The Saucony Kinvara 9 is an absolutely masterful shoe suited for any terrain, but not specific to one.
For the better part of 2018 and 2019, I was blessed with the opportunity to train and compete in such a well-designed running shoe as the Kinvara 9 Triple Black.
Throughout the completion of my rigorous USMC Officer training, during 40 miles a week along the beaches of North Carolina, when I PR'd in my 2019 half marathon, and then when I changed scenery to the trails of sunny California, these shoes got the job done with just the right level of support and speed.
As I mentioned in the subtitle, I wouldn't say that these shoes are completely specific to one type of running, but that they are an overall great shoe.
If anything, I would argue that the Kinvara 9s slightly favor the road side of things due to their softer bottom tread and lighter weight.
First, let's start with some obvious positives:
Great look: The all-black is nice, and it doesn't appear dirty.
Lightweight: It is considerably more lightweight than some comparable shoes and particularly trail shoes.
This laces: I never had to consider replacing my laces through training.
A decently wide platform: I specifically order wide versions in some of my shoes such as my sandals and I don't seem to have any issues in the Kinvaras.
Durable: Perhaps most importantly, this shoe lasted me a significant amount of time. I probably overdid it a bit, but I got over a year of solid running on these shoes and only started to feel the wear on the tail end.
Cost: You can't really go wrong with this $80-$85 average price range.
Breathability: Sweaty feet isn't a regular struggle for me, but some shoes definitely feel warmer than others. The Kinvara 9s were not one of those shoes, and overly sweaty or hot feel was not an issue.
Three small cons that are all in some way connected:
As an all-around shoe, the Kinvaras are not designed specifically to endure truly rugged trail running. Yes, I gave them some trail experience.
But, if you are hitting the Colorado mountains or Utah desert runs daily, you might want to consider one of the more premium Saucony distance shoes or a trail-specific shoe.
For example, I've noticed that some of the Saucony models have a rubber layer on their bottoms as well as the softer foam of the Kinvaras.
This is piggybacking off the other con, but I would worry that the Kinvara lacks the strong cushioning needed for considerably long runs and trail running.
I ran maybe 18 miles max in one go in the Kinvaras and felt ok. But, if you are breaching that distance, I might look for something with a little more cushioning.
Also, even though the Kinvaras were quite durable, I did notice how the cushioning started to appear smashed after eight or so months. However, I'm not sure exactly how or if this affected my performance.
For the times that I did find myself on a more technical trail or even a steeper road, I definitely noticed that the Kinvara 9s didn't have the best traction that I had experienced.
They weren't so blatantly bad that I was slipping all over the place. But, it was definitely a factor that I had to take note of and pay attention to when I was running.
I can imagine if I was wearing these shoes on some of the more red rock trails I've experienced growing up in Western Colorado that I could have a difficult time. No one likes a fall on the trail.
Overall, I can't really complain about the Saucony Kinvara 9 Triple Blacks. I've liked the shoe so much that this was my 3rd of the series.
I'd say definitely worth trying if you're an all-around or road-heavy runner. It's not a bad race shoe either due to its weight.
Probably the biggest key indicator of success from any shoe I run in is if I'm able to avoid any unnecessary injury. On that point, I can say that I never had a shoe induced injury in any of the Kinvaras that I've run in, and this includes some pretty serious training.
Whereas some shoes leave my heels sore, my shins hurting, or my knees feeling sorry for themselves, the only pain I felt in these shoes was my muscles screaming out of joy because of the great makeover they were receiving.
So, for me, the Kinvara 9s work and might definitely be worth the shot from you.
I hope this helped and that you're ready to get after it. Good luck! If you have any questions, please hit me up on my Instagram @benj_steele, and I would love to help if I can.
In 2017, I mostly ran on Saucony, but I never managed to try Kinvara. However, as Autumn big races were approaching, I wanted to give them a go.
You shouldn’t undervalue the Saucony Kinvara 9, they might not have the most captivating design or look like other Nike road running shoes, but they are a powerful competitor for road racing days, from 5k to marathons.
Runner Profile and Workouts
In the past, I described the Brooks Launch 5 as the Swiss knife of running shoes because they are suitable for any occasion, from easy to fast days. However, Kinvara 9 is a reliable and faster competitor.
I really love the low drop of 4 mm, which makes the transition very smooth. When trying to push, you feel that nothing is limiting your strike; you feel completely free and without any interference. The cushioning is just enough, which also allows you to go for longer distances.
In the last few years, I experienced a few problems in my metatarsal zone; however, I didn’t experience any issues running half marathons and marathons on Kinvara 9.
They are also suitable for speed sessions on track to thanks to the lower drop. Also, this model is very light, UK 7 (EU 41) is only 205 grams.
One thing to keep in mind if you are accustomed to a shoe or rotating with a shoe with a higher drop when switching to Kinvara, you can feel your calves much more engaged. So, be careful with the transaction.
I gradually transitioned to Kinvara 9, and now I am considering them for recovery days too. Potentially, they might become your only pair of shoes if you don’t like to rotate.
I am a mostly neutral runner with mild pronation on the right side. With Kinvara, my gait is perfect, while other light road racing shoes, like Pegasus Turbo, amplify my defects. So, if you don’t have an ideal gait, you might give Kinvara a go.
I think that even if they are a neutral model, the outer sole provides some kind of stability. Saucony Kinvara is a very valid option for any road race distance, from 5k to marathons. They are even suitable for faster runners.
The fit is true to size.
There is plenty of room in the toe. Even though I consider myself to have a wide foot, with Kinvara 9, I think there is more than enough room while historically with Nikes I always had fitting problems. This is definitely one of the most comfortable shoes for race day.
Most of my mileage is on road. However, Kinvara until now seems impossible to destroy.
I did almost 700km on a pair and planning to dismiss that pair not earlier than 800km. After more than 650km, I cannot find any point of fail yet. The pictures below have been taken after 600km, definitely hard to guess.
Within the Saucony brand, Kinvara 9 is a more suitable shoe for longer distances than Fastwich. The latter is more suitable for distances up to 10k, while Kinvaras are a more conservative choice for half and full marathons. Running a marathon on Fastwich would be a brave decision.
Compared to Saucony Ride 10, Kinvara is a lighter shoe. Saucony Ride is more of a daily and volume running, while Kinvara is more suitable for faster running. Also, Ride is a heavier choice than Kinvara.
On the Nike side, competitors of the Kinvara are the new Pegasus Turbo and Zoom Fly. Compared with Pegasus Turbo, Kinvara provide a bit more support. However, in terms of weight and ride smoothness, they are very similar.
Between these two shoes, the choice is particular to the individual. In my case, Pegasus Turbo amplifies the defects in my gait, while this does not happen with the Kinvara. I have arrived at similar conclusions for Fly Zoom.
While Adidas Boston is slightly heavier than Kinvara and they have a noticeable higher drop, Kinvara is at the half-way point between Boston Boost and Adios, with the latter being a shoe that is best for fast days and more suitable for track sessions and short races.
Finally, on the Brooks side, the competitor is Launch 5. However, the ride with Kinvara is again smoother and Launch 5 have a higher drop.
Personally, I love both shoes. They are both light trainers and suitable for road racing. However, Kinvara is the fastest option. I found the Kinvara to be firmer than Launch 5.
I am not a big fan of the design of the Saucony trainers, and there isn’t a lot of color options for Kinvara.
However, at the end of the day, I am much more concerned with the comfort and how well a shoe fits with my gait. I like the white version, and I hope Saucony make other color options available.
- Suitable for a wide range of distances and paces
- The look is far less captivating than Nikes
Kinvara is one of the best models that I have tried in the last few years. It is a neutral shoe that is suitable for most workouts, from easy to fast days and races.
The lower drop and their lightness promote a natural strike. Their structure also has a fair amount of cushioning, which allows them to go for longer distances like half and full marathons.
The new Saucony Kinvara now features a speed-oriented design with a flexible outsole and responsive cushioning.
Compared to its predecessor, the Saucony Kinvara 9 is much lighter and performs better on the road.
What’s new with the Saucony Kinvara 9?
The midsole and outsole of the Saucony Kinvara 9 use the same materials found in the Kinvara 8, but these materials have been reconfigured for better performance.
The shoe still uses the EVA+ midsole foam together with the EVERUN Topsole.
The 9th version of the Kinvara now has an updated upper design. The main coverage is a mesh material which provides proper foot ventilation throughout the run. In the heel is a woven heel counter support which offers stability and security.
Technologies and design
The Saucony Kinvara 9 features reliable and durable technologies from the bottom unit to the upper material. Each technology is designed to give every runner a more satisfying running experience.
