Comparing Brooks vs Saucony running shoes will bring out a lot of similarities in these two competing brands, but there are some overarching fit and technology differences.
Both brands provide high quality shoes and offer a variety of models to suit different needs from track spikes to marathon training shoes and trail running.
Saucony has made a splash in the last year with it’s new Endorphin collection. Really standing out as shift in technology and flashier marketing than we’ve seen from the brand, which alerted many runners to a brand they may have overlooked.
How do you say Saucony?
Since I used to get this question a ton wearing my Kinvaras, let me help you out.
It’s actually named after a creek in Pennsylvania and their logo is to represent the flow of water! They really love places for shoe names. I got to visit the actual towns of Kinvara and Kilkenny in Ireland, just a few of their shoe names.
Brooks vs Saucony Key Differences
Brooks and Saucony offer similar features and models for all kinds of runners, from the new runner to trail runner to the flat-footed or high-arched.
Largely, we’re looking at what makes these traditional running shoes different to see which might be a better fit for your training.
I break down the differences in more detail with specific shoe examples, but here’s a quick overview:
Brooks Running Shoes
- Wider Toe Box
- Exclusively designs running shoes
- Science-driven to accommodate rather than correct gait
Saucony Running Shoes
- Often noted as fitting a more narrow foot, with a smaller toebox
- Well known for the casual shoes as well as their running shoes
- Focus is on lighter shoes that provide maximum comfort
- Has an ongoing Fit Tester program to continually update shoes
I’ve worn both brands and will add some personal thoughts, along with links to detailed reviews. In fact, both brands are in my current shoe rotation.
Brooks vs Saucony Feature Comparison
Both brands have been around for a very long time and are leaders in running shoe design. They both offer various technologies to aid with comfort, support, stability, and cushion.
Where they differ most are in the fit and that Saucony is also well known for their casual classic shoes.
It’s gonna get a little TECHY…so you can just skip on down to the specific model comparison if you want, but personally if I’m shelling out $150 for shoes, I want to know why.
The lifespan of shoes from both companies is fairly comparable.
- Brooks shoes have a life expectancy ranging from 300 to 500 miles, or three to six months, depending on your monthly mileage.
- Saucony states their shoes last around 400 miles, which is pretty average. The new Endorphin pro with the carbon fiber plate is more like a racing shoe and therefore only expected to last around 200 miles.
Determining when to replace running shoes, of course, all depends on your gait, weight, and whether you run mostly on trail or road.
Brooks shoes have a wider toe box, which makes them a great choice for runners with wide feet or bunions. The brand recommends that buyers go up a half size from their everyday shoe.
Saucony has their own Shoe Advisor to help put you in the right model.
Their often lower heel to toe drop and cushion make them a favorite of distance runners, who find the decreased drop helps with issues like IT Band Syndrome and ensures they are working on hip strength over a shoe correcting a weakness.
Brooks uses two types of cushioning in their designs:
- DNA LOFT – Soft cushioning, that adapts to a runner’s profile, stride, and speed
- BioMoGo DNA – also adapts to runner’s profile, stride, and speed, providing a more balanced experience with a bit of spring.
Saucony has transitioned most of their shoes to PWRRUN technology, which they promote as a better than the standard EVA foam used by most brands.
- PWRRUN+ midsole cushioning provides more flexibility, durability, and springiness in a foam that’s 25% lighter
- Again and again their focus comes back to lighter, flexible for more power in your take off and more energy return
Brooks refers to individual running gaits as the “Run Signature.” Rather than “fix” the way someone runs, Brooks technology helps to stabilize your stride based on how you naturally run.
They put runners into two different categories: Neutral and Support.
Brooks GuideRails technology allows hips, knees, and joints to move naturally, offering support when needed. Neutral runners may only require them to kick in when their stride is off.
Saucony has also been transitioning to less aggressive stability tools, ensuring the shoe is not over correcting or doing the work for you.
They utilize a medial post (which is a device within the midsole that is firmer) to help provide control and a TPU heel plate which again makes the rides slightly firmer and adds control. Thanks to the cushioning, you don’t so much notice the stiffness and reap the benefits.
The prices between the two brands are fairly comparable. Brooks prices range between $100 to $160, while Saucony starts at a slightly higher price at $110, averaging $149 for many models and then up to $249 for the Endorphin line.
You’ll notice that every brand offers a range and this is indeed due to a difference in technology and where they sell the shoe.
They know that the big box store can sell the shoe with less in it, while the local running store needs to be the best for dedicated runners. Having run in all the different things, I can 100% tell you it’s worth paying more for the better running shoe than what is at the box store.
Saucony Vs Brooks Models
Now that you know more about each brand, let’s look at their top models in each of the main categories. There’s no winner declared here because all are great shoes, it’s just about which one is best for your foot.
With each of these, they are the top models so numbers are constantly changing as they make a little upgrade and it becomes the Glycerin 27 or the Hurricane 23.
I was first introduced to Saucony with their original Kinvara in 2009. I stayed with that shoe for over 5 years, enjoying each new model and the fact that it made my IT band feel so much better.
BUTTTT….. I’ve also spent a lot of time in various Brooks models, so truly I like both brands for something different.
Stability Running Shoe
The brand’s most popular road running shoe (GTS stands for go-to-shoe) just turned 20 and comes in a swath of colors. This supportive shoe is best for a medium to high arch, and is part of the cushion line.
