Barefoot Shoes

Saucony Hattori Review

Saucony HattoriThe Saucony Hattori is a very minimalist running shoe expected to be available from Saucony on May 15th. Other retailers may have them as soon as May 1st. Saucony sent us a pre-release pair of the Hattoris to test, so I did a 4 mile ru…

Saucony Hattori

The Saucony Hattori is a very minimalist running shoe released in mid-May 2011 (Available for purchase now — see, for example, Road Runner Sports) expected to be available from Saucony on May 15th. Other retailers may have them as soon as May 1st. Saucony sent us a pre-release pair of the Hattoris to test, so I did a 4 mile run in the them, then spent a full day knocking around in them.

See more pics, my observations and impressions about the fit of the shoes, ground feel, etc., and a preview video after the jump!

The Look

First off, I want to say that these shoes are super comfortable for walking and are a great lightweight summer alternative to flip flops. They are easy to slip on and go. I actually enjoyed wearing them around more than running in them. When I saw the red, black, white and fluorescent green version on the internet, I didn’t like the color combo. As it turns out, I really like the look of them in person, and hey, if you don’t dig these colors, there are plenty of other choices.

Fit and Feel

I can’t help but look at the Hattori and think “water shoe”. I’ve owned a few pairs of water shoes in the past for tromping around beaches, but never really ran in them. The way the Hattori upper material lays over the top my foot definitely gives them a familiar water shoe feel. However, this fabric is very thin and isn’t restricting; it stretches easily with the movement of my feet and toes. Also, they are amazingly lightweight! At 4.4 ounces the Hattori doesn’t really feel like a shoe at all; there just isn’t much there. Anyway, they have a very different fit sensation compared to traditional running shoes or even Vibram Five Fingers.

The Hattori has a layer of felt-like material that surrounds the back of the shoe and is also used for the straps; it is very thin and light. The straps do a good job of customizing the fit around my heel and top of my foot without being intrusive. While my foot was fairly secure during my run, the shoes lack of structure makes it prone to some slight foot slippage and sloppiness which may cause some hotspots to develop. Finally, the thin foam insole/lining is soft and comfortable with no arch support.

The Sole

The Hattori has a relatively thin(about 10mm), but firm, sole. Most running shoes have an EVA foam midsole covered by a rubberized outsole. The Hattori sole is mostly solid EVA that is notched to provide extra flexibility. This exposed EVA is what makes them unique and likely decreases the weight substantially. The soles are lableled EVA+. I presume it is an EVA specially engineered to be used as an outsole. It will be interesting to see how they wear over time. The Vibram Five Finger Jaya and NB Minimus Life are other shoes with an EVA midsole/outsole.

Saucony has chosen to add a protective rubberized layer over some parts of the sole. The heel, big toe and area just under the big toe have this extra layer. Some have questioned the positioning of these rubber bits and I haven’t really figured it out either. Why reinforce the heel in a shoe mostly used by minimalist runners who forefoot strike? Why not reinforce the forefoot area where they do strike?

Drop and Ground Feel

The Hattoris are touted as being zero drop and they certainly feel that way. Forefoot or midfoot striking is a breeze in these shoes.

For me, the ground feel leaves a little to be desired when running. At 10mm of mostly EVA, the sole is thick enough to lose some ground feel and it doesn’t have the barefoot feel you get with some other minimalist shoes. It also doesn’t have the cushioned bouncy feel of a traditional running shoe that has an EVA midsole and rubberized outsole. Instead, the firm EVA+ material has a bit of a dull and hollow ground feel.


Overall, the lightness, flexibility and unrestricted fit of the zero drop Saucony Hattori make it a unique addition to the minimalist running shoe market. While the ground feel is a bit dull when running, I can see these shoes being a great choice for racing on flat surfaces or for Summer outdoor wear. They are really comfortable for walking around. I spoke with Justin about the NB Minimus Life’s EVA midsole/outsole and he says the walking experience is fantastic on those too. They are not too cushy and don’t give so much feedback that it’s distracting.

If you’re looking to pick up a pair, they are available online from Road Runner Sports for about $80.

