Sunday, February 20, 2022

Saucony Kinvara 13 Multi Tester Review: a totally state of the art, refined, effective, high performance "retro" ride!

Article by Sam Winebaum, Zack Dunn, Beto Hughes, Sally Reiley, Michael Ellenberger, Shannon Payne, and Derek Li

Saucony Kinvara 13 ($120)


Sam: Launched in the middle of the minimal running boom, the Kinvara was light, much lower drop than most light performance trainers at 4mm and flexible. It was a blast to run even if as I recall a bit shaky in the upper department.

Over time the nameplate got heavier, more stability focused, stiffer, and duller. Then the last 2 editions gradually shifted the Kinvara back towards its original ride and fit. 

On the surface, the Kinvara 13 clearly is the flexible, more “natural” complement to the fan fave plated Endorphin Speed 2 for faster shorter runs with here the feet in the game and also as the lighter tempo compliment to the daily trainer Ride and Shift with their PWRRUN midsoles as here but of course with much more rubber and weight. 

With the 13, Saucony delivers its lightest K shoe yet at a mere 7.2 oz / 204 g so 0.5 oz or less on the scale than the 12. The upper is a mono mesh as with the 12 but now softer and well supported by varying densities in the engineered mesh, subtle overlays and the gusset tongue. Saucony also calls out “a more beveled midsole and streamlined contouring” promising a smoother ride and also along with the upper likely the fairly significant weight drop on the same 28.5 mm heel  / 24.5 mm forefoot, 4mm drop basic platform. The midsole foam remains PWRRUN an EVA/TPU blend with the outsole minimal in coverage and appearing identical.

Women’s Colorway

And in something the original Kinvara did not offer, 100% of the upper mesh is recycled and over 90% of the rest of the upper materials as well.

So nothing on the surface was radically different beyond the weight drop it seemed.. I hoped the midsole would capture more of the original's bouncy flexible magic while staying decently stable. Time to test!



Pretty low in weight at 7.2oz US men’s 9 for a non critical foam 28.5 /24.5 stack height. - Zack/Beto/Sam/Sally/Michael/Shannon

The upper is really lightweight, and has an amazing, race-like fit. Zack/Beto/Sam/Sally/Michael/Shannon/Derek

Outsole has just enough grip to handle most dry surfaces. - Zack/Beto

Fair price of $120 for a pretty good lightweight trainer. - Zack/Beto/Sam/Sally

Nice flex at toe off, helps with fast turn over on reps at hard efforts and climbing steep hills. - Beto/Sam/Sally

Softer foam with some very noticed rubbery rebound and more of it than in prior: Sam/Beto/Sally

Stable forgiving heel, with just enough mid foot stability never in the way to a smooth flow forward then to very flexible toe off, all achieved with minimal rubber and relatively soft foam 

Great option to actually get feet in the game in a world of rocker rigid and plated shoes: Sam/Sally/Beto

100% recycled upper mesh, 90% or more recycled materials for the rest of the upper: Sam/Sally/Michael/Beto/Derek

Feels very stable and secure at cornering when going at faster speeds or hard turns. - Beto

Shannon: The Kinvara, with the exception of a couple of versions, has been one of my perennial favorites. To that end, I’ve got lots of pros to list, and very few cons. My biggest pros include that it’s very lightweight and extremely versatile in terms of the type of running it can handle. I’ve historically used the Kinvara doing everything from workouts to races to long runs. This version sees little change from the 12, which was a relief to me as I did love that version. The upper on version 13 is a bit more substantial and I feel it moves with the foot a little bit better, not to mention it’s made of recycled materials. I love seeing brands becoming more environmentally conscious.


Grip does not do well on anything but dry surfaces. - Zack/Beto/Sally/Michael

The midsole has little responsiveness to it, lacks pop. - Zack

Agree partially with Zack but think it is not the midsole but not enough front outsole coverage and the high flexibility which tamps down pop,

Outsole is a serious gravel catcher, grooves large enough to lodge good sized stones underfoot - Sally/Michael/Derek

Shannon: As with any lightweight trainer, if you’re using this for a variety of distances and putting a significant number of weekly miles on this shoe, you’re going to burn through it in no time. Granted, that’s characteristic of most shoes of this sort, so I’m not certain that I can honestly consider it a true drawback to the shoe. I will say that given the foam is quite soft, once it breaks down it is best not to try to squeeze any additional miles out of it as it tends to break down substantially more in areas of higher stress (again, not terribly unusual).


Sample Weights: 

men’s 7.02 oz / 199g (US8.5), 200g/7.05 oz (US 9.5), 8.4 oz / 238g (US12.5),  210g/7.41oz (US9.5)

women’s: 6.0 oz / 168g (USW8) 

Stack Height: men’s 28.5 mm heel  / 24.5 mm forefoot, 4mm drop

$120. Available April 2022.  

First Impressions and Fit

Sally: I really enjoyed running in the previous versions of the Kinvara up through the 10. It was reliably a light, simple, low to the ground, minimalist daily trainer. But the 11 and 12 were apparently stiffer and not as fun - I figured I was getting spoiled by the new higher stacked plated shoes. Good news: the 13 seems to bring the fun back. It is light, comfortable on foot, and seemingly a bit softer underfoot. I like the new tab on the tongue and the pull tab on the heel. 

