Saucony Kinvara 14 Review: Love at Fourteenth Sight
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7 oz. (200 g) for a US M9
6.2 oz. (175 g) for a US W8
31 mm in heel, 27 mm in forefoot (4 mm drop)
Extra 3 mm of foam, revamped upper, and reimagined midsole geometry
🟢 Much-improved upper security
🟢 Thicker midsole has some roll to it
🔴 Outsole grip isn’t always spot-on
THOMAS: If you want a shoe to blame for the existence of Believe in the Run, it would have to be the Saucony Kinvara. The original model was my first shoe review. At least the first I can remember. Damn, that was 14 years ago? I loved the original Kinvara. It was born from a movement to make shoes lighter and stripped down to the essentials. At a time when you had to choose between 11-ounce daily trainers or racing flats with almost no midsole at all, the Kinvara shined. It was light, around 7 to 8 oz., for a US M10.5. There was enough cushion under the foot to use the shoe as a daily trainer, and snappy enough for races from 5k to the marathon. Best of all, it looked fast and was under $100.
The drawback was that the exposed EVA ground down quickly. If you could get over 200 miles in a pair, you were either light or had perfect form. It’s one of the only shoes I regretted donating after my miles were over. How could I have known what my shoe laboratory would look like 14 years later? I still have Kinvara 2 through 14, but the collection seems incomplete without my first pair.
Since reviewing the original, the Kinvara has gone through several changes. Unfortunately, not all of the changes are good, and my relationship with the shoe model has had ups and downs. Besides some models that polluted the shoe, the rise of lighter foams made shoes like the Nike Vaporfly possible. The Kinvara was a solid race-day shoe choice before the Super Shoes, but they fell into a weird zone after the carbon-plated shoes’ arrival. Not the best shoe for daily training if you wanted more cushioning, and not the best choice for race day if you had the $250 for the well-cushioned carbon-plated Vaporfly, which weighed less to boot.
The Kinvara has a loyal fan base, and Saucony continues to refresh the line. While I have moved on from the obsession I once had with the shoe, this latest model, the Saucony Kinvara 14, has me reminiscing about why I fell in love in the first place. So now is an excellent time to put on Rupert Holmes’ Escape. You know, the Pina Colada song. We’re about to discover an old love.
THOMAS: Where things went wrong in previous models resulted from Saucony trying to fix the minimal shoe’s problems. People complained about the durability, so Saucony added rubber to the outsole. The minimal upper didn’t always lock the foot in as well as the beefier daily trainers did, so Saucony added to the upper. Before you knew it, the super light Kinvara was as built up as a sluggish-feeling daily trainer. The Kinvara 14 brings back the simple feeling of what makes the shoe great.
The upper on the Saucony Kinvara 14 is race-day-ready with just enough comfort to make the shoe an option for daily training. The vamp has an airy two-layer mesh that will remind you of the Endorphin Pro 3. Light stuffing adds comfort to the collar and heel counter. The tongue is minimal and (joy) gusseted.
Saucony added 3mm of PWRRUN foam in the midsole, bringing the stack to 31 mm/27 mm for a 4mm drop. The extra 3mm helps, but the new sculpting of the midsole makes a huge difference. If you’ve run in the Saucony Ride 15 or 16, you probably recognize the geometry. The sole feels rockered, and the cushioning under the fat pads leads to a fast feeling in the final stride phase. That’s some jargon to say it rolls through the stride well. The midsole foam extends up the side of the foot, adding a sense of light stability to the shoe.
By no means do I mean the Kivara is a stability shoe. This shoe is as neutral as it gets. The walls help keep the foot feeling secure over the midsole. The secret sauce that brings more to the table than it should is the PWRRUN+ insole. The little guy does a lot of heavy lifting when adding a softer landing to the shoe.
Exposed EVA has come a long way over the last decade, and the outsole of the Kinvara 14 proves that. The wear seems minimal on the outsole after 20+ miles. There are two strategic spots where they threw some high-abrasion rubber: the lateral heel and the big toe. The first one by the outer heel is there to help with wear, and the second by the big toe gives the runner some traction when toeing off.
My US M10.5 weighs a satisfying 7.3 oz. (206 g). The Kinvara 14 runs true to size, and I didn’t experience any hotspots.Shop The Shoe – Men Shop The Shoe – Women
THOMAS: While the grip on the outsole worked well enough, there were a couple of surfaces that did not inspire confidence. Wet decking was the worst-case scenario. Other than that, this is a pretty true return to the Kinvara’s form.Shop The Shoe – Men Shop The Shoe – Women
THOMAS: With all the super cushioned shoes I’ve been running in, the Saucony Kinvara 14 felt fresh and new. Crazy how the pendulum swings, but the Kinvara 14 was fun. It feels so light and snappy. During test runs, I wondered if the Kinvara 14 would be an excellent option for race day shoes for people on a budget. After all, a runner could get the beefier Saucony Ride 16 for daily miles and then use the Kinvara for speedwork and race days for the same price as one pair of super shoes.
The Kinvara 14 has brought me back to appreciating the model for the shoe that it is. I would compare the Kinvara to a nimble Mini or Miata vs. a Super Shoe’s Porsche-like performance. Both are fun to drive, but you pay the price for the extra horsepower.
You can pick up the Saucony Kinvara 14 for $120 at Running Warehouse (featuring 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.
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As the founder of Believe in the Run, Thomas’ goal is to help runners pick the shoes and gear that will make their running experience the best that it can be.
All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Kinvara 2, Hoka Clifton 1, Nike Alphafly Next%More from Thomas
Love the revamp of the website!
I have a pair of Kinvara 11 and love them, because of the low stack and warmth. This version (and the ones in between) can’t replace them. What do you recommend to replace a pair of 11? Meaning – lightweight, good for speedwork, low stack, and not ventilated?
That’s a tough combination. Something like the Nike Streakfly, but that costs a lot more. Topo Athletic Cyclone 2, but it’s very breathable.