Here is a preview video I did before I had a chance to run in the Hattoris:

By Britt

Hailing from College Station, Texas (Home to Texas A&M!), I grew up running cross country. Believe it or not, I gave Justin the name for this site back in early 2009 but I didn't jump on the toe shoes bandwagon until a year later. I am also really into quadcopters and drones and have a blog called

42 replies on “Saucony Hattori Review”

They were selling these at the Boston Marathon expo last weekend. I picked up a pair, not because I thought they were particularly fantastic, but because I wanted to try them out before the actual release 🙂

I’ve never had a mostly rubberless outsole before, but I expect these to get destroyed pretty quickly. The placement of the rubber that is there is quite odd, as you can probably see in Britt’s video. It covers the heel, the big toe and the ball of the big toe. I suspect there won’t be a lot of heel-striking going on in these shoes, so most of the wear will happen towards the front and more towards the outside of the foot than the inside. I’ve only run 4k in them so far and I see a bit of wear, but the texture of the sole is still there. I’ll maybe post some updates in the forum later for anyone who’s interested in how these wear.

The sole is thick enough to kill most ground feel, but I’d only run on smooth surfaces with these, and in that situation the flat sole feels a lot like the flat ground, so I don’t think that’s a big deal. As Britt points out, the sole is very flexy (I think due to large grooves, somewhat akin to a Nike Free) so the shoe hugs your foot very well. The stretchy upper means you can fit it pretty tight without really constricting your foot.


Thanks for the feedback! I am looking forward to trying them out. It will be interesting to see how that EVA wears. And yes, the placement of the non EVA stuff is interesting. Seems I get most of my wear across the ball of my foot. While they aren’t going to have the barefoot feel of a VFF, it is nice to see a zero drop running shoe that is so light.

toebox looks pretty narrow. Otherwise, looks like a pretty decent option along the lines of the altra instinct.

I’m also confused by the outsole, they put more durable rubber everywhere except the place where the forefoot strike begins, the outside portion of the forefoot.

Though overall all its nice to see a truly zero-drop shoe, after many lame attempts at minimalist shoes from other companies, the latest Reebok mess comes to mind.

You know what?

I’m encouraged by this. Did they get everything right with this shoe? No. In fact, on their website, Saucony is still stating that the wide toe box is for the toes to push off with. I don’t know about you guys, but when I’m barefoot or in minimalist shoes, I get in trouble when I push off with my toes. But still, I see the Hattori as a huge step in the right direction, from a major shoe company no less.

That makes me happy. Despite them still being misguided in their marketing, Saucony’s really trying here. I think we can see minimalism finally taking hold in the major markets. Progress might be slow and painful, but it’ll be interesting to see what other lines pop up.

Another shoe to go after and review would be the Somnio NADA. It’s a 4oz, 0 drop racing flat with what seems to be a very generous toe box. It’s definitely in the running to replace my Mizuno Wave Universe 3s when they finally die.

I’m so glad you mentioned the Somnio NADA Lindsey. I currently run in the Piranha SP 2’s and so love all the racing flats. I will have to check these out next time I have to replace my shoes.

We need Justin or someone else do a full review on these like they have with other racing flats.

Glad to see another ultra light flat runner, ashegam! I’ve heard great things about the Piranha too. I definitely want to jump on a pair of NADAs, but I need to wait for my Mizunos to wear out (plus I can’t find a pair of NADAs in my size anyway). I run mostly barefoot now, but I’m loving the performance I get out of those Mizunos and other ultra light flats when I do have to wear shoes. I’m hoping the Somnios are as good as they look!


I want to echo Anthony’s comments:

non-heelstrikers (most minimal/barefoot runners) do not need extra durability in the heel.

Saucony, (I know you are reading this if you care enough to send out your shoes for review), I would actually buy a Hattori model (Hattori 2?) that had wear protection on the forefoot, not the heel. I was really looking forward to these, but now I am disappointed.

Is this what happens when the marketing team designs something instead of the runners and engineers?

Neat. Getting a step closer, I think. Hooray for zero-drop finally starting to catch on. I have no real need for these but the idea is good and I think they’re a move in the right direction from a major company, which I like to see.

Jeremy said (criticism repeated in some other comments):
“The placement of the rubber that is there is quite odd, as you can probably see in Britt’s video. It covers the heel, the big toe and the ball of the big toe. I suspect there won’t be a lot of heel-striking going on in these shoes, so most of the wear will happen towards the front and more towards the outside of the foot than the inside.”

