Very good security—reduced slippage and sloshing on off-kilter terrain
Narrow fit and low midsole makes for very high agility
Tradeoffs to minimalism include reduced sidewall and toe protection
Much improved snugness of fit,
Narrower fit may alienate wide feet
Thin tongue means laces can be felt (but wide, stretchy laces help boost comfort)
This is one of the best trail running shoes of the season for biomechanically efficient trail runners—a snug fitting, low drop shoe that gives you just enough cushioning underfoot to run fast in hazardous terrain, but not so much that it reduces precision. On flat trails it feels like a race car, and on steep rocky trails, it feels like it kicks into 4x4. The upper feels more secure than last year's debut, fixing this shoes chief (and maybe only) problem.
Security of Fit Good to very good. The first generatoin of the Kinvara Trail had a bit more elasticity in the upper. Even though this one has the same flex-film overlays, there’s a whole lot more of them this time, and that equates to a bit more of a secure locked down-feeling across the top-foot. That, plus a noticeably narrow last, means the shoe stays on really snugly in tricky terrain, and on steep downhills. Though there’s almost no heel counter, we didn’t notice any slosh in the tail on steep uphills, either.
Stability Excellent. The midsole on the Kinvara’s is thin, which boosts stability in rocky terrain substantially. But it’s not so thin that the shoe pitches and wobbles if you hit a rock (there’s a nice forgiveness to the sole), and it’s not so thick that it feels gummy and imprecise in rocky terrain.
Smoothness Excellent. This is a low-flying, flexy, supple shoe. The rock plate in the forefoot has been tweaked this year and made a half-ounce lighter, but it’s still flexy enough that it’s imperceptible underfoot.
Speed & Agility Excellent. The midsole is the perfect balance between comfortably soft and efficiently firm; thick enough that you can run with abandon, and thin enough that little energy is lost in compression. A lot of folks are going to race in this shoe. Comfort Very good. You’re going to lose a lot of padding in a shoe like this, but Saucony makes up for the lost plush with a perfect last and a stretchy, forgiving upper. The tongue is a bit thin, though the stretchy, wide laces reduce the top-foot pressure you might otherwise expect. The midsole is too thin for real comfort addicts, but midweight and efficient runners won’t need much more.
Value At $100, this shoe is perfectly priced. A very good value.