I’ll never forget my first car. The lady said I could have it if I could get it off her lawn. And, I’m not going to waste time here espousing the virtues that a car has for a teenager. Simple: Freedom. But, like with many first cars, that old ‘83 Mercury Lynx had some serious flaws. It eventually caught fire in the middle of a rural road. However, it lives on for me as that first vehicle for free movement.
I feel much the same way about the original Saucony Peregrines (iRunFar review). Coming from heavier trail shoes, the original Peregrines were my first foray into a lightweight trail shoe. And, like that Lynx, the speed of a lighter shoe, the feel of the trail beneath me, and the freedom of a quicker step were intoxicating. But, like that flame-torched engine block of the Lynx, those Peregrines had a vital issue: their upper. After logging only 250 miles on them, the uppers started to disintegrate.
Enter the Saucony Progrid Peregrine 2 ($100; 9.9 ounces). Still hailing from the proven and well-loved last of the Kinvara line, the Peregrine 2 seek to improve upon their predecessors. And, I believe they do that well. Let’s start from the bottom and move up.
Our Montana March has afforded me with a remarkable variety of conditions to put the outsole through its paces. While we usually only have snow and ice this time of year, this March has been a wild mix of all the white stuff, plus hard-packed dirt, and very wet mud. After putting the Peregrine 2 through it all, the traction pattern that the Peregrine line features remains one of my favorite patterns on the market at the moment. I find that it provides excellent traction whether you’re kicking straight through or skidding sideways on a turn. The tread is deep and greatly varied… perfect stuff for mixed environs.
The rubber is not a sticky rubber. For those of you looking for a shoe that is going to grip and stick to rocks, you will probably find this outsole to be a bit hard. But, as with any hard sole, the durability is fantastic. The tiniest of lugs are still present, even after some decently hard trails.
In terms of “minimal” trail shoes, the midsole on the Peregrine 2 has more protection than many. There is little need to fear the random root or sharp rock. The midsole presents a moderately-wide platform on which to land. In my mind, they are wide enough for good stability without adding extraneous rubber or foam. But, this does come at the cost of flexibility and feel. For example, the ride in the Peregrine 2 is noticeably stiffer than that of the Brooks PureGrit.
It did feel like the midsole needed time to form to my feet. Out of the box, the Peregrine 2 presents itself as a very “average” fit. If you have average arches and an average volume foot, the fit on the Peregrine 2 is solid. For my high-arched and low-volume feet, there is noticeable room through the arch and around the heel cup. With time, the midsole broke-in and allowed for a better fit.
Like the Kinvara and the original Peregrine, the Peregrine has 4 mm heel-to-toe drop.
This is where the Peregrine 2 outshines its predecessor. Gone is the soft and webbed upper of the original Peregrine. It has been replaced with a stiffer and, ironically, lighter plastic mesh. This mesh is reinforced with plastic strips throughout. The toe bumper is significantly stiffer than the previous model. Saucony continues to employ lace-through tabs for the lacing system, which allows one to cinch up the shoes with a very reasonable amount of consistency.
The result? While I haven’t plugged 250 miles on these yet, I am very optimistic that the Peregrine 2 will escape the charred engine block experience of the original Peregrine. After taking a couple of sticks in the side of the foot and stubbing my toe on many slush-concealed rocks, the uppers show almost zero wear. The mesh stands up against the midsole well. The upper conforms to the foot without any problems. And, for the vain moments in all of us, the color schemes are awesome.
Saucony also continued to employ its “Hydrator” pads to help keep the foot in place in the heel cup. For some reason, I did not find them as effective in the Peregrine 2 as they were in the first iteration.
For me, the Peregrine 2 retains all the great features of the Peregrine line (lightweight, incredible traction, and moderately-minimal feel), while improving upon the flaws of the original. When the uppers on my first Peregrines started to disintegrate, I shared my concerns with Saucony. They replied promptly and said they would be passing the feedback on. I would like to think that it is this kind of attitude towards runner feedback that produced this solid update for an excellent shoe.
However, with the Saucony Kinvara TR on the horizon, one has to wonder about the future of the Peregrine line. For many, these shoes have provided entrance into a minimalist freedom on the trails that stirs the teenage motorhead in all of us. Regardless of their future, I believe that the Peregrine 2 is a solid choice for any trail runner looking to break into the minimalist world or to protect their feet from their favorite gnarly trails.