Our verdict

With the introduction of the Endorphin Elite, Saucony finally brings a true rival to the Vaporfly based on our tests. This racing shoe isn't just about its aggressive design featuring numerous cutouts—it's a performance beast. The PWRRUN HG midsole delivered to us maximum energy return with every stride during our test runs. To add, it has a durable-yet-grippy outsole ready for both wet and dry conditions, and an upper that's surprisingly roomy. All these premium features come with a premium price of £280, a consideration for budget-conscious runners.

Pros

  • The finest Saucony racer yet
  • Remarkably lightweight
  • Impressively stable
  • Wide toebox
  • Ideal for marathons
  • Excellent foot lockdown
  • Exceptional energy return from PWRRUN HG
  • Superb grip in both wet and dry conditions

Cons

  • Priced on the higher side at £280
  • Not the best pick for heel strikers

Audience verdict

89
Great!

Who should buy

From our angle, the Saucony Endorphin Elite is an ideal choice for:

  • Those who feel that most racing shoes are too snug.
  • Runners who want the most cushioning that still meets World Athletics regulations.
  • Midfoot and forefoot strikers aiming for a competition shoe versatile enough to race anywhere from a 5K to a marathon.

Saucony Endorphin Elite

Who should NOT buy

The Endorphin Elite is a standout shoe, but it's best for those who like a firmer feel underfoot. If you're seeking a more cushioned race experience, we suggest considering the Nike Alphafly 2. It's been a favourite in the lab for its plush ride.

For those not willing to spend £280, there are other options worth exploring. Racing shoes like the ASICS Metaspeed Sky+ and the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 deliver a performance that's similar to the Elite but at a slightly lower price point. We consider these alternatives offer better value for their cost.

Saucony Endorphin Elite parts

Breathability

The last thing we all want during a race is for our feet to feel like they're boiling, especially in a marathon. That's why we aim here for nothing less than a 5/5 score in our breathability test—and the Saucony Endorphin Elite didn't disappoint.

We noticed an ultra-thin mesh upper with a tongue that features large holes. This design lets air flow freely, making it one of the best shoes we've come across in this aspect.

Holding the upper up to the light, the outstanding breathability becomes even more apparent. The holes in the tongue and medial zone are truly impressive, and the toebox is also highly breathable.

Saucony Endorphin Elite micro

To get a closer look at the toebox, we used our microscope—one of our favorite tests here in the lab. What we saw confirmed our earlier observations.

Saucony Endorphin Elite microscope

And as if that wasn't enough, the upper has several cut-outs to reduce weight and further boost breathability. We were almost tempted to rate it a 6/5, but of course, that's not possible!

Test results
Endorphin Elite 5
Average 3.8
Compared to 222 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

It might seem surprising to you, but we've found in the lab that the most expensive shoes on the market often don't offer the best durability. After testing the Endorphin Elite—priced at £280—in our lab with the dremel, we measured its durability at a mere 1/5.

The Elite couldn't even hang in there for a full 4 seconds of our test!

This is just how most racing shoes shoes are designed. They prioritize top performance, which often comes at the expense of toughness.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Toebox durability
Test results
Endorphin Elite 1
Average 2.4
Compared to 156 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Compared to the toebox, the heel is impressively robust—and there's a smart reason behind it.

Daily trainers often have a plush heel for added comfort, but competition shoes, aiming for lightness, feature minimal and firmer padding, less prone to wear out. And that's exactly why this shoe earned a solid 4/5 on our test.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Heel padding durability
Test results
Endorphin Elite 4
Average 3.1
Compared to 152 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

The outsole is laser-focused on traction and performance. With smartly-positioned rubber covering high-wear areas and numerous cutouts for weight-saving and better grip in wet conditions, it's all about optimization.

Saucony Endorphin Elite outsole

If you're a heel striker landing on the inner side of your heel, they might wear out really fast since there's no rubber protection in that area.

We've got to mention its magnificent grip. With a 63.1 HC reading in our durometer, it's among the softest results we've recorded. The Endorphin Elite feels much like the soft tires on a Formula 1 race car.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Outsole hardness
Test results
Endorphin Elite 63.1 HC
Average 80.4 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 273 running shoes
Number of shoes
54.9 HC
Outsole hardness
92.8 HC

Outsole durability

The rubber Saucony uses is incredibly grippy and impressively durable.

