My first love for a road shoe came when I met the Saucony Virrata, which was, as it turned out, a minimized version of Saucony’s best selling shoe, the Kinvara. As a cushioned, lightweight, fast shoe, with a 4mm drop the Kinvara promotes a natural running gait and is a must-have for any shoe collection. It can be used for speedwork, recovery runs and distances up to and surpassing the marathon. All these features for a reasonable price of just over 3000 NT, the Kinvara has become a staple in my running life.
So what’s different about the Kinvara 7 compared with previous versions? The shoe is lighter and more responsive than ever before, which might be due to the “Everun” material found between the sole and the EVA cushioning on the outsole. Depending on which side of the shoe debate you are on, this could be a positive or negative trait. More responsive means less cushion, but as Saucony sadly discontinued the Virrata, I can get on board with making this shoe more responsive, hopefully it’s enough see marathon times fall, even if it’s only by a few minutes. There are so many highly cushioned shoes on the market, it’s nice to see the Kinvara striking the balance between cushion and speed.
The latest 3 versions all included the “Pro-lock” lacing system which is supposed to help wrap the shoe around the foot. Making it feel like an extension to the foot while still leaving space in the toe box. The Pro-lock in this 7th edition seems like it’s been tweaked since previous releases. With Kinvara 5 & 6 you had to use caution when lacing up – as lacing too tight could easily cause discomfort in your arch, and eventually I skipped this lacing feature all together. This new Pro-lock, is more mild and the pull to your foot is more evenly distributed, making it more effective at locking in your foot. Unfortunately, in the first few runs, I did have trouble with locking my heel in, but it seems the more I wear in the shoe the better it fits, so there really is no longer an issue.
The outsole has also been redesigned, with less of the thicker rubber and more EVA exposed. This might contribute to the slightly lighter weight of this edition. The shoe, as with most cushioned shoes, with a larger stack height, lacks flexibility. This makes it an excellent transition shoe for someone looking to move towards minimalist running footwear, but aren’t ready to give up cushion just yet. The stack height of the shoe itself, at 18mm is no where near minimal, but it offers the neutral ride you will find in minimal shoes. This stack height also allows for the protection required for marathons, building foot strength and light trails.
Overall, the Kinvara 7 is the same fast, well-designed, cushioned, responsive shoe it was from the first model. And while it has had some changes, most of them are positive. It’s great to see that Saucony continues to include new technology as it becomes available, while sticking to the core elements that makes this shoe one of the best on the market.