Saucony Zealot 3 Review
The Zealot 3 is a well cushioned, Maximalist running shoe that's relatively lightweight. The biggest problem is the cramped toe box is a common flaw that effects most running shoes except for those from Altra or Topo. The new and novel problem the Zealot introduces is "ISOFIT" that may cause problems if you have issues with the tendons on the top of the foot. That's enough for me to downgrade the Zealot 3 from "Highly Recommended" to merely "recommended." (I use The Science of Running Shoes as the basis of how I test running shoes and what you should look for in a running shoe.)
- Altra Escalante that is noticeably bouncy. An obvious comparison for the Zealot is the Saucony Kinvara 8, one of my favorite shoes at the moment. The Zealot is slightly better cushioned than the Kinvara, but also slightly heavier, so it's cushioning-to-weight ratio is not quite as good as the Kinvara. Of course, the Kinvara 8 is an outstanding shoe, and the Zealot is comparable with Hoka shoes. . The Zealot 3 is nicely cushioned, with a thin (3mm) layer of Saucony's version of TPU foam they call EVERUN. TPU foam is longer lasting, and has more bounce than standard EVA foam. Such a thin layer of TPU didn't seem to make a noticeable difference to the feel of the Zealot, unlike a full TPU shoe such as the
- . The Zealot matches the claimed 4mm of drop, which is slightly more than I think is ideal, but shouldn't cause many people a problem.
- . While the Zealot uses two types of foam, this is not the typical attempt to control foot motion. Rather, this is an extra layer of Saucony's TPU foam at the top over a thicker layer of standard EVA foam. I found the Zealot to be an unobtrusive shoe, with no midsole protrusions that attempt to limit my natural foot motion.
- . The Zealot reasonably flexible, mostly because of the fairly deep grooves in the midsole, and the gaps in the outsole. I found the Zealot flexes very naturally, unlike some shoes that tend to want to bend at a specific point.
- . The hard rubber outsole covers the vast majority of the contact areas, and all of the high abrasion surfaces. The outsole rubber seems to be reasonably sticky, and I always felt I had good grip. I did occasionally find the deep grooves could pick up stones and temporary, and when this happened, the stones tended to get wedged quite firmly.
- cutting open the toe box for comfort. The Zealot is certainly not as bad as some shoes, but it's nothing like an Altra or a Topo. (I recommend cutting open the toe box of virtually all running shoes, with the exception of a few shoes like some Altra shoes. When you have some worn out shoes, you should try cutting open the toe box. I've found that it's a big improvement, allowing my toes to move naturally and engage for toe off, as well as reducing the possibility of blisters.) . The shoe is does not match the shape of the human foot, so it's worth considering
- . The upper is seamless in the forefoot, but has a couple of seams in the midfoot. These didn't cause me any problems. The upper is fairly soft, and there's a reasonable amount of padding from the midfoot back. I found the upper to be a little thicker than most running shoes, and if you don't cut the toe box open, you may find it a little warm. Sadly, Saucony have continued to screw around with the midfoot, this time with an approach they call "ISOFIT". This consists of widely spaced lacing attachments, which I did not find helped with the fit at all. The main impact of ISOFIT is to make the laces rather uneven on the top of the foot, and I can see that causing some problems for runners who have pain on the top of their feet.
- . The Zealot has a sock style tongue, but in this case, it's a traditional padded tongue that is attached to the upper with a thinner, stretchy piece of material. This worked reasonably well, and didn't have the issues getting into the shoe that sometimes plagues sock-like uppers.
- . The flat laces work well and remained tied, with quite a bit of elasticity in the laces to improve comfort. This elasticity somewhat offsets the wide spacing, but not completely, and I'd urge caution with the Zealot as I could easily see this widely spaced lacing irritating the tendons along the top of the foot.
- Heel Counter is quite firm, but the hard part is fairly low down, with some softer reinforcement further up. There's plenty of soft padding between the heel counter and your foot, which negates any influence it might have. . The
This review was made possible by readers like you buying products via my links. I buy all the products I review through normal retail channels, which allows me to create unbiased reviews free from the influence of reciprocity, or the need to keep vendors happy. It also ensures I don't get "reviewer specials" that are better than the retail versions.