We were pleasantly surprised by the results; our dremel only managed a tiny 0.2-mm dent!

Saucony Endorphin Elite Outsole durability
Test results
Endorphin Elite 0.2 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 134 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

The shoe has just 1.4 mm of rubber. At first glance, it might not seem like much, but we found that it's more than enough based on the previous test.

In performance-oriented shoes, maximizing bouncy foam to the World Athletics' 40-mm limit gives the advantage, and thicker rubber would counteract this benefit. So, while it may look deceiving in our lab tests, less rubber is actually a good thing for race day.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Outsole thickness
Test results
Endorphin Elite 1.4 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 292 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

Weighing in at a respectable 7.2 oz (203g), it might not claim the title of the absolute lightest supershoe out there.

However, it's just an ounce heavier than its sibling, the Endorphin Pro 3 in a US 9. What's impressive is the generous amount of foam cushioning it packs underfoot, giving runners that plush feel.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Weight
Test results
Endorphin Elite 7.16 oz (203g)
Average 9.38 oz (266g)
Compared to 293 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

The Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 already had a solid reputation as a race-day shoe. However, marathoners were aware it lagged slightly behind the best racing shoes out there, especially in terms of stack height.

Saucony Endorphin Elite stack

World Athletics set in 2020 a 40-mm cap for road racing stack height, and it seems most brands are eager to push that limit.

In our lab, we measured the Elite and found that Saucony came incredibly close, with a stack height of 39.9 mm—just a hair away from the maximum. This is fantastic news for runners, especially when pushing through the final 10K of a marathon!

Saucony Endorphin Elite Heel stack
Test results
Endorphin Elite 39.9 mm
Average 33.7 mm
Compared to 292 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
42.7 mm

Forefoot stack

The shoe's forefoot also boasts impressive cushioning, making it a top pick for forefoot and midfoot strikers. When we took the measurement in our lab, we found that it clocked in at a cushy 31.9 mm.

Of course, expect zero ground feel from this racer.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Forefoot stack
Test results
Endorphin Elite 31.9 mm
Average 25.0 mm
Compared to 292 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
35.8 mm

Drop

Boasting a classic 8.0-mm heel-to-toe drop, this shoe works great for all foot strikes.

We were also thrilled to discover that our measurement is spot-on with what the brand officially advertises, which is extremely rare! Kudos to Saucony for that.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Drop
Test results
Endorphin Elite 8.0 mm
Average 8.7 mm
Compared to 292 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

The insole of this shoe is notably thick and cushioned. We discovered that it isn't just any ordinary, low-cost EVA insole like in most shoes.

Instead, it's crafted from PWRRUN PB—the same high-quality Pebax foam we've seen in other top-notch Saucony shoes like the Endorphin Speed 3. Such attention to detail is precisely what we anticipate when examining a shoe priced near 300 bucks.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Insole thickness
Test results
Endorphin Elite 5.2 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 288 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
7.3 mm

Midsole softness

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

While the shoe has a standout design, the real game-changer is the PWRRUN HG midsole. This is an evolution of the highly-praised PWRRUN PB. We found that it offers even better energy return, though it's a bit firmer underfoot.

The PWRRUN HG foam, still by Pebax, abandons the pellet-based structure of PWRRUN PB.

When we tested it in our lab, we measured the HG variant at 17.9 HA. This makes it 13% firmer than the PB version. So, if you're someone who enjoys a softer feel when you run, it's something to consider.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Midsole softness
Test results
Endorphin Elite 17.9 HA
Average 21.4 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 220 running shoes
Number of shoes
8.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

Midsole softness in cold

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.
Saucony Endorphin Elite Midsole softness in cold

Difference in midsole softness in cold

After placing the shoe in the freezer for 20 minutes and then testing it, we found a measurement (21.0 HA) pretty similar to our earlier one.

There's just a 17.5% increase, which is better compared to many other running shoes. That's because PWRRUN HG, given it's a Pebax-based foam, excels in colder temperatures.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Midsole softness in cold
Test results
Endorphin Elite 17.5%
Average 25.6%
Compared to 219 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

Even though some runners lean towards softer foams, there's an undeniable advantage in a slightly firmer compound—it offers enhanced stability.

And this is precisely what PWRRUN HG provides: an impressively stable experience even for a max-stack height supershoe.