The fit is true to size, perhaps even roomier than in the past models width wise (good news for wide feet!). 

Michael: It’s been a few years since I’ve tested Saucony’s long-running performance trainer, the Kinvara - but I’m glad to have the opportunity. In a sporting yellow, with an aggressive look and feel, the Kinvara is the type of shoe I tend to gravitate towards - fast, no-frills, and ready for anything (at least on paper)! Let’s get running.

Beto: Kinvara is one of my favorite trainers for basically any workout. It's a lightweight, minimalist shoe that has a low to the ground feel yet with control too which is something I really enjoy a lot. 

From the Kinvara 6 to 10 the shoe has been evolving in a good way but 11 was meh for me,  too much heel material. The K12 felt firmer with just a better upper than the K11. And nowin the Kinvara 13 we have some nice updates, starting with the upper. The fit is amazing and the midsole is a bit more forgiving and lighter with a very comfortable tongue with pull tab.

Sam: Bright, fast looking and streamlined the visual design is sharp with the main yellow color toned down just enough not to scream with the functional black, orange and yellow overlays adding depth and color. I particularly like the all in one silvery reflective tongue pull tab, reflector, and lace padding. Instead of being fully sewn down, it can be pulled out transforming into a pull tab to help put the shoe on and then it sits flat when laced to protect from lace bite reflect. Simple and ingenious

The fit is true to size, nearly perfectly so, with a light yet secure on the foot feel. The engineered mono mesh is soft and accommodating yet in no way sloppy, baggy or over stretchy despite being so light and pliable. This is not a rigid harsh mono mesh as some of the Skechers had.

Shannon: My first impression was a sigh of relief. I love the Kinvara. I have always loved the Kinvara. My hope is that the Kinvara remains unchanged forever. I put in on, and eureka! Not only does the shoe feel unchanged to me from its predecessor but so much more full of life! My version 12’s have been toast for quite some time and since I do not practice a single thing that I preach, I was trying to squeeze every last ounce of life out of them that I possibly could. As for my initial run in it, it felt as lively and quick as ever. My women’s size 8 fit true to size, and I do love the slightly wider toebox that the last few versions of this shoe have offered.

Derek: The Saucony Kinvara is one of the first shoes I tried when I transitioned to pure marathoning from a triathlon background, so I have plenty of fond memories of it. At the time, the Kinvara was already in its 5th version, and lots of people were using the Kinvara (I think v3 was the most popular) for marathon racing. I went on to use the Kinvara’s v5 - v7 quite extensively in training and workouts, but as the shoe evolved into a somewhat firmer, snappier sort of shoe, it lost its appeal to me and I moved on. 

Now in its 13th year, and with whispers of a a move back toward the original softer and bouncier ride, I am glad to give it a try again. I always like to keep a more minimalist type of shoe in the rotation to avoid being overly reliant on the new fangled carbon plated and max cushion offerings. Previously, the shoe of choice was the Atreyu base model v1, and that shoe has since retired. 

Now it looks like the Kinvara fills that spot quite nicely, with the added bonus of being a little higher stack and a little bouncier, while still retaining very good natural flex in the ride. 

I’m always up for a bright and eye-catching colorway and this sunrise hue definitely turns some heads on the roads for me. Fit is excellent and true to size for me, with a very nice performance feel to the shoe. There isn’t much bounce to the ride in the first few strides, but I also know that PWRRUN foam tends to need a few runs to break in and develop deeper sort of rebound (from my experience with the Endorphin Shift) so it’s too early to make judgements around the ride now.


Zack: The upper is my favorite part of the shoe. I had found it to be pretty much perfect for a lightweight trainer and has everything I would want in one. It had superb breathability in the midfoot while still maintaining some support. The tongue is moderately cushioned with a nice added pull tab , with the heel having a pull tab as well. Speaking of the heel area of the upper, It has a nice amount of cushioning where it doesn’t feel overwhelming but still provides comfort and lets the heel sit in a nice cup for heel lockdown.

Shannon: The upper of this shoe was the only significant change to this model from what I can tell, and to me I found it to be a positive change. While I don’t have any real complaints about version 12’s upper, to me this upper material fit and moved with the foot better and felt more breathable. I also noticed that it seemed the tongue of the shoe stayed put better than the previous version.

Sam: The upper is described by Saucony as an “engineered mono mesh”. Mono mesh fibers tend to not stretch, absorb very little moisture, breathe well and resemble fishing line up close and I think in material origins. First seen in Skechers, early mono mesh had a rigid rough feel, single weave density and sometimes caused blister issues in the toe boxes. 

Mono mesh has come a long way here as it has that characteristic non stretch solid hold but now with a soft pliable feel. The “Engineered” part means it is woven in varying densities to deliver additional support and ventilation where it is needed. 

The toe box is notable for its solid hold and big ventilation slots over the toes. There are even ventilation at the far rear toe box and mid foot sides as the lacing starts using less dense mesh which also allows the upper to flex with the platform while to the front on the sides it is more dense for some support and durability as it extends forward to a vertical quite stiff toe bumper, No toes pressure from this toe bumper or toe box.  

