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May 1, 2013

Saucony Kinvara 4 review

Kinvara 4

A couple months ago, OnlineShoes contacted me to see if I would be interested in doing a test and review of Saucony Shoes new Kinvara 4 before they came out.  Ummm.........YES!  As many of you may know, I've been a huge fan of Saucony Shoes since I first ran in their Ride 2's almost 4 years ago. They were my very first brand of running shoe and they've stuck with me over the years.

I have literally purchased dozens of Men's Saucony Shoes since and, believe it or not, this is the first time that I've had the opportunity to do a formal review on their shoes.  Just so you understand, I have run in the Ride 2's, Ride 3's, Ride 4's and Ride 5's, all with tremendous success and I can't wait to get the Ride 6's this summer.  They have been my "go-to" brand for years since I first started running.

Of course, the Kinvara is much more of a minimal shoe than the Ride.  The Ride, for example, is a cushioned, 8mm drop shoe.  The Kinvara has much less cushion and also a lower drop of 4mm.  I've been experimenting with lower drop shoes over the last year or so given the trends in the industry and have found that I do tend to like a little drop on my shoes.  With that background, here's what I thought:

First off, my first impression with these shoes is that they are really a nice looking shoe.  Of course, I would never pick a shoe based on looks alone(and you shouldn't either) but it's nice to see they are something I enjoy looking at for my daily runs.  I mean, who really wants to wear ugly running shoes?

Now, I'm not really in love with the color I received.  I do love bright shoes and the Kinvara has always been one to offer great selection of brightness(more so for women) but they are still bright given the yellow.  I'd probably opt for another one of the color choices that Saucony and OnlineShoes offers if I were to get another pair.  Here's some close ups:

Super light!
As I pulled them out of the box, the first thing you notice is how light they are.  These things are crazy light with a weight of 7.7 ounces!  They are a huge difference from the Ride's I normally wear.  These are one of the lightest daily trainers that I've ever owned.  What seems to make these so light is the upper is extremely thin and the incorporation of Power-Grid.  The company has redesigned the upper(from previous versions) with FlexFilm in strategic areas.  You can see the FlexFilm from the pictures above.  This material helps keep the integrity of the shoe while also allowing them to be very light.  The forefoot has a wide toe box, essential for my style and it allows your foot to freely move in the shoe - a natural for minimalist shoes.  The tongue of the shoe is also lightweight compared to most shoes I wear(including the Ride 5's) and has more of a minimalistic approach.  It makes for a very comfortable feel to it.

I prefer several things when running in a shoe.  The first is a comfortable upper that is wraps my mid foot.  The second is a open toe box so my toes can move around.  The third is the heal that sits in nicely and does not move around or slip.  Saucony has gotten all things right in these aspects which I why I love the brand so much.

Let's take a look at the sole:

As you can see above, the shoe has lugs in the forefoot that help give you some cushioning.  I personally cannot feel the lugs(they don't stick out like another brand I tested - thankfully) but I can tell that the cushion is there and when you land on them in just the right spot, your legs are rewarded for it.  The feeling of landing just perfect in these is like no other shoe I've run in.  The sole is made from EVA and Saucony's Power/Grid vs. Pro/grid in other versions.  The Power/Grid is made to allow the shoe to be lighter and also make it more durable.  This is especially true in the heal.  Overall, I'm still a heal striker especially when I start to get tired.  On short runs, I have the concentration to be able to work on a mid-foot strike but I tend to get lazy/tired and go back to the heals on longer distances.  I find myself thinking more about my form when running in these to I get that feedback I'm looking for in the shoe.  Of note as well, I've not tried previous versions of the Kinvara so I can't really comment on the differences from previous versions.

Because this is a 4mm drop, the shoe is considered minimalistic.  I've not been one to run in minimalistic for any type of long distance.  In fact, 3 miles has really been the most I've run in other minimal shoes primarily because there is not as much cushioning in them.  While the cushion in the Kinvara 4 is less than your traditional shoes, they have enough cushion to allow for long distances.  To be honest, due to the 4mm drop, I've not been able to take these on a long run yet but I have gone up to 5 miles in them up to this point with no issues at all(only had them about 4 weeks).  I'm being careful not to put too many miles on them too fast and get hurt since I've not been used to running in the lower drop.

I would say, however, that I'm comfortable that these will be a shoe I will be able to go longer distances on in the future as I build up my miles in them.  One of the biggest problems I have at this point is that every time that I put these things on, I tend to run TOO fast in them.  They are so light compared to my other shoes, it's hard not to do that.  In fact, these have become my "go-to" shoes right now for when I'm doing speed work.  Since I'm going to be going fast anyway, I might as well have these on.

I received an 8.5 size which is my regular size so these fit true to size in my opinion.  If you are concerned about room in the shoe, I'd say size up 1/2 size and you still should be fine.

Given that I'm such a huge Saucony Shoes fan, these will continue to be a staple in my running shoe arsenal and I want to thank Saucony Shoes and OnlineShoes for the opportunity to test and review these.  If you are are looking for a really comfortable, neutral shoe with a minimal approach but not TOO minimal, these are the ones to start with.

Interested in getting yourself a pair?

Go to Onlineshoes to buy yourself a pair.  They debut today on their website!

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

* Note - I received a pair of Saucony Kinvara shoes from Saucony and OnlineShoes in exchange for this review.  All opinions on this blog post are my own and I was not paid or required to give a particular opinion on the product.


  1. I had a torrid affair with the Kinvara. I tried on a lot of minimalist leaning shoes and these were great.I started to make them near 50% of my runs, and ran a half marathon in them. I had to dump them though, or really, they dumped me for someone who ran with better form. I

    1. I agree that you really need to concentrate when running with these if your form is not good. I like that they force me into a correct form and you can feel how good it is when you are running in good form.

  2. The Kinvara's were the 1st pair of shoes I bought when I started running last year...and 4 pairs later they are still my fav's. I love how lightweight they are, but yet still offer (in my opinion) great support and comfort

  3. I love the Kinvara line and can't wait to try out the new 4's. I just ran 2 Half Marathons in the last 3 weeks in my Kinvara 3's and my legs feel great. Safe to say they are a go-to shoe for me.
    Nice review Jeff, and lucky you for getting a sneak peek at what I'm sure will be a great shoe! And I agree 100%...the ladies get all the good colours :)

  4. What is the Saucony equivalent of the Brooks Adrenaline GTS (mild overepronation)? ProGrid?

  5. I do a lot of my road running in the NB 00 trail shoes! I like the look of them and I had planned on using them for Cross Counntry, last year, but I didn't really run any of the CC races. I find tthem to thin for trail as I feel too much of the trail and that slows me down. But on the road it's fine. I don't have the need for cushioning, but I can guess that you over stride a bit and that is why you need cushioning...

    Quick leason: take your shoes off and run across the road barefoot!!! yes your feet are sore and you are running like you are walking on egg shells, well remember how you ran, and put on your shoes and head out for your run remembering how you were running barefoot on the tar!!! what you are looking for is soft on your feet without hitting the road hard. Good luck.

  6. Coach - I probably do a lot of things wrong with my form. Lol. Tried others without cushion but can only make it about 3 miles. These I can run more.

  7. Those are really nice! I have a pair of Kinvaras and I really like them. Great review, Jeff!

  8. Great review. I loved the original Kinvara and the Kinvara 2... but for some reason the 3's didn't feel right to me. I'm excited to try out the 4's, though.

  9. One of my sons runs exclusively in Kinvaras but complained that the fabric on the 3 was flimsy and ripped...something that rang true with his friends that run in them too. Hope that was fixed in the 4's.