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Road Running Shoes • July 6, 2023

Saucony Kinvara Pro Review: A Juicy Contradiction

saucony kinvara pro cover

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What You Need To Know


9.5 oz. (269 g) for a US M9,

8.5 oz. (240 g) for a US W7.5

Stack Height / Drop

42 mm in heel, 34 mm in forefoot (8 mm drop)

Best For

Easy recovery cruising… we think

Key Features

Speedroll geometry, PWRRUN and PWRRUN PB midsole, 3/4-length carbon fiber plate

On The Run
Classic Saucony fit Smooth Speedroll stride Is it too close to the Endorphin Speed?


ROBBE: With the arrival of the Kinvara Pro, we can safely say the era of the super trainer is in full swing. While not a firm definition, a super trainer typically has a high-stack midsole with a top-tier foam, a carbon/nylon plate, and the ability to adapt to multiple training types. By that definition, the Kinvara Pro (which is in no way representative of the actual Kinvara), should be pretty super.

The Kinvara Pro has a three-quarter-length carbon fiber plate. It has a triple layer of foams in the midsole stack that combine for 42 millimeters of height in the heel. The bottom layer is PWRRUN, the EVA-based foam found in shoes like the standard Kinvara and the reliable Ride 16. The middle layer is PWRRUN PB, the same PEBA foam found in the race-ready Endorphin Pro 3. The top layer is PWRRUN+, found in the max-cushion Triumph 21.

It’s truly a Frankenstein of all things Saucony. So is this a benevolent experiment gone right or a mutant freak out for revenge? Much like a man with bolts coming out of his neck, the whole thing is confusing, and I’m not sure this review will clear it up. So grab your pitchforks, and warm up by the flame of a torch. We’re going monster hunting, for better or for worse.

saucony kinvara pro angle

A combination of all things Saucony

CARYN: Let’s start with some level-setting here, okay? I’ve never actually run in the Kinvara, truthfully never even put my foot in it — and that’s over the course of six years of working in specialty run.

I’ve seen its various iterations and the legions of Kinvara devotees that show up on the day of release to get their hands on the latest upgrade, which truthfully perplexed me because nothing about any Kinvara model ever seemed especially earth-shattering. Now that that’s out of the way, we’ll get to the more important part of the story — my lack of experience with the Kinvara became completely irrelevant as soon as I took the Kinvara Pro out of its very fresh, old-school Saucony box.

To be clear, nothing about the Kinvara Pro is old-school. With a beefy stack, PEBA-based midsole, and a full-length carbon plate, this guy is absolutely nothing like the OG Kinvara (and as Robbe noted, should really have its own name). While new to the super trainer life, I am otherwise a Saucony stan, with the Endoprhin Speed firmly positioned in first place as my favorite do-it-all trainer. Does this thiccc boi have a spot in my lineup? Let’s find out.

Where the rubber(ized EVA) meets the road

SAM: The Goldilocks Principle is the goal of achieving growth through the right amount of challenge. Too much challenge and you might break, not enough and limited growth will occur. Just like bowls of oatmeal, when looking for a daily trainer you don’t want one that is too hot (speed work) or too cold (recovery days), you want the one that is just right.

That is unless cold oatmeal is your thing, which I endorse because it is July in Baltimore, and overnight oats are a refreshing breakfast (I’m sure Featherstone Nutrition has a good recipe for those). The Kinvara Pro is Saucony’s entry into the super trainer world and sits right in the middle of the Goldilocks zone. Is the Endorphin line too hot? Is the PWRRUN line too cold? Are you looking for a shoe for easy and fast days alike? Are you indecisive and struggling with making decisions? I apologize if that last question cuts deep, but if any of these apply to you, the Kinvara Pro is your bowl of oatmeal. Or your cup of tea. You get the point.

What we like about the Saucony Kinvara Pro

ROBBE: As seen in the Intro, there’s so much good stuff going on in this shoe that we were worried it may be good to be true. We were excited about this one since we first saw it in person at The Running Event. Mainly because we’ve always been fans of the Saucony Kinvara— the simple, no-frills, lightweight daily trainer that has become somewhat of the standard for a pure running shoe.

So let’s get this out of the way: the Kinvara Pro is really nothing like that shoe, in form or in function. We’re not even sure why it has the Kinvara name in the shoe, except to tether it back to a name with which consumers are familiar. Clear the Kinvara name off the table, and let’s move on.

I’m not going to lie, I’m so confused about this shoe. Weirdly, I really, really enjoyed slower paces in the 6 to 8-mile distance. There are parts of this shoe that are very reminiscent of the New Balance SC Trainer, a shoe that I also didn’t fall in love with until I kind of figured out what it was supposed to be (a long-haul shoe at slower paces). And then there are parts that are totally different from that shoe.

