Saucony Kinvara 7 Review
The Saucony Kinvara an extremely popular lightweight running shoe. Compared with a traditional shoe it sheds many of the pointless excesses though it has not been truly optimized. This makes it a great half way house for runners to transition between a traditional running shoe and something closer to an ideal. If you get on well with the Kinvara you could continue your journey in one of three directions:
- You could head towards a more minimalist or even barefoot style of running, perhaps trying the Saucony Endorphin and then the Merrell Trail Glove.
- If you want more cushioning, then there is the Hoka Range, including the awesome Hoka Clifton that provides massive cushioning in a shoe that weighs barely more than the Kinvara.
- If you find the Kinvara is giving you a good level of cushioning, then consider something lighter weight like the New Balance RC5000v2 or Asics Gel Hyper Speed. Of course you could continue with the Kinvara ;}
Compared with its predecessor, the Kinvara 6, version 7 is a little lighter, a little firmer, and a little more drop, but the changes are relatively modest. Version 7 is actually a little closer to the Kinvara 5 which is probably no bad thing. The Kinvara 7 is one of my top picks for runners looking to transition to a better running shoe from something more traditional, and is a worthy shoe in its own right, so I've rated it as "The Best of the Best." The Kinvara 7 has been replaced by the Kinvara 8. (I use The Science of Running Shoes as the basis of how I test running shoes and what you should look for in a running shoe.)
- Maximalist shoe. I'd recommend considering the Hoka Clifton, New Balance RC5000v2, or Asics Gel Hyper Speed as better shoes, but they are also further from the traditional design. . The Kinvara will appeal to runners looking for something that's quite close to a traditional running shoe rather than either a true minimalist shoe, an optimally cushioned shoe, or a
- Maximalist shoe like the Hoka Clifton. In fact, it offers almost exactly the same cushioning as the New Balance RC5000v2 while weighing roughly twice as much. . The Kinvara is softly cushioned and comfortable, though it's not as soft as a
- . The Kinvara has 4mm of drop, which I think is a good compromise for somebody transitioning from a traditional, high-heeled shoe. In fact, if you're transitioning from a shoe that has 10+mm of drop you may need to look for something in the 6-8mm range as part of your transition.
- . This shoe uses single density of foam, which is Saucony's "power grid" that's claimed to be 15% lighter and 30% more durable than standard EVA. Of course, every manufacturer claims that their phone is better than the "standard" so take this with a huge pinch of salt.
- . The Kinvara reasonably flexible, and perhaps more flexible than you might expect from its thickness. However, don't go expecting the kind of flexibility you get in a minimalist shoe.
- . There is hard rubber covering only a few patches of the contact area. You can see these patches as the orange and green color in the photographs above. This means that the Kinvara has a rather more exposed midsole than I'd like in a shoe of this weight and cushioning.
- cutting open the toe box for comfort. (I recommend cutting open the toe box of virtually all running shoes, with the exception of a few shoes like some Altra shoes. When you have some worn out shoes, you should try cutting open the toe box. I've found that it's a big improvement, allowing my toes to move naturally and engage for toe off, as well as reducing the possibility of blisters.) . The shoe is does not match the shape of the human foot, so it's worth considering
- . The upper is seamless in the forefoot, with just a few modest reinforcement overlays on the outside. There is a seem where they've added extra cushioning around the heel that's a little more noticeable than some other competitor shoes. Sadly, Saucony have continued to add their "Pro-Lock", which is intended to create a tighter fit around the midfoot. I didn't find this made any difference, either positive or negative. The upper is inflexible and padded only around the heel, with good padding around the ankle opening.
- . The Kinvara has a sock style tongue that is attached to either side of the upper. I found that this worked remarkably well, as it felt like a conventional tongue that stayed in place perfectly. The tongue has thick, soft padding.
- . The flat laces work well and remained tied.
- Heel Counter is quite firm and pronounced, but fairly small. It has relatively hard edges, but I did not find any problems with the edges digging in. . The
This review was made possible by readers like you buying products via my links. I buy all the products I review through normal retail channels, which allows me to create unbiased reviews free from the influence of reciprocity, or the need to keep vendors happy. It also ensures I don't get "reviewer specials" that are better than the retail versions.