We have a lightly padded gusset tongue which unlike some does not extend forward over the toes as a lining, so single density mono mesh up front. You can see my black socks right through the upper in the photo below. This upper should prove highly breathable and low moisture absorbing.

Discreet, very thin longitudinal overlays and the Saucony logo provide the structure and some visual highlights. 

The heel counter is rigid and holds well with the collars thinly but adequately padded.

Finally a handy rear pull tab is matched by a solid one (with silvery reflective logo) at the tongue on top of a thin black suede and which doubles as some lace bite protection. Triple duty for that front tab, elegant and simple.

All in all a brilliant upper for its looks, comfort and hold and really for any shoe and here we are at $120.

Beto: The upper fits like a glove with a very comfortable race-like fit holding the foot in place and with enough space up front. Breathability is amazing from the mono mesh upper in my warmer test climate in Mexico, especially at front. The tongue has enough padding and prevents any pressure points. The heel counter is well padded with just enough padding to be comfortable and secure. And finally a nice pull tab at the heel for easy access to the shoe in combination with the tongue’s pull tab to make it even easier, there is also an elastic pull tab below the heel’s pull tab.

The upper hold is just perfect for those tempos or fartleks but what I have to point out is how amazing it is at taking turns at fast paces. The shoe holds the foot perfectly with zero movement and that helps the shoe to feel more stable and gives more control at each step.

Sally: I agree with the others that this is a great upper: it fits well, holds the foot securely, is very breathable, beautiful in its simplicity, and very light. Not to mention that it is vegan and made of 100% recycled materials - extra points to Saucony for sustainability. And the padded tongue with the pull tab makes for a comfortable wrap and hold of the foot.

Michael: Like the others, I was extremely pleased with the upper here. Besides being constructed of sustainable materials, it’s supremely comfortable - a nice blend between comfort (soft, non-agitating, malleable enough to fit a variety of winter sock weights) and lockdown; 

I think Saucony could plop this upper onto the Endorphin Pro with minimal modification.

Derek: I agree that the upper is incredibly good here. Excellent lockdown and wrap for my feet. Makes you wonder why they don’t just use this for their Endorphin range. The upper seems fairly simplistic with not too many bells and whistles, but the amount of fabric used in the right spots is key for me, and gives that snug heel, snug midfoot, and slightly roomy forefoot feel, and that’s exactly what you want in a performance trainer. 

I see that the internal toe bumper is the same one used in the Endorphin Speed range (or at least it gives the same sort of toe-box volume), so Saucony are certainly paying attention to what works well in their other shoes. The Kinvara 13 upper for me is basically an Endorphin Speed v1 upper, with a softer and shorter heel cup, which truth be told, I would expect to work better than the Speed v2 upper for many people. 

One thing i am not particularly a fan of is this synthetic lace that they are spec'ing on some of their performance shoes. I see it on the Endorphin Shift and Speed models as well. While the flat laces distribute pressure quite well, they tend to unravel quite easily even with double knotting. I think the laces are too slippery and are best swapped for something with a more grippy texture.


The midsole is Saucony’s PWRRUN EVA/TPU blend.  Many Saucony for road and trail use this compound including for road the Ride, Axon and Endorphin Shift. Noting that here we have very minimal outsole coverage compared to other PWRRUN shoes, I found the foam here the softest and bounciest flavor I can recall and that includes the Kinvara 12. While not called out by Saucony as “different” I think it may be tweaked to approach competitors such as Fuel Cell and Puma Nitro but without compromising the model’s characteristic more stable ride that much. 

That said, what I feel from what I think is a softer bouncier foam and geometry changes now leans the Kinvara yet more even than the 11 towards being a neutral shoe for me than the “light” stability versions of past models where the vertical midsole side wall and stiffer flex was much more present in feel and stabilizing effect. I still think for such a light and flexible shoe the Kinvara is a good option for those seeking what is now more a “touch” of stability,

Saucony also calls out “a more beveled midsole and streamlined contouring” of the midsole. It is not a huge change in appearance but I think has a significant positive effect on the flow of the shoe in combination with the foam and upper . Whereas before the vertical midsole medial side walls were felt as a “support” element now the flow (as it was in the 12 to a lesser extent)  is more neutral in feel and notably smoother with the support wall not really noticed much if at all. Those used to and needing the Kinvara as a light stability oriented uptempo shoe or racer will have to judge if it is still effective. 

Zack: As Sam had said , Saucony’s PWRRUN midsole is a EVA/TPU blend. I had found it to be pretty soft with a subtle rebound and responsiveness, nothing comparable to the premium supercritical foams, but it still gets the job done. It also is lower to the ground, so you do get some ground contact feeling, as well as a more natural toe off. As I said, it is not the craziest and fastest midsole, but for $120, it does perform well for its value pricing.

