Saucony Kinvara 3 Review

Saucony Kinvara 3I’ve done something rather unusual for me this past week plus: I’ve run over 40 consecutive miles in the same shoe. Given the size of my shoe collection and the number of active reviews I’m typically working on at a given time, it’s extremely rare for me to go even a few consecutive runs in the same shoe. But, I have a lot of history with the Saucony Kinvara, and the newest iteration keeps what I liked best about versions 1 and 2, and improves on previous models in some subtle ways that in my opinion make this the best Kinvara yet (disclosure: these shoes were pre-release media samples provided free of charge by the manufacturer).

In case you haven’t read my previous Kinvara reviews, this shoe has been my go-to marathon shoe for my most recent two races. It’s the shoe that I wore when I earned my Boston qualifier and marathon PR, and it’s the shoe that I wore in the Boston Marathon in 2011. After putting almost 50 miles on version 3, I can quite honestly say that if I were to run a marathon tomorrow they would once again be the shoes on my feet. The Kinvara just works extremely well for me, and I feel fortunate to have found a running shoe that seems to be a near perfect match for my body.

Saucony Kinvara 3 lateralSaucony Kinvara 3 medialSaucony Kinvara 3 top

My review of the original Kinvara was one of the longest shoe reviews that I have written, and since the Kinvara 3 is really not a huge departure from the formula that made that such a great shoe for me, I’ll refer you there and not rehash all the nitpicky details. Rather, I’ll focus here on what has changed in the Saucony Kinvara 3 and why I feel the shoe is an improvement.

Saucony Kinvara 3 soleThe most notable update in the Kinvara 3 is that the forefoot feels just a tad roomier than in previous versions. I went back and forth on whether the sensation was real or not, then finally just decided to ask Saucony if they had made any changes up front. I was told that forefoot width is the same, but that they increased the volume of the upper in the forefoot just a tad. It’s a very positive change(while talking about the forefoot fit, it’s worth noting here that the Kinvara 3 is available in widths for those with wide feet).

The other noticeable difference in the Kinvara 3 is that the forefoot feels a bit springier. It’s kind of an odd sensation, almost as if there were a narrow Newton-like set of lugs underneath my metatarsal heads. I’m not sure if it’s due to the placement of the added rubber on the sole, but there is definitely a different feeling under the forefoot compared to previous models. Once again I find this to be a positive change

Other changes to the new Kinvara include the addition of a bit more rubber under the lateral outsole (see image above and left and video below), though still not along the entire length of the forefoot. This will hopefully improve durability, but I personally have not had an issue with premature wear in the Kinvara (my buddy Thomas at Believe in the Run used to trash the Kinvara forefoot, but has found version 3 to be more durable – you can read his Kinvara 3 review here). The upper is completely redone, and it looks and feels great. The shoe is very breathable, and sockless running has caused me no blistering or hot spots. Finally, the heel is a bit more rounded off or beveled than in previous versions – I’m a fan of undercut heels on shoes, but this one is not as exaggerated as in the Brooks Pure series or New Balance Minimus Road (I would not be disappointed if they took a bit more off in future versions).

In most other respects this is a shoe that previous Kinvara wearers will find very familiar. Same 4mm drop sole (23mm heel, 19mm forefoot), similar fit through the heel and midfoot, similar light weight (7.9 oz). Saucony was wise not to mess too much with this shoe, but in making the changes they did they managed to in my opinion make the shoe better. It’s a solid update, and the Kinvara remains my distance shoe of choice!

The Saucony Kinvara is now on version 4, but some old v3′s can still be found at Running Warehouse.

Running Warehouse: Great prices on closeout shoes! View men's and women's selections.
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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Hey Pete,
    quick question on sizing… When I checked the running warehouse site their sizing help “shoefitr” recommends that I go up a half size. I have the original kinvara in size 12 and it suggests that I move up to 12.5. Just wondering if you went up in size. Thanks!
    Kyle

  2. RunnerMan says:

    Just Curious, I never saw the announcement of the winners of the giveaway.

  3. Troy Daley says:

    I’ve got about 20 miles on a new pair of Kinvara 3s.  I put about 500 miles on a pair of K1s, including a couple of marathons.  I liked the shoe, but I didn’t love it.  I felt like it fit a little sloppy, and the upper material was not very comfortable where it creased (which also caused it to tear).  After an ill-fated adventure with a pair of Brooks Pure Connects, I tried the K3 on.  I found I could move down a half size and it was not too tight this time, which I attribute to the wider forefoot box, the upper is as breathable as the K1s, but much more comfortable and it looks a lot more durable.  So far, and it’s early, but best shoe I have ever run in.  Just enough support for longer distances, light, looks good.

  4. Flyboypr77 says:

    Hey Pete i usually run in Newton Distance, how would you compare these with the new Distance? Looking for new sneakers. Thanks Dave

    • Pete Larson says:

      I don’t have the new Distance, but I think it has mostly cosmetic changes. The Kinvara is a softer shoe and does not have the lugs, I actually like both quite a lot but they are pretty different shoes.

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      • Pete, the weight and heel-toe-drop on the K1 K2 K3 and Distance Racer are close to the same. And both are well made shoes, great feel, keeps us in the right position for running, yet very different in feel, due to the soft vs stiff middle sole. Is the softer midsole the main reason the K´s still is your preference for marathon distance? 