2 Update After 200 Miles
The Zealot 3 has shown very few signs of wear over the first 200 miles. The exposed midsole foam has it become dirty where it touches the road, but there's no sign of abrasion. There is a small amount of abrasion on some of the contact patches that are covered by the hard rubber outsole, but these are fairly minor. The upper appears completely on worn, other than where I've cut the toe box open of course. There's been surprisingly little compression of the midsole foam under the ball of the foot, and the Zealot appears to have loads of life left. It's been a comfortable shoe up to the marathon distance, and while I've not run further than that, I think they'd be fine for longer distances. I had very occasional issues with the Zealot picking up stones, and this could be a pain if you run on gravel surfaces.
3 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes
If you're looking for "the best of the best" running shoe, here are my top picks. Of course, the answer will depend a little on what you're looking for, so I have recommendations for various categories.
For a more detailed on running shoes see the Recommendations for Best Running Shoes. This table lists the key attributes of What to Look for in Running Shoes. For more detailed information, on the shoes see detailed shoe comparison.
|Saucony Type A Review||Saucony||A/A7||Recommended||$100||6.4||6.7||12.1||19||22||1||4.3||7|
|Saucony Type A6 Review||Saucony||A6||Highly Recommended||$100||8.2||6.1||9.5||17||21||4||5.0||7|
|Saucony Type A8 Review||Saucony||A8||Highly Recommended||$90||7.5||6.2||9.7||19||20||-1||4.7||7|
|Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review||Adidas||Adios||Worth considering||$140||4.7||8.6||13.4||17||27||11||4.0||6|
|Hoka Bondi 5 Review||Hoka||Bondi||Recommended||$150||6.1||11.6||18.1||38||42||5||7.1||2|
|Hoka Clayton 2 Review||Hoka||Clayton2||Highly Recommended||$150||9.1||8.3||12.9||23||28||1||7.5||5|
|Hoka Clifton 4 Review||Hoka||Clifton4||Worth considering||$130||7.7||9.3||14.5||30||35||10||7.2||3|
|ON Cloudflash Review||On Cloud||Cloudflash||Worth considering||$180||4.4||8.3||14.6||19||26||7||3.7||6|
|On Cloudracer Review||On Cloud||Cloudracer||Worth considering||$130||5.7||8.2||12.8||19||27||5||4.7||7|
|ON Cloud X Review||On Cloud||CloudX||Not recommended||$140||4.5||8.3||16.3||21||27||7||3.8||7|
|Mizuno Wave Cruise Review||Mizuno||Cruise||Worth considering||$120||6.6||5.9||12.5||17||20||7||3.9||6|
|Newton Distance IV Review||Newton||Distance||Worth considering||$155||7.5||9.1||14.2||26||31||3||6.8||5|
|Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review||Asics||DS Racer||Worth considering||$110||8.2||7.0||10.9||21||26||6||5.8||5|
|Altra Duo Review||Altra||Duo||Recommended||$130||6.0||8.4||13.1||29||29||1||5.0||5|
|Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review||Mizuno||Ekiden||Worth considering||$115||5.7||5.7||14.6||13||18||6||3.2||8|
|Saucony Endorphin 2 Review||Saucony||Endorphin 2||Worth considering||$115||8.0||5.1||9.6||15||13||-1||4.1||8|
|Adidas Energy Boost Review||Adidas||Energy||Worth considering||$160||7.2||10.0||15.6||20||30||7||7.2||5|
|Altra Escalante Review||Altra||Escalante||Best of the Best||$130||9.1||8.7||13.5||28||25||-1||7.9||6|
|Altra Escalante 1.5 Review||Altra||Escalante 1.5||Best of the Best||$130||8.2||9.0||14.0||26||27||-1||7.4||7|
