Saucony Xodus Ultra: The Do-Everything Trail Runner

For several years, I used the original Xodus as my go-to hiking shoe. I loved them and I still think the Xodus line is a great hiker. But in recent years the outsole has grown to be more burly than I like in a runner. The Xodus Ultra changes that. This is an awesome addition to Saucony’s line-up and might be my favorite trail running shoe of the last five years.

The Saucony Xodus Ultra is a lighter, sleeker, less-gnarly version of the longstanding Xodus and it is the ultimate do-it-all shoe for trail runners. A rugged outsole paired with a tall stack height that provides both cushion (but not too much) and some energy return makes the Xodus Ultra a shoe you can wear for miles on any type of off-road terrain. Over the last couple of months, I’ve tested my pair of Xodus Ultras from the technical, rocky trails of southern Utah to the steep trails of the Rocky Mountain foothills. In all, I’ve put 106 trail miles on these shoes on runs ranging from 6 to 18 miles. Here’s what I found.

Basic Information

CategoryStack Height
Trail33 mm/27 mm6 mm9.8 ozAll purpose$100-150
Saucony Xodus Ultra specifications.



In my opinion the ride of a shoe, or how it runs, is its most important quality.

Saucony nailed the ride with the Xodus Ultra. It’s perfect for a trail runner. It all starts with the midsole. The ‘core’ of the midsole is Saucony’s PWRRUN PB foam. This more cushioned, responsive foam takes the edge off impact and puts a little pep in your step. The PWRRUN PB is contained in a PWRRUN cage. PWRRUN is a firmer, more stable foam.

The result of combining both foams in the midsole is a shoe that feels, well . . . normal. There’s no squishy cushion underfoot, there’s also no slapping and hard landings. If you walk around in the Xodus Ultra you’ll probably think there’s nothing special about the midsole at all. But once you break into a jog or run, you can start to feel the PWRRUN PB doing its job. Your landings feel just cushioned enough and there’s just a little bounce as you push off. It’s subtle and comfortable. Saucony did just enough with the midsole and didn’t overdo it.

The outsole is Saucony’s PWRTRAC. It’s tacky and the tread pattern gives plenty of traction on a variety of surfaces. You know how sometimes when you’re running on slick rock trails with a little bit of sand? And you’re running downhill and have to compensate for your shoe to slide a little bit because the sand on the rock makes for some unstable footing? Well, the Xodus Ultra didn’t have a problem with that. It took me a couple of miles to realize I could trust the shoe and there would be no slippage.

Slick rock, mud, loose rocks, whatever, the outsole provided all the traction I needed.

I found the 33/27 mm stack height (6 mm) drop to hit my sweet spot. There’s plenty of material underfoot to protect your feet, but the shoe isn’t so high that it feels unstable. A 6mm drop gives you a little bit of help with landing but doesn’t force you onto your toes.

You may want to size up with the Xodus Ultra. I wear US 10.5, and the shoe fits pretty close to true-to-size. However, on some of my longer runs with more downhill miles my toes start to hit the front of the shoe more and it gets a little uncomfortable. I bought another pair and sized up to US 11. No more toe problems. Just something to consider.

Outside view, no compression
Outside view, full compression
Inside view, no compression
Inside view, full compression

Upper and Lockdown

The upper is great. Nothing spectacular, but it’s comfortable and functional. Not too thick, but not super thin. It has enough material to be durable but not so much that it’s not breathable.

I’m not a huge fan of the lacing system. It’s not bad but it could be better. It has ‘rail’ (I don’t know what other work to use for it) type lace ‘holes’ where the lace passes through a nylon band instead of holes. It gives a little more give in the laces, which I like, but the laces also have some elastic, and when combined with the rail lacing it might add a little too much give.


After 100+ miles these shoes are still going strong. The tread is a little worn in some places, but it’s the type of wear you expect after 100 miles. The uppers and midsole still seem to be in great shape. I expect these shoes to got the distance (400+ miles).


The Xodus Ultra is a superb value, especially if you get them on sale. The shoe retails for about $150. Which is about the median price range for trail shoes. But you can pick up older models (great models) for as low as $60! If you see these shoes for less than $100 don’t miss the opportunity!

Is the Xodus Ultra for You?

If you’re looking for a solid, all-around trail shoe I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this shoe. I’ve bought two pairs!

Should You Avoid the Xodus Ultra?

The only reasons to avoid this shoe are if you run road, not trail, or if you want a specialized (speed shoe or cushioned shoe). Otherwise, this shoe is solid and will meet your trail running needs!

How I Will Use This Shoe

The Xodus Ultra has quickly become my ‘main’ trail shoe. Whatever my big trail workout is for the week, I’m wearing the Xodus Ultra for it. This is the shoe that I want for my long trail runs. If I’m shooting for a faster time and want to get a little energy return and traction on the downhills I’m reaching for this shoe. It’s not a speed shoe, but speed is less important on the trails. Protection, reliability, and comfort are what I value. When I need a trail shoe I can count on I take the Xodus Ultra.

Konrad Hafen

Konrad is a natural resource scientist who spends much of his free time hunting, fishing, hiking and backpacking on America's public lands.

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