Saucony Endorphin Rift Review: So Good, In So Many Ways…

Such promising trail running shoes but they fall short in some key areas! Read now to find out if they're worth buying.


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As a long-time runner and gear enthusiast, I’m really excited to share my latest discovery with you in this Saucony Endorphin Rift review – which by the way is a trail running shoe that turned out to be so much better than I was expecting, not that I’m a judgy pants McJudgerson or anything.

I’ve been testing out Saucony’s Endorphin Rift across a variety of terrains, uphill climbs, flat stretches, and plenty of steep gnarly descents, so I have a ton of experience and thoughts to share on things like how they feel on the trail, and their capabilities as an all terrain trail runner. All of which I’m going to do now, starting with who they’re going to be best for

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The Key Specifications

  • Price: $170
  • Sizing and fit: True to size with a medium width fit.
  • Weight: 9.5 oz (269g) for a size US(M)9 (my pair).
  • Drop: 6mm – Stackheight: 33mm at the heel, 27mm at the toe
  • Toe box width: Medium.
  • Stability: Neutral, so there’s no additional stability or support added.
  • Midsole Cushioning: PWRRUN PB foam and SPEEDROLL tech.
  • Outsole: 4.5mm lugs and PWR TRAC rubber compound.

So, who is the Endorphin Rift going to be best for?

Who are they targeted at then? Essentially, the Endorphin Rift are for trail runners aiming for speed with a responsive, snappy midsole.

What exactly does “responsive” midsole actually mean? It refers to a design that aids in propelling you forward, not the most cushioned option out there, but one that ensures a nimble, controlled feel on the trails.

That’s precisely what these shoes offer and the type of runner they cater to.

The features of the Saucony Endorphin Rift that I like

I have to first highlight the exceptional fit of the Endorphin Rift, a critical feature for trail running where you’re often out longer and tackling more diverse challenges than on the road. And I’m also jumping on this first because It’s something that I thought wasn’t going to be this good when I first saw the design of the heel counter and collar.

As most of you already know, as trail runners we face climbs, navigate through mixed terrain, encounter water, and slog through mud during our runs, which means we need specialized runnings shoes that are up to that task.

These shoes? They’ve got you covered for the most part, maintaining comfort whatever the trail throws at you bar one thing that I’ll share in a moment.

Initially, the upper had me skeptical – see my photo above for a glimpse of what I mean there (or watch my YouTube review). At first glance, it resembles neoprene, similar to a wetsuit, and I wasn’t convinced it would offer the comfort of fit needed for long distances.

However, to my surprise, it’s incredibly comfortable in action, effectively acting as a gaiter to keep debris out. This feature alone makes the shoe stand out, not to mention the breathability provided by the well-placed ventilation holes in the upper – see below.

What’s more, the shoe boasts thoughtful design elements that enhance its functionality, like for example, the elastic loop for lace storage which is a minor yet highly appreciated detail, and very akin to the On Cloudultra Trail 2 and On Cloudvista.

The inclusion of finger pulls at the front and back simplifies the process of slipping the shoes on, a task that would be tricky without them. These additions underscore the shoe’s practicality and user-friendly nature. You can see pictures of these features and more in the gallery at the bottom of this review.

Moving to the midsole, its responsiveness is noteworthy, and while it doesn’t offer the plushness or cushioning some might desire, this design choice favors responsiveness and propulsion, giving you a sense of being propelled forward with each step.

The image below shows that there is still a good amount of compression in the midsole, under the heel.

The absence of a propulsion plate in the midsole doesn’t detract from the feeling of responsiveness, thanks in part to the stack height of 33mm at the rear and 27mm at the front, equating to a 6mm drop. This configuration provides a close connection to the trail, and I feel like I’m maintaining excellent control in most situations, but not all.

Which leads me to the outsole, which presents a double edged sword for me.

It excels in many conditions but unfortunately falls short in others; the 4.5mm lugs underfoot and at the tip of the shoes facilitates impressive traction on ascents and across a variety of terrains, from thick mud to dry trails.

They truly shine in most scenarios, helping you to confidently navigate through forests, over rocks, and along dusty paths. Yet, their performance on slick, wet rocks leaves room for improvement, A LOT OF IMPROVEMENT, as evidenced during one particularly challenging climb in my video review and moments that happened off camera.

Despite this, for the vast majority of trail conditions, these lugs are more than capable, marking the shoes as versatile companions for your off-road adventures.

➡ If you’re enjoying this review do me a favor, drop a comment down below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more running shoe reviews just like this one. If you’re familiar with these running shoes, share your thoughts on them in the comments.

Features that could be improved for the next version

Now, for some constructive criticism, and looking ahead to potential improvements for the next iteration, there are a couple of areas I’ve identified that could use some attention.

Firstly, while the midsole is nice and responsive, I find myself yearning for a bit more cushioning. When tackling longer distances on the trails, say around 20 kilometers (or approximately 13 miles), I’ve noticed that a lack of sufficient cushioning can make my feet more aware of the mileage than I’d prefer.

When I’m not reviewing new trail shoes, my current pick for the best trail running shoes, and the ones I’m choosing to wear right now, is the HOKA Speedgoat 5, which has a more cushioned platform – and is one of the Best HOKA running shoes out right now (for trail at least).

A bit more plushness underfoot would go a long way in extending the comfort over longer runs, ensuring that my feet don’t bear the brunt of the journey too soon.

The second point of consideration is the outsole’s rubber compound; although the lugs are impressively aggressive (4.5mm deep and chevron shaped), and excel across a broad range of terrains, their performance on wet, slick rocks is not great. For runners whose local trails are characterized by these slippery conditions, this current model might not meet all your needs.

This aspect could certainly benefit from reevaluation to enhance grip on such challenging surfaces. Maybe it’s time to adopt a Vibram LiteBase outsole, like so many trail running brands are doing lately.

An additional detail that’s caught my attention, particularly on steep descents, concerns the interior construction of the toe bumper.

Its solidity, while protective, poses an issue on steep descents like you see in my video review. The firmness inside the toe cap means that securing a tight fit is crucial to prevent your foot from sliding forward.

Despite my efforts, I’ve noticed my big toe pressing against the inside of the bumper. This experience indicates a need for improvement in how the shoe secures and supports the foot, especially in downhill scenarios, to prevent such forward sliding and ensure a more comfortable and secure fit. Or, maybe do away with that solid bumper.

Addressing these aspects in the next version could elevate the shoe’s performance and comfort even further.

Is the Saucony Endorphin Rift worth buying?

Despite the areas ripe for improvement, the Endorphin Rift stands out as an impressive trail running shoe, and at $170, I consider it fairly priced given its capabilities.

It excels in responsiveness, making it an excellent choice for runners who prioritize speed, especially for distances shorter than a half marathon. They shine in dry conditions, or deep mud, offering an enjoyable running experience that blends comfort, breathability, and that responsive edge I’ve highlighted.

However, it’s worth noting their performance on wet, slick rocks might not be as reliable, so it’s best to steer clear of such terrain with these on your feet. Beyond their functional merits, I also can’t help but commend their aesthetic appeal.

All in all, lacing up the Endorphin Rift promises a rewarding run, as long as the conditions mentioned in this review, are in your favor! Now I want to hear from you if you’ve run in these before, let me know your experiences in the comments below. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you in the next shoe review!

Saucony Endorphin Rift Video Review

Tap the thumbnail below to watch the video on YouTube, and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss our latest reviews.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Review YOUTUBE

Saucony Endorphin Rift review gallery

As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.


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