Saucony Kinvara 12

We sent one of our runners a pair on Saucony's Kinvara 12 to see if these shoes live up to the performance of the prior Kinvara versions in the lineup. Betsy tested the shoes on the road, track, light trail, as well as treadmill, so read on to see how well they performed in those areas. 

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Our Conclusion
The Saucony Kinvara 12 is a neutral running shoe that is made for speed. It boasts a lightweight frame that provides excellent lockdown and key comfort features to make your ride just a little bit more enjoyable. What I love most about this shoe because it is lightweight and just as responsive. It is designed for shorter bursts of energy.

The flexible design of this shoe is not only great for quick and snappy runs, but it also performs well at the gym when engaging in lateral movements or cross-training. You can wear this shoe for daily training, and some runners even reserve it for race days.

I think it is an excellent shoe for up to 10K distance. If the arch support were a little more substantial, I'd use it up to a half marathon.
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Key Features
Comfort & Fit
It's been a while since I put on a pair from Saucony, and I can honestly describe the fit on the Kinvara 12 with one word, Amazing. Seriously. They felt very different than how I remember Sauconys way back. These have plenty of room but are not too boxy. And I really loved the fit of the toe box.

The heel fit was perfect. Some of the lightweight running shoes out there tend to rub on the heel or hit too high or low. These were a great fit - snug enough but not tight.

I tend to pronate on the outer sides of my feet while running. The arch support was not high at all, but I felt like the midsection of the shoe had good structure, even on longer runs (8+ miles).

The overall fit is perfect for without anything way out of the ordinary. I have a standard shape and width foot that fits into most shoes. These testers were EXTREMELY comfortable. I did a track workout speed session, and they felt light and fast - and they also felt fine on trail runs with a sole durable enough not to feel each rock and root underfoot.

There is no break-in period needed - I took them on a light road jog right after taking them out of the box, and 5 miles later, they felt just as great as when I slid them on. No friction or rub: a terrific fitting shoe.

And if you're worried about varying climates, I ran these in some seriously cold weather, and they were great with heavier socks.

As said above, I had no issues regarding the overall comfort and fit of the Kinvara 12. The only thing I would personally add is greater arch support if the overall integrity of the show can be maintained.
The upper boasts a sleek style and has some features that can really benefit your runs. It is composed of tight weave mesh material that is thicker than expected. The upper of this design doesn’t offer as much stretch as expended, and the fit can become a problem for some.

However, the tight weave is insanely durable and will prevent your toes from wearing holes along the top of the shoe. When running in warmer weather, many runners found that this shoe is a little hot and creates a few hots spots along the top of your foot.
While the tight weave mesh may not be ideal for many runners, the new and improved construction of the tongue is a real home run. While the tongue may look thin and minimalist, it is packed with a very thin layer of plush padding that melts into the top of your foot without a lot of extra weight and bulk. It is also sewn in place, which means that it won’t shift around on your feet as you train.
The midsole of this design is composed of Saucony’s tried and tested PWRRUN EVA foam that runs the full length of the shoe. What I love most about this cushioning is that it is insanely responsive. It doesn’t provide you with that super-soft step-in feel that you sometimes find in neutral trainers.

What it lacks in soft padding, it makes up for in speed. Soft cushioning is nice, but it can sometimes turn your gait cycle into mush. The light springboard of this shoe just makes you want to run fast, and it holds just as firm on mile 5 as it does on mile 1.

It’s also important to note that the style of this midsole provides runners with a good deal of flex. While it performs well on nice and easy tempo runs, it’s also a great option for lateral movements as well.

The responsive midsole on the Kinvara 12 offers a modest 4 mm drop, offering an unmatched ground feel to keep you in tune with the ground under your feet.
It’s important to note that this shoe is not built for long distances. While the PRWRUN midsole is built tough, the outsole of this design boasts mostly exposed rubberized foam. The choice to opt for exposed foam with very few rubber reinforcements has its unique advantages and disadvantages.

Exposed rubberized foam is insanely lightweight, and cuts down on the overall weight of the shoe. It is also much more flexible and helps to keep your stride light and bright. The downside? It’s not very durable.

The exposed rubber tends to wear down much more quickly than shoes that utilize a full rubber outsole. You may even start to notice minor signs of wear and tear around the 100-mile mark. While it is lightweight and nimble, it’s not exactly ideal for running long distances.

The modest rubber on the outsole of this shoe makes it ideal for fast laps or easy training days but doesn’t quite reach levels of durability to be classified as a daily trainer workhorse.
Overall, I would recommend this shoe for runners that want to go fast. The build and features of this running shoe are built to keep your stride on point, and the solid and responsive midsole help to naturally propel your feet forward. The design of the minimalist rubberized foam outsole is insanely light. It is perfect for snappy laps or cross-training in the gym.

I tested them on a treadmill, once in the rain but mainly on the road in the early morning cold. They performed well all around. The traction had a solid grip throughout my runs, and the shoes didn't hold in any water from the wet road.

I would definitely the Kinvara 12 for shorter races (up to 10K) but they are very versatile: I also walked in them and was really impressed with their durability on the trail

As far as responsiveness goes, these shoes were wonderful on the track with 800 repeats and stairs.
Are They Worth The Price?
One of the things that I love most about the Saucony Kinvara 12 is that it comes in at a super affordable price point when compared to similar neutral running shoes out there on the market. It isn’t exactly a budget-friendly option, but it is far more affordable when compared to similar designs.

They are solid shoes with nice craftmanship. I think if I ranked my impressions, I was most impressed with the heel fit, then the toe box, the laces were great, but the area I was least impressed with was the arch support. It's still decent though.

For what you get for the money, these are reasonably priced and it looks like you could get a lot of miles with the construction of the shoes. I don't think the bottoms will wear out too easily and the toe box build is great. After 30 miles they are still looking fresh.
Our Verdict
I don't think there is anything I would change - the shoes are amazing the way that there are. Like I said above, the arch is the only thing I would add a bit of support to.

It was a treat to try these shoes. I had not run in a pair of Sauconys in a few years but was blown away and impressed. They are light but sturdy
Comparison to Previous Models

There have been some big changes made to the overall design of this shoe. While the overall performance remains the same, some of the biggest improvements were made in the upper.

The midsoles of the Kinvara 11 and 12 are both made from Saucony’s PWRRUN materials that offer a bright and springy ride. Additionally, the outsole still utilizes that exposed EVA rubber that is smooth, albeit not very durable.

The older models of the Kinvara had an upper that was hot and a little stiff. Saucony ditched that clunky upper and replaced it with something that is much more lightweight, breathable, and comfortable. The upper is thin but provides just enough cushioning to wrap your feet in comfort and support, which is a huge improvement when compared to previous iterations.

I would probably compare the Kinvara 12 to the Nike pegasus but lighter.

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Best offer on: Apr. 15. 2024