Saucony Xodus Ultra 2 trail running shoe | Tested and reviewed

from Saucony
RRP  £149.99
Saucony Xodus ultra 2 trail running shoes

by Milo Wilson |
Updated on

​​Designed for the long haul, über comfy, and great grip in all the right places. The Saucony Xodus Ultra 2 trail running shoe has us impressed, but can it stand up to some serious testing? We thrashed the shoe on an ultra marathon – here's how it went.

First and foremost, this is one of the comfiest trail running shoes we've ever tested. It isn't some mega high-stack powerhouse like the Hoka Challenger 7, but it simply doesn't need to be. The tough-as-nails outsole forms an ideal bed for the plush foam midsole which strikes the perfect balance of cushioning and responsiveness.

However, after our first hundred miles, some cracks started to appear – both literally and figuratively – in the design of the upper. Was this a fatal blow for the Xodus Ultra 2? Let's find out...

Pros

  • Great grip across all surfaces
  • Excellent underfoot feel
  • Comfortable cushioning in the midsole

Cons

  • We're suspicious of long-term durability

Upper

Just so you don't immediately leave, the answer is no. This shoe has no fatal flaws, though it's not the toughest of the bunch either. Most of the upper is comprised of a thin layer of perforated mesh, which allows very good airflow and has a decent amount of stretch to accommodate different foot shapes. The overall fit is slightly tighter and more secure than the previous Xodus model, which is a plus for us.

Heels of the Saucony Xodus ultra 2 trail running shoes
©LFTO

There are rigid reinforced panels around the heel counter which add some durability and help you feel really locked in. The neoprene-like tongue also contributes to the snug fit, as its nicely padded and gusseted to keep debris from nipping at your cool new running socks.

Unlike the usual eyelets, the laces are looped through a sturdy piece of string which is firmly sewn into the perimeter of the lace system. We were worried about this system breaking, but its proven to be pretty bulletproof. Sadly, we can't say the same about the mesh on the forefoot.

Lacing system of the Saucony Xodus ultra 2 trail running shoes
©LFTO

While no running shoe lasts forever, both of our testers started seeing some rips in both sides of the mesh after around 100 miles. Normally, we might not even flag this as an issue, but when your shoe has 'ultra' in its name, we'd expect it to get through some serious distances before showing any damage. Although, to give the Xodus due credit, these rips didn't leave the shoe unusable thanks to the more durable gusseted tongue, and Pawel did manage to complete a 50 mile ultra in them.

Midsole

Here's where the Xodus Ultra 2 starts to shine. The midsole, comprised of Saucony's PWRRUN PB foam, (which also features in the Endorphin Edge, another banger of a shoe) is exceptionally plush. This came as a big surprise as the shoe itself looks to have a standard or even fairly low stack height (it is, drum roll please, 32.5mm heel, 26.5mm forefoot).

side profile of the Saucony Xodus ultra 2 trail running shoes
©LFTO

What we really like here is how the soft midsole doesn't take away from feeling underfoot feedback from the ground. The ride is really responsive, and these shoes even ended up being our tester's pick for a week of sky running in the Dolomites.

Along with the high control, the midsole is also nice and bouncy, so the shoe is performs well over both technical terrain and long flats, which is why the Xodus Ultra 2 made it into our best road-to-trail running shoes list. An extra PWRRUN support frame sits just under the midsole, which provides a nice boost of stability.

Outsole

Here it is – the coup de grâce. This outsole is by far the best performing part of the Xodus Ultra 2. It features 4.5mm arrow-head shaped lugs which bite excellently into wet must – an absolute must if you're running in the UK. Their tapered shape means the shoe also flows very well over harder terrain; the whole thing feels very natural and ergonomic. The lugs point forward in the front half of the shoe, and backwards in the rear half, making the Xodus 2 a great tool for tackling up- and downhills.

lugs of the Saucony Xodus ultra 2 trail running shoes
©LFTO

The key feature of this outsole unit is the three separate panels of PWRTRAC rubber which are separated by a Y-shaped channel of that PRWRUN support frame we mentioned. This three-piece approach allows for a tremendous amount of flex and fluidity in the outsole, and also leaves a lot of negative space for mud to sheer off. We found the rubber panels to be very robust, and we like the way each panel's lugs are dynamically arranged to flow into each other as you transition from heel to tie.

Sustainability

Looking at their site, all Saucony have to say about this shoe is that it's "vegan and contains recycled materials" – there's absolutely no indication of which materials are recycled, nor what percentage. Plus, the fact that our primary concern for this shoe is durability does not bode well for its sustainability rating.

Saucony Xodus ultra 2 trail running shoes on rocky ground
©LFTO

Saucony is part of a larger conglomeration called Wolverine Worldwide, which owns Merrell, among others. Gauging whether Saucony and its parent company is being as sustainable as possible is tricky.

Saucony and Wolverine Worldwide are part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. It’s a massive coalition of retailers, manufacturers, NGOs and other members. Their aim is for the industry to improve its sustainability through its Higg Index (sustainability in the supply chain). However, it's difficult to see exactly how actively involved Wolverine Worldwide is in this commitment. We'd love to see more transparency from Saucony on their supply chain.

Price and competition

The Saucony Xodus Ultra 2 is £150, which isn't cheap. Especially when you consider the quick wearing of the materials used. That said, this shoe does also perform excellently and its biggest strength is undoubtedly its versatility. The Xodus Ultra 2 is similar to the Salomon Sense Ride 5 in this respect, though the Saucony would crush the more mountain-ready Salomon on any muddy terrain.

Xodus or Endorphin
©LFTO

Of course, the Xodus 2 is quite comparable to its more cushioned cousin, the Saucony Endorphin Edge. However, the Edge carries a heftier price tag than the Xodus, and while it wins in the comfort department, the Edge isn't quite as versatile a shoe. For something cheaper but similar, the Hoka Zinal 2 is another solid pick for road to trail running.

Verdict

Dog stealing Saucony Xodus ultra 2 trail running shoes
©LFTO

A comfortable shoe with great grip and excellent cushioning. For those shorter trail runs, especially in the colder months of the year, this shoe will not disappoint. They provide good ground-contact and the multi-directional lugs add a tonne of versatility. Using them in rotation with another set might help their longevity too.

How we tested the Saucony Xodus Ultra 2

The Saucony Xodus Ultra 2 was tested by Pawel Baranowski and Milo Wilson. Pawel primarily tests ultra trail running shoes for LFTO, while Milo is our full time writer who tests everything from running jackets to energy gels.

Pawel Baranowski and Milo Wilson <3
©LFTO

Pawel trained for and ran a 50 mile ultra marathon wearing the Xodus Ultra 2, and found that the shoe had been thoroughly thrashed by the end of the course. He recommends wearing the shoe in rotation with some others to increase its longevity, though the Xodus has faired a bit better under Milo, who mostly runs in the grassy hills of Surrey, which are generally kind to shoes.

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