Though they’re not built for racing in, these shoes will certainly help pros and avid runners get their miles in effortlessly thanks to plush rocker soles and a carbon plate
Bouncy, responsive ride
Rocker sole propels you forward effortlessly
Stones get stuck in the soles
No rubber on outsole may reduce grip, wear down faster
Laces are a little short
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Saucony Kinvara Pro: first impressions
Saucony describes this road running shoe as a daily trainer with a ‘no days off’ attitude, and given how comfortable it is and how much energy they conserve, we can see why. Unlike its lower profile ancestry in the Kinvara lineage, the Pro is plush to the max with giant soles that make running on hard concrete an absolute breeze, even for those of us with knees full of screws. The rocker sole propels you forward with each step without feeling wobbly, and the carbon plate soaks up impact and returns energy to you with each step, so you bound down the road like a gazelle.
• List price: $180 / £200
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s sizing available
• Sizes: Men’s 7 - 15 US, 6 - 14 UK; Women’s: 5 - 12 US, 3 - 10 UK
• Category: Neutral, daily trainer
• Stack height: 42mm
• Drop: 8mm (42mm / 34mm)
• Weight (per shoe): 240 g / 8.4 oz
• Colors: Superblue/Indigo, Slime/Umbra
• Best use: Road running
We don’t exactly know how the pros feel, but we’ve loved these for long and short distance runs and we’ve even taken them off-trail to test out their grip, which works a treat. One annoying factor is that, to keep the weight down, the sole has a giant groove down the middle and that does tend to pick up large stones. The outsole has no rubber, also to reduce weight, but they seem to be holding up well to a lot of miles. They’re definitely on the pricey end, but with their lightweight breathability and out-of-the-box comfort with no rubbing anywhere, we think they’re worth the extra dollar.
Saucony Kinvara Pro: in the field
I must admit, this is my first time trying out a pair of Kinvaras, but when Saucony offered me a pair in advance of the new shoe’s release date, I did my research and presumed I’d be getting something with a low profile, like previous incarnations. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead, I received an ultra plush pair of bouncy-looking rockers, which I’ve now put about 40 miles in on the roads (and a few trails).
Here’s how they performed:
Sizing and fit
I wear a 3.5 UK and tested a 4 to give my feet room to swell and I’d say these fit true to size, with just a little room in the toe box. I’ve got a medium width foot and they are secure around my mid foot without being too snug and the lacing system allows for a secure fit, though the laces are just a tad shorter than I’d like.
Comfort and breathability
These trainers are tremendously comfortable right out of the box. The midsoles are exceptionally plush, but not soft, and the tongue is also quite sumptuous, which means there’s no rubbing across the top of my foot which can sometimes occur thanks to my high arches. Basically I’ve experienced no rubbing or pain anywhere, and my feet don’t get tired when I’m running due to the thick midsole.
I’ve been wearing these in warmer weather and my feet haven’t complained at all about being sweaty, so I think the breathability is great.
Grip and responsiveness
The thickness of the soles was a good indicator these are meant for the road, though the term ‘Pro’ had me wondering if these were meant for race day, but in fact the stack is so high you’d be disqualified for wearing them. I finally decided they were for getting mileage in on training runs while leaving some gas in the tank and I’ve been wearing them on 10k road runs, with a few forays onto local trails.
What’s unusual about these shoes is that there’s no rubber on the outsoles, plus the lugs aren’t super deep, so I wasn’t sure they’d be very grippy. We’ve had a fair bit of rain the last couple of weeks and I haven’t noticed any sliding on the pavement, but of course when I sneak onto muddy trails in them, I slide a little (but I’m aware that’s not what they’re for).
As for responsiveness, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say these are the most responsive shoes I’ve ever run in. I don’t always love maximalist shoes and rocker soles, but the first day out in them, I literally felt like I was flying, and wasn’t at all tired at the end of my run. Having had ACL surgery on my knee a few years ago which makes running on concrete a little painful at times, this is really welcome.
I excitedly asked my friend, another writer, if she’d received a pair yet. She responded that her editor was testing them out for his magazine, he has also had ACL surgery and was thrilled at how good they felt. So, if your knees are grumpy, these shoes might be the answer, and if yours are healthy, congratulations! Keep them that way with these shoes.
While the carbon plate offers responsiveness, the rocker sole really does deliver with a propelling motion that pushes me down the road when my hamstrings are tired.
Weight and stability
These aren’t the lightest shoes I’ve ever tested, but they’re light, thanks to that lack of rubber on the outsole I mentioned and also the fact that the soles have a big groove down the middle. This drops weight, but does pick up stones, which can be annoying.
Given that this is a high stack rocker shoe (so high, in fact, that I have to adjust my seat higher on my bike to ride in them), I think the stability is decent, and it’s certainly enough for me when running on roads and paved paths. The wide geometry and high side walls offset the height, though I think there’s always a bit of a sacrifice in stability when it comes to maximalist shoes.
So far, I haven’t seen any signs of wear and tear, though as I’ve mentioned I’m only about 40 miles in. I’d definitely assume that the outsoles will wear faster without any rubber, but so far, they look good. I hope I can get to 500 miles in these, because they feel great, and of course at the price point, you won’t want to replace them too quickly.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.