Saucony Hattori LC Lace-Up Review – A Massively Improved Update to Saucony’s First Zero Drop Shoe

Saucony Hattori LCLast year Saucony released it’s first zero drop shoe: the Saucony Hattori (soon to be joined in this category by the Saucony Virrata). My review of the original Hattori was favorable, but there were two big issues that I had with the shoe.

1. It was ugly. The first time I put the Hattori on in the presence of my wife, she told me they looked like “prison loafers.” Definitely not an encouraging statement, and truth be told I agreed with her. It was definitely not an attractive shoe, and I suspect this is the reason why they can now be found super cheap at various sites on-line.

2. The velcro closure system did not provide a secure fit. In my original Hattori review from last April I wrote the following on this:

“If I had one modification I could make, I would add a mechanism to better secure the upper to the foot. The velcro straps help a bit, but the shoe needs something a bit further forward as well. Because the forefoot isn’t tightly secured, I think it allows my feet to slide around a bit and I developed hotspots on the balls of my feet behind my big toes. My skin will most likely adapt to this, but I’d suggest a velcro strap across the forefoot or a lacing system like the Vibram Fivefingers Bikila LS might help to better secure the foot in future incarnations.”

Saucony Hattori LC side

I just received a pair of the new Saucony Hattori LC (these were a personal purchase, not media samples), and have now put two runs on them totaling 20 miles. The first run was an easy six, and yesterday I did an intense run that included 11.5 miles easy followed by 8 x 0.2 mile reps at 5K pace (total of 14 miles).

Let me start by saying that the shoes feel fantastic on my feet, one of the most comfortable shoes I have worn. This alone makes them a keeper for me.

The sole remains unchanged from the original Hattori, with specs of 15 mm heel thickness and 15 mm forefoot thickness. As with the original Hattori, there is a bit of give to the sole, but they feel firmer than the Saucony Kinvara, likely due to the reduced stack height. Rubber outsole pods are in the same position as the original (see photo below), which may disappoint those who were hoping for a bit more durability under the lateral forefoot (more on these pods in a minute). Also like the original, the Hattori LC is built with an integrated sockliner that adds a bit of cushion.

Saucony Hattori LC Sole

The big changes with the Hattori LC are to the upper. The shoe now has a lace-up upper, and I’m happy to say that it has completely resolved the issues I had with locking down my foot in the original Hattori. This change alone makes this a dramatically improved shoe. The other big benefit to the added laces is that they improve the look of the shoe in a big way – whereas the original Hattori might turn heads due to it’s strange closure system that enhanced the paddle-like look of the forefoot, the laces make this look like a fairly typical running shoe. The forefoot is made of the same type of stretch fabric as the original, and this is a good thing – allows for plenty of toe movement and a roomy fit. The interior of the upper is lined by a soft fabric that works very well for sockless running.

Saucony Hattori LC Top

I said above that I would return to the topic of the rubber outsole pods, so here goes. In the above excerpt from my original Hattori review I noted that I thought that the lack of a secure fit contributed to some abrasion and hotspots on the ball behind my big toe. Turns out I am having the same issue with the Hattori LC even with the improved closure system, and I now think it’s due to the fact that the rubber pod under this region is harder and Saucony Hattori LC Frontthicker than the surrounding midsole foam. I think that when I put pressure on this area during late stance phase through toe-off it doesn’t give as much. I’m pretty convinced now that this pod is the source of my problems. I will note that I am very prone to hotspots in this region of my foot, and it is issue that I have experienced in multiple shoes (though this one seems to be a bit worse directly under the ball). It also doesn’t seem to manifest until 3-4 miles into a run. That being said, it makes running long in these shoes a challenge for me, as evidenced by some pretty intense hotspots after my 14 miler yesterday. But, aside from the hotspots, the shoes handled that distance phenomenally well. Curious if anyone else has had similar hotspot issue in this shoe?

Given the comfort level that these shoes provide, I expect to use them a lot for causal wear, and for running mostly on shorter runs due to my hotspot issue (again, this might be totally a unique issue to me). I’m tempted to try and file down that rubber pod a bit because I otherwise like the shoes so much, but even as a casual shoe they will have earned the price I paid for them. Kudos to Saucony for a major improvement with the Hattori LC!

The Saucony Hattori LC is available at Zappos.

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Luis Andés Olmedo says:

    I have the same hotspots with the first version of Hattori. I won’t buy LC for that only reason… Great shoe anyway.

    My review (sorry, in spanish) where I say something about those hotspots:

    http://romavincit.blogspot.com

  2. Now that you’ve run in both Pete, whats your take on the Bionic vs Hattori LS? They seem to fit a nearly identical niche.

  3. I have been reading your reviews of numerous shoes in order to find a new cross country shoe for my 17 year old son. He generally prefers spikeless, as he is also prone to hotspots and has suffered horrible blood blisters from the heat of our blazing midwestern summers. What do you recommend?

  4. Go 1/2 to 1 size up in these for sure. Trying a pair of 11s now, usually wear 10.5s, and I can feel the slight outsole ridge under my third metatarsal. I do believe if I went another size up the heel would slip though, it’s already pretty loose. Guess my feet are abnormal, but none of these curved lasts fit the shape of my very straight foot well. Super comfy shoe though.

