Saucony Virrata Review

Received a pair of these on May 2, 2013. I have had a chance to get to know them a bit. Below please find my evaluation and ongoing comments about the shoe.

First Impressions

  • Initial impressions of the shoe upon unboxing was positive. It is a great looking shoe, my pair is the poster child Black/Citron/Red model. I am a big fan of the Kinvara 3, as I have kept it in my shoe rotation as regular use, and put several hundred miles on a pair recently. So when I finally sprung for a pair of the Virrata’s I was delighted at the lower cost ($80) and the zero drop characteristic of the footbed. I was struck at how light the shoe felt, and found it reasonably flexible despite a rather thick midsole and the mesh upper attracted me. With the summer months approaching, as it has great ventilation.

Outsole

  • On most surfaces the outsole is fairly consistent, there are rubber reinforcements in places where there is traditionally more impact than other parts of the sole. Obviously the blown midsole material is exposed in the mid foot region forward to the reinforced rubber toe piece and also rearward to the heel strike plate. This is similar to the Kinvara 3 model shoe that I have been running in for the last year or so, but there is no rubber midfoot on the lugs like the Kinvara. I have noticed wear in the mid foot area in the form of scuffs, but I believe that this is merely cosmetic, and in say 300-400 miles it won’t be a significant issue for me. What I did find somewhat uncomfortable was the heel strike rubber plates are set back quite far and the area directly under the heel is somewhat exposed. I run on crushed gravel roads a lot, and with the soft ride I do kinda get lost in my thoughts sometimes- so I have stepped on small rocks (about 1/2 in. diameter) that were felt on impact. Again, only maybe twice in about 80 miles on the shoe, but it could cause an unwanted bruise under the wrong circumstances.

  • Another issue I deal with that limits my use of the shoe to mostly paved surfaces is the spacing between lugs on the outsole get small stones caught in them on almost every run. To a point where I must stop and flick them out to avoid an annoying click as I cruise down the road. As far as gravel roads are concerned, it gets even worse. Below is a picture with a standard assortment of chunks caught in the soles.

Midsole

  • The blown midsole is a very cushy ride indeed. There is adequate padding for almost any runner on roads, grass and smooth trails. I would caution those participating in more technical trails or rocky or rooted pathways as there is a chance of feeling the pressure at an inopportune moment. The material does in fact compress quite easily- I would lobby for a larger rubber heel cover to disperse the ability of an object to penetrate to the foot, or possible a more solid segment for the heel area.

Insole

  • The insole is a basic variety of thin foam with a slightly texture sock liner. There is very little cush built in, just basic protection from the stitching where the upper meets the midsole.

Upper

  • The upper in the Virrata is an interesting mesh material covering an additional layer within. This dual mesh concept allows for adequate ventilation and keeps sand and grit from getting between the foot and upper causing any discomfort and potentially any eventual chaffing. I found the upper to be very liberating, almost too much so. It surely gives the toes an opportunity to roam a bit, and on flat surfaces it is fine. On trails it is a little bit too loose as it does stretch to a point that you feel yourself sliding off of the midsole if the pitch is steep enough.

Heel

  • The heel has a good grip without being too constricting. The collar is noticeable compared to the low cut of a Merrell M-Connect but does not annoy me at all. This heel cup holds my foot in rather well so that the sloppier forefoot does not feel out of control.

Toebox

  • The toe box is nice and protected by a glossy rubber toe guard. this seems like a good idea as the rest of the upper is so soft and flexible this gives your toes a chance if you happen to stub them on the edge of most anything, but flexible enough if you are cruising down something extra steep it won’t likely hurt your toes.

Tongue

  • The tongue is built into the upper without any obvious seams, the top of the tongue extends upward a bit but is never in the way or uncomfortable to maneuver when adjusting the fit of the shoe.

Lacing

  • The lacing is a series of nylon loops verses holes punched in the material. I like this idea as it allows for good adjustments without adding additional weight to the shoe.

Closing Observations

  • I think this shoe was intended to meet the needs of minimalist shoe fans for sure. It does meet these requirements in addition to providing a fairly robust midsole for protection. The zero drop aspect is welcome addition to the Saucony line too, for as many runners have been utilizing very minimal and thin soled shoes this will feel very mushy and padded without raising the heel at all. There are many parts of the shoe that were lessened in weight and as a side effect reduced the overall strength of the shoe. I like them for recovery day cruising, or when I get a little beat up with firmer shoes because of rough terrain, the Virrata is easy to transition to and feels great on almost every run I have taken with them.
  • UPDATE: Still like the shoe, do get a little freaked out when I can feel a small stone on the center of my heel. The issue with these is that the least amount of protection in the heel makes the very center of the heel vulnerable- a direct hit if you land just right. I see this being improved upon in the next version, but does lessen the confidence I have right now.

Stack Height: Heel (17mm), Forefoot (17mm)

Description from Saucony:

Stripped down to strong. The Virrata is our lightest and most flexible training shoe and allows your foot to move naturally. We removed everything that isn’t helping your run improve. What remains is a feather-light, ultra flexible shoe with advanced cushioning that promotes a powerful stride and allows your foot to move the way it was meant to. Built on a 0mm offset, this shoe lets your feet do the work while providing plenty of protection from the road. The breathable mesh upper makes the shoe incredible lightweight and quick-drying to run in wet weather conditions. Weight: 6.5oz. / 184 gm (size 9)

UPPER

  • Breathable Mono Mesh
  • Internal Bootie Construction
  • HydraMAX Collar lining
  • Collar lining material combines superior moisture wicking properties with a plush feel for comfort
  • Reflective Details

MIDSOLE

  • High Abrasion EVA (EVA+)
  • High Abrasion EVA foam that is a lighter alternative to rubber in the midsole and outsole construction

OUTSOLE

  • XT-900
  • Premium carbon rubber outsole material that offers exceptional traction and high-wear properties
  • Triangular Lug Design
  • Provides traction and durability

View the Virrata at Saucony.com

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