By Kieran Alger
The Saucony Kinvara Pro was one of the most baffling shoe launches of the year. The carbon-plated daily trainer left a lot of testers and runners, including me, a little confused about what it’s actually for. Saucony says the Knivara Pro is designed to bring more efficiency to your daily running and was built to handle 99 per cent of your weekly mileage. Does it live up to those expectations? Not everyone seems convinced. Dive into my Saucony Kinvara Pro review to find out what I thought.
Saucony Kinvara Pro - Stack height, Drop, Weight and Price
At launch, the Kinvara Pro was the highest stacked shoe in Saucony’s daily trainer line-up, with 42mm in the heel and 34mm in the forefoot for a standard 8mm drop.
When it comes to weight, it’s at the heavier end of the daily trainer shelves, tipping the scales at 10.03oz or 291g in our UK Men’s 8.5 test shoe. That’s close to the ASICS Nimbus 25 (10.4 oz / 295g), but much heavier than shoes like the On Cloudsurfer 7 (8.4oz / 237g), the non-plated HOKA Mach 5 (8.9oz / 253g) and Suacony’s own nylon-plater Endorphin Speed 3 (8.4oz / 237g).
On price, at at $180, the Kinvara Pro is also among the most expensive daily trainers going. That’s more expensive than its plated and non-plated rivals like the HOKA Mach X and the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 25, to name a few.
Easy recovery to mid-tempo miles
42mm heel / 34mm forefoot
Weight (Size 10)
10.03oz / 291g
Suggested Retail Price
True to size
Saucony Kinvara Pro - Design
The Saucony Kinvara Pro midsole is probably the headline here. It packs a dual density foam, pairing a layer of PWRRUN PB close to the foot for more energy return with regular PWRRUN closer to the ground to boost stability and durability. There’s also a PWRRUN+ sockliner to add a little extra landing softness and cradle the foot in comfort.
Sandwiched in the middle of those two midsole layers, there’s a three-quarter length carbon fibre plate, not a full length plate like you’ll find in the Endorphin Pro. You’ve also got Saucony’s trademark Speedroll rocker geometry and there’s also a notably wider heel for more stability.
Up top, you’ve got an engineered knit upper that’s quite dense but still flexible, some mid-level padding in the heel and a nicely padded tongue that’s only half gusseted. Overall I found these shoes still pretty cushy and plush with good step-in comfort.
Flip them over and the Kinvara Pro has done away with the outsole rubber to save weight. Instead it’s got an exposed PWRRUN+ outsole with cut grooves to take care of the grip. It’s all very reminiscent of the Under Armour Velociti Wind and Velociti Elite shoes that follow the same concept.
Finally, there’s also a big flex groove channel that helps the midsole move more naturally with your footfall. For a bonus, it gives you a little peak at the carbon plate.
Saucony Kinvara Pro - Fit
I ran in a UK 8.5 which is my usual running shoe size. Initially when I first put them on, I felt these came up slightly long in toe and felt a bit boat-like. But on the run it wasn’t a problem and if you enjoy a roomier fit these will do nicely true to size. If you like it more compact you may wish to go half a size down. But I was happy going true to size.
Saucony Kinvara Pro - Performance
I’ve run more than 70 miles in the Kinvara Pro, including a mixed-pace half marathon test where I worked through the gears from slow and sluggish, up near marathon pace. I also did the second 30 miles of a 100-mile ultra at the Berlin Wall 100. I’ve also done some shorter, faster efforts to test the top speed. I logged my miles mainly on road but some light off road too.
Aftera all of that, this shoe still has me somewhat perplexed. On most of my test miles I couldn’t shake the fact they felt heavy, a bit clunky for something that’s aimed at being a performance daily training shoe. But then I am a fan of shoes that feel like a little less shoe on the foot.
I also felt the midsole-plate combination was sluggish and a bit soft. I just couldn’t get the response as I was hoping from that big stack of PWRRUN PB foam and I struggled to feel much benefit from the plate. These didn't have the lightness and energy of the Endorphin Speed 3.
Much like the ASICS Novablast that some runners find wonderfully energetic, I was ready to accept that the Kinvara Pro just didn’t really work for me or my style of running.
However, into the second half of my half marathon test the midsole seemed to come to life, like I’d woken it up. When I moved with more intent and better form, I felt the shoe giving back more. I’m still not convinced it’s enough to make me want to pick it up for faster sessions but it was there.
Personally I get more from the Speed 3 and shoes like the HOKA Mach X at the faster paces. And I think the Kinvara Pro is one of those shoes that’ll chime with some runners and baffle others.
The thing I like least is the bulk of the shoe on the foot. Even though you are getting something in return for that weight, with that extra stack of cushioning offering a wide base to run off, they’re heavier than I’d like.
They’re pretty stable overall and I can see a lot of people who like a softer ride enjoying these shoes. But I found myself wondering what they're for.
The miles I felt most benefit were those slow 30 miles after 6 hours of running during the Berlin Ultra. I switched for the On Cloudsurfer 7 that were proving a little too direct and unprotected, into the Kinvara Pro that suddenly offered a plush cushioning and soft landings that supported my lower pace. For those miles they were the perfect shoe. But that’s a pretty niche use case.
Saucony Kinvara Pro - My Verdict
The Kinvara Pro suffers from being a very hard shoe to pin down. If it’s trying to drop into the plated super trainer bracket, I personally think they're too heavy and chunky. A touch too cumbersome. If it’s aiming for the easier miles then do you really need the carbon plate?
For me, I think they’re better suited to easy recovery runs, the heads-up easy plods where you’re out to clear the head and enjoy moving at a lower intensity. For that I think they’re actually very capable.
They were excellent during the Berlin Wall 100 when my feet needed more protection from the asphalt and for these easy runs, I prefer them to the ASICS Gel Nimbus 25 because even though the Kinvara Pro is still a hulking great shoe, they feel more compact.
Though they’re billed as a performance daily trainer, my main concern with the Kinvara Pro is versatility. I don't think they've got the mid-to-top end speed of other good plated and non-plated daily trainers, the likes of the much cheaper Endorphin Speed 3 and that limits them.
The whopping price tag is also a red flag. When daily shoes creep over close to the $200 mark you want them to do something very special. For me the Kinvara Pro fits in the good but not great bucket and I think there are better, cheaper options out there.