Saucony Virrata Overview
The Saucony Virrata is the company’s newest zero-drop offering—the Kinvara-esque option for those who love the feel of the minimalist prizefighter but yearn for a flat profile.
With a cushioned but slimly-designed sole, a dual-layer mesh upper, and a lightweight feel, the Virrata is a shoe which provides a bit of softness in a category not typically known for anything but outsole-rubber protection.
Saucony branched off their experiences with the under-performing Hattori to create a shoe which is truly remarkable.
Saucony Virrata First Impressions
Let’s begin by acknowledging my admiration for the Kinvara—I’ve owned every pair in the model’s lifespan to date, and I embrace the shoe for its strengths (and, of course, accept its weaknesses).
The Kinvara has, in many ways, been a life partner to me in this wild world of distance running. We don’t always treat each other the way we should—they’ll give me blisters, I’ll tear away at their outsole or cake them in mud without a thought toward cleanup afterward. I’ll roll an ankle on an under-manicured trail, or I’ll wade foot-first into a pile of city gutter water.
Our relationship is built on trust, longevity, and the history we share post-breakup with my first cushioned shoe.
The Virrata is making this commitment tough.
It began innocently enough—an unassuming shoebox arrived at work. I opted to take a look, and the Virrata caught my eye straight away. Slim profile, curiously-deep grooves on the outsole, a thin mesh coating over a softer upper material, and a flexible construction made this pair an attention-getter.
Committed to stacking the Virrata up against the Kinvara, I went in not expecting too much to be different—same basic construction, equivalent toe boxes, similar ankle collar and blister-reducing upper material.
“No problem,” I think to myself. “This should be easy.”
But it wasn’t. The Virrata had the curious mix of being both new and familiar—it offered me all of the creature comforts I enjoyed over these past four years in the Kinvara, but it somehow felt different. It felt newer, a bit different. Just foreign enough to make me interested in going back again.
Soon enough, the Virrata became the shoe I’d run in when I wanted to go for a little extra speed. Maybe we’d go sneak out for three miles. Maybe we’d be more risky and head out on an early Saturday morning to run up to that trail a county north of here. Get out into the suburbs—away from the crush in the city.
Once a week became three times a week; a month would turn into two months. Soon enough, my pile of Kinvaras were staring at me—a silent judgment demonstrated in the physical evidence of years spent getting to know my default trainer. I had eschewed this history for the shoe’s younger and more exotic version.
I still live with the guilt, but have found a way forward—incorporating the best of the Kinvara’s cushioned minimalist support for days where a heel drop is just what the doctor ordered. Other days, I’ll lean on the Virrata for all of its zero-drop goodness. It’s a tightrope walk, but when one is led astray, the straight and narrow is a welcoming place to be.
Saucony Virrata Sole Unit
All jokes aside, the Virrata is a shoe built conceptually around the design of the Kinvara—the two share many similarities, and with good reason. The company’s other zero-drop offerings did not have the same familiarity and hype as the Kinvara enjoyed upon release.
A fantastic shoe in its own right, the Hattori was, perhaps, a bit too ahead of its time and may suffer as a result of its own excellence. Building from that experience, the Hattori retains a more conventional feel while blending in the best of the company’s zero-drop design. The sole is constructed of a moderately-soft foam, without much in terms of reinforcing hard outsole rubber.
Specific areas prone to wear and tear are reinforced, but the rest of the outsole is left softer and wears a bit as the runner breaks them in. Though the sole does not immediately feel like it is zero-drop, it felt to me that this is due more to the amount of cushioning on the shoe rather than any design trickery.
Saucony Virrata Upper Unit
The upper unit on the Virrata is reminiscent of the Kinvara 2’s design—a two-layered, lightweight construction with a mesh outer layer and a soft fabric inner later. The shoe is comfortable, feels slightly roomier than the Kinvara, and provides a blister-free experience.
All told, the Virrata still provides a tight fit for anyone who doesn’t have narrow feet. My feet are as narrow as they come, and I noticed a distinct tightness that seems endemic to the Kinvara and Virrata.
Caveat emptor if this is a typical consideration for you. All told the upper was comfortable, lightweight, and pleasant. The shoes are easy to tie, provide a secure fit, and the material felt unobtrusive.
Saucony Virrata Opinion
I didn’t know what to expect going into the Virrata review. It looked so similar to the Kinvara that I wasn’t expecting big changes. What, then, would I be in store for? What could make the experience different outside a zero-drop heel? I soon realized that this small change was quite profound—making me grateful that the rest of the shoe was so similar to a familiar model.
Saucony is definitely onto something when it comes to the Virrata, and as for me , I’ll keep flip-flopping between my old flame and my new love.
We thank the nice people at Saucony for sending us a pair of Virrata to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.