Editor's Choice

Saucony Switchback ISO Review

We tore through 50+ miles of Colorado backcountry in the Saucony Switchback ISO, we couldn't be more impressed.

When it comes to finding the right trail running shoes, a number of variables come into play. The shape of your foot, distance you are running, weather conditions, any foot abnormalities etc. Sadly, it isn’t as easy as grabbing a shoe off the shelf and running an ultra. However, there are some shoes that are more universal and fit a wider variety of feet right out of the box. The Saucony Switchback ISO is one of those shoes. To preface, my feet are rather narrow but not skinny by any means. I usually find success in wearing La Sportiva shoes as in my opinion, they run a tiny bit narrow. I would rate the width of the Saucony shoes as a 5 out of 10, very much in the middle of the width spectrum.

In our Saucony Switchback ISO review we tested these shoes on a plethora of surfaces, however, we focused on the shoe’s original intention, trail. We mainly tested the shoes in the Front Range of Colorado where trails vary widely from rock scrambles to dusty singletrack. We tested the traction, fit and durability on all available surfaces and the results were very impressive.

Saucony Switchback ISO sitting on log showing toe of shoe

UPPER

ISOFIT: A soft inner sleeve and floating support cage combine to create a dynamic fit system that adapts to the shape and motion of your foot.

The upper of this shoe is arguably my favorite upper of all shoes in my closet. I’m not entirely clear on the voodoo that Saucony is working on in their laboratory but the ISOFIT upper fits more like a glove than a shoe. Each and every movement of your foot seems like it’s being lightly guided through its motion instead of being forced to take on the shape of the shoe. This technology will result in better out-of-the-box feel and turns each shoe into a custom high-end shoe not only for individual people, but individual feet.

Through all of our testing I never got a hot spot when tightened up while running or loosened and walking to and from the trail. The supple texture and light weight of the uppers really make the shoe feel like a technical slipper instead of a bulky trail running shoe.

Profile product photo of the Saucony Switchback ISO

MIDSOLE

EVERUN: Provides a lively, resilient ride while providing continuous cushioning throughout the run. Highly durable and with enhanced energy return properties, EVERUN delivers an energized running experience with every stride.

This is the part of the shoe that threw me for a loop when I first got my hands on them. In the stock photos on the Saucony website the midsole seems quite padded or at least average when it comes to squishiness.

On my first run I quickly realized these were lightweight and had less volume than I thought in the midsole. To call them a racing flat is far from the truth but to say the midsole is average in squish would be debatable. I would say these are mid to low volume on the squish-o-meter which makes them very fast and agile. When running technical sections and hopping rock to rock, the volume, size and density of the Everun midsole was incomparable. After 50+ miles of running in these shoes I haven’t seen or felt any change in the density or form of the midsole.

Tread and outsole of the Saucony Switchback ISO

OUTSOLE

The outsole on the shoe is a monster. The lugs are long enough to grab the world with ferocity but short enough to not feel like your running on a never ending rock garden. If you look at the photos of the outsole, those treads have seen 50+ miles of trail and everyday wear for 3 months. They are the real deal, soft enough to melt into trail features and rigid enough to keep the foot protected.

Due to the shallow depth of the outsole, I didn’t find the accumulation of mud to be any issue when the trail got sloppy. They dispatched all unneeded crud within the next few steps down the trail. Another added bonus of the outsole is how it creeps up the front and rear of the shoe adding a bit more protection and traction in your stride.

FEATURES

  • Shoe Category: Trail
  • Pronation: Neutral
  • Cushion: Responsive
  • Construction Type: Trail
  • Surface: Trail, Grass
  • Arch: Normal (Mid)
  • Water Resistant: No
  • Waterproof: No
  • Offset: 4mm
  • Heel Stack Height: 22.5mm
  • Forefoot Stack Height: 18.5mm
  • Weight: 10.6 Size 11.5
Saucony Switchback ISO close up of BOA Technology dial

LACING:

Boa Technology

L6 Dial:

L6 is the most widely used dial in the L-SERIES thanks to its versatile cartridge system. Designed to keep you going, the two-part design provides maximum impact protection and easy field repair – when extreme force ejects the dial, you can easily pop the cartridge back in and go on with your day.

TX4 Lace:

Flexible, lightweight, and strong, the TX4 textile lace provides a soft feel with the lasting strength of Dyneema®.

Functionality:

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The enclosure system on the Switchback ISO looks unlike many and functions like very few. When I first got the shoe I was of course skeptical of the Boa Fit System, kind of a if it ain’t broke don’t fix it mentality. Then I thought to myself, one of my favorite shoes are my Pearl Izumi X-Alp Elevate mountain bike shoes and they have integrated Boa Technology… get over it.

While running, there were never any hot spots due to the dial during testing. The dial is SUPER easy to use and adjusted the laces evenly across the top of my foot. In the past I have strategically laced my shoes to keep from getting sore on the top of my foot when weird things are happening in my shoe. The way the laces lay across the tongue of the shoe, you quite literally don’t feel the laces, just a snug grip evenly around your foot.

The one drawback from the Boa Fit System that is ridiculous to even write is when I’m sitting or resting on a rock and cross my legs, it scrapes up against the ground or rock that I’m sitting on. I guess with a bad habit you could scratch and wear down the dial over time.

Saucony Switchback ISO sitting on log for display

With a proper test in the books, I would recommend this shoe to anyone looking for a lightweight short to mid distance trail running shoe. Maybe your feet aren’t as sensitive as mine when bumping up the miles, if that’s the case, this shoe has real potential in being your lightweight long distance favorite.

Comments or questions about the Saucony Switchback ISO review? Please drop us a line below, we would love to hear from you.

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