  5. cantresistoverdoingit says:

    I love my Hattoris, but wearing them daily for my runs has revealed that, yes, there is an issue with the pod under my toe. Not on both feet, just on my pronating foot, which is also developing a little case of tendonitis at the ankle. To be fair, it’s because I overdo in these shoes, which enable me to fly and bound through neighborhood and on trails (yes, not that smart). I’ve literally worn them every day for my runs for the past two months (and had to get a new pair due to the hole that developed in the fabric over the toes), and now I’m paying for it. I will wear them but am looking for a slightly more cushy shoe for my longer runs and trail runs.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I agree, the pod needs to go, but otherwise a fantastic shoe. Try the Adidas Gazelle – very similar feel and no hotspot issue. Also more durable rubber outsole under the forefoot.
      Sent from my iPad

  6. Jerry Bugh says:

    thanks for the nice article. i will give them a try. http://hdrunningproject.com

  7. Eric Villanueva says:

    I wish this is what they had come out with originally! How does it compare to the Merrell Bare Access or NB MR00? I’ve got the original Hattori, but they never felt secure on my feet and I’d like something with a bit of cushion for longer runs.

  8. Hey Pete, what size do you happen to wear in these? I am generally the same size as you given my tests with other shoes you’ve reviewed. Is the length of the shoe and/or toebox width any more or less than the original hattori? I ran a size 10 in the original (and in most shoes) but as I recall it was on the edge of being maybe too small. Thanks in advance for the help!

  9. Man, so many shoes! Maybe this will be a good track shoe for repeats! Loved the original.

  10. amadeus303 says:

    Pete – I purchased my own pair last week, and put 2 short/mid-distance runs in them (5 miles and 8 miles). They’re fantastic! The new lace-up system secures the foot even better, and they’ve still retained the ridiculous lightness of the original. I have never had any hotspots behind my big toe in the original shoe. Rather, I developed hotspots (and sometimes a blister) on my right pinky toe when I did runs of 5+ miles. At times, it also felt like there was a small seam where the upper met the midsole on the lateral said of the forefoot. I haven’t experienced that yet in this new edition, but of course, I haven’t run in it extensively either yet. Today, I also outfit the shoes with some Lock Laces. For those of us that are into tris, the original Hattoris were a pain to get on in T2, if not nearly impossible with sweaty feet. For that reason, I never used them for racing and instead used the Mizuno Wave Universes. The new lace system solves that, and I can’t wait to see how well they’ll work.
    The original Hattoris are my favorite running shoes of all-time. They instantly became a staple of my running rotation when they came out, and my “old” pair (after 400+ miles) now does duty as my casual walk-around shoe when I’m not in flops. Yes, I’m biased.
    Mike

    • amadeus303 says:

      One thing I noticed…the toe box seems a little roomier than before. It’s a more comparable feeling now to the Mizuno Wave Universes. This morning, I ran two 3-mile runs back to back (original Hattori vs Hattori LC), and the extra room in the forefoot of the LC was noticeable to me.

  11. Qiao Chen says:

    Pete, thanks for the post as always.
    I emailed Saucony in January to complain about Hattori, the same issues as you listed above (lacing system, etc). And here we go, a laced version ! Definitely going to buy it, just waiting to see if there are more color options.
    I am disappointed in K3 though – instead reducing weight, Saucony actually made it heavier than K2, WTH ?
    Like to get your opnion on Adipure Gazelle and Nike Zoom Streak LT

  12. Eric Villanueva says:

    Because of the loose fit on the original Hattori’s I ended up putting them aside. The LC’s look like what they should have made in the first place. How do they stack up against Merrell’s Bare Access and NB’s MR00′s? Since it’s the summer I’ve been doing all of my runs in huaraches, but I’d like something with a bit more cushioning to work up to longer distances. Also with the old Hattori’s I found that I had to wear socks with them to avoid hotspots & blisters. That made them a bit hot to run in during the summer months. Are the LC’s more sockless friendly? Thanks, I love your reviews!

    • amadeus303 says:

      I think the fit is definitely improved, but the inside of the Hattori isn’t changed much (if at all). Based on my research, the only change was some additional reinforcement to the toe area of the upper for added durability. I used to get a blister on my right pinky toe from time to time when I’d do longer runs, but haven’t experienced that yet on the LC. With that said, I only have ~16 miles on them, so take that with a grain of salt… and my feet may have just adapted to some degree (i.e. calloused over). I really wanted to like the NB MR00′s, but the midfoot was too narrow for my taste. The Hattori LC’s seem much wider in comparison. I’ve never tried the Merrell’s. If the hotspots/blisters were the primary reason you shied away from the original, I don’t know if that will be any different with the LC. Of course, with an improved fit, you may experience less “friction”. I still think they could add a little venting to the sole to aid in keeping the footbed dry. The upper is breathable, but it doesn’t seem to wick very well.

      • Pete Larson says:

        I’d prefer a removable footbed in this shoe as it would be less likely to soak up sweat/water.

        • agreed that they should have made the footbed removeable. it’s a very soft material, and I know it would blow through pretty quickly under longer miles, especially when one runs without socks.

  13. I have gotten hotspots in the same area with the first generation Hattori. I, too, thought that it was a product of my foot shifting in the shoe. I still wonder why Saucony put such a large wear pad on the heel. I’d much rather have a full mid-foot wear pad and nothing on the heel.

  14. Stephen Boulet says:

    Hi Pete. I’m trying to get a feel for how thickness and cushioning affect these zero dropped shoes. My personal experience has been that, to reduce calf soreness, cushioning easily trumps heel drop in importance. After a dozen or so miles, I get calf soreness in thin uncushioned shoes like Bikilas and thick uncushioned shoes like Instincts. Lasts in zero drop shoes made from softer EVA-type material don’t cause this. I’m looking forward to seeing how the new batch of zero drop shoes pan out.

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