Saucony Jazz 20

The Saucony Jazz 20 is a redesigned version of the brand’s classic Jazz running shoe from 1981. Unlike the original, this version was created to be used in both competitions and everyday life. Although it looks drastically different, it does include a lot of the same characteristics as before. The same durable XT-900 makes up the heel of its outsole, and it’s now paired with an IBR + compound at the forefoot for increased responsiveness. Its EVA midsole is now enhanced to be more lightweight and provide a sturdier rebound. And its padded collar and smooth inner lining are now wrapped up in an engineered mesh upper for increased breathability and comfort.

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Pros & Cons

-Very lightweight

-Comfortable cushioning

-Breathable wear

-Appealing colorways

-Perfect for competitions


-Lacks durability

-Not for long distance runs

Key Features
The forefoot of the Jazz 20’s outsole is comprised of an IBR + compound that’s up to 33% lighter than traditional blown rubber. Its intended purpose is to aid the midsole unit by enhancing its level of cushioning and shock absorption. Another compound that’s present is Saucony’s XT-900 carbon rubber, making up the heel section to provide greater durability and traction. Aside from the forefoot's herringbone tread pattern, flex grooves are also present throughout the outsole unit for an easier and more pliable wear.
The brand’s specialized Saucony SuperLite EVA, or SSL EVA for short, makes up the entirety of the Jazz 20’s midsole unit. What they call their most advanced EVA blend yet, it comes with heightened responsiveness and durability while still proving to be very lightweight and cushiony. Considering that this particular unit is a bit bulkier than the one found on the original version, this is a great relief to many runners and fans of the first design. Despite, or maybe because of, this enhancement, some runners have pointed out that it may not be the best choice for going long distances.
Compared to the original model, which was created using nylon and suede, the Jazz 20’s upper is fairly simple. It’s constructed entirely of engineered mesh for a snug and breathable fit that’s also very adaptive and flexible. Internal midfoot support straps are integrated with the lacing system for greater structure and a more secure fit. This is aided by a minimal heel clip, semi-rounded laces, and a padded tongue and collar to ensure that the foot truly stays in place. Minimal overlays form the word 'Jazz' on the outer side of the heel as well as the brand logo on the medial and lateral sides of the foot.
With the men’s sizes rounding out at 9 oz. and women’s sizes averaging at around 7.7 oz., the Jazz 20 is much more lightweight than the average running shoe. This design characteristic makes it just as fit for competitions as it is for casual runs and workouts. It does still weigh a few ounces more than most racing shoes on the market, meaning that the runner may not be able to reach as high a speed as they otherwise could. Still, reviewers seem perfectly satisfied with how easy this model is to where both on the road and in everyday life.
One of the biggest advantages of using engineered mesh is that it gives the Jazz 20 an incredibly breathable wear. Air holes have been formed all throughout the upper, focused mainly at the forefoot and sides where hotspots typically form. This results in faster cooling and moisture wicking, allowing a much more comfortable wear throughout the day. It’s also incredibly helpful for those who exert themselves during competitive runs, as the increased airflow keeps them from developing infections or blisters as they move around.
Though reviewers may have had different experiences when it comes to this shoe’s durability or level of support, most agree that the Jazz 20 is a very comfortable running shoe. The SSL EVA midsole is very lightweight and cushiony, and its responsive nature actively keeps foot pain and fatigue at bay. This is enhanced even further by the use of IBR + on its outsole, which reviewers have taken notice of. And the engineered mesh upper allows complete temperature and moisture control while it seamless construction gives complete comfort that drastically reduces the likelihood of skin irritations. There is no indication of how wide or narrow its fit is, though product listings and photos indicate that it’s around a standard size.
It’s obvious that the Jazz 20 has a drastically different look from the original 1980’s Jazz model. Its classic nylon and suede upper has been swapped out for an engineered mesh to give it a sleeker design and more breathable wear. Minimal overlays take the forms of the shoe’s name on the outer side of the heel and the brand’s logo on the medial and lateral sides of the foot. Its midsole unit is bulkier for greater cushioning and support, and the outsole now curls over the toes for added protection. Though its colorways are slightly limited, it still has some eye-catching options such as grey/aqua/violet, blue/black, vizired/grey, and white noise.
The Jazz 20’s outsole and midsole were both created to be highly durable. While its IBR + compound focuses more on cushioning and impact absorption, the XR-900 carbon rubber completely withstands constant use on road surfaces. And despite its lightweight cushioning, the SSL EVA midsole shows no sign of degrading even after on-going use. Though its engineered mesh upper is able to be more resistant than typical mesh material, it’s still occasionally prone to small tears. And some reviewers have reported damage to the internal midfoot support straps after only a few wears.
Aside from being equal parts responsive and durable, the combination of IBR + and XT-900 compounds actively protect the rest of the shoe from potential damage. This unit also works in conjunction with the SSL EVA outsole to absorb the impact of each landing and safeguard the runner against chronic pain and fatigue that would otherwise develop. While it doesn’t look very protective on its own, the engineered mesh upper’s breathability actively keeps odor, blisters, and potential infections at bay while its midfoot support straps aid the lacing system in preventing accidental removals.
