Saucony Razor ICE+ Review

TL;DR

 

The Saucony Razor ICE+ is a winter-focused trail shoe that features Vibram Arctic grip, which provides additional traction on ice. The other notable design element is the high-cut outer shell that zips around the core shoe and functions as a water resistant layer and gaiter. The midsole provides plush cushioning with moderate flexibility. It’s not cheap, but provides a substantial level of technology and features in a unique and specialized winter shoe.

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Intro

The Razor is Saucony’s winter trail shoe. As with the prior version, the most distinctive feature is the high-cut exterior made of waterproof-breathable material. Saucony has added Vibram’s new Arctic Grip tread to the outsole, giving it the ICE+ moniker. Henceforth, I will just refer to the shoe as the Razor.

Upper

The upper is comprised of two distinct parts – the high-cut outer shell and inner boot. Reaching well above the ankle, the outer shell serves as a water and wind-proof layer for the shoe. It als1-_dsc7706o works as an integrated gaiter, preventing water and snow from falling into the top opening of the shoe. This is super useful when running in deep snow and puddles. The outer layer is closed via waterproof zipper, with a zipper garage at the hem to prevent chafing against the ankle and shin. The shell is made of neoprene and its interior is fleece-lined. On the exterior, there are welded Flexfilm overlays around the base and heel for some structure. Being neoprene, there is a bit of stretch and it conforms well to the foot and ankle. I have relatively thin ankles and the shell closed to form a fairly tight seal.The outer shell is permanently attached to the sole. The asymmetrical graphics are awesome; more companies should do this. The zippers stayed securely in position during the run and never creeped down. Nonetheless, they were easy to unzip, which I found myself repeatedly doing, to show other runners the construction of the shoe.

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The inner component is a bright orange (for visibility, I guess) bootie with an ISOFit cage. It is practically a full shoe by itself. It is similar to the upper in a Triumph or Hurricane, with a well-padded tongue and heel collar. The ISOFit cage is the “gen-1” vinyl material, as opposed to the fabric mesh found in the “gen-2” ISOFit seen in the Triumph ISO 3 and Freedom models. The tongue is fully gusseted to the bootie. There is a stiff internal heel counter for lateral stability. While it is definitely a neutral shoe, with no medial post or torsional stiffeners, the wide platform and stiff heel counter puts it on the stable end of the neutral spectrum.

The bootie closure is non-stretch speed lacing, cinched by a sliding toggle. The heel and tongue feature long pull loops to aid in grabbing the inner-upper through the outer shell and pulling the shoe on. I generally enjoy the convenience and consistency of speed laces. Actually, I’m confounded as to why we still use bowknots to secure our otherwise hi-tech shoes. The speed lacing does make fine-tuning the fit through the upper somewhat problematic. Tension tends to equalize itself through the eyelets, which is great for some, but not good for others that prefer different tension across the forefoot, instep and throat areas.

Midsole

The midsole is composed of EVA foam with a TPU Everun heel insert. The Everun gives some additional cushioning and energy return to the shoe. The midsole stack heights are 20mm at the toe and 24mm at the heel, giving an offset of 4mm. The insole adds another 5mm to the total stack height.

Outsole

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The entire outside is high-abrasion rubber, with 4mm deep lugs. The centreline of the sole contains black chevron-shaped inserts made of Vibram’s Arctic Grip material, which is intended to provide better traction on ice. It feels harder than the high-abrasion rubber in the rest of the outsole. It felt a little porous, like charcoal. The outsole is full contact, with no mid-foot cutouts.

Weight

I weighed the Razor at 288g (10.3oz) for one shoe. I think that’s excellent, considering it has multi-part, winterized upper and a variable tread, full coverage outsole.

Running Experience

The overall cushioning level is high, similar to the Ride 9 or Triumph. There is plenty of heel cushioning and a moderate level of forefoot cushion. The midsole is moderately stiff, making the transition a little clunky. The combination of stiffness, midsole volume and lugged tread results in a fairly isolated feel.

There is a prodigious amount of traction in dirt, mud, snow and wet streets. I tested the snow on a variety of ice surfaces, from rough snow and ice trails, to flat “skating rink” ice surfaces. I found that the Arctic Grip subjectively provided additional traction, compared to regular rubber. I noticed there was more traction if I landed flat-footed to maximize the amount of Arctic Grip tread in contact with the ice. As I flexed and pushed off, less outsole was in contact with the ground. Combined with the additional push-off force, the reduced sole contact resulted in some slip in push off.

The big question is – does this Arctic Grip stuff work? The answer is yes. It is not magical unlimited grip but will provide some additional security in slippery conditions and particularly on bare, wet ice. Unlike spikes, it allows the shoes to feel normal on bare pavement and wearable indoors without ruining the floors.

I admit my grip evaluation is subjective and based on my experiences with a conventional shoe on icy surfaces that tend to have zero grip. It is not a direct comparison without a “control shoe” with the exact same outsole, sans Arctic Grip.

Fit

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The high-cut outer was easy to adapt to. It doesn’t get in the way or limit ankle motion. Since it is flexible, it does not provide any additional ankle support. The outer shell adds considerable warmth to the shoe, which is of course, welcome in the winter. I ran and splashed through some seriously deep puddles and my feet stayed warm and dry.

The fit was short and had a slightly narrow forefoot for my men’s size 9.0 example. Depending on the shape of your forefoot, I recommend considering sizing a half-size up.

Final Thoughts

This is a specialized product and in that role, it excels in winter conditions. It combines a good neutral shoe with a high-cut weatherproof shell and outsole with some serious grip. It is not cheap at $220 CDN, but justified, considering the materials and level of technology present. The Razor ICE+ is a superior winter shoe in tough conditions and will outperform virtually all road shoes and many trail shoes on snow and ice.

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