A New Level of Traction: Saucony Peregrine 12 ST Trail running Shoes review.

Slicky, nasty trails are all part of the fun for the Saucony Peregrine 12 ST Trail Running shoes. With deep, sticky lugs and a snug, stable fit, the Peregrine excels where others slide. My review:

The Peregrine 12 ST is a lightweight trail runner designed with large, well spaced lugs for huge amounts of traction in wet and sloppy conditions. The shoes are built entirely from synthetic materials, from the soft, grippy sole to the colorful, mud shedding upper. This particular version includes a lace free design, opting instead for a quick adjustable slider with a clever pocket for tucking away the excess string. The shoe is gaiter compatible thanks to the small clip near the toes. The shoes weigh about 12 ounces, retail for $140, and is available in men’s, women’s and laced and lace-less (ST) versions.

What I liked

The Peregrine 12 is by far the grippiest trail running shoe I’ve tested. The lugs on the bottom of the shoe are large, indented triangle shapes that are designed with a distinct directionality to them. Basically, they provide maximum tracking when accelerating forward and when being pushed horizontally due to their shape. The sharp, angular walls are angled back and dig deep into mud, silt and small gravel or rocks, while small knobs and grooves provide better traction on fine surfaces. This is further improved by the choice of a very soft, conforming synthetic rubber. While running I could actually feel the lugs shifting and wrapping around harder objects like rocks and stumps, while they flattened out just a bit to stick against flat, smooth surfaces. Mud and grass which typically causes me some slipping, especially when I push out from my toes, posed very little challenge in general with these. Dry traction is also good as would be expected, with roots and rocks sticking well to the supple sole compound. Stopping power is also good, but not as impressive as taking off from the line or pushing around turns. Due to the highly directional lugs on the front, you do lose a little bit of stopping power on the toes. The lugs on the heel however are reversed to help compensate for this, and it works out quite well in most situations. As long as you’re not trying to stop with your toes down on slick material, they perform well here. So be mindful on steep declines to utilize the heel.

Overall stability of the Peregrine 12 is also fantastic. The lacing system allows them to provide a consistent, even pressure across the entire top of the foot, providing excellent internal slip resistance which makes the shoes feel more like perfectly fitting gloves than a shoe. For me at least, I never once felt like the shoe was moving around on my foot, so I could confidently rely on them when pivoting and pressing outwards against the lugs around turns and when scurrying across rocks. The heel of the shoe has just enough of a cup and scoop to lock the foot in place, without causing friction or pressure on the bones. Rocking side to side, the shoes barely move at all, which helps prevent ankle injuries, despite not having a high top, ankle supporting design. My confidence in these, for these reasons, was always exceptionally high even on my faster sections.

Comfort wise, I was also impressed with these. At first, I wasn’t sure about cinching down my foot with a hard cable, but was pleasantly surprised at how gentle yet secure this felt almost instantly. The fabrics and materials flex and move with the foot in a very natural way, which certainly helps too. The sole provides moderate padding against roots and rocks that would otherwise punch against the foot, and the fabrics used inside are all soft, well padded, and form fitting. They’re just wide enough for me to wear slightly thicker socks without the shoes feeling tight or constricted. I even had just enough room to wiggle my toes, but never enough to shift around inside, which is just perfect.

The shoes also clean up quite nicely. The synthetic uppers are built from materials appears to naturally have some hydrophobic properties, so mud and dirt mostly just washes out. It can cause some mild staining but some detergent clears that up without much fuss. The lugs on the bottom can catch thick, goopy clay when running, but generally shed it off after a few minutes of hitting a dry patch.

The bright colors, while a big gaudy in my eyes, are simply a logical decision on or off the road. Despite the hot color pallet, I still approve of the overall styling. It’s not something I’m going to wear daily around town, but am happy to blast them outdoors for the safety and visibility they provide.

What I didn’t like

The lugs, while I wholly appreciate their traction, are noticeable on the inside of the shoe when running. While the lugs themselves can’t be felt, the pressure they put against the foot can be. I’ve never had it be painful or get sore, but there are distinct zones of higher impact than others as the lugs are concentrated into a few large plateaus. Wherever there is a lug, that is where the impact of the stride lands. This is mostly notable against the ball of the foot when running on dry land, such as hard pack dirt, concrete or a treadmill. In grass or softer soil this issue mostly fades away as the impact generally distributes more naturally across the terrain. Perhaps some light interconnects between these lugs would better distribute the impact. This isn’t enough to discourage me from using the shoes off road, but if I’m doing a concrete or treadmill run I’m grabbing smoother soled shoes, which is good form anyway to be honest.

There is a split in sole at the heel of the shoe that appears to be a weak point in the construction. I couldn’t find a non-stylistic reason for this to exist. Why split an otherwise solid, one piece sole? Simplicity is reliability, especially with shoes where seams and material changes tend to be points of failure While I haven’t had any issues yet, I’m expecting this point to begin wearing away first.

Overall

I’m a big fan of the Peregrine 12 ST. I love the quick lace system as it provides quick entry and exit, while also providing a more even, consistent lacing pressure across the foot. They’re extremely comfortable, fairly light-weight, and the traction and stability they provide is very impressive. Their dry trail performance is also good, even if I don’t prefer them for tarmac or treadmill training. Braking performance and impact distribution could be improved, but isn’t something I consider a major flaw. When I’m off road, especially when it is wet, these are my new go to trail runners.

Highly Recommended

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