If you want a lightweight speed trainer and you don’t like stiff, plated trainers, the Kinvara 14 is a good option. If you prefer a daily trainer which has a padded, smooth ride and you don’t care much for outsole durability, the Kinvara is also a good option.
If you want a maximalist trainer with a stiff, snappy forefoot, the Kinvara 14 is not for you. The Kinvara 14 has a relaxed, flexible forefoot so your foot has to do most of the work when you want to pick up the pace.
If I’m being honest, the Kinvara series has never really appealed to me. I’m a fan of chunky midsoles with deep cushioning. When running in lean midsoles like the ones in the Kinvaras of days gone by, it takes my legs longer to recover.
The Kinvara is a lightweight, tempo trainer with a high level of ground feel so it’s in a category of trainers which is dying because midsoles are becoming thicker and more cushioned. The New Balance Beacon, ASICS EvoRide, Nike Rival Fly, Skechers Razor and Adizero SL are similar lightweight, tempo trainers.
The Kinvara used to have a cult following, however, over the years the number of Kinvara users has dwindled due to the maximalist movement, with the majority of runners (me included) preferring thick midsoles with a surplus of cushioning- even for speed workouts.
The Kinvara 13 was only an upper update but the Kinvara 14 has been completely redone. It now has more cushioning, an ultra-lightweight upper and a thick, PWRRUN+ insole.
This year’s Kinvara 14 weighs even less than the Kinvara 13, 0.2 oz (6 g) to be exact, even though it has a thicker midsole and insole. It weighs 7 oz (199 g) and it still has the signature Kinvara 4 mm drop.
The US price has not been confirmed yet but I expect it to remain at $120 because the Kinvara 13 went up by $10 last year.
My first run was a 10 km easy run. The Kinvara 14 felt pleasant immediately and didn’t need any breaking in. The adjectives which best describe the ride were smooth, natural, and lightweight.
The shoe that reminded me the most of was the Saucony Ride 15 but the Kinvara 14 landings felt softer and more padded due to the ground contact outsole. The Kinvara felt really nimble and agile because of its super lightweight build.
I’m not used to running in low, 4 mm drop running shoes like the Kinvara but my legs adjusted quickly and it didn’t feel unnatural to me. I also didn’t get any stiff calves or Achilles.
The ride of the Kinvara 14 felt really well balanced- a good mix of ground feel and cushioning softness from the new insole. The ride also felt stable without much lean bias. I thoroughly enjoyed that first run.
The Kinvara 14’s upper clearly takes inspiration from the Endorphin Pro 3’s upper. It’s light, breathable and the mesh even has the same sparkly finish that the Pro 3 has.
The mesh of the Kinvara 14 is similar to a racing mesh, a really porous material with high breathability that’s more suited to warm climates than cool ones. It has soft, suede panels on the rear and outer collar lining which is the new Saucony design theme.
The thin, wide tongue is fully gusseted and attached to an inner sleeve but I still noticed some significant lateral tongue slide due to there being no lace loop through the middle of the tongue to hold it in place. The heel tab and collar are lightly padded and heel lockdown was no issue- I did have to use all the eyelets though. An elastic heel pull tab is also included.
The Kinvara 14 fits true to size and it has a narrow midfoot/forefoot/toe-box which is more suited to narrow feet. I find upper fit and comfort to be exceptional for my narrow feet. It does also come in a wide 2E version.
Even though it’s marketed as a speed trainer, I find the Kinvara 14 really versatile. It’s soft enough for my slow paces and when I want to pick up the pace, its lightweight build allows me to up my cadence and increase turnover. This is a fun trainer which I enjoyed much more than I thought I would and I looked forward to runs in it.
The Kinvara 14 has the same sole setup as the Ride 15 with a PWRRUN (EVA) midsole and a softer PWRRUN+ (PU) insole. The main differences are that the midsole of the Kinvara is thinner and it has a 4 mm drop compared to 8 mm of the Ride. This makes the Kinvara 14 better for faster, shorter runs than the Ride 15.
The big update to the sole unit of the Kinvara 14 is the change from a thin, PWRRUN+ topsole layer to a mega thick, PWRRUN+ insole which adds extra cushioning softness. The Triumph 20, Guide 15 and Ride 15 also have the same thick, PWRRUN+ insole. It adds more bounce and energy return to the ride of the Kinvara.
As a result of the thicker insole and midsole, the Kinvara 14 can handle longer distances than previous Kinvaras. Half marathons are easily doable and it can even handle full marathons now if you’re used to firmer rides.
The Kinvara 14 doesn’t have a firm ride by any means. It’s softer than daily trainers such as the Ghost 15 and Infinity Run 3 however over time, I do feel that the PWRRUN midsole, being EVA, will lose cushioning and become firmer.
The forefoot of the Kinvara has always been highly flexible and the 14th version is no different. There’s no plate or shank to stiffen the midsole so the ride feels relaxed, natural and your foot has to do most of the work during transitions.
There are only two small sections of the outsole that have rubber coverage: the lateral heel and the medial toe-off sections. The rest of the outsole is uncovered PWRRUN midsole foam which has a ribbed texture for better traction.
The exposed PWRRUN midsole foam is relatively durable against abrasions and scuffing so it doesn’t show much wear after the first couple of runs. I’ve been impressed with how little wear is showing after about 80 km of running in it but the outsole still won’t be as durable as a daily trainer which has much more outsole rubber coverage.
The uncovered midsole foam which forms the outsole gives the Kinvara really padded, quiet landings with a good level of ground feel which makes runs feel engaging. Transitions feel incredibly smooth due to the exposed midsole foam which forms the outsole.
I think the Kinvara 14 is a good update. The Kinvara series has never appealed to me but this beefed up version has been modernised and it made me want to purchase it. This is a fun trainer to use because of how smooth, natural and engaging its ride feels. I predict that this 14th version will raise the Kinvara’s popularity once again.
Of course, there will be Kinvara loyalists who will say that this reimagined Kinvara is not how the Kinvara is supposed to be. It used to be a firm, lean trainer.
When the first Kinvara came out in 2010, the running shoe landscape was a far different one to how it is now and since then, runners’ preferences and tastes have evolved. The Kinvara should change and adapt to remain exciting and relevant; this latest version certainly has.
If you felt like the Saucony Ride was too bulky and slow, the Kinvara 14 is a much lighter, more nimble shoe which can be used as a daily trainer because of its thicker, updated sole unit. The Kinvara 14 isn’t as durable as the Ride 15 but it’s also cheaper.
If you don’t like stiff, plated trainers the Kinvara 14 is an excellent speed trainer. It’s light, responsive, and comfortable. It doesn’t provide much mechanical speed assistance so it makes you work harder to increase your speed than the typical plated speed shoe.
I prefer using the Kinvara 14 for easy and steady-paced runs. I like the speed assistance that a plate provides so for me, the Kinvara’s forefoot is too flexible and not snappy enough for speedwork.
The Kinvara Pro coming out next year will have a plate with a much thicker midsole and will be more equipped to handle tempo runs and races.