use became muted by other/better shoes in the market. The outsole was great for mud though. In the same size, the Endorphin Trail is almost one ounce heavier than the Xodus Ultra. For casual efforts in mud, I might choose the Endorphin Trail simply to save my Xodus. Overwhelmingly, the Xodus Ultra is the better shoe.
Jeff V: Like Renee, I found the Endorphin Trail to be a flop and the name really misleading, as it is an overweight, overly stiff hiking shoe (though a reasonably good hiking shoe if you want lots of protection and traction). I’ll forgive Saucony though and forget it ever happened, as the Xodus Ultra (and Peregrine 12) is that good.
Jacob: The Endorphin Trail is a strange shoe that is superseded by the Xodus Ultra, which is better in every way. I was not sure when to use the Endorphin Trail—the ride is lighty bouncy and fun on smooth terrain but it is a bit beefed up for that, sketchy in the wet, and has too poor foldhold for the mountains. The Xodus Ultra is still bouncy and propulsive but also smoother riding, lighter, has better traction, and better foothold.
Asics GEL-Trabuco 9/10 (RTR Review)
Mike P (10.0): A shoe that I really like, but unfortunately the Xodus Ultra makes it quite irrelevant now. It just does everything a bit better. The Xodus upper features more modern materials and has a more secure fit, with as much space in the toebox (which was a standout feature of the Asics). The Xodus cushioning is softer and also more lively, and traction is about the same, with the Xodus shedding mud better. The Asics might be preferable if you like firmer cushioning, otherwise Xodus is a better shoe in all departments.
Altra Timp 4 (RTR Review)
Mike P (10.0): I have the Timp 4 slotted in for easy effort days on light/moderate terrain when I really want a comfort feel around and underfoot. The upper is super plush, but not secure enough to consider for legit technical or mountain days. Traction is also lacking in comparison to the Xodus. I’d say the Xodus can also cover most of the ground that the Timp 4 covers (so versatile!). The Timp 4 is a full ounce heavier.
Altra Mont Blanc (RTR Review)
Sam: The Altra is a few tenths of an ounce lighter and has a similar energetic midsole and about the same stack height at the heel of 31mm with more at the forefoot. As a zero drop and stiffer it not as smooth flowing for me and not nearly as flexible as the Xodus. In a sharp contrast, the Mont Blanc’s rear construction is at best minimal while the Saucony’s may be a touch overdone.
Brooks Caldera 6 (RTR Review)
Mike P (9.5): The Caldera definitely wins in the bottomless cushion category – but that comes with the tradeoff of an extremely wide platform for stabilization. I much prefer the almost-as-big stack of the Xodus paired with a much narrower platform. Fit-wise, the Caldera is quite roomy, but I detect just a hair of extra space and comfort all around with the Xodus. My Caldera 6 is 1.1 oz heavier (noticing a pattern here?)
Jeff V: A bit of a toss up here, depending and there are trade offs. The Caldera 6 is impressively bottomless in the cushion category, with lively and light feeling foam. I find the upper to be very accommodating and a bit more secure, without as much give to it when compared to the Xodus Ultra,, but the give is not as necessary given the slightly wider design. The Caldera 6 is a much bigger shoe (bigger than almost any shoe except the Hoka 10/9), so takes some finesse and a bit of a learning curve, where the Xodus Ultra is more nimble, responsive and overall faster/race oriented.
Brooks Cascadia 16 (RTR Review)
Jeff V: The Cascadia is not as light, quick or responsive, but is more protective, has better traction, a more secure and rock resistant upper, while still maintaining a good blend of speedy response. Xodus however is better for going fast/long on more moderate terrain and roads.
Jacob: The Cascadia and Xodus Ultra are similarly max cushion, roomy, and comfortable. The Cascadia however is much stiffer, more muted, and less leg-saving or energetic. The Cascadia is a bit more tank-like and my foot is less prone to sliding around in it than in the Xodus Ultra. I prefer it for hiking and casual mountain running. For most trail running on mixed terrain at a various of paces, the Xodus Ultra is more fun, faster, and more comfortable.
