Saucony Virrata Review and Comparison to the Saucony Kinvara 3: Guest Post by Alex Raggers

Saucony VirrataA few weeks ago I received a message from one of my many footwear spies across the globe. Alex Raggers is a runner from the Netherlands, and to his surprise he recently walked into his local running store to find that they had the new (and much anticipated) Saucony Virrata in stock. Given that I’m very interested in the Virrata given my past positive experiences with Saucony shoes (particularly the Kinvara and A5), I asked Alex if he could send me his initial thoughts on the shoe. He sent me much more than a few thoughts, so I asked him if I could post what he wrote here on the blog.

What follows are Alex’s initial thoughts on the Virrata based on comparisons to the Kinvara 3, as well as his experience on an initial few runs. Feel free to ask questions in the comments (I may get to see the shoe myself tomorrow when I visit Saucony HQ).



First Look Saucony Virrata Review by Alex Raggers

Yesterday I was very surprised to find the Saucony Virrata in my local store, Running Center in Roosendaal, the Netherlands. It actually is a rather conservative store when it comes to shoe selection, but I guess bringing the Saucony Kinvaras in paved the way for the Virrata (my frequent requests for more minimal shoes might have helped a bit as well!).

As a Dutch man, I would have liked the Virratas with the orange soles that I spotted somewhere online (Runblogger Note: I believe Alex is referring to these), but you can’t have it all, especially when you get ahold of a shoe that most runners have yet to see in person. The colour I was able to purchase looks like an update of my Kinvara 3:

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Saucony Virrata (top), Saucony Kinvara 3 (bottom)

Colour selection in the Netherlands is typically limited, so although I would have preferred a different color scheme, I did buy the Virratas right away since I didn’t expect to see them in stock.

Comparison of the Saucony Virrata to the Kinvara 3 (K3)

Weight in size US10: Virrata is 199 grams, K3 228 grams (on my kitchen scale). That is almost a 13% reduction. It feels like most of the weight difference comes from a lighter sole. The material of the sole reminds me of my Saucony Hattoris. Same colour, same material?

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Soles: Saucony Kinvara 3 (top), Saucony Virrata (bottom)

The Virrata looks narrower from above compared to the Kinvara 3 (see photo below), but feels the opposite. It actually feels a bit roomier around my toes. Height of the heel support is lower. It feels rather flat under the ball of my feet. The tip of the toebox seems to sit just a bit lower. Around the ankle the support is clearly lower. It lacks the additional ‘hydramax’ collar support pods found on both sides of the K3. The upper clearly consists of two layers. It looks messy at first sight, but when you wear them it looks normal, like one layer. The inside is soft and free of irritating seams.

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Front/Back Views: Virrata on right, Kinvara 3 on left in each photo

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Kinvara 3 (top), Virrata (bottom)

Initial Run Review

On the day I took the Virratas out for a first run it was rather cold. Minus 4 degrees centigrade, versus my last run in K3 where it was plus 4 degrees centigrade (39 vs 25 F). So for the first few miles my cold fingers got most of my attention, but I did manage to get a good first impression of the Virratas. I ran in them for 8 miles.

They run very light and easy. I don’t feel I have to adjust a lot to them. They actually feel a bit like an update of my K3. After a few miles I did feel an annoying ridge underneath the ball of my right foot. This reminded me of some runs in my Hattoris. Only on my right foot. Fortunately the feeling went away after a few more miles. I am not sure what it is. I have also felt this recently in the Kinvara 3, and it may be due to the cold temperature affecting how the sole feels. In a subsequent run indoors on a treadmill, I did not feel this “ridge,” and the cushioning felt quite soft.

My toes do feel comfortable and they have plenty of room in the Virrata. The shoes feel very breathable, actually a bit cold at first. I think your feet will get wetter in rain in Vittaras than in Kinvaras.

The sole seems to make more noise than the sole of my K3s. I am not sure whether this is due of the sole material, because it is zero drop, or maybe that the grooves in the sole work as a soundbox. They make more sound on cobbled roads than they do on tarmac. I did also notice that the grooves in the sole picked up one small stone on each foot. Less stones than in my Nike Free 3.0 v1/v3, but more than in Kinvaras. I did not feel them during the run though.

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At the end of my first run I am quite happy with the Virratas. It will take some more runs to decide whether or not this will be my shoe of choice for the Loch Ness Marathon in September.

In Europe, the Saucony Virrata is available at Sportsshoes.com. In the US, the Saucony Virrata is available at Running Warehouse.


Alex Raggers is a runner from the Netherlands. He has run in several minimalist spectrum shoes, including the Nike Free 3.0, Saucony Kinvara, Saucony Hattori, and Vibram Fivefingers Bikila. He has completed two marathons (PR = 3:24:12), and is preparing for his third later this year.

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. Mark Silver says:

    I tried the K2′s and felt the sole was too spongy. How is the Virrata sole softness in comparison to the Kinvara?

  2. woody dover says:

    The local Saucony Rep brought a few pairs by our store last week to try on. The upper is very similar to the Kinvara 4 which fits more like the Kinvara 2. Definitely lighter due to lower heel and no carbon rubber on outsole. Deeper flex grooves in the forefoot. Saucony is saying 18mm heel and forefoot. Feels great!

  3. Travis Forbes says:

    I tend to wear through the sole material of the Kinvaras rather quickly vs. other shoes. I wonder if the Hattori-like material is actually different than the Kinvara (will wear better)? Note that I don’t have any K3′s yet…just ran through a couple of K1′s and midway through two pairs of K2′s.

