Shoe Review: Saucony Endorphin Shift 3
When the Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 was introduced two and a half years ago, it didn’t get a lot of hype. It was mostly because its Endorphin Pro and Endorphin Speed cousins were such amazing shoes and stole all of the headlines, thanks to their propulsive plates and hyper-responsive foam midsoles.
The new versions of those shoes continue to be great speed shoes, but the updates to the Endorphin Shift 3—which shares some design elements of its speedier cousins—have made it one of the best everyday trainers available this fall. It’s lighter and cushier than ever before, but it still provides a sturdy base for runners who appreciate a touch of stability in every stride.
Our Fleet Feet review team tested the latest version of the Endorphin Shift 3, taking it through training runs and speed workouts. Here’s what you can expect from the Saucony Endorphin Shift 3.
Saucony Endorphin Shift 3
Saucony Endorphin Shift 2
8.1 oz (W) / 9.4 oz (M)
9.2 (W), 10.4 oz (M)
Everyday Training, Long Runs
Everyday Training, Long Runs
Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 Gets Cushier and Lighter
The new Shift 3 is an interesting and exciting shoe for a lot of reasons, the most notable of which is that it doesn't fit into any single category. It has loads of cushioning, but it’s not a maximalist shoe. It offers a bit of stability for runners who need it, but it’s not a stability shoe in the traditional sense. The materials and construction are very durable, even though it’s not burly.
While it’s not a hyper-energetic shoe with a bouncy midsole foam like the other shoes in the Endorphin line, the geometry of the shoe incorporates Saucony’s SpeedRoll technology, a rocker shape which makes it feel fast and efficient. When it comes down to it, versatility is one of its best qualities given that it does so many things so well.
The Endorphin Shift 3 fits true to size with a medium interior volume from heel to toe. It has a slightly lower volume in the arch area, extra room in the toe box and a snug, locked-down feeling in the heel. The step-in feeling is soft and comfortable with a noticeably firm sensation the moment you start running in it. The light, airy upper and the thin, gusseted tongue provide a secure fit and make the shoe easy to get into and lace up.
“It slides onto my foot easily and comfortably. I love the thin tongue and the breathable upper,” Caroline says. “It hugs my midfoot while allowing my toes room to wiggle around. The heel collar comes up a little bit high, but it’s flexible so it doesn’t put any pressure on my achilles. I love how the upper provides enough structure to hold you in without feeling too stiff.”
“This upper is minimal and airy while also featuring some velvety softness for comfort,” says Nate. “I think Saucony has really nailed the perforated cushioned tongue too. It’s one of my favorite shoes this year.”
One of the first things you’ll notice about the Endorphin Shift 3 is that it's quite high off the ground. In fact, it’s higher off the ground than previous versions but it’s also lighter. The elevated stack height (39 millimeters in the heel, 35 millimeters in the forefoot) of the EVA/TPU midsole foam compound make it one of the thickest shoes available this fall, but it doesn’t feel like most other maximally cushioned training shoes—partially because your foot sits lower inside the cushioning of the shoe rather than on top of it, like a bucket seat. Also, instead of a soft, super-cushy feel under foot, the ride is stable and firm.
“The biggest thing I notice with this shoe is that the midsole is a little firmer and less springy than the Endorphin Speed 3,” Nate says. “I do like the firmer underfoot feel as it leads to a greater sense of stability and durability, which works well with such a high stack height. It also has good enough grip and traction that I don’t have to think about my footing.”
Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 vs Endorphin Shift 2
To understand the updates that have been made to the Endorphin Shift 3, it’s best to compare it to its predecessor.
The Endorphin Shift 3 has a 2-millimeter thicker midsole platform than the Endorphin Shift 2 and the foam is softer and more pliable. Plus there’s a new, more streamlined heel clip that hugs and supports the rear of your foot. Lastly, a new torsional heel groove in the back of the outsole helps create a more stable feeling upon impact and smoother transitions from heel to toe.
The SpeedRoll geometry, which is a feature borrowed from the speedy Endorphin Speed and Endorphin Pro shoes, gives a hint of natural propulsion.
“One word I would use to describe the sensation of the shoe – rolling,” Caroline says. “The shape and geometry just seem to push me along effortlessly. My heel-to-toe transitions feel smooth and efficient. The ample cushioning underfoot is definitely a bonus and I love the peppy, energetic ride.”
If you need a bit of support to offset mild to moderate overpronation (the excessive inward rolling of a runner’s feet after impact with the ground), but also like shoes with soft cushioning, you’ll probably enjoy this shoe. The Shift 3 can be a workhorse daily trainer for runners who log a lot of easy-paced miles, runners who want more cushioning and support and those who are known to pronate consistently or tend to endure form fatigue in final miles of a long run.
Compared to the previous versions of the Shift, this latest edition feels slightly softer, more flexible and more responsive. The most dramatic difference is that the Shift 3 is more than an ounce lighter than the Shift 2 and is considerably less bulky than it was before.
“This shoe has a nice balance of softness and stability on the run,” Kate says. “ The slight rocker shape and stiffness helps them to be propulsive, but if you like a more flexible shoe, it may not be the best fit. It has less bounce than some other shoes, but it’s a comfortable ride and ideal for folks looking for a more stable option to go cruising in.”
“The shoe feels solid and stable underfoot. The cushioning is substantial, but on the firm side,” Alex says. “It's comfortably sturdy and reasonably lightweight.”
The Endorphin Shift 3 is a modern, midweight stability trainer for runners who need a touch of support to help offset mild to moderate overpronation. It serves up a soft but firm ride with the resilient vibe of a neutral shoe, but disguised in the smooth sensation is plenty of subtle support. If you need stability for your stride—even if only in the later miles of a long run or race—the lighter, softer and cushier Shift 3 is a worthy steed for long runs, tempo runs and recovery runs.
“This shoe makes a great choice for long runs, thanks to a generous bed of cushioning and a smooth, easy feeling,” Caroline says. “I wouldn’t call it propulsive, but it does have a bit of a kick to it. It’s not as peppy as a carbon-plated shoe, but it’s more lively than your average daily trainer.”
The Endorphin Shift 3 could fit into your quiver of shoes by offering a different feel and ride than the soft and bouncy maximalist shoes and carbon-fiber racing models.
“If you’re looking for a stability trainer that’s on the softer side, the Endorphin Shift 3 could be a perfect option,” Kate says. “I’d recommend it for training runs, long runs and a bit of speed work, too.”