It goes without saying that the Jazz 20’s SSL EVA midsole was created to be very responsive. Its lightweight cushioning comes with not only a durable nature but also a great deal of shock absorption and rebound properties that keep the runner powered up as they continue to run. In addition, the forefoot’s IBR + rubber compound does its own fair share in cushioning the foot and safeguarding against impact. Even its engineered mesh upper has responsive properties, as it fits around the foot like a sock yet is able to completely adapt to each of the runner’s movements.
While the combination of the IBR + and XT-900 rubber compounds work together to form a supportive base for the rest of the shoe, the SSL EVA midsole adapts to the runner’s movements to keep the foot properly cushioned. The engineered mesh upper already does a fair enough job on its own, thanks to its adaptive sock-like fit. However, the inclusion of internal midfoot straps keeps the top of the foot secure enough that it can’t wobble around. A minimal heel clip and padded collar also keep the runner supported. Product listings and reviews all indicate that it’s best fit for neutral pronators with normal to high arches. Some reviewers also state that it may not offer enough support for those who participate in long distance runs.
As a road running shoe, the Jazz 20 is meant entirely for use on everyday surfaces. The XT-900 compound that covers its heel was designed especially for use on concrete and cement to enable a stronger wear. And its highly breathable engineered mesh upper means that this shoe would be an excellent choice for use in warmer weather. Runners feel that this shoe works just as well for a day of running errands as it does in the gym or on an outdoor run. It should be noted that this shoe is not water repellant and, therefore, not intended for use in wet conditions.
The Jazz 20 falls within the average running shoe price range of $120 to $130. While this isn’t an extreme amount, it is still enough to have buyers questioning whether or not it would be worth spending the money. Many have changed their minds when they consider its versatile wear and level of comfort it offers. As for those buyers who are looking for a much lower price, a number of reputable listings can easily be found on Amazon and eBay.
Aside from being a highly durable material, the brand's XT-900 rubber that covers the heel of the outsole also ensures a very strong grip on the surface below. The forefoot’s herringbone pattern enhances this further by keeping the runner securely on the group throughout the entire gait cycle. And the fact that it’s completely textured from heel to toe proves especially handy when running across cement or concrete. However there is no indication of how well this shoe can perform on wet surfaces, so it’s best to only use it in dry conditions.
Online reviews don’t indicate how flexible the Jazz 20’s outsole is. However, its use of two different rubber compounds and the presence of flex grooves along the forefoot and midfoot indicate that it permits an easy wear. Its SSL EVA midsole has also shown to be quite pliable, which only enhances its rebound properties. And the engineered mesh that constructs its upper was specially made to allow more flexibility than even standard mesh materials. Only its midfoot straps, lacing system, and very minimal overlays are present to control the runner’s gait cycle.
Most of the Jazz 20 stability features are located within its sole unit. As the XT-900 carbon rubber gives the heel more durable traction, the forefoot’s IBR + compound further enhances cushioning and shock absorption in conjunction with the SSL EVA midsole. When these two features work together, the runner is completely safeguarded against impact and is able to power through their runs securely. As the engineered mesh upper gives a snug fit that adjusts to each of the runner’s movements, its interior midfoot straps make up the shoe's lacing system for a fit that both stable and customizable. The inclusion of a minimal heel clip and padded collar further ensure that the foot will stay in its place. Though there are some overlays present, they seem to serve more of a decorative purpose than a functional one.
Those who prefer their running shoe with a slightly lower heel-to-toe drop should definitely consider the Jazz 20. With a heel height of 25mm and a toe height of 17mm, this model gives the runner substantial cushioning along with an 8mm drop that does impede on their natural gait cycle. However, it does mean that those who desire an even lower drop should look elsewhere for their perfect running shoe.
Key Features
-XT-900 rubber compound outsole
-Responsive IBR + compound
-SS EVA blend midsole
-Internal midfoot support
-Engineered mesh upper
-Seamless construction
-8mm heel-to-toe drop height
Bottom Line
Though it looks nothing like the original model from decades earlier, the Saucony Jazz 20 still has several of the same characteristics that give it an equally comfortable wear. Its outsole and midsole materials are the same, ensuring both durable traction and responsive cushioning. The inner lining and padded collar still give the runner a comfortable wear that keeps them stable. It was even created to be the exact same weight, making it yet another go-to model for everyday activities. And along with these returning features comes a brand new engineered mesh upper that gives increased speed and constant breathability. But even with this redesign, it’s not without its downsides. Some reviewers do wish that it came with more protective qualities and that the cushioning was better fit for long distance runs. Others have experienced durability issues with the upper, particularly when it comes to the lacing system. Despite all of this, it has proven to be a highly effective and comfortable running shoe that fits in with both athletics and day-to-day life.
Where to Buy
By Jessica Pilla
Last updated:
Where to buy
Best offer on: Jul. 29. 2021

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