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.
Brooks does a great job with online fit, the Brooks shoe fit finder will give you an idea of what to look for in a running shoe when you do visit your local store.
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 Running Shoe 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
👉Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22
The brand’s most popular road running shoe (GTS stands for go-to-shoe) just turned 22 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 shoe brands 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). I also bought stability because I was told I needed it…but I’ve beaten this topic, many runners don’t.
This shoe does feel firmer, which is normal for a stability shoe with the guiderails that are trying to prevent your foot from falling inward.
It’s also a shoe I recommend for runners dealing with Plantar Fasciitis because it’s got a high arch and provides a lot of support.
- 12 mm drop
- 8.9 oz women’s, 10.2 oz men’s
- Available Amazon, Zappos, nearly every running store
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS is going to grow in popularity as Brooks got rid of it’s two other stability models the Ravena and Transcend. So it’s a good thing that it has many years of very happy runners behind it. It’s definitely a firmer daily trainer, to help provide that necessary support for overpronation.
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.
- 8mm drop
- 7.8 oz women’s, 8.8 oz men’s
Neutral Running Shoe
👉Brooks Ghost 15
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. Which is why I then upgraded to the newest model to see what might be different.
The heel-to-toe drop is a lot higher than I tend to like, but it’s a very standard traditional running shoe feel. So if you’re looking for that everyday run shoe, which can provide a moderate amount of cushion to go the distance, it’s a win.
- 12mm heel toe drop – again higher than I recommend for most runners, we see more overstriding and IT Band issues.’
- 10.1 oz for men’s, 9.1 oz for women’s
Read my full review of the Brooks Ghost 15 >>
👉Saucony Ride or Saucony Kinvara
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?
- 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
The Ride is focused on cushioning and support, while the Kinvara is designed for a more natural and lightweight feel.
Saucony Ride 15
The ride is a great everyday trainer. I’ve used it a few times throughout the years.
It’s a great option for those who want a little more support for those longer runs. While not a stability shoe, it’s going to have the slightly higher heel drop and weigh just a bit more for the added cushion and support.
- 8mm drop
- 7.8 oz women’s, 8.8 oz men’s
- Checkout my comparison of the Saucony Ride vs Triumph – two neutral shoes
Saucony Kinvara 14
This has been one of my go to shoe’s for many years. The newest model is starting to feel like a departure from what I loved in 2010, but it’s still a shoe that I’ll continue to wear.
The stack height has increased to add more cushion and stability to the run, but as you can see they are holding on to that lightweight and low drop. It’s hard to find low heel to toe drop shoes, so this is a big time winner.
- 4mm drop
- 6.2 oz women’s, 7.2 oz men’s
- See my full review of the Kinvara 14
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
👉Brooks Glycerin 20
It‘s a great all–around running shoe, providing great cushioning for a variety of running distances.
It’s got their new, Nitro -infused DNA loft which just makes it sound fast already. I feel like this shoe has gained some weight over the years as they try to enhance the cushion. So it used to be light and cushioned making it good for speed work or even marathon race day, but now I’d probably lean in to it as a daily trainer and look to some carbon fiber for race day.
The upper is made from a breathable mesh material that keeps your feet cool and comfortable. The midsole offers great shock absorption, and the rubber sole provides reliable traction on a variety of surfaces.
- 10 mm heel drop
- 9.1 oz women’s, 10.3 oz men’s
👉Saucony Triumph 20
This super cushioned shoe is a favorite for many, though you are getting a touch more weight for all that cushion. Many say that it feels both like your foot is being hugged and like every step is a bit bouncy.
While I wouldn’t call it bouncy after spending time in the Nike Vaporfly, I would say it’s a shoe that I absolutely turn to for longer runs. I know that my feet and legs are going to feel great from getting just the right amount of cushion without losing a lot of energy to something too plush.
This is a great long run and everyday trainer.
- 8mm drop
- 9.1 oz women’s, 10.2 oz men’s
Carbon Fiber Plate Shoes
Are they cool new technology, yes. Do they last as long as your other shoes, nope.
So if you want to test these out use them for speed work and then race day! Watch my detailed video on how Carbon Fiber Shoes work.
👉Brooks Hyperion Elite
Unlike many of the other carbon fiber shoes, Brooks says theirs could last up to 400 miles. That’s a pretty significant win for a carbon fiber shoe based on the price we’re all paying!
These are more of a maximal shoe with a higher stack height, which allows them to build in more cushion and their rapid roll technology. Which is a fancy way of saying the shoe should help some with a quick transition from heel to toe on each step.
Unfortunately the newest model also gained a few oz for them to put in more features. So…you’ll have to decide if it still feels as fast.
- 8 mm heel drop
- 8.1 oz
👉Saucony Endorphin Pro 3
I’ve run in the Endorphin pro for a few races, but the new Elite is taking carbon fiber to the next level for them. In modeling the success of Nike Alphafly, they are adding super lightweight foam and stack height.
The goal is by combing the foam and the carbon fiber you get a ride that really propels you to go the distance with less fatigue.
I think it comes down to which brand you already wear and know fits you well.
- 8 mm heel drop
- 8.1 oz
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.
- 8mm drop
- 9.5 oz women’s, 10.5 oz men’s
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.
- 4mm drop
- 8.3 oz women’s, 9.7 oz men’s
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 3 – Designed for speed with the carbon fiber plate, this is your race shoe. It’s a winner.
- Endorphin Shift 3 – This feels like a cushioned slightly stabilizing shoe, good for everyday training. It’s not been my favorite Saucony shoe and I tend to like most of their shoes.
- Endorphin Speed 3 – Also designed to be a neutral, cushioned shoe you can take to the race, but without the carbon fiber plate, as it uses a nylon plate instead.
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:
- Best Trail Running Shoes
- Top 5 Marathon Running Shoes
- Skechers Running Shoes review (you might be surprised!)
- Best Running Shoes
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Natalie E Gallagher
This is a great review, thank you! I’m a long time sponsored Brooks athlete, but I still enjoy learning about other running shoe brands and the various benefits each brand offers. I am wondering, is there a reason that you did not include Brooks’ carbon plated shoe, the Hyperion Elite? Thanks again.
This is really interesting! Thank you for the very detailed comparison.
I’ve been wearing Kinvaras for many years but am currently dabbling in other options both by Saucony and other brands. I’d always written off Brooks because I’ve heard it suits a narrow foot so it’s very interesting to see your point about the wider toe box. I’ll definitely give them a try on my next visit to the shoe store.
I’m happy to see that I’m not the only person who has focused my attention specifically on these two brands. I can never decide whether my favorite shoe is Brooks Ghost or Saucony Ride, so I always have one pair of each on hand, and tend to alternate between the two. As long as I mix it up a bit between these two, I don’t get in a rut and I seem to be able to run without pain.