Hoka Tecton X (RTR Review)
Jeff V: For my style of running, the Xodus Ultra is a much better shoe, where I appreciate the softer, bouncier, more energetic ride, the more accommodating and well vented upper, the superior outsole and even road road performance (while saving $50 to boot).
Sam: If you plan to run quite a bit of pavement, dirt roads, and moderate grade smoothe trails I think the Tecton X is a better choice as its plate and yet more energetic if firmer midsole with dual carbon plates give it a snappier ride with Xodus not far behind but far more flexible. At a full ounce / 28g less in weight with about equal stack height it is more pure fast race machine in focus and pricing. As the trails turn more tech, Xodus pulls away with better steep climbing ability but… for me the Tecton X interestingly more flexible rear hold and overall upper fit while snugger and less comfy still is more secure. The Xodus is clearly a better value and more versatile.
Hoka Speedgoat EVO (RTR Review)
Mike P (10.0): This is a really close comp as the stack heights are similar, and the EVO SG is just a bit lighter. I struggled with the fit of the EVO SG – the upper was too insecure and had my foot shifting around over the midsole in technical terrain. I also found the heel a bit too vertical and hard to lock down without over tensioning. The Xodus features a superior upper. I didn’t find the EVO SG foam as responsive as the new SG 5’s, although they are apparently the same. I felt it was a bit mushy at times, but at sub 10 oz, still fast for the stack. The Xodus feels less mushy relative to the EVO SG. The relative narrowness of the Xodus likely helps with this feeling. Choosing between the two, I’d pick the Xodus, as I’ve found that upper comfort and security matters A LOT in a very long ultra.
Jeff V: I could just copy what Mike said, word for word. I wanted to like the EVO and found the midsole to be light and quick, though a touch too mushy, combined with the stretchy upper that did not hold my foot well, they were a no go in technical terrain, which was too bad given the outsole is one of the best out there and the cushion eats up rough trails.
Hoka Speedgoat 5 (RTR Review)
Dom: Until I actually went for a run with a Speedgoat 5 (in ‘wide’) on one foot and the Xodus Ultra on the other, I didn’t realize how similar these shoes are. The two shoes are startlingly similar on the foot. With its squishy TPU footbed, the Xodus Ultra cushioning starts a little softer, but under pressure firms up to feel about the same. The level of rock protection is also comparable. SG5 sole has a little more rocker to it, but is a little firmer in the heel. Speedgoat upper is less stretchy and also shallower, so much more “locked down”: it provides more security in technical terrain, but less comfort. (Just to reiterate, I found the regular width SG5 too narrow, and returned my pair for the wide version. But even the “wide” SG5 is not very wide at all.) Xodus Ultra and SG5 wide version have comparable forefoot width. Heel retention of Speedgoat is clearly better. With my narrow heels, the Xodus felt a little loose. If you have narrow feet, and/or are super-focused on technical terrain and really value foot security (<cough>JeffV!) the regular width SG5 probably has the edge. If you have medium to wide feet, I’d steer you strongly towards the wide version of SG5. In that case, it’s really hard to call a winner here. Maybe I’d give the nod to Xodus as being a little smoother on gentle terrain.
Mike P (10.0 – regular): Big differences in the toebox. SG5 is shallow and narrow – much more so than the Xodus as well as the previous SG4. I struggle with finding the right (loose) tension and as you can see in the pic below – I’ve even been trying window lacing to alleviate the tightness. I don’t think I could take the SG5 (regular) beyond about 50K, whereas I ran a full 100M in the SG4. Hopefully the wide will provide some relief. In terms of ride, the Hoka foam feels firmer and a bit more responsive. Xodus is softer and feels more cushioned underfoot – especially up front. It feels to me like the SG5 big front rocker compromises the forefoot cushion a bit. This is a very close call – if you have a narrow foot, SG5 is an awesome shoe. Xodus is right there though, with just a slightly differently tuned ride, and better upper comfort. I’m picking Xodus right now, but it could be more of a toss-up once I try the SG5 wide version.