@ Jeremy,
The rubber has been obviously placed to minimize wear while WALKING, rather than running. First of all, if you run right the wear of the soles is already very limited whereas it’ll be much harder to avoid while walking.
Why did they even consider walking in a running shoe? Many runners also walk a significant distance in their running shoes, used casually, before and after a run, for other sport activities, even during races. According to Jason Robillard the average runner in a 100-mile race will walk for about half of the race!

“Is this what happens when the marketing team designs something instead of the runners and engineers?”

OMG sooo true…

My two cents: The sole of the Hattori is the same material as on the outer edges of the Kinvara. I have had a pair of Kinvara’s in my rotation for a few months now, and have probably 100 miles on them. While I agree that it is not the most durable material for the outsole of a running shoe, I can confirm that mine do not show as much wear as I had feared, and I don’t have the cleanest stride by any means.

I totally agree that the Hattori should have a small rubber patch on the lateral edge at the ball of the foot and possibly where the little toe would be. Other than that, I think it is an outstanding design. My only concern will be the width of the midfoot. It looks pretty wide, but you can never tell. The Trail Gloves look roomy too, but I found out the hard way this weekend that they are a bit too tight for my feet.

Regarding the Nada: I think it is a really interesting shoe, but I worry about the mid-foot width even more than with the Hattori. From the pics I have seen, it doesn’t look roomy in the mid-foot at all.

My hope is that we will start seeing more anatomically-shaped minimalist shoe designs, like the Altra. The Hattori seems to be foot-shaped as well, but it’s hard to tell until one tries them on. I think that, along with minimal to no cushion and a zero drop, proper shoe shape is critical. If only Birkenstock would make a running shoe.

i’m pretty excited about these. i’ve had some pretty good success running in minimal shoes (half marathon in VFF flow, 25k in EVO), but sometimes i want a softer landing (i’m 6′ 200+). also, i do triathlons, so the VFF are not ideal for a quick T2.

i had wanted the minimus, but they are all way too narrow. they are making wider sizes this summer, but only for the trail and road. i really wanted the life since there are no laces.

the NB store sales guy i talked to suggested these. he was wear testing them when i tried out the minimus line in march. he said they’re between EVO and minimus in width. we’ll see, but at least count me as not discouraged by this review.


A third cent:

I don’t know that I agree with the comments about it appearing that the marketing team designed the Hattori instead of the runners and engineers. I have never gotten the impression that Saucony was the kind of company that would jump on the bandwagon and just throw some “minimalist” shoe out there to make money. R&D aint cheap, after all. I certainly do not think it is true of all shoe companies, but I am pretty sure Saucony did their homework with this one.

While, from the images I have seen, it appears that this shoe could use a tweak here or there, I am going to stop second guessing Saucony, give them the benefit of the doubt, and see how the shoe performs over time.

One thing is for sure: I am really glad that Saucony is still putting out decent shoes after being bought by Stride Rite a few years back. To their credit, Stride Rite appears to be letting Saucony do their thing.

I’ve been running a couple years in the Nike Lunaracers which have similar, no rubber, outsole (except in specific areas) much like this shoe. I too thought I’d wear this foam (non rubber) material out very quickly but surprisingly it’s held up very well. I’ve probably got over 1000 miles in my oldest pair (I rotate through several). An interesting side effect is that having this spongy material as the outsole gives them pretty awesome traction offroad (at least on rocks and roots); not so good in mud! I too echo the comments about the need for extra padding in the heel (w/o sacrificing minimal heel-to-toe drop). If you cover long enough distances in races (i.e. ultras) you’ll find that you walk a significant amount of time, and on steeper, technical downhills you’ll find that you’ll heel strike sometimes as well (especially once you get tired). I’ll remind folks that all the anecdotal evidence and rules of thumb about “proper foot strike” and “ground feel” sort of go out the window when we’re talking about covering very long distances on foot either in races or in training; what works most of the time for recreational runners doesn’t necessarily translate well to ultra distance running!

These look interesting. Great review and vid, btw. I’ve enjoyed Saucony footwear for many years and it’s interesting they are getting into the minimalist footwear segment.

I think everyone complaining about the paddign in the heel are just complaining. The engineers of the shoe are not bad and are not ignorant that this is a forefoot runnign shoe. Despite all the running you will do in the hattori you will no doubt have to walk a little in them at soem point, like into your house or out of your house before you run for example.

