Our verdict

The Saucony Endorphin Rift is a one-of-a-kind trail running shoe. In our lab tests, we were amazed by its combination of an energetic midsole and a breathable upper, making summer long runs feel like a breeze, all in an incredibly lightweight 9-oz package. In our experience, although it may be a bit pricey, this shoe is versatile enough to handle both short and ultra distances, wide gravel roads, and narrow singletrack trails, whether in mud or dry conditions. And its Speedroll-assisted ride makes it an outstanding choice for anyone seeking a dynamic, rockered running experience.

Pros

  • Fantastic PWRRUN PB midsole technology
  • Ideal for summer runs due to its breathable upper
  • Capable of handling muddy terrain with ease
  • Upper and outsole showcase incredible durability
  • Sufficiently cushioned for ultra-marathons
  • Exceptional cushion-to-weight ratio
  • Sock-like upper provides a fantastic fit
  • Excellent heel lockdown
  • Handles faster paces effortlessly

Cons

  • Tongue design needs enhancement for ultras
  • Lugs could be slightly shorter
  • Price point is probably too high for some budgets

Audience verdict

83
Good!

Who should buy

We highly recommend the Saucony Endorphin Rift for:

  • Runners accustomed to road shoes with Pebax-based premium midsoles, seeking a similar energy return on trails.
  • Those with a flexible budget who desire a top-tier, all-around trail runner offering superb stability and a lightweight design.
  • Lovers of Saucony's Speedroll technology who wish to enjoy that same fluid, rockered running experience on trail paths and gravel roads.

Saucony Endorphin Rift

Who should NOT buy

The Endorphin Rift is great for long runs with its massive energy return, but if you're looking for the ultimate racing shoe for ultras, we'd lean towards the Nike Ultrafly. It also features a Pebax-based midsole, but combines it with a carbon plate and shorter, Vibram lugs for a faster, less muted ride.

We also think this is not the best option for winter trail running due to its highly breathable upper. If you're into running in snowy and cold conditions, there are better-suited shoes out there, like the Merrell Agility Peak 5 or the Salomon Speedcross 6.

Saucony Endorphin Rift

Breathability

Trail shoes often struggle to match the breathability of their road-running counterparts, but the Rift is a delightful exception. We tested it with our smoke-pumping machine and awarded it a top-notch breathability score of 5 out of 5. Wow!

Initially, we weren't too hopeful, but in the end, we were pleasantly surprised with this upper. Saucony's choice to use a thin, light-test-approved mesh, riddled with mini-ventilation holes, really paid off.

Under the microscope, the engineered mesh revealed an array of mini-ventilation holes. 

Saucony Endorphin Rift micro

This strategy is not commonly seen, as it's simpler and more affordable to produce a standard mesh with larger holes. Saucony, however, took the more challenging route, and it paid off. This also explains why the shoe is priced in the higher end of the spectrum.

Saucony Endorphin Rift micro 2

In our hands-on examination, the upper struck us as high-quality, though not excessively padded, and that could be a concern for some ultrarunners.

This aligns with our initial thoughts, as the shoe's light weight seems to be a key feature. We'll dive more into that in a minute!

Test results
Endorphin Rift 5
Average 3.3
Compared to 78 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

One of the standout benefits of an upper like this is its impressive durability. Unlike shoes with larger holes, where damage tends to escalate quickly, the Rift resisted admirably.

We rigorously tested it with our Dremel, and remarkably, it exhibited minimal wear.

Interestingly, while the Dremel tore through the TPU-based protective layer, the damage significantly slowed once it reached the upper. This impressive resilience earned the Rift our seal of approval and a well-deserved 4 out of 5 rating.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Toebox durability
Test results
Endorphin Rift 4
Average 3
Compared to 58 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

The heel area is generously padded, ensuring a snug and secure fit, thanks to the top-notch fabric Saucony uses to cradle the foot. However, this kind of padding often leads to quicker wear and tear. 

But the Rift once again shattered our expectations. It delivered another impressive performance against the Dremel, securing yet another well-earned 4 out of 5 rating!

Saucony Endorphin Rift Heel padding durability
Test results
Endorphin Rift 4
Average 2.8
Compared to 56 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

We were super excited about this Saucony, especially to test its outsole since it's a crucial part of any trail running shoe.

First up, we checked the hardness of the PWRTRAC rubber compound. On our Shore C durometer, it scored a 82.4 HC, landing it right around the average mark.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Outsole hardness
Test results
Endorphin Rift 82.4 HC
Average 85.3 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
72.5 HC
Outsole hardness
95.0 HC

Outsole durability

With those hardness test results, we expected average durability. But the PWRTRAC outsole stunned us with its eye-popping performance. After the Dremel treatment—the same on every shoe we test—it showed just a 0.2-mm indentation.

