Brooks vs Saucony – Which Brand is Right for You

Updated:

Brooks and Saucony are both popular and long-standing running shoe brands with a history of making great shoes (and some duds here and there!). But which brand is right for you?

Both Saucony and Brooks shoes are good for runners with wide feet, although Brook shave a wider fit throughout, and Saucony tends to narrow in the midfoot and heel.

Saucony also offers casual shoes as well as running and walking shoes. Brooks focuses mainly on running shoes with a couple of models good for walking.

Both brands offer models that work for most people, including neutral shoes, stability shoes, racing shoes, trail shoes, and track spikes. Both feature moderate to high heel-to-toe drops and good cushioning.

Let’s dive deeper into each brand, their similarities, and their differences so you can get a better idea of which one may work for you.

History

Brooks and Saucony can trace their origins back over 100 years! Here’s some background on each.

Brooks

When Brooks began in 1914, they made almost any shoe you could think of. Bath shoes, ballet shoes, baseball cleats, football cleats, combat boots… But not running shoes!

It wasn’t until the 1970s that they started designing and making running shoes. They were the first shoe company to use EVA foam, which has become a go-to for midsole foam.

But in 1981, the company was forced to file for bankruptcy. It was only in 2001 that Brooks dropped all their other shoe types and focused only on running shoes and apparel.

This strategy worked and a decade later, they became one of the most prominent running shoe brands in the world.

Saucony

In 1898, the Saucony Shoe Manufacturing Company was founded, in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. They took their name from Saucony Creek and designed their logo to imitate the river’s flowing water.

The original company was bought in 1968 by Hyde Athletic Industries, and in the late 1970s they managed to break into the athletic shoe world, eventually reducing their name to just Saucony—pronounced Sock-A-Knee—in the 1990s.

The brand was bought over in 2012, by Wolverine Worldwide. Since then, they’ve continued to create popular running shoes, as well as casual shoes with retro vibes.

Upper

Brooks

Brooks running shoes have a spacious toe box and maintain a wider fit.

For runners with medium to wide feet, they are incredibly comfortable. Runners with narrow feet sometimes have a harder time unless they buy a specific narrow size. Along with narrow widths, they also come in wider sizes.

The engineered mesh upper is slightly stretchy and moves with the foot but doesn’t compromise the shoe’s security when locked down. They incorporate Fit Knit technology for a sock-like fit, allowing free movement without chafing.

Some shoes use StealthFit technology, their “performance upper.” It has a more snug, fitted feeling and is designed to adapt to your foot’s natural movement by stretching and compressing as your foot moves.

Many perforations across the materials allow air to flow nicely through the upper, cooling your feet and moving sweat to the surface to evaporate.

Each Brooks running shoe features a classic Brooks logo overlay, and their trail shoes also have a strong, protective toe bumper. They also have a handy extra eyelet to experiment with different lacing techniques.

Saucony

Saucony shoes have a generous forefoot but narrow down throughout the midfoot and into the heel. They’re a great choice for runners who don’t have wide feet but like extra space for their toes.

Most of Saucony’s running shoes use engineered mesh, which offers excellent breathability. A few of their uppers are made from synthetic leather, which is better for walking than running due to its reduced breathability and flexibility.

Many of their uppers use FLEXIFILM, a light yet tough material that provides a strong, structured upper with fewer layers, which goes a long way toward better airflow and flexibility.

Shoes with Saucony’s “Run for Good” badge have at least 75 percent recycled or renewable materials in the upper.

Midsole

Brooks

Brooks has a wide, stable midsole. They are lightweight and flexible, allowing your foot to move naturally.

Brooks shoes come in four midsole categories: cushion, speed, energize, and trail. Each features specific features designed for runners looking for that specific outcome.

Shoes in the “cushion” category feature DNA LOFT and BioMoGo DNA midsole foam. DNA LOFT is a unique foam infused with nitrogen, making it lighter and softer than their other foams. BioMoGo foam adapts to your specific stride and molds its cushioning to your foot, supporting where you need it most.

“Speed” shoes have a light layer of DNA FLASH foam, which is also nitrogen-infused for extra lightness and bounce, making it excellent for upping the speed. Certain speed shoes also feature a built-in carbon fiber plate.

Energize shoes use DNA AMP midsole foam, designed specifically with increased energy return, giving you a less flexible but springy ride.

Trail shoes may use any of the above foams, and they have a built-in Ballistic Rock Shield, protecting your feet from rocks and other hard objects.

The majority of Brooks’ stability shoes use an unobtrusive GuideRails system. These are small strips of reinforced material on the medial and lateral sides of the heel, easily visible from the outside of the shoe. Their stability shoes are labeled “GTS.”

Only one of their shoes features something similar to a traditional medial post—the Dyad, which uses “Dual Arch Pods” in the midsole.

Saucony

Saucony has a range of foams and footbeds in their shoes, depending on the shoes’ purpose. Each foam layer is built on top of a specific footbed: FORMFIT, a moldable footbed that’s designed to take on the shape of your foot for the best fit; FORM2U, a light memory foam layer; and Foundation, a versatile base designed for orthotic users.

Layered on top of the footbed is foam to suit your particular need. PWRRUN is their most popular EVA-based foam that provides a good combination of energy return, soft comfort, and durability.

