The Saucony Xodus ISO 3 costs between $120 and $150 online. It’s touted as a shoe for muddy trail.
I’ve tried Salomon Speedcross shoes for a variety of distances before and found the grip of these Sauconys to be similar to those, if not a little toothier.
Online reviewers say it’s clunky, but that it’s not a deal breaker. It’s advertised as a durable, but springy shoe.
When I first opened the box, I noticed the soles. The shoes have got more “tooth” than I’m used to, since I normally go for Hoka Challenger ATRs. But I was hopeful that it would be better in mud and on slick hills than Challengers can be. The other thing I noticed right away was the sleeve design on the interior of the shoe.
I’ve never tried trail shoes that didn’t have a moveable tongue, so I was interested to see how I’d like them. Putting on the shoes, I felt they were true to size, and actually had more toe room than I anticipated. Finally, when I picked up the shoes, I felt that they were a little heavier than some other trail shoes I’ve tried. I wasn’t sure how I would like the weight.
During my first two runs, I ran on a dry, single track trail. I didn’t use my normal arch support insoles. The trail wasn’t too technical, but there were some rocks and roots and some smaller hills. At first, I could feel that the shoes were a tiny bit heavier than I was used to, but I quickly forgot about that once I got used to the feel. I thought the heavier grip and thinner sole would be a problem, but I found I didn’t mind it. In fact, I noticed how cushioned the shoes are, despite the thinner sole. The foam sole design was pretty comfortable.
The other big thing I noticed on these runs was the width of the toe box in comparison to my normal Hokas. I found the toe box to be a good width, and it allowed my toes to shift without rubbing against each other or against the outside of the shoe. The heel cup was a little wide for my heel, but I didn’t get any real rubbing, even though my foot had some movement.
The next few runs were on a little more technical trail.
While I hadn’t worn my arch support insoles the first couple of times because I wanted to get a feel for the shoe as it was, I did start wearing my insoles for subsequent runs because that’s what my foot is used to. I was surprised that the insole didn’t really change how the shoe felt on my foot. The shoe wore well up and down hills, and I never felt like I would slip.
A big thing for me is to have shoes I feel I can trust on a steeper, more technical downhill, and the Sauconys seem to be trustworthy, even in a little bit slicker conditions. The shoes also handled well on minor rocks and roots. The one thing I will say, though, is that, in my opinion, they don’t handle the best on large, slick rocks or in icy conditions. But, really, that’s not what they’re made for, anyway.
My last couple of runs were on fairly muddy, single-track trail. There were some road sections connecting the trail, and some rocky, gravelly sections, as well. The toothy sole held up well in the mud, which got to about 3-4 inches in depth. I never felt like I really was losing my balance or that I would fall.
I didn’t push my speed too much in those areas, but I did try running through the thick mud numerous times. My shoes never felt like they were coming off, and I was pleased with the way the mesh upper breathed even when wet. I was sure the shoes would feel hard on the road and gravel sections of the trail, but I was pleased when I noticed they actually felt well-cushioned. I don’t think I’d wear them for long road sections or long gravel trails, but they felt adequate on road crossings.
I also noticed that I liked the feeling of connecting with the ground a little more. When you’re used to a thicker soled shoe, you don’t get to feel the ground as much. In some ways, that can be a good thing on longer runs, especially if the bottoms of your feet tend to bruise in thinner shoes like mine do.
The soles of my feet never felt bruised on the bottoms. I am also prone to rolling my ankles on rocks and roots, and that actually didn’t happen in these shoes during any of my test runs. I could feel the changes in angle, and maybe it was the lower drop and wider toe box, but I felt my feet planted well on uneven terrain.
This shoe would be perfect for someone who wants to run a fairly technical trail race, perhaps even up to 50K distance. I don’t think they handle well on large, wet rocks/boulders, but they’re great on normal, single track trail with some technical portions and good climbs/drops.
I felt confident in the grip, and I was pleased with the shoe overall.
The shoe is advertised as having a toe guard, and I noticed that even when I stubbed my shoes on roots, my toes felt protected. I HATE stubbing my toes, so this was a nice aspect of the shoe design. The decent width of the toe box kept my toes from rubbing together because they had space to move. So no toe blisters! I felt like my feet were well-protected.
The only negative I could see is that if I lifted my toes, I could see them pushing up through the mesh. The depth of the toe box isn’t huge, but, really, how often do you have to worry about poking your toes up? I never saw a tear or worn spot on the uppers, so that was something that didn’t really bother me, overall.
The protective layers of the shoe held up well.
I found the Saucony Xodus ISO 3 to be durable. After my 50+ miles of testing, I didn’t notice a lot of wear on the sole. I don’t know how it would handle on tough mountain terrain, but I didn’t find any significant wear from the trail runs I did. I haven’t noticed any tears or holes in the mesh, either, despite branches and thorns on the trails I’ve run.
I would probably wear these shoes up to a 50K distance. With the way the soles of my feet respond to thinner shoes, I would want to play it safe. But someone else may like the fact that they’re thinner.
The durability doesn’t seem to be an issue at all, so they seem like they’d be good for some double-digit, technical runs. I think a seasoned distance trail runner would like them, as well as someone who is just starting out in training for an ultra distance.
Responsiveness & Speed
In the runnable, less-technical portions of the trails I ran, I found the shoes to be great! I didn’t slip, and I felt like my feet planted well. Some other reviewers mentioned feeling like the shoes weren’t very flexible, but I didn’t find that myself. I felt comfortable pushing off or picking up speed.
I feel like a runner could wear these shoes on a faster course, as long as there aren’t any icy conditions or on super slick boulders. Some reviews said that they are good on slick rocks, but I would be more prone to playing it safe and choosing a less toothy shoe if I think there will be slick rocks or ice. The shoes are perfect for regular dirt trail, though, even if there’s a lot of mud on the course.
Comfort and Fit
The shoes were definitely true to size. In some trail shoes, I find I have to size up, but these fit well. I didn’t notice the weight of the shoe once I got going, even though that was something that some other reviewers said would possibly be an issue.
The shoes were light enough where they didn’t feel too clunky, but substantial enough that I felt my feet were protected.
As I said previously, the heel cup is a little wide for my narrow heel, but I never found it to be a problem. I didn’t feel any hot spots or blisters forming.
I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable these shoes were, even though they weren’t like what I’m used to.
Overall, I give these shoes a big thumbs up. I was sort of prepared to not like them because they’re not what I’m used to or normally comfortable in, but I’m glad I gave them a chance. Despite what some reviews said about the shoe being slightly heavier than some of the average trail shoes, I didn’t find the weight to be an issue once I got going.
The grip is really good in mud and on looser dirt downhills (even on leaf-covered trails), where I’m normally more tentative. I like a shoe I can trust to keep me planted, and these shoes did it for me.
With the only drawback for me being the looser heel cup (I have narrow heels), I never got hot spots or blisters. I liked the sleeve design of the upper because shoe tongues tend to shift on my bony upper foot and cause bruising. These didn’t do that because of the sleeve. While I wouldn’t wear these shoes in icy conditions or on slick, wet boulders or rocks, I found they held me up well in mud and gravel, and on normal, fairly technical dirt trail.
Personally, I would probably wear them up to a 50K distance. They seem like they’d be good for a seasoned trail runner, as well as someone who is just starting out on trails.
We purchased a pair of Saucony Xodus ISO 3 from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.