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The Saucony Echelon 5 Review – What Makes it Special?

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One of the best pieces of advice to runners is to ensure their running shoes properly fit. But for individuals with wider feet, finding shoes that fit off the shelf can be difficult. Some shoes offer wider versions of their most popular models, but even with these options, the fit can be excessive or uncomfortable.

Additionally, there are some ailments of the foot or foot structure that absolutely, in the short-term, require custom orthotics. However, even with removable insoles in most running shoes, fitting custom orthotics can be difficult.

Saucony running shoes listened to the feedback from wide-foot runners or for those that swear by custom orthotics and introduce the Saucony Echelon 5. The Saucony Echelon 5 is a neutral trainer aimed at runners looking for a customizable shoe for longer miles. It is also a fan-favorite for flat foot runners that prefer custom orthotics over overbearing medial posts.

Product Specifications and Breakdown

  Saucony Echelon 5 
Type of Shoe  Road Running Shoe 
Weight  11.7 Ounces – Men 

10 Ounces – Women 

Price  $70 
Heel Drop  8 mm  
Midsole Technology  SSL EVA Foam with Saucony’s Powerfoam and GRID technology.  
Outsole Technology  Injection Blown Rubber, or IBR+.   
Upper Design  Sauc-Fit with Open Mesh Fabric 
Flexibility  Sturdy 

Most Notable Features

  • Stunning and contemporary shoe design.
  • Accommodating sizes for both wider feet runners and narrower.
  • Comfortable padding on the interior of the shoe.
  • Durable and long-lasting outsole.
  • The shoe can last for hundreds of running miles.

Pros

  • Upper is flexible and breathable
  • Foundation Platform allows for roomy toe box area, which is great for wide feet
  • POWERGRID cushioning is lightweight and disperses impact well
  • Custom orthotics can fit easily
  • Traction utilizes unique carbon rubber compound making it very durable

Cons

  • Newer models feature Everun cushioning which is an absolute upgrade over POWERGRID
  • Price, even on sale, tends to be a bit high considering comparable models available
  • Use of custom orthotics makes is more expensive than the retail price.
  • Does not provide much support for mild overpronators

Sole Technology

When looking for a good running shoe, it’s imperative to take into consideration the quality of the outsole and midsole of the shoe. For beginners, many different brands offer different forms of technology and innovation. So, it’s important to be aware of the best types of materials and innovation to ensure the best running shoe. The Echelon 5’s is known for its outsole and midsole, including a high-quality foam interior.

  • Outsole

The Saucony Echelon 5 running shoes have an outsole that is built from XT-900. This is more commonly known as a carbon rubber that offers great traction to handle common roads and other flat-like surfaces. Additionally, this material Is long-lasting, helping to boost the longevity of the shoe. Lastly, the Saucony brand chose to include Injection Blown Rubber for the compound. This helps with providing the runner with greater control and comfortability when running or walking.

  • Midsole

The Echelon 5 stands apart from the competition due to its high-quality SSL EVA technology or Saucony Super Lite. This midsole helps to balance out each step when the runner is performing. Additionally, the company included POWERGRID with Powerfoam technology in efforts to give runners the most comfortable experience. It does this through stronger shock and pressure absorption and better cushioning for the heel and toe.

Aesthetic

The Saucony Echelon 5 is a sleek, technical running shoe made in the mold of similar running shoes on the market. Like most advanced running shoes, it won’t be mistaken for a lifestyle or casual shoe and, appropriately, looks highly technical.

The Saucony Echelon 5 also features Saucony’s “running river” logo on the side. However, with the structural overlays, we found that on some colorways, the logo almost disappeared.

The Saucony Echelon 5 is comprised completely of a synthetic mesh upper with prominent breathability ports or holes. It doesn’t disguise its breathability as well as other uppers such as Primeknit or Flyknit.

However, as a technical running shoe, it doesn’t need to. The Saucony Echelon 5 also features a segmented heel on the lateral side along with the standard, nonfunctional designs throughout the shoe.

We found that runners generally felt that the Saucony Echelon 5 was a good looking running shoe.

Both hardcore and casual runners were able to enjoy the silhouette without feeling like it was either too basic or overly technical. We also found that many runners commented that the Saucony Echelon 5 wore sleeker than the overall profile.

In fact, the silhouette is so successful with runners, Saucony employed core elements from the Saucony Echelon 5 in their other shoes.

Lastly, the Saucony Echelon 5 is offered in tasteful colorways without being too flashy. It features technical design elements that, for the most part, are superficial, but are consistent with the overall theme of a technical running shoe.

On that note, some runners commented that Saucony Echelon 5 may appear a little too technical at times. For instance, the Saucony Echelon 5 may prove a little difficult to wear in casual situations if needed. Additionally, with the chosen design elements, even with the “chunky” sneaker trend, the Saucony Echelon 5 may still be too “treadmill” to wear casually.

MEN

  • Navy and Black
  • Grey, Red, and Blue

WOMEN

  • Grey and Pink
  • Grey, Mint, and Blue

Score: 7/10 – Appropriately technical running shoe with corresponding design features. Can’t wear casually, even though that is not its purpose.