Here are the notable technologies used in the Kinvara 9:
- Engineered mesh upper – The mesh material provides breathable coverage. Since it is stretchable, it delivers a nice, soft wrap to the foot. It conforms to the natural shape of the foot while keeping the in-shoe fit smooth.
- Woven heel support – The external woven heel support is specifically designed for added stability and support in the heel area. It also gives added comfort and foot security.
- Pro-lock lacing system – The Pro-lock lacing system is placed in between the tongue and mesh material. It provides maximum midfoot lock-down.
- Flex film overlays – Fused into the upper of the Saucony Kinvara 9 is the thin flex film overlays which deliver a more secure fit and added structural integrity.
- EVA+ midsole – For a more responsive, springy ride, the Saucony Kinvara 9 uses a durable EVA+ midsole foam. It is lightweight, yet it provides the foot with the much-needed underfoot protection needed for road running.
- Full-length EVERUN Topsole – Designed for long-lasting cushioning, the EVERUN Topsole extends from the heel to the forefoot. It offers impact absorption during landing and high-energy return during toe-off.
- Rubber material – In the outsole unit of the Saucony Kinvara 9 is a soft rubber material that delivers a good amount of traction on varied paved surfaces. It also provides durability in high-wear areas.
- Tri-Flex grooves – For a more flexible ride without compromising underfoot cushioning, the shoe has more profound flex grooves. As the foot flexes in the different direction, these grooves will also bend, keeping the ride flexible and comfortable as possible.
Performance of the Saucony Kinvara 9
I would describe the overall performance of the Saucony Kinvara 9 in two words – “flexible” and “responsive”.
The shoe gave me the bouncy feel. The EVA+ midsole and the EVERUN Topsole really did the job of protecting my feet from landing impact. These midsole materials gave me the soft, comfortable feel while running. The shoe is lightweight, and thus, it made me feel fast. The Kinara 9 won’t disappoint on long-distance, up-tempo training.
Along with the responsive midsole is the flexible outsole. The shoe is designed to deliver maximum flexibility. The flex grooves follow the movement of my feet, delivering a smoother heel to toe transition.
The amount of the grip that the Saucony Kinvara 9 provides is average. It is good enough on tracks, road, and asphalt. I haven’t tried wearing the shoe on the light trail, but I think this shoe will perform just fine on slightly rough or uneven surfaces.
Overall, I am happy and satisfied with the performance of the Kinvara 9. Just like the other pairs of Saucony shoes I owned, this shoe performs well on the road. It is truly a performance-driven version of the Kinvara model.
The Saucony Kinvara 9 has a narrow forefoot. The toe-box is not roomy but not constricting. The heel is a bit tight, and I felt a small pressure on my ankle while running. I also need to wear a thin sock to ensure that I still feel comfortable despite the tight and narrow fit.
As a road running shoe, the Saucony Kinvara 9 is a durable model. After running 100 miles, I see no significant wear on the outsole and upper. The midsole is very durable as well. It is still very responsive and bouncy. Lastly, the shoe is more durable compared to my Brooks Launch 5.
Comfort and Breathability
The Saucony Kinvara 9 is impressively breathable. Thank you to the engineered mesh material that provides the foot with a breathable coverage, allowing air to pass through. The internal fabric is also comfortable and smooth.
Overall, I would give this shoe a perfect score when it comes to breathability and comfort.
- Responsive cushioning
- Flexible ride
- Available in various color options
- Narrow and tight fit
The Saucony Kinvara 9 offers enhancements that are truly remarkable. I love the shoe’s lightweight and speed-oriented design.
Neutral runners should give this shoe a try because it is responsive, flexible, and durable for long-term use. With an affordable price, the Kinvara 9 is indeed a good investment.
The Kinvara 8 was the shoe that made me fall in love with Saucony. It was the first lightweight daily trainer that I discovered after struggling with a calf injury for about 18 months.
With the Kinvara 8, the exposed EVA foam completely flattened out over time, in both the heel and forefoot. Not only did this affect its traction and grip, but it also affected the comfort and cushioning.
I have purchased several pairs of the Kinvara 9, which I see as an improvement over the Kinvara 8, especially in terms of durability.
The Kinvara has excellent stability without being a stability shoe. The shoe has excellent toe-off, which allows you to move fast and minimize ground contact time.
This shoe works especially well on the track. In short, it’s a light and fast, but has just enough cushioning to be a half marathon shoe.
