Saucony ProGrid Kinvara 2 Running Shoes Review

Kinvara 1 vs Kinvara 2

Kinvara 1 (in green) vs Kinvara 2 (in blue)

Full Name: Saucony ProGrid Kinvara 2
Category: Neutral
Weight: 7.7 oz. (220 gr.)
Suggested Price: $90.00
Recommended For: Distance runners seeking minimally-cushioned shoes which still offer support, runners transitioning to minimal shoes.
  • Saucony ProGrid Kinvara 2 General Info:

As the current model for running shoe companies dictates a redesign of their models every 10-12 months, it’s likely that a favorite shoe will lose some of its charm when the newest version is released. I’ve lost many a favorite pair of shoes to redesigns–finding cushioning in new places, toe box cramping, or just generally falling out of love with a model after a transition to the latest installment.With this in mind, I must admit I was nervous to try Saucony’s latest rendition of the Kinvara, a shoe which I have used throughout my training for the 2011 New York City Marathon. What I found, however, was a strong follow-up to the critically-acclaimed shoe: though there are noticeable differences between the Kinvara 1 and 2, the overall positives of the shoe remain intact. At a glance, there’s very little difference between them–and paradoxically, this similarity is what makes all the difference.

  • Saucony ProGrid Kinvara 2 Impressions:

The original Kinvara provided me a level of comfort and unobtrusiveness I had not previously felt with a running shoe: essentially, the Kinvara’s strength was the fact that I forgot about it when running. The shoe was light, flexible, and put simply, I didn’t notice it was there. In fact, I hadn’t even realized I put over 450 miles on the shoe–only realizing that it might be time for a replacement pair after the once-white shoes has turned a muddy black color from my local trails and roads. After punishing my Kinvaras through city streets, bridle paths, challenging trails, and uphill ascents, the shoes stayed comfortable and as durable as they did on their first three-mile loop.

Thankfully, the biggest change between my old shoes and the new Kinvara 2s were the color–after unboxing the new pair, I remembered what my old shoes were supposed to look like–colorful, semi-translucent, clean, and a pearly white on the upper. There were other noticeable changes, however, as there seemed to be more cushioning in the heel and along the ankle. Although these elements stood out as newly-incorporated design features, they had little impact on my running and have since gone unnoticed (read below for more on the differences in the Kinvara 2’s sole unit and upper). All in all, Saucony made a conservative choice when it came to revamping the Kinvara 2: realizing that they created a wildly popular and well-designed shoe, they sought to make minor tweaks while leaving the benefits of the first incarnation intact. Though getting the latest version of a shoe can sometimes be a gamble, the Saucony Progrid Kinvara 2 is a solid bet for current wearers and newcomers alike.

  • Saucony ProGrid Kinvara 2 Opinion:

The Kinvara 2 is the 2011 update to the popular Kinvara, released in 2010 to rave reviews from prominent running publications. The shoe is designed to fit within the growing movement toward minimally-cushioned shoes, allowing for a light, snug fit which brings the foot closer to the ground. As a result, the Kinvara 2 is considered to be a preferable shoe for runners looking to transition from corrective, cushioned shoes into a lightweight, multipurpose trainer. The Kinvara 2 retains many of the standard shoe components (sturdy sole, semi-rigid upper unit), but incorporates new design concepts which make the shoes comfortable and easy to wear, such as a unibody sockliner with a sewn-in tongue and a breathable, dual-layer of mesh fabrics on the upper which promote flexibility and moisture wicking.

Kinvara 1 vs Kinvara 2

Kinvara 1 (in green) vs Kinvara 2 (in blue)


Runners who wear the original Kinvaras will notice few differences outside of aesthetics and minor cushioning changed. Thankfully, the overall structure of the shoe has remained the same between versions, and provides a comfortable ride with plenty of room for the foot to move over uneven terrain. In the photo to the right, the green-soled Kinvara is the 2010 model, while the blue is the Kinvara 2. Outside of minor detailing and different eyelet colors, the shoes look remarkably similar–another positive sign that the model has not changed greatly during its revision.

  • Saucony ProGrid Kinvara 2 Sole Unit:

The Kinvara 2s sole unit is devoid of frills–and is all the better as a result. Sporting a low heel-to-toe ratio, the shoe allows the foot to move naturally. While many shoes seek to influence the movement of the wearer’s feet, the Kinvara 2 simply provides a platform for positioning without getting in the way or coercing the runner’s stride to change. Additionally, the sole is flat, with grooves cut into the bottom of the shoe instead protruding out. This gives the Kinvara a rugged advantage on trails and uneven terrain without increasing bulk. The heel incorporates Saucony’s ProGrid LITE material, which helps to absorb impact and dissipate shock without allowing the runner to heel strike excessively. While the unit will forgive a light heel strike, it will not provide the same level of cushioning found in bulkier shoes–so heel strikers looking to transition to lighter shoes should take this into consideration while making the change. All in all, the sole unit on the shoe is very durable and maintains its integrity beyond 400 miles–keeping feet happy by allowing them to move naturally.

  • Saucony ProGrid Kinvara 2  Upper:

The Kinvara 2’s upper unit is visually striking and practical. The upper’s monofilament mesh material reduces weight, promotes air circulation, and gives the shoe a snug yet comfortable fit. In keeping with the minimalist ethos of the Kinvara design, the material is incredibly pliable, comfortable, and responsive to foot movement. While remaining flexible, however, the upper still provides plenty of protection against gravel, rocks, uneven terrain, or moisture. Although moisture and liquids will still seep through the sockliner quicker than they may in a conventional running shoe, the Kinvara 2 does a remarkable job of repelling rain, mud, and puddles over long distances. On a cosmetic note, the material tends to show dirt and mud more than a conventional fabric–however, the shoe cleans easily and dries in a short amount of time, making up for its tendency to get dirty quickly.

Let us know what you think of this shoe in the comments!

Review by Brian O'Connor

We thank the great Christina at Saucony for sending us the Kinvara 2 for review. This didn’t influence the review of the shoe, written after running more than 30 miles in it.

  • Saucony ProGrid Kinvara 2 Price Comparison:

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