Sauncony Peregrine 12 Trail Runner Review

Saucony Peregrine 12 Trail Runner Review

The Saucony Peregrine 12 is a moderately cushioned trail running shoe designed for rugged trails. They’re very lightweight with excellent grippy traction, they have mesh uppers that drain wet and dry quickly when they get wet, and a rock plate that helps protect your forefoot from sharp rocks and roots. With a drop height of 4mm, the Peregrine is a very stable shoe that helps prevent ankle rolls and is easy to transition to. If you’ve never tried the Peregrine, it’s definitely worth testing them out as trail runners or hiking shoes to see if they work for you and if you find the toebox large enough.

However, if you liked the Saucony Peregrine 11, the Peregrine 12 is a major redesign that takes some getting used to. I detail the changes below, but I’ll summarize them here: the mesh uppers are more durable and drain better, a lot of padding in the upper and tongue has been removed to save weight, and the toebox volume has been reduced significantly. While I can modify the Peregrine 12’s with a thin insole to increase the toebox volume, I’m on the fence about the changes.

Specs at a Glance: Peregrine 12

  • Best use: Trail running, hiking
  • Cushion: Moderate
  • Drop: 4mm
  • Stack height: 26.5mm, 22.5mm
  • Lug height: 5mm
  • Rock Plate: Yes
  • Footwear height: ankle
  • Footwear closure: lace-up
  • Midsole: EVA
  • Gaiter Trap: No
  • Weight: 580g/pair, men’s size 10.5
  • Available in Wide: Yes (this is new)
  • Fit: True to size
  • Break-in Period: None. Wearable right out of the box.

The Saucony Peregrine 12 is a moderately cushioned trail running shoe that provides good foot protection and traction on wet and muddy trails in mountainous terrain without a reduction in agility or stability. Mesh uppers enhance breathability and drainage and they have a lightweight interior liner that prevents sand and grit from getting inside. The low stack height is good for stability and trail feel, while a rock plate protects your feet from sharp rocks and roots but still provides good drainage through the sole of the shoe.

The Peregrine 12 has a sleek mesh upper with TPU overlays in high wear areas
The Peregrine 12 has a sleek mesh upper with TPU overlays in high wear areas.

The Peregrines have good forefoot protection with a front rubber toe kick and TPU overlays that extend down the sides of the shoe to the heels. The heel is fairly rigid to cup your heel, with a webbing heel strap that makes it easy to get the shoes on. The tongue is lightly padded and there are multiple lacing positions available so you can customize the fit, along with a front elastic strap to hold your laces in place so they don’t flop around. While there isn’t a gaiter trap on the heel, there is a metal ring above the toes to attach a front gaiter hook.

The Peregrine 12 includes a thick foam insole that is much better than the crappy insoles included with most trail runners.
The Peregrine 12 includes a thick foam insole that is much thicker than the crappy insoles included with most trail runners.

The Peregrine 12 includes a thick foam insole that provides great cushioning and is far more durable than the crappy foam inserts most trail runner companies include with their shoes. But it reduces the shoe’s interior volume significantly, particularly in the toebox. The tops of my toes actually rub against the mesh top of the toebox which is not so good. But when I replace the factory insole with a thin replacement insole because I need more arch support, the toe box becomes much more spacious and comfortable. I don’t have particularly large feet though.

The outsole and lugs are very grippy and there are drainholes in the forefoot that shed water quickly when the shoes get wet
The outsole and lugs are very grippy and there are drainholes in the forefoot that shed water quickly when the shoes get wet.

The standout feature I like the best is the Peregrine 12’s traction on rock, particularly wet angled rock, since we have so much of it where I hike. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going up or down, the soft chevron-shaped lugs on the Peregrine 12 mold around the nooks and crannies on the surface of slabs and boulders making it easy to scramble in mountainous terrain without taking a spill.

Net-net: The Saucony Peregrine 12’s are great trail runners for hiking if the toe box is big enough for your toes to splay out and relax.

Saucony Peregrine 12

Foot Protection
Traction
Stability
Sensitivity
Comfort
Weight
Durabiility
Toe Box Volume

Narrow Toe Box

The Saucony Peregrine 12 is more durable, comfortable, and lighter weight than the Peregrine 11. However, the toe box is considerably smaller and not a good choice if you prefer a more room for your toes to relax and splay out

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Peregrine 12 vs Peregrine 11 Comparison

The Peregrine 12 (left) has a narrower toe box.
The Peregrine 12 (left) has a narrower toe box.