The outsole is flexible and not rigid. It’s not as fast as the Nike Zoom Fly, but it is considerably more stable.
The lacing system is not fancy but works well to lock your foot down without the need to tighten up your laces excessively. I have never had any issues with the laces coming untied, unlike the Nike Zoom Fly.
The upper is improved over the Kinvara 8, which seemed like it was made with cheaper materials. It works well in warm or wet conditions.
It is breathable but still keeps water out... for a while. When it gets dirty, it is relatively easy to clean.
Another pro is that if you get the Kinvara 9 wet or muddy, it dries very quickly, usually by the next morning, if you take out the sock liner. This is especially helpful in the Pacific Northwest.
Finally, the shoe has a great fit, which you will appreciate after trying other shoes. It’s not too narrow and not too wide.
There is just enough of a toe box to move your toes, but not too much where you slide around, which can affect my calf.
Outsole & durability
As you can see, the exposed foam outsole is holding up much better than the Kinvara 8, in both the heel and the forefoot. The foam does not completely flatten out.
Most of the wear occurs in the forefoot area. The rubber in the outside heel is well-positioned and helps reduce wear and tear.
The biggest con is the lack of cushioning over time, which you feel, especially on the road. Out of the box, the shoes have good, but not overwhelming great cushioning.
I have run several half marathons in it, but always in a relatively new shoe with less than 100 miles. By about 200 miles, you start to feel the ground.
This is not too much of a big problem if you don’t need a large amount of cushioning and don’t mind a responsive ride. You can continue to use this shoe on trails, even after a significant number of miles (with the Kinvara 8, you would slip and slide).
A small con is that the sock liner seems pretty minimal. It will get the job done and dries quickly, but does not appear to be made of quality materials.
The sock liner in the Kinvara 8 was even worse, so it is good to see it is moving in the right direction.
In conclusion, I still see the Kinvara 9 as a benchmark for other shoes.
While it’s not a home run “dream shoe,” it is a solid choice as an affordable daily trainer that will allow you to get your miles in, week in and week out. Just be ready to buy a few pairs over time.
Maybe it’s never really been gone, and I’m just too particular about how my running shoes should feel. But after years of trying and not buying various models of the Saucony Kinvara, my feet finally feel at home again.
The Saucony Kinvara 9 utilizes a layer of their Everun cushioning, which sits atop an EVA midsole, providing a firm but responsive feel underfoot. The Everun tech is a new experience for me, and I’m glad that it was implemented into the entire length of the shoe, rather than just the heel.
Forefoot cushioning is important to my particular gait and would imagine it’s the same for a large number of midfoot strike runners. The ninth version of the Kinvara delivers in this aspect.
Traction on the Kinvara has maintained a similar approach since its inception, utilizing rubber only in the necessary wear areas, like the heel-strike and toe-off sections. The rest of the outsole is essentially an outcropped pattern born from the EVA+ midsole. Grooves at a depth of 5mm provide the flexibility and subtractive lug pattern needed for a lightweight running shoe.
The hero of the Kinvara 9 has been the fit. The mesh in the forefoot provides a better fit in the toe-box than previous versions, harkening back to the Kinvara 3. There’s an organic feel to the mesh itself, in that it’s not a uniform or machined pattern.
Though not called out on the upper, there appear to be FlexFilm overlays, as a fused taping in areas that need more support. The seamlessness feels fantastic as the upper cradles your foot. The tongue uses the same mesh but provides padding in key areas to ease lace pressure.
To keep the foot snugly in place, Saucony utilizes a mid-foot saddle, that lies beneath the outer layers of the shoe. The saddle also protects the foot from the stitch line that connects the forefoot to the middle/rear panel of the upper.
Oddly enough, this feature on previous versions of the Kinvara was enough to turn me off the line, mostly due to the rigid nature. They seem to have softened things up for the 9th iteration. The back of the shoe itself uses a tightly knit textile that keeps the heel securely in place, with a nicely padded collar to keep the Achilles area comfortable.
Lightweight. Nothing helps me enjoy a run more than not even noticing what’s on my feet. The Saucony Kinvara 9 does just that. I’m not sure that I’ve ever run in a shoe that felt this light, save for my high school track flats.
There’s enough shoe to soften the impact with each step and keep things secure, but not so much material that it makes me feel bogged down, especially in the midsole. My foot stays true to my body mechanics, due to the low 4mm drop. There’s nothing impeding natural motion on hard surfaces, and that results in a more fluid run.