2 Cushioning and Shoes
It's intuitively obvious that the cushioning in a shoe will reduce the impact on your body when running. However, The Science of Running Shoes indicates that the reality is rather more complex. While slight cushioning may reduce the effort needed to run by improving your Running Economy, most scientific research indicates that more cushioning does further improve Running Economy. In addition, cushioning does not generally reduce impact and may actually increase it. This is counterintuitive, but is likely to be due to the way a runners mind and body adapts to softer cushioning. Unfortunately, the scientific evidence is far from complete and it's hard to give clear recommendations. I believe that some runners will prefer more cushioning, while others prefer less, and typically those running further have a fondness for greater cushioning. I also believe that a shoe should be as light as possible, and a shoe should justify its weight with the cushioning it provides. My advice is to decide what level of cushioning you're looking for, and then find the lightest shoes that also fit well and are comfortable.
3 Visualizing the Attributes of the Saucony Kinvara 7
4 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes
If you're looking for "the best of the best" running shoe, here are my top picks. Of course, the answer will depend a little on what you're looking for, so I have recommendations for various categories.
For a more detailed on running shoes see the Recommendations for Best Running Shoes. This table lists the key attributes of What to Look for in Running Shoes. For more detailed information, on the shoes see detailed shoe comparison.
|Saucony Type A Review||Saucony||A/A7||Recommended||$100||6.4||6.7||12.1||19||22||1||4.3||7|
|Saucony Type A6 Review||Saucony||A6||Highly Recommended||$100||8.2||6.1||9.5||17||21||4||5.0||7|
|Saucony Type A8 Review||Saucony||A8||Highly Recommended||$90||7.5||6.2||9.7||19||20||-1||4.7||7|
|Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review||Adidas||Adios||Worth considering||$140||4.7||8.6||13.4||17||27||11||4.0||6|
|Hoka Bondi 5 Review||Hoka||Bondi||Recommended||$150||6.1||11.6||18.1||38||42||5||7.1||2|
|Hoka Clayton 2 Review||Hoka||Clayton2||Highly Recommended||$150||9.1||8.3||12.9||23||28||1||7.5||5|
|Hoka Clifton 4 Review||Hoka||Clifton4||Worth considering||$130||7.7||9.3||14.5||30||35||10||7.2||3|
|ON Cloudflash Review||On Cloud||Cloudflash||Worth considering||$180||4.4||8.3||14.6||19||26||7||3.7||6|
|On Cloudracer Review||On Cloud||Cloudracer||Worth considering||$130||5.7||8.2||12.8||19||27||5||4.7||7|
|ON Cloud X Review||On Cloud||CloudX||Not recommended||$140||4.5||8.3||16.3||21||27||7||3.8||7|
|Mizuno Wave Cruise Review||Mizuno||Cruise||Worth considering||$120||6.6||5.9||12.5||17||20||7||3.9||6|
|Newton Distance IV Review||Newton||Distance||Worth considering||$155||7.5||9.1||14.2||26||31||3||6.8||5|
|Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review||Asics||DS Racer||Worth considering||$110||8.2||7.0||10.9||21||26||6||5.8||5|
|Altra Duo Review||Altra||Duo||Recommended||$130||6.0||8.4||13.1||29||29||1||5.0||5|
|Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review||Mizuno||Ekiden||Worth considering||$115||5.7||5.7||14.6||13||18||6||3.2||8|
|Saucony Endorphin 2 Review||Saucony||Endorphin 2||Worth considering||$115||8.0||5.1||9.6||15||13||-1||4.1||8|
|Adidas Energy Boost Review||Adidas||Energy||Worth considering||$160||7.2||10.0||15.6||20||30||7||7.2||5|
