Saucony Kinvara 9 ReviewFebruary 3, 2017
- Great energy return
- Secure midfoot wrap
- Excellent ventilation in upper
- Lack of support or reinforcement under medial heel
- Underfoot traction sketchy in wet conditions
This is one of our favorite shoes in the lightweight trainer category, with great comfort on top and a soft, fast ride underfoot. The Kinvara combines plush cushioning for soft landings with minimalist construction elements like a wide toe box and flexible forefoot. The 4mm drop makes it ideal for midfoot strikers, but heel strikers will still find it a fast and fun shoe for training or racing.
The Saucony Kinvara has been a longstanding favorite among our testing team as well as legions of loyal fans who love its lightweight comfortable ride. For the ninth iteration of this model, Saucony introduces a modified mesh upper, and a more minimalist distribution of outsole rubber underneath, but the bones of the shoe remain largely unchanged. Fans of the Kinvara series will continue to be pleased.
The Saucony Kinvara 8 maintains the last and shape of previous versions, and length is true to size. The toe box is wide enough to allow foot splay and tall enough to prevent friction on top of your toes. The lacing system is unchanged from the Kinvara 8, and combines with thin Flexifilm overlays to wrap the midfoot and keep the foot securely in place on the midsole. Tongue padding is also unchanged on this version, and makes the Kinvara 9 comfortable to cinch up snug for locked-in fit.
The primary update the the Saucony Kinvara 9 is the use of a new lightweight mesh that is even more breathable and ventilatory than its predecessor. The large laser holes are absent from this version, but they are not needed since the upper material allows air exchange very well on its own. The ankle cup is moderately rigid but has just enough padding to be comfortable without being warm. Underfoot comfort is outstanding with the combination of EVA and full-length EVERUN material; the Kinvara 9 offers perhaps the best cushioning to weight ratio in our test group.
On the Kinvara 9, Saucony continues the use of full-length EVERUN compound that was first added to the Kinvara 8. This compound is highly resilient and provides exceptional energy return compound through the entire length of the foot, regardless of what part of your foot makes initial impact. Our testers found that that the Kinvara 8 delivers a soft but firm footstrike, and a palpable bounce with toe-off.
With a relatively flat midsole drop of 4mm, the Saucony Kinvara 9 is ideally designed for midfoot strikers; it can also accommodate heel strikers, but may not provide as smooth a transition from heel to toe as shoes with a higher drop. Zig-zag horizontal flex grooves through the midsole combine with longitudinal flex grooves from heel to toe to provide flexibility in stance phase and a natural transfer of momentum from heel to toe. The high durability EVERUN topsole seems to diminish cumulative impact forces on high mileage runs. The upgrade we were hoping to see on the Kinvara 9 was expanded positioning of outsole rubber in the medial heel area for mild pronators, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen on this update. The overall use of outsole rubber is decreased on the Kinvara 9, leaving more areas of EVA exposure to impact (and faster breakdown), and also compromises the shoe’s traction in wet conditions.
The important thing that remains unchanged on the Saucony Kinvara 9 is how easy it is to run fast. It remains one of the lightest shoes in our test group, has great spring in the midsole for quick leg turnover, and a super comfortable fit that locks down and stays in place at high speed. It’s ideal for fast training days as well as road racing, with durability that can withstand any distance up to a full marathon.Continue Reading
Testing of our lightweight road shoes was performed by a committee of testers, both male and female. Our group consists of six to eight testers who wore the shoes for total distances of approximately 20 to 80 miles. Single runs ranged in distance from three to 26 miles, and included casual training as well as speed workouts and road racing. The majority of our testing is conducted on asphalt roads or all-weather tracks, but we occasionally venture off-road onto jeep trails or smooth trails. Each tester prepares a summary overview of how each shoe performed in the criteria of fit, comfort, responsiveness, ride quality, and speed, and he or she also includes any additional thoughts or observations about the shoes during the test period. Feedback from all testers is consolidated into the criteria ratings.
Donald Buraglio- Minimalist Running shoes
Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports.