Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Saucony Kinvara Pro Multi Tester Review: 13 Comparisons

Article by Michael Ellenberger, Joost De Raeymaeker, Jamie Hershfang, Sally Reiley and Sam Winebaum

Saucony Kinvara Pro ($180)


Michael: I’ll come out and say it - I had no real interest in trying the Kinvara Pro before it showed up at my doorstep. Kinvara? Love it. Endorphin Pro? Great racing option. But a plated, high-stack, chunky-looking trainer? Why would one need that? 

Well, happy to say - I was proven wrong, and basically immediately. From the first run, I enjoyed using these for all sorts of runs, from true workouts to recovery miles. The Kinvara Pro isn’t a perfect shoe , but it’s an extremely impressive first-generation shoe, and my favorite Saucony since, well - this may be my favorite Saucony ever.

Sam: What? This is a KInvara? The K shoe was the OG “natural” low stack, flexible trainer from a major brand. The Pro sure doesn’t look like it that is for sure with a massive 42mm heel / 34mm forefoot stack height, 8mm drop and ¾ length carbon plate vs. the K shoes lower height, 4mm drop and  plateless flexible platform. We clearly have a heavy duty max cushion trainer vibe goin one  here. We even have a ¾ carbon plate and top layer of supercritical Pb foam as in the Endorphins. 

Then, looking more closely, we see the same road resistant PWRRUN midsole as also outsole and with no rubber at all, even less than the K shoe with a carving of the midsole sidewalls similar to the latest Kinvara, the 14 (RTR Review). 

Interesting for sure, as the K’s mostly rubber free construction delivers a uniquely ground conforming ride. Would we somehow find some of the same in the Pro even with its massive stack and plate? 

Saucony is always deliberate and considered in its designs and naming so there must be a reason the shoe wasn't named as an “Endorphin” as it shares a plate and a layer of excellent supercritical PWRRUN Pb with that line. 

Joost: My initial reaction was much the same as Sam’s. A Kinvara? With a plate? Humongous? What are they thinking at “Sock-a-Knee”? 

On first inspection, it looks like they cut a Kinvara in half along the midsole and put a big slab of PWRRUN PB and a plate between it and the upper. 

On closer inspection, there are however still lots of Kinvara elements there. Basically everything except that added plate and foam is more of a Kinvara than the Kinvara 14. So, apart from my quibbles with the naming of the shoe , how does it run and what is it best used for? Read on.

Jamie: Kinvara Pro? Is it a Kinvara made for racing? Oh wait, that stack height is huge, is it a durable trainer? If you put the Kinvara, Triumph, and Endorphin Pro together, you would get some version of this shoe. It’s got the Kinvara upper, super light and flexible, as well as the same Kinvara lower midsole without any rubberized outsole. But with a high stack height and large amount of PWRRUN PB cushioning, I don’t have any doubt that this shoe will be super durable. 

So if this shoe is soft and responsive but fairly too heavy to be a racing shoe, how will it hold up against the Endorphin Speed and the durable Triumph? These have both been in my current shoe rotation, the Speed for tempo/intervals, and the Triumph for daily miles. I’m anxious to see how the Kinvara Pro can be added to the mix.


Max cushion plated no compromises daily trainer , not a near racer/uptempo or lumbering giant pile of foam: Sam/Michael/Joost/Jamie

No outsole rubber delivers a consistent ride all of piece ride feel, even with a plate in the mix : Sam/Michael/Joost/Jamie

Extremely versatile for a max stack (and plated shoe): Sam

Great long run option at pretty much any pace, solid all around daily trainer if you like max cushion and some plate propulsion: Sam/Joost

Solid marathon option for the 1st timer: stable, cushioned, energetic: Sam

Highly protective, stable, deep, energetic bouncy, and dense cushion with  a propulsive, well masked plate : Sam/Michael/Jamie

More ¾ plates as here: less rigid, easier heel landings, any pace smooth transitions: Sam

Kinvara heritage ride: For such a giant stack actually an unusually natural feel with feet subtly feeling and adapting to the road : Sam/Joost

Totally fuss free comfortable upper that is secure and well matched to the giant stack height in support: Sam/Joost


Wish it was lighter: tradeoff for supportive non minimal upper and dense PWRRUN midsole? Michael/Sam/Joost/Jamie

Traction on wet surfaces: Joost

Slight upper discomfort (toe box width and lower volume): Michael


Testers' full run bios are at the end of the review.


