Saucony Mirage 4 General Info:
First opened the box and there’s quite a new shoe smell going around! Luckily, it went away after a run and I could get into what Saucony calls the “natural feeling redesigned Mirage 4”. The Mirages are part of the Natural Series of shoes, which provide a minimalist running shoe experience.
I think it’s a bit of a stretch to put stability shoes in a minimalist category, but the shoes do have a 4mm drop and are pretty darn light. In the same Natural Series of shoes are the Kinvaras and the Virratas, both with less support and less weight than the Mirages.
Saucony Mirage 4 Sole Unit
There’s a lot of foam hitting the ground, not as much as Nike Frees, but enough to question how good the traction is. Saucony put in bits of rubber lugs around the sole to keep the ride sticking to the road.
The traction seems to be on par with other trainers, my only concern was that a lug might come loose and leave you with a hole. This wasn’t the case at all, the lugs stayed in very well.
The foam surrounding the lugs also wore down evenly, so you don’t need to worry about the feel changing much as you wear down the shoes. As for the rubber used, Sacony places carbon rubber and blown rubber pieces into the sole.
The carbon rubber gives the shoe a bit of extra durability where needed and the blown rubber keeps the ride a bit softer and more flexible in the forefoot.
What stands this shoe apart most from the other Natural Series shoes is the TPU mid foot stabilizer. It’s really just two pieces of plastic (thermoplastic polyurethane, ready to withstand abrasion and bending), but they seem to keep the shoe stabilized well.
This extra stabilization is noticeable, especially when comparing it to the Kinvaras.
The other main component of the sole is the PowerGrid technology! My voltmeter found no voltage differences across anywhere on the shoe and I found no political power in the shoe either so it must be one of those misplaced marketing terms.
PowerGrid is simply a foam that’s 15% lighter and 30% more durable than the standard EVA foam used in soles. I would suggest Saucony call it “Dura-n-lite foam” or something equally cheesy, but easy to understand.
As a comparison to other fun sounding foams, the PowerGrid foam in the Mirages feels a bit stiffer than the Fresh Foam 980s for reference.
Saucony Mirage 4 Upper:
Let’s start out with the FlexFilm Saucony put around the shoe. The whole upper feels very smooth on the inside thanks to this FlexFilm. It’s used as support for the outer without adding much weight, but does it work?
Yes. I actually put hundreds of miles into a pair of Kinvaras and the flexfilm sections outlasted the fiber sections. This seemed to be the case with the Mirages as well.
However, there’s a big aesthetic problem I found with the Mirage 4s. The outer features a mesh of two threads: one thicker web for support and one thin intertwined thread for looks.
This thin intertwined thread (say that three times fast) started to fray apart just after 15 miles of running. I do wear out the area around my big toe on shoes quickly, but never this fast.
See the pics above for what the shoe looked like after 50 miles. The thicker black web was completely unaffected, but the fraying grey threads just made the shoes look like they’re fading away.
I guess that’s why this shoe is called the Mirage. To be fair, there was no noticeable change in support or upper durability, I’m just a spoiled runner that wants my shoes to look perfect for as long as possible.
Saucony Mirage 4 Conclusions:
When I got the Mirage 4s, my first urge was to go out and put some super fast miles into them. I did just that and the shoes felt speedy. It’s great to find stability shoes that look like borderline racers and have the lightweight construction to keep the dream alive.
The only thing keeping me from really loving these shoes is the poor material choice in the upper that frays prematurely.
We thank the nice people at Saucony for sending us a pair of Mirage 4 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.