Saucony Kinvara 8 Review

Overview

The Saucony Kinvara 8 is a lightweight training shoe for neutral runners. The Kinvara 8 features Saucony’s EVERUN technology, tried and true from the Kinvara 7, and has implemented it in some new ways to improve the shoe.  The Kinvara 8 is a Saucony fan favorite, and retailing for MSRP $110, offers the new version of one of the most popular lightweight trainers on the market.

Function

The Saucony Kinvara 8 is a firm shoe with very little cushioning designed for maximum responsiveness.  It is a road shoe, sometimes described as a stripped down version of Saucony’s cushioned trainer, the Ride, and is designed for road and track surfaces.  It is much lighter than the Ride 9 and offers a shoe that enhances natural running motion for runners looking to get the most feel out of their runs. The shoe also seems to be immensely popular with triathletes who are looking for a lightweight and breathable shoe to handle short, fast miles. It is, what I would call, the second shoe of its generation, as the Kinvara 7 was the first to implement many of the new technologies of Saucony. The Kinvara 8 represents a step forward for Saucony in the lightweight trainer niche as they continue to move forward as a brand.


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The shoe is definitely engineered for lighter runners with refined form that value minimal cushioning and maximum freedom in their run. It can also be used as a racing shoe for just about any distance due to its lightweight and high responsiveness, but can also be used as a training shoe for runs that are on the faster and shorter side.

The Specs

General

The primary technologies used in the Kinvara 8 are very similar to the Ride 9, featuring the same FlexFilm in the upper and EVERUN technology in the topsole. The Kinvara 8 is its own shoe though, deviating from the Ride 9 with a 4mm drop instead of the Ride’s 8, offering what Saucony calls “a more natural ride, letting your feet and body do more work while relying less on the shoes’ cushioning and stability features” as well as a very flexible outsole, designed to enhance the natural running motion instead of putting the body through the shoes preferred motion.

While many people have been disappointed in the Kinvara for the last few years, Saucony seems to have heard its criticism and returned the shoe to its roots. The Kinvara 7 marked the first step in this transition and it seems the 8 has made an excellent step in perfecting that move, most notably in the toe box and EVERUN topsole.

The Saucony website advertises the Kinvara as a neutral category shoe with neutral pronation.  The construction type is listed as “natural motion” with a responsive cushioning system. The shoe best fits runners with normal to high arches who plan to use the shoe on the road or on the track. The shoe is neither water resistant nor waterproof and features a low profile, offset, and weight.

Runner’s World reports that the Men’s shoe weighs in at 8.0oz, .3oz heavier than last year’s version with a heel profile of 29.1mm and forefoot profile of 23.5mm giving the shoe a 5.6mm drop, dropping both profiles from last year’s version, but mostly the heel to give the shoe a smaller drop.  On the women’s side, the 8 weighs in at 6.8, a similar trend to the men’s shoe, adding .2oz, with a 28.7mm heel profile and a 23.2mm forefoot profile, again doing the same as the Men’s 8, dropping both profiles from last year’s version, but again dropping the heel more to reduce last year’s drop from 6.2mm to 5.5mm.

This is one of the few shoes that is advertised as a shoe that can be a primary trainer but still keeps a very low drop as Saucony seems to favor in most of their shoes. With the 4mm drop, Saucony argues that “shoes with a 4mm heel-to-toe offset deliver a more natural ride” While this is certainly true considering that a “natural ride” is a 0mm drop running barefoot, it is still very aggressive for a training shoe, putting a lot of extra stress on the tendons and ligaments in your lower leg.

Upper

Saucony announced that the upper of the Kinvara 8 has been “stripped down” from the 8 to allow the shoe to offer “a more comfortable form fit.”  This is clearly the case, as many seams were eliminated and the use of FlexFilm was greatly reduced as it was moved off of the toe, widening the toe box, and limited in the laces.  The FlexFilm is also molded to the upper, removing seams and increasing flexibility in the upper.

Removing the Flexfilm has reduced the snugness of the shoe, as the mesh moves more with the foot, again showing that Saucony is going for a more natural ride in this shoe, allowing the upper to move and breathe more with the foot during all phases of the running motion.   Some naturalists, however, disagree with this as they believe the internal strap of the tongue restricts the foot’s motion, but it may have the advantage of helping to offset the loss of snugness caused by the removal of FlexFilm. As Saucony’s website says, the “internal strap system embraces the midfoot where it’s needed most.”

The laces of the shoe are thin and lightweight, a change from the Kinvara 7, most likely in an attempt to reduce the weight of the shoe further, but some argue that this was needless and only served to make the shoe more difficult to tie.

The heel of the shoe is made of the same mesh that covers most of the shoe, with a bit of stronger rubber on the inside of the ankle. Again, this shows Saucony’s return of the Kinvara to a more natural ride.

ALSO READ:  Best Budget Running Shoes

As for appearance, this is by far the best looking version of the Kinvara. I’ve personally never been a fan of the appearance of any of the editions, as I find the construction around the midfoot, which helps with the natural motion of the foot, to be a bit odd, but the colors are much more sleek and refined than past versions.

Topsole/Midsole

Like the Ride 9 and the Kinvara 7, Saucony implemented their new(ish) EVERUN technology, advertised as “a breakthrough in cushioning. Livelier and more responsive, with smoother landings and stronger takeoffs” as well as having 83% energy return. It is important to remember that energy return is much more complicated than it sounds and I promise you’re not saving 83% of your running energy by running in the Kinvara 8, but the foam has been well-reviewed and seems to be pretty durable.