This was one of the very FIRST shoes that I bought at a running store! I thought it was so incredibly cool my name was on the shoe…ha!!! But yes they were super duper bright white (as you’ll see below).
In this model, Saucony not only paid attention to the support below, but uses the upper for additional stability. It wraps around your foot, helping you feel more secure in the shoe,.
And as noted their stability is there, but without being aggressive so you aren’t feeling it…it’s just working. Plus, the ride still feels cushioned which was something that many traditional stability shoes lacked. That’s my kind of shoe.
Neutral Running Shoe
The Ghost offers smooth transitions and soft cushioning for road running and is best for those seeking neutral support. Runners’ World has awarded this shoe several Editor’s Choice Awards.
I personally was so intrigued by those awards that I snagged myself a pair last year and they are nearing the end of their life, but have served me very, very well.
The other similar shoe I’ve used is the Brooks Levitate and you can see my full review here.
These two are the most popular neutral running shoes from Saucony. Both have been around for many years and continued to improve.
What’s the difference in the Ride vs Kinvara?
- Heel drop is 4mm on Kinvara and 8mm on Ride
- Cushioning is thinner on the Kinvara making it often more suitable for half marathon and under
- Kinvara is often seen as your tempo run or race shoe, the Ride your everyday training
I think we’ve already established my love of the Kinvara. In fact, I just started using a new Skecher’s Shoe that feels like it and I remembered all over again why I loved it so much.
YUPPP I got to run in Ireland in this special edition shoe…bring on the lucky clovers.
Cushioned Running Shoe
The plushiest model in the Brooks line features plenty of DNA Loft foam, plus the Ortholite sock liner. Despite all the cushion, the shoe remains fairly light at 9 oz and has a 10mm heel drop, encouraging speed and comfort.
This super cushioned shoe is a favorite for many, though you are getting a touch more weight for all that cushion at 12 oz. Many say that it feels both like your foot is being hugged and like every step is a bit bouncy.
Trail Running Shoe
It’s almost embarrassing when I realize just how many of these shoes I’ve run in! But that’s 20 years of running!
Loved that these provide some additional stability and a rock plate under the ball of foot, making them really great for the more rugged terrain. While they aren’t a plush shoe, they are still cushioned and make for a nice long run with the feet feeling good and quickly draining any water you encounter.
This is one of those shoes that I LOVED..they changed the model and I didn’t love it. But I have heard they went back to what was working and many friends are running it happily once again.
I liked that the shoe felt like it fit like a glove, so I just instinctively knew where my foot placement was and trusted the large lugs for traction.
What about the Endorphin Line?
Because Saucony really shook things up introducing a whole new line of shoes, it feels like there needs to be at least some discussion here!
One of the big things they talk about is the Speed Roll to help roll your foot forward, which is actually pretty similar to the rocker that Skechers put in their running shoes from the start.
- Endorphin Pro – Designed for speed with the carbon fiber plate, this is your race shoe
- Endorphin Shift – This feels like a cushioned slightly stabilizing shoe, good for everyday training.
- Endorphin Speed – Also designed to be a neutral, cushioned shoe you can take to the race, but without the carbon fiber plate
Are carbon fiber plates everything?
Some runners have found injury using them and since the shoes wear out faster, you are only doing a few training runs in them prior to race day. But…the data does shoe there are some speed benefits! So it’s really up to you.
More About Brooks
Believe it or not, Brooks started out in 1914 making ballet slippers and bathing shoes. Since then, they have made everything from baseball and football cleats to roller skates.
It wasn’t until Frank Shorter won the marathon at the 1972 Munich Olympics that Brooks considered limiting its focus. The first running shoe debuted in 1974 and their most popular running shoe, the Adrenaline GTS first hit the market in 1999.
In 2001, Brooks decided to focus solely on running.
They introduced the Transcend in 2013, a shoe that used new biomechanics technology to create a GuideRails technology, allowing runners to run naturally without trying to correct their gait.
The Seattle-based company is also well known for its commitment to sustainability and giving back. Brooks donates time, gear, and money to companies that align with their values around diversity, equity, and inclusion and staff receive paid annual volunteer time.
Your gait and feet will likely change over time and you may need to change shoes.
This is also why I recommend rotating through several pairs of shoes at once.
And remember, just because these are two of the most well known brands on the market, there are still plenty of other shoe brands to select from if neither Brooks nor HOKA has the right shoe for you.
Keep in mind that shoe design can change, even with the same model, so always assess how the shoe fits every time you replace a pair.
More about Saucony
Like another well known running brand (New Balance), Saucony started it’s first factory in 1898. And by 1910 they were making running spikes…but few people were running or even looking for running shoes, so it wasn’t until the 1970’s that they started to grow.
First they became known for their casual shoe with it’s cool style and then, the big time hit.
Runner’s World featured them in 1979 as a top 10 running shoe. By the 80’s they were making shoes with a non-slip sole which was a big innovation.
Then came 2009 and the Saucony Kinvara – this one shoe changed many things about their design and philosophy. It was the more natural running shoe (yes during the barefoot trend). The new goal became how to strip shoes down, without sacrificing cushion and comfort.
Good performance, good health and good community are their guiding principles. You may have seen their hashtag #runforgood – which is really about doing good, giving back and finding sustainable practices.
For more help selecting the right shoe for you, don’t worry, I’ve got you:
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