Tried, Tested and Abused: Saucony Koa ST Trail Shoe
Of all the Saucony 'Run Anywhere' trail shoes the Koa ST is quite clearly the most aggresive and clearly designed to tackle some pretty serious mud.
The ST shares many similarities with the Koa TR, not least its oblique foot shaped toe box, plus its highly reagrded cushioning system and platform. The TR by comparison (reviewed here >>) is designed for dryer trails, hard packed surfaces and the ability to comfortably link trails via the 'black-top'.
Debs, has been out and about in the Koa TR since June so was the ideal candidate to try the deeper lugged ST. She quickly established that she liked the TR and found the terrain it's best suited too. So stepping into the Koa ST should not have been to much different.
Out of the box it did take her a minute to work out how to get them on. "They don't have a traditional lace but a lock lace system, similar to Salomon, that untill I had loosened the laces off sufficently I couldn't get my foot into the opening". Once she worked the laces loose enough her foot slipped in easily enough. On the fit Debs commented, "I am now use to the lacing system and the shoe is secure and snug around the heel and midfoot, with plenty of wriggle room for my toes". The lock lacing system is clearly going to be an advantage when it comes to taking them off, a simple pull of the lace lock and the laces are undone - a definite advantage when they are covered in mud and soaked wet through.
The upper is comfortable and quickly forms around the foot. Comfort across the Koa range appears to be something more should find to be right up there with the best shoes out there. Add in the fact the upper is designed to shed mud and water (not waterproof!) then the potential for keeping you feet a little dryer than usual has to be an advantage.
Like the TR we have all commented on how well cushioned the Koa's feel, with Debs saying the same of the ST. Like the TR the innersole sits on a layer of Saucony Everun for addedd shock protection. Again, the shoe has a 4mm drop from heel to forefoot, yet again with bags of cushioning throughout. Like the TR Debs felt the midsole felt like a stable platform and "As they are still firm this did not hinder the push off whilst out running".
So again like the Koa TR the ST offers a stable ride that is protective without getting in the way of the all important toe-off.
Grip, Grip and More Grip...
The studs on the Koa ST are pretty impressive and there isn't much out there that betters the 8mm depth. Quite clearly designed for wet, soggy and muddy runs. The Koa TR had proven itself to be a surprise in the grip department, especially across wet rock, so would the studs hold up so well in comparison to a flatter profile sole?
For a start the studs are flexible and therefore offer a grippy profile across a variety of terrain. It is those muddy days that the designers were looking to see the shoe tackle. Debs, was pretty impressed, "The grip on mud is very good and I felt confident flying along a variety of trails in the wet from single track through the heather to wider open Peak District trails. Even on wet rock, they performed better than expected. Perhps on rock not quite up to the grip on the TR yet the added grip on mud more than made up for this".
So the Koa range is looking like a winner and a force to be reckoned with. Both are well liked here. Cushioned yet responsive, comfortable and well fitted with the ST offering a silly amount of wet muddy day grip. These are agin likely to appeal to the ultra runner and those new to trail running looking for a little extra from the shoe.
To sum up Debs commented, "Overall a great shoe. If I was running longer distances and requiring comfort and grip I would happily reach for the Koa ST".
Saturday 2nd of September 2017