Approx. Weight: men's 10 oz  / 283 g (US9)  /  women's 8.7 oz / 246 g(US8)

  Samples: men’s  9.8 oz / 278g US8.5, 284g / 10 oz US9.5

                  women’s 8.7 oz / 246 g US W8,  

Stack Height: men’s 42mm heel / 34mm forefoot ( 8mm drop spec) 

$180  Available now including at Saucony HERE

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Michael: Putting on the Kinvara Pro is a pleasant (if unsensational) experience; the upper is a nice, relatively open mesh, with no major toe overlays. The heel has some substance to it - I was initially concerned with the stiffness vis-a-vis my Achilles, but it ended up being quite pleasant - and the pull tab around back is quite welcome, since there is a snugness to it.

Which leads me into my only real concern with the upper (and, frankly, my only “complaint” about the shoe at all!) - I found the forefoot to be just a smidge too snug, both in width around the toebox, and in total volume. Length-wise, I wasn’t uncomfortable (I had my classic 8.5), but I do think a half-size up would work fine for me, especially using this as an easy day option, rather than a racer/workout shoe. I know other RTR reviewers have successfully worn this in the half-size up, so that may be an option for broad-footed runners.

But, functionally - this is still a great fitting shoe, I don’t want my minor concerns to drag it down - the upper here is breathable and light, feels race-ready, and caused no irritations or issues to speak of.

Joost: First impressions: plush, pleasant upper and soft underfoot. The simple mesh in the upper has some fine rubber strips running along the top and the sides in various directions and patterns to add some structure. 

There is a toe puff of a little over a centimeter and nice padding around the collar. 

The heel counter is stiff, but the collar itself rises a fair bit above it and is oriented inward, so like Michael, I had no achilles’ issues caused by rubbing or irritation of the retrocalcaneal bursa. 

The eyestay is reinforced with an extra layer of fabric on the inside of the shoe and the eyelets are oval and have some extra rubber to accommodate the flat laces. 

The top eyelets are already part of the outside of the collar reinforcement, which is black in the white version of the Kinvara Pro I was sent for review. 

The tongue is gusseted and has adequate padding. I didn’t have any lace bite issues. 

The stitching at the heel, where the front of the upper meets the heel cup is done in reflective yarn. Any reflective element is always a positive for me.

Unlike Michael, I didn’t have any issues with width of volume and my M9.5 fit snug but very comfortable. 

It fits well and holds down the foot securely on this huge slab of foam underneath.

Sam: It’s big! The Pro immediately conveys the impression it has lots of cushioning and of course it does.  

Would it be over rigid due to its plate or blocky at the heel at slower paces as such max cushion shoes are? My eye is immediately drawn to the side geometry with its forward sweep and indentations rising up from the midsole as outsole. 

More than cosmetic this approach increased flexibility and forward flow for me in the Kinvara 14 and did as well here in a much more massively cushioned and “rigid” shoe. 

The upper succeeds very well in foot hold in combining a very unstructured comfortable pliable mesh with the array of very fine rubbery overlays which are concentrated over the toes and at the rear of the midfoot. 

A thin gusset tongue also assures midfoot lockdown. 

The tongue is a very lightly padded mesh with clever wider top wings that are doubled inside with an additional layer of mesh. the tongue stays put.

The quite high semi rigid rear of the shoe completes the rear hold picture with impeccable security that does not overwhelm in hold as I found the Ride 16’s very rigid area hold tended to do. 

The heel area, lacing and tongue combination is easy to dial in, comfortable and secure and more comfort oriented than performance but as with the rest of the upper succeeds in delivering hold that is light on foot yet secure.

The toe bumper is vertical and quite rigid. 

I fit true to size with no issues with thin socks but with thicker socks I find they may run a little short as there is a bit more very front pressure than ideal with those thicker socks.

