Price: MSRP $90
Don't be deceived by its featherweight construction and racy looks. The Saucony Kinvara is a substantial running shoe
Prior to testing both the Kinvaras and Grid Tangent 4's I had never owned a pair of Sauconys. I'll admit I was interested in the brand because so many people that I know love the fit and feel of Saucony running shoes. I had tried on various pairs of Sauconys from time to time and found them very comfortable. However, unless they just don't fit your foot at all, most running shoes feel good on the carpet of a running store. It's not until you put them to pavement (or on the trail) that you understand how a given shoe compares to your standards for comfort, support and durability. When Saucony offered Runner's Tech Review the chance to try the new Kinvaras we were extremely excited to put them to the test. These shoes, with their ultralight weight, minimal construction and low (4 mm) drop between heel and forefoot, were exactly what Born to Run fans (those who prefer shoes over bare feet or sandals) would want. Plus, they are about the coolest looking running shoes out there.
Both Adventure Girl and I received our Kinvaras back in May and immediately started running with them. We were careful to keep our distances fairly short to protect ourselves from straining those muscles and tendons that are usually protected by our more built up running shoes. She and I have had different experiences with the Kinvaras so we're providing our personal perspectives below.
|Saucony Kinvara (Men's)|
The Emerging Runner
My first impression of the Kinvaras (that I reported on emergingrunner.com) was that they "felt more like a slipper than a running shoe. Once I began to walk in them and got a sense of how they worked with the foot I realized they were nicely responsive." I'm a 9:00 to 9:30 minute miler but the first couple of times that I ran with the Kinvaras I averaged about 8:45 per mile. As I said on that day's post: "I have to give credit to the shoes for helping me attain that pace since I can't think of another factor that would explain it."
Despite my lower than average arches and tendency to pronate I haven't had any problems adapting to this shoe. I've usually done well with neutral trainers (except for Nikes) but for longer runs I still prefer some stability control. Since all my runs with the Kinvaras have been under six miles I may not have passed the threshold where the lack of control impacts my comfort. Despite the minimal construction of the Kinvara, Saucony provides enough cushioning in the midsole and surprisingly good structure in the "barely-there" upper to produce a very stable ride. The counter of the shoe is very flexible and it contributes to the slipper-like feel but the lacing system keeps it all in place.
I thought I would use the Kinvaras as a race shoe (and I may eventually do that) but I'm thinking of them more as lightweight trainers that are helping me develop a mid-foot running style. Saucony has also provided a pair of Grid Tangent 4's which are extremely lightweight cushioned stability shoes and I have raced with them once. I'll review them on this site as soon as I have more experience with them in competition. So far I've been impressed with their fit, feel and performance.
Emerging Runner's Bottom line:
Prior to Saucony's launching the Kinvaras I was closely considering the Brooks Green Silence shoe. The folks at JackRabbit discouraged me from moving to them as a daily trainer and I went the other way with the Brooks Adrenalin GTS-10's. It was the right advice, but it left a gap in my shoe portfolio. The Kinvaras fill that gap handily and they deliver everything I need for the distances I routinely cover. I can see myself choosing the Kinvaras more often as I continue to develop my mid-foot running style. I'd like to see how these shoes feel on a run closer to ten miles and I suspect I'll still be happy with the results.
Saucony's ProGrid Kinvara is the first minimalist running shoe that I have ever tried. For the last few years I have used one of the more mildly stabilizing shoes on the market. Since I've often questioned whether I needed the stabilizing at all and love my footwear to be lightweight, I was excited to try the Kinvara.
Having now run with the Kinvaras for a month, I've found that it’s an excellent choice for your ‘first time minimalist’ because it provides a surprising level of cushioning for its feather-like weight and structure. Anyone who has read Born to Run and is working on developing a “light and easy” style of running (a mantra I frequently find myself silently repeating to myself on tough runs) will find the Kinvaras an aid. You can hardly feel the weight of the sneaker when it’s in your hand and it’s even more invisible on foot.
At first, I ran with the Kinvaras on trails with rolling hills. I found that the ankle support wasn’t adequate, which led to a ‘tweaky’ feeling in my right ankle. So, I saved the Kinvaras for runs on paved bike paths and it was there that they, and I, began to hit our stride. I enjoyed their feel more with each use, as long as I stuck to paved routes.
The minimalist construction provides ample ventilation, which makes the shoe an excellent choice for runs on hot summer days. (On the flip side, I think they’ll be too chilly for my toes in the winter.) The mesh that encases the shoes has been dressed up with graphics. On my women’s version of the shoes the graphics are a refreshing grass green. There’s also a blue version available.
|Saucony Kinvara (Woman's)|
Adventure Girl's Bottom Line:
I recommend adding the Kinvaras to your wardrobe as a second pair of shoes for days when you’d like to feel light and run fast (race day?!). From here on out, I’ll be considering the Kinvaras my go-to footwear for fun running that steers clear of trails and rugged terrain.
Reviewed by Adventure Girl and the Emerging Runner