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).
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.
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.