    • I have run more than 600 miles on my K1s. K3 looks very much the same as the K1. Not so many miles on my Hattoris. So I can’t say anything yet on the durability of the Virrata sole. (Alex Raggers)

      • Travis Forbes says:

        Thanks! The K1′s last only about 350-400 for me; guess we’re all a little different. Have gotten more out of Cortanas. Very interested in the Virrata.

        • The only time I got so little miles out of my K1 was with my second pair. Wrong program in the washer… I guess what works for my Vibrams does not for ‘normal’ shoes.

  4. Heather Underwood says:

    I’ve been running in Kinvaras since they came out & have loved them, until the K3. My last pair of K2s finally needed replaced so I automatically ordered K3s. Unfortunately, I felt the heel collar was much higher & I suffered with blisters from the very first run. I’m trading them in for a pair of Virratas & I’m hoping the heel collar is smaller, as you mentioned. They’ll be here next week!

  5. Just noticed these over here in uk I am running in kinvaras 3 at the moment would I need a transitional period if I wanted to try these

  6. Kinvara has a little arch support which bothers me. Is Viratta the say way. Or it has no arch support?

  7. Similar story – I walked into my local running shop here in Glasgow, Scotland (link to achillesheel.co.uk – no personal connection!) in early January and was surprised to see the new Saucony Mirage3 on the shoe wall, since everything I’d read said it would be a February release. Love the Mirage2 so I snagged the new revision straight away and they’re working great.

  8. Going off the topic Pete, but are you planning on fixin gup your Run Radar feed? I used to view your feed every day, and now I feel that something’s missing!

    • Pete Larson says:

      I hadn’t noticed that it was dead, thanks for letting me know! It was a victim of Google Reader being shut down, I just need to see if I can pull the aggregated feed from another source, hopefully will have it back up in the next few days. Also hoping to have the Run Radar site gong at long last soon too!
      Sent from my iPad

  9. I have run just above 100 miles in my Virratas. Two weeks ago I ran 21 miles in them, and today 19. They feel great for this distance. So great I am sure I will not be wearing my Kinvara 3s during the Rotterdam marathon next month.

    Fortunately I have no problems with my calves in these zero drops. And my toes feel better afterwards than in my Kinvara 3s after 15 miles.

    I might consider one other shoe for Rotterdam. Just last week I ordered Saucony A5s via Wiggle (I could not find them in any regular store). They felt great on my first 6 miles run. They both beat my other shoes, and I am not allowed to buy any other shoes any time soon :)

    • Pete Larson says:

      Ahh, you got the dreaded new shoe ban!

      • True, I banned myself. But with my all time record of in total 50 miles of running last week my shoes will wear down within months! So I am looking forward to your new reviews.

  10. Any plastic in the heel cup? Lately my achilles and heel have been really sensitive to stiff material around the heel. When running forefoot you don’t really need the support and the rigidness creates a lot of friction by trying to push your heel to the ground.
    Had to cut my mirages open and remove the plastic with plyers.
    It sounds like a great shoe and i would love to try a pair, but have to order online over here(Sweden) and can’t check them out myself.

  11. Stephen Boulet says:

    Thanks for the review. Do you feel as though the Virratas are more, less, or equally suitable for a marathon compared to the Kinvaras?

    • I am not sure yet. I have planned a marathon in September. And possibly one in April. I ran my last one two years ago in K1s. I was looking for a lighter shoe this time. I put my hope on the Virratas, but I have not yet run more than 8 miles at once in them. This saturday I used my K3 for my 18 miles training. Still… I can see myself doing the 26 miles on Virratas. I think there is enough cushioning for long runs. (Alex Raggers)

  12. Weslie Saarloos says:

    Interesting Alex, maybe in the future I will try them. The price is also interesting. Weslie

  13. John Sentz says:

    I definitely feel that the forefoot of the Virratas is narrower than the Kinvara 3. I have the Kinvara 3 on one foot now in size 11.5 and the Virrata on the other in size 12 and the Kinvara 3 is definitely roomier.

    • I definitely don’t get why Saucony keep making narrow minimalist shoes like that. I love the feel of Kinvara but definitely too narrow. At least in the 3 version they make a 2E. But Kinvara TR for trail and Virratas are only available in standard D width and they are on the narrow side, thus for most of us minimalist runners with foot that got wider from using minimalist shoes they are quite the opposite of what we are looking for, sucks :-( .

    • Weird, I definitely have more room in same size Virrata compared to my K3. Alex

      • John Sentz says:

        Alex – to me it feels as if the midfoot of the Virrata is the same or slightly roomier than the Kinvaras, but the forefoot or toebox on the Virrata is definitely narrower. Maybe it will stretch when I put some miles on them or maybe it’s just my feet…lol. My other minimal zero drop shoes are wider in the toebox than both the Virrata and Kinvara 3. With that being said, I sized up a half size on the Virrata and I think they will work for me. They feel snug but comfortable, almost like a racing flat. By the way, I wanted to say that you did a great review! Thanks

        • I’m also hoping that my virrata will stretch a little bit but after 100km toebox still the same. I love my vitarra but now i have to wrap my 2 small toes to avoid blister.

          now im really confuse so which of the 2 is wider? im planning to change to k3 next month.

          • Pete Larson says:

            Try going up a half size if you get another pair, should help create space for the little toe
            Sent from my iPad

        • Thanks for the compliment John. It actually was a pleasure doing. I guess I will not get a second chance ever to buy a shoe the Pete Larson named ‘this is the one I’m most excited to try’ in his blog before he could. Writing the review and reading the comments is really fun to do.

  14. René Jeninga says:

    How is the sizing compared to the Kinvara 3?

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