Saucony Kinvara 4

8.2
8.2 score
[Editors rating (7.8) + Users rating (9.4)] / 2 = Runnerclick score (8.2)/10

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Editor rating: 7.8 / 10
User's rating: based on 3 user ratings
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Saucony Kinvara 4 Review Facts
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As a brand that’s cultivated a dedicated following, Saucony shoe supporters tend to stick with this line through its changes since the original Kinvara. However, not all coming models have been considered an improvement,  in particular the changes that were made between the Kinerva 2 and the Kinvara 3, as some runners considered it less efficient.  But that’s why pencils have erasers and companies put out new editions of their shoes, and the Saucony Kinvara 4has been praised by runners of all levels, especially by those who prefer short, intense runs and workouts.  The Kinvara 4 is the perfect model for those who want to switch to a minimalist shoe and care about the period of transition they have to endure while doing so.

The Saucony Kinvara 4 is a lightweight well-cushioned shoe designed for power performance, speed, and comfort for short distances, quick workouts, and mid-range distances.  This edition addresses the imperfections and flaws that runners found in previous editions, creating a more efficient performance trainer in the process and creating an edition of the Kinvara line that sees it returning to its former much-heralded status among its devoted running audience. Affordable and designed for determined runners, the Kinvara 4 is a minimalist running shoe that seeks to recapture the spirit (and audience) this line once inspired and hopes to find some new devotees along the way.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Middle range price
  • Efficiently absorbs impact
  • Carbon rubber traction
  • Lightweight and minimalist
  • High amount of responsiveness and breathability
  • New "Power Grid" sole for improved traction
Cons
  • Narrow toe box
  • A longer break-in period (2 - 3 weeks)
  • Some reviewers have complained upper wears quickly
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

While the material and design of the outsole does not always receive the necessary attention in some trainers, the Kinvara 4 has an XT-900 carbon rubber traction outsole, which provides this shoe with solid traction when running on traditional surfaces such as asphalt and pavement. However, this also makes the sole a little bit stiff and requires a longer break-in period than the average minimalist lightweight shoe. However, it still retains outstanding durability thanks to the sturdy carbon rubber of which it’s made.

The Kinvara 4 has also been outfitted with a low-profile triangular lug design, and decoupled beveled heels for better traction and durability. The triangular design creates a piston-like effect to keep responsiveness at its maximum and propels the foot off the ground while also providing comfortable cushioning for the runner.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

A full-length high-abrasion EVA foam (EVA+) implemented in this shoe’s midsole makes it lighter than its predecessors while also providing a great amount of cushioning. Lighter than rubber, EVA is used by most top running shoe manufacturers around the world, and has become the standard midsole material in the 21st century. Efficiently absorbing shock from impact, EVA+ works to protect your feet during the run while enhancing efficiency and responsiveness. In addition, a new element in the midsole—the PowerGrid compound—provides extra cushioning in the heel and is a vast improvement over previous editions of the Kinvara.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The upper of this shoe is made of combination of nylon mesh and thermoplastic urethane overlays. FlexFilm—a light but durable material that allows for fewer layers of this seamless, flexible material to comprise the upper—was employed in the Kinvara 4’s construction, which helps keep the weight of the shoe at a minimum. This material stretches and adapts to follow the natural form of the foot and supports natural movement, providing maximum comfort and breathability.
Weight
Weight

Weight

At 7.7 ounces/218 grams, The Kinvara 4 is a lightweight, minimalist shoe. By only using high density rubber in high wear areas of the outsole, Saucony significantly reduced The Kinvara 4’s overall weight. It is most suitable for those who want to make a transition towards minimalist footwear while still enjoying a moderate amount of cushioning and protection.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The Kinvara 4 is highly breathable thanks to an entirely seamless and ventilated upper, which is made of FlexFilm. By using the most minimal and lightweight (yet functional) upper material, the Kinvara 4 has a smooth outer layer with only a single thin mesh layer lining the inside of the upper. With its aerated insole, The Kinvara 4 also helps keep your feet cool from the platform up.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

One of the best low-cost minimalist lightweight shoes in the market, the upper of the Kinvara 4 is made out of FlexFilm, which provides a seamless, sock-like fit. In addition, its EVA+ midsole is thin but comfortable, providing a fair amount of cushioning that will surprise runners familiar with minimalist running shoes and those new to this style alike. Often leaving runners feeling like they aren’t even wearing a shoe while running, the Kinvara 4 is a minimalist shoe that doesn’t compromise style for comfort.

There have been some complaints that the toe box is a little bit too small, so runners that require a larger toe box may be disappointed. However, for average and smaller feet width, the Kinvara 4’s fit will be adequate, as it leaves no room for the feet to move within the shoe. Since the ultra-lightweight upper is made out of FlexFilm, and therefore has fewer layers, some have noted that the upper tends to wear more quickly than other shoes, but frequency of usage and running style vary from runner to runner, and this experience will most likely vary widely as well.

