Monday, February 14, 2011

Saucony Peregrine Review

A couple years back I picked up a pair of Saucony Xodus trail shoes when they first hit the market. I had run thousands of miles in Saucony road shoes over the years, and at that point was confident enough in their product that I figured it wasn't much of a risk to drop $75 on the brand new Xodus even though I couldn't find a good review of them online. After taking them for a spin or two down the trails, I liked them very much, and I figured I'd help out some other running folks who were considering an Xodus purchase by writing a review on this blog. Twenty minutes later, the quick post was done and I went on with my day without thinking much of it. Little did I know that I had just created the most popular post I had ever written (and probably ever will).

Even now, with the Xodus shoe in its 4th version and some of my review now invalid (due to composition changes in the shoe), that two year-old post of mine still gets about 500 hits a month from around the world, and has received a stupefying 12,000 hits in total since May of 2009. To compare, the post that ranks in 2nd place all-time on this blog only has about 2,500 total hits. Shoot, if you Google "Saucony Xodus Review", my post is the #1 result, which is just ridiculous. Of course, this popularity has nothing to do with me or my writing, it's 100% a result of the fact that until much more recently no one else bothered to write a real review of this great shoe!  With the same intention of spreading the word on a great new trail shoe, I present to you my second-ever full shoe review: This one for the 2011 Saucony Peregrine. Keep in mind I have no affiliation with Saucony on any level. I'm just trying to help out any other trail runners who may be curious about this shoe.
The Saucony Peregrine
Saucony has just released their new Peregrine shoe as an option for trail runners who want a lighter shoe, but don't necessarily drink the ultra-minimalist Kool-Aid. I picked up a pair last week and headed out on a 5 hour test-drive on the trails of the Bull Run 50 mile course this past Saturday. While the terrain of Bull Run isn't as rocky or technical as a course like the Massanutten 100 it is a great place to test out shoes with sections that mix rocks, roots, hills, flats, mud, and grassy fields. Saturday turned out to be a great day to test out the Peregrine as the frozen/icy morning trails gave way to sticky/slippery mud in the mid-day sun.

Before talking about how the shoes felt on the trails, let's look at the composition of the shoe:

First off the overall package comes in at less than 10oz. per shoe. They claim 9.1oz. on the Saucony website, but since an "official" weight like that is usually based on a shoe smaller than my size 12s, I think mine tip the scales closer to 10oz. each. Regardless of where your shoe falls in the 9-10oz. window, running in the Peregrines nicely reminds you you're not in a 13oz+ trail shoe with every stride. *This is probably a good time to mention that you should order this shoe 1/2 size larger than you normally do (even if you're always an 11.5 in Sauconys, you'll need a 12 in this shoe - I'm glad I heeded that advice before buying mine).

When you pick up the Peregrine, you quickly realize just about every one of its ounces is located in the outsole. The lugs are packed in tight and vary in shape/size/angle like shards of glass from a broken beer bottle. ...and you know how tough it is to pick up pieces of broken glass without one of the random edges cutting into your skin? Well, these aggressive lugs do the same thing to the terrain below your feet on every step. No matter if you're stepping on a root, a rock, or a slick stretch of mud, there will be a sharp and sticky lug (or ten) perfectly positioned to allow your foot to dig in solidly. Even more impressive than the smartly shaped and angled lugs is the tremendously grippy rubber they used. It's worth noting that, unlike the Xodus/Razor line of Saucony trail shoes from the past couple years, they didn't outsource the outsole of the Peregrine to Vibram. One way or another this probably means they're committing a bit more to their own investment in the trail running world, which can only means good things for future product development.
The proud "Saucony" stamp replaces the Vibram logo from the recent past. You can see how the lugs on the left edge of the shoe vary in size, angle, and depth to grab onto anything you come across on a trail.
Moving up from the outsole, you find a mid-sole with enough cushioning to keep your feet happy but limited enough to post a 4mm heel-to-toe drop. In current industry buzz-word lingo, Saucony references this stat and advertises the Peregrine as a "minimalist" shoe. For those of you who started running before Born to Run came out, you can just consider this a lighter version of a regular ol' trail shoe. It's not nearly as "minimalized" as a shoe like the New Balance MT101s, but I understand Saucony is trying to sell shoes, and current market research has proven the trendy masses are buying up anything labeled "minimalist" these days. Whatever. The shoe weighs about 10 oz...or about twice as much as the ones I wore during high school cross country in 1994. I didn't realize I was part of an "official minimalist movement" back then, I was just racing in a light-weight shoe because I could go faster in them. Wearing the Peregrine feels absolutely nothing like running in a "barely there" shoe like an X-C flat or the NB101. Here's a side shot so you can see there's actually some mid-sole EVA in there to cushion your stride from heel to toe:
Plenty of mid-sole padding between you and the ground - not a "cushy" ride, but one that protects much more than a shoe like the NB MT101 while still allowing for a responsive, "connected" feel to the trail.