I believe this reenforcement on the heel is for the small amounts of walking you will have to do in this shoe, so you will not destroy the shoe when you have to walk

I bought a pair of these shoes at the Vancouver Marathon expo. I have been running in the VFF and took these out for a 20km spin on pavement. They are certainly a different animal from the Five Fingers. I found the Hattori to be great to run in straight out of the box. The VFF are more fun on the trails because your meet mold to the environment. I prefer the Hattori for the road. I love the shoe, though I wish I had not bought the bright red colour! Too bright.

Great shoes but … (there’s always a but) … I am so so so dissappointed once again at the pastel blue and pink/purple colour scheme for women. I am willing to bet that there’s a huge market for princess attire which is probably why this keeps happening. As a serious runner I do not appreciate being treated like a five year old pageant wannabe! I refuse to buy pink shoes. There, i said it.

I have now put on more kilometers on the shoes since I last posted and can say I really do love them.
I did a half marathon yesterday which ended up on old railway grade for part of the course with fine gravel and then a bit more chunky stuff present. The shoes performed well and absorbed the mixed terrain. I have likely put 100km on them incuding the rougher trails and am seeing some light scuffing of the EVA soles. The protective rubberized areas seem to be doing their job. At least for my running style.

Re: women’s colors – I kind of like the color choices, especially the light blue and the black/pink.

It’s all a matter of opinion and taste.

I don’t think the men’s colors are all that great either. I went with the black/lime green.

What I would like to see is the Bikila in black. That would be sweet.

I didn’t see anything about comparative fit. Right now I am in 9’s in NB Minimus Trails and 41’s in my KSO. I’m really interested in these but I don’t know if anyone in my area is going to be getting them anytime soon, and I need a higher mileage shoe on pavement. I love my KSO’s but they are just a little harsh. Also, I can get Hattori’s for $40…

So, have they been fitting true, big, small?


They run a little small like all New Balances. If you have other NBs, I suggest getting the same size as them. I wear a 10 in New Balance. That is what my Hattoris are and they fit fine.

Contrary to what Saucony told me months ago, they decided not to make size 15s in the Hattori. Shut out yet again. Maybe someday I’ll be able to buy something better than Nike Frees.

Will I be able to run in these on trails? How about 7-10 mile runs on trail/streets? I run in the Saucony Grid Type A4’s right now (6.4oz, 16mm heel), and I do fine. Will these be suitable for me?

I have been running in minimal shoes/barefoot for a few years.
Stats: 5 ft tall less than 100 lbs
Years running: 32
Comparison shoes:
NB Minimus: I have run and raced in them but do not like the drastic feel between the lugs and the vacant area when running on uneven terrain; still prefer a more uniform sole feel.
5 Fingers: The unnatural forced toe positioning is not at all comfortable for me.
I was quite excited to get these shoes and will have to give them the a quite negative review. I have run in aqua socks and these fit about the same. The rubber used for the soles is wide and poorly shaped and i found myself feeling the soles moving around into strange positions every other stride. I tried 2 sizes, one was too short and the other the length was fine, but ran only 2 laps on the track (to keep them clean enough to return) before taking them off.
Aqua socks are better and far cheaper! Negative stars for quality and construction to saucony on these! ;-(

Re: Size. I dropped half a size when I was trying these out and it reduced the side to side foot movement (mentioned previously) significantly. They need to fit snug and form to your feet like VFF.
I ran 20K in heavy rain on Saturday and got a couple of sore spots. I tried running in regular shoes on Monday and my feet objected and some very fine socks dealt with the hot spots from the previous run and I was back in the Hattori.
I have not run full on trails with them just some gravel roads. I have found that I need to pull out tiny sharp stones that embed in the EVA sole. I am a little nervous about premature wear. ($$).If Saucony can sub me a pair I will run in them on a 25k trail race this weekend!

OK, after 5 miles in new Hattoris… I think the rubberized sections may help with barefoot form. I noticed my right foot striking to the left of the ball of my feet and rolling along the outer edge. Standing in the Hattoris the rubber sections feel high and fight pronation as the EVA+ compresses. So maybe the rubber sections are not for wear but to promote form? I don’t like the wad of foam in the arch and when I get the time I will modify to my liking. Without that foam in the arch the foot will roll along the outer edge, will be more flexible and give more road feel.

very comfortable shoes!!! definatley very minimalist but very good racing flats. picked them up just before a track practice and they were awesome. definatley reduces flat-footing.

