A decent entry level trail shoe that’s comfortable and performs perfectly well on most trails. It’s not protective or grippy enough for really technical runs but then you wouldn’t expect this, given its low price point. It gets additional ticks for its vegan and environmental credentials, so there’s a lot to like. Thinking of dipping your toes into trail running but don’t yet want to splash the cash? The Aura TR is a good option.
Great price for a trail shoe
Comfortable right out of the box
Contains recycled materials
Male, female, wide and waterproof versions available
Grip not suited to muddy trails
Question mark over durability
You can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend days testing and comparing gear so you know how it will perform out in the real world. Find out more about how we test and compare products.
Saucony Aura TR: first impressions
Saucony’s trail running shoes have a solid reputation for performance and frequently garner praise from their army of followers and reviewers alike. With the Aura TR, the American brand are looking to lower the bar in terms of the cost for newcomers entering the trail running world.
List price: $70 (US) / £95 (UK)
Weight (per shoe): 272g / 9.6oz
Materials: Recycled, two-layer mesh synthetic upper, EVA midsole, carbon rubber outsole
Colors: Men’s: Black/Gravel, Concrete/Black, Indigo/Black; Women’s: Black/Fog, Concrete/ Shadow, Fossil/Grape
Compatibility: Hard packed trails and casual hill running
Out of the box, the Aura TR had the look of a nicely cushioned operator with decent sized lugs. Fit wise, it holds well around the heel and midfoot, with a reassuring locked-in feel, while there’s ample room for toes to splay. It felt like a decent all-rounder with a bright, eager to please, aesthetic.
The price is impressive – they’re easily Saucony’s least expensive trail shoes. After taking a look at the brand’s marketing jargon (VERSARUN cushioning, XT-600 outsole), I delved deeper into Saucony’s website and was pleased to find a glossary page. They describe VERSARUN as ‘value-orientated’ and designed to ‘hold up to a variety of activities’. The XT-600 outsole offers ‘exceptional abrasion and traction properties’ but its description lacks the ‘premium’ and ‘high-wear’ qualities stated for Saucony’s XT-900.
The impression I get, which is understandable given the price, is that this entry level shoe is made up of Saucony’s B-team of components, which raises a question over its durability in the long term. However, a shoe composed of recycled, vegan materials that’s designed to lower the cost of entering the trail running world is no bad thing. I was intrigued to see how it would perform on the trails. Before that though, let’s take a closer look at its features.
Saucony has gone all out to offer this shoe to all, as the Aura TR is available in both male and female versions, while there’s a wide option and a waterproof Gore-Tex version for both too. Although I tested the standard male Aura TR, I can see how the GTX version would be a great option for casual walks or even speed hiking.
The midsole contains VERSARUN EVA-based cushioning, designed by Saucony to meet the twin needs of both durability and value. It’s not as plushily cushioned as some but still don’t expect much trail feel. The 8mm drop between the 31mm heel and the 23mm forefoot will favor heel-strikers and add to this elevated sensation.
The XT-600 carbon rubber outsole features a grip system that will hold on most trails. The lugs aren’t as aggressive as some, only being 4mm deep, as opposed to the 5mm lugs on shoes like the excellent Salomon Speedcross 6 or the ferocious 8mm beasts on the mud-slaying inov-8 X-Talon 255. The outer section of the sole features straight lugs, running in parallel, while the centre features generously spaced chevron-shaped ones.
A two-layer synthetic mesh provides breathability in the upper. The tongue is modestly padded and there’s no gusset to stop trail debris sneaking in, though the way the lacing system tightens everything up means that this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. There’s a fabric loop on both the tongue and the heel for easy fitting. The heel is reinforced, while the rubber outsole curves up around the toes and provides a little additional protection there too.
Saucony Aura TR: on the trails
Many of my favorite local runs take to trails through wooded gorges that don’t see loads of sunshine even in the height of summer due to the tree cover. This makes them particularly slow to dry after rainfall and choosing the right shoe with the prerequisite amount of grip is important.
The mixture of rock, mud and rooty terrain found on these routes make them ideal testing grounds for trail shoes. So, as summer gave way to fall and the weather began to take on a more autumnal flavour, it was the ideal time to put the Aura TR up against it.
The lugs held firm on most surfaces and the straight, parallel outer section provided plenty of surface area when negotiating rock. However, on the really gloopy stuff or when heading downhill on muddy terrain, they didn’t provide loads of confidence and would slip occasionally. So, while these are great value training shoes for summer, I wouldn’t reach for them in January (unless I was in Australia).
On the plus side, when it was muddy, I found the Aura TRs didn’t clog up as much as some, possibly thanks to the generous spacing between the chevrons.
Aside from the issues on soft mud, most of my runs were a pleasure. I found the Aura TRs to be perfectly comfortable and my feet never ran too hot in them. They’re not as fast-feeling as a zero drop shoe like inov-8’s Trailfly G 270 V2, nor do they provide the stability of something like the La Sportiva Bushido II, but then they are a fraction of the price. At 272g, they’re reasonably lightweight and take to most trails perfectly well, but their levels of traction and protection mean they’re not suited to skyrunning and the like.
Alex is a freelance adventure writer and mountain leader with an insatiable passion for the mountains. A Cumbrian born and bred, his native English Lake District has a special place in his heart, though he is at least equally happy in North Wales, the Scottish Highlands or the European Alps. Through his hiking, mountaineering, climbing and trail running adventures, Alex aims to inspire others to get outdoors. He is currently President of the London Mountaineering Club, training to become a winter mountain leader, looking to finally finish bagging all the Wainwright fells of the Lake District and hoping to scale more Alpine 4000ers when circumstances allow. Find out more at www.alexfoxfield.com