Agile. When having to make a quick change hopping up a curb or dodging debris on the sidewalk, the snug fit is supremely supportive, while the lower profile midsole allows steps to be as nimble as necessary. During a recent half marathon, which was roughly 60% trail and 40% pavement, the traction held up very well.
Rolling hills with scree, gravel and wet grass should have been more challenging for a road shoe, but I had no issues negotiating the terrain. The cushioning was substantial enough to protect my feet from small rocks and roots, though a technical trail might not be so forgiving for the Kinvara. Even at the end of the race, however, the cushioning hadn’t packed out at all. There was energy return left, and my feet felt good.
The Saucony Kinvara 9 has renewed my faith in the line, and I don’t imagine that I’m alone. Whatever formula was used for the ninth iteration of a classic, I hope they keep using it.
I believe these were the second pair of trainers I purchased through a store, taking on advice from an “expert” working within the shop. Discussing what I was looking for from a trainer, the sales assistant was able to identify what would best suit my needs.
Slightly sceptical as the previous trainer I owned didn’t perform as promised, and I felt a little put off trusting a sales assistants viewpoint. As per my bio, I am 6’5 and weigh over 100 kg. This was going to have a bigger impact on any pair of trainers than your “standard runner”.
At the point of procuring these trainers, I was preparing for a half marathon. I had been entering 10k races and was hoping to push myself and complete 13.1 miles.
The trainers needed to be comfortable, light, and durable. I was advised that the Saucony brand is a well-respected as a running brand. The “big brands” such as Nike, Adidas, etc. were sports brands with a running division, Saucony focused on running shoes.
These Kinvara were the 9th iteration, and its predecessors were well-respected running shoes—ideal for my requirement.
Upon seeing the shoe, I was impressed. The design is appealing, nice bright orange colour with a contrasting black made the shoe look stylish.
The upper layer looked a lot stronger than other brands of trainers. They looked like they would last a lot longer.
With other trainers, after running around 70miles, I have started to wear away some of the material upper section (toe area). However, I have over 150 miles on these trainers and still have the bulk of the upper mesh intact.
Trying on the trainers and giving them a quick go on the treadmill confirmed that it was comfortable and offered a lot of support. I was advised that the trainer would perform well for around 300+ miles.
The support wouldn’t wear away even under my weight. It appeared to be a very well-constructed shoe. The base of the shoe also appeared robust, with what seemed to be a very generous cushioning.
Initial views of practical use
When running in the trainer, I noticed how throughout the run, it was offering support. Previous trainers were very giving at the beginning of a run and through a shorter training run (5k). But, pushing on from this, the support was less noticeable.
I put this down to me becoming used to the trainer. But, when wearing the Kinvara, I was noticing the benefits throughout my longer runs too.
My feet were not getting hot and sweaty. This was more noticeable when a run was complete, and I had taken my shoes off. This kind of breathability was something I hadn’t encountered in previous trainers.
Approaching the 100-mile mark, I had started to notice some wear on the upper fabric of the shoe where my toes have “poked” a small part of the material away. This is not as significant as previously worn trainers, so I was very impressed.
The trainer was still performing well, giving me an extra boost when attempting longer runs.
So far, I have put 157 miles on the Kinvara. This was mainly during my half marathon training. They were worn on race day and performed as expected. These were still responsive prevented my feet from sweating and offering the comfort I required.
The upper material is still intact, and I am finding that spending a little more on a running trainer is well worth the investment.
The trainer, as promised by the sales assistant, has performed well, offering me both support and comfort and giving me a longer life than I have previously obtained from “cheaper” shoes.
The Saucony Kinvara 9 hardly show any wear on the sole nor inside the heel. I would have expected to see more wear, given the mileage and my weight.
The inside heel usually wears from my foot moving up and down. The trainer appears to have been a better fit, thus restricting this movement.
I am still wearing these for my shorter runs on my London Marathon training although I do not intend to use them for the race itself.
They are performing as well as they did the day that I bought them and would highly recommend.
I have been extremely impressed with the Kinvara. I am now more confident when researching my next trainers online, as well as being knowledgeable about what to ask a sales assistant for when procuring via a shop.
The only reason I have not scored higher is that I do not believe that these trainers would perform as well for longer distances, and thus my reason for also having some Brooks Ghost.