Torsional rigidity

Naturally, being a top-tier supershoe, the Elite features a stiff carbon plate embedded in the midsole. This not only provides a bouncy feel but also gives top-notch torsional rigidity.

In our lab tests, we rated it with 5 out of 5. Good luck trying to twist it.

Test results
Endorphin Elite 5
Average 3.3
Compared to 271 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

While there isn't a classic heel counter, an extension of the overlay wraps around to form a heel collar. However, don't anticipate much support there; we gave it a score of 1 out of 5.

Essentially, you won't receive any added support in the heel area.

Test results
Endorphin Elite 1
Average 2.8
Compared to 255 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

When we examined the midsole width, we discovered that the forefoot is exceptionally wide at 118.3 mm.

Saucony Endorphin Elite forefoot

This design choice seems aimed at enhancing stability for midfoot and forefoot strikers, especially given the shoe's tall and aggressive profile.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Endorphin Elite 118.3 mm
Average 113.6 mm
Compared to 293 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The design of the heel is different, and there's a logical reason for that.

In our section discussing the outsole, we clarified that the Elite isn't tailored for heel strikers. Thus, widening the heel would only add unnecessary weight without benefiting its intended users.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Endorphin Elite 91.3 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 293 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

While shoes with carbon plates are usually stiff, the Endorphin Elite stands out as one of the stiffest we've measured. In our test, we found that it required 64.5N of force from us to bend the shoe to a 90-degree angle.

Test results
Endorphin Elite 64.5N
Average 29.3N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 275 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

After a 20-minute freezer-chill, we retested the shoe and noticed a noticeable increase in stiffness—it now took 77.5N of force!

We measured a 20.1% increase.

Just as we observed with the midsole's softness, the PWRRUN HG foam demonstrated how well Pebax can handle temperature changes.

Test results
Endorphin Elite 20.1%
Average 36.3%
Compared to 275 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Size and fit

Internal length

We recorded the internal measurement at 261.3 mm, which came in shorter than anticipated (270 mm).

However, since this is a racing shoe, we expected a snugger fit. It feels true-to-size for us, but if you have wider feet and/or you're getting ready for a marathon, consider going half-size up.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Internal length
Test results
Endorphin Elite 261.3 mm
Average 269.1 mm
Compared to 156 running shoes
Number of shoes
259.9 mm
Internal length
280.4 mm

Toebox width at the widest part

The Endorphin Elite, measuring 99.6 mm at the widest part of the upper, offers a way roomier toe box than the 94.3 mm Endorphin Pro 3.

This design makes it a top choice for runners with medium-to-wide feet, especially for longer races.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Endorphin Elite 99.6 mm
Average 98.3 mm
Compared to 293 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The big toe area stands out as a fantastic showcase of spaciousness in a racing shoe design. We recorded an impressive 79.1 mm at this spot, which is remarkably generous.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Endorphin Elite 79.1 mm
Average 78.0 mm
Compared to 167 running shoes
Number of shoes
60.4 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.5 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The shoe features a semi-gusseted tongue that enables a perfect lockdown.

While many running shoe designers often prefer non-gusseted tongues for racing shoes to save weight, this isn't the approach here. Well done, Saucony.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Endorphin Elite Both sides (semi)

Comfort

Tongue padding

With a razor-thin 0.9 mm measurement and dozens of cutouts, this out-of-this-world tongue is all about weight-saving.

Saucony Endorphin Elite tongue

It offers no padding and minimal thickness—it's like the comfort experience we'd expect in fighter jet. And we love it!

Saucony Endorphin Elite Tongue padding
Test results
Endorphin Elite 0.9 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 290 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Heel tab

Slipping our feet into competition shoes has become increasingly challenging over the years. So, it came as no shock when the Endorphin Elite gave us a similar tight-fitting experience with its unique upper.

Thankfully, Saucony added a user-friendly pull-tab to make the process smoother.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Heel tab
Test results
Endorphin Elite Pull tab

Removable insole

Unlike some racing shoes from other brands, the insole in this one isn't glued down. This allowed us to switch it out with an insole from another shoe.

Yet, based on our tests here in the lab, the optimal running experience in this model comes when using the original insole.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Removable insole
Test results
Endorphin Elite Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

We understand that most races take place in daylight and under controlled traffic conditions. Given these factors, it makes sense for Saucony to leave out reflective elements in the Endorphin Elite.

Saucony Endorphin Elite Reflective elements
Test results
Endorphin Elite No