Saucony Kinvara 5 General Info:
The fifth version of the Kinvara takes aim at the same market that the original Kinvara back in 2010. A very lightweight neutral trainer, the Kinvara was developed during the minimalist craze post “Born to Run” and to many was the first example of a functionally minimalist shoe; made to log high mileage while still allowing the foot to perform naturally.
Saucony Kinvara 5 Sole Unit:
The essence of any Kinvara is the midsole cushioning which features Saucony’s EVA+ foam paired with Powergrid foam in the heel. This is one of the lightest and softest EVAs on the market and helps the Kinvara attain almost featherweight lightness while maintaining a decent amount of cush.
A surprising benefit of this foam is that it seems to firm up a bit during faster tempos and really protect when just out plodding along. The Kinvara has long been a favorite for forefoot strikers and the differences between this Kinvara versus the third or fourth model are imperceptible.
The outsole of the Kinvara 5 has durable carbon outsole on the lateral side of the foot and forefoot where an efficient neutral runner would foot strike.
For a runner like myself with just a bit of late stage pronation, there is already a good deal of wear on the bare midsole material on the front medial side of the shoe.
This has never been too much of a problem for me with Kinvaras in the past, however I usually feel that this shoe is dead around 300 miles, whereas many other, possibly heavier neutral trainers, can usually continue to take a beating to about 400 miles.
It is understandable why Saucony chose to leave some midsole EVA exposed; it saves a ton of weight not gluing on a piece of carbon rubber. However, maybe a tiny bit on the medial side would be worth the extra tenth of an ounce.
Saucony Kinvara 5 Upper:
Saucony made most of the changes to the upper in this update, and to a large extent returned this model to the roomier upper off past Kinvaras. What you get is a very lightweight upper with welded seamless technology (they’re shiny now!) and a nice roomy toe box. This is a very plush feeling upper, especially around the heel collar and tongue.
For comparison sake, I feel like the Kinvara 5 is most similar to the Kinvara 3. But, where the Kinvara 5 seems to miss is in the mid foot which feels a bit sloppy to me and doesn’t provide the lockdown I’d like when making turns on the road or track.
Additionally, running downhill in the 5 causes my foot to slide forward a bit. Remember, this is one reviewer’s opinion, but I haven’t had this issue with past Kinvaras.
Saucony Kinvara 5 Conclusions:
The Kinvara 5 continues to be an industry leader in the lightweight neutral cushioning category. Equally as functional on a beginning jogger or high school runner as it is on an experienced racer going for a marathon PR, the Kinvara has always sacrificed durability for weight and pillow like cushioning.
Kinvara fans who loved the 3 but were disappointed with the 4 will likely find the Kinvara 5 to their liking. However, the sloppy mid foot of the Kinvara 5 continued to give me pause and was ultimately the reason for the mediocre rating here.
As someone who follows the industry very closely, is this amount of product development enough to call it a new version? Essentially Saucony updated the upper, changed the shape and sheen of the overlays, and called it good. If you’re a die hard Kinvara lover, then buy this shoe.
However, if looking for a similar shoe, nearly every brand now creates a worthy competitor to the Kinvara. Some other shoes to check out include the New Balance 1400v2, Adidas Adios Boost, Brooks PureConnect 3, Hoka Huaka, or Nike Lunaracer.
We thank the nice people at Saucony for sending us a pair of Kinvara 5 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.