Shoe Review: Saucony Endorphin Edge
Road running shoes with carbon-fiber plates have been all the rage the past five years, and with good reason. The plates and the hyper-responsive foam in the midsole create a propulsive effect that helps you run faster and more efficiently.
But what about trail running shoes? Developing a carbon-plated shoe intended for off-road running has proved to be a more complex challenge for shoe brands. Stability and protection have to be included in any trail running shoe that promotes propulsion, speed and cushioning.
Saucony’s new Endorphin Edge is one of the first modern marvels to meet the challenges of running fast on varying natural surfaces. With a thick midsole of lively PWRRUN PB foam, a curvy carbon-fiber plate and Saucony’s SpeedRoll rocker geometry, the Endorphin Edge serves up a cushy, energetic ride while providing protection and traction for mild to moderate trails.
Our Fleet Feet review team tested the Saucony Endorphin Edge on various terrains. Here’s what you can expect.
TECH SPECS: Saucony Endorphin Edge
7.8 oz (W), 9.0 oz (M)
Trail running, Medium to Long-distance trail racing
Saucony Endorphin Edge Brings Energy to the Trails
The key to any running shoe enhanced with a carbon-fiber plate is always a multi-part equation that must include the shape and positioning of the plate as well as the midsole foam surrounding it. With the Endorphin Edge, the magic sauce is equal parts the PWRRUN PB foam and the unique, dual-function Carbitex AFX carbon-fiber plate.
The Saucony Endorphin Edge boasts a thick slab of PWRRUN PB foam in the midsole, the same foam seen in the rest of Saucony’s best selling Endorphin line, that’s light, shock-absorbing and bouncy, providing a high amount of energy return in every stride.
The Carbitex AFX plate has a uniquely designed wishbone shape that runs the full length of the shoe and bends only in one direction. The split design in the front end of the shoe and the dorsiflexing bendability helps provide a platform for optimal performance.
“This performance trail shoe is a serious contender for races of all distances,” says Nate. “The stack height and cushioning provide ample protection while the lightweight materials and carbon plate keep you rockin’ and rollin'.”
In many shoes, a rigid carbon plate limits dynamic movement and forces the entire forefoot and all of the toes into one forward motion. While that’s great for road running, it’s not ideal for trail running, because it inhibits stability and agility. But the AFX plate in the Endorphin Edge provides a sturdy propulsive sensation from the heel through the midfoot, allowing for natural movement.
The Endorphin Edge gives off a soft feeling underfoot at the touchdown of every stride, but feels slightly more firm and energetic as you start rolling through the midfoot to the toe-off phase. This shoe isn’t as stiff as most road shoes with carbon-fiber plates, but instead its chassis has a moderate flex pattern that bends slightly as your foot rolls forward.
While all of those features combine to make the Endorphin Edge feel really good on mild to moderate trails, the biggest drawback is its relative instability on more technical terrain. The soft, high-stack foam midsole combined with the roomy interior can create a wobbly sensation in any off-cambre foot placements on rocks.
Saucony Endorphin Edge Offers Smooth Mesh Upper
The Endorphin Edge has a medium-volume interior from heel to toe with extra room in the forefoot for your toes to wiggle and splay. A lightweight, breathable engineered mesh upper, gusseted tongue and moderate heel counter create an accommodating, locked-down fit for most foot shapes, a factor that contributes to the shoe’s agility and quickness.
A minimally reinforced toe box, durable rubber outsole, grippy 4-millimeter lugs and the midsole plate provide sufficient protection on most types of trails, but a lack of sidewall protection can leave a runner’s feet vulnerable to medial and lateral abrasions.
Several of our wear-testers reported the shoes running a tad long for their size, leaving them needing to cinch down the laces to achieve the optimal fit.
“I think I could potentially go down by a half size in this shoe and be more comfortable,” says Kate. “I had to really cinch down the laces to make the fit feel secure.”
“The tread was excellent, but I didn’t feel super secure on the more technical sections of the terrain,” Alex says. “The guard on the front of the shoe actually holds the entire toe-box open, creating an unusual amount of space. On the more technical terrain, all that space created unwanted looseness.”
If you’re looking for a shoe that provides the cushioning and pep of your road running shoes with a few trail-specific features, the Endorphin Edge is a great one to try out. It can upgrade your performance while providing just enough protection from roots, rocks and other obstacles on the trail.
While some reviewers noticed the Saucony Endorphin Edge ran long, they enjoyed their runs on mild to moderate terrain.
“This shoe is just awesome. I enjoyed the outer tread with its well-spaced lugs that worked great on dry, dusty trails. I felt stable on the trail rounding corners and running through off-camber terrain,” Nate says.
As with any trail running shoe, it’s best to find a model that fits the specific shape and dimension of your feet and understand what features will work best on the trails you run most often. Trail running conditions vary considerably in different regions and at different times of the year, so it’s always best to try on shoes at your local Fleet Feet before you buy them and incorporate the local knowledge of your primary trails before you buy a shoe.