|Saucony Fastwitch Review||Saucony||Fastwitch||Highly Recommended||$90||9.5||7.1||11.1||20||22||4||6.8||7|
|Topo Fli-Lyte 2 Review||Topo||Fli-Lyte2||Highly Recommended||$100||6.7||9.1||14.2||24||26||3||6.1||5|
|Reebok Floatride Run Review||Reebok||Floatride||Worth considering||$150||7.7||9.6||14.9||28||34||10||7.4||5|
|Saucony Freedom Review||Saucony||Freedom||Recommended||$160||5.4||10.7||16.6||25||29||3||5.8||6|
|Skechers GORun 4 Review||Skechers||GORun||Not recommended||$100||6.1||7.5||11.7||15||23||3||4.5||7|
|Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review||Skechers||GRU||Worth considering||$90||7.5||10.0||15.6||28||34||8||7.5||4|
|Asics GT 2000 Review||Asics||GT 2000||Not recommended||$120||4.8||11.2||17.4||28||35||5||5.4||2|
|New Balance Hanzo S Review||New Balance||Hanzo||Worth considering||$110||7.6||6.9||10.7||21||19||2||5.2||5|
|Hoka Hupana Review||Hoka||Hupana||Recommended||$115||6.1||8.9||13.9||31||36||7||5.4||4|
|Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review||Asics||Hyper Speed||Highly Recommended||$75||10.9||6.3||9.8||22||26||5||6.8||6|
|Altra Instinct 4.0 Review||Altra||Instinct 4.0||Worth considering||$120||6.0||9.8||15.3||29||25||-1||5.9||5|
|Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review||Asics||Kainos||Worth considering||$130||10.0||6.9||10.7||17||27||9||6.8||6|
|Altra King MT 1.5 Review||Altra||King MT||Recommended||$140||7.5||10.7||16.7||19||21||3||8.0||5|
|Saucony Kinvara 8 Review||Saucony||Kinvara 8||Best of the Best||$110||9.3||8.6||13.4||26||31||3||8.0||5|
|Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Review||Altra||Lone Peak||Highly Recommended||$120||4.2||11.4||17.7||24||25||4||4.8||5|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review||Nike||LT3||Best of the Best||$80||9.8||5.4||8.4||16||21||5||5.3||7|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 4 Review||Nike||LT4||Recommended||$90||8.5||5.5||8.5||15||21||3||4.6||6|
|Nike LunarSpider R5 Review||Nike||LunarSpider||Recommended||$125||6.9||6.7||10.4||17||21||3||4.6||6|
|Hoka Mafate Speed Review||Hoka||Mafate||Best of the Best||$170||7.6||11.9||18.5||39||40||4||9.0||1|
|Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review||Pearl||N0||Highly Recommended||$100||7.9||6.5||10.1||14||20||4||5.2||8|
|Saucony Nomad Review||Saucony||Nomad||Worth considering||$110||4.3||10.5||17.2||25||27||2||4.5||4|
|Hoka Odyssey Review||Hoka||Odyssey||Highly Recommended||$130||8.5||9.4||14.6||37||45||5||8.0||3|
|Altra Olympus 2.5 Review||Altra||Olympus||Highly Recommended||$150||4.6||11.8||18.4||35||34||0||5.4||6|
|Altra One 3.0 Review||Altra||One||Recommended||$100||6.1||8.8||13.7||23||23||0||5.4||6|
|Altra Paradigm 4.0 Review||Altra||Paradigm||Highly Recommended||$150||5.3||11.0||17.1||28||30||5||5.8||8|
|Asics Piranha SP 5 Review||Asics||Piranha||Recommended||$100||10.1||4.2||6.5||11||15||3||4.2||9|
|Brooks PureFlow 5 Review||Brooks||PureFlow||Worth considering||$110||6.0||9.7||15.1||26||29||5||5.8||8|
|Salming Race Review||Salming||Race||Worth considering||$130||6.9||6.5||10.1||16||19||4||4.5||6|
|Altra Escalante Racer Review||Altra||Racer||Highly Recommended||$140||6.6||7.6||11.8||24||26||6||5.0||8|
|New Balance RC1600 v2 Review||New Balance||RC1600||Highly Recommended||$110||8.8||5.6||8.7||15||21||5||4.9||8|
|New Balance RC5000v2 Review||New Balance||RC5000v2||Best of the Best||$125||14.2||4.0||6.2||13||21||6||5.7||7|
|Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review||Skechers||Ride||Worth considering||$85||5.9||8.5||13.2||18||28||6||5.0||8|
|Nike RN Distance 2 Review||Nike||RNDist2||Worth considering||$120||8.0||9.2||14.3||25||28||4||7.4||7|
|Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review||Inov-8||RXT-220||Worth considering||$120||5.2||8.0||18.2||14||17||3||4.2||8|
|Salomon Sense Ride Review||Salomon||Sense||Worth considering||$120||8.5||10.0||15.6||26||29||6||8.5||0|
|Altra Solstice Review||Altra||Solstice||Highly Recommended||$90||7.1||8.1||12.5||23||25||0||5.7||5|
|Topo ST-2 Review||Topo||ST-2||Highly Recommended||$90||8.2||7.3||11.4||20||18||0||6.0||7|
|Hoka Stinson Lite Review||Hoka||Stinson||Highly Recommended||$160||7.3||11.6||18.1||35||40||6||8.5||0|
|Altra Superior||Altra||Superior||Highly Recommended||$110||5.6||9.9||15.5||21||25||-1||5.5||4|
|Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review||Adidas||Takumi Sen 3||Highly Recommended||$160||7.7||6.6||10.2||17||21||4||5.1||5|
|Topo Terraventure||Topo||Terraventure||Review Pending||$110||2.6||10.8||27.5||24||24||0||2.8||10|
|Altra Timp Review||Altra||Timp||Best of the Best||$130||3.7||11.6||18.1||30||31||-1||4.3||6|
|Altra Torin 2.0 Review||Altra||Torin||Worth considering||$125||3.4||9.6||20.7||30||25||1||3.3||9|
|Altra Torin 3.5 Review||Altra||Torin 3.5||Worth considering||$125||5.8||9.3||14.5||27||28||0||5.4||8|
|Hoka Tracer Review||Hoka||Tracer||Recommended||$130||7.2||7.4||11.5||21||24||2||5.3||5|
|Merrell Trail Glove 4 Review||Merrell||Trail Glove 4||Best of the Best||$100||3.4||8.4||23.8||13||13||0||2.8||10|
|Topo Tribute Review||Topo||Tribute||Recommended||$100||5.9||7.3||11.4||20||18||-1||4.3||6|
|Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review||Mizuno||Universe||Highly Recommended||$125||10.7||3.1||10.6||9||12||1||3.3||9|
|Altra Vanish-R Review||Altra||Vanish-R||Recommended||$100||16.1||5.3||8.2||19||21||4||8.5||6|
|Merrell Vapor Glove 3 Review||Merrell||Vapor Glove 3||Highly Recommended||$85||2.1||6.1||27.6||6||5||0||1.3||10|
|Nike Vaporfly 4% Review||Nike||Vaporfly||Best of the Best||$250||10.4||7.2||11.2||25||37||8||7.5||2|
|New Balance Vazee Pace Review||New Balance||Vazee Pace||Worth considering||$110||6.0||8.6||13.4||18||24||6||5.2||5|
|Asics TartherZeal 3 Review||Asics||Zeal||Worth considering||$140||10.9||6.3||9.8||17||27||9||6.8||6|
|Saucony Zealot 3 Review||Saucony||Zealot3||Recommended||$130||8.9||9.5||14.8||29||32||4||8.5||6|
|Nike Zoom Fly Review||Nike||Zoom Fly||Worth considering||$150||8.3||8.7||13.5||29||36||8||7.2||3|
It's not a running shoe, but I love the Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boot and I've tested the Altra Lone Peak Boot, the Hoka Tor Speed 2, and the Inov-8 Roclite 325 hiking boots
Older shoe reviews: Saucony Hattori Review, Mizuno Cursoris Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, Hoka Clifton Review, Saucony Virrata 2 Review, Brooks PureCadence 3 Review, Brooks PureConnect 3 Review, Brooks PureFlow 3 Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, New Balance 980 Review, Brooks Transcend 2 Review, Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review, Asics 33-DFA Review, Hoka Conquest Review, Saucony Cortana Review, Puma Faas 100 R Review, Saucony Fastwitch Review, Nike Free Review, Asics Gel Lyte 33 Review, Skechers GOmeb Speed Review, Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review, Nike LunaRacer Review, Altra Paradigm Review.