Memory foam heel pods have been introduced to the Kinvara 4, making the shoe more comfortable and providing extra cushioning to the heel, an encouraging feature for those who wish to switch to a minimalist shoe but do not want to lose the full cushioning a standard running shoe offers.
Style
Style

Style

The Kinvara 4 boasts of a very sleek design, and many runners have praised this edition for its sharp looks, with some having made the decision to buy these shoes for that very reason. There is also plenty of color variations and combinations to choose between, including white, red, Navy, orange, gray, blue, yellow, black, citron, and even slime! The color variations and combinations available are eye-catching and runners are sure to find a combination that works for their sensibilities. After all, there’s nothing wrong with style preference. Choose what fits you best!
Durability
Durability

Durability

Unfortunately, it has been reported that this shoe has some minor durability issues. Although Saucony has added high durability rubber to high-wear areas on the previous edition, which were an improvement, do not plan on being able to wear a pair of Kinvara 4’s indefinitely. The seamless upper is great, but it does not last as long as many of more layered uppers. That said, if you’re a runner looking for performance and want to transition to a minimalist shoe, the Kinvara 4 is a great place to start—just not one that is in it for the long haul.
Protection
Protection

Protection

The Kinvara 4 is an excellent choice if you are switching to minimalist shoe, as its 4mm heel-to-toe drop helps make a swift transit to the minimalist style while protecting your legs and feet. Extra cushioning has been introduced into the heel areas in the midsole with the help of memory foam heel pads. However, if some break in time is still required to ensure that the muscles on your legs are not stretched too quickly. In addition, these are strictly minimalist shoes that shouldn’t be considered safe for more difficult or dangerous terrain or for more extreme climes. The thin, lightweight, seamless upper will not protect the foot against the rain or snow, and although there is carbon rubber in high-wear areas of the outsole, much of the outsole itself is still EVA foam and prone to hazardous materials that can be found in nature or even on the road.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

According to many reviewers, if the Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3 is appreciated at highest responsiveness, the Kinvara 4 is considered as having the second most responsive ride—which is quite a compliment. The Kinvara 4 provides a natural, responsive feel that’s due to its low (4mm) drop and overall lightweight construction. As far as responsiveness goes, runners will be amazed by the responsive ability of these shoes during a ride.
Support
Support

Support

The Kinvara 4 responds well to the runner’s movement and provides great support during a workout. The heel has been equipped with a memory foam heel pads that will keep the heel in place and provide comfortable cushioning at the same time. The toe box for this edition has been considered quite small. However, if the runner does not require a wide toe box, this will not be an issue as it helps secure the foot within the shoe. All of this is complemented by the FlexFilm upper, which hug the feet and leaves no room for excessive movement or the potential for slippage during a run.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

The Kinvara 4 is made for running on a variety of terrains: from traditional running surfaces such as pavement and asphalt to light trails, runners will appreciate how this minimalist shoe ably handles a number of terrains. However, as the upper is very thin due to the FlexFilm material, runners may not feel very comfortable wearing this shoe in wet or cold weather, as the feet might get some water on them or feel the cold. In other words, the Kinvara 4 is a great running shoe in ideal running conditions. But barring extreme weather events, the Kinvara 4 is a great option for not so smooth terrains.
Price
Price

Price

The Kinvara 4 is considered as one of the most affordable minimalist lightweight running shoes on the market today. Its price point is sure to be one of the more attractive incentives for runners looking to give minimalist running shoes a try and are looking for one that facilitates a swift transition. For its price, the Saucony Kinvara 4 is one of the best options, as it still provides a great amount of cushioning and is very comfortable.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The high level of traction of the Kinvara 4 has been ensured by introducing an XT-900 carbon rubber to the high-traction areas of the outsole. This material is a bit stiffer than the other models but will prove to be a perfect lightweight option for tougher terrain and smooth surfaces alike.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

The FlexFilm upper is a light material that stretches and take the form of the feet, providing a great amount of flexibility. The carbon rubber outsole is a little bit stiff, but most runners consider that as additional support for the feet, allowing the runner to gain higher overall momentum and responsiveness, propelling the feet forward and enabling the runner to attain greater speed.
Stability
Stability

Stability

As stated previously, for the runner who wants to try out a minimalist trainer, the Kinvara 4 is ideal. However, if you need support and stability in your shoe, you should consider this purchase carefully because this running shoe line is not as supportive as other shoes of this type and offers much less stability. However, its fairly low drop and feet-hugging upper will leave the runner feeling like the shoe is part of the foot and will not have to worry about the foot moving around in the foot chamber while running.
Drop
Drop

Drop

The heel-to-toe drop for this shoe is 4mm, which is a much lower drop than the average running shoe. However, since this is a minimalist trainer, this low drop is to be expected. This also has the added bonus of providing more stability and surface control for the runner. However, some – transition time must be taken into account before fully running in this shoe if the runner’s previous shoe’s drop was higher as it could strain the muscles of your legs, particularly the back and lower muscles.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

•XT-900 carbon rubber traction outsole

•High-abrasion EVA+ lightweight midsole with memory foam heel pods

•Impact-absorbing PowerGrid technology that centers the foot

•HydraMAX moisture-wicking collar lining

•Flex Film welded upper
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

Saucony's Kinvara 4 is the latest version of the venerable minimalist trainer that provides a few tweaks to the model’s familiar design while also improving on some missteps Saucony made with the Kinvara 3. This running shoe line is most suitable for road running, workouts, racing, and transitioning towards a minimalist, low-drop shoe. Although the upper durability and responsiveness of Kinvara 4 are not ideal, they are just small inconveniences besides the big advantage that the Kinvara 4 brings to customers. For runners looking to make the transition to low-drop, minimalist running shoes but still want a trainer that provides great comfort, high responsiveness, and breathability without breaking the bank, the Kinvara 4 may be your next footwear purchase.