Beto:  I found the Kinvara 13's PWRRUN which I found to be soft and very well shock absorption and still give a nice response for a EVA/TPU Blend. This midsole gets the job done and it is light and thanks to the cutouts in the outsole (midsole) as it is flexible which helps with the transition and responsiveness of the midsole, a simple but effective design. These flexible grooves give a very nice toe off at each stride especially during faster efforts or short distance runs at say 5k pace. The K13 feels more stable at forefoot landing and works really well with the flex and if you heel land it is still be soft and stable from heel to toe. It has a very stable and natural movement even when doing hard turns at faster paces.The midsole feels a bit softer than the past 2 versions and that is a good thing for a low to the ground shoe.

Sally: I found the midsole to definitely be softer and bouncier than the  Kinvara 12’s, much to my delight. With minimal outsole and the lowish stack, I felt as though I could really feel the ground as I ran, something I have missed with all the higher stack and plated shoes I have run in of late. This is a minimal shoe, low to the ground and very flexible, simple and fast. 

Michael: Since it’s been a while, I can’t compare the midsole here to recent Kinvaras - but I can comment on it in comparison to the field, and I’m happy to say it’s squarely above-average. Given the stack, I was actually surprised by just how thick it feels underfoot - it’s not a super-plush trainer by any means, but it’s certainly adequate for medium to long runs (which is good - that’s definitely Kinvara territory!). At faster paces (which, due to weather, I only really tested on the treadmill), I was pleased with the performance. Even without a plate, there’s adequate spring here, and I would take the K13 out for longer tempo runs or those medium progression runs where you’re not wearing a flat, but still don’t want the shoe to hold you back.

Shannon: Maybe I’m not terribly perceptive, but to me the midsole felt much the same as version 12. Take that with a grain of salt however as I had been running in version 12 long enough to have pretty much obliterated the midsole foam, so to that end, version 13 may very well have a slightly different feel than the previous and to me it just felt like a new shoe. In any case, I still love the feel of this midsole as it feels like the perfect amount of foam at just the right weight and strikes the perfect balance between just enough cushion and responsiveness to be a jack of all trades when it comes to faster workouts all the way up runs of a medium distance at a good clip. On top of that, the areas of higher wear still feature a more durable rubber, so it ultimately allows the outsole to wear quite evenly.

Derek: I have said this before and i will emphasize it again. With Saucony’s PWRRUN foam, you really do need to give it some time to break in and soften up. Initially it does feel a little bit dead, but once it breaks in, you get a deeper springiness from it that is very reminiscent of the early Kinvara’s, but appear to have more resilience now, as the early Kinvara’s tended to lose their spring after about 200 miles. My biggest worry was actually that there would be some raised midsole at the midfoot hurting my feet. 

The sculpting of the midsole certainly looks like it curves up quite a lot at the heel to midfoot transition. Fortunately, although there is a little bit of scalloping with the midsole sidewalls, it was not something i noticed at all when running. Overall, the foam does have a little bit of spring to it, though not as much as what you would find in higher stack shoes. It is more cushioned than I expected in terms of vibration dampening, for a shoe of this stack. 


Sam: Outsole, what outsole! Part of the magic of the Kinvara is that you essentially ride on the midsole and that is what helps deliver the flexible ride and energetic response  . 

As in the past, we have strategic rubber patches at the heel and at the front toe off. There is nothing so far that indicates this midsole and outsole with key wear rubber patches will be any more or any less durable as an outsole and midsole than the prior Kinvara.

Sally: The outsole is indeed minimal, and looks to be unchanged from the 12's outsole. I had the same problem as in the past with gravel and pebbles getting caught in the deep grooves of the outsole - a classic gravel catcher problem that gets annoying when running on the roads in my town. It is a very flexible outsole, reinforced with rubber at the toe-off and at the heel, but its durability has not been proven. Yet it gets big points for being quiet, a quality that matters to me.

MIchael: I’ll echo the mild annoyance of the outsole here; in the winter, where there are seemingly endless sources of snow, ice, random rocks and road grime, I was both slipping more than I expected, and pulling more debris from the outsole than I expected. I think in the spring and summer, it’ll be no problem (and Floridian runners need not worry), but it was sort of surprising.

Beto: The outsole has patches of XT-900 rubber basically not much just a piece at toe off and a piece at the heel for durability and grip where it will be needed. They will help a little bit if it is a bit wet when you land on those rubber patches. The exposed midsole is good on dry roads but slippery on wet roads. The flexible grooves give a nice toe off and a smooth transition and feels better at hard efforts or reps. 

Derek: They definitely went bare bones with the outsole here. I felt that they could have afforded to have some coverage on both medial and lateral sides of the heel and forefoot without adding much weight or changing the underfoot feel too much. If reading online shoe discussions has taught me anything, it is that there are people who can wear out any part of an outsole, though people who predominantly wear out the medial heel more still baffle me a bit with their stride. 

The current outsole coverage really limits the audience to very “neutral” runners, and I felt that with the shoe as is, it is stable enough that it could cater to more people who maybe pronate a little more, but then the outsole coverage would need to improve for the shoes to last long enough for them. The rubber compound is fairly durable, but we are likely still looking at maybe 300-400 miles max for the Kinvara 13 for most people. 


Sam: The ride is very smooth flowing, flexible, and more than adequately cushioned and stable, especially at the heel. I think the subtle changes in midsole geometry and what I sense as a touch more bounce in the PWRRUN foam mix as well as the upper flexing with the shoe yet with great hold have really fine tuned the ride flow in the K13.  I found it ideal for steep climbs and descents where the front flexibility, rear stability and more than adequate cushion, and forgiving and somewhat bouncy foam and geometry really shine.

