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Shoe Review: Saucony Switchback ISO

The men's Saucony Switchback ISO trail running shoe

[Updated July 26, 2019: This review was updated to include our thoughts on the shoe after a few hundred miles of wear.]


Saucony says the idea for the Switchback ISO was born from its wear test program as runners took the Saucony Freedom ISO off road. Those runners loved how the Freedom’s full-length EVERUN midsole felt on trails, and they wanted a trail-specific shoe that had the same feel.

So, Saucony built the Switchback ISO.

The Switchback combines the energetic ride of a full-length EVERUN midsole with ample traction provided by a swarm of rubber lugs on the outsole. A roomy fit and low profile reinforced the Switchback’s position as one of our favorite trail shoes of the year.

  • Heel-to-Toe drop: 4 mm
  • Weight: 8.8 oz, women’s; 9.8 oz, men’s
  • Category: Trail, neutral, everyday trainer
  • Price: $140
The Saucony Switchback ISO trail running shoe with Boa lacing system

Saucony Switchback ISO Fit and Lacing

There’s a lot to love about the new Saucony Switchback ISO, but the first thing you’ll notice is the innovative lacing system.

Saucony partnered with a company called Boa to employ a quick-cinching, dial-based lacing system to secure the shoes on your feet.

Boa’s Fit System tech is already integrated into shoes across a wide range of sports and industries: Snowboard boots, cycling shoes and workwear all recruit versions of the turn-to-tighten laces. So the Switchback adopted Boa’s tried-and-true technology.

Fleet Feet testers found the system works flawlessly. Push the dial in like a button to engage the system, turn it to tighten the laces, and then pop the dial out to instantly release the tension. It seems to get the fit right every time.

“I love the Boa lacing system,” says one tester. “I’m not sure how it works, but it seems to stop cranking when it’s in the right place. I haven’t had any issues with running and realizing that I had the laces cranked too tight.”

She also says the laces were good for running in the cold. When gloves would have made tying and adjusting traditional shoe laces difficult, the Boa system cranked easily without the need to expose her digits to the air.

Another tester found the lacing system provided a snug fit quickly and says it was easy to adjust the fit on the move. Plus, popping the dial out released enough tension in one click that he says he could slide his feet out without wiggling and loosening the rest of the shoe.

The overall fit of the shoe was roomy. A tester with wide feet says he had enough room in the toe box to feel comfortable but not so much that they felt sloppy.

The highest praise, though, came from a tester who spends a lot of time on trails. She says it only took her a couple miles to fall in love with the Boa system and the overall fit.

"After two miles I knew I loved them," she says. "After three, I decided I could run an ultra in them. They hugged my midfoot exactly the way I wanted (thanks, Boa!), and allowed for ample toe wiggle room (the perfect amount really)."

A woman runs in the Saucony Switchback ISO trail running shoe

Saucony Switchback ISO Ride and Performance

Traction from the array of lugs beneath the Switchback ISO provided a surprising amount of grip in some nasty conditions.

One tester took the shoes on a trip to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado where she encountered dirt roads and fresh snow, and then she brought them home to a nine-miler on soft dirt trails studded with rocks and roots. The Switchback performed admirably in all conditions.

“These shoes don’t have particularly chunky tread, but they handled well on dirt road and regular dirt trail,” she says. “The traction felt good, and I didn’t have any problems even in deep snow. I think these would be perfect for doing a trail speed workout or race in.”

Saucony advertises its EVERUN midsole as flexible, durable and energetic through your entire run. Made by fusing together thousands of TPU beads, Saucony says EVERUN gives runners an 83 percent energy return on each step and is three times more durable than traditional EVA foam, meaning it will stay peppy through the life of the shoe.

In real use, our testers say the cushion feels soft and bouncy while being lightweight and protective on rugged trails.

"I have enough ground feel that I can easily move around rocks with quick feet and navigate technical terrain without feeling disconnected," one tester says. "They’re also light and flexible, which helps me feel fast and agile."

Saucony Switchback Long-Term Review

The Switchback is one of our favorite trail running shoes because it hasn't let us down yet.

After hundreds of miles of hard trail running, three trail races and countless soakings during rainstorms or stream crossings, the Switchback never wavered. The BOA lacing system endured the worst we could throw at it, and it still cinches down to the ideal fit

One Fleet Feet runner says she takes these when she travels because they're lightweight, versatile and ready for just about anything.

"I ran a trail half marathon, a trail 10K and another a 5K race on a cross country-style course in the Switchbacks this year," she says. "Mine probably have about 200 miles on them at this point and they still seem to be full of life."

In wet conditions, the shoe continues to drain well, and none of our runners have had problems with blisters or chafing.

With a stellar fit and top-notch durability, we feel confident in recommending the Switchback again and again.

"These shoes have withstood some hard miles in varying conditions in different parts of the country," one tester concluded. "They are absolutely a favorite pair of shoes for me."

Conclusion

A Saucony trail running shoe with a full-length EVERUN midsole? We’re sold.

"The shoe feels fast and nimble," says our ultra tester. "To me, the perfect shoe is just there, and it works. Basically, I don’t really want to notice my shoe; I want it to be an extension of my body. The Saucony Switchback achieves that better than any shoe I’ve worn on the trails in a long time. I give them a 10 out of 10."

The Switchback ISO checks all our boxes for trail running shoes: protective cushioning, superior traction and spacious fit. Throw in a Boa lacing system that makes getting in and sliding out a breeze, and you’ve got a shoe that’s confident on any adventure.


Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.

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