Saucony’s Endorphin series, which debuted in 2020, is a trio of versatile road shoes designed primarily for high-performance running. The series has already made a name for itself among runners, despite being a recent entry. But hey, we are not talking about Speed 3 here (watch out for our review soon), and not about Pro 3 either. The latter from the Endorphin series was Saucony’s super shoe until recently. A fourth sibling, the Endorphin Elite, was released which now takes the crown as the flagship. Also, let’s not forget the trail-running sibling, the Edge.
This review is of the Endorphin Shift, the first shoe in the series. The name “Shift” seems to be aptly chosen as it reflects the shift from the daily trainer series to the performance-related series. Right out of the box, the Shift 3 is a maximalist shoe. It looks imposing and reminds me of the Hoka Clifton series. It packs the PWRRUN foam in the midsole, paired with Saucony’s Speed Roll technology. Despite its high stack, the Shift 3 maintains a low 4mm offset, making it a versatile option. The Shift is conceptually a daily trainer, but in my experience, it never hesitated to pick up the pace when demanded.
Disclosure: This pair of Saucony Shift 3 was sent to us by Saucony India for review purposes. Please rest assured that this is a neutral review. This is neither a sponsored post nor does Saucony India have any say in this review.
This is a maximal shoe, as I mentioned earlier. Shift 3 looks huge and one would expect it to be on the heavier side. The Shift 3 has a stack height of 39mm in the heel, pretty close to breaking the World Athletics legal limit of 40mm for road racers, but we are living in times where brands are not reluctant to push even higher (Hello Asics Superblast!). Shift has 35mm height in the forefoot, resulting in an offset of 4mm, making it most suited to forefoot and midfoot runners. But the heel bevel helps heel strikers too. Despite the stack height, Shift 3 is surprisingly light for the stack, weighing 266 grams for UK 8. It is much lighter compared to its previous editions, and it also matches up to the other high-stacked daily trainers in the competition.
Priced at ₹13,990, the Shift 3 looks expensive, especially when a lot of neutral daily trainers are priced below this mark, including the likes of Nike Pegasus 39, Brooks Ghost 15 and even Saucony’s own Ride 15. But what justifies Shift 3’s price? The maximal nature, packed with a performance-oriented yet stable ride is its selling point and needless to say the shoe aces in it. Stability is one element where Shift 3 stands out from the competition, amidst all the foam underneath. The closest competition available in India is the Asics Glideride which is also priced at the same level.
The Shift 3 midsole looks visually similar to its predecessor, but it boasts two significant changes. First, the stack height has been increased by 2mm on both the heel and forefoot, with measurements now at 39 mm and 3 5mm respectively. Second, despite the increased stack height, the midsole is now even lighter and softer than before. Like the previous two iterations, Shift 3 continues to pack PWRRUN foam underneath, which is made from TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) compound that is much bouncier than traditional EVA foam.
PWRRUN used in Shift 3 is tuned to be way softer, and the durometer score of 25 confirms the midsole softness. Another shoe from Saucony’s stable, the Kinvara 13, measures 35 mm. It is softer than most neutral trainers out there. The sock liner, which is thick and cushy (durometer score of 15), further adds to the shoe’s overall comfort level.
Rocker midsole geometry of Saucony Shift 3 uses the Speed Roll technology. This means that the forefoot is rockered to help the runner propel forward. The rigidity of the midsole packed with rocker makes it ideal for uptempo paces. The noticeable heel bevel aids in the heel-to-toe transition and also helps reduce impact on the knee. There’s a lot going on in the midsole and is not done yet. It adds some stability features, a more noticeable one being the TPU heel cup, which provides stability to the shoe by adding structure and support to the rearfoot.
The upper of this shoe features perforated engineered mesh that provides excellent breathability and ventilation to keep your feet cool and dry during intense workouts. The design of the upper is particularly well-structured around the toe area, which provides a comfortable fit and protects your toes from impact and friction. The asymmetrically shaped tongue is gusseted, which helps to hold your foot in place and prevent it from slipping around inside the shoe. Thankfully, the colour variant I have features standard flat laces. However, if you’re considering the ViziPro variant, keep in mind that it features rounded laces which may not be to everyone’s liking.
The heel counter in Shift 3 isn’t as tall as it looks. Instead, it only runs until the pull tag and is cushioned material that hugs my heel comfortably. As someone with Haglund deformity, I appreciate that these shoes don’t irritate my Achilles. However, I don’t find the elastic pull tag to be very useful in my experience.
There’s nothing exciting on the outsole here. The design is largely unchanged from previous editions. XT-900 carbon rubber outsole material is used, as with many of its other shoes. The rubber runs thick along the edges of the midsole, with a thin strip in the middle, providing ample protection and durability. The rubber is also robust enough, on par with the durable rubber used in other popular trainers such as the Nike Pegasus. The midsole foam has a pattern underneath to offer some additional traction.