What reminded me of the SC Trainer was the effortless ride of the Kinvara Pro. The Speedroll geometry and the carbon-fiber plate combine to give a shoe that really rolls through the stride, something that Saucony does better than anyone else. The top layer of PWRRUN PB does offer a nice bounce, but it’s not soft like you’ll find in any of the Endorphin shoes. Mainly because the bottom PWRRUN layer kind of deadens out the PWRRUN PB. It’s not firm, it just doesn’t have a ton of pop that you’re used to in shoes like the Endorphin Speed 3.

For a shoe with such a high stack height, it’s surprisingly stable thanks to the wider base and that firmer layer of foam on the bottom. Altogether, it’s not as soft and doesn’t offer as much energy return as some of the other shoes in the Super Trainer range. The New Balance SC Trainer is softer and bouncier, the Asics Superblast is lighter and has more energy return, the Adidas Prime X offers way more cushion and bounce (but you’ll pay for it at $300).

The upper isn’t super special, just a pretty straightforward engineered knit, but it provides a nice lockdown, and I had no issues with hot spots, heel slippage, or movement in the toe box.

What’s really weird about this shoe is that I think I kind of love it and may end up loving it the more I run in it, but it’s hard to put a finger on why that’s the case. For long runs, it feels a bit firmer than I’d like (though really, not terrible), you can’t go fast in it (more on that below), but it kind of hits nicely for that medium slow to slow range. So weird.

It’s a pro, don’t ya know

CARYN: As soon as I opened the box, I was confused by this shoe. To be honest, the purist in me isn’t sure about plated daily trainers as a concept, but that’s a different conversation for a different day. I didn’t get a chance to run in the original Supercomp Trainer, but this shoe immediately stood out to me as a riff on one of New Balance’s biggest hits in recent memory.

I had heard rumblings that some of these super trainers (I’m picturing capes here) lacked stability, and while I don’t pronate, I do tend to prefer more stable neutral shoes for easy runs and daily training. My hamstrings have outright rejected some recently released super high-stack shoes, so I was really curious how this would feel.

When I laced it up, the fit was true Saucony. No fuss, no muss, and not especially cool — that’s just fine by me. I had absolutely no hot spots or issues with lockdown, and most shoes I test have maiden voyages of an easy 8-10 miles. I love the toe box fit Saucony has settled on with most of their latest updates, and I found, like my other Saucony favorites this shoe was true to size.

Upon finishing my run, I couldn’t figure out why, but I liked the shoe. It wasn’t especially responsive, the cushion offered this nice Goldilocks-like firmness (likely the combo of the PEBA-based midsole and the full carbon plate), and the signature Saucony Speedroll was slightly detectable. In essence, there was nothing especially earth-shattering about it, but it just felt easy to wear. Nothing about the stack bothered me, and the shoe felt, dare I say— stable?

Thanks to the blown-out heel, I definitely didn’t feel any issues in that department during or after the run. I was confused! Do I like this? It certainly didn’t have the pop of my Endorphin Speed, but if it wasn’t supposed to, then maybe it could serve its purpose of an easy day, easy pace recovery shoe.

Ultimately, my curiosity alone led me to put 90 miles on this shoe over the course of a couple of weeks. I kept reaching for it– and I’m still not quite sure why. The element of recovery gained from the carbon plate is really nice, and I personally like a combination of foams that offers cushion somewhere between firm and marshmallow.

I have always loved Saucony’s SpeedRoll technology, and I do think it allows you to truck along smoothly at whatever easy pace sounds nice on the day. The shoe also feels exactly the same as the day I put it on, which has me thinking it may have similar durability to other super trainers like the Supercomp trainer (which my friend Catherine impressively put over 900 miles on with no real issues).

The most Saucony stack to date

SAM: Like a high schooler going through an identity crisis, the Saucony Kinvara Pro does a little bit of everything. It is similar to the Kinvara 14 in name only because it barely resembles its namesake at all in presentation. This shoe is less a “pro” version of the Kinvara and more a marriage between the lower stack PWRRUN-based Saucony models and the higher stack Endorphin line.

The marriage between the two is extremely obvious in its midsole construction. The Kinvara Pro has a massive 42 mm heel and 34 mm forefoot. This not only makes it the highest-stack daily trainer in Saucony’s lineup but the highest-stack Saucony shoe of all. The geometry of the midsole utilizes Saucony’s Speedroll technology and a PWRRUN exposed foam outsole mimics the Kinvara, assumedly in order to save weight. If you look at the Saucony shoe lineup as a Venn Diagram, the Kinvara Pro sits squarely in the middle, taking elements from nearly every single shoe and shoe line.