Instead of just a small circle of the EVERUN in the heel, as seen in the Kinvara 7, the Kinvara 8 has extended the use of EVERRUN to run through the entire topsole, adding a bit of weight, but impressively improving both the cushioning and responsiveness while proving to be more durable as well.

The EVERUN is also heavily used in the midsole, more similar to the Kinvara 7 than the changes in the topsole. But again, the midsole is kept incredibly light which will be much to the liking of those who enjoyed the very early versions of the Kinvara. The foam here does an excellent job of maintaining some cushioning while still ensuring that the shoe is firm and responsive.

Outsole

The outsole remains faithful to the rest of the shoe, using as little material as possible to help ensure the  shoe stays light. The Kinvara 8’s outsole is incredibly flexible with blown rubber protecting the outside edges of the heel and a little more than the inside half. While the shoe’s stability features are neutral, this seems to serve overpronaters especially well, causing underpronaters like me to wear through the shoe much quicker.

Again, the shoe is designed to enhance natural motion, and as most runners overpronate, this is a clever compromise to save weight but increase durability for the vast majority of those who wear the shoe.

Due to being this lightweight, however, do not expect the Kinvara 8 to last nearly as long as the Ride 9 or similar shoes.

Awards

The Kinvara 8 has not taken home any awards yet, but it is likely the shoe’s cult following cares little about awards and are much more excited that the shoe is back to what it was intended to be. The company is moving in the right direction, however, as Saucony took third in the “Shoe Brand” category behind ASICS and Brooks respectively in the 2017 Running Awards.

Similar Shoes

The Kinvara 8 follows Saucony’s general trend of developing shoes that are difficult to compare to the competition. As a lightweight shoe that still has a decent cushioning system,  it is difficult to find similar shoes. The most helpful shoes to compare this to, however, are its bigger and bulkier older brother, the Saucony Ride 9, the incredibly popular Hoka One One Clayton, and the lightweight ASICS DynaFlyte.

Compared to the Ride 9, the Kinvara 8 is basically a more responsive, lighter version. Both shoes feature much of the same technology, but the Ride 9 simply has more of it for a less neutral, more cushioned feel. The Kinvara 8 has the advantage of being significantly lighter, more flexible in the upper, and feeling much faster (not to mention the Kinvara 8 is $10 cheaper than the Ride 9). If you like the Ride 9, however, you should love the Kinvara 8 for faster runs.

The Hoka One One Clayton looks like a lot more shoe than the Kinvara 8 but actually comes in at about the same weight and profile with a similar drop. The Clayton is a stiffer shoe with more stability features but lacks the cushioning that is seen in the Kinvara with EVERUN. It is also my opinion that Hoka One One has a long way to go in terms of appearance and while the Kinvara 8 is not my favorite looking shoe, it certainly has the Clayton beat. If that’s enough for you, also consider that the Clayton is MSRP $40 extra bucks.

The ASICS DynaFlye is also more expensive than the Kinvara 8, clocking in at an MSRP $140 in contrast to the Kinvara 8’s $110 The DynaFlye is also a bit heavier and higher with a bigger drop, but is much more stable than the Kinvara 8. The DynaFlyte also seems to suit heel strikers more than forefoot strikers and is a significantly stiffer shoe than the Kinvara 8 but can still offer that fast feel with a little more cushioning.

Plantar Fasciitis

I would not recommend the Kinvara 8 as a primary trainer for someone with plantar pain. This shoe will not do much to support you as it relies quite heavily on the natural motion of your foot, making the muscles and tendons in your lower leg work extra hard. But it may serve as a fun shoe for shorter and faster runs with the right insert and may be perfect for race day, as it will offer a lot more cushioning than a racing flat without being too heavy.

Summary

The Kinvara 8 is a solid shoe for short and fast runs, but unless you have excellent form and have been injury free for many miles of training, I would not recommend it as a primary trainer.  The cushioning system is efficient with EVERUN but there is simply not enough of it to justify doing everyday easy runs in the shoe. I’d save this shoe for tempo efforts, long interval repeats on the track, and race days that are at least 5k or longer. If you plan on using this shoe as an everyday trainer, make sure your form is well refined and you are light on your feet. Also be aware that the shoe breaks down much quicker than heavier trainers so make sure to keep an eye on it and switch it out when its time comes.

ALSO READ:  Brooks Ghost 9 Review

Overall Review

Lovers of the early versions of the Kinvara will be stoked to find that the Kinvara they fell in love with is back.  The Kinvara 7 started the motion and the Kinvara 8 has improved it immensely, offering a natural ride with just a little cushioning that will feel fast and responsive.

Ratings

Comfort: 93/100

Support: 50/100


 The #1 Best Insoles for Foot Pain

If you have plantar fasciitis, high arches, flat feet, or other foot support issues, but would rather not purchase a new pair of shoes – add the Tread Labs Stride Insole to your existing shoes. The Stride Insole is biomechanically designed to support your arch and cure/prevent plantar fasciitis. Simply remove the factory insole from your favorite shoes and replace it with the Stride. The Stride comes in four different arch heights for each foot size, offers a lifetime guaranteed arch support and has a removable top cover. Take the Tread Labs Fit Quiz now and get THE BEST possible support for your feet.

#1 Best Support - Tread Labs Stride Insole

  • THE BEST support to prevent/cure Plantar Fasciitis.
  • Lifetime Guaranteed Arch Support.
  • Replaceable Top-Cover
  • Free shipping both ways.

Read Why Stride Insoles are the Best


Durability 45/100

Cost (MSRP: $110): 93/100

Aesthetics: 70/100

Value: 72/100

 

2017-06-01T00:37:08+00:00

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