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Saucony Echelon 9: Stable and Ortho-Friendly
By Matthew Klein 

The Saucony Echelon series has had a quiet life up to this point as a go-to shoe for those looking for something with a wider fit, lower arch, and inherently stable while still being neutral and orthotic-friendly. The only challenge with this is that it was a fairly boring shoe that really only needed to come in black or white colors given that the majority of people using this were walkers (ask any experienced running store employee about this shoe and who they normally sell it to). Version 9 completely changes the vibe of the Echelon series. While it still has a wider fit, stable neutral ride, and orthotic-friendly chassis that will work well for those who previously used the Echelon, the new version comes in far lighter and with a max cushion design. Those who want the above features no longer have to settle for a simple shoe, but now have a really solid daily training option with a level of performance that rivals other top training shoes like the Ride, Guide and Triumph. 

Saucony Echelon 9
Price: $149.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 10.3 oz, 292 g (men's size 9), 9.5 oz, 269 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 35mm / 27mm
Drop: 8mm
Classification: Straight-Lasted, Orthotic Friendly Daily Training Shoe


The Saucony Echelon 9 is stable neutral, wider fitting, orthotic-friendly daily training shoe. A wider and higher volume upper provides plenty of room for a variety of feet. A thicker insole combined with the higher volume makes the Echelon 9 an excellent choice to pair with orthotics. A wide stable base with a new higher stack height makes for a well-cushioned and smooth riding shoe. Best for daily training miles and excellent as a walking shoe, the Echelon 9 brings function, comfort and performance together in the most refined version of this shoe yet.

SIMILAR SHOES: Brooks Dyad 11, Karhu Synchron HiVo


The Saucony Echelon 9 fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The fit is wider and higher volume. This is especially true in the midfoot and forefoot. The mesh has plenty of stretch, while the Saucony logo and laces provides further adjustments needed to the fit. The tongue is gusseted, slightly thicker and stays in place while also wrapping the foot for further lockdown. The heel fit is normal width. There is a moderately stiff heel counter with moderate heel collar cushioning. The heel counter did not bother me at all (which was surprising) given how rounded it is (rather than the rigid wall design most have). Those that are sensitive to counters should still approach cautiously, while those that like them should do well. The security of the shoe is quite good for the higher volume. I was able to lock the shoe down without having to lace lock the upper. Quick turns did cause not causing sliding, which I suspect comes from the gusseted tongue further securing the foot. The inner liner is extremely comfortable and handles sockless running well. The insole is thick, so removing it and placing orthotics in does little to change the fit. The additional volume from the upper allows even the thickest orthotic to slide in. Thus, for those with wider or higher volume feet, the Echelon 9 has an excellent fit.

What Makes a Shoe Orthotic-Friendly?
By Nathan Brown
There aren't many shoes that are specifically designed for orthotic use, but the Saucony Echelon is one of them. So what makes a shoe "work well with orthotics?" There are a few things. First, and arguably most importantly, the best-case scenario is that the sock liner of the shoe matches the thickness of the custom or pre-fabricated orthotic that you plan to put in there. Often, orthotics are on the thicker end, and therefore having a shoe with a thicker sock liner is a better match. If the sock liner is thin, it can result in more compression from the upper if a thicker orthotic is placed. Next, it is nice for the shoe to have a wider platform and build on a flatter last. A last refers to the model of a foot that the shoe is built around, so the resulting area that I'm referring to is the footbed where the foot and shoe interact. A flatter last results in a non-obtrusive platform for the orthotic to sit upon versus something curved underfoot that interacts in an odd way with the orthotic. Finally, an upper that overall has a higher volume can be helpful. This again allows for any thickness of the orthotic to be accommodated by the upper and not make it fit odd. I'm a bit surprised that the Echelon 9 has a gusseted tongue because having a more mobile tongue can allow for easier insertion of their orthotic or even an ankle foot orthosis (AFO). However, the Eschelon 9 checks all the other boxes. 


The Saucony Echelon 9 is a high stack height, moderately soft riding daily trainer. Version 9 drops over 2 oz of weight, coming in at 10.3 oz for men's size 9. This puts the Echelon in a true daily training category, rather than the clunky walking shoe of versions past (12.5 oz). The stack height has increased a noticeable amount, which combined with Saucony's new PWRRUN blend provides a moderately soft underfoot feel from heel-to-toe. The ride is not mushy, but it is consistently well-cushioned. The transitions are smooth and centered thanks to the wide base and decently rockered ride. The heel bevel is centered and a little longer than most which provides a gentle transition at heel strike. The forefoot is also rockered and features a mild amount of flexibility that makes transitions off the toes easy. The Echelon 9 excels as a daily training shoe for running or walking. I have used it extensively for both on longer runs and long teaching days. It is a great shoe for easy and longer efforts given the high level of comfort and gentle ride. It does not do as well at uptempo or faster efforts given the higher volume of the shoe and more relaxed nature.

