Saucony Endorphin Rift Review

An in-depth review of the Saucony Endorphin Rift trail running shoe.

By on September 9, 2023 | Comments

The Saucony Endorphin Rift ($170) is a big shoe with dynamic capabilities and a lighthearted “sole.”

If there are any runners out there remotely interested in exploring the possibilities of this new trail running shoe, I highly recommend slipping on a pair. The three main parts of the Saucony Endorphin Rift have unique qualities offering trail runners new perspectives on shoe design and construction. This shoe is a quintessential versatile trail running shoe. It provides a nimble underfoot ride with exceptional energy return coupled with surprising stability and durability.

I preface this review by saying that this is my first experience running in the Saucony Endorphin line of shoes — either those made for the trail or road. However, I have spent ample time in versions of the Saucony Peregrine — you can see our Saucony Peregrine 13 review for info on the most current version of this model. I will stress however, that I tested the Saucony Endorphin Rift in Arizona’s rugged and rocky trails, in parts of New Mexico’s colorful Santa Fe National Forest, and all over Southern Oregon — along the coast and in the Siskiyou Mountains — for well over 150 miles, and I will continue to run far in this shoe. I have marked it as one of my main shoes for my personal 100-mile adventure this summer, along a section of the Pacific Crest Trail.

To my surprise the Saucony Endorphin Rift is a lower drop shoe with 6 millimeters of drop, has a claimed stack height of 33 millimeters at the heel and 27 millimeters at the toe, is lightweight at 258 grams (9.1 ounces) for a men’s U.S. size 9, and has a sock-like upper that I find intriguing from a comfort and holistic perspective.

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Saucony Endorphin Rift

The Saucony Endorphin Rift. All photos: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Saucony Endorphin Rift Upper

The Saucony Endorphin Rift upper has an interesting design appeal with varying degrees of support from the toes to the heel. How this support and stability feels largely depends on the shape and size of a runner’s foot. Starting distally, there is extra TPU material to protect the toes from rocks and cactus needles — definitely a plus while training on more technical trail. However, the toebox is markedly tapered, but thankfully the soft, breathable, and pliable mesh above the toes allows for a modicum of relief. I will note that after every run in this shoe I immediately wore my toe spacers for recovery and corrective care. I have thought about sizing up to see if that would afford my toes more room, but besides that this is a glove-like fit for me.

Since I do have toe splay and a relatively wide midfoot, the full sock-fit construction coupled with the harder plastic mesh connecting the two upper lace eyelets to the heel collar fully locked down my foot. This feature also provided another layer of protection and upper integrity, adding to the versatility of this shoe. As it relates to gait mechanics, the double mesh construction anchored at the back of the heel helped maintain smooth follow through and foot alignment from landing to toeoff, which has a touch of roll for forward momentum. The extra heel cushion is pleasant and is also aimed at preventing any unwanted movement or slippage. Unfortunately, I went into wearing this shoe with a slight irritation from a dress boot — and the extra padding and rigid heel counter rubbed the back of my right heel. It was negligible, but something I had to be proactive about before runs. The left heel was left unscathed and unbothered.

Overall, the upper design supports a stable feel with a touch of softness. Future iterations may be better served with underlays instead of exposing more fabric and stitching than is necessary. I still recommend wearing socks to ward off any hotspots. There was no need on my end to tighten the laces. I simply tied them to get them out of the way. The added pull ropes on top of the tongue and heel are extremely useful when donning the shoes.

Saucony Endorphin Rift - lateral view

A lateral view of the Saucony Endorphin Rift.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Midsole

The Saucony Endorphin Rift midsole is a full-length PWRRUN PB foam, made from pellet-based technology. Shoe designers melted PEBA pellets and castor bean oils in the shape of the shoe, resulting in a bouncy, lightweight, energetic, and relatively firm foam. Although there is more to it than this explanation, the engineers behind the design were looking for a polymer with great snapback, bounce, and energy return, highlighted with durability. They achieved their mission. As with most PEBA foams, the runner can feel the energy return. The Rift’s midsole does this exceptionally well, while also offering a lower density than traditional TPU and EVA midsoles — an overall softer and more compliant experience for the runner. Instead of sinking into the cushion like some soft engineered midsoles, the PWRRUN PB plus the brand’s SPEEDROLL geometry aids the runner in saving energy and propelling them forward. It would be interesting to see where the research lands in terms of potentially improved running economy with PEBA-designed midsoles.

