Running in the Kinvara

A while back, Saucony sent me a pair of their Kinvara shoes.  I pulled them out of the box and was instantly amazed at how light they felt.  I’ve been running in the Brooks Adrenaline for a while (9.7 oz) and the Saucony Kinvara is significantly lighter (6.8 oz).

Saucony Kinvara

The shoes are a minimalist model.  They have a 4mm heel drop* and help to promote a midfoot strike.  A friend of mine who runs in Newtons got a pair of the Kinvara to use as an alternate to the Newtons and really likes them.  The upper is a different mesh-y material, but it helps the overall lightness and I really like how soft it feels.

The Kinvara is a neutral shoe, so I was a little concerned about changing from a support model to a neutral one.  And my first few runs in them felt a little funny… but not in a way I would have expected.  Mainly it was that I felt the shoe was a little stiff at the collar, no matter how I tied my shoe.  But after a couple runs (3 or 4 mile runs) it stopped feeling off and the shoe felt good all around.

Saucony Kinvara closeup

I ran in the Kinvara for a month, never exceeding 5 miles in it.  I wanted to be cautious because it was a different shoe than my foot type.  (Supposedly… I’ve had two different places tell me I’m a neutral and one tell me I need support shoes.) But I finally took the plunge this past weekend and ran 13 miles in them last weekend.  No problems at all.  In fact, they felt great.  Then I ran in my Adrenalines this week, first time in a month, and they just felt heavy and clunky and awkward.

I’ve read reviews that the shoes seem to wear out faster than usual, one person mentioned around the 250 mile mark.  I’ve put 65 miles on mine and they still seem fine.  If they do seem to wear out at a faster rate I will definitely mention it here, but so far they seem fine.  It probably differs depending on a person’s weight and weather conditions where they run.

Saucony is set to introduce another minimal shoe, the Hattori, which is only 4 oz and has a zero drop heel.  That should be interesting to try on.  But the Kinvara are a great shoe and I’m impressed, I will probably be getting a second pair so I can alternate between two.

*Thanks to Aka Alice, I realized I neglected to post what heel drop is.  I have included it in the comments, but I’m adding it here too… so this is a late addition: Heel drop is the difference between forefoot and heel height.  Most running shoes have a built-up heel, so it almost encourages a heel strike.  Having less change between the two, means it will be easier to adapt a midfoot strike.

Thank you to Saucony for sending me the Kinvara… I think I may be in love. Please forgive my crappy iPhone photos, I should have given this product a little more attention with a better camera.

20 comments

  1. pretty…I really like the color.

    What is a “heel drop” and how does it promote a mid-foot strike? I am intrigued by minimalist shoes, but have been told that I need a stability shoe. When I’m thinking during a run, I have been trying to focus on a a mid-foot strike, it’d be nice if a shoe worked so that I didn’t have to always consciously think about it.

    • Most running shoes have a heel that is really built up, thus it almost encourages you to land on your heels. So the “heel drop” is the measurement of the difference between the forefoot and the heel. Example: My old Adrenalines have a 12mm forefoot height and a 24mm heel height, thus the heel drop on those is 12mm.

      Running Warehouse is pretty cool in that they list the forefoot and heel height on most of the shoes they sell, if not all of them.

  2. The more I hear/read about these types of shoes the more I want to try them. However, I’m going to wait till I know my heel is fully heeled before trying something new.

  3. Thanks for this review, Jill. It was really interesting to read. It seems like people are always talking about Vibrams, and not as much about more minimal traditional shoes. The design of the Kinvara is really pretty, and after reading your review of them, I really want to give them a try. I think all the time about my foot strike and it would be cool to have a chance to work on changing it with a minimal shoe. This is great food for thought!

  4. Hi,
    Thanks for the Saucony Kinvara review. Will consider doing a review on it on my website after much reading from runners who wear them. But from the pictures you posted, it rather look bulky to me. But i’m not sure if it looks minimalist for me as shoes that I consider minimalist are those like the Vibram’s Five Fingers. However, if it’s made for the neutral footer, I guess those with flat feet or high arch have to give this a miss or do you have a say about these?

    Shafiq @ Best Running Shoes for Women

    • It doesn’t look as minimalist as a lot of shoes (like the Vibrams) because it isn’t… the beauty of this shoe is that it has the lower heel-to-toe drop than conventional shoes, but it offers more protection from stepping on debris, thus it is a good transition shoe for people moving into minimalism (or don’t want to go to TRUE minimalism).

  5. Hi! I am currently pregnant with our third child and very ready to begin my running regiment again once this baby arrives. I know that right after pregnancy I will be heavier and was wondering if the Kinvaras are supportive at all? I absolutely loved my Saucony Progrid guides, but am looking for something a bit different. Do you have to be a forefoot striker to wear these? I am used to running as a heel striker. Just wondering. I purchased a pair online and am waiting for them to come in (and the baby to arrive) and I cannot wait to start running again! I was just wondering if you thought these would be a good purchase for someone starting to run again or if these are better made for people who already have a regular running schedule.

    • The Guide is a light stability show, so it has some medial posting. The Kinvara is more of a neutral shoe, but it does have more cushioning underfoot than most shoes classified as “minimal”. The reason this one is more of a “minimal” shoe is the heel-to-toe drop is dramatically lower than in most standard running shoes. This change makes it so the propensity to heel strike wouldn’t be as high. They’re way lighter than other running shoes, so that makes them feel so fun and playful. I’m assuming that when you’re getting back into running after baby, you’ll probably have some changes in form/fitness… so it seems like a good time to try making the transition into a more neutral shoe. Just take it easy and listen to your body! Let me know how it goes!

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