This is not a plated springy ride or a rockered ride that is for sure but a more natural one with enough road feel and feet in the game to work what is often “isolated” in high stack rigid shoes, your feet!

While the Kinvara was a top race choice several years ago for its light weight, adequate cushion and touch of stability it is less so now unless you prefer a more flexible race shoe.

It is now, and as it was also in the past ,a light daily trainer to uptempo shoe for me. While it is not quite supercritical, bouncy and dynamic as say the Rebel v2 or Puma Liberate the feel gets close mainly due to the mostly PWRRUN midsole now bouncier ride at the road while being more stable towards the rear than those last two.

Zack: I definitely agree with Sam on what this shoe is used for, uptempo runs and substitutes as a light, lower stack daily trainer. I had used it for daily runs, tempo runs, and track workouts. Personally for me, it performed best for tempo runs, which for me is 4-5 miles at around 5:30-5:45 min./mile pace, as it isn’t the fastest for track/interval workouts, though it can most certainly do that. It can certainly serve for daily training, if you truly like a low-stack, lightweight shoe for your daily miles.. Personally, I prefer a little more stack and cushion for daily runs but it certainly wasn’t terrible, just not for me for those runs. All in all, the shoes ride was pretty good, just not the craziest ride. That being said, this shoe is $120, which is great for a good budget daily trainer! Pleased with the ride for this price. 

Michael: I’ll echo Zach’s conclusion first - that for cost ($120 has now solidified itself as the entry-level price for most brands), I think the Kinvara 13 is a more than adequate performance trainer. It’s slightly lacking in stack, and I’d prefer something like Saucony’s Endorphin Shift for long runs, but there’s enough pop here to really make this a fun trainer. I particularly enjoy it on the treadmill, where the light weight and easy toe-off are more important than underfoot squishiness (given the inherent softness of the treadmill deck). It’s not a standout, shout-it-from-the-rooftops option, but I don’t think anything - new convert or Kinvara loyalist - will be let down by the performance here.

Sally: Running all week in the Kinvara 13 awakened me to muscles that I had clearly not been paying enough attention to: the calves. I do most of my running in higher stack plated shoes with either lots of spring or rocker geometry, so this lower to the ground more natural feel worked different muscles in a good way. I also did a lot of uphill work this week (Boston Marathon is 8 weeks away), and found the flexibility of the Kinvara 13 makes for a great uphill on the toes ride. All in all a great feeling shoe for tempo runs up to medium distances (not enough cushioning for my old feet for long runs).

Beto: The Ride is very natural riding something I always enjoyed in the Kinvara. It is low to the ground, has a minimal drop of 4mm and a smooth ride that is between soft and energetic and the best part, it is light on foot. This Kinvara 13 check all the boxes.

The ride feels very secure thanks to the upper, The smooth transitions and energetic ride is something I enjoyed when starting slow at warm up and then getting the pace to tempo when the Kinvara starts to shine with the ride more natural,  like I’m in control of the shoe and doing the effort, not something I experienced as much in plated shoes or super foam shoes as the shoe cruise along with me. Very different from let's say those new super critical foams such as Fuelcell or Nitro. The K13’s  PWRRUN midsole gets close to them but just in a more traditional way,  implemented not too soft but also not too firm and with enough energy return to get the job done.

Shannon: Ah, the ride of the Kinvara. My favorite part. As I’ve said before, this is very nearly my do-everything shoe, although I’d stop at the point of doing longer runs over 10 or so miles in it. While I’ve heard some gripes that the Kinvara lacks “pop” for many people, and maybe it does compared to carbon plates and TPU shoes, I’ve always found this to be a nice, snappy ride which feels like the shoe is just part of my foot. I think is the magic we’re all looking for in any shoe. It’s light, it’s forgiving, it’s got snap, it’s super versatile, and it’s got everything a shoe needs and nothing it doesn’t. My only wish: can we bring back the Kinvara Trail pretty please?

Derek: The Kinvara 13 rides a lot like my old K5’s but the last is a little sleeker, and the fit a little more performance oriented. I can’t comment on the changes from K12 to K13, but I am liking the general direction that the Kinvara is heading in. The ride is flexible and very smooth, and the foam is at just the right stack to give you a little bit of bounce while still sticking to the “natural” style that the Kinvara has become synonymous with. I don’t think I will be using this shoe for long runs, but for shorter 5-10 milers or shorter workouts where you want that natural forefoot flex, this is definitely a good option. 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Sam: Saucony knows exactly what it is doing! The rigid and plated Endorphin line is a huge success especially the similar to Kinvara in being up tempo focused Speed.  Some miss and prefer more flexible shoes while others (such as me) like to mix up rigid and flexible shoes to vary the work and feel. 