Regardless, I would highly recommend it, particularly to anyone wanting longevity from their trainers for a reasonable price. I would also, in future, purchase the latest iteration of the Kinvara.
The latest issue of the classic the Kinvara 9, doesn’t fail to meet the expectations but at the same time, also presents some debatable innovations.
Let’s break it down.
Lighter than ever
The Kinvara shoes are clearly on a diet because they keep losing weight (way different from me) while at the same time delivering the same product: a responsive and solid shoe.
The new mesh upper is more breathable and soft compared to my Saucony K7 and I personally welcome this as the best innovation to this shoe, who used to lock the forefoot a bit too much for my taste.
On the other hand, the shoe still features the pro-lock midfoot lacing system, which despite being less invasive to me, it still raises the big question: why?
I am personally going to cut it out altogether because frankly it makes the shoe uneven and is something I can live without.
Same goes for the heel counter, which, despite being more rigid, it doesn’t help locking my foot into position and I can easily take them off even when laced up to the last hole.
The midsole is EVERRUN material from heel to toe. It feels soft but is at the same time quite responsive, making the Kinvara 9 great partners for your tempo and speed workouts in line with the shoe’s reputation.
However, I’m not totally convinced by how they perform in long runs.
They feel quite cushy at slower speeds but once you start pushing the pace, they lack the fresh responsiveness I loved in my Kinvara 7. See review here.
The outsole is classic EVA with inserts in high resistance rubber placed in the forefoot area. This assists in the push phase of your gait providing a little extra grip.
While I welcome the new choice, I am not quite happy with the disappearance of the iBR+ expanded rubber cushion in the midfoot from previous models.
I guess the choice to remove it was justified by the aim to drop some weight, but it is not where I would have focused my attention.
The Kinvara keeps being lightweight, fast, and well-cushioned and this package comes at a reasonable price. I guess some will welcome the few innovations in this shoe but they do not really convince me.
That said unless you really need a new pair of shoes or desperately in love with the Kinvara, you can skip this model or look for a previous model at a discounted price.
Discovering the Saucony Kinvara
A long time ago, I discovered the Saucony Kinvara line of light-weight yet cushioned running shoes. My memory is that these shoes were a revelation for me.
It played an essential part in my transition away from highly structured, heavy running shoes to shoes that kept me light on my feet.
Moreover, they gave me a sense that maybe varying the feel of shoes while staying within the lightweight category could be a good thing to aim for in my choice of footwear.
That idea of varying shoe structures while keeping it light has continued to be one of the main things I live by as I try to both age and keep running.
My knees have never felt better, and the Saucony Kinvara was there at the start of that personal discovery for me.
But the Kinvara has also kept changing. Since the early editions that I wore, the Kinvara has remained a popular Saucony shoe.
Recently, I saw an online deal on a pair of Kinvara 9 and, for old times sake, thought I’d give them a try. I can’t resist a discounted pair of shoes that could actually serve as a part of my rotation.
The light, cushioned-shoe trend
Since the original Kinvaras came out many years ago, the idea of a lightweight shoe that offers cushioning has become the new “it” trend in running shoes.
After a period wherein low-profile trainers were popular, we now have the very light but also bulky-looking shoes making a furious comeback.
Of course, Hoka One One has been most prominent in this trend. But, a quick survey of the lines of many running shoemakers now shows that big is in.
Fortunately for runners’ knees, many of the most innovative shoes are also very light, surprisingly responsive, and just plain fun to run in.
So where does that leave the new Kinvara? I think it’s still a pretty good shoe, and I’ll explain why.
But, I also think it’s notably different from its earlier generations. I’m not sure all the differences are to my liking. However, you may find them to yours, so I’ll try to describe them carefully.
Updating the Kinvara
The Kinvara 9 has already been discontinued and replaced by the Kinvara 10. Nonetheless, Kinvara 9 is a lightweight shoe suitable for training and racing.
Weighing in at 7.5 oz in the men’s reference size, it certainly retains the most important quality of its Kinvara lineage.
Out of the box, the shoes look bulky. It is because of the substantial midsole cushioning throughout the shoe but, most noticeably in the shoe's forefoot where many trimmer shoes are spare in bulk.
But on foot, the Kinvara feels less bulky and more like the best new cushioned lightweight shoes—protective yet responsive. For example, though well-padded underfoot, the Kinvara is easy to flex.
