Saucony Kinvara 2: My Legs Don't Buy The Hype

I spent many months fighting the hype: "OMG the Kinvaras are the best shoe everrrrrr!"

I tend to be very skeptical of any product with excessive enthusiasm surrounding it. In January of this year, my second pair of Ravennas (first edition) were coming due for replacement so I hit up Road Runner Sports. They did not have the Ravenna 2 in my size but the salesperson brought out several models to try - the Asics Neo, Brooks Launch (which ended up being too big and they didn't have the smaller size), Saucony Guide, and... the Saucony Kinvara 2.


I wanted to not like the Kinvaras. Really. I wanted my cynicism confirmed. But on the treadmill, they felt pretty good. Yet, I didn't get them. Finally about a month later, I found a good deal on them (less than $70) so I picked them up. They have a 4mm heel-to-toe drop so, they are on the "minimalist" end of shoes. And super light at 6.6 ounces. Like every internet source suggested with low heel-to-toe drop shoes, I eased into them. Starting with 3 miles, then 4, up to 6 miles, only using them once a week. Truly, I did not jump into the minimalist shoe thing so, I really cannot explain why with 123 miles on the shoe, they finally decided to screw me over.

Things started getting funny with these shoes about a month ago (I had nearly 100 miles on them at that point). I ran a 5K on the track (McMahon Masters Track Meet in San Marcos). The next day my calves were crazy tight and sore. I continued using them once a week for my one speed workout. Then two weeks ago, I ran the San Diego Blood Bank 5K in them (wherein I again narrowly missed breaking 22, coming in 22:01. No chip-timing, and Garmin says 3.14, so, yeah, I know I ran sub 22, but it isn't official). I then ran an easy 12 miles in my Asics DS Trainer around the harbor.

My calves and Achilles were so angry with me. My left shin was also pissed off because my tibialis anterior muscle was doing all kinds of extra work due to my calves being all messed up. I spent all last week, stretching, icing, rolling, sticking, stretching, icing, compressing with ace bandages (because socks weren't tight enough). Skipped a longer mid-week run. It's still not 100%. But I have only run in my standard trainers with 10mm drops.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, I officially don't buy the hype. This minimalist trend is not for everyone. Is the Kinvara a good shoe? Well, I liked it for a while. But really feel like I am not built for this shoe. And I know it isn't because I "jumped" into it - I eased into it. And I know it's not a matter of not having strong feet, because I do (I have excellent single-leg balance, and easily pass the "pick up a pencil with your toes" test. And I don't over-pronate much on either leg).

I think there are a number of things at play: (1) it seems like the shoe breaks down quickly thus why I started having issues around 100 miles, (2) it's quite a "soft" shoe so, that can aggravate muscles and tendons for certain people (which, apparently, might be me). I have read forum posts of people wearing these shoes for 500+ miles! I would venture to say these people are either very light runners and/or have a very efficient stride. I don't think the average run-of-the-mill runner fits this profile. I'd be curious to hear from any other Kinvara owners out there on what they think of the shoe.

For me? They are permanently in retirement. I am not chancing it again with them and risk an Achilles injury (or worse, tibial stress fracture from an overworked anterior tibilalis muscle).


  1. Innnnnnteresting.

    I have the Genesis, which is a less fancy version of the Kinvaras, I think - they felt the same in the store, but were $30 cheaper. I've got about 140 miles on them right now, and I'm still loving them. They're my favorite.

    I did hear they would wear down fast - I can definitely see why.

  2. I think this same thing happened to me! I had run in Kinvaras for about 6 months before the trouble started. Between taking time off running and taking a break with the Kinvaras things got better. However, now I'm finding that they are the only shoe that feels right. My pure flows and my frees hurt but my kinvaras are great. I spend more time rolling and stretching my calves than I used to though.

  3. I can't seem to be able to run in any shoes other than Nike Frees. It's weird. I've tried Brooks Green Silence, Nike Lunar, Adidas Climacool, Saucony Kinvaras, and some kind of Asics shoe. Kinvaras felt really stiff to me

  4. I never bought the Kinvaras because I didn't like how they felt even without running in them. Maybe that is why my calves hate me so much... running in PureFlows? Although, I have run in Newtons for YEARS, so that doesn't seem right either. :(

  5. I wear my Kinvaras to the grocery store. They're cute wih jeans or a casual skirt and they're quite comfortable for strolling the aisles. I segued from the Saucony Pro Ride 3 to a Brooks Ghost to Mizuno Wave Rider 15 and Newton Gravity. Liking the Mizunos best at this point. Never could run comfortably in the Kinvaras. I keep wanting them to work. In fact I'll probably even try the 3's because I'm a glutton for punishment.

    1. AHAahahaha! That is crazy right there. You know, I wouldn't be surprised if a year from now I also found myself in Kinvaras again. I sincerely hope not, though.

  6. I totally agree, bought a pair of Kinvara 2's on clearance. Not enough support in them, though they're cute lol. I am on my second pair of Brooks Pure Flow, another minimalist shoe, but much more supportive for my feet.

  7. I think, for certain runner-types, the hype can be totally justified. The Kinvaras are just. not. an all-purpose shoe. I find Sauconys, in general, very uncomfortable. Your experience with this is very informative. Interesting to read the review after 100+ miles, rather than "I've been wearing these a whole week and luurrrvvv them!!"

    Great job on your (un)official sub-22, too!!

  8. Interesting -- I've thought about trying these out too. The only minimalist shoes I have are made for trails, but the one time I accidentally used them for a race (that I thought was a trail race but ended up being mostly road), my feet killed. To me, minimalist makes more sense on softer trails where your joints aren't getting as big of a beat down.

  9. I actually love my Kinvara 2's. So much that when the mileage due date hit, I bought another pair. I tried the 3's on, but didn't feel a great need to spend the extra money on the new model. I alternate my Kinvara's with my Mizunos, only wearing the Kinvara's for 6 and under.


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