The 4th generation of the Kinvara series by Saucony is here. Boasting a redesigned upper mesh and upgraded midsole among other enhancements, does it offer an improved experience over the Kinvara 2 and Kinvara 3?
When unboxing the Kinvara 4, I was impressed with the design of the shoes. The black and reflective stripes running through the citron green upper mesh gives the Kinvara 4 a modern, streamlined look. I was also pleased to note that the HydraMAX ankle protection was still included. While the shoe hugged my foot comfortably, I had some excess space in the toebox.
Having owned some “zero” weight running shoes before, I would say that they tend to sacrifice stability of the sole for a more lightweight, but more rigid sole. For me, it comes at the cost of slight pain in my knees when I push my distances.
But I am pleasantly surprised that even though the Kinvara 4 is lightweight (218g for Men’s Size 9), the soles offered great cushioning and protection. After my first leisure run of 5KM, I decided to push for another 5KM with no problems.
Due to the extra toe-room, I had some blisters on my big toe for the first run. But after getting used to the shoe, that was not a problem on my subsequent runs.
The 4th generation of the Kinvara has the same 4mm heel to toe offset as the Kinvara 3. This low drop value is meant to allow runners to land on the midfoot or forefoot while running. This provides a greater range of motion than traditional running shoes, which is very well suited for mid-foot and fore-foot runners. I find myself running slightly hunched (which is a very bad habit), but the low offset and subsequent midfoot landings helped me run with much better posture.
The shoes perform admirably in indoors, outdoors and on track. A highlight was that the triangular lugs in the outsole gave me extra grip, which was especially noticeable on the track.
It speaks of great design at work when you realise something functions so well you don’t even notice it. That was the case of the redesigned FlexFilm upper mesh for me, which provided no problems, plenty of breathability and no blisters in my subsequent runs.
The upgraded POWERGRID midsoles absorb much of the impact, regardless of where your foot lands. For minimalist runners however, the sole might feel too cushiony. If you’re a long-time heel-strike runner looking for a pair of shoes to ease yourself into a mid-foot or fore-foot position like me, the Kinvara 4 provides great protection and comfort while transitioning.
The overall performance for the Saucony Kinvara 4 is great, with the redesigned mesh and upgraded midsole offering a substantial improvement over its previous generations.
- Redesigned upper mesh functions very well
- Very lightweight shoes with great cushioning
- Attractive streamlined design
- Great traction especially on track
- Might be too cushiony for minimalist runners
- Slight excess space in toebox