I was approached by the good folks at Saucony a few months ago and asked if I would like to try their newest shoe the Kinvara. I had seen them advertised in the usual places RW, Triathlete (yes I get that too) and had wondered what they were like. I did a bit of online research and spoke to a few folks who wear them including Pete who wore them to qualify for Boston. So with that research under my belt I said yes…a few days later they arrived.
Now this all happened around the time I was running the Long Beach and Catalina Island Eco Marathons and so under the rule of nothing new on race day they sat in a box for a couple of weeks before I broke them out and inhaled that new shoe smell…you know the one and now I have around 65 miles on them in the last 2-3 weeks.
The first thing you notice about these shoes is that they are light, weighing in at 7.7oz (compared to 11.1oz for my Brooks Adrenaline 10s and 13.4 for my Salomon XT Wings 2), it’s relative I agree but racing flats are often in the 6-7oz range and so these are definitely on the lighter end of the scale. The uppers are constructed from two layers, the inner is a lightly padded waffle which extends over the front two thirds of the shoe, the remaining third is lined with Saucony’s “Hydrator”, there’s not much info about it that I can find, but it has caused me no issues in the heel area. Also noticeable in the heel is the lack of build up, it’s very flexible. Covering the waffle liner is the top mesh, this is a very fine mesh with some bracing around the mid foot area. The laces are attached to this and the closed end of the tongue is too. Saucony considered weight reduction here and some of the “brand” graphics are printed on. The mesh is folded into the half heel cup (it only goes up half the shoe) and the toe cover which are the only real structured parts of the upper of the shoe.
The outsole is you ever present EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate), the difference is inside the heel where there is the addition of the what Saucony calls ProGrid Lite, this builds on Saucony’s proprietary ProGrid which can be found in every shoe that they make and is designed to add cushioning and not weight. The sole shows some respect to shoes from years gone by with the inclusion of the triangle pattern, however there is some newer technology included as they act as a shock absorber as they are absorbed into main body of the sole. There is no posting as you find in most shoes for structured running. Finally the sole has some wear resistant areas on the heel and toe.
So how do they feel, well they are best described as running with cushioning glued to the sole of you feet. they are as mentioned very light, it’s easy to forget that there is no real upper to them, the cushioning is very effective. I worked my way up in distances and the longest I have run in them was the Santa to the Sea HM earlier this month without any issues. I have noticed that they can get a little warm but that may be me being too picky. One thing I did notice is that they were a little tight when I started running in them, I am a believer that running shoes should fit and you should not need to “break them in” but after 10 miles or so they were fine. Fit wise I sized up half a size as I always do with running shoes and due to the tightness I reduced the volume of sock I was wearing to very thin, in fact I am wearing mostly cycling socks, which have zero padding, without issue and I am really liking the stripped down feel.
So where does this leave me, well if you were to ask me 3 months ago I was a die hard Brooks Adrenaline wearer, nice solid shoe right, you can read my review here. Now, well, I am journey to lighter shoes and better form and I firmly believe that these shoes will help me get there. You can see some more photos below:
These shoes were provided free of charge by the good folks at Saucony. See previous gear reviews in the sidebar on the right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.