Where the term "minimalist" can definitely be applied is when checking out the shoe's upper. The royal blue layer of closed mesh makes up the main body of the upper, with thin black overlays added in for mid-foot support. There's a solid heel-cup to keep your foot in place, but no other major rigid elements like notable a toe bumper or the Saucony "arch-lock" reinforcement.

Since my feet are apparently composed of random bone ridges and bumps that no other member of the human race has, I usually need to grab a knife and cut out some portion of a shoe's ankle-collar to fit me just right. With the Peregrine, that meant slicing out a 1/2 inch piece on the top of my right shoe. This is a notable point because cutting into the shoe there allowed me to take this photo and show how thin the upper of this shoe actually is. As you can see, this is the upper at its "thickest" point (with added overlay for lace attach-point and a tiny bit of padding in the ankle collar). The rest of the shoe is mostly just as thin as the blue layer alone...so yeah, it's super thin.
While the blue layer is beyond-thin, it also kept 100% of the debris out of my shoes, so it's a worthy weave indeed.
To explain the inspiration for lightly supportive black webbed pattern that covers the majority of the upper, one needs to look no further than the name of this shoe. The Peregrine falcon is known as the "fastest animal" on the planet with its ability to reach diving speeds of 240 mph...which would give this bird a 100 mile PR of about 20 minutes, and thus a slight advantage over me in a race. To honor this magnificent creature, check out the comparison of its feather pattern to that of the overlay on the shoe and appreciate how the Saucony folks married form and function in this design...I love it!

That highly flexible black-mesh "feather" overlay provides all of the support in the upper (which isn't a whole lot!)
As for how it actually ran on the trails, I came away from my 5 hour test-drive quite impressed. The lugs, as I mentioned, are simply the best I've ever experienced in terms of grip and grab on the rocks, roots, and mud. Couple that with the relatively low-to-the-ground ride of the shoe, and you feel tremendously confident bombing down the trails at speed. I'm not sure I would wear the Peregrine for a 100 miler with lots of rocks (due to the lack of a rock-plate in the forefoot), but the outsole is rigid enough to take on any 50 miler you can think of without worrying about destroying your feet. I'll definitely be wearing these babies for my trail marathon in March and the BR50 in April...They're a perfect balance of support and speed for moderate trails.  At the risk of rambling on too much, I'll wrap things up, but feel free to ask any questions about issues I didn't address here. I'm happy to help all 12,000 of you (or, more likely, just my grandma clicking on the site 12,000 times to make me feel special)!

***100 Mile Update*** 3/15/2011

Ok, now that I've put 100 trail miles in on my Peregrines, and I'd like to add a few comments: First, on technical and rocky trails, you'll notice that the lack of reinforcements in the upper (which were left out to reduce weight and keep the shoe "minimal") allow your foot to move around a little too much for my liking when pushing off rocks in a side-to-side fashion. Not much you can do about it (tying laces tighter helps a bit, but at the cost of being uncomfortable on the top of your foot), and every time I hit a rough patch of trail that has my foot sliding around, I can't help but think an built-in sock/sleeve on future versions would help a bit.  Also, the tread continues to impress on all surfaces (I basically walked 50 feet straight up and down a smooth and dusty 60-degree red-rock in Sedona last week and didn't slip one inch), but the lack of a rock-plate becomes readily apparent on longer rock trail runs. After 30 miles of rock-hopping that same day in AZ, my feet were pretty tenderized.

25 comments:

Lori DiBacco said...

Thanks for posting the review! I've been thinking about trying out a pair and this may just push me over the edge.
Lori

Paul said...

Timely review! Thanks for writing!

Just switched to the Kinvaras and love them. Wanted a trail version and this looks like it might fit the bill.

Dan Rose said...

Lori, you can find them for $77.95 at holabirdsports.com if you're ready to take the plunge!

Paul, this shoe is very similar to the Kinvara, so you should be very happy with it if you're looking for a similar fit & feel but with added traction and protection for the trails.

racingtales said...

