I get a lot of requests to recommend running shoes. For the average runner I have been recommending three of my personal favorites; the Saucony Kinvara, Skechers GOrun 2, and the Newton Gravity. People generally go for the Kinvara. I believe it is because the Kinvara has a pretty perfect package. The shoe looks like a running shoe, fits most feet, comes in a lot of different color combos, and the price point is very easy to swallow at $100. While the opinion of Skechers is coming around, a lot of people can’t get past the fact that Skechers core market is fashion athletic shoes often with gimmicks like lights or springs. Trust me when I say the Skechers Performance team is putting out really great running products, but I do understand the prejudice against the brand. Before I tried them I turned my nose up too. Why aren’t most people picking the Newtons? I think there are two factors here. The first is that the lug technology Newton uses can scare some off. They just don’t get what the lugs are for, how it will affect their running, etc. Secondly, Newtons are expensive at $175. I can defend the Newtons and why I still think they are of value but today we are talking about the Kinvara. Every person I have recommended the Saucony Kinvara to has ended up thanking me. No doubt about it, the Saucony Kinvara is a truly great shoe. It is now in its fourth generation and I will tell you why the Saucony Kinvara 4 is the best version of the shoe yet.
I started out with the first Kinvara when they debuted. I loved the shoe almost immediately. It looked cool and different from other running shoes out there. It was like Saucony stripped all the nonsense off a traditional running shoe. They were light when there were not that many non racing flat light shoes out on the market. I loved everything about them except one thing. I shredded up the outer edge of the shoe within 100 miles. So much so that the shoe felt lopsided. Even with the fatal flaw of the outer edge shreds, I liked the shoe so much I purchased two more pairs of the first version of the Kinvara. I mostly used them for speed work and races.
When the Kinvara 2 came out I had hoped they would fix the issue with the sole of the shoe, but the update was more of a retooling of the upper. Some people had issues with the material that covered the upper in the first Kinvara. Apparently it would rip and tear for some runners. Bummed that the bottoms would still be an issue for my foot strike pattern, I tried to find alternatives. When nothing felt quite as right I purchased a pair of the Kinvara 2 specifically to run my “A” race of the year. How can you not love the shoe you wore during your Marathon PR?! I had long ago donated my Kinvara 1s, but am unable to give away my marathon PR shoe.
Keeping my ear to the ground and knowing a couple runners that wear test for Saucony, I heard the news I was waiting to hear. Rubber was added in strategic spots on the Kinvara 3! I was excited to get the news and more excited to try the shoes and see if this would fix the wear problem. It did. I can easily get at least 300 miles on the Kinvara 3. The Kinvara 3 looked like a total shoe redesign which made some people nervous. The shoe still fit great and even with the changes to the outsole there was no noticeable feel in the way the shoe connected to the ground. The one complaint I heard from people was that the collar rubbed some runner’s achilles in a way that caused blisters. I never had the issue.
Enter Kinvara 4, the best Kinvara yet. The Kinvara 3 really did the trick by adding the rubber to the outsole, but the application of the Flex Film overlays made the shoe look a little less like a traditional running shoe. The overlays give the shoe a “stripey” look. I honestly didn’t mid it much until I saw the Kivara 4’s new upper. It just looks a lot better. It also appears that they have made an adjustment to the collar making it less aggressive in both height and width. So now we have both the upper, the midsole, and the outsole just about perfect. So far I can’t think of anything I would change on the shoe. I love the ride of the Kinvara 4 and will continue to recommend this shoe to others. It seems to work for just about every body type.
Check out the spec sheet from Saucony for more details.