Jamie: A seamless upper that hugged the foot quite nicely. While I wasn’t initially worried about the overall fit, I realized I was given a half size larger than what I normally wear and it fit nearly perfectly. As someone who has a wider toe box, I would say that the Pro definitely runs on the narrower side. It didn’t provide any discomfort, however, if you are between sizes, I would definitely suggest going with the larger size.

I was worried that the flexible upper would create an issue with the lockdown, but it felt nearly perfect. The heel counter is quite stiff in comparison, so it balanced out. I really enjoy how light the upper is, especially for the summer. Like Sam, I wore thinner socks with these and felt really secure in the lockdown. I did experience some foot numbness with thicker socks, but again, speaks to the width of the shoe, not necessarily the length. 

It’s interesting to put on a shoe that has such a light upper but a BIG midsole. Definitely didn’t give me the impression to go do a workout in them, but like its New Balance competitor, the Fuel Cell Super Comp Trainer, people might really gravitate towards these for daily training. 

Sally: I received the Kinvara Pro in a strikingly beautiful navy blue color with white and orchid purple accents. 

They fit my narrow foot perfectly in my true to size W8, but I can see how those with high volume feet might be more comfortable in half a size up. 

I had to adjust the lacing on my first run to tighten it up at several intervals in order to secure the heel lockdown, but it was always comfortable. Being summer, I am wearing thinner socks than I would in cold weather, and all was perfect. The midsole is indeed huge for such a light upper, but I am starting to gravitate to these massive stack trainers. I personally think it heavy for race day, but that is only because I have the luxury of other lighter options.


Sam: The midsole features a white PWRRUN PB top layer with a gray PWRRUN bottom layer and ¾ length carbon plate in between. We have a big stack height of 42mm at the heel and 34mm at the forefoot so we are clearly in the super max (close to 40mm and over) max cushion category inhabited by shoes such as the Endorphin Shift 3, ASICS Superblast and Nimbus 25, adidas Adizero Prime X,  New Balance SC Trainer, and Hoka Mach X, all compared at the end of the article 

The midsole itself is really a 4 part construction starting with a high rebounding expanded 7mm thick TPU bead PWRRUN+ sockliner, than the layer of supercritical PWRUN Pb as found in the Endorphin Speed and Pro, the ¾ length carbon plate and finally the Kinvara layer of PWRRUN, an EVA/TPU blend found in many Saucony and of course also the Kinvara.

The combination of midsole layers (and no outsole rubber) leads to a very consistent feel with no plate harshness and incredibly deep cushion that is never mushy and hard to push through. The toe off carbon plate in the mix is soft and plate pressure free with a clear "training" impulse and not a prescriptive sharp snap race focused always have to land forward feel. As there is no outsole there is some flexible give and feel at the road, really quite unique given that the Pro is rigid but for a touch of flex towards the midfoot.  

We are also helped along to transitions off the rear by the relatively narrow 70mm midfoot platform width after a big wide 100mm wide heel landing and the deep central decoupling groove. Upfront we have about as wide a platform as any shoe around at 115mm, the same as for example Nike’s Alphafly 2.  I think they would still be plenty stable if the heel landing was narrower to save weight.

And the Pro even with its carbon plate has a bit of long flex towards the midfoot but of course nothing like the regular Kinvara and less the Speed 3. I like some flex in my plated or max cushion shoes, especially those for training and here it is effective in keeping things moving forward at any pace.

Using a ¾ length plate and no rubber was totally the right call here for that flexibility and ease of flow at any pace but also to allow the quite dense PWRRUN to feel all of a piece at the road on landings without introducing additional firmness from rubber. That broad 90mm heel also sure helps. Could it have been a bit narrower, maybe. 

The combination is not springy light (and potentially unstable) as an all supercritical foam might feel having a rubbery sort of dense rear bounce that is never sloppy or unstable in feel. 

One clearly sees the somewhat firmer PWRRUN bottom layer is deepest just ahead of the heel to provide some stability ahead of the narrower midfoot platform and deepest cavity area which allows for easy any paces transitions.

