By Tom Demerly
There are must haves, basics in our sport and the Saucony ProGrid Guide 2 is one of those staples. The ProGrid Guide 2 could be the first running shoe a person ever bought, and the one they always need to own. It is a basic. If there is one drawback to this shoe it is its overwhelming convention. The Saucony ProGrid Guide 2 could be the only running shoe on earth and that would be fine. In all ways it is utterly down the middle.
The Saucony ProGrid Guide 2 fits in the performance stability category for the mild over pronator- the largest category in running shoes and the one most customers fit into. As a result there are many fine offerings in the performance stability category. Most of the choice between these models and brands will be made by fit and ride. A lot of those choices will wind up in the ProGrid Guide 2 as the fence sitter; everyman (and woman) fit and ride. If you are average, this shoe is great.
Fit on the Saucony ProGrid Guide 2 is smack down the middle. I am a genetically gifted shoe tester in that I have utterly unremarkable “D” width, size 9.5 feet. More men’s shoes are sold in this size and width than any other.
On my foot the Saucony ProGrid Guide 2 is a tailored, trim fit. It isn’t boxy. The saddle area of the shoe is in contact with my medium arch height foot. There isn’t extra room, it isn’t too snug- it is like dipping my feet in plaster. These fit me. The toe box was trim on me, which I like. An anomaly on this shoe compared to its other same category comparison shoes (most notably Asics 2150) is the wider lacing pattern. This provides great control over volume of the shoe: longer laces across the top mean more adjustability and tune-ability.
The first thing you notice when running in the Saucony ProGrid Guide 2 is the generous heel support, cushioning and roll control. The heel rides a full 5 cm off the ground- that is a lot of cushioning and motion control. The forefoot is 2.5 cm high setting up a high-ish ride and a lot of differential between heel and forefoot. This shoe is the polar opposite of a Newton. The 5 cm of Saucony “SRC XTRA” cushioning in the heel accounts for the great shock absorption of this shoe. “SRC” is Saucony’s proprietary “Super Rebound Cushioning” material and it is used both in the heel and forefoot.
The heel cup is pronounced with the stock insole although the transition from heel to forefoot is round and smooth even if you are a nasty heel striker. I do feel the transition from the heel to the midsole inside the shoe.
Medial posting on this shoe is via a firm durometer, dark gray EVA wedge under the arch and an injection molded, flexible polymer exoskeleton called ProGrid that runs the entire width of the arch from medial to lateral under the shoe. This ProGrid exoskeleton likely contributes to the nice stability of the shoe and occupies the arch between forefoot and heel. It feels like an effective way to manage the torsional feel of the shoe. Saucony also uses the HRC Strobel Board in the last to manage the roll control and torsional stiffness of the shoe. This HRC Strobel Board is a Saucony exclusive and it does make the shoe feel more secure underfoot, providing great roll control and guidance from foot strike to push off.
There are carbon rubber panels in the high wear areas of the outsole for durability.
Weight on the shoe is 12.1 ounces for a size 9.5 according to multiple weigh-ins on our gram scale, a trifle heavier than the stated 11.4 ounces from Saucony. It isn’t a heavy-feeling shoe despite a lot of sole underfoot, likely because of the great ride and the basic upper.
The upper is simple and airy without bells and whistles. If you had to distill every running shoe on earth down to one remaining model the Saucony ProGrid Guide 2 would be a candidate: It’s a basic.
How does it run? When I tested the Saucony ProGrid Guide 2 I was wrestling mild plantar fasciitis symptoms from a slightly-too-ambitious trail running initiative. The Guide 2 was first aid. Even with a sore heel (from other running) the shoe ran great: Stable, soft, not super responsive but this is a trainer, not a racer. One of the things that make this shoe important for all runners is recovery. It is a great option for easy days when you simply want to get the blood moving but your feet and legs are hammered from an ambitious training schedule or racing in a lighter shoe. This is the “day after” shoe for fast runners and the everyday shoe for most of us. For the new runner, this is the start point if they are a down the middle runner from an orthopedic perspective. I love the trim fit- the shoe isn’t baggy and there were no wrinkles in the upper, over the toe box when I laced them up. I tested the shoes with a thin SwiftWick polypropylene sock. There is no need for a thick ThorLo or other cushion sock in this shoe.
For triathletes this shoe will obviously accept speed laces but it will gain some weight when it takes on water from cups poured over your head in aid stations. There are no specialty drainage features as with some tri-specific models.
A bonus with this shoe is the ComfortRide Sockliner insole. The ComfortRide isn’t a SuperFeet or Sole aftermarket level insole but it is concave enough to interface with the shoe well. You ride in it, not on it. If you did decide to install Sole custom, heat moldable foot beds or SuperFeet insoles it may actually be overkill in this shoe. I don’t think it’s necessary.