You can also find PWRRUN PB, performance cushioning with added PEBA polymers for brilliant energy return, and PWRRUN+, 25 percent lighter and softer than the original.

A few of their shoes still use the older VERSAFOAM and VERSARUN foam, both versatile options that strike a good middle ground between comfort and responsiveness.

As for their stability shoes, they use a medial post and a TPU heel plate, which work together to hold the foot in a neutral position throughout your stride.

Outsole

Brooks

Brooks shoes feature outsoles that are made of top-quality rubber. They use a Segmented Crash Pad for extra shock absorption during the heel-to-toe transition.

Certain outsoles have an “Arrow-Point” design in the rubber, which assists with a smoother heel-to-toe transition and is extra durable.

Trail shoes use a specialized rubber called TrailTack, which is sticky and offers good grip on both loose ground and smooth, wet surfaces. They also have different lug sizes and designs for light or technical trails.

Saucony

Saucony uses a durable carbon rubber on its outsoles and employs several different technologies to provide the right grip for the surface you’re running on.

XT-600 and XT-900 are the base carbon rubber options, featuring excellent grip, durability, and anti-abrasion properties.

Other rubbers you might find include PWRTRAC, a specially designed compound with 3x the grip of regular carbon rubber; iBR+, a blown rubber that’s about ⅓ lighter than normal blown rubber; and Vibram Arctic Grip, designed to give you amazing grip on slippery trails.

Durability

Both of these brands offer excellent durability. Saucony recommends replacing your shoes around every 400 miles, while Brooks states every 300 to 500 miles.

Their true durability will vary from person to person, depending on your weight, your gait, and the surfaces you run on most often.

Cushioning

Brooks

Brooks has a wide range of different foams to suit every need. Thanks to their easy-to-understand categorization, it’s simple to pick a shoe based on what you’d like to achieve: cushioning, increased speed, better energy return, or trail performance.

Their cushioning is designed specifically to amplify these characteristics. As mentioned earlier, they offer a diverse range of cushioning, including:

  • DNA LOFT: The softest foam in their lineup, excellent for anyone who wants cushy comfort with a touch of energy return.
  • BioMoGo DNA: Adaptable cushioning that molds to your feet and supports you wherever you need it most. Great for those who want a bit more support.
  • DNA FLASH: Thin cushioning, designed to be light and speedy but doesn’t provide a lot of protection underfoot.
  • DNA AMP: Light, with excellent energy return and inherent stiffness. Made for speed above all else.

Saucony

Like Brooks, Saucony offers a few different types of cushioning.

  • PWRRUN: Their most popular foam, great combo of comfort, responsiveness, and durability. A good choice for most runners.
  • PWRRUN PB: Excellent energy return thanks to added PEBA polymers. Good option for those who want extra propulsion but still some softness.
  • PWRRUN+: 25 percent lighter and softer than PWRRUN foam, great for easy runs if you want soft comfort.
  • VERSAFOAM/VERSARUN: Older foams that strike a good balance between comfort and energy return. Great in-between choice for casual runners.

Overall Fit and Comfort

Brooks

Many runners appreciate the wide toe box and spacious fit that Brooks is known for. It reduces chafing and gives your toes room to splay. Be aware that Brooks recommends going half a size larger than normal for a good fit.

The shoes have plush ankle collars and tongue cushioning, and thanks to their extra eyelet, you should get a great lockdown on your feet, which boosts comfort.

Brooks shoes feature standard heel-to-toe drops of between 10 and 12 mm. This is great for anyone who struggles with Achilles tendon problems, and it offers good heel cushioning for heel strikers.

Saucony

Runners who want space in the forefoot but a snug fit throughout the rest of the foot will appreciate Saucony’s fit. They’re likely to be a better fit or runners with narrow feet who still want space in the toe box.

They’re also plushly cushioned around the ankle and on top of the foot, so you should be able to get a comfy fit from all angles.

Saucony shoes feature a wider range of heel-to-toe drops, from 4 mm to 10 mm. A lower drop can help runners with IT band syndrome, metatarsalgia and other foot conditions of the forefoot.

Price

Brooks

Brooks running shoes start at about $110 with average about $140. If you want to invest in one of Brooks’ most tech-heavy racing shoes, you’ll pay around $250.

Saucony

Saucony’s shoes start at about $100 for their entry-level offerings. For their most expensive racing shoes, which come with the best of their technology, you can expect to pay $275.

But like Brooks, the average price is $140. This is industry standard and you’ll find most brands sell their most popular shoes at this price point.

Summary

It’s almost impossible to accurately say which brand comes out on top between Brooks vs Saucony. Both have their pros and cons.

However, if you have a naturally wide foot, Brooks shoes are more comfortable. If you like some space in the toe box but want a tighter fit in the heel and midfoot, then Saucony would be perfect.

Both offer great cushioning and good stability, although Brooks comes out on top for their unobtrusive GuideRails, which neutral runners can even wear without any restriction.

Runners who need hardcore support might be better off opting for a Saucony shoe with a medial post and heel clutch, but those who only need mild to moderate support will get by just fine with Brooks.

But side by side, both brands are great choices!

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.