This is one of the best scores we've seen in the lab. It makes this shoe a fantastic choice for any terrain, without worrying about it wearing out too soon.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Outsole durability
Test results
Endorphin Rift 0.2 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 51 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

We mentioned earlier how light the Rift felt when we first unboxed them. Our measurement of the outsole at 1.2 mm confirmed they really went all-out to make this shoe featherlight.

Saucony Endorphin Rift

And we think it's the right approach for this particular shoe. Why add 2 or 3 mm to the outsole, plus lugs? That would only mute the ride and add too much weight, the exact opposite of what this shoe aims to achieve!

Saucony Endorphin Rift Outsole thickness
Test results
Endorphin Rift 1.2 mm
Average 2.4 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.9 mm
Outsole thickness
6.5 mm

Weight

We've already mentioned how incredibly light this shoe feels, and now it's time to back it up with numbers.

Weighing in at just 9 oz (255g), there are hardly any trail running shoes that can match the Rift's lightness. Period.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Weight
Test results
Endorphin Rift 8.99 oz (255g)
Average 10.34 oz (293g)
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
7.51 oz (213g)
Weight
13.37 oz (379g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Some featherweight shoes reduce cushioning to become lighter, but that's not what happens with the Rift.

Saucony Endorphin Rift heel

It offers a generous 33.0 mm of cushioning in the heel, striking a perfect balance. While it's not a maximal shoe, it's still great for long runs, even for rearfoot strikers.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Heel stack
Test results
Endorphin Rift 33.0 mm
Average 32.2 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
16.1 mm
Heel stack
42.4 mm

Forefoot stack

The forefoot also has decent cushioning at 25.1 mm, which is plenty for long runs and even ultramarathons, especially for lighter runners.

Plus, this shoe features a premium midsole that offers far better leg-saving properties than the average EVA foam.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Forefoot stack
Test results
Endorphin Rift 25.1 mm
Average 24.4 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
15.2 mm
Forefoot stack
33.9 mm

Drop

While Saucony's official spec sheet highlights a 6-mm offset for the Rift, our measurements—following the official guidelines—showed 7.9 mm, aligning with our experience while running.

This suggests that the shoe is better suited for easy trails or gravel roads, and not as much for technical terrain.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Drop
Test results
Endorphin Rift 7.9 mm
Average 7.8 mm
Compared to 100 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.1 mm
Drop
17.3 mm

Insole thickness

The insole thickness is pretty average at 4.5 mm, so it'll feel similar to most other shoes out there.

Like we always say, the best thing you can say about an insole is nothing at all!

Saucony Endorphin Rift Insole thickness
Test results
Endorphin Rift 4.5 mm
Average 4.7 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
2.7 mm
Insole thickness
9.8 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

The real showstopper here, with a nod to the breathable upper, is the midsole.

Why? Because the Endorphin Rift features the same midsole foam as Saucony's top-tier road running shoes, the Endorphin Speed 3 and the Endorphin Pro 3.

That's PWRRUN PB, a Pebax-based foam shaped into pellets, which has become a fan favorite in our lab for its exceptional lightness and energy return. We also like that it offers a perfectly balanced ride (19.4 HA) in terms of softness for the trails.

The foam is the main reason why we believe the shoe excels on flat, runnable terrain—it handles faster paces with ease. In our opinion, it's also a top pick for ultras, especially if you're not a fan of carbon plates, as the Rift includes just a protective, flexible rock plate.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Midsole softness
Test results
Endorphin Rift 19.4 HA
Average 23.0 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 77 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
9.1 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
39.0 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

One of the major advantages of Pebax foams is their consistent performance—they never turn too firm in cold temperatures.

The PWRRUN PB stays true to this rule, impressively becoming only 10.8% firmer after 20 minutes in our freezer.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
Endorphin Rift 10.8%
Average 26.8%
Compared to 77 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

The ride in the Rift is quite stable, thanks to midsole sidewalls paired with a large overlay integrated into the last eyelets that integrates with the heel counter.

Saucony Endorphin Rift midsole sidewalls

It's a unique design, but it works really well to enhance stability. Plus, the fact that it's not a maximally stacked shoe also contributes to its stability.

Torsional rigidity

The features we mentioned earlier are crucial to this shoe's design because they add just enough stability without making it too stiff, and it's definitely noticeable. The Rift is really comfortable for long runs.

That's why it only scored a 3 out of 5 in our torsional rigidity test. Of course, the absence of a carbon plate also played a part in this rating.

Test results
Endorphin Rift 3
Average 3.5
Compared to 95 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel counter is pretty standard, providing sufficient heel lock without being overly noticeable. We gave it a 3 out of 5 rating, similar to what we typically see in most trail shoes.

