Along with their heritage in performance running shoes, Saucony has also earned a good following when it comes to trail running. Last year, we tested the Switchback ISO and liked it overall, but the new Saucony Switchback 2 takes everything up another notch with a completely-new upper and unique use of the BOA Fit System, the Switchback 2 is like wearing a trail running slipper.
Saucony Switchback 2 Features:
- Low-profile PWRTRAC directional lugs
- BOA Fit System offers quick fit adjustments
- PWRRUN+ midsole offers a well-cushioned ride for training or racing
- Lightweight rock plate
- Trail-specific FORMFIT design
- Mud guard provides added protection
- Lightweight, woven upper for a sock-like feel
- Low, 4mm drop (22/18mm)
- Offset: 4mm(22/18)
- Weight: 10 oz. each (men’s 11.5, actual)
- MSRP: $140
A fit that disappears underfoot
It’s not often that a pair of shoes feels like an extension of your body. To do that, it’s got to have an amazing upper, matched to a comfortable and well-cushioned insole and midsole. The stride has to mimic the foot’s natural movement and it can’t pinch or cause anything to remind you that the shoes are there. While the new Saucony Switchback 2 isn’t quite perfect, it approaches that pedestal in a few areas.
The heart of that perfection lies in the BOA Fit System. No, this isn’t the first incarnation of the dial-a-fit system in a trail runner, but I’m going to offer that it’s the best example of it to date. Again, last year’s Switchback ISO was good and comfortable, but the wrap-style upper of the Switchback 2 improves on the original in every regard.
With the Switchback ISO, the forefoot remained loose since the laces didn’t attach far enough towards the toebox. But, with the design of the Switchback 2, that complaint goes away because snugging down the uppers is inherent in the design. With that, the BOA Fit System then cinches the entire upper and evenly distributes pressure along the top of the foot. The toebox is still roomy, but can now be cinched down for just the right feel.
Putting them on requires a pop up of the BOA dial, then it’s easy to slip your feet inside. The bootie-style uppers honestly feels like your favorite pair of slippers. Then, all it takes is to push down the BOA and begin tightening. Since this particular BOA dial only tightens in 1-click increments but doesn’t loosen that way, I found myself getting them mostly dialed, then I walked around a little to decide if I should tighten them. Most of the time I ended up ratcheting them down a click or two and never thought about them again until after the run was over. As it turns out, I know pretty well just how tight to make them and could replicate that every time. You’ll quickly figure it out.
Note: Reading a few negative reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, it appears that users don’t know how to pop open the BOA for ease-of-entry/exit. Pop that BOA dial outwards, the laces loosen up and the bootie stretches to allow entry or exit. There’s both a heel and tongue pull tab for a reason. Just pop open the BOA, pull both tabs and slip on in.
With the design of the uppers, the shoe feels amazing. There are no laces, tongues or anything to cumber up the fit and the result is all smiles every time. It really is a well-executed design that makes these shoes stand out among other traditional trail runners. I will say that due to the bootie-style upper, there isn’t a ton of lateral support. My flat feet don’t quite have the instep support that I would typically have with other, more structured shoes. That said, my feet were always comfortably and I have enjoyed every mile in the Switchback 2’s.
Traction is as expected with these low-profile lugs. Each little lug does provide good traction on most terrain, except loose stuff. I’m honestly surprised at how well these grip, but they do have their limitations. I wouldn’t choose to run in these if the trails were chunky, loose or particularly technical, but for most terrain here in Utah, they do just fine. Uphill and downhill traction is great with the ability to toe-off each stride with power. There is a little fabric protection layer in the forefoot, but it’s pretty minimal. Sharp, pointy rocks are ouchy, but you do get a nice trail feel.
The PWRRUN+ midsole really is nice. I don’t know what kind of sorcery they use for this foam, but it’s well-cushioned, supportive and responsive — all in a low-profile design. I love the low, 4mm drop of the Switchback 2 and find it to deliver a natural feel. While the outsoles don’t feature a rockered design, they do still deliver a good stride from midfoot strike to toe-off. It’s not quite as smooth as a rockered outsole, but it’s by no means clunky.
With the mesh uppers, you can expect a fair bit of dust penetration (the trails are pretty dusty these days), and water will soak right in. A little DWR treatment would be a stellar addition to at least keep morning dew or light showers at bay. Maybe I’ll clean them up and add a little waterproof spray just for good measure.
Fit: The Switchback 2’s fit true to size for me. I typically wear an 11.5 in Saucony and that’s what I went with here. The toebox has good wiggle room and I can cinch them down quite nicely for a comfortable fit.
- Really smooth stride
- Midsole offers perfect cushioning for speed and comfort
- Excellent stability
- BOA lacing allows for a seamless upper bootie
- Predictable traction on most terrain
- Love how the fit just makes them disappear
- Not a whole lot of support from the uppers
- Minimal forefoot protection
The Bottom Line: Saucony Switchback 2
I’m liking the updates to the Switchback. The uppers are a departure from traditional designs, but it works swimmingly. The side closure of the BOA lacing system allows the burrito-style wrap to cinch your feet down comfortably without any hot spots or odd pressure points that you might find with traditional laced uppers. The midsole is comfortable, yet responsive and these are a joy to run in.
Buy Now: Available on Amazon