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Mens Saucony Koa ST Review

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An extreme off road running shoe with deep 8mm lugs but the feel of decent road shoe. A unique amount of grip and underfoot protection.

Mens Saucony Koa ST Review

An extreme off road running shoe with deep 8mm lugs but the feel of decent road shoe. A unique amount of grip and underfoot protection.
8.0
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Our verdict

A hybrid trail / adventure racing shoe with all the expected midsole cushioning of a top end road shoe, and the added bonus of an extreme lugged outsole that is plenty grippy enough to cope with the worst mud and extreme terrain. I am training for an ultra trail race and this shoe looked perfect because of the unique ability to grip on any mountainous / muddy terrain, but offers amazing comfort for long runs.

  • Positive
  • A superbly cushioned extreme trail shoe
  • 8mm lugs can cope with the worst conditions
  • Toe box is very generous and fits great.
  • Negative
  • Synthetic upper is slightly restrictive - odd foot shapes beware
  • The 8mm lugs restrict the use to extreme conditions
  • Water drainage is poor so Spartan runners take note..

First impressions

The Koa ST is the extreme version of the Koa TR that i have also been running in recently, with identical midsoles and very similar uppers. The change occurs in the depth and spacing of the lugs on the outsole, with the Koa ST having widely spaced 8mm multidirection lugs to offer the most agressive grip in very muddy conditions and great levels of debris shedding. I love the fact that the shoe is really comfortable for long runs, and the midsole is as good as any road mileage shoe so it is really built for long off road training and racing unlike most extreme trail shoes that tend to be slightly lower profile and harsher underfoot. 

The depth of the midsole does come with its off road issues, as the stack height does reduce the ground feel and increase the instability on inclines etc, but if you want an off-road shoe for ultra or very long distances then this Koa ST is pretty exceptional!

Midsole

The Koa ST has the standard full length EVA with a layer of Everun on top of the strobel for next to foot cushioning and responsiveness. This combination for me, puts Saucony shoes right up there as some of the best available on the market right now, as the balance of cushioining versus responsiveness is excellent! A 4mm offset gives a snappy, quick feel to the shoe without being too lightweight, and the midsole is more than thick enough to offer good underfoot protection on the road, and pretty nice reaction on uneven trails. This is not a low profile, agile off-roader it is definately more road shoe in its constuction, which when combined with the 8mm lugs makes this a really appealing all round off road shoe with great cushioning and decent responsiveness. The Hoka Challenger or Speedgoat have more underfoot cushioning but there are not a nimble as the Koa ST. 

Upper

A tight jaquard woven upper isnt the most breathable way to make a shoe, and it does get quite hot in warm weather, but it is secure and stops all debris getting in the shoe. The weave is a very synthetic material and it sheds water very well indeed, and kept my feed pretty dry for the most part. I did run in very wet conditions one run, and if water goes in the shoe around the collar, it definately doesnt come out very easily - but this is normal for WP or WR shoe so it was not such a huge issue. 

I did find the large welded overlays quite restrictive, and the flex of the upper was not great, but over two runs the shoe did break in ok - this is definately not a great out the box kind of shoe for sure, and if you have a bunion or odd footshape the very restrictive upper could be potentially a little harsh!

The shoes are supplied with a toggle lacing system which was fine, but not Salomon standards of lock down, and oddly there is a lace hole at the top of the facing which you cannot use at all unless you cut off the lacing system and replace it with traditional laces.. I suspect Saucony are sharing tooling for the uppers of the Koa TR and ST to save money, hence the useless hole, but either way, its an odd feature to add to speed lacing.. Also stolen from Salomon is a mesh cover joining the facings together to keep out debris which is a super feature as it removes the need for a gusset tongue that can easily create internal fit issues. Overall a very sturdy and spupportive upper that certainly locks your foot in place and offered a good degree of water resistance. 

Sole

A solid, full length rubber outsole with flat bottom profile delivers great heel to toe traction off road. The 8mm lugs are really toothy, and grip incredibly well on wet and sloppy trails. The spacing is excellent for mud release and the outsole was very self cleaning during the run, but they are almost like ice skates on wet roads due to the minimal surface contact ( but this is not what they are designed for, so its harsh to make this an issue). 

Conclusion

Part of a two shoe pack from Saucony with an interesting last shape and amazing cushioning for an extreme off road shoe. The Saucony Koa ST will definately take some beating if your in the market for a long distance adventrure racing shoe or ultra spartan shoe. 

Technical info

  • Deep stud pattern (8mm) deliver surefootedness across soft, muddy terrains
  • Oblique toebox allows for maximum splay at toe-off for added stability
  • 3mm EVERUNTM topsole construction for continuous cushioning throughout the run
  • Durable, synthetic upper sheds mud and moisture to keep the foot dry
  • Reinforced heel piece for protection and a lockdown fit

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Shoe details

Gender Mens
Year 2018
Season Spring/Summer
Current model
Release date JAN 2018
MSRP $130.00
Heal Drop 4mm
Weight 10.3 oz. | 292 g

Suitabilty

Off Road Use
Short Trail
Long Trail
Adventure
Shoe Type
Neutral
Trail
Surfaces
Light Trail
Trail
Severe Trail
Weight
Light
Regular
Heavy