Monday, November 12, 2012

Saucony KinvaraTR Review


Like many runners I walk the fence on the whole "minimalist" movement that has been growing over the last few years, revolutionizing the shoe industry and leading a lot of runners to make foolish shoe choices, leading to injury. After much deliberation my official stance is this:

Runners should wear as little shoe as their biomechanics will allow for the distance and type of terrain they are running. 

What does that mean? Basically this; when you are out on a run you should be relatively unaware of your shoes because you have found the right balance of weight, support and cushioning. Too little shoe may not offer enough support, cushioning or protection while too much shoe could feel heavy, clunky or unstable.

That being said, my review is written through the filter of that perspective. I see no need to give the specs for the shoe as you can easily find everything you need to know at Saucony's website. Instead, I will focus on my initial impressions of fit, comfort and ride on various terrains. I hope you find my perspective helpful.


Initial Impressions

They are lightweight and low to the ground. They do not feel nearly as cushioned as the street version of the Kinvara however, the  rock plate is surprisingly flexible. The upper locks your foot in well! I found it to be soft and snug but not overly tight. My overall impression was that these shoes would be a good fit for me but I was a little concerned that they may not offer enough protection from rocks and roots on the trails.

On the Run

I chose a route for my first run that would offer pretty varied terrain. It started with about 4 miles of technical trail, followed by a half mile of pavement and rounded out with a mile on a crushed limestone jogging path.

Technical Trail - This section of the route consisted of soft dirt, covered in leaves, with plenty of roots & rocks and a lot of elevation change.   

These shoes gave me exactly what I want out of a trail shoe! They all but disappeared! They are so light that you barely feel them on your feet. The low sleek design allowed me to feel excessively sure footed even though many of the rocks and roots were covered with leaves and could not be seen. The rock plate provided enough protection that I never worried about bruising or injury but still allowed me to feel the nuances of the trail. The tread design grabbed well on the ascents and descents and provided descent traction in the mud. I was pleased to realize that the design also quickly sheds the mud once you are back on dry ground. Altogether, I couldn't have been happier with my first experience running technical trails in them.


As with many trail shoes, the ride on pavement is less than desirable. The stiff tread leaves the shoe feeling very firm and a little unforgiving. Running half a mile wasn't bad however these are not a road to trail shoe. They are perfectly adequate for crossing the street or taking a short jog down the road to the next trail head but they would probably not be my first choice for a route that had a high percentage or long stretches of pavement. 

Limestone Jogging Path

On the crushed limestone I felt like I was wearing racing flats. The low profile and firm ride felt good for the mile I was on the path. These shoes might be a great alternative to a road shoe on this surface when the weather turns cold and the ice and snow create a need for better traction. Until that time, I'll stick with the road Kinvara's as my first choice for those runs.

Overall Opninion

At this point I absolutely love this shoe! They have the low, fast feel I was looking for in a trail shoe. That being said, I have only run 5.5 miles in them! I have no idea how durable these shoes will be nor whether or not they will provide enough cushioning and support for a 16, 18, or 20 mile run. I will continue to use the KinvaraTR's as my primary trail shoe and report back to you in a month or two! 

Until then, train hard, eat right and live life to the fullest!   

After only 205 miles the upper began to disintegrate. I am rather disappointed with the lack of durability I experienced & am unlikely to purchase another pair until I see an update advertising a more durable upper.  


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