Test results
Endorphin Rift 3
Average 3.2
Compared to 93 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

We previously discussed how Saucony enhanced stability, particularly in the heel, by combining midsole sidewalls and lateral reinforcements. But what about the forefoot?

Good news—midfoot and forefoot strikers are well taken care of with the Rift. With a width of 119.1 mm, this shoe offers a broad landing platform that significantly boosts stability for both running techniques.

Sure, it might feel a bit clunky while taking turns on super-steep descents, but we believe the trade-off is absolutely worth it!

Saucony Endorphin Rift Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Endorphin Rift 119.1 mm
Average 111.9 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
102.1 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.0 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The heel, already boasting enough stability, didn't need to be extra wide in the design at just 91.6 mm. This allowed the shoe to save quite a bit of weight.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Endorphin Rift 91.6 mm
Average 89.6 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
77.2 mm
Midsole width in the heel
109.3 mm

Rocker

Although the shoe doesn't appear highly rockered in the test, that's due to the lugs. If the sole were flat, it would have rocked forward and backward quite a bit, as it has a strong toe rocker.

In fact, it includes Saucony's Speedroll technology, which promotes forward motion at toe-off.

Flexibility

Stiffness

In our 90-degree, longitudinal stiffness test, we recorded a result of 26.3N, which made us really happy.

Although it includes a rock plate that's definitely noticeable in this test, overall, we found it quite flexible. We think it's a solid choice for days when you're mixing hiking and running for all-day adventures.

Test results
Endorphin Rift 26.3N
Average 28.4N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
10.5N
Stiffness
54.5N

Difference in stiffness in cold

Thanks to the superb Pebax-based PWRRUN PB midsole, the performance in cold temperatures is incredibly impressive. It only became 4.4% stiffer when we repeated the same test after leaving it in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Test results
Endorphin Rift 4.4%
Average 35.3%
Compared to 98 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
102%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

Returning to the outsole, our measurements showed the Rift's lugs are 4.5-mm long.

Saucony Endorphin Rift outsole

We think shorter lugs, around 3.0 or 3.5 mm, would have been better for a more fun and responsive ride on flat terrain. The current length, while advantageous in poor weather or muddy conditions, feels like a bit of an overkill.

Saucony Endorphin Rift outsole lugs

The lugs feature a classic chevron pattern with varying angles for better traction and enough spacing for mud shedding.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Lug depth
Test results
Endorphin Rift 4.5 mm
Average 3.6 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.7 mm
Lug depth
5.8 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Saucony had a great chance to create a roomy upper in the wide forefoot area while maintaining great stability, and they nailed it. We measured the widest part at 100.5 mm.

Saucony Endorphin Rift

While it's not the roomiest out there, it's more accommodating than many other trail shoes, making it a good fit for those with wide feet. But if you have narrow feet, you can still make this shoe work by cinching down the laces.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Endorphin Rift 100.5 mm
Average 98.7 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
92.0 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
104.9 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The big toe area feels just like it does in most shoes and measures exactly the same at 77.9 mm. Only those with unusual foot shapes might have trouble here.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Endorphin Rift 77.9 mm
Average 79.0 mm
Compared to 63 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
70.5 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The shoe's tongue is sewn to the sides, creating a sock-like fit. While some runners may not be fans of this design, we think it's great for trail shoes.

It ensures that debris and small rocks won't get into the shoe and spoil your run.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Endorphin Rift Sock like

Comfort

Tongue padding

Saucony's commitment to keeping the Rift lightweight is a key selling point, but adding a bit more weight for a well-padded tongue would have greatly improved comfort for longer distances.

Saucony Endorphin Rift tongue

The tongue also has a pull tab, making it easier to slip your feet into the shoe, especially with its sock-like upper.

What Saucony cleverly did to minimize weight was to include a small padded area where the shoe is meant to be tied—the only padded part. The rest of the tongue is incredibly thin, just 1.5 mm thick.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Tongue padding
Test results
Endorphin Rift 1.5 mm
Average 6.4 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Tongue padding
12.2 mm

Heel tab

In addition to the finger-loop pull tab on the tongue, there's another one on the Rift, located at the heel.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Heel tab
Test results
Endorphin Rift Finger loop

Removable insole

The insole isn't Ortholite and doesn't offer anything special besides a mention of Saucony's Speedroll technology, so you can easily replace it with another one.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Removable insole
Test results
Endorphin Rift Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

Regrettably, the Rift lacks any reflective elements. Considering its $170 price tag and its design for adventure, we believe it should definitely include at least a few.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Reflective elements
Test results
Endorphin Rift No