Do too many cooks ruin this kitchen? In my opinion, it does not. I found the Kinvara Pro smooth, efficient, and shockingly stable. Is it the fastest shoe in the Saucony lineup? No. Is it the softest? Also no. But for my money, it does just enough of everything to get the job done. I personally loved the smooth ride of this shoe. I found the Speedroll gave the shoe a nice heel-to-toe transition, and the inclusion of the PWRRUN, along with the added width of the shoe, offered the stability that this shoe needed.

A problem I have had with the super trainers and any excessive max cushion shoe is that they can often feel sluggish for me. The Kinvara Pro did not feel sluggish, and I sometimes found it pushing me to go faster on easy and moderate runs. I also felt that the PWRRUN and PWRRUN PB work in harmony together in this shoe.

The PWRRUN PB and PWRRUN+ sock liner give you a springy landing underfoot which pairs with the firm, stable, cushion of the PWRRUN under the shoe, and the snappy 3/4 plate in the middle ties it together. This keeps the shoe from feeling flat but with some drawbacks (I’ll talk about later). Overall, I enjoyed running in this shoe. The versatility of the Kinvara Pro allowed me to run efficiently and comfortably at all paces, and the shoe was a blessing as the weather got hot by making running easy. Saucony threw the kitchen sink at this one, and I found the combination of technologies worked for what I wanted out of it. It’s a big bowl of oatmeal, and the temperature is just right.

Shop Saucony Kinvara - Men Shop Saucony Kinvara - Women

We’re suckers for a good detail shot

What we don’t like about the Saucony Kinvara Pro

ROBBE: This isn’t really a bad section, it’s more of an “I don’t get it” section. I’m not sure I get what this shoe is for or even why it exists. Saucony may have a problem that’s the result of a good problem, which is that the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is too good of a shoe. It can do everything, so why do you need anything else?

The Kinvara Pro isn’t ultralight, but it’s decently light for its size; however, it really isn’t a shoe that can pick up the pace, despite the Speedroll, PWRRUN PB, and carbon-fiber plate. At the end of the day, it’s in the daily trainer range. And that’s where it shall remain.

It has all the bells and whistles that make our shoe-reviewing hearts go pitter-patter, but at the end of the day, it’s really just a fancy daily trainer with a pretty high price point. Which would be fine if it had that shock and awe feeling you get from a superfoam like PWRRUN PB, which just isn’t there in this shoe. There’s a bit of it at first when you land, but it gets dispersed into the bottom layer of PWRRUN.

Other negatives include a rubberless outsole, so it’ll be interesting to see the durability over time.

CARYN: When it comes down to it, this shoe really is just a plated daily trainer with a price tag to match its size. I felt like the responsiveness was limited by the lack of PWRRUN PB, the stack height, weight, and the overall bulk of the shoe (it really is massive). I didn’t even try to pick up the pace beyond my true easy because it just didn’t seem like it would happen.

That being said, if that’s not what it’s designed for, then I can’t really knock it. It would be impossible for me to pick this shoe over an Endorphin Speed, but if money were no object, they do complement each other well if you consider the Kinvara Pro a true daily trainer and the Endorphin Speed something you can use for tempo work (there’s some, um, discord among shoe nerds about whether the Speed is a daily trainer or not…we won’t go there). Other than that, I beg the folks at Saucony to please give this shoe its own identity so we don’t have fans of the OG Kinvara rioting in the streets.

How long will the exposed midsole hold up?

SAM: I am starting to think that the super trainer category might not be for me. While oatmeal does sound like a delicious breakfast, the more I eat it, the more I realize that it is just too much for me to eat in the morning. It can be a little too heavy, and most of all, it becomes bland after a while.

As I said before, Saucony threw the kitchen sink at this shoe. It seemed that they made a list of every positive comment received on other shoes and turned that into the spec sheet for the Kinvara Pro. Despite how much I enjoyed running in this shoe, I am struggling to figure out where in my personal running shoe rotation this would work.

If you are looking for a shoe that can do everything good but nothing great, then this is for you. It is fine for easy days, but it could be softer. It is ok on faster days, but it could be lighter and more responsive. I do understand that not everyone swaps shoes in and out for what they want and prefers this out of a shoe. In that sense, the Kinvara Pro is certainly serviceable as a do-it-all daily trainer, but spending $180 for serviceable feels like a poor decision.

To include some actionable cons, I do not understand why the PWRRUN+ sock liner is included in this. The lack of PWRRUN PB in shoes like the Ride and the Kinvara is the point behind including the PWRRUN+ sock liner. But this shoe has a good amount of PWRRUN PB, so the sock liner just adds unnecessary weight.

