SAUCONY Kinvara 13: what do I think?
It all started with the Kinvara 12. I opened the box and thought they’d sent the wrong shoe. I put it on and still thought they’d sent the wrong shoe*. But once it was on, it wasn’t coming off. I’m going to spoil this review now: I’m picky when it comes to shoes, yet this one won me over in about 15 seconds.
(*Yes these are sponsored shoes but it’s also an honest take. If I didn’t like them I’d say so.)
The Kinvara is Saucony’s neutral, lightweight training shoe with 4mm drop. Expect a supple sole, close ground contact and a little less bounciness than a speedier model such as the Endorphin or Fastwitch.
I’ve been running on Saucony for six or seven years now and have always appreciated the Kinvara for its reduced weight and comfort, but somewhere between the Kinvara 11 and the Kinvara 12 (Spring 2021), Saucony pulled out a pretty massive revamp.
The shoe went from being a comfy, slightly plush and sleepy, pretty standard running trainer to a soft and agile slipper I wear for almost every single run.
I’ll spare you the details of Saucony EVA foam mixes and PWRRN technologies because to be honest I have no idea (and no real interest). What I know is just what I’ve felt out running.
Nah… Not so much. Compared to the platform runners you see people jogging around in today, the Kinvara is positively stingy. So yes it’s firm, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t responsive: gone is the slightly wishy-washy, mushy feel of the older Kinvaras during fast efforts. With this one I can pick up the pace and the shoe reacts immediately, never feeling like hard work.
The sole has a bit of a weird fishtail at the back but overall it’s ultra-flexible, livelier than previous models and, most importantly for me, gives great ground feedback. The carbon-plated bouncers really don’t give you that, and I’m definitely someone who appreciates knowing exactly where I’m putting my feet.
Eat that Cinderella! The upper mesh is much lighter, softer and more breathable than the Kinvara 11 and previous, and wrapped around my foot like a sock the minute I pulled the shoe on. I’m sure Saucony will tell you the non-padded tongue and sock-like construction are the reasons for that, but all I noticed was that my foot just feels snug and supported when I’m running (until the shoe gets to the end of its life and things get a little loose and slacker).
Durability / versatility
As usual with most of my Sauconys, the mesh died quicker than the rubber, ripping along the sole and any fold points, but I got a good 650km out of my last Kinvara 13s and I wasn’t kind to them. They’re so versatile I wore them offroad too (gravel paths, sandy trails, a few Swiss mountains paths or two…), although maybe that’s not 100% recommended (don’t tell the sponsors).
Is it for you?
If you like a plush feel and a bit more protection you might appreciate a tad more cushioning on longer runs (the Saucony Ride gives you more whilst still remaining neutral), but personally I find the Kinvaras incredibly versatile and wear them for every run barring a race or two.
Watch the 4mm drop if you’re used to running with more as you might feel your calves and Achilles, and bear in mind there is no lateral support as it sits firmly in the neutral category.
Fits like a slipper, lightweight and agile, great ground feedback. If I had to pick one single shoe to wear for the rest of running my days, this would be it.