The outsole has been decently durable as it has extensive rubber coverage. After 30 miles (and wearing these every day to work) there is some mild outsole abrasion at my normal posterior lateral left heel. There has been a slight increase in wear at the central forefoot (exposed midsole), but it has not affected the ride. The rubber does give excellent traction on smooth surfaces. I have had no trouble with dry or wet road conditions. The Echelon 9 grips extremely well on smooth indoor surfaces and I have had no trouble in clinic or teaching. It does fine on smooth trails, but I would not use it for more aggressive ones as it is a road shoe.


The Saucony Echelon 9 is the definition of a stable neutral shoe. There is no posting and this is technically a neutral shoe. However, there are many well-executed elements that make this shoe inherently stable. The sole is extremely wide throughout the length of the shoe with a full ground contact outsole. Significant side walls are present wrapping around both sides of the heel into the midfoot. The lateral sidewall even travels slightly into the forefoot. The heel bevel and forefoot rocker are well-designed, not aggressive, but work well with the wider sole to facilitate forward motion. Guidance lines are present centrally in the sole at the forefoot and heel. None of this is pushy in any direction, but instead promotes things staying centrally and moving forward. This type of "stable neutral" design is also excellent for orthotics as none of these things will interfere with any types of corrections or modifications. 

Thoughts as a DPT: Matching Orthotics With Shoes
By Matthew Klein

We have had an increasing number of questions about which shoes work best with orthotics. We have done a podcast episode that dance around this but want to clear up this question. Orthotics, whether they are custom or over-the-counter, are external devices that should replace (not be put on top of) the insole of a shoe. The shoe of choice should have a removable insole, as one that is not removable will not have enough space to accommodate an orthotic. Orthotics almost always take up more space than traditional insoles, so the shoes taking an orthotic need to have more room in the upper (or you may need to consider a half size larger in your shoe of choice). The shoe also needs to be neutral or stable neutral as any posting or traditional stability may interfere with or overly correct any attempted influence from the orthotic. 

The Saucony Echelon 9 does all of these extremely well. It has a removable insole that is quite thick, so replacing it with an orthotic provides almost no change in volume (I have tested this with Superfeet and Currex without issue). The volume of the upper is already higher, so those sensitive to narrow uppers or the rare person that has the extra thick orthotic should still have enough room without needing to change shoe size. The Echelon 9 is also a great example of a stable neutral shoe. The arch of the shoe is low, so those sensitive to higher arches will do well here. The stable part comes from the geometry of the shoe like sidewalls and a wider base, which only serve to secure and center the orthotic even more. 

We have 1-2 other shoes that fit into this category that we want to test, but thus far the Echelon 9 is doing the best job of checking all the boxes of a shoe that can not only handle an orthotic but look good and perform well while doing so.


The Saucony Echelon 9 has been a fantastic shoe for me while recovering from a fractured 4th toe (proximal phalange, not related to running at all... I kicked a barbell by accident). The higher volume and wider fit kept the pressure off my toes, allowing me to walk and eventually run with significantly less pain. The new maximal stack height provides plenty of cushion without being mushy and the large weight drop to 10.3 oz makes this feel like a true training and not a clunky orthotic shoe. The stable foundation is awesome for those looking for a stable neutral shoe that are sensitive to posts and traditional stability measures. The insole design continues to be fantastic, with a thicker one that makes replacing it with an orthotic an easy transition. I really don't have any recommendations at this point as this is the best running shoe for taking orthotics on the market right now. This has been my primary walking shoe for the last month and I will probably be purchasing a darker color pair to continue using at work.


The Saucony Echelon 9 is for those wanting a stable neutral, wider fitting, higher volume comfortable shoe that accommodates orthotics extremely for easy miles running or walking. The ride is moderately soft, inherently stable, decently smooth and works well for easy/longer efforts. The fit is higher volume, wider yet secure thanks to a midfoot wrap. The large insole makes swapping an orthotic in easy and the stable neutral ride provides a great foundation for any one that you choose. The Saucony Echelon 9 is a huge step forward for the series, making it one of the best and lightest orthotic-friendly shoes on the market for both runners and walkers.


Fit: (Wider/Higher volume yet still secure from internal midfoot wrap. Comfortable and provides plenty of space for orthotics
Performance: B+ 
(Balanced ride best for daily training miles. Lighter than previous, but still only for recovery/easy miles)
Stability: A [Stable Neutral] (Sidewalls, a wide base/foundation, a well-rockered sole, and guidance lines)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (Excellent evolution as an orthopedic shoe with a performance twist)
Personal: A (Extremely comfortable for both walking and running. Lighter training with more volume)
Overall: A- 


Price: $149.95 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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