Jeff V: (10 – regular): Dom and Mike cover the main points. I appreciate the locked upper of the SG5, yet do not feel adversely affected by the narrowness and even find the upper to have enough give to not feel confining and allow for some swell/splay, but that said, for longer distances (assumed for longer distances) and less technical terrain, I would pick the Xodus Ultra. For long days on technical terrain, the Speedgoat 5 would be the better pick.
[SG5’s shallow, pointy “triangle” toebox vs. XU’s roomier, more rounded version]
Jacob: I ran the SG 3, 4, and Evo. All are similar enough that my comments generally apply to the SG 5 as well. I find the SG is a bit too narrow for me in the forefoot and borders on uncomfortable. I love it when going fast in the mountains. The SG feels more bombproof, less tippy, and more locked in than the Xodus Ultra. I have raced the SG in the White Mountains and would not consider using the Xodus Ultra for that. For smoother terrain, easy days, road sections, and flatter or longer races the exceptional comfort and ride characteristics of Xodus Ultra make it my pick.
Hoka Mafate Speed 3 (RTR Review)
Mike P (10.0): I just ran Canyons 100K in these, and they were great. They’re definitely suitable for 100M. I find the Mafate Speed 3 the best option when you need the most forefoot cushioning. I’ve got my pair measured at 38/34 vs. the Xodus at 36/30. The MS3 upper is a bit narrower, but just enough for me, as the toebox does not taper sharply as the SG5’s does. The Xodus upper has more space and is more comfortable. MS3 cushion is firmer and the shoe is much stiffer, making them quite fast. Xodus is much more flexible, likely not quite as fast, but more comfortable underfoot. I really like both shoes – they’re my Top 2 long ultra shoes at the moment.
Jeff V: I agree with most of what Mike said, but I feel like I could run faster in the Xodus, plus they are an ounce lighter, where the MS3 is a bit more stiff with a more rockered feel.
Scarpa Spin Infinity (RTR Review)
Mike P (10.5): I’ll just call this one the anti-Xodus fit. I found the upper way too narrow and way too tight across the forefoot- to the point of being unrunnable for me. The ride was nice, but also nearly 1.5 oz heavier. If the fit worked for me, I’d still take the Xodus.
Jeff V: I really enjoy the Infinity and I think a better choice for more mid distance on tech terrain and rocky underfoot due to better security, but is not as quick and energetic as the Xodus.
Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT (RTR Review)
Mike P (10 ⅓): A completely unique shoe, as advertised, suited for shorter, highly technical ultras such as sky running. Much firmer underfoot, carbon plated and fast, yet heavier (+1.3 oz). I take them out sometimes for some technical mountain runs, but it’s really a niche shoe. Xodus Ultra is way more versatile and suitable for most trail runs, especially longer.
Jeff V: Agreed with Mike, but I personally did not ever feel inspired to go fast in the Kima RT, but they are a solid above treeline sort of shoe. I did find the Kima RT to be a bit stiff laterally when rock hopping, but is a totally different shoe in my opinion.
Sam: While not plush I did not find the Kima overly firm. Yes it is considerably heavier and that is felt but it climbs like crazy and is more stable, predictable, and protective. t’s flexible carbon plate is a clear plus
For sure as the others have said, it is more big mountain focused and shorter distances but I would go and have gone considerably further in it than say a Peregrine 12 as it is in the end forgiving and fast.
Nike Terra Kiger (RTR Review)
Renee: I’m not sure I would wear the Kiger 8 for an ultra distance. The midsole is a good combo of soft and responsive, but my forefoot tires even on mid distance runs. Oddly, the Kiger 8 weighs slightly more than the Xodus in my women’s size 8. For faster efforts and better ground feel, I’d choose the Kiger 8. For everything else, especially ultra distances, I’d choose the Xodus Ultra. For sizing, the Kiger 8 runs long (so does the Xodus Ultra), although I’d prefer the Kiger 8 in a half size down.
