Editor rating:
8/10 on
MICHAEL MASON-D'CROZ
User's rating:

PROS

  • Tons of cushion
  • Speed-driven toe design
  • Breathable upper
  • Price point
  • Durability

CONS

  • Traction on wet surfaces
  • Upper rubs Achilles

OUR VERDICT

The Saucony Axon is inspired by the Endorphin line, and hits a lot of those marks while staying at, or below $100. Saucony may have made one of the best budget trainer options out there.
SHOE INFO
Brand
Axon
Model
10 oz. (283 gr.)
Weight
100 US$
MSRP
4 mm
Heel Drop
WHO IS IT FOR
This shoe is designed for any neutral runner who wants a lot of cushion on a budget.

It can go fast, or go long, or both, and would work well for larger runners.

Saucony Axon Intro

The Saucony Axon is the company’s new addition to their budget lines, landing at $100, which looks and feels much like the Endorphin line.

Using the template of the Endorphin Shift, Saucony offers a lot of shoe for a great price and one that could easily compete against the $130+ options out there.

At this price point, the Axon will compete against the likes of the Brooks Launch 8, Brooks Revel 5, New Balance FuelCell Propel v3, and the adidas SL20.2 ($110).

However, the Axon has far more cushion than do any of those other options.

The closest one to the cushion amount is the Revel, but even there, you aren’t getting nearly as much cushion, or aggressive responsiveness as the Axon will give you.

I have yet to run in a budget option that was as versatile as the Axon was, and although there are drawbacks, if you have the right conditions, I don’t think another shoe in the $100-or-below range can compete.

Saucony Axon First Impressions

I was excited to receive the Axon. This was a shoe that I requested to review the moment I read about it coming out (in Fall 2020) and had to wait until late spring 2021 for them to arrive.

When they did, I was impressed by the look of them in the box. They looked like a pair of Endorphin Shifts with a more simple upper. I got the light blue colorway, and loved the initial impression.

When I put them on, I loved the cushion but was surprised about the balance from the heel to the toe.

Even when standing, it felt like the shoe wanted to roll forward. While wearing them at school, they were great for a full day once I got used to the balance.

On the initial run in them, I went for a 7-mile run with 3 miles at 5k tempo. It was not the “scheduled” run, but I wanted to see what would happen with some tempo and distance.

They were great. No complaints, and felt like they were already broken in and ready to go.

Saucony Axon Sole Unit

Saucony was inspired by their own top-level line, the Endorphin series. Using the Shift, everyday trainer, base and then designing a budget trainer from there.

In this case, they used a high level of PWRRUN foam, not PWRRUN+ (Triumph) or PWRRUN PB (Speed, Pro), which offers a lot of cushioning under foot. They put 35mm under the heel and 31mm under the toes, for a 4mm drop.

Under this foam, they used a durable rubber outsole that has logged more than 100 miles in my usage and still looks fairly new. This rubber offers outstanding grip on dry, solid surfaces.

However, there is something about the compound that lets you down on wet concrete/asphalt. I have run now 5 times on wet surfaces, and have felt the shoe slip each time.

Due to this, the Axon will continue as only a dry runner for me.

Saucony used an exaggerated toe scoop, which they call “speed-driven geometry”, to help transition your stride and push you forward.

This is inspired from their Speedroll technology on the Endrophin line, and it does the job here as well. This roll allows for very smooth fast running, and pushes you forward.

Saucony Axon Upper Unit

Saucony put a lot into the sole unit, and in the upper they went “no-frills”. The upper is a very simple, but breathable, mesh. This mesh is light, and moves well with your foot as you move in the run.

The majority of the supports in the upper are in the lacing eyelets, where they used a soft-rubber reinforcement. This helps lock down the foot, but don’t expect a lot of midfoot support with this upper.

The heel cup on the shoe is structured and uses a hard material which locks your foot in. However, in using this harder material, Saucony also introduced the other main drawback of Axon, the heel collar.

The Achilles portion of the collar is stiff and extends pas the heel cup, which results in irritation of the Achilles Tendon.

This drawback only happened on runs where I went over an hour, but it is something to consider if you have had Achilles problems, as I have had in the past.

Saucony Axon Conclusion

When it comes to shoes that are $100 or less, I have had some very mixed results. I love the Brooks Launch 2, but then fell out of love with that line in subsequent models (haven’t run in one since 5).

I find that the $100-and-under offerings always skimp on something that makes the shoe not versatile enough for a runner like me.

In the past, these shoes usually lack the cushion for me to comfortably run longer distances, 10+ miles, or lacked the responsiveness for going fast, department store offerings.

With that in mind, the Saucony Axon hits the mark in both aspects. With all that cushion underfoot, and quality PWRRUN cushion, I was able to comfortably for 10, 12, and 14 miles.

I also was able to dial up speeds for tempo and fartleks due to the roll design.

These technologies made me fall in love with the budget running shoe. But that doesn’t mean that this shoe is perfect.

As noted above, the heel collar can irritate the Achilles Tendon. I never found that it got to the point of being inflamed past the next couple of hours, but that is something to keep an eye on.

The biggest drawback, however, is the grip on wet surfaces. The way these shoes slipped on wet surfaces, it meant that I will not use them when the conditions are not dry.

In the end, the Axon is a great investment and a great budget shoe. I’ll happily recommend it to many of my friends who run, especially if they don’t live in wet locations.

If you usually run on dry surfaces, you should absolutely look into getting a pair of these as an option for your running closet.

We purchased a pair of Saucony Axon from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.

Saucony Axon Price Comparison

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