If you’re a runner looking for a shoe that offers comfort, versatility, and support, then the Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 is definitely worth considering. Not only is it an excellent example of the #OneShoeCanDoAll philosophy, but it’s also an excellent choice for making long runs more enjoyable. As someone who loves to mix things up during my runs, whether it’s with progressive pacing or throwing in some tempo paced efforts during the long run, I find that the Shift 3 is the perfect shoe for the job.
I received the Saucony Shift 3 about 6-7 weeks before my marathon debut at the Tata Mumbai Marathon, during a phase when I was looking to add some intensity to my endurance training. At the time, I was also testing out the Brooks Ghost 15 (review) and trying to determine if the Nike Zoomfly 4 was the right option for both training and racing. However, the Zoomfly tended to irritate my Achilles, so I replaced it with the Shift 3 for tempo runs and speed intervals thereafter.
During my very first run in Shift 3, which included 800-meter repetitions, I was impressed by the shoe’s performance. Putting it on feels initially strange when you suddenly feel unnaturally tall. However, the break-in period is quick, usually taking just 3-4 runs.
Since then, I have logged over 120 kilometres in Shift 3. These runs have primarily consisted of speed intervals, tempo workouts, and marathon-paced long runs. Following the marathon, I also used them for all my easy runs and long runs. Surprisingly, Shift 3 performed exceptionally well for all these workouts. The shoe overall feels stable and firm, and I’m not complaining. This rigidity helps when picking up tempo paces.
The rocker geometry makes it easier to glide and stride. The rocker is subtle and not aggressive, which is just right for a daily trainer. The heel bevel makes sure the transition from heel to toe works really smoothly and also ensure the impact on the knee is minimal.
In almost all my runs, I found myself landing on my forefoot, likely due to the low drop. The easier runs felt soft, and I believe this is due to the sock liner playing a role. I also chose to wear them for my easy runs since I like to close them with strides, and Shift 3 does a great job of accommodating this.
Fit & Comfort
The shoe fits true to size in my men’s UK 7. Its wider counterpart is surprisingly not available in India which might be a deal-breaker for some. Putting on the shoe can be a bit of a challenge, and this hasn’t changed even after several runs. Once on, the shoe feels snug, and I have not experienced any heel slippage despite the heel counter not being well-covered. While the fit in the heel and the toe box is just right, the forefoot is a bit tight, and I’m not complaining here, though this would be a personal preference. Such a snug fit gives me confidence while picking up some intense paces. A layer of gusseted tongue runs beneath the perforated design, and this provides a comfortable fit for the forefoot. During my long runs over the past few weeks in the onset of Mumbai’s summers, I initially had concerns about the shoe’s breathability. That surprisingly ain’t the case even with the decent amount of padding that’s present on the heel and the midfoot.
The design of Shift 3 screams support. The shoe’s TPU heel counter adds stability by helping to anchor the heel, reducing movement and providing support. The support is massively aided by sidewalls on both the medial and lateral sides. Makes an excellent choice for those with low foot arches and over-pronators looking for support. A well- structured lockdown from the heel to the toe makes sure your foot isn’t wobbling around. This is aided by a fully gussetted tongue. Cornering especially during uptempo paces feels really confident.
Though the upper runs narrow in the regular width variant, the outsole is wider both in the heel and in the forefoot. This provides more support since it provides a broad base for the foot to land on. I’ll put Shift 3 in the neutral stable category, where the stability is taken care of without compromising its weight.
Durability & Road Grip
The Saucony Endorphin Shift 3’s outsole uses the durable XT-900 rubber compound in the typical hotspots, similar to the approach taken in the Kinvara where only the heel area is covered with rubber. This limited coverage raises questions about the shoe’s overall durability compared to other neutral trainers that have more extensive rubber coverage. The larger responsibility here shifts to the midsole, which is known to be durable and resilient. I would be willing to retire this one early and take a cautious approach after 600-odd kilometres. Offering traction is another area where the outsole struggles, which will make me avoid Shift and rather opt for the Nike Pegasus or the Brooks Ghost during my occasional off-roads or rainy days.
The Shift 3 is not the most exciting shoe out there, but it looks aesthetically pleasing and cleaner than its previous editions. Unfortunately, in India, only the Black and ViziPro colourways are available, which may be a deal-breaker for those looking for a clean white look. Personally, it is my favourite among the colorways.
Saucony’s Endorphin Shift 3 is a one-shoe-do-all kind of trainer. It's a training shoe that can handle various workouts. The shoe is pretty light, feels comfortable, runs stable, and performs well when one at faster paces. Even with all the stack underneath, the ride is very stable, especially during speed intervals and tempo workouts. If there’s one workout which this shoe aces, it will be the marathon-paced long run. Considering the upcoming summer, Shift 3 stands at a better place. The only area where the shoe struggles is the outsole durability and traction. To conclude, if I had to pick just one shoe for all my training, Shift 3 is my top choice.
Karthik is a business analyst by profession and a long-time volunteer contributor to Wikipedia. Apart from his enthusiasm for running and photography, advancements in mobile & wearables technology are of utmost interest to him. He is co-founder of Mumbai-based Tilaknagar Running Club.
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