The Kinvara 13 clearly delivers or re delivers a yet closer to the original’s low drop, flexible more than adequately cushioned and stable enough ride for daily, up tempo running, and racing. As the lightest K shoe to date at just over 7 oz, with a decent 28.5 /24.5 stack of now bouncier non supercritical foam and fairly priced at $120, it remains relevant while facing new competitors with supercritical such as the Liberate Nitro, Razor with Hyperburst, Rebel v2 with Fuel Cell and Streakfly with Zoom X by offering a somewhat more stable and almost as exciting ride. Just as important, it is super fun to run and reminds me much more than all recent K shoes of the original but with a state of the art comfortable and secure mono mesh upper and more exciting bouncier ride.  You could call it a thoroughly state of the art effective “retro” shoe! 

Sam’s Score: 9.30  /10

Ride: 9 (50%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 9.3 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)

Road Scoring Rubric

Zack: As I previously said, this shoe performs really great for its value of $120. In comparison to much of the market, it does not have the craziest of tech but sometimes you want to have a more traditional, natural feeling shoe, which Kinvara delivers perfectly. It is great for uptempo runs as stated previously, as well as a daily trainer for some. 

Zack’s Score: 9.2 /10

Ride: 9 (50%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 9 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)

Michael: Setting aside some nits I have to pick with the outsole, I couldn’t find many faults with the Kinvara 13. There’s nothing here that totally stands out (and, having not run it, I am thinking a discount on last year’s K12 would also suffice), but anyone picking this up online or at their local running store should be plenty pleased with the value at $120. New runners in particular should consider this one, as it’s dynamic enough to be used as both a trainer and introductory racer, if you’re so inclined. Of course its carbon-plated brethren are more aggressive, and its higher-stacked peers softer, but the K13 does strike a really impressive balance, and I would widely recommend it.

Michael’s Score: 9.0/10

Sally: The Kinvara 13 is a wonderful traditional daily trainer or tempo (or even race) shoe that is lighter than ever, low stack, flexible, cushioned just enough but not overly so, and FUN to run in. The natural feel is a welcome change from the other high bouncy and rockered shoes in my quiver, and at $120, this shoe is affordable in a world where shoe prices are getting crazy. I might be the world’s greatest fan of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 (especially the RunShield version), but this shoe is awesome for other reasons. It's the one shoe a novice runner might enjoy for daily training, and even for racing. It would also make a decent treadmill or gym shoe because of its wonderful low to the ground and natural feel. Great update to the Kinvara line, adding the fun back in!

Sally’s score:  9.4 / 10

Ride: 9.2 (50%)  Fit: 9.6 (30%) Value: 9.8 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)

Beto: The Kinvara 13 is back lighter and better than the K12 which is a good thing. Saucony going in the right direction keeping the Kinvara 13 simple and effective at a low cost. The K13 is a great daily trainer which can basically do it all, from easy to Tempo and even Racing specially now with the more race like fit upper which is very secure and the lockdown is amazing. This a shoe for someone who wants a simple non carbon plated shoe or no rocker shoe. The Kinvara 13's secure upper, stable heel and flexible midfoot makes the shoe a perfect for anyone who also wants a natural running feel from their ride.

Beto’s Score: 9.73 /10

Ride: 9.5 (50%)  Fit: 10 (30%) Value: 10 (15%) Style: 9.5 (5%)

Shannon: Oh Kinvara, I love you and please never change. I love the versatility of this shoe, I love the fit, I love how it fits like a glove yet is somehow very accommodating for a wider foot, an angry bunion, or even an after market insole, and I love the spry ride. When it comes to running, I like to keep it simple, and the simplicity of this shoe and lack of gimmicky weirdness is part of what makes it so awesome. Highly recommended for anyone who wants something that can go fast or far while getting good bang for their running shoe bucks. 

Shannon’s Score: 9.9/10

Personally I’d change nothing. The only thing that I wish for is a Kinvara that can get 500 miles.

Derek: The market for traditional lightweight trainers has been largely overlooked, and I think this is a big untapped market right now. If you look at similar shoes in the Hoka Mach 4, New Balance Rebel v2 and Atreyu base model, the Kinvara slots in very nicely in between the Rebel 2 and the Atreyu base model in terms of cushioning and ground feel. Interestingly, none of these models seem to be geared for high durability so perhaps that is what is needed to achieve this sort of flexible ride. I love how the Kinvara just disappears on your foot once you lace it up, and it can pretty much handle any sort of surge you throw at it. The outsole is quite minimal now, but then again, the Kinvara range has never had very extensive rubber coverage. 

Derek’s Score: 9.23 / 10

Ride 8.8 (50%) Fit 10 (30%) Value 9 (15%) Style 9.5 (5%)


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Saucony Kinvara 12 (RTR Review)

Sally: (W8 in both)  I have run in several versions of the Kinvara, and the Kinvara 10 stands out as a fun one. The K11 was then a disappointment, and the Kinvara 12 was going back in the right direction, but still missed on the midsole and the ride. The Kinvara 12 was beautiful to look at with a fantastic Saucony upper, but the ride was almost harsh and the shoes required too much energy to feel fast, leaving my feet aching. The Kinvara 13 remedies this somehow with a more forgiving and energetic midsole, and a noticeable drop in weight. Still not bouncy, but that is not the goal of this minimalist trainer. The outsoles seem unchanged and both have an issue with collecting gravel, but not as much as the older Kinvara 10. The Kinvara 13 is definitely an improvement and my choice any day.