|Altra Escalante Review||Altra||Escalante||Best of the Best||$130||9.1||8.7||13.5||28||25||-1||7.9||6|
|Altra Escalante 1.5 Review||Altra||Escalante 1.5||Best of the Best||$130||8.2||9.0||14.0||26||27||-1||7.4||7|
|Saucony Fastwitch Review||Saucony||Fastwitch||Highly Recommended||$90||9.5||7.1||11.1||20||22||4||6.8||7|
|Topo Fli-Lyte 2 Review||Topo||Fli-Lyte2||Highly Recommended||$100||6.7||9.1||14.2||24||26||3||6.1||5|
|Reebok Floatride Run Review||Reebok||Floatride||Worth considering||$150||7.7||9.6||14.9||28||34||10||7.4||5|
|Saucony Freedom Review||Saucony||Freedom||Recommended||$160||5.4||10.7||16.6||25||29||3||5.8||6|
|Skechers GORun 4 Review||Skechers||GORun||Not recommended||$100||6.1||7.5||11.7||15||23||3||4.5||7|
|Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review||Skechers||GRU||Worth considering||$90||7.5||10.0||15.6||28||34||8||7.5||4|
|Asics GT 2000 Review||Asics||GT 2000||Not recommended||$120||4.8||11.2||17.4||28||35||5||5.4||2|
|New Balance Hanzo S Review||New Balance||Hanzo||Worth considering||$110||7.6||6.9||10.7||21||19||2||5.2||5|
|Hoka Hupana Review||Hoka||Hupana||Recommended||$115||6.1||8.9||13.9||31||36||7||5.4||4|
|Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review||Asics||Hyper Speed||Highly Recommended||$75||10.9||6.3||9.8||22||26||5||6.8||6|
|Altra Instinct 4.0 Review||Altra||Instinct 4.0||Worth considering||$120||6.0||9.8||15.3||29||25||-1||5.9||5|
|Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review||Asics||Kainos||Worth considering||$130||10.0||6.9||10.7||17||27||9||6.8||6|
|Altra King MT 1.5 Review||Altra||King MT||Recommended||$140||7.5||10.7||16.7||19||21||3||8.0||5|
|Saucony Kinvara 8 Review||Saucony||Kinvara 8||Best of the Best||$110||9.3||8.6||13.4||26||31||3||8.0||5|
|Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Review||Altra||Lone Peak||Highly Recommended||$120||4.2||11.4||17.7||24||25||4||4.8||5|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review||Nike||LT3||Best of the Best||$80||9.8||5.4||8.4||16||21||5||5.3||7|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 4 Review||Nike||LT4||Recommended||$90||8.5||5.5||8.5||15||21||3||4.6||6|
|Nike LunarSpider R5 Review||Nike||LunarSpider||Recommended||$125||6.9||6.7||10.4||17||21||3||4.6||6|
|Hoka Mafate Speed Review||Hoka||Mafate||Best of the Best||$170||7.6||11.9||18.5||39||40||4||9.0||1|
|Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review||Pearl||N0||Highly Recommended||$100||7.9||6.5||10.1||14||20||4||5.2||8|
|Saucony Nomad Review||Saucony||Nomad||Worth considering||$110||4.3||10.5||17.2||25||27||2||4.5||4|
|Hoka Odyssey Review||Hoka||Odyssey||Highly Recommended||$130||8.5||9.4||14.6||37||45||5||8.0||3|
|Altra Olympus 2.5 Review||Altra||Olympus||Highly Recommended||$150||4.6||11.8||18.4||35||34||0||5.4||6|
|Altra One 3.0 Review||Altra||One||Recommended||$100||6.1||8.8||13.7||23||23||0||5.4||6|
|Altra Paradigm 4.0 Review||Altra||Paradigm||Highly Recommended||$150||5.3||11.0||17.1||28||30||5||5.8||8|
|Asics Piranha SP 5 Review||Asics||Piranha||Recommended||$100||10.1||4.2||6.5||11||15||3||4.2||9|
|Brooks PureFlow 5 Review||Brooks||PureFlow||Worth considering||$110||6.0||9.7||15.1||26||29||5||5.8||8|
|Salming Race Review||Salming||Race||Worth considering||$130||6.9||6.5||10.1||16||19||4||4.5||6|
|Altra Escalante Racer Review||Altra||Racer||Highly Recommended||$140||6.6||7.6||11.8||24||26||6||5.0||8|
|New Balance RC1600 v2 Review||New Balance||RC1600||Highly Recommended||$110||8.8||5.6||8.7||15||21||5||4.9||8|
|New Balance RC5000v2 Review||New Balance||RC5000v2||Best of the Best||$125||14.2||4.0||6.2||13||21||6||5.7||7|
|Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review||Skechers||Ride||Worth considering||$85||5.9||8.5||13.2||18||28||6||5.0||8|
|Nike RN Distance 2 Review||Nike||RNDist2||Worth considering||$120||8.0||9.2||14.3||25||28||4||7.4||7|
|Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review||Inov-8||RXT-220||Worth considering||$120||5.2||8.0||18.2||14||17||3||4.2||8|
|Salomon Sense Ride Review||Salomon||Sense||Worth considering||$120||8.5||10.0||15.6||26||29||6||8.5||0|
|Altra Solstice Review||Altra||Solstice||Highly Recommended||$90||7.1||8.1||12.5||23||25||0||5.7||5|
|Topo ST-2 Review||Topo||ST-2||Highly Recommended||$90||8.2||7.3||11.4||20||18||0||6.0||7|
|Hoka Stinson Lite Review||Hoka||Stinson||Highly Recommended||$160||7.3||11.6||18.1||35||40||6||8.5||0|
|Altra Superior||Altra||Superior||Highly Recommended||$110||5.6||9.9||15.5||21||25||-1||5.5||4|
|Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review||Adidas||Takumi Sen 3||Highly Recommended||$160||7.7||6.6||10.2||17||21||4||5.1||5|
|Topo Terraventure||Topo||Terraventure||Review Pending||$110||2.6||10.8||27.5||24||24||0||2.8||10|
|Altra Timp Review||Altra||Timp||Best of the Best||$130||3.7||11.6||18.1||30||31||-1||4.3||6|
|Altra Torin 2.0 Review||Altra||Torin||Worth considering||$125||3.4||9.6||20.7||30||25||1||3.3||9|
|Altra Torin 3.5 Review||Altra||Torin 3.5||Worth considering||$125||5.8||9.3||14.5||27||28||0||5.4||8|
|Hoka Tracer Review||Hoka||Tracer||Recommended||$130||7.2||7.4||11.5||21||24||2||5.3||5|
|Merrell Trail Glove 4 Review||Merrell||Trail Glove 4||Best of the Best||$100||3.4||8.4||23.8||13||13||0||2.8||10|
|Topo Tribute Review||Topo||Tribute||Recommended||$100||5.9||7.3||11.4||20||18||-1||4.3||6|
|Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review||Mizuno||Universe||Highly Recommended||$125||10.7||3.1||10.6||9||12||1||3.3||9|
|Altra Vanish-R Review||Altra||Vanish-R||Recommended||$100||16.1||5.3||8.2||19||21||4||8.5||6|
|Merrell Vapor Glove 3 Review||Merrell||Vapor Glove 3||Highly Recommended||$85||2.1||6.1||27.6||6||5||0||1.3||10|
|Nike Vaporfly 4% Review||Nike||Vaporfly||Best of the Best||$250||10.4||7.2||11.2||25||37||8||7.5||2|
|New Balance Vazee Pace Review||New Balance||Vazee Pace||Worth considering||$110||6.0||8.6||13.4||18||24||6||5.2||5|
|Asics TartherZeal 3 Review||Asics||Zeal||Worth considering||$140||10.9||6.3||9.8||17||27||9||6.8||6|
|Saucony Zealot 3 Review||Saucony||Zealot3||Recommended||$130||8.9||9.5||14.8||29||32||4||8.5||6|
|Nike Zoom Fly Review||Nike||Zoom Fly||Worth considering||$150||8.3||8.7||13.5||29||36||8||7.2||3|
It's not a running shoe, but I love the Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boot and I've tested the Altra Lone Peak Boot, the Hoka Tor Speed 2, and the Inov-8 Roclite 325 hiking boots
Older shoe reviews: Saucony Hattori Review, Mizuno Cursoris Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, Hoka Clifton Review, Saucony Virrata 2 Review, Brooks PureCadence 3 Review, Brooks PureConnect 3 Review, Brooks PureFlow 3 Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, New Balance 980 Review, Brooks Transcend 2 Review, Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review, Asics 33-DFA Review, Hoka Conquest Review, Saucony Cortana Review, Puma Faas 100 R Review, Saucony Fastwitch Review, Nike Free Review, Asics Gel Lyte 33 Review, Skechers GOmeb Speed Review, Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review, Nike LunaRacer Review, Altra Paradigm Review.