We have the good fortune to have enough different types of running shoes that we have a full-on, very specified quiver to choose from. So, if a shoe is meant for the track instead of the road, we’ve got a shoe for that so we can pull exactly the shoe we need. The Xodus 6.0 from Saucony is one such shoe that many would consider to be a pretty specialized shoe. Yes, it’s most definitely a trail runner but for what type of trail? Let’s take a deeper look!
Straight out of the box the most noticeable thing about the Xodus 6.0 is the deeply toothy lug system of the outsole. These lugs made from Vibram XS-Trek rubber are over 6mm deep in places and just from appearance look as though they are ready to take on some pretty serious terrain. The lug layout is in two, distinct parts with the middle area being laid out in a series of triangular shapes which provide a solid, multi-directional base. Surrounding this area are the toothy lugs which are big, deep and angular. Not only do these form a grippy perimeter but they also make the Xodus 6.0 very stable on off-camber terrain. In the forefoot, there are three very clear flex grooves that make their way as deep as the underlying EBO (External Bedrock Outsole) rock plate.
Much of the trail on which I tested the Xodus 6.0 was widely varied but it always certainly had some very ugly and gnarly terrain in the mix – often for long stretches. The rubber of the outsole held quite well on large flatter, rocks at an angle (which I find is a weakness of many types of rubber) though not as sticky as a couple of other climbing-based rubbers we’ve tried recently. On more angular and rocky trails, this shoe excels. Both the central lugs as well as the perimeter lugs held on anything with angles and edges like a beast and on looser terrain the deep lugs bit down well.
From a durability perspective, I think the outsole held up quite well as Vibram rubber is known to do. With about 45 miles on these, which includes some smooth and some very rough trails as well as about 4 miles of roads (on a day when I drove to a trail that proved too muddy to be runnable) the outsole does show some nicks and scars here and there but certainly nothing to make me question its durability. As with all shoes, mileage is going to depend on your gait and how your foot interacts with the ground but with a relatively clean gait, I could easily see 4-500 miles out of this outsole.
Now here’s the caveat for this burly outsole; on more tame trails it’s almost certainly overkill for many people. I’ll get more in depth on its general trail performance in the RIDE section of this review but for now, suffice it to say that the Xodus 6.0 is a shoe ready to put a beating on some very rough trail and on smooth, well-groomed stuff there just isn’t enough junk on the trail to warrant the setup for many people. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t take it on those trails if you want (and I did a few times), so if you’re wanting this as your only trail shoe – assuming much of what you’re running is actually gnarly trail – then you could easily do that.
Where the outsole of the Saucony Xodus 6.0 is rugged and built to stand up to trails that would otherwise make your feet cry for mercy, the midsole of the shoe is one that I found did a great job of bringing you home to a solid road running feel. Starting from the bottom, embedded between the midsole and outsole is Saucony’s EBO (External Bedrock Outsole) which is a flexible, yet solid-ish foam that protects the forefoot from being beat up by rocks and the like. This piece is visible in the flex grooves of the outsole and just under the misole foam which has stack heights of 23.5mm in the heel and 19.5mm in the forefoot for a net drop of 4mm.
I said above that the Xodus 6.0 brings you to a road running feel and for me, that we definitely something that I felt in the midsole. The foam in this shoe is Saucony’s PowerGrid material which gives a fairly cushy ride with good response. To me there wasn’t really a sense of the shoe trying to hide the ground from me, only that I was getting a similar feel to what I’d expect in some of Saucony’s road offerings. With that said – and knowing that the soon-to-arrive Peregrine 6 will be sporting it – I would not be surprised at all to see the brand’s new Everun material making an appearance in the next iteration of this shoe.
While the stack of the Xodus 6.0 (minus the lugs) isn’t super high and there are those nice flex grooves in the forefoot of the shoe, flexibility is one thing I’d like to see improved. Perhaps it’s the outsole rubber against the shoe or maybe it’s that the foam itself is a bit rigid (probably a combination of the two), it’s hard to tell without sawing the shoe in half. I’m not saying that the shoe is super stiff, I’d just like to see it take a cue from the flexibility I saw in the Peregrine 5 which is as flexible, if not more so, than the Kinvara.
