The featherweight Saucony Endorphin Elite feels like something really special, with an aggressive design that forces you to pick up your cadence and masses of soft, responsive foam. It's surprisingly comfortable despite its minimalist, cage-like design. The strap-like heel may not be to everyone's taste though, so give it a good test before investing, and be prepared to reserve it for races when you want to smash a personal best; the exposed foam on the outsole isn't built for everyday training sessions.
Aggressive rocker delivers great propulsion
Fits true to size
Feather light and super breathable
Expensive at £280/$275
Exposed foam on outsole
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Saucony Endorphin Elite: first impressions
The Saucony Endorphin Elite is a neutral race day road running shoe, with a carbon plate and aggressively curved forefoot to help push you (literally) to faster times.
The plate (which you can see and touch through a weigh-saving hole in the sole unit) is stiff, but has an interesting articulated design. A segmented front portion confirms slightly to the shape of your forefoot and means it's a little less rigid than the super stiff Saucony Endorphin Pro 3. This is complemented by masses of Saucony's marshmallowy PRWRRUN HG foam.
• List price: $275 (US) / £280 (UK)
• Weight (per shoe): 7.19oz / 204g (average men's)
• Drop: 8mm
• Materials: Knitted fabric and synthetic mesh upper, PWRRUN HG foam, carbon plate, rubber outsole
• Colors: Slime (lime green)
• Compatibility: Racing
The Endorphin Elite is extremely light, with the men's version weighing an average of just 204g. That's less than the featherweight Endorphin Speed 3 we tested in 2022, and only 2g more than the Endorphin Pro 3.
The outsole has only a thin layer of rubber, and there's quite a large area of exposed foam on the heel that makes contact with the road, which may be susceptible to damage. There's noticeably less rubber than on the Endorphin Pro 3, and a little less tread depth as well. However, it's good to see that the barely-there upper is reinforced to resist damage at toe-off.
They also feature an extended heel-tab for easier pulling on and off, and an interesting cutout in the midfoot that exposes the slim tongue.
It's only available in one color – an acid green that Saucony calls 'slime'. It's an attention-grabber (as though the shoe itself wouldn't get enough looks), but great at night when it practically glows. Photos in daylight really don't do it justice.
Naturally, all this comes at a cost, and the Endorphin Elite has a list price of $275 / £280. Demand is high too, and many US retailers appear to be selling it for much more, so I recommend checking out Saucony's own store to see if your size is in stock before going elsewhere.
Saucony Endorphin Elite: on the road
The Saucony Endorphin Elite is enormous fun, and the moment you take your first step, you'll feel the propulsion from the aggressive rocker shaped midsole that forces you forward. I challenge you to avoid smiling and automatically increasing your cadence as you experience it for the first time.
I was pleased to find ample space in the toebox, and unlike some of Saucony's road shoes, I found it fits true to size. I found the Endorphin Speed 3 and Pro 3 a little short in the foot and snug in the toe, but the Endorphin Elite is just right.
The super soft foam feels distinctly wobbly until you get up to speed, when the shoe comes alive and feels much more stable. However, during races you'll need to take care on roads with a camber, which might throw you off a little. It definitely feels squishier than the Endorphin Pro 3.
The mesh/knit upper is so gossamer-thin, you'll feel the breeze straight through your toes. The midsole cage, despite being barely there, provides good midsole support, though the heel took a little getting used to. Rather than a heel counter, there's an unusual clog-like strap. This holds your foot a tad lower than you might expect and may trick you into thinking the back of the shoe is loose. However, I wore them straight after breaking in a particular tough pair of hiking boots, and there was no rubbing on my pummelled skin.
Saucony has skilfully trimmed every ounce of fat, but what remains is still extremely comfortable. The only part of the upper with a dab of padding is the Achilles area, but it's perfectly positioned to prevent rubbing.
The rest of the upper is super soft, including the highly perforated, gusseted tongue, and the flat laces have just enough give to avoid putting undue pressure on your metatarsals. They're also a good length; sufficient for making a nice heel lock. The tongue has a suede-like texture that provides enough friction to prevent slipping, which is a smart design choice.
It's a real shame that some US stores have chosen to charge so much, with some almost doubling the list price. We've rounded up the best deals we could find above, with offers updated daily, but I'd still recommend browsing around yourself to see if you can find it more cheaply.
The Endorphin Elite feels like something really special, and if you've been tempted to check out a superlight race day shoe, then this is the one I'd recommend. One to keep for those races when you're aiming for a PB, and an absolute joy to wear.
Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).