Jeff V: While I really like the Kiger, it would be hard for me to recommend it over the Xodus for any reason, though the Kiger does have a more secure upper.
Mike P (10.0): This shoe didn’t work for me. I had V7, so keep in mind the upper was updated with V8. I found the V7 upper plush to the point of being insecure. They feel weird underfoot, with a rock guard, bulbous air pod under the forefoot, and straight rows of lugs which are clearly felt. Xodus Ultra is far superior across the board, and as Jeff V says – renders the Terra Kiger a bit irrelevant.
New Balance More Trail v2 (RTR Review)
Renee: Another high stack, high cushion trail shoe, the More Trail v2 weighs a noticeable 0.8 ounces more in my womens’ size 8. The fit of the More Trail is more narrow (less stretchy/long/voluminous). Both have enough comfort for ultras, but I found the high stack of the More Trail v2 unstable/painful on uneven terrain past 20 miles. The beaded rock plate in the Xodus Ultra helps the ride in that regard.
Topo MTN Racer 2 (RTR Review)
Renee: The MTN Racer 2 is a great shoe, better suited (for me) at shorter, faster distances. The heel and midfoot hold are outstanding and the shoe runs much lighter, faster, and more nimble in comparison to the Xodus Ultra. For long distances, I’d choose the Xodus Ultra. For sizing, I wear a women’s 7.5 in the MTN Racer 2 as compared to a size 8 in the Xodus Ultra. The Xodus runs long, but I’m not sure I would half size down.
Mike P (9.5): 3 main issues for me with the MTN Racer 2 – 1) forefoot cushioning feels a bit thin, 2) tongue is thin and non-padded, 3) heel feels blocky underfoot. All three of those issues are non-existent with the Xodus Ultra. The Xodus Ultra has more cushion, and also feels more bouncy and responsive in comparison to the more dampening feel of Topo’s Zipfoam. For me the MTN Racer 2 has been surpassed by other recent ultra shoes, including the Xodus Ultra.
Jeff V: MTN Racer is not as quick, bouncy or responsive, but has a more secure upper and superior traction. Xodus is much faster and energetic.
VJ Ultra (RTR Review)
Mike P (10.5): Take note of the sizing difference – and my Xodus Ultra in 9.5 still feels roomier than the VJ Ultra in 10.5. The VJ is well suited to shorter ultras while the Xodus is far superior for longer ultras. I found some issues with the VJ Ultra upper over time – the ankle collar is very high and stiff, and the toebox taper became an issue during a longer race. The VJ also feels soft and flexible underfoot, but the Xodus has way more cushion and is more protective. I actually prefer the Peregrine 12 over the VJ in some spaces where I previously liked the VJ Ultra. I would recommend going with the Peregrine/Xodus combo over the VJ at this point. IF VJ can rework the upper in a V2, it would likely slot somewhere between the Peregrine and the Xodus Ultra.
Jeff V: Mike nails it. VJ upper is more secure, but can feel confining after a few hours and I would not run an ultra distance in them mostly for that reason. VJ has superior traction too, but I found that the lugs peeled off after 40-50 miles of use on rough trails. Despite having Ultra in the name, the VJ is much better for shorter, faster technical trails, where Xodus is best for the long haul on less technical.
Jacob: The traction and foothold of the VJ Ultra is better than the Xodus which makes it my pick for shorter races and more challenging terrain—I don’t think the Xodus Ultra compares in capability in this space; I agree with Mike that the Peregrine 12 is more suitable. For general use, training, and longer races I would pick the Xodus Ultra as it is more comfortable, protected, propulsive and leg-saving, and smoother riding.
The Xodus Ultra releases mid to late June 2022
Tested 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’
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