Dan, I was one of those Xodus review readers...that's how I came across your blog! I'm still wearing - and loving - the Xodus. Great review on the Peregrine...may have to check those out since I'm still afraid to wear my NB 100s on the trail! I was on Bull Run trail over the weekend, too. Got in 16 miles and actually managed to get myself lost after coming off the Bluebell trail and missing the right turn back to the parking on 28! Yes, I have no sense of direction... Alison

Dan Rose said...

Hey Alison!

You'll love the Peregrine on the BR trail if you're looking to go fast. They're a perfect match!

...and don't worry about getting lost out there. I once turned the southern section of the course into my own personal labyrinth. Noting like turning the 3.5 mile Do Loop into 6 miles of confusion!

racingtales said...

Dan

Always looking to go fast! Thanks. And I will steer clear of the Do Loop on my own...only ever run that if there are lots of streamers hanging from the trees, keeping me on course! Alison

Σπύρος said...

Dan i have the Kinvara but the arch support is more than enough for me. How is the arch support in the Peregrine?

Dan Rose said...

Sorry to have neglected a comment about te arch support in my review. I know this is an important aspect to consider in all 'minimalist' shoes. The Peregrines don't have a ton of support in the arch, but they do have a removable insole, so you could easily customize it with your own insert if you feel the need. Since my feet were apparently constructed by Dr. Frankenstein, only my left arch feels a little tight when I first start running in the peregrines. It loosens up after a half-mile or so and feels fine after that. Given that my right foot feels fine all the time in them, I would say plenty of people won't notice the low arch support at all, and anyone sensitive enough in that area could swap in their own insoles to fix the issue if they don't loosen up quickly like I do.

Elliot said...

I have yet to wear a Saucony shoe, so I am unsure about sizing. I am interested in the Peregrine for an upcoming 50k trail race (mainly because it seems to offer slightly more protection than more minimalist shoes). I wear an 11.5 in most shoes (e.g., NB 904, 790, Mizuno Wave Elixir 5, Brooks Green Silence). I do, however, wear a 12 in the Brooks Cascadia 6, as they tend to run a bit small. Would you still recommend that I order a 12 in this shoe? Runningwarehouse.com doesn't have a sizing comparison for this shoe yet. Does it fit like the Kinvara, or smaller?

Sorry for the long question,

Elliot

Dan Rose said...

Elliot,
I wear the same size as you: 11.5 in most shoes, but a 12 in the Cascadia. I went with a 12 in the Peregrine and it's perfect. You're exactly right in going with the Peregrine for your 50k if you're looking for a little more protection than a NB 101 type shoe. Best of luck in your race!!

Elliot said...

Thanks for your help, Dan. I'm just not sure I'm ready to take the plunge quite yet. I have some NB 790's that I've worn on 15 mile runs, but for anything longer, I've recently been wearing the new Cascadia. I think I may just buy another pair of those for my race. I don't want to risk an injury this far into my training (it's my first ultra). I'll probably be willing to experiment a little more after my race. Perhaps by then, the Peregrines will be even cheaper! It's just really tempting because I want a lighter shoe to race in.

Elliot

Brad said...

Dan,

You mention the NB MT101s, which I currently run in, but don't compare the ride. I run on rocky trails, and appreciate the rock plate in the MT101s, but the shoes slide in the mud. Do the Peregrine's more aggressive outsoles provide enough additional protection to make the lack of a rock plate less important?

Also, why are going to run your races in the Peregrines rather than the MT101s?

Brad

Dan Rose said...

Good questions, Brad. I think it boils down to preference of each runner: I agree completely that the rock plate in the MT101s is essential for me (and probably most others) on rocky/rooted trails. That said, while the Peregrine doesn't have a rock plate, it does have a (roughly) 1/2 inch thick midsole that runs the length of the shoe. This midsole provides enough cushioning to keep your feet from feeling most pokes and prods from most rocks and roots.

The advantage of having the rock plate and not a bunch of EVA makes the MT101s much lighter than the Peregrines...so the decision comes down to: does the lighter weight (and thus faster speed) of the MT101 make it a better option over the heavier (but more comfortable and better-tractioned ride) of the Peregrine?

For me, if the course is 50k or shorter and on reasonable trail (i.e. less insane than Massanutten), I'm going with the MT101s. For a 50m or 100k, the Peregrine's added cushion and killer tread (you're not slipping anywhere in these things!) make up for the difference in weight compared to the MT101s.