I particularly like that Saucony kept the drop at 8mm and kept the plate ¾ length with such a big stack. I find high stack max cushion shoes can often be blocky at the heel and hard to turn over especially if lower drop and at slower paces. Looking at you Saucony’s own 4mm drop Endorphin Shift 3 and the blocky heel Nimbus 25. Zero such issues here. 

The deep decoupling and pronounced rear and front rockers (and SpeedRoll at toe off)  as well as midsole side wall geometry are all playing significant and effective combined roles.  

All paces are smoothly accommodated, even slow recovery ones with plenty of stability that is not overdone. Such a broad range of pace and distance versatility is I think a first for me in the max cushion daily trainer category. 

Michael: I haven’t run in Saucony as often as perhaps I should, but I’m very familiar with the PWRRUN and PB-variant foams, and am really happy with their execution here. Sandwiched in-between the PB top layer and the non-PB PWRRUN bottom layer (stacked up to a whooping 42mm!) is a ¾-length carbon fiber plate. 

We’ve seen these plated-trainers before, and I’m still not convinced we need them, but damn if this combination doesn’t work well. There’s no harshness here whatsoever (whether that’s just from the engineering, or the over-stacked platform or what, I don’t know), but this is actually a shoe that I’d say is on the softer side - especially in the forefoot! - than most. Now, knowing both (a) Saucony’s racing shoe platform and (b) the composition of this shoe in general, I never thought I’d be saying it, but if you find something like the Endorphin Shift or Pro too firm, I’d give a serious look to the Kinvara Pro as a long-run or medium tempo shoe. It’s soft and forgiving without lacking speed.

Joost: 42mm of heel foam with a ¾ length plate. Not exactly what you’d expect from a Kinvara, so what does it actually feel like? 

Like Michael, I find the feeling is one of softness, especially in the forefoot. The metatarsals really sink into the midsole while standing, walking and running. It’s a shoe with SpeedRoll technology, meaning there’s also some toe lift, without qualifying as a real rocker. In spite of the huge stack height, and in true Kinvara style, there’s no additional support or stability elements, but I didn’t feel the need for any. The plate and bottom part are more than stable enough to accommodate for the 42mm of stack.

Jamie: I won’t get too scientific here. As someone who is currently training in the Saucony Triumph 20 for daily miles, and the Endorphin Speed 3 for workouts, the Kinvara Pro is definitely a middle ground. I’m not a huge fan of a super high stack height, but this shoe felt very stable and had a smooth transition from heel to toe. Plated shoes often feel uncomfortable at slower paces, and the Pro definitely made it feel quite efficient. While trying to run faster, it just feels like I have to work harder to turnover due to such a large amount of cushioning. While stable, I do tend to slow around turns without any added traction and so much volume underfoot. 

Sally: I agree with the others that this midsole gives the feeling of easy softness underfoot without sacrificing too much speed due to the ¾ length carbon plate and the mellow speed roll geometry. The forefoot is especially soft, but not marshmallowy sinking soft, and is simply comfortable underfoot at a variety of paces. Some of these high stack shoes only work for me at faster paces, and not at all at easy paces, but this one can handle a range of efforts comfortably and effectively.


Michael: My other knock here is the outsole, though I admit that across ~55 miles at time of drafting, I haven’t noticed any marked wear here. The outsole is just exposed foam (the same PWRRUN material as the midsole), and I’m hesitant to say it’ll last as long as, say, the ultra-durable Nike Invincible. Still, I did run it on gravel, wet pavement/asphalt, and plenty of dry road without issue, so … maybe it’s much ado about nothing. I’m just a simple man who wants a rubber outsole.

Joost: In true Kinvara style, the midsole - in this case the bottom part of it - is the outsole. In the Kinvara Pro, there aren’t any additional pieces of rubber. You get a relatively decoupled heel, with a big midfoot cutout showing off the plate and a full contact forefoot. The ribbing is a wavy pattern and the cutouts are relatively deep (around 2.5mm is my guess). I’ve never had any excessive wear issues with this type of outsole on other Kinvaras and don’t expect any here with the photo below above showing wear at 126 miles / 203 km as shown below.

 If you’re a runner who shuffles their feet, you might get more wear than I do.

