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Saucony Xodus Ultra RUNSHIELD Review: Ready for Any Trail
By Chief Editor Matt Klein

The Xodus Ultra was one of my top trail shoes of 2022. The dramatic drop in weight from the Xodus series, the use of PWRRUN PB in a trail shoe with the wonderfully aggressive grip made this my go to shoe for longer and technical terrain. The only challenge came with colder and difficult weather, a common issue during winter months in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. The Xodus Ultra RUNSHIELD solves this with a warmer water-resistant upper. Now with the ability to tackle colder winter months, this improves the versatility to handle almost anything that comes your way. 

Saucony Xodus Ultra RUNSHIELD
Price: $159.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 10.3 oz, 292 g (men's size 9), 9.1 oz, 263 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 32.5mm / 26.5mm
Drop: 6mm 
Classification: Water Resistant Ultra-Distance Trail Shoe


The Saucony Xodus Ultra RUNSHIELD is the water-resistant and cold-weather version of the Xodus Ultra. A lighter weight, longer distance trail running shoe featuring a PWRRUN PB core with surrounding PWRRUN PB features a similar sole with a RUNSHIELD upper. The width of the upper is maintained while keeping the feet warm in cold conditions, while the lugged outsole continues to excel in rough terrain including snow and mild ice. The only super foam trail shoe with a water-resistant upper on the market thus far, the Saucony Xodus Ultra RUNSHIELD will keep you warm and mostly dry in tough weather conditions on a variety of terrain.

SIMILAR SHOES: Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX, New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v7 GTX


The Saucony Xodus Ultra RUNSHIELD fits me true to size in my normal US men's size 10. I have slightly more than half a thumbs width between my 1st toe and the end of the shoe. The width throughout the length of the shoe is normal (neither wide nor narrow). The gusseted tongue in the midfoot provides a secure wrap around the foot that provides solid lockdown. The tongue is moderately thick and stays in place well. The forefoot features a light and flexible toe guard which did not create the same taper I experienced in the normal version. The rearfoot features a decent amount of padding around the heel collar and in front of the counter. The heel counter is stiff, but I had no issues due to the extensive padding. Those with heel sensitivities should be cautious, especially as this shoe breaks in. However, those who want a stiff counter will like this shoe.

The RUNSHIELD upper is on the warmer and slightly thicker side, but my feet have never felt hot or sweaty in this upper. It still has mild breathability while maintaining a steady temperature. This upper is water-resistant and not water proof. I have gone through stream crossing and rain with this shoe while there is a mild delay, my feet have still gotten soaked. For running through light rain, ice and snow the upper works well and keeps my feet dry. However, for significantly wet conditions, your feet will still get soaked. For maintaining warm in extremely cold and drier warm, it is excellent. 


The Xodus Ultra RUNSHIELD features the same PWRRUN PB midsole core surrounded by PWRRUN with a full-length outsole of PWRTRAC. This provides a slightly soft, protective and responsive ride. The shoe feels best at steady slow to moderate efforts, but can easily pick up the pace due to the PWRRUN PB and more moderate 6mm drop. It feels more like a training shoe rather than a lighter racing shoe, but the ability to handle moderate paces makes it an excellent choice for trail races from the half marathon distance up to ultramarathon distances.

There is a forefoot rock plate that is flexible but provides plenty of protection up front on rocky terrain. It does not act like a road-shoe style plate due to its flexibility but provides plenty of torsional rigidity that makes cornering easy. There is a forefoot rocker that combined with the moderate flexibility provides an easy transition off the toes. Those without enough toe extension should approach with a little caution as this is not a super stiff rockered shoe. The heel is beveled and partially rounded. The lugs come up along the bevel, providing solid traction during heel strikes. This allows the Xodus Ultra RUNSHIELD to provide a great ride no matter what part you land on first.

Unlike my other version, I have been more careful about keeping the Xodus Ultra RUNSHIELD on the trails. After 40 miles of use, the lugs are still completely intact with no major wear, so I expect this shoe to last as long as most trail shoes. The lugs provide solid, but not the absolute best traction. There is plenty for dirt, snow, broken ice and wet road/trail. On heavy mud it does fairly average for most normal shoes and performed similarly on ice. I felt plenty secure on well-groomed single track, fire roads and moderately technical terrain. On extremely loose/highly technical terrain it was able to get me through but I ended up wishing I had a more aggressive outsole, especially on steep descents. For the majority of trails and especially those over extreme distances, the Xodus Ultra RUNSHIELD performs well.


