Saucony was not my first love, nor my second, but it certainly is my latest. The Saucony Kinvara 11 is one of my primary workhorses that gives the excellent fit, just enough cushion and light enough to not drag down the higher mileage runs.
I graduated not so far back from the highly-constructed, weighty trainers with heavy everything. Initially, I jumped from too much to too little in trying racers during that little time of the minimalist push. Not good!
I was looking for something in between and found it with the Kinvaras. I stepped outside the New Balance family and went with the strange blood of another shoe line *Gasp*.
They fall on the every-so-slight heavier side, but you will only know this by looking at stats and not by the use. They have a higher stack height than comparables, and it is very much present through the response but not on the drag of weight.
Saucony hits all the right spots with this one! Welcome to my fam!
When shoes arrive, I immediately put one on without lacing up and walk down the hall to get the initial feel.
Doing so, the fit was snug enough even not laced, and there was a concerning squish I noted immediately (we’ll get to that). That squish was not what I expected after reading reviews and studying the stats. Hmmm, this could be interesting.
At this time my best friend was the NB 1500. On the search for the more perfect shoe (no offense NB), I thought the Kinvara might be worth a shot.
Oh, the purchases that I have made on that journey!! I had not ventured down the Saucony isle before, so this was a new adventure.
This shoe felt really good, very similar to the 1500, but something was different. Was it that squish?? To the pavement! I laced them up, did a few acrobatic moves (looking silly never stops me) just to get a sense of their movement—pretty darn steady.
They stayed with me spinning and skootching around with enough support and a tad of give—and that squish (there it is again!).
The Squish. I wanted to love Hokas and tried several flavors. I had nothing but rubs and blisters everywhere I turned. I can’t explain why. I loved what they were doing, but I just could not keep the toenails intact and the band-aids in the box.
So, I was having fond memories of the super squishy cloud feeling of the Hokas even when donning the NB 1500’s. If only I could get these two together.
That’s it! The Kinvara has a little of that cloud of Hoka but the performance of the 1500’s. Interesting! (Note that the 1500 have more support where the Kinvara is a neutral).
On the pavement that stack of foam was very noticeable—perhaps just a little too much for me (flashback to the issues of the super squishy earlier) But—but I really liked it all the way around.
There are times that I am looking for something a little more forgiving and less pounding—I call it squish. This does just that.
Now, there is a bit of movement in the toe-box. I go for larger toe-box capacity as a rule, and this certainly has it. But, I do get a sense of sloppy now and then.
I might need to fasten the latches a bit tighter so not fully convinced that this is an “issue” at this point. I note this in comparison to the 1500’s. Without that comparison, it might not be even noticeable.
You can actually see the squish looking at the flip side. The orange blocks are the high impact areas (even if a heel striker). I am a proclaimed midfoot runner, but the sole of my shoes seems to disagree.
There is no hard rubber in the midfoot like many rivals. You can feel this and apparently these are not suffering a breakdown on that first-point-of contact on the midfoot.
This could lead to that pronounced squish on landing as there is not as much structure. For the record, these have around 90 miles at the time of their glamour-shots. To round out the side and heel area are well padded.
I typically have no issue in the ankle or heel area. The Kinvaras do not call attention to these areas. For the most part, these shoes do not call attention to themselves at all on the run. They just exist which I really like.
Only a few pairs over the years have found this sweet spot. Congrats, Saucony—you have a new friend.
I look forward to seeing where these evolve over the years and see them as having a coveted spot among my four pairs of various flavors and styles that see rotation donning the running shoe rack in my closet.
Oh, I don’t put much stock in looks. I purchase based on technical stats and fit. If it all matches—to the cart you go. But these actually have a conservative look that probably will make them go-to-the-grocery-store shoes after they retire.
They have a little flair to them that will not draw attention so much but will not embarrass you either if seen wearing them off the beaten path. I will continue to wear down those heels unintentionally!
I did a lot of research into which shoes I would buy next, and after much deliberation, I decided on the Saucony Kinvara 11. They would be my 5th pair of Saucony running shoes—I obviously like the brand—and I got them for my birthday last month.
I love my Saucony Ride ISO 2s but I was looking for a pair to complement them—shoes for faster, shorter runs—and the Kinvara 11 seemed to fit the brief.
First let’s look at the shoe upper, breaking it down into three areas.
Right out of the box, they look really good. It has a very smart design, and I love the blue flash on the side.
Because they had really nice colors, I had to deliberate which colorway I should get for weeks. The choice was between the orange and black or white and blue styles.