Sam: Leaving all rubber out of the equation is part of the smooth and incredibly well cushioned with no sharp edges ride.  I have seen no wear to speak of to date at about 30 miles of road and rail trail and in any case as you wear through you may get the shoe to a point that it is lighter and thus becomes a race option!

Grip on wet and dry roads has been great. I also ran them on sandy and hard packed small stone/sandy rail trails and found the grip there excellent with any small stones easily evacuating from the grooves. 

When I hit sections of larger gravel the cavity and soft foam surrounding for sure had these larger stones lodged in the gap and firmly so!

Jamie: With over 100+ miles of use, there is no significant wear to the outsole. And while I haven’t had any issues with traction on slick surfaces, I am still hesitant at turning in these shoes at faster paces. Similar to Sam, I had the same issue with stones getting caught in the gap, but not any more than any other shoe. While it would be beneficial to have an added layer of rubberized outsole for durability, the Kinvara Pro is already a bit heavy for a performance trainer, and wouldn’t want to add any more than it already has. 

Sally: I questioned an outsole with no rubber, but the durability has been excellent after 40-50 miles. I agree with Sam that the midsole as outsole may contribute to the smoothness of the roll and the absence of harshness. I definitely had an issue with large stones getting lodged in the center cavity of the outsole and had to stop several times to pry stones out of that gap, but it is not a dealbreaker. I had no issue with traction on wet surfaces (hasn’t it been raining for a month now in New England?).  I also appreciate the quietness of this outsole, something that oddly matters a lot to me.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Michael: I’ll cut to the chase - the Kinvara Pro is extremely good. The ride is lively and fun - not the firm, harsh performer we’ve seen from Saucony before but something softer and bouncier, and all-around more pleasant. I don’t think the Kinvara Pro is a racer, despite the plate (and the name, I suppose), but I do think it’ll make a terrific all-around trainer, easy-workout-option, or just medium-to-long-run shoe. This will be at its best on runs that start easy and end with some juice, but I imagine even newer runners or those whose “rotations” are just a single shoe will find benefit here. I would caution you to try these on, if possible, or at least be prepared to consider a larger size if you appreciate a little room in the front, but… man! Give these a go. It’s my favorite Saucony shoe in a very long time.

Michael’s Score: 9.5/10


Joost: So how does the Kinvara Pro ride? Soft, comfortable and bouncy. Quite lively for such a huge shoe. You feel your forefoot sink into the generous amount of foam on top of the plate and bounce back up for a nice toe off. It’s also a quiet shoe. It just makes that light tapping noise as you just tick off the miles. For me, it’s by no means a fast shoe , although I’ve been able to pick up the pace in it. Speeding up is however not its strongest suit. It requires more energy and you start to feel the bulk of the shoe. It’s definitely made for those easy everyday miles and long runs, with the occasional stride or so. Pricing is about the same as similar offerings, like the New Balance SC Trainer. Personally, it’s taken the place of this year’s favorite everyday shoe so far.

Joost’s Score: 9.4/10

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


Jamie: The KInvara Pro is unique, and definitely fits into its own category. It’s soft and fairly comfortable at a variety of paces. For a plated shoe, it’s very quiet, it’s not slappy and provides a very smooth transition. I wouldn’t replace these in my shoe rotation with the Endorphin Speed, as they don’t necessarily feel fast, but they do help you feel efficient if you tend to land heavy on your heels. While this shoe has the potential to go faster, I do have to work harder to speed up due to the generous volume of cushioning and stack height underfoot. For people who enjoy a max cushioned trainer, you’ll really like this shoe. But for someone like myself, who enjoys a more stable ground feel, the KInvara Pro is a bit excessive. While I appreciate brands trying to create a new category of high stack height, max cushioned shoes, let’s not get too carried away from what it feels like to feel the ground! I find that the Endorphin Speed 3 is more than enough to handle daily miles and workouts, and has the versatility to do so. 