The Saucony Endorphin Rift doesn’t have a carbon fiber plate like its counterpart, the Saucony Endorphin Edge — here’s our Saucony Endorphin Edge review — but has a thin and flexible plate integrated into the soft foam for extra forefoot protection. The plate is a nice addition to the PWRRUN PB foam, allowing for a touch of structure and an uptick in confidence for the runner on more technical terrain. The midsole sidewalls are a thing to behold, but ultimately, I didn’t mind the lateral and medial support they provided. As I discussed about the shoe’s upper in the section above, this design construction kept the feet tracking and stable throughout the gait cycle. One thing I have noticed is that the coloring is starting to peel off the midsole foam exposing its white interior, but the most important thing is that the midsole’s qualities have been maintained since mile one.

The midsole is the reason why I wanted to test this model, and it didn’t disappoint. I also like the way it brings the upper and the outsole together for a fun and energetic experience.

Saucony Endorphin Rift - medial view

A medial view of the Saucony Endorphin Rift.

Saucony Endoprhin Rift Outsole

The Saucony Endoprhin Rift outsole boasts an aggressive lug pattern, 4.5-millimeter lug depth, and Saucony’s PWRTRAC outsole rubber. The PWRTRAC has decent stick, but coming from shoes like VJ Ultra — read our VJ Ultra 2 review for more information on this model — and trail running shoes that use Vibram Megagrip, I am hesitant to laud this outsole as a prime performer outside of summer and fall weather conditions. Alas, this is an arena where my review falls short. If anything, the lug pattern keeps it alive and efficient on rocky and hilly trails where extra grab is needed. The lug placement also adds to the stability of the shoe, providing a grounded base on all edges — even on the extended heel. I feel solid when I land in these shoes. It is noteworthy to add that the outsole and midsole complement each other. Or perhaps another way to frame it is that the PWRTRAC is an extension of the soft, energy-laden midsole.

However, some weight could be saved by decreasing the lug depth, an astute observation by other wearers and onlookers, and probably warranted given that even though these shoes are highly versatile, a push for more speed may be granted by a decreased use in outsole material. Plus the stack height is pushing it for me since I tend to run in shoes with a little more ground feel and less material underneath my feet.

A definite plus of the PWRTRAC is that it performed exceptionally well across the desert landscape, proving that the abrasion-resistant material was living up to its mission. It has held up decently on my road-to-trail jaunts, but I think that the low weight helps to get through these sections with a quickened pace.

Saucony Endorphin Rift - outsole

The outsole of the Saucony Endorphin Rift.

Saucony Endorphin Rift Overall Impressions

The Saucony Endorphin Rift has a solid future ahead of it for both performance or as a daily trainer — a testament to its versatility. It is ideal on public forest roads, smooth singletrack, and moderate technical terrain. I have yet to test it in inclement weather and on wet and snowy trail conditions. This shoe has an energetic and responsive ride with a kicking bounce yet fortified with a flexible rock plate in the forefoot. This adds a little rigidity and protection to the PWRRUN PB foam and integrates nicely with the SPEEDROLL forward geometry.

Interestingly, the design from top to bottom and from front to back offers something for any type of runner and for a variety of foot shapes. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the next iteration has a wider toebox and slightly a little more rigid feel coming from the outsole and midsole, which will hopefully extend the lifespan of both. Somehow, Saucony was able to find a nuanced balance between comfort, energy return, weight, stability, and durability — a difficult feat. There is the added benefit of a little speed that can be generated.

As I mentioned, the Saucony Endorphin Rift is an exciting shoe to run in, and I hope all types of runners find it intriguing enough to adventure in.

Shop the Women's Saucony Endorphin RiftShop the Men's Saucony Endorphin Rift

Call for Comments

  • Have you run in the Saucony Endorphin Rift? How did you find them?
  • How do you think they compare to other shoe models in the Saucony Endorphin line?

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

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Check out our Best Trail Running Shoes article to learn about our current favorite trail running shoes!

Saucony Endorphin Rift - top view

A top view of the Saucony Endorphin Rift.

Molly Schmelzle

Molly Schmelzle is a gear reviewer for iRunFar. She is relatively new to the reviewing scene but is a veteran competitive athlete, ultrarunner, and writer. Molly has authored biology-based research papers and numerous grants for funding opportunities. She has been coaching runners of all abilities with a particular focus on strength and conditioning training over the last 7 years. Together with her partner, a sports chiropractor with a specialty in running and endurance athletes, they are in the beginning stages of building a mobility and strength program for runners. Molly is a dedicated biologist for the state of Oregon and is a strength coach on the side. She enjoys running ultras in remote mountainous areas and will occasionally hop into road half and full marathons.