If you owned the previous generation of the Saucony Peregrine 11, you might not like the new version as much as someone new to the brand or the Peregrine model. A lot of changes were made between the models that I don’t object to, but which you might. I find that the Peregrine 12’s ground-feel is almost identical to the Peregrine 11, despite them. But I can relate. I always cringe when manufacturers change the design of their trail runners or hiking shoes. You often end up with something that’s different enough that you need to switch to new footwear.

The Peregrine 12 (top) has new overlays on high abrasion areas on the mesh on the side of the toe box
The Peregrine 12 (top) has new overlays on high abrasion areas on the mesh on the side of the toe box.

Many of the new changes are in the upper part of the Peregrine 12, making it about one ounce lighter weight while improving the durability of the upper’s mesh. There are new printed overlays along the sides of the toe box and on top behind the toe kick to reduce the abrasion that causes the mesh uppers to break down. Most of the padding has been removed from the tongue and some from the inside of the heel. This actually makes the shoes dry faster when they get wet.

The lacing system is largely the same with the same elastic bands to hold your laces in place and the front gaiter ring. The back of the heel is slightly higher and the elastic pull on the back of the heel has been replaced with webbing. There’s also an insole included that’s made with surprisingly thick PWRRUN+ cushioning foam which is super quiet and comfortable. It has a non-existent arch though, so you might want to swap it out with an insole that’s more solid.

The Peregrine 12 (top) has different sized lugs and more drainage holes
The Peregrine 12 (top) has different sized lugs and more drainage holes.

The stack height of the heel and forefoot have dropped 0.5 mm. The midsole construction is the same, although there are many more drainage ports running through the rock plate and the outsole. The individual chevron-shaped lugs on the Peregrine 12 are much smaller than previously and are distributed differently in order to prevent clogging with mud and debris. The only thing that’s really the same is the PWRTRAC rubber which has the same ground feel and stickiness.

Assessment

The Saucony Peregrine 12 is a lot different than the Peregrine 11. But like its predecessor, the Peregrine 12 is a very comfortable low drop (4mm) trail runner that’s good for hiking if they fit. It is a very stable shoe that has superb traction, and enough foot protection, including a rock plate in the forefoot, to prevent injury. The mesh uppers drain and dry quickly and the shoe interior hugs gently your foot without any pressure points. The Peregrine 12 is also available in wide sizes and women’s sizes.

But, I’m on the fence about the Peregrine 12. While the toebox has shrunk in size from the previous version, I can increase the toebox volume by replacing the factory insole with a thinner insole/top cover combination from Treadlabs (the Dash thin), something I need to do anyway for better arch support. After that modification, the Peregrine 12’s feel largely the same as the Peregrine 11’s. Despite all the modifications on this new model, the midsole and the sticky PWRTRAC rubber outsole still perform the same as in the previous model. If you’re new to the Saucony Peregrine or a pre-existing customer, I suggest giving them a try.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product.

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8 comments

  1. I love how companies make changes with different versions. Once you find something you like it gets changed. Also I have Saucony shoes, not these, and I love them. They are a company that I feel flies under the radar.

  2. I notice the Peregrine 12 comes in wide sizes too. Do you think that might make a difference in the toe box? I found this is the case with Brooks shoes.

  3. The Saucony Peregrine is my favorite trail shoe. I used it on the second half of my AT thru hike in 2018 after burning through several pairs of Altra Lone Peaks. The tread on these shoes are amazing. From slipping and sliding all over the place in the Altras to having this incredible grip was a game changer for me. Had so much more confidence in my foot placement, especially on wet rock.

    The only downside was that they were a little narrow, but the wide versions fit very similar to the Lone Peaks so that has been wonderful. I still have a good bit of life left in my current Peregrines (10s I believe) so probably won’t be buying this generation, but it’s going to hard to pull me away from the Peregrine line when it is time for a replacement.

  4. I just got back from a 17mi hike in the Sipsey Wilderness wearing the Peregrine 12’s. Love the traction, but with a fully loaded pack my toes started hitting the front of the shoe going down inclines. Any recommendation for someone trying to switch over to trail runners for something similar that might not have this issue?

    I really wanted this shoe to give me a way to switch over. I’m on the slate to do Philmont in June and I’d really love to ditch the boots.

    • Try La Sportiva Ultra Raptors. They have the same sticky soles and excellent forefoot protection. If you don’t have width issues with the Peregrine 12, they should be fine. What you describe sounds like a fit issue more than anything. The raptors come in European sizes, so you can usually dial in a much more precise fit. You might also try the Peregrine 11’s because they fit so differently from the 12’s but have the same feel underfoot. REI carries all of these shoes, so you can return them if they don’t work out.

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