The Xodus Ultra from Saucony is a trail running shoe for ultra distances. It lets go of the beefy and burly signature of the past Xodus, shedding off a significant amount of weight. It can go fast and far with its responsive and uber-comfy ride. And if you want a shoe that has protection written all over it, the Saucony Xodus Ultra will crush through both well-groomed and rugged terrains like they're nothing.
- Protective cushion
- Responsive ride
- Extremely comfy for ultras
- Grippy on mud and loose ground
- Lighter than the Xodus 11
- Stable platform
- Wide-feet friendly
- Midfoot is too roomy
- Lace change needed for good lockdown
Who should buy the Saucony Xodus Ultra
Apparent through its name, the Saucony Xodus Ultra is an ultra trail racer that's perfect for runners who want a:
- responsive and stable ride over technical terrains
- lighter shoe for ultra running
- versatile trail shoe for logging daily miles and racing ultras
Who should NOT buy it
If you want the best of the best when it comes to laces, the Saucony Peregrine 12 is a chart-topping shoe. And if you want a trail shoe that holds the foot in snugly, the Saucony Mad River TR 2 offers a secure, sock-like wrap.
Saucony Xodus Ultra vs. the Xodus 11
The Saucony Xodus Ultra is a trail beast that turns all the misses of the Xodus 11 into hits. And trail runners are loving it.
With comments saying, "everything I didn't like about the Xodus is gone," "the Xodus line had a yard sale," and "it ain't your mom's trail shoe," it's crystal clear that the Xodus Ultra goes through a total overhaul with a:
- lighter weight, departing from the hefty 11.9 oz (337 g) weight of the 11th Xodus to a much lighter 10.3 oz (292 g)
- +1mm of heel stack for a more cushioned ride
- -1mm less forefoot stack, upping the drop from 4mm to 6mm
- more flexible rock plate for a more forgiving ride
As one reviewer puts it, the Saucony Xodus Ultra is here for the "resurrection" of the entire Xodus line.
It's coming for the Speedgoat
The Hoka Speedgoat 5 is the talk of the town (and rightfully so) when it comes to ultra-distance trail racers. It is responsive and speedy, but the Saucony Xodus Ultra has come shockingly close in performance to the icon. "It's not far off," says one of the testers in reference to the shoe's versatility. Like the Speedgoat, the Xodus Ultra can also gobble daily miles just as well as ultra-racing efforts.
Overall, the two shoes are such a close comparison that one of the runners boldly claims that you may want to grab the Xodus as a replacement for the Speedgoat.
Tippy no more in the Xodus Ultra
Many, if not all, are in agreement that the Saucony Xodus Ultra is a darn stable shoe. One of them even reports that it's an excellent example of a stable neutral shoe. The midsole has some firmness to it; it ensures planted, slip-free steps.
And if there's one word that perfectly describes the entire ride of the shoe, it's "synergetic." It blends both responsiveness and stability so well; "the full underfoot recipe is surprisingly dreamy," expresses one avid trail runner.
A pretty breathable trail shoe
This Saucony shoe receives high scores in the breathability department. It is recommended as a light and airy shoe for summer runs.
You can also see the most transparent/breathable parts of the upper in the video below.
Xodus Ultra takes care of your feet
"It treated me very very very well out there," reports an expert reviewer after trying out the Saucony Xodus Ultra. So much so that he went beyond his usual 50-mile test run.
Another says that it "feels lovely underfoot," while another adds that the shoe's step-in comfort is "off the charts."
Unlike most trail shoes, the Xodus Ultra doesn't feel rigid underfoot. Some runners even find it plush for a trail shoe.
The shoe indeed belongs to the softer range of trail shoes. Based on our durometer measurements, it is 20% plusher than the average.
However, it does get noticeably firmer when exposed to cold temperatures. After spending 20 minutes in the freezer, the foam got 36.4% denser. This means that the shoe will take some time to break in if you take it out on a chilly day.
Protection is king in this Saucony shoe
"Beefy. Gritty. Meant to go the distance." Overall, this is how the Xodus Ultra is designed and running experts can't help but agree. It has a very cushioned design and a rock plate that a critic finds "awesome, awesome, awesome!" He says he never felt the rocks out there at all. The ground feel is very muted; this shoe can just "soak up the miles," confidently remarks one commenter.
Both the heel and forefoot stack are slightly taller than average in the Saucony Xodus Ultra. The heel is 1.3 mm thicker (33.9 mm) while the forefoot is 2.4 mm thicker (26.7 mm).
We include the insole when measuring the shoe's stack.
The insole of the Xodus Ultra is also very well-cushioned. At 6.8 mm, it is 2.3 mm thicker than most running shoe insoles.
As for the heel-to-toe drop, we found it to be 7.2 mm, which is 1.2 mm thicker than the officially stated 6 mm.
An ultra fit
An ultra event, in general, is where stretch and room are needed. And with the Xodus Ultra, "comfort was certainly a priority." What this means is there's space throughout the shoe to welcome wider feet and some swelling for the ultra miles.
At its widest part, the forefoot on the Xodus Ultra is 96.9 mm, which is the typical width for running shoes (98.3 mm is the average).
What's good about it is it's not terribly wide; your feet can breathe, but "they won't be floating away." By any means, it's not sloppy. Even when cornering, there have been no reports of slips.
For narrow-footed runners, however, extra caution is necessary. The midfoot can feel a tad too roomy, but it can easily be remedied by cinching the laces down (and more about the laces below).
The heel hold, however, received no complaints from the wearers.
The laces get a thumbs down
The laces are so stretchy and flat; they're "counterproductive" to achieving that locked-in fit. The laces are also the suspected culprits when it comes to the shoe's rather loose midfoot wrap.
Although they're solid in the comfort arena, they're just too elastic for that secure feel. What's worse is after some miles, they need a retie.
The solution? Switching up the laces would make the whole run a ton better.
The tongue keeps debris away
A pretty cool feature which is not often seen on trail shoes, a Debris Shield is added on top of the shoe's tongue. It prevents small rocks, dirt, and roots from getting inside the shoe without compromising breathability.
A cutback on weight
This is what the Saucony Xodus series needed. From "heavy-duty (and heavy)," it became "dramatically lighter" with the Xodus Ultra's introduction.
In ultras "where weight is weight," this is a big change. The "HUGE weight drop," as one expert explains, makes the shoe a top-of-the-line choice for those insanely long miles.
For reference, the Xodus Ultra weighs in at 10.3 oz (292 g) while trail running shoes, on average, weigh in at 10.5 oz (298 g). Ultra shoes, on average, weigh in at 11 oz (311 g) in men's US 9.
Outsole: Filed under excellent
"I have no quibbles," says one critic when asked about the shoe's outsole and traction. On dirt, rock, mud, sand, grit, gravel, and roots, it bites.
Some even compare the Saucony Xodus Ultra's traction to shoes with Vibram outsole with one saying that it's "solid as always."
The shoe bends just enough to provide a comfortable foot flex. It is rather flexible for a trail shoe with a rock plate in it.
Torsionally, it also has a nice balance of rigidity and flex to provide a stable ride.
Worth the price
At $150, the Xodus Ultra belongs with the "kings and queens of the trail running world," happily remarked a trail running athlete. Another backs this stating that this is one of the better-value trail shoes on the market.
It's not too expensive. And you get what you pay for, given the shoe's performance, quality, and versatility.
"I have seen no wear after 35 miles," shares one trail runner who claims that he ran his pair through aggressive trails.