(This post was updated on 5/6/2013 to reflect updated experience in the Peregrine 3.)
So I’ve been running in minimal, zero drop trail shoes for awhile now, but last fall noticed how much my feet hurt after longer trail runs on technical terrain. With a Trail Ultra coming up that fall I wanted something that had a bit more beef to it to protect my feet, but could still deliver on the feel for the trail I’d grown accustomed to with my ‘barefoot’ shoes. Enter the Saucony Peregrine line of trail shoes.
Solid, good-looking shoe, relatively light, good trail feel, but just enough extra beef to keep the soles of my feet from screaming 20 miles into a trail race. While I loved my first pair of Saucony Peregrine II’s, I wasn’t impressed with the durability, as they blew out on me – as well as on over half a dozen other trail runners I know – within a relatively short period of time (approximately 250 miles). Chalk that up to a design flaw, because the rest of the shoe was outstanding. I contacted Saucony about the blowout and they – as one would hope with their great customer service – replaced them with a pair of their brand new Saucony Peregrine 3.0 model.
DURABILITY: During my first few runs in this shoe I thought that Saucony pretty-much nailed it. They tried to reinforce the problem areas from the previous model and also incorporated their new FlexFilm technology – where they use multiple fabric overlays that are then ‘welded’ together instead of stitched. It’s a stronger construction that’s also lighter (9.9 ounces for the pair), so it should be a win-win. That, and it looks really cool. Unfortunately, at under 250 miles, again, I experienced blow-outs in the same areas (inner/outer ball of the foot) as with the II’s. And, I hate to say, everyone else I know who bumped up to the 3’s has had the same experience. I understand that trails shoes take a beating, but they shouldn’t be blowing out at just over 200 miles – especially when the rest of the shoe is in almost brand new condition. Again, poor design.
TRACTION AND TRAIL FEEL: The Peregrine model retains the same killer tread pattern as before, which is a good thing; I’m perfectly comfortable on ridiculous terrain with these things (e.g. – mountain trails where most folks would wear hiking boots). You do sacrifice a little trail feel as one would expect with a beefed up tread and mid-foot, but the “trail read” is still very good.
FIT: With a 4mm drop, this isn’t quite a “true” minimal, zero-drop shoe, but it’s close enough. And, for long-haul multi-hour trail runs, it’s a perfect fit. Many brands don’t accommodate my weird foot shape comfortably, but Saucony does, so it should work well for most folks. I’ve put these shoes through the wringer (snow, ice, deep mud and half-thawed icy marshland) and have yet to experience any hotspots, so that says a lot about the fit of the shoe.
DRAINAGE: One of the biggest concerns for me on a trail shoe is drainage. Wet = blisters on trail ultras, so it’s important to me that a shoe drain well and dry fast. It’s also a concern in winter trail running around here where wet feet for an extended period of time can heighten one’s risk of hypothermia. The Peregrine 3.0 drains very quickly – just like its predecessor the Peregrine II. However, it doesn’t dry out quickly at all, staying noticeably damp for up to 24+ hours. This didn’t happen with the II’s. Saucony used some softer materials in the ankle and footbed of the shoe this time around which seem to be the culprit here. For me, it’s a deal breaker to have a shoe that stays damp like this. I don’t want to be 10 hours into a mountain run and dealing with needless blisters.
LOOKS: I think the Peregrine 3.0 is a looker – it’s just a really cool, badass looking trail shoe! What’s not to like?
THE VERDICT: I originally gave these 4 out of 5 stars, but with the blowouts and the poor drying, I’m knocking it down to 2. Saucony still has some major tweaks to make in the side-foot reinforcement and quick-drying categories. Which is unfortunate, because other than those critical shortcomings, these are pretty darn near close to a perfect trail running shoe.
They’re good enough that I’ll be using them for a crazy, one-day trail run attempt on The Devil’s Path in the Catskills (7 peaks and 18k’ of elevation change in 24 miles of trail) later this summer. It’s unfortunate that I’ve had this experience with the Peregrine line, because I LOVE my Saucony road shoes (Virrata and Kinvara4). Maybe Saucony needs to have me testing their trail shoes…? MSRP: $110