This is a review provided by Richard Lamb, a member of the Barefoot Running Shoe Review team.
I recently purchased a pair of Saucony Kinvaras to use during my transition to running full time in Vibram Five Fingers. With that in mind, the focus of this review is on the Kinvara itself as well as how it works as a transitional shoe.
The first thing I noticed when I put on the Kinvaras was how lightweight these shoes are. Saucony lists their weight at 7.7 ounces. (Much lighter than traditional trainers.) The roomy toe box provides space for wide feet and I have been able to move my toes around independently in the shoe (a requirement for any shoe I have). The shoe is made of a mesh material that seems to allow for breathability and the overall fit is very comfortable.
The Kinvaras come in seven color combinations, including ViZi-PRO. This is the most obnoxious orange and black shoe I have ever seen – and I LOVE it. I got a shoe that is primarily white with black and slime green (the actual color listed) accents. The Kinvara is a nice looking shoe and I’ve received many complements while wearing them to work. It is slightly flashy (think slime green), but not over the top.
This test has taken place over approximately six weeks. As stated earlier, I’ve been wearing the Kinvaras as a transitional shoe to Vibram Five Fingers. It is very easy to practice a midfoot strike in the Kinvaras. But it is important to be mindful of form, or there is a risk of occasionally reverting to heel striking.
The Kinvara has a minimal construction and allows feet to remain flexible throughout a run. They are especially useful for treadmill work because they cushion some of the pounding that always seems to occur on a treadmill. I have also used them with good results as my primary shoe for speed work intervals under 800 meters.
If there is a concern with the shoe, it is that the outsole material may break down faster than other running shoes. I noticed wear after only a few runs and have heard from other Kinvara wearers that expected lifetime mileage is about 250 miles.
Ultimately, the Saucony Kinvara is a good shoe to use as a primary trainer or an excellent shoe to use in the transition to something even more minimalist.