The shoe's upper features a smooth synthetic lining placed underneath a mesh outer layer on the front of the shoe. It has a padded wrap-around heel piece and more rugged woven outer material in the back.
The tongue and lacing are pretty conventional in design except for the tougher, leather-like, gusseted lacing band in the midfoot of the shoe. This band creates a kind of strapped-in effect.
Just purely for casual wear, the Kinvara 9 is a nicely designed and constructed pair of sneakers.
Roadtesting the Kinvara
But, of course, my interest was not in casual wear. In my runs with the Kinvara 9, I have found that it performs very nicely on roads especially.
The combination of lightness, flexibility, and cushion makes each run I’ve taken in the shoe feel pretty easy on the legs. The Kinvara 9 provides me with a snug, comfortable fit in my usual size 12.
Moreover, even in some of the hottest weather of the year, it has proven breathable and cool.
The outsole is mostly made of lightweight blown material. It has a few tougher panels in the ball of the foot, toe-off area, and outside rear heel.
I haven’t worn the shoes enough to truly test their wear. Regardless, I can already begin to see that the area on my left shoe to the outside edge where my tendency to supinate tends to break down.
As with many shoes that rely on these lightweight sole compounds to hold up over time, that point of give seems likely to be the one that will become compromised once the miles add up.
Old vs new Kinvaras
So, this is where the older versions of the Kinvara that I have worn seemed to me to be a little better designed.
What I notice in some of the early versions is that the outer portion of the midfoot featured a few sections of tougher rubber. And, my experience was that these held up from wear and tear.
I would also note that there was a wider distribution of tough rubber sections both in the heel and in the forefoot of the older Kinvara.
While these do not affect the feel of the shoe while running, I suspect they will make the Kinvara 9 a less durable shoe over time.
The outsoles of a Kinvara 1, a Kinvara 4, and the Kinvara 9
For me, though, the most noteworthy difference between the Kinvara 9 and old generations of the shoe is the arch area.
The Kinvara 9's arch area is very boxy, with very little narrowing on the inside or outside of the arch in either the upper or the sole.
The way the older Kinvara became just a little narrower in the arch gave the shoe a slightly sleeker, faster feel to me. Unfortunately, the new version lacks that feel.
I can imagine, however, that for pronators, the slightly increased width in that area might provide a little more balance and support as long as the sole holds up.
From left to right: the Kinvara 9, Kinvara 4, and Kinvara 1
From left to right: the Kinvara 1, Kinvara 4, and Kinvara 9
I find I can make good use of the Kinvara 9 as part of my shoe rotation. This edition does a nice job of protecting my legs on steady road runs while remaining a pleasantly lightweight option.
I have my concerns about the durability of the shoe, but only time will tell. But I can’t help but feel like the earlier editions of the shoe were just a little better suited to my needs.
Thus, I’m a little sorry that Saucony has moved this shoe in a slightly more popular direction. I can always hope that fashion will change, I guess.
Good to know
- The shoe features several updates to provide runners with a more satisfying experience. Lying in the heel and forefoot area is the Strategic Rubber. This material provides additional durability on the high wear areas. When compared to the previous model, version 9 has increased its flexibility in the forefoot area. It is designed for a stronger, smoother and faster toe-off.
- Featured in the upper section is the Engineered Mesh. This material aims to deliver lightweight breathability.
- Lastly, the Saucony Kinvara 9 uses the Woven heel to provide additional upper comfort and stability.
The Strategic Rubber is placed in the forefoot and heel area. This material offers added durability to ensure the shoe will last for extended periods.
The Tri-Flex outsole is featured in the Saucony Kinvara 9. The impact is evenly distributed throughout the underfoot to provide flexibility. It gives the platform added stability as well. This outsole configuration is also found in the Kinvara 10.
Featured in the midsole area is the EVERUN Full-Length Topsole. This component of the shoe provides an additional layer of cushioning that is more responsive. As a result, the energy return is further enhanced.
A lightweight material called the EVA+ is used in the Saucony Kinvara 9. The purpose of this technology is for additional comfort, durability, and rebound.
The Engineered Mesh is the formfitting material that comprises the upper section of the shoe. Its primary purpose is for lightweight breathability.
Integrated into the Kinvara 9 is the Woven heel. The goal of this material is to provide additional upper support, stability, and comfort to the platform.
The shoe utilizes the Flex Film Overlays. These thin films are welded to the upper section. Saucony added these materials to deliver a more secure and snugger fit.