Although I should note they also do an all-black Kinvara 11 but this was never in the running for me. I like the bright color too much!
As you can see in the end, I decided to go for the blue and white version. This was maybe against my better judgment as I was worried about the amount of white on the shoes, but they looked stunning in photos and in the flesh when they arrived.
The worry with the white was how long it would stay looking so fresh. My worries, unfortunately, have been confirmed in quite a short period of time.
The photo below shows how the white part looks now.
Already, that offwhite thing has happened to the fabric part of the backs. The outer sole is easier to keep clean by wiping.
Aside from the white issue, I have to say the shoe is appealing to the eye. The embroidered Kinvara 11 piece along the lace eyelets gives a classy look to the shoes.
Breathability and flexibility
The breathable mesh on the front upper is substantial. No problem with getting air to the forefoot. Only thing is that in wet conditions, they don’t offer much protection.
I tried them a couple of times in the rain and my feet got soaked both runs. They are flexible enough, probably about mid-range. Not stiff but not super flexible either.
I ordered the same size that I usually get with Saucony runners: UK 8 EUR 42.5. No real concerns about the fit, although they do seem a little narrow and a bit long for a UK 8, especially when compared to my Ride ISO 2s, which are the same size.
The heel to toe drop is in the lower range, 4mm drop on these. They do feel slightly lower to the ground as a result. The weight is 220g, they feel about that to run in. Not the lightest around but feel fast at the same time.
I think this is the area where the Kinvara 11s excel. As stated above they feel fast, they are ideal for 5-10k and tempo training runs. I am really enjoying running in them and clocking some fast times.
Linking in with performance, I cannot fault them for comfort. Although they are ideal for shorter runs, they would also be fine for half marathon distance as well. Some lighter running folk may even use them for longer distances. The PWR foam is very comfortable to run in and kind to the feet. Big thumbs up for comfort!
The picture above shows the shoe's outsole after 50 miles.
Not sure if they’ll prove to be the most durable shoe. I can already see signs of wear and tear on the soles. The ripple design from front to midsole seems to be wearing down rapidly.
No issue with traction. As mentioned above, I have used them in wet conditions a couple of times and there has been no slipping. They corner and grip really well.
The only problem in the rain is the forefoot getting wet too easily.
In summary, I really like the shoes. Not as much as I like my Ride ISO 2s, but I like them all the same.
They are great for tempo, threshold training, and shorter runs. Add in their lovely colorways, but now I'm thinking, maybe I should have gone for the orange and black?!
Saucony Kinvara 11: Saucony's flagship shoe made even better
Kinvara 11 is a road running shoe that has been designed to improve the already excellent performance of its predecessor, the Kinvara 10. The Kinvara series has long been Saucony's flagship shoe, for it effectively combines design and functionality minus the bulk. The Kinvara 11 does not disappoint in continuing this legacy.
The Kinvara fans should be warned though that this iteration keeps moving away from the original race-ready Kinvara into the daily training realm.
Who and what is it for?
The Kinvara 11 is a neutral running shoe designed for people with normal pronation, who don’t experience excessive inward or outward rolling of the foot. People who tend to overpronate (mild to moderate) can definitely wear the shoe as long as they are comfortable using it.
This running shoe is best used for daily training, marathon racing, and long-distance running. It is also suitable for walking.
Saucony Kinvara 11 vs. 10: What's new?
The Kinvara 11 from Saucony underwent some changes in details when compared to its previous model:
- The center shoe-lace eyelet that is closest to the toes is removed to improve the feel of the shoe.
- The one-hit wonder, Achilles Pillows, is removed to eliminate the pressure against the Achilles.
- The mold of the outsole is slightly modified to avoid the picking up of road debris or rocks.
- It utilizes the upgraded EVA foam to keep the Kinvara 11 feeling fast, giving the shoe a smoother feel throughout the running activity.
- The combination of the PWRRUN and PWRRUN+ topsole offers an improved riding experience by providing lightweight responsiveness and quicker heel-to-toe transitions than the older version.
- The engineered Jacquard mesh provides added flexibility without sacrificing the shoe's lightweight structure.
- The FORMFIT midsole design conforms with the foot. This is essential in providing a perfect, contoured fit, and feel in every stride.
Overall, the Kinvara 11 is a worthy upgrade to the series as Saucony tweaked the upper and swapped out the old cushioning from the 10s for a new PWRRUN midsole. The shoe's quick turnover and minimal construction still live on but if you want to experience an update on speed, try the Kinvara 11 for improved performance.