Saucony KOA TR Review

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First Thoughts On The Saucony KOA TR

Before I had even looked at any of the specifications, I immediately noticed the soft cushiony feel, and the wider toe box. I used to never be able to wear Saucony’s because they were just too narrow and tight. This will hopefully eliminate any potential hot spots or blisters, so in the end, a more comfortable run.

Fads and trends have come and gone in the running shoe industry. Some good, some not so good and some downright terrible! Throughout all of that invention, many of these innovations have evolved to become standard over the years. Add a dose of technology, and today’s shoe is lighter, softer, has more grip, and many other advancements that will hopefully keep me running for a long time to come. Minimal, thick, cushiony, technical support systems, etc., all have their place, and what it provides the consumer are great options to fit their style, running form, and purpose.

The outside upper is clean and with its ‘X’ cross design allows for a snug fit.

The Saucony KOA TR Upper

The upper seems quite strong with its woven mesh. This adds extra protection while also adding to its durability. Time will tell on that front.  The upper mesh does breath which is great for many long summer and fall running days. That said, this shoe is not meant for wading through streams or tackling wet snowy conditions in my opinion. I ran through some wet tall grass, and my socks got wet. They did dry pretty quick though with the airflow.

The inside upper

I don’t know if they’ve given the orange stretchy eyelet addition a name. It does allow the user to tighten the laces as snug as possible, all the while providing some give. The heel cup is pretty sturdy with plenty of support. I have not experienced any heel lift which is an attribute to the lacing system.

Mid Sole

The EVERUN topsole is a nice addition as it promotes extra energy return with every step. I know I mention the word cushion a lot, but for lack of a better word, it has to suffice.  It’s not fluffy by any means, but it does not have a rigid or solid technical underfoot.  I, for one, welcome the comfortable running ride.

The Saucony KOA TR Bottom Sole

The outsole has a really grippy PWR TRAC which allows for the mix of surfaces, but provides enough support and traction out on the trails. I’ve always been of the opinion that most road shoes would do fine on the easier flatter trails. On the flipside, the Saucony KOA TR can handle some beginning to intermediate technical stuff with ease. On the harder surfaces (like asphalt and concrete) it performs adequately without that heavy clunky feeling. If you are apt to hit some more muddy terrain or slushy/snowy trails, this lug pattern may not be aggressive enough.

The Saucony KOA TR outsole does have a lower lug pattern at 3.5 mm. This supports my theory and Saucony’s marketing efforts that the KOA TR is a good crossover shoe for a road turned trail runner, or one that can cover a hybrid of surfaces.

Taking the Saucony KOA TR Out For A Spin

When I first got the KOA TR’s, I immediately put them on, and just started running. I had not really read the promotional details and technical specifications for the shoe.I run 5-6 days per week with many being easier 4-6 milers just to get the dogs out for some exercise. I don’t have a real purpose for the runs, but what it does mean is a mix of surfaces from concrete paths, asphalt roads, compact fine gravel trail, to some dirt single track. None of these trails are too technical, but enough diversity to provide some relief from the hard stuff.

My first impression was that the tread pattern was quite minimal, and I was quite comfortable on most of the aforementioned running surfaces.  I did not think this would be a shoe for the more technical trail running that I encounter when I hit some of the more aggressive slopes here in Colorado.

The support is good. It provides a very comfortable ride which is a big selling point for these shoes. I have never been one to wear the super thick soled shoes, so I am not going to compare these to those. The Saucony KOA TR has a fair amount of cushion that makes you feel like you can go the distance. In this case I have enjoyed that aspect because it allowed some decent absorption and gave the bottoms of my feet a bit of a break. Enough to provide that comfort, yet not too much as to lose the feel for the trail.  On the flip side, I did feel the occasional rock or pebble that I would hit. Not to the point that it hurt or became an issue, but I did notice it.

I have about a dozen or so runs in these now, and I think I have them dialed in for the most part. I’ve not gone super long on them yet with a 9 miler being the longest.  Even though I tout these shoes for use on a multitude of surfaces, I noticed the sole as I was on a concrete path section for 2-3 miles.  The Saucony KOA TR are a great hybrid, but they do ultimately belong on the trails.

A wet sandy trail did kind of stick to the bottoms for a bit, but broke free on a more rocky and gravel section.

Technical Specifications

  • Neutral Pronation
  • Responsive Cushioning
  • Normal (mid) Arch
  • NOT waterproof or Resistant
  • 4mm Offset
  • Heel Stack Height of 22mm
  • Forefoot Stack Height of 18mm
  • 3.5mm lug/tread pattern
  • Weight: 10.3 oz / 292 g.

The Saucony KOA TR Ladies Perspective

Simultaneously tried and tested was the female version of this shoe by my better half. Obviously, the main features and technical specifications were similar. The Saucony KOA TR was tested on slightly different surfaces. She tends to run more on paths and trails without any technical elements. Hence, the cushioning was put to the test a bit more on harder surfaces. As you’d expect, the wear was a little more significant on the outer sole, but it has held up just fine for the amount it’s been worn up to now.

My wife uses very thick and cushiony shoes, so this was a good comparison for her. That said, the softness was quite evident throughout her runs to provide the necessary comfort and support.  Going forth, she’d also keep these shoes more on the less technical trails. She likes her running shoes fairly loose, and had to play around a little to get the perfect lacing. Slightly looser on the front, allowing the stretch tab to provide for movement in the middle, and slightly tighter around the ankle. She highly recommends this as a strong crossover or in between for those that split time on the roads and trails.


Final Thoughts On The Saucony KOA TR

I like the rather simplistic look of the tread. Yes, it is a trail shoe, and I will certainly use it for that, but the versatility for use on a multitude of trails is super nice. You know your own limitations and capabilities, so I would say experiment what works best for you.  I will save my more technical supportive shoes for my higher elevation exploits because the rocky exposed scree usually does a number on my shoes and feet. Hence, these Saucony KOA TR will see a lot of action on my neighborhood trail runs, as well as my slightly lower elevation jaunts here in Colorado. And lastly, with the Oblique toe box, my toes have ample room to splay out with each step

At a $110, this shoe is worthy of its price point. It won’t break the bank, but the bang for the buck is definitely there.

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Niels Oomkes: I am a multi-sport endurance athlete, and love to get out into the great outdoors to push the body to its limit. Most of my weekend expeditions, adventures, trips, or vacations are planned around running, biking, snowshoeing, camping, or anything else that will allow me to enjoy nature's exquisite beauty.
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