The Saucony Xodus Ultra RUNSHIELD is not a stability shoe, but like its non-RUNSHIELD sibling is a stable neutral shoe. A core of PWRRUN PB sits inside a casing of PWRRUN, which keeps the foot centered due to the firmer outside keeping the foot moving through the softer center. Medial and lateral sidewalls are present in the heel, which helps keep the foot centered with rearfoot landings. The midfoot narrows slightly and feels a little less stable than the inline version due to the slightly softer midsole. The forefoot is slightly wider with a rock plate that adds some torsional rigidity. Overall, the majority of the guidance in this shoe comes from the midsole set up of the PWRRUN PB and PWRRUN. This makes this shoe best for those with neutral mechanics who want a stable shoe or those with mild guidance needs particularly in the heel.

Thoughts as a DPT: Physiology of Hypothermia, Key Points for Rewarming
By Matthew Klein

Although some may not know this, part of being a Sport/On Field clinician means understanding how to manage the different things that can happen to athletes, including responses to different environments like cold. Cold conditions cause unique changes in the human body, including increasing the metabolic rate with the initiation of exercise and increasing muscle fatigue secondary to abnormal body temperature. This only requires relatively small changes in body temperature. Hypothermia refers to a situation where the body loses heat faster than it can produce, causing a drop in body temperature. Shivering starts immediately at 95 to 98.6 degree F body temperature ranges and this is considered mild hypothermia. Moderate hypothermia occurs as the body temperature drops to 90-94 degrees F, during which you will see significant physiologic and cognitive changes including shivering ending, impaired motor function, impaired mental function and decreases in breathing and pulse rates. Once your temperature drops below 90 degrees, the heart and breathing rates will continue to severely decrease, blood pressure will drop and cardiac arrest becomes a significant risk. This does not address the various other complications that can occur, including tissue/cell freezing (frostnip/bite)

If you or someone you know is suffering from hypothermia, there are some incredibly important things to be aware of. It is true that in response to cold, the body will shunt blood to the core in an attempt to strategically keep warmth around internal organs. For the same reason, if you are going to warm someone up, make sure you start by warming up their core. If you start by rewarming the extremities, you can cause blood flow to start circulating faster, bringing warm blood to the extremities and cold blood to the core. This can be particularly dangerous given how negatively the heart responds to cold temperatures (including arrhythmias or even death). Make sure you warm the core up first so you avoid this condition, called "Afterdrop"! The other key thing to know is that you should not start rewarming a person suffering from hypothermia unless you absolutely know you can keep them warm. Once you begin rewarming a person, they are now more sensitive to their body temperatures dropping and will have ever stronger negative responses to cold than they did originally. So only begin this process when you are sure the person is in an area where you are sure they will stay warm and will not be exposed to further cold!


Cappaert, T. A., Stone, J. A., Castellani, J. W., Krause, B. A., Smith, D., & Stephens, B. A. (2008). National Athletic Trainers' Association position statement: environmental cold injuries. Journal of Athletic Training43(6), 640-658.


Similar to the normal Xodus Ultra, I have enjoyed running in the Xodus Ultra RUNSHIELD. It performed extremely well on my recent trip to the mountains of Oregon, handling ice, snow, trail and wet road crossings. My only suggestion would be for Saucony to consider making the RUNSHIELD waterproof. The water-resistant upper is comfortable and has kept my feet warm in colder weather. However, the water-"resistant" nature has come apparent with water crossings and rain (which is common in Oregon). Water still gets through and wet weather can seep into the shoe. It does a great enough job in colder and slightly wet weather, but I think this could be kicked up a notch to handle more severe weather.  


The Saucony Xodus Ultra RUNSHIELD is for those who want a normal-width, lighter trail shoe with an inner core of PWRRUN PB, a warmer upper for colder weather conditions and an outsole/midsole that can handle long efforts on moderately to slightly difficult terrain. The ride is balanced well with a stable neutral set up, a bouncy but grounded ride, plenty of protection underfoot and solid traction for wet trails. The upper is warm with a secure wrap from the tongue and solid lockdown for turning and quick maneuvering. Although not waterproof, those wanting a responsive ultra-distance trail shoe that will keep your feet warm in the colder months and through snow/ice will want to take a look at the Xodus Ultra RUNSHIELD.


Fit: A- (Warmer upper with plenty of room for a trail shoe with solid security. Not waterproof)
Performance: A- 
(Slightly soft and responsive sole with solid traction over long distances on a variety of terrain)
Stability: A- [Stable Neutral] (Internal geometry of PWRRUN PB and PWRRUN combined with sidewalls and rock plate for rigidity create a stable neutral ride despite slightly narrowed midfoot. Best for those needing mild heel stability/guidance)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Well-balanced midsole with good flexibility in the forefoot, a solid transition and the same unique midsole setup as the non-RUNSHIELD. Would like them to consider extending the sidewalls a little farther forward into the midfoot)
Personal: A- (My top trail shoe of 2022 gets even better with a warmer upper. Just wish it was waterproof)
Overall: A-


Price: $159.95 at Running Warehouse

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your
local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at Saucony for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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