The Saucony Kinvara celebrates a decade in existence this January. Born in 2009 from the belief that a lightweight running shoe can indeed pack a heavyweight punch, the first Kinvara from Saucony changed the running game. Now the Kinvara 10 is here to do it all again.
The beginnings of Kinvara
Saucony’s idea for the first Kinvara came out of the frustration that the running industry was offering heavy and overbuilt shoes.
Frustration coupled with athlete-driven inspiration led to the creation of this iconic model. Saucony created a lightweight, responsive and smooth running experience with the help of top athletes, including Linsey Corbin, Ironman US record holder, who placed 3rd at the Ironman World Championships in 2009, using one of the first prototypes. Her performance marked the debut of the Kinvara’s story and success.
What type of runner/activity is the Kinvara is most appropriate for?
The Kinvara 10 performs well as an everyday running shoe, however, has often been pigeonholed as a low mileage performance/racing shoe.
The 4mm drop and ultra-lightweight construction do indeed make it a popular shoe for racing in or faster paced runs. However, the Kinvara is not designed in the same way as a typical racing shoe, which tends to feature stiffer foam for greater energy return. The Kinvara 10 features an EVERUN topsole for enhanced energy return and continuous cushioning throughout the run, as well as a flexible EVA+ midsole, so its equipped to withstand high mileage.
Whether a runner chooses to use the Kinvara for the bulk of their running or select sessions only, ultimately comes down to personal preference and the desired running experience. The Kinvara sits in our Neutral Responsive category; its construction supports natural motion and it offers a slightly firmer feel for enhanced energy return, meaning it may feel better on days when you’re feeling good, have “fresh legs” and are looking to push the pace, as the Kinvara works the muscles and tendons harder.
The Kinvara isn’t a shoe built for a specific type of runner or running. Its uniqueness comes from the fact that it used by a lot of runners for a lot of different reasons.
One of its main selling points is of course its ultra-lightweight design. The women’s shoe weighs 190g and the men’s shoe weighs 221g.
As mentioned above, it features a 4mm heel-to-toe drop, meaning that the foot position is flatter in the shoe (forefoot midsole height is 19mm and 23mm on the heel). It lets your feet and body do more work while relying less on the shoe’s cushioning.
However, Kinvara’s foam is not as stiff as a racing shoe. It features a full-length EVERUN topsole providing greater energy return. After absorbing the impact, the material firms up and gives the energy back during every step of your run. The midsole is made of their EVA + material for a continuous and cushioned ride.
A new addition for this 10th version is the FORMFIT performance contoured footbed, used to add more structure to the shoe. It cradles the foot for an enhanced support feel.
My experience with the Kinvara
The Kinvara will always hold a special place in my heart. I always rated the shoe, yet my love for it grew following Saucony’s Race to Kinvara 2017 (RTK), an event I was lucky enough to take part in, which involved multiple relay teams from around the world racing across Ireland from Dublin to the town of Kinvara, in order to pay homage to the shoe.
I now use the Kinvara for most of my training, however that hasn’t always been the case. In the past, I reserved the shoe for track sessions and faster paced runs (cautious of the low heel-to-toe drop), however now I use it for longer runs (10 miles to half marathon) both at an easy pace and race pace. The more I started to use the shoe for varied sessions, the more I loved its lightweight yet still well-cushioned feel.
Flat or hilly road runs, but also for the gym, the Kinvara is an essential shoe for my training. Days when I feel my legs are stiff or tired, I switch it to a Ride ISO or Triumph ISO, which offer more plush cushioning and take the strain off your feet and legs.
Having tried the new Kinvara 10, it feels as great as the Kinvara 9 that I’m using just now. The FORMFIT is a great addition, giving a less “flat” feel to the shoe. I’m looking forward to clocking up more miles in them!