A good experiment for an enterprising reader (or me after I write this) would be replacing that sock liner with a different one to see if it makes a difference. I also think a lack of outsole foam does not support the longevity of a shoe meant to be a durable super trainer. I understand the choice to save weight, but we have seen Saucony shoes like the Endorphin line with minimal rubber that is effective and lasts hundreds of miles.

I found after around 40 miles the outsole was wearing a good amount, and it fails to provide any traction in wet or slippery conditions. If Saucony chooses to continue its super trainer quest and streamlines the features of this shoe, I think they’ll have a star on their hands. But for now, the Kinvara Pro stays as that “just right” bowl of oatmeal. Perfectly in the middle but at times overwhelming and bland.

Shop Saucony Kinvara - Men Shop Saucony Kinvara - Women

Saucony Kinvara Pro Conclusion

ROBBE: I can’t get over how the Kinvara Pro may very well be one of those shoes to which I give a mediocre review, then find myself wanting to retract it once I get more miles in. That’s how it was with the Superblast, which is my favorite running shoe at the moment. Sometimes it just takes a while to realize what the shoe is meant for. That said, does the average person want to take the time and figure that out? Maybe, maybe not.

At $180, it’s a lot of money to take a risk on, especially when the Endorphin Speed 3 can be had for less ($170). That said, I don’t think this is a bad shoe, and I think it’s a shoe that a certain segment of runners could really fall in love with. And maybe that’s why it’s called the Kinvara Pro — it is a bit firmer shoe, it does essentially take the Kinvara and add a top layer of PWRRUN PB and a carbon fiber plate. It’s not soft, spongy, and bouncy, and dare I say — trendy. It’s more of a traditional trainer with a bit of extra pop and some Speedroll thrown in.

Maybe that’s all it needs to be and all the diehard Kinvara fans want — a bit more excitement and a lot more stack height than the simple shoe they’re used to. So lay down your pitchforks, maybe this monster just wants to be your friend.

CARYN: It’s rare there’s a shoe I feel generally ambivalent about but in which I’ve also run over 90 miles. Maybe the Baltimore heat and humidity are getting to me (or marathon training, or both), but despite its confusing nature and general… mediocrity… I continue to reach for the Kinvara Pro on my recovery days. While it’s a pretty expensive shoe to try out, that seems to be the norm these days.

If other Saucony shoes have worked for you it may be a worthwhile addition — familiar fit, foams, and ride in a uniquely high stack, carbon-plated package. Admittedly, some of the best things in life are also a little perplexing at first (See: Zapp’s Voodoo Chips, the Nerds Rope, and peanut butter and pickles on toast), so I’ll just be over here putting many more slightly confused, but happy miles on my Kinvara Pro.

SAM: I think I am going to need over 50 miles to figure out how I really feel about this shoe. Just from the amount of stuff Saucony has put into this shoe, it is built to last. I am interested in how it will evolve over time, but for now, these are the thoughts I have for the honest review I can give.

I wanted to love this shoe, but so far, I just like it. It’s right in the middle of that Goldilocks zone — the center portion of the Venn Diagram that pulls from all the other bubbles. There is a need for a solid, average, do-it-all shoe, but paying $180 is too much. It’s still a shoe I liked running in. The balance of bounce, stability, and cushion makes it smooth, efficient, stable, and comfortable. But I cannot get past this shoe being a jack of all trades, master of none. It does everything ok but does not stand out in any particular area. Saucony is close here, but a little more sculpting is needed to unearth the gem underneath.

You can pick up the Saucony Kinvara Pro on August 1 for $180 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.

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Robbe Reddinger
Senior Editor
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Robbe is the senior editor of Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. At home in the city, but country at heart. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.

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Fav. Distance


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Caryn Just
Road Reviewer
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Caryn is a recovering ball sports athlete and native Baltimorean who used to cry before the timed mile in gym class. Discovered running somewhat reluctantly when her pants stopped fitting in college, now a big fan of the marathon– go figure! Pediatric ICU nurse and avid UVA sports fan. Can usually be found with her chocolate lab, Gus, looking for a good cup of coffee.

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sam sheldon3
Sam Sheldon
Baltimore Road Reviewer
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Sam tried every other sport before settling on running as a senior in high school. He’s never looked back. He can be found doing workouts in Patterson Park, talking shop with the Faster Bastards, or hitting long runs on the NCR trail. When not running, Sam is a teacher in the Baltimore City Public School District. His other loves are cooking, coffee, breweries, books, basketball, and alliteration. 

All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Endorphin Speed 2, Nike Vaporfly Next%, Asics Novablast 3

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  • 2:54

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