Upper

The Saucony Echelon 5 features a synthetic open mesh upper with lots of strategic overlays prominently enclosing the midfoot.

The Saucony Echelon 5 also features Saucony’sSauc-Fit system, which is Saucony’s system for locking down the midfoot and the heel simultaneously. Additionally, Sauc-Fit promotes flexibility due to the stretch material Saucony utilizes in this technology.

As a result, we found that runners enjoyed being able to comfortably flex the upper without restriction. Additionally, the Sauc-Fit extends unto the prominent “support frame” heel counter, which keeps the runner stable even in a neutral-based running shoe.

We also found that runners enjoyed the breathability of the Saucony Echelon 5 due to the open mesh material and the RUNDRY collar lining. The RUNDRY collar wicks moisture efficiently and runners commented that it prevented excessive sweat buildup.

The collar lining is also seamlessly embedded in the interior of the shoe, unlike other models where the padding spills out around the sides.

The highlight of the upper of the shoe is that the Saucony Echelon 5 is built on Saucony’s foundation platform.

The foundation platform is flatter than other models making it ideal for runners with wider feet. Specifically, the Saucony Echelon 5 allows the feet to fully spread out within the toe box. This is aided by the stretchy upper allowing for a roomy, but stable fit.

The foundation platform is also popular with runners as it allows runners to insert a custom orthotic into the running shoe more seamlessly. Custom orthotics are an increasingly popular option with the rise of companies such as Superfeet.

However, not all running shoes can easily accommodate orthotics making for a cramped experience limiting the benefits of the orthotic. To alleviate this, the Saucony Echelon 5 features a wider surface area to allow for a better fit for drop-in insoles.

We found that runners of all foot types, but particularly runners with wider feet, sincerely enjoyed the fit of the Saucony Echelon 5. We found that runners also loved the shoe’s breathability and mentioned that the overlays provided a decent amount of stretch during runs.

However, we found that the highest praise consistently came for the foundation platform in the Saucony Echelon 5. Wide feet runners appreciated an “off-the-shelf” offering that fit wider foot runners.

Even runners of normal foot widths commented that the “roominess” of the Saucony Echelon 5 was an upgrade over traditional running shoes. We finally found that all runners enjoyed the ability to customize the Saucony Echelon 5 with a custom orthotic and have it fit seamlessly into the shoe.

However, this strength was also an occasional knock against the shoe as well. For those that did not utilize a custom orthotic, the Saucony Echelon 5’s fit could be potentially wonky for neutral runners due to the flatter platform.

Additionally, overpronators found little stability and support in the Saucony Echelon 5, which is to be expected as it is still a neutral based running shoe.

We also found that another strength of the Echelon 5 was also a weakness as some runners commented that the shoe was too wide. Therefore, runners should absolutely get properly fit before integrating the Saucony Echelon 5 into their rotation.

Score: 7/10 – The Foundation Platform is a game changer for runners with wide feet or that rely on custom orthotics. However, those not in either of those groups may find the Echelon 5 ill-fitted.

Traction

The Saucony Echelon 5 utilizes its proprietary XT-900 rubber compound to construct the outsole and provide the shoe’s traction. XT-900is a carbon rubber composite that offers high-abrasion properties while providing durability and tackiness.

Saucony employs variations of XT carbon rubber on a number of different running shoes and offers a mid-level version of the XT carbon rubber on the Saucony Echelon 5.

Saucony combines the XT-900 with iBR+ or injection blown rubber. iBR+ is a process where the rubber is liquid molded resulting in more consistency and lighter weight. The Saucony Echelon 5 combines these technologies in a strategic pattern on the outsole to provide traction in high-impact areas in the forefoot and the heel.

Saucony, prominently, supplies more of the traction in high-wear areas and as a result, provides for an easier transition during running.

We found that runners believed that the traction is sufficient for most roadways and dirt paths. The XT-900 is highly durable and the runner should not blow out the traction after a couple of wears.

We found that runners had no problem with slippage in a variety of conditions and the traction provided just enough stick on wetter roadways. We also found that runners remarked that the outsole of the Saucony Echelon 5 was considerably more durable than comparable models. 

We also found that runners enjoyed Saucony’s use of a segmented traction pattern, which provided a little more flexibility to the outsole. As a result, the Saucony Echelon 5, while not minimalist, offers a little more of a natural foot feel in terms of overall flexibility.

However, despite the intention of the Saucony Echelon 5, we found that some runners still complained that they preferred more overall sole flexibility.

Score: 8/10 – Saucony’s carbon rubber is a high-performer and continues here. Durable and dependable traction. Some runners preferred more flexibility. 

Cushioning

Building upon their highly successful GRID cushioning system, the Saucony Echelon 5 utilizes POWERGRID cushioning. In the original GRID, Saucony utilized a grid “cassette” in the heel to disperse impact during heel strikes.

In the POWERGRID, Saucony instead utilizes a sheet of perforated or “grid” foam on top of a traditional foam midsole. This allows the impact dispersion to be more complete throughout the entire foot without sacrificing stability or weight with added pieces.