New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel v2  (RTR Review)

Michael: The Rebel v2 is my choice here, namely because that FuelCell midsole compound is just so springy and fun that the Rebel can easily translate from easy runs to workouts. The Kinvara is no slouch, but the midsole on the NB is much more fun. 

Beto: The Rebel v2 and the Kinvara 13 fall into the same category but are in very different midsole/foam categories and because of that the Rebel v2 will be my choice here. FuelCell feels more bouncy and more forgiving at longer distances and thanks to the wide platform more stable too. The Kinvara 13 is a good shoe and can do the same things as the Rebel v2, it is just that PWRRUN is a bit firmer and has a different responsiveness when comparing it to the more bouncy and fun FuelCell foam. Do also keep in mind the K13 has a more natural feel when running.

Sally: (W8 in both, but shorter fit in Rebel) There is not a shoe out there that can knock the Rebel v2 from the top spot as my favorite fun daily trainer! The Kinvara 13 is great, but not as exciting as the bouncy Fuel Cell Revel v2. I am holding my breath hoping New Balance does not change the Rebel too much in version 3. As Beto points out though, the Kinvara 13 is a different more natural ride, appropriate for certain times and certain runners.

Derek: (Men’s US9.5 in both models) The Rebel is still the more fun and bouncy shoe, but it has a more rockered ride to its geometry, versus the more natural flexible forefoot ride of the Kinvara. It really comes down to what sort of ride you prefer. I think both shoes have their place, and both shoes have excellent fit for me. 

Puma Liberate Nitro 1  (RTR Review)

Sam: Liberate differs from the Kinvara in having a supercritical foam midsole on a 28mm heel /18mm forefoot stack. The lower forefoot  of the LIberate, (Kinvara is at the same heel height but 6mm higher up front)  and supercritical foam have the Liberate 0.5 oz lighter at 6.49 oz / 184 g. Both are very flexible, incredibly fun and energetic with the Liberate 1 lagging the Kinvara somewhat in upper polish and stability and thus all around utility. Tough choice but I lean Liberate here as yet livelier Nitro foam and lighter weight is felt when using them for faster running while Kinvara’s more stable ride leans them more towards training for me. 

Derek: I wear men’s US.5 in both models. The Liberate fits very marginally longer than the Kinvara for me. The Kinvara upper also wraps my foot and locks it down a little more easily without much fiddling with the laces. The Liberate feels firmer underfoot, with a deeper sort of rebound that requires quite high paces to bring out for me. Both shoes are quite flexible through the toe box but the Kinvara flexes more smoothly for me. I would lean more toward the Kinvara as it has the better performance fit for me, and has a slightly more forgiving ride.

UA Flow Velociti Wind  (RTR Review)

Beto: These two shoes have a similar feel when running but the Velociti Wind absorbs more impact and feels firmer and also has a more energetic rebound when compared to the Kinvara. But the Kinvara has a way better flex at toe off with a more forgiving ride and that is something that makes the Kinvara perfect for those hard workout days when you need to be more in control of the road. The $120 price point for the Kinvara is of note vs. the $160 of the Velociti but the Velociti Wind will be a more durable shoe and is also both a good gym and daily trainer that can also be perfecto for faster efforts but is just not as flexible as the Kinvara 13.

Sam: I agree with Beto that the Flow Velociti absorbs (somewhat) more impact than Kinvara. I did not find that much rebound in the Flow Velociti but did even with its considerably lower stack find it more cushioned but with a duller ride than the K13. Considerably heavier in comparison it is more a slow run shoe for me than Kinvara. The UA shoe has a spectacular and at least as highly breathable upper but one with a more restrictive tighter fit and lower toe box. Such an upper is fine for faster running but I won’t choose the Flow for that and Saucony got nearly the same secure hold with lighter more comfortable feeling materials. A $40 difference in price and a more fun ride with some actual rubber (the Velociti has none) has me picking the Kinvara.

Skechers Razor + (RTR Review)

Michael: The Razor+ is a shoe I really enjoyed, and then subsequently forgot about (until now!). Though both are low stack, I always got the sensation in the R+ that I was “bottoming out” - like the Hyperburst compound was insufficient to cushion my footstrike, despite being a pretty light runner. So while I do prefer Hyperburst to Saucony’s PWRRUN, I think the Kinvara is just a better implementation of what a simple trainer can be. Go K13. 

Sam: Concur with Michael here. While springier and livelier something is off with the rear geometry of the Razor for me.

Hoka Rincon 3 (RTR Review)

Shannon: These two shoes may look polar opposite in comparison, but I’ve found the ride to be incredibly similar. If you love one, I’d almost guarantee you’ll love the other. The obvious rocker characteristics of the Hoka gives it a little more of a roll, but beyond that, I’d highly recommend having both the Rincon and Kinvara 13 in your quiver if you love light and fast. While my Kinvaras are a size 8.5, they fit the same as my Rincon women’s size 8.