I’ve been running in Hattoris for more than 3 months now (including 18 miles today) on both road and trails, and I really love them. Flat, zero drop, great road feel but also protection, snug uppers but roomy toe box, super-light. I’ve also been happy with the amount of wear they are showing–still have many miles left in them. Only negatives are that if you step right on a pebble on a hard surface, it will hurt (true of most minimal shoes though, right?), and they are a bit too hot for non-running use. For some reason, my feet aren’t at all hot when running, but they get sweaty if I just wear them around town. Anyway, the Hattoris are innovative and, for me, nearly perfect.

Im interested in buying these shoes but in still confused if these shoes are considered racing flats or just a shoe that i can use on my 3 to 6 mile runs. Am i better off buying other shoes if i just want to do simple runs or can these shoes handle daily mileage ?

I ran a Marathon three weeks ago in running flats (old faithfuls) and today did a 35K run in my Hattori. The Hattori felt and performed like my flats over a long distance. They are super comfortable right out of the box with their glove like fit. I find them easier on my feet than my VFF especially on the downhill. I would recommend them to Giovanny. Runs of 3-6 miles would be perfect for these shoes.

I have now used the Hattori for the last month. It probably has about 150 miles on them. I like them for their flexibility and almost-barefoot feeling. I went for my longest run in them today – 23 miles. This is after running 16 miles+ each day for the last 3 days, 50-50 pavement and uneven beach in Mexico. I do feel a fatigue in the arches of my feet. Knees do not hurt. I think I would be in much worse shape if I was wearing my Saucony Mirage for these runs.

I just got these shoes yesterday and took a quick jog in them. I noticed before buying them that a lot of people mentioned the odd placement of the rubber soles. Definitely puzzling in a minimal shoe.

I have a theory of why they did it that way after putting them on (at least the one on the heel.) The rubber sole is harder than the EVA and better preserves the harsh ground feedback that would come with a barefoot heel strike. A forefoot strike is much softer and lighter in this shoe due to the EVA foam. I feel like the hard rubber may be used to discourage a heel strike by making sure all of that ground feel comes through when striking improperly.

I have way less mileage on these than some of the other posters, so this is just a first impression.

i just spent the last year in a pair of hattori, and i really liked them overall. i did less running in 2011 due to the birth of my first child, but i still put in some miles. and i’m glad to say that they are great in T2.

there’s really only two things that i feel need to be said. the first is that while the sole is generally wide, there is a little lip on the outside edge at the forefoot/midfoot (it has a little saucony brand ID on it). this is notable for me because my foot is actually wider than the sole of the shoes, and the long term effect was that my foot sat on the sole such that my heel hung off the inner edge of the sole. this had some effect on my ability to wear them without socks as well as how the shoe wore down over time.

the other point to make is that i believe the rubber parts were added for walking durability, not to prevent wear from running. the EVA sole wear after a year wasn’t as great as i was expecting.

overall, though, i would say i had a more positive experience with these shoes than i did with EVOs or even VFF flow. these have been very good shoes, and i would not hesitate to recommend them to people seeking a generally minimal, but not super barefoot, shoe that encourages good form and allows some ground feel while also providing some softness.

Wow… 2 miles of a hard run and I have a flat spot. They wear a bit to quick. I’ll stick to the five Fingers. But a great show for everyday use. Breath great..

I bought a pair this week while browsing in Marshals $34.99 Can’t wait to try them out. I overpronate will see how the fan out.

We got saucony running shoe for $40.00 Shoe DEPARTMENT at Uniontown Mall 15401 the shoes feel real good but only lasted a month they wore out they should lasted a year, My asics last a year I will never buy Saucony ever. $40.00 what a waste of money, a RIP oFF I will stay with asics.I wish I could get my money back,But I do not think that will happen it never happen that way.If it did happen I would buy new one at the shoe department I would get asics. From Barry Bigam

I have had my pair for just over a year now. This shoe is amazing for pavement running as well as other flat surfaces.

an added bonus is that they are great for heavy/power lifting in a gym setting.

I enthusiastically recommend and will replace them with another pair once these shoes begin to wear out.

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