After working with running shoes for over two years and having tried 20 different pairs of running shoes I now feel equipped to try the next level of running shoes, my co-workers all time favorite shoe, the Saucony Kinvara. I have been lucky enough to try out the Kinvara 10 Special Anniversary Edition the last couple of month and have been looking forward to telling you guys about it.
In the months before this, I have had the privilege to try out the new Saucony Ride ISO, as well as the Mizuno Waveknit R2 and the Topo Magnifly 2. These shoes, together with my usual inventory of running shoes, will be the basis of my comparison on the good and bad sides of the Kinvara 10.
It is important to distinguish the fit from the feel in this case. The Saucony Kinvara 10 has a superb fit around the midfoot, it’s a bit less snug around the foot compared to other racing shoes I’ve tried, which results in a very comfortable shoe that can be used for longer runs without any problems.
In my opinion, the fit is more similar to a long-distance trainer than a racing shoe. As a comparison, the New Balance 1400 fits tightly around the midfoot and heel in a more secure way. The 1400 is tightly placed almost like an extension on your foot, making you feel every bump and turn in the road. The Kinvara, on the other hand, seems to go the exact opposite way, trying to make you forget that you have it on, and I could almost be persuaded to believe that they managed it. There are good points about this and bad. Let’s begin with the bad.
I know Saucony has tried so much to make the heel better in the last couple of years, but I am sad to say that they still haven’t really been successful. Although I love their shoes, it is blatantly obvious to me that both New Balance, Diadora, Topo, and Mizuno make shoes with better heels.
Saucony has with their newest line-up of shoes tried to improve upon this with a narrower heel fit and, in the Kinvaras case, an addition of two extra yellow heel pads on the inside that hugs the Achilles tendon. This does not seem to work as well as intended though and the shoes don’t feel as snug as I want it around the heel. The culprit to me is the wrong use of fabric around the heel and the vast amount of padding added.
Overall the shoe has a nice unintrusive fit around the midfoot and forefoot, but lack a bit of grip in the heel compared to other shoes that I’ve tried lately. I still find it more comfortable than the Saucony Ride, but far from as comfortable as the Mizuno Waveknit R2.
As a neutral running shoe, I must say I am very surprised by how stable the Kinvara is. This has mostly to do with how the midsole is constructed and less about the upper. As mentioned previously the upper is unintrusive and has less grip around the foot than you’d find in a New Balance 1400. This should result in less stability, but because of a well-constructed midsole with the new Formfit technology, Everrun and a lower heel to toe drop of 4mm, the shoe really performs well in our tests at the store.
Combining this with a solid heel cap and you’ll get a stable shoe that really outperforms a lot of other neutral shoes, without feeling intrusive. I wouldn’t think twice about taking this on a longer run, solely based on stability and keeping the ankles secure.
I would consider this a stable neutral shoe and a racer shoe that overpronators might consider for shorter runs. If there is a need for more support I’ve seen several good runners use this shoe with an insole to get more arch support, and it seems to be working very well for them.
The Kinvara is a lightweight shoe positioned in between the Saucony Ride ISO and the Type A8. It’s still lightweight, but has a softness to it that the dedicated racers don’t have. It’s, therefore, a bit hard to categorize it, as I wouldn’t say that it is a dedicated racer and it is by no means a long-distance trainer.
I was mentioning the bad things regarding the fit earlier. Now I’m entering the really good part. The feel of the shoe is very close to the best I’ve ever had. This still feels very close to a long-distance shoe in a racing body. The low weight of the shoe makes it almost impossible not to like having it on your foot. It feels like your feet are exploding upwards every time you set off, and every time you land there is soft Everun cushion that enables you to run in a softer and more comfortable way. It’s like they made a shoe that is the best of both worlds!
I’ve seen many customers fall head over heels for this shoe, and it really doesn’t surprise me. I‘m not a fan of their total dedication though, and would strongly consider the Kinvara as a lighter shoe that works best accompanying another heavier, more cushioned shoe.
The lower heel drop automatically gets you more on your toes, which makes sense for shorter runs with more speed. Combined with the lower weight this really makes it a must-have shoe for shorter intervals and races if you are an everyday runner. Our team runner for Saucony uses this shoe as a long-distance trainer and the Type A8 as a faster racer, but that is a combination that most people can’t withstand for a longer time.
Overall this shoe is a joy to run with, and the combination of the lower drop, the soft cushioning and the low weight, gives a truly unique running experience I have yet to try from any other shoe manufacturer. I have not been able to try out the Kinvara 9, but my customers who have tried them both seem to like the newer model’s fit and feel better than the previous one.
The fit is tight around the midfoot, but with a looser heel and looser forefoot, resulting in an unintrusive fit that some might feel isn’t tight enough.
For a neutral shoe, it really performs in the stability category, much because of its lower heel drop, the new Formfit midsole, and the strong heel cap. I have no issues running a longer run in these, even though I usually need a bit of medial support.
The feel category is where this shoe really shines. I love using it, especially as a faster option to a heavier and softer shoe, and I believe this is the way it should be used. It should be treasured a bit, and only used when you want the fastest of most special sessions, it’s the way I use it.