NOTE: There is a Gore-Tex version of this shoe as well which we have not tested. That material may change some of the impressions which are included below.
Another place in the Saucony Xodus 6.0 where the brand’s road running heritage comes through is in the upper. The mesh on this shoe is, constructed from what appears on the outside to be a single piece with a rather tight weave. While I can see the potential for those with feet more apt to get warm finding themselves toasty on hot days, I didn’t find that and felt the breathability suited my feet fine. The interior of the was very comfortable on even longer runs and while I don’t go sockless on trail runs, when I wore them on some errands one day sans socks, I felt no hotspots or the like. Inclusion of a gaiter loop at the base of the lacing is something I’ll make good use of when the snow gaiters come out later on this winter and there is a wide enough gap in the lugs on the outsole for a gaiter strap to fit as well.
The support structure of the Xodus 6.0 is made almost entirely from Saucony’s bonded overlay system known as FlexFilm which we’ve used many times before. The exception to this is the rand which encompasses almost the entire shoe’s upper at the bottom. This piece is a vinyl or faux leather material which, in a few places including the toe cap (known as the Toe Shell) and on the sides of the heel and in the heel counter is heavier and offers more rigidity ad protection in those areas.
The final thing that I’ll mention in the upper of the Xodus 6.0 is the inclusion of Saucony’s Pro-Lock fit system which we first talked about in the Kinvara 5. In this shoe, the Pro-Lock system is very well integrated into the shoe and didn’t affect my feet negatively at all. In fact, when agility was required on uneven trails I felt as though the Pro-Lock system actually enhanced the fit and feel of the shoe very positively.
Again, the fit of this shoe is a place where I feel like Saucony’s road shoe pedigree comes through. First, the sizing was right on in my size 11’s so you should be good going with your normal size running shoe. The fit in the heel is a very interesting area for me. On the one hand, the heel cup feels nicely shaped and secure when the terrain on which you’re running gets uneven. However, with the huge amount of foam in the collar, the foot tends to be gently pushed forward a bit so getting the lacing dialed-in is something that should definitely be paid attention to.
The midfoot feels very solid on the foot, partially due to the Pro-Lock system but also just because of the shape of the midsole and upper combination. As I mentioned above, I felt very secure and well attached to the shoe even on very off-camber terrain. Moving into the toe box, the amount of room through the metatarsal area is very good with room for wiggle and splay – but – with the foam at the back of the heel wanting to move the foot forward some, there was a bit of cramming that took place with my toes prior to me dialing in the lacing. Again, I think that this could be an easily remedied issue with reduction of the foam in the collar.
On technical, rocky or even just more uneven trails, I felt like the grip of the Xodus 6.0 excelled and boosted my confidence a ton. The combination of the grip of the rubber with the depth and shape of the lugs was excellent in keeping me in place. Once I got onto more well-worn and smooth trails the grip was certainly still good but it’s just much more than is necessary.
Looking at the feel of the ride, again, I felt like this was very road-y in feel. The cushion was good without being overdone and the ground feel was solid. I really enjoyed the agility of the Xodus 6.0 also and on some very rocky, almost too rocky to run, trails I felt the my limitations were more set to my eyes and coordination than to the shoe. I should also take a second here to mention the weight of this shoe; at 11.2 ounces (men’s size 9) this isn’t the lightest trail shoe ever but the amount of rubber in the outsole can be largely credited with that so, if you want a lighter shoe, also consider that this may simply be too much shoe for the type of terrain you’re on. For me, the weight did not affect the ride for me at all. I know that may be hard to believe for some but for the type and amount of shoe this is, it runs light-feeling and agile.
As I’ve said several times in this review, the Saucony Xodus 6.0 is a shoe that is great for its intended type of trail and while it’s solid on the rest, it’s just a lot for smooth terrain. Rough and rocky trails are no problem for this monster and I think that if you’ve got trails like we do then this will certainly be put to good use.
At $120 it’s actually pretty reasonably priced and its durability in the time we’ve been beating it up certainly backs up that price. Bottom line is that this shoe can handle everything you want to throw at it, but for all but some of the more rough & tumble terrain it may be more than you need.