This might be one of the shortest shoe reviews you’ll ever read. Here’s the even shorter version (although, you really should read the whole thing): Saucony sent me a pair of their new (not even in stores yet) Kinvara 4’s to test and review. They look awesome, but I was really skeptical for a number of reasons… and then I took them out of the box and ran a personal best 5k time by 3 minutes. Amazing shoe? Yup!
The fourth generation of Saucony’s wildly successful Kinvara model hits stores this coming May 1st, and I was one of the lucky bums who got their hands on a test pair in advance (thank you, FitFluential)… I’m primarily a trail runner, but I use the roads for recovery and speed work, and have heard so many rave reviews of the Kinvara from others that I was pretty stoked to get these in the mail.
To begin with, these shoes weigh next to nothing and look awesome. Bright red? Badass. But then I started reading the specs and “improvements” from prior models. 4mm drop? I prefer zero drop shoes – like in the new Saucony Virrata, which I absolutely love (click here for my review of that) – but I can live with 4. No biggie. I then read about how the shoe had been restructured a bit to provide better cushioning for an improved ride from heel-strike to forefoot. I don’t like supportive, structured shoes, and I run with a forefoot strike, so I was really wondering if these shoes would be that good for me?
But then I put ‘em on for a quick spin. And even with my forefoot strike, they simply felt great! Enough cushion to offset the pounding of pavement (as opposed to the trails I’m used to), but super light, really responsive, and… just felt super fast! I normally bang out a “comfortably fast” recovery 5k in 27 minutes. I came back from last night’s run in 24 flat. Now, I do realize that’s a “slow” time for many racers, but I’m an ultra trail guy, so I was pleased to find that I could comfortably push that kind of pace. So, now I’m really wondering what kind of 5k time I’m actually capable of? There’s only one way to find out; but that’s another post altogether…
So, long story short, I’m very impressed – once again – by Saucony. If you’re looking for a supportive road trainer than these probably shouldn’t be on your list; they are a very lightweight, almost minimal, neutral road shoe. But if you’re looking for a lightweight road trainer that will also work well on race day – be it a half marathon, 50k or a triathlon – than the Kinvara 4 is a GREAT choice!
– Weight: 7.7 oz (men’s size 9)
– Colors: multiple, 5 unique colorways for both the men’s and women’s models
– Drop: 4mm
– Stack: 19mm (toe), 23mm (heel)
– Uses: Road Racing, Triathlon, Lightweight Road Trainer
– MSRP: ~$100
– Release Date: May 1, 2013
– Link: Saucony Blog – Kinvara 4 Sneak Peek
UPDATE (6/13/13): Since I originally wrote this post the Kinvara have been performing incredibly… except for durability. At somewhere around 150 miles my Kinvara 4’s blew out on the inside ball of each foot and the outside ball of the right foot. The fabric just ripped out. This is the same design flaw that I (and everyone else I know running them) experienced with both the Peregrine 2 and the Peregrine 3 trail shoes – happened at mile 250 or less. Now, if you run 10 miles/week this may not be an issue. But I’m cranking out 45 miles on a good training week so you do the math; that’s a lot of shoes to go through every year. Do I still love my Saucony’s? Yup! They are awesome shoes – fit well, handle well, look great, lightweight… but if you’re looking for a durable shoe? Unfortunately, you may want to look elsewhere.
one of my favorite shoes of all time was the kinvara – hoping to get back in one soon
I love the Kinvara. I still working through version 2 (I stocked up when stores were clearing them out for vs. 3). Good to know that two versions later they are still great.
I’ve been using these for all my canal (and road, although that rarely happens) runs since writing this review and am still REALLY impressed! They’ve definitely lived up to their reputation… -B
Your reviews are almost always the best. Thanks. I’m trail running in Asics Fufi Racer 2’s (4mm drop) but need a trainer for speed work on the road and a 5K or 10K now and then that will give me a bit of cushioning in the forefoot. The Kinvara 4 sounds perfect. I have a high arch, pronote very little and my foot is not super wide but some shoes just don’t work for me if they are narrow in the toe box. Are the Kinvara 4’s OK in the toe box?
Yes – I’ve found the Kinvara 4’s (and Saucony in general) to be wide enough in the toe box for most folks. I have a wide fore-foot, so I run into the same issue with a lot of brands, but I’ve been blown away by the fit and performance of the Kinvara; awesome shoe!
Thanks for the quick reply! I’m going to get a pair. Probably have to order it online since I live a long ways from any decent shoe stores.
By the way, can you tell me in what ways the kinvara 3 differs from the 4? I’m expecting to have trouble finding the 4 where I live.
I didn’t run the 3’s, so I’m not totally sure the differences, but from what I understand they redid the footbed/midsole to give the 4’s a better ride. They also added better FlexFilm overlays to keep the shoe locked in at the heel. That’s the extent of my knowledge on that one – good luck, Bill!