Not to add another bit of confusion to the mix here, but have you run in the Solomon SpeedCross 2s yet? Definitely not for everyone (fit tight through the mid-foot area), but holy cow can you fly in them! Just wore them for 71 miles of the Massanutten trail and fell in love. No rock plate, which leaves your forefoot a little exposed on the jagged stuff, but enough cushioning for me to wear them for the MMT100 in may. Not a minimalist shoe, no, but an excellent light-weight option for longer/more rugged trail races.

Patrick said...

I just picked mine up and can't wait to get out and try them.
I know what you mean about Saucony posts. I posted a blurb about two new road shoes and that post gets many more hots than my others.

racingtales said...

Dan, I'm still wearing the Xodus I bought as a result of reading your review. I was running for a while with the manager of The Running Store in Gainesville and he asked me if I like them. I told him I LOVE them. He told me they're the most-returned shoe his store has ever had. People apparently found them too rigid. Huh? Anyway, he told me they're selling them for practically nothing so I may have to buy up a few pairs. He said everyone is loving the Cascadia. First time I tried those they felt clunky, but that was a few iterations ago. Have you tried them and if so what are your thoughts? Thanks! Alison

Dan Rose said...

Hey, Alison!
I'm guessing anyone who returned the Xodus for being too rigid was probably looking for a cushy road-shoe feel for running on buffed out trails (sort of like what the Cascadia offers). I find the Xodus to be prefect for running rocky/rooty trails (hence the multiple 100+ milers I've run in them). As for the Cascadia, I've been hearing some good things about the latest version (which appears to be set lower to the ground for a more "connected" feel), but I haven't run in them yet. I've enjoyed the previous 3 versions, so I would think this latest one just improves a bit here and there on the last solid shoe. My only advice that is probably still valid for the current version is to probably buy them 1/2 larger than your normal shoe as all previous versions of it have run small.

racingtales said...

Thanks, Dan. Maybe it's time to take a few pairs for a test drive!

mark said...

Hi ,Dan
I do not know if you have experienced the trail?fell conditions in the UK suffice is to say that it can get very wet and sloppy ?
I race a lot of trail/fell type runs around the 6 - 12 mile distance.
We are hitting the summer over in the UK and the ground will soon become quite hard ,do you think the cushioning will be adequate for someone who struggles with back (disc) trouble ?
look forward to hearing from you
Regards
Mark

Dan Rose said...

Mark,

I find the cushioning to be sufficient up to 50M or so, but if you have back problems, maybe a shoe like the Salomon SpeedCross 2 would be a better choice. They're still light and responsive like the Peregrine, but have a bit more cushion in the heel to attenuate the shock of running on the hard stuff. They do run a bit snug in the forefoot, but I ran a recent 110k race in rocky terrain and appreciated the added cushion in the heel (they're as thin as the Peregrine in the forefoot and also lack a rock plate, so if you're a hard forefoot-lander, maybe neither of these are good options for rocky terrain). The Speed Cross 2 is a bit more expensive than the Peregrine, but I would recommend it to you as an excellent alternative with a bit more cushion for your back. Best of luck to you in your racing season...the warm weather is finally here!

Anonymous said...

This really helped a lot in confirming my decision for using these as my shoe of choice for an upcoming Tough Mudder! Great review!!

Anonymous said...

How well do they drain/fry when soaked/submerged in creek crossings, etc.?

Thanks man

Dan Rose said...

I'd say they drain better than most trail shoes, but not as well as shoes with more open-mesh uppers. The trade-off being the tighter weave of the Peregrine keeps just about all of the trail dirt/dust out. If you're running in the hot sun, you'll notice the uppers dry very quickly after submersion. The quality of your sock will be the major determiner of how quickly the wetness is completely wicked from your feet.

Ryan said...

Nice review, I love these shoes. I bought mine last August a few days before the LT100 and liked them enough to bump my regular shoe, the xodius, from the opening leg, in fact I put a 100 miles in out of the box. Nuts, I know but they just feel right.

Kevin said...

Great post, I use the Xodus and love them but would like something lighter. Are they still the same cushioning as the Xodus?

Dan Rose said...

Much much less cushion and protection compared to the Xodus. You'll want to look in the direction of Hoka's trail-ready line up right now for a lighter version of what the Xodus provides (plus more cushion as well). The peregrine has very minimal cushioning compared to Xodus.