Saucony Kinvara 12 Review Analysis (2021)
Last update: January 2022
The Saucony Kinvara 12 is a very good lightweight running shoe for daily training.
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.
- Perfect upper that offers lockdown and softness
- Very lightweight shoe for a classic trainer model
- Good natural feel
- Sturdy shoe
- Aging midsole that lacks energy
- Firm cushioning
- The outsole of the Saucony Kinvara 12 is equipped with exposed foam from the midsole to ensure a more flexible ride by reducing the quantity of rubber. Such setup can worsen the durability of the shoe but overall midsole foams have become sturdier so this is less of a problem.
- Sturdy rubber covers the strategic contact zones to protect the shoe and increase grip, especially on wet surfaces
- Flex grooves helps athletes to transition more smoothly from heel to toes by enabling the shoe to follow the movement of the foot.
- The midsole features PWRRUN, a lightweight and responsive EVA and TPU-based foam thats equips the entire midsole.
- The Saucony Kinvara 12’s upper uses an engineered mesh that provides a secure and comfortable foot lockdown.
- The FormFit technology translates into discreet overlays and anatomical design to provide a targeted and pleasant fit.
- The gusseted tongue stays in the middle to run worry-free and has just the right thickness and length for optimal comfort.
|Heel stack height||28 mm|
|Forefoot stack height||24 mm|
|Weight (men)||219 g/7.7 oz|
|Weight (women)||183 g/6.5 oz|
|Softness (1-5)||2 – Firm|
|Bounce (1-5)||2 – Low|
|Outsole||Exposed foam, sturdy rubber, flex grooves|
|Upper||Engineered mesh, FormFit, gusseted tongue|
|Distance||Mid, long, 10k, half marathon, marathon|
Reference: Saucony’s official website
Comparisons – Saucony Kinvara 12 vs.:
Saucony Kinvara 11
Testers deemed the K12 a step in the right direction compared to the K11. The latter was more stable but less flexible. The K12 is lighter, and its cushioning is firmer and offers a better ground feeling. Overall, runners found the Kinvara 12 more in line with the original spirit of the range.
Saucony Freedom 3
These two shoes have a similar weight and the same stack height. However, the cushioning of the Freedom is softer, and the lockdown is more stretchy. If you prefer a model with a precise lockdown and firm cushioning, we recommend the Kinvara; otherwise, choose the Freedom.
Saucony Ride 13
These two shoes have different profiles with the Kinvara and its lightweight build and effective but firm cushioning. On the other side, the Ride is more of a cruiser with comfortable cushioning for long distances. If you want a decently cushioned shoe with a good ground feel, the Kinvara is for you. If you’re looking for a more versatile configuration that’s comfortable in all conditions, choose the Ride.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Yes, until now, we haven’t seen notes from athletes suggesting that the fit is surprising. Therefore, you can buy your usual size for running shoes. However, if this your very first pair of Saucony shoes, it may be a good idea to give them a try in-store to avoid surprises.
Yes, this shoe should be suitable for everyone. Indeed, it’s a neutral running shoe. As such, it aims to suit all athletes regardless of their pronation type. It’s not equipped with support aids to correct the movement and help with overpronation. That doesn’t really matter, though: there’s no proof that stability shoes can decrease injury risk. We only recommend them if you find them more comfortable than their neutral counterparts.
Yes, this model should be suitable for everyone as it features a moderate to high stack height with 28 mm under the heel and 24 mm under the forefoot. According to science, heavyweight runners are mostly at risk when using minimalist shoes. The Saucony Kinvara 12 is not a minimalist model, so it should be safe for all runners.
Let’s remember that the most important criterion to choose what shoes to wear during your marathon competition should be your personal preference. In theory, any running shoe could be a good fit. Having said that, some testers mentioned that the cushioning of the K12 is quite firm, which may not be comfortable for runners who prefer a plush feel underfoot, especially for such a long distance like the marathon.
Kevin is the founder and editor of Runner’s Lab. He started running in 2015 and completed his first marathon in Rotterdam in 2016. He’s also worked for Under Armour from 2016 to 2018 and helped launch their running collection in Europe (in particular the HOVR shoes). In addition, Kevin is a 300-hour certified yoga teacher (Sivananda) and uses this experience to run more mindfully with a focus on well-being over performance.