I've never run in the first version of the Saucony Zealot ISO before. I've heard a great deal about it but never really got my feet in them. So when Frank, from Saucony Malaysia handed me a pair during one of our weekend run sessions, I was excited. Now here in my hands were a pair of shoes I've been eagerly waiting to try. I ditched the Saucony Ride 9 I had on and put on the Zealot ISO 2 for the session. I have no benchmark to compare it against the original version so this review will be based on a totally new model for me.
The Saucony Zealot ISO 2 falls in the range of a neutral performance trainer. I've not run in any Saucony ISOFIT models before and slipping my feet into them for the first time felt more like I'm slipping my feet into a sleeve due to the wrap around coverage that the upper has. The ISOFIT is really a pretty well designed system that locks the foot in snugly. In fact, I prefer this over the K7's Pro-Lock.
The other thing that I noticed was also that the toebox area felt a little narrow to me. Most of the other Saucony models that I run in have pretty wide toe-boxes. No biggie but something for me to take note off as I put them to the test. The shoe was true to size. I'm a size 9 and it fit just nice. While I noted in was a tad narrow in the forefoot, there was adequate flexibility for an toe off and while the forefoot felt a little soft, it had enough cushioning throughout.
As mentioned earlier, the upper of the Zealot ISO 2 consists of Saucony's ISO fit system of straps running from the midsole right up to the laces in a one piece seamless layer creating a more flexible midfoot hold giving the foot a lot freer motion to flex while being held snugly but not too overly constrained. This revolutionary ISO Fit system morphs nicely to the foot for a custom feel.
The upper mesh consists of a light dense mesh that stretches out to fit your feet with only a thin FlexFilm no-sew overlay running along the toe bumper to the sides of the midsole adds strength and volume to the upper. The dense mesh was breathable enough to keep my feet well ventilated and I encountered no issues with hotspots either.
The tongue is gusseted to the mesh upper and is plush, a little too plush for my liking but stays in place nicely. The interior of the Zealot ISO 2 is silky smooth and the Run Dry material used as the inner lining is excellent at wicking out sweat from the shoe. Overall, the upper is light and breathable enough.
The team of engineers at Saucony have completely remodeled the midsole, making the Zealot ISO 2 a much more balanced shoe. The extremely successful EVERUN technology has now been incorporated into the Zealot ISO 2. The EVERUN is a material resistant to wear, various temperatures and shock. While it's just a thin layer of material that sits along the surface of the midsole and add a few millimeters of added depth to an already deep cushioned shoe, it does contribute to a snappy rebound of the shoe.
The propriety midsole PowrGrid+ which is supposedly lighter yet offering 20% more cushioning for your feet is maintained. The Zealot ISO 2 has a stack height of 22mm in the forefoot and 26mm in the heel, making it a pretty well cushioned 4mm drop shoe.
The outsole, a newly designed Tri-Flex material which increases force dispersion over a greater surface area, simultaneously delivering optimal flexibility and traction. A thick and firm rubber compound has been added to the rear of the outsole which adds to the durability of the Zealot ISO 2. The grip of the outsole was excellent, even in wet weather conditions on slippery pavements. I felt the rubber compound on the front was significantly softer and might wear out much faster but we'll see how it goes over the miles.
I've run some substantial miles in the Saucony Zealot ISO 2, with the first being a 10 miler right out of the box and found it to be a firm, smooth and stable ride. I've put the shoe thorough a variety of paces and distances and have come to a conclusion that while the shoe is good for those long slow runs, I found they really come alive when the pace picks up! It has enough cushioning when you need them on the slower, easy runs and enough flexibility and pop when you need to up the pace a little.
While I like the Zealot ISO 2 a lot and will very likely be my race shoe for my upcoming 78km race in November, I do my find them to have a little too much upper and rides a little higher off the ground than what I would have preferred.
Having said that, the Saucony Zealot ISO 2 is a nice high mileage shoe that offers just the right amount of cushioning for those easy runs but is flexible enough to easily handle a tempo paced workout without batting an eye. The Saucony Zealot ISO 2 is will be available nationwide in Q4 of the year.
Disclaimer - I am a Saucony Malaysia Ambassador but the Saucony Zealot ISO 2 review above is from my own personal experience and time spent running in them. This review is in no way whatsoever influenced by Saucony Malaysia.