        • I bought mine at the Boston Marathon expo. I have had 4 pairs of Kinvara 1s, 4 pairs of 2s. I put about 75 miles on the 3s with no problems. One thing I have noticed is that you strike the ground differently in these compared to the 1s and 2s. I wore the 3s in the VT City marathon last weekend. As the race wore on I developed pain on the outside edge of my feet just under the ankle bone. Still bothering me a week later. I am definitely a mid foot striker in the earler versions of the Kinvara. I suspect that the landing area of the 3s has shifted more toward the heel? As much as I like the fit of these shoes, I am cautious of wearing them again..

          • Erin Thompson Hinz says:

            Oh John thanks for posting this!! I’m a mid foot striker and I run in K2s right now. I’ve been battling between trying the 3s but been very nervous about ‘fixing something that isn’t broken’ thanks for this!

  5. Mark Kasson says:

    Now that the K3′s are heavily discounted and in liquidation, I got a pair to replace a near dead pair of K2s. Unfortunately, I’ll be returning the K3. Two things occur in the area where my big toe meets my foot The lacing changed from the “loops” (right word?) in the K2 to the eyelets in K3 and creates a little extra pressure. Also, I get some bunching at that exact spot. I suspect this is largely just the specifics of how my foot lays in the shoe as it only occurs in the left foot. I looked really closely at the L and R shoes and see no difference or defect, so I think its just me. Otherwise, it seems to have retained all the things I love about the K2 (though I obviously put no miles on the K3).

    Virrata has the loops for laces, so I’ll give those a try.

  6. Kinvara 2 is on sale at The Clymb website for $44.98 if anyone is interested.

  7. Cliffrc613 says:

    I have come to understand very well that you prefer shoes with a wider forefoot as I’ve read many of your posts over the past year or so. I think I need to compare my feet side by side with somebody with “wide” feet, because I’ve concluded that mine must be exceptionally narrow. This would not surprise me as I am a skinny dude. Anyway, I have the Kinvara 2, it was my first lightweight, low-drop shoe. I loved it at first, but over time I honestly think that my foot is slipping around up in the front and getting those infamous ‘hot spots’ because of the lack of structure and too much “roominess.”  So for guys like me, do you have any shoe thoughts?  I have not tried enough shoes to know what is a good option for narrow (or very narrow?) feet (like mine).  Given your preference for roomy shoes, you probably don’t either.  I tried on the PureConnect and since many people poo-pooed the lack of room in the forefoot and the high arch, I avoided it.  But I remember it was nice and snug and.. comfortable.  Maybe that is a good option for me after all.  Any others that have been too narrow for you, but might be good for us skinny fellas?

    • Cliffrc613, I have exactly the same problem as you – with my forefoot slipping in the Kinvara toebox. I think if you try the Fastwitch or the Type A5, you’ll find these much more snug in the toebox. If you want to go outside of Saucony, a similar shoe along the lines of the Kinvara is the New Balance 1400. I am preferring this shoe lately, as it’s a little more proprioceptive – you can feel the ground a little better than you can in the Kinvara.

  8. Phillip Tracy says:

    I’m not a very big runner, so I don’t mind having a year+ “old” shoes, but I was able to get these shipped in yellow/black (my preference) for $50. I appreciate the review as it persuaded me to make the purchase. Will be receiving in a weeks time.

  9. Patrick Shea says:

    Pete,
    Any problems with the heal counter? I’ve been running exclusively in Kinvara 1′s and 2′s for two years now. Was excited by the 3′s but they’ve rubbed the achilies to the point of a blister.

  10. LoveToRun says:

    I was notified I won a pair and there was a gentleman notified as well. Should have in the next few weeks.

  11. RaDragon says:

    Thanks for the review! I am very keen on trying the Kinvara 3′s since I still love the original Kinvara. Your first review is what drew me to that shoe and 2 marathon PRs with them later, I’m a believer!

    Any word on how to get my book signed? I can do the SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) bit if needed. ^_^

  12. 10km Training says:

    Great review Pete! I actually bought the Kinvara 2 due to your review on it, and I absolutely agree, it was and still is a great shoe. I do like the styling on the new Kinvara; however, the only thing I am considering is that you can find really good deals on the Kinvara2 now that the 3 is out, so I’m actually considering on buying another pair of 2′s since the 3 isn’t all that changed. What do you think?

  13. Marcelo Campiglia says:

    Does anybody actually measured the heel to toe drop of the Kinvara 3? Saucony said that the drop is 4mm, Runner’s World said it is 7mm, who is right? I think that the heel to toe drop of the Kinvara 3 more close to 8mm than to 4mm.

  14. Surfing_vol says:

    Pete,

    I ran my first run in the Kinvara 3s on Memorial Day — a 9 mile run.  I agree regarding the feel — the K3s feel *better* than K1s (I don’t own any K2s, so no comparison there).  On the other hand, I shredded the lateral lugs in the midfoot area.  Much more wear than I have seen on the K1s.   I would love to see Saucony put the hard rubber on those lugs.

    Brad

  15. I ordered a pair of the Kinvara 3 from online and was surprised by the fit when I received them They seemed to run really small so I had to return and order a larger size. Has anyone else had this happen?

  16. How would you say is the cushioning in the new kinvara 3 compared to Brooks Pure Flow? Thanks. Great job. Greetings from Spain.

  17. Michael Leonard says:

    Looking around on-line for Kinvara 3 in either the citron or the silver in a wide width, but can only find the blue in wide widths. Does Saucony make these in wide widths in other shoe colors?

  18. Adrian R. says:

    Thanks for the review Pete. Is this still your distance shoe of choice? I am looking for a marathon-day shoe; I run my fast, short runs in Mizuno WU4, and slow, longer runs in NB MT110, but I am looking for what to wear when I begin tapering and to wear on race day. Thank you very much.

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