As a result, the overall weight of the midsole, and thus the shoe, is lighter. The Saucony Echelon 5 weighs in at about 11.7 ounces making it lighter than other neutral shoe offerings such as the Asics Gel-Quantum 360 Shift.

The POWERGRID is, by all accounts, an upgrade to the standard grid system.

It provides an extra level of cushioning in the perforated sheet and the midsole. It still maintains the grid’s impact dispersion while combining it with a lighter overall package. The POWERGRID also allows the Saucony Echelon 5 to maintain Saucony’s commitment to 8mm heel drops which is lower than the standard 10 to 12mm offset.

We found that runners commented that the change from the grid to the POWERGRID was noticeable. Many runners commented that the initial wear was extremely comfortable and did not require any break-in time for the cushioning system to fit their stride.

Additionally, we found that many runners appreciated that the cushioning system was not compromised when a custom orthotic was used since the POWERGRID is built into the insole.

However, we found that some runners complained that the grid technology may reduce some of the responsiveness as the dispersed impact is noticeable and as a result, ground feel may be compromised. Additionally, the lack of responsiveness was heightened by the inclusion of a custom orthotic.

Lastly, given that the midsole is a foam based insole, some runners mentioned a marginal amount of compression after running a significant number of miles.

Score: 7/10 – Powergrid is a successful upgrade over grid; Cushioning is lightweight and serves its purpose; some runners noted that the cushioning was not as responsive as they had hoped.  

Pricing

The Saucony Echelon 5 retails for 130 dollars. We feel that this may be a tad bit higher than what we were looking for at this price point. Particularly since Saucony just released the Saucony Echelon 6 which features Everun in addition to all the core features of the Saucony Echelon 5.

We are pretty high on Everun and think the newer model is an absolute upgrade over the previous model.

However, at the time of writing, we found the Saucony Echelon 5 at prices hovering around 95 dollars. At this price point, we are a little more inclined to say the Saucony Echelon 5 is a good buy. However, the runner should consider the additional accessory cost that comes with the strength of the Saucony Echelon 5.

Custom orthotics such as the ever-popular Superfeet tend to cost upwards of 50 dollars. Therefore, the Saucony Echelon 5 would come with a total final cost of around 135ish. While this would be a quasi-custom fit, we still feel that the price at that point is still a bit higher than what we would expect to pay.

At 135 dollars, runners should also consider other offerings from Saucony such as the Kinvara or the Guide ISO for stability, both of which are cheaper than 135 dollars.

Score: 5/10 – The Saucony Echelon 5 at retail or even a little below is a bit too high given similar offerings available such as the Echelon 6 and the added potential cost of custom orthotics.   

Target Audience

The Saucony Echelon 5 is a neutral runner targeted at runners looking for more width in their daily running shoe. It features a foundation platform on a POWERGRID cushioning system with a breathable upper with Saucony’s dependable traction.

However, given the purposeful width of the Saucony Echelon 5, wide foot runners or even those that like to run with thicker, cushioned socks would primarily benefit from the Saucony Echelon 5. However, those with normal width feet would not find the Saucony Echelon 5 an enjoyable ride.

The other audience that would sincerely benefit from the Saucony Echelon 5 is those that are currently using custom orthotics and find them to still be cramped during running. These runners would absolutely find the Saucony Echelon 5 an upgrade over their current running shoes given their custom orthotic-friendly design.

However, those that tend to overpronate or seek shoes with some stability may find the Saucony Echelon 5 to be underwhelming. Additionally, those seeking shoes with minimalist cushioning and improved responsiveness may want to explore other options as the Saucony Echelon 5 provides ample cushioning, but lacks considerable road feel.

Score: 7/10 – For wide foot runners, this is the near-perfect shoe. However, other runners may find the fit too loose.

Should You Buy It?

Perhaps…but only under certain specific conditions.

The Saucony Echelon 5 is a popular neutral running shoe for those looking for more room in their running experience. It is absolutely for runners with wide feet or those looking to utilize custom orthotics consistently. However, given these conditions along with the price, we think the runner should purchase this shoe if:

  • They prefer foam cushioning over the TPU-based Everun in the Saucony Echelon 6;
  • Already have a pair of custom orthotics they consistently use or know they will purchase one in the future;

AND

  • Can find these less than 85 dollars.

Total score: 41/60

Is the Saucony Echelon 5 worth it?

If you are in the market to purchase a pair of Saucony running shoes, you can ensure you are picking the right brand. The Saucony brand is one of the most popular industry-leading shoe companies, known for producing high-quality and comfortable running shoes. So, with that being said, are these shoes worth the price tag? When you look at the shoe as a whole, it’s a high-quality, high-value shoe. It comes with great midsole technology, a strong outsole, and looks appealing.

However, the cost to purchase these shoes is slightly higher than other competitors. This can be equated to the quality of the Saucony brand though. Additionally, these running shoes are not great for rough or rigid terrains. So, if you are looking for that style of running, the Saucony brand has a wealth of other shoes that are catered towards that terrain.

In total, these running shoes are most certainly worth it. If you are seeking a high-quality running shoe from a reputable brand, put the Saucony Echelon 5 on your consideration list.

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