Brooks Launch 8 (RTR Review)

Shannon: Both the Kinvara and Launch are extremely versatile shoes in terms of the type of running that they can handle. They’re both highly responsive, lightweight, and have a quick, snappy ride. I have noticed that I do tend to get more life out of my Launch, but conversely I do feel as though they take me a bit longer to break in and get that soft, flexible ride that I get from the Kinvara straight out of the box. You can’t go wrong with either of these options for a quick, light, ride, but the Kinvara is just a little bit more minimal in comparison to the Launch, so the Launch may be more appropriate for a wider audience of runners.

Saucony Ride 14 (RTR Review)

Shannon: I’ve always wanted to love the Ride given that it is essentially the big brother to the Kinvara, but I don’t find them to be at all similar. I’d certainly say that if you’re a die-hard Saucony fan and you need something more than the Kinvara but without the added weight of the Triumph, the Ride is a good option. While I do find that I get ample life out of the Ride and it does serve its purpose, it has never had a wow factor for me as the Kinvara does and it also doesn’t have that glove-like fit and natural ride. It’s definitely worth a try if you like the Kinvara, just don’t expect a similar feel or fit.

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both models. I think Ride has a softer and more cushioned ride with a more pronounced spring to the ride. The Ride flexes in a snappier way, and I think it would be very popular with people who like traditional shoes, if the shoe were a little lighter. I do think the Kinvara 13 and Ride 14 complement each other quite well. (Well the Ride 15 seems to be a completely different kettle of fish). I generally prefer the Ride to the Triumph when it comes to traditional rides, as it has a more “do-it-all” type of feel to the ride. 

The Kinvara 13 is available now at our partners below

Tester Profiles

Sally is a lifelong runner and mother of five who ran her first marathon at age 54, and has now run the past seven Boston Marathons and one Chicago, with a 2017 Boston PR of 3:29, good for 8th in her age group. Along the way she has raised over $240,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital running with Team Eye and Ear. A relative newbie to road racing, she has achieved All-American status in the 10K (44:04) and 5K. To commemorate her 60th birthday she ran the NYC Marathon in November finishing 2nd in her age group with a PR time of 3:28:39 and repeated on the 2nd step of the podium at NYC in 2021 with an all time PR of 3:26:54 a few weeks after 5th at Boston in 3:32:24.  Sally is a compact (petite) runner at 5’2’’ and 105 pounds.

Zack Dunn: I will be a college freshman / runner at Lewis University. I’ve been running for 7 years, and focused solely on running after giving up on years of baseball and wrestling. I race distances between 800 meters and 10K  whether it be on the track, the roads, or on cross country courses. I do most of my training on the roads, some training on the track, and occasionally run trails logging anywhere from 40-60 miles a week. My typical training consists of easy days, long days, workouts (fartleks, tempos, interval training, etc.). My typical training paces range from 7’30 a mile on easy days to sub-5 minutes a mile on fast interval days, and with many paces in between. My personal bests are 2:00 for 800m, 4:25 for 1600m, 9:50 for 3200m, 15:57 for 5K, and 34:10 for 10K. 

Beto Hughes Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico 

31 yrs old, Height: 5’10,, Weight: 195lbs

I started running in 2016 and training to lose weight. I used to weigh 295 lbs and between running and Crossfit began my love for the fitness life and for running. I am now aiming to be a Boston Qualifier.

Weekly mileage: 60 - 75 miles on Road 

Favorite distance: Marathon and Half Marathon also Ultra Marathon.

You can follow me on Instagram @betohughes

Michael is a 2019 graduate of Northwestern University Law School in Chicago and is a patent and intellectual property attorney. Prior to law school, he competed collegiately at Washington University in St. Louis (10,000m PR of 30:21). He recently finished 2nd at the Chicago Half-Marathon in a PR of 67:43,.. He has a 2:23 marathon PR (2nd place) from the 2021 Lakefront Marathon in Wisconsin.

Shannon is a Colorado native currently residing in Northern California. NorCal is nice, but Colorado has her heart. Having run competitively for around 20 years, she was a 7x All American at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, was a 2x member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team, 2x winner of the Mt. Washington Road Race, and was 3rd at the 2014 World Mountain Running Long Distance Championship. Her favorite shoes currently include the Hoka Torrent, Saucony Kinvara, and Brooks Launch, and her favorite runs include anything that goes uphill. 

Derek is in his 30’s and trains 70-80 miles per week at 7 to 8 minute pace in mostly tropical conditions in Singapore. He has a 2:41 marathon PR.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 64 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 will be Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

RTR's Top Road & Trail Run Shoe Introductions for 2022 from The Running Event 
34 Run Shoes for Road & Trail HERE
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and currently preferred shoes

RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores below.
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!

Available Now!
USA  Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Available Now!
USA  Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns

Available Now!
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Available Now!
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Available Now!
Men's and Women's SHOP HERE

Available Now!
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Use RTR code RTRTOP4 for 5% off all products, even sale products
FREE Shipping on orders over 99, 30 days return policy, no questions asked.

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE Shipping on most orders over $40

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE


Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by Following RoadTrailRun News Feed

Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook:  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun


Anonymous said...

But I think that's funny now, you pretty much tore up the Kinvara 12 and even called it dead. If the 13 is so different in appearance, nothing has changed on the sole.

Ajnumber9 said...

"liberate nitro 1" - implying the existence of the liberate nitro 2?