Saucony Kinvara 8 Performance Review
Miles in the Saucony Kinvara 8
Meaghan: 55 miles
Thomas: 50 miles
I will be brutal, I lost interest in Kinvara after the last couple models. I felt Saucony had lost their way and forgotten what made the shoe great when it first arrived on the scene. You see, the Kinvara was something rare. Most running shoes were heavy, had at least a 10mm drop, and were overbuilt with tons of plastic all over the uppers and midsoles. Then Saucony released a stripped down lightweight trainer that could go the distance. It was like magic and the popularity of the shoe soared. When things get this popular everyone has an opinion on how to make it better, and soon the shoe was so far from the original that the name on the tongue was the only thing left in the DNA. I thought my affection for the shoe was history. I was wrong. The Kinvara 8 has rekindled my love for the Saucony that started the light weight no bullshit running shoe trend. -Thomas
Thomas: The last couple of Kinvara felt a little dead under foot. I don’t think I realized that until after I ran in the Kinvara 8. The cushion on the Kinvara 8 reminds me of a skinny Hoka Clifton. The Everun top sole now runs the entire length of the shoe and feels fantastic.
The midsole is more flexible than the Kinvara 7. It is especially noticeable in the forefoot. The outsole doesn’t appear to have been updated at all, so if you were getting the durability you needed from the Kinvara 7, you will be happy with the Kinvara 8.
Updates to the upper make a big difference on how the shoe feels too. Reinforcements on the inside (medial) heel and the outside (lateral) midfoot provide added structure without adding any noticeable hot spots. I really enjoyed the softer feeling of the upper. I wasn’t a fan of the Pro-Lock addition to the Kinvara line, but in this shoe, I don’t even notice it. The tongue and heel counter are super comfortable. The heel counter feels unstructured where it makes contact with your Achilles, no irritation and I had no heel lift.
The secret sauce to this shoe is the ride. Soft and comfortable at slow speeds, stable and firmer at sprints. You can train and race in this shoe.
Meaghan: Let’s start by saying this is my favorite Kinvara to-date (I’ve tested the 5 & 7). The 5 was a great shoe but I didn’t love it, and the 7’s were a bit too small & narrow. The updates Saucony incorporated into the Kinvara 8 are not extreme, but they make a big difference. The fit is perfect. Unlike the Kinvara 7, there is plenty of width and volume for my wide feet and toes to spread out. The upper is a lightweight, super breathable mesh with a simple lacing system. Saucony is calling it an internal strap system, but I’m pretttty sure it’s the same Pro-Lock lacing system they used before. Either way, I like it. The overlays are minimal and light (made up of Sauconys’ FLEXFILM) which provide just enough support. The collar and tongue are padded for comfort, but not over the top.
The ride is softer than it’s predecessor but it doesn’t lose the bounce. Saucony extended the EverRun topsole through the full length of the shoe which gives it a super soft, cushioned feeling underfoot. To be honest, the first few runs reminded me of running in the HOKA Clifton’s, which I love. All the cush without the ridiculous stack height. Not to mention, Saucony kept this shoe light. My W7.5 came in at 6.7 oz.
Thomas: Weight gain again. The Kinvara keeps getting a little heavier. It has to be expected with the addition of more Everun. That stuff is heavy. It still isn’t ridiculous at 8.55 oz. for my size 10.5, so I’ll give it a pass, plus the shoe feels great. The durability of the outsole may become an issue, but the nice thing about Everun is that it doesn’t seem to wear out.
Meaghan: I haven’t seen any wear after 50 miles but I’m wondering if the exposed EVA will hold up well once I hit 100+. I tend to heel strike so the blown rubber on the outsole has taken the brunt of the impact. I think Saucony did a great job with rubber placement, but someone who tends to land on the lateral forefoot or medial midfoot (where the rubber is absent) might see wear sooner.
Saucony Kinvara 8 Conclusion
Thomas: My interest had waned in the Kinvara line. It felt like they modified it too much and it lost its personality. The Kinvara 8 has me back in love. This model is lumped in with the top 5 best shoes I have reviewed in the past year. Some shoes can’t do it all, the Saucony Kinvara 8 can be used for training and racing. If you fell out of love with the Kinvara, give the relationship another chance. The Kinvara 8 reminds me of a fast slimmed down cousin of the Hoka Clifton. Between the ISO Freedom and the K8, I would take the Kinvara 8 every time. There aren’t too many running shoes that can compete with the Kinvara 8 period.
Meaghan: I love the Saucony Kinvara 8. It’s one of those shoes I feel comfortable recommending to just about every runner. It’s considered a daily trainer, but it has just enough pop that I’d feel comfortable racing in them. In fact, it’s a potential candidate for my next race, the Frederick Half Marathon in May. One last note – you can snag a pair for $110. Worth. Every. Penny.
Pick up your own pair of Kinvara 8