The Saucony Kinvara is back with a much-anticipated new model—photos of its new look had leaked over the summer, sparking much speculation about its new configuration. Its new, lighter design with bright, flashy colors gives it a modern yet retro 90s charm. But is this enough to rival Saucony's new Endorphin series that received wide acclaim in 2020?
First of all, the Saucony Kinvara 12 remains true to itself and focuses on the strengths that have made the range so successful: a simple, light, and well-cushioned configuration. With only 219 grams on the scale, the Kinvara has never been so light! It even rivals the latest carbon-fiber plate racers. However, as we will see, it's a shoe with a "traditional" profile geared for daily training.
The upper is the big strength of the new model. The engineered mesh with a few discreet overlays offers a perfect lockdown and is easy to forget. Testers use three words to describe it: simple, effective, and soft. There's not a single thing amiss. Even the laces and tongue were a hit with everyone. Also, the upper is roomy enough for athletes with wider feet.
The midsole exhibits the same simplicity but is a bit disappointing. Here, simplicity rhymes with dullness according to several runners: the ride is good but not very exciting. Others are more indulgent and instead note a flexible platform with a good ground natural feeling while providing the cushioning needed to absorb shocks. However, if there's one point on which reviews agree, it's the firmness of the sole. So be warned: despite the more than generous stack height (28 mm under the heel), the K12 is firmer than its predecessors.
Finally, the outsole is very similar to that of the K11, with mainly exposed foam and a few strategically positioned rubber pieces to protect the shoe from wear and tear. The configuration is effective: it provides a good grip, even in wet conditions, and is durable for the kind of mileage you would expect from a trainer.
In summary, the Saucony Kinvara 12 is a very decent running shoe despite some issues. On the one hand, it has a very light build (especially for the stack height) and an outstanding upper, but on the other hand, the cushioning has nothing special. If anything, it's rather firm, especially for long workouts. We recommend it for runners who are after a stable well-structured cushioning that delivers a comfortable, yet firm ground feel.
Value for money
Perfect upper that offers lockdown and softness
Very Lightweight shoe for a classic trainer model
Good natural feel
Aging midsole that lacks energy
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