Jamie’s Score: 8.7/10

Ride 8.5 (50%), Fit 9 (30%), Value 8.5 (15%), Style 9.5 (5%)


Sally: It is not often that a run company comes out with a new model that is an instant hit! Saucony has a winner here with the Kinvara Pro - not really a basic bones Kinvara at all, but a massive stack carbon plates trainer that is lively, comfortable, soft, bouncy, not at all harsh, and FUN. I found it best suited for those daily miles when the pace is somewhat relaxed and you aren’t trying to run intervals, but that being said,  it does respond well to a faster effort. I found them ideally suited for an enjoyable progression run. I will continue to put miles on my favorite shoe of 2022, the Endorphin Speed, but this Kinvara Pro will be a regular in my rotation. No need to wait for a future second version of this new model, just give the Kinvara Pro a test run today. You won’t regret it.

Sally’s score: 9.5/10

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


Sam: The Pro ride is always pleasant with an easy to turn over at any pace flow, oodles of cushioning, a nice sense, despite all the stack height, that there is a road somewhere down there and my feet are in game, and plenty of carbon plated but not overdone or in any way harsh or hard to find propulsion no matter where you strike. 

Truly a versatile any run daily trainer, it leans towards the moderate pace miles at any distance with the Endoprhin Speed Saucony’s more speed focused uptempo to daily training option. In part this is due to the stack height but also the weight at 10 oz / 283g. Make it lighter, and don’t get me wrong 10 oz for so much shoe is remarkable and with the same ride characteristics and it would be off the charts!

The Kinvara Pro delivers in two big ways for me. First, this is the first max cushioned and plated trainer where slower paces are as easy as faster ones with no blocky rear hard to get past feel for me. Secondly, It has no over softness or firmness, of foam and has a plate that is truly integral, propulsive, and never over present no matter the run or pace.

There have been many innovative fine big stack daily trainers in 2023 but for me the Kinvara Pro is the most refined and versatile to date. It is a great choice for any runner seeking a single trainer with big cushion , some extremely well integrated carbon impulse to drive the ride lively and a comfortable fit. 

Of the many road shoes constantly in test, it is one I currently want to reach for most often for just about any run other than fast tempo or workouts type runs, and hands down. Highly recommended. 

Sam’s Score: 9.61/10

Ride 9.8 (50%), Fit 9.5 (30%), Value 9.3 (15%), Style 9.3 (5%)


13 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

New Balance SC Trainer v1  (RTR Review) and v2 (RTR Review)

Joost (M9.5 in SC1 and Kinvara, M10 in SC2): I was and continue to be a huge fan of the SC Trainer 1. It was my favorite all-round shoe of last year. I found the SC Trainer 2 a bit of a watered down version. The Kinvara Pro has taken the top spot of 2023 so far in the all round training shoe category. It’s comfortable, fun, easy going and well built.

Michael (M8.5 in both): I’ve only run the first iteration of the SC Trainer, and had mixed (but largely positive) feelings. The ride was fun and the shoe was more versatile than I expected - but dang if that ankle eyelet didn’t big me (I still have the scar), and that middle cut-out in the outsole was a genuinely bad design choice. It just picked up rocks! The Kinvara Pro has its minor quirks, as described above, but is an overall better shoe, in my book. It’s softer (which I don’t always love), but equally versatile and fun to run. Both are good - the Saucony is better.

Sam: The SC Trainer v2 is clearly softer than the Kinvara Pro with its full Energy Arc carbon plate more noticeable and its heel lower feeling. While the front stack heights are the same, the SC’s heel is 2mm lower as a 6mm drop shoe and its Energy Arc carbon deflects outwards if more softly bouncy and springy. The rear of the Kinvara Pro just feels more solid and planted and especially at slower paces with the SC Trainer somewhat more faster paced focused although not quite as smoothly and softly refined in feel up front. Both have similarly light quite unstructured but solid uppers and both were true to size for me.

Endorphin Speed 3 (RTR Review)

Sam: One of my top shoes of 2022 and still a favorite, the Speed 3 has an all PWRRUN Pb midsole to the Kinvara Pro’s combination of Pb with PWRRUN. The Speed has a non carbon plate with the Speed's more full length and the shoe more flexible. Lighter, faster, springier Speed 3 can be a daily trainer as well as a tempo and racing shoe and my best 2022 half was in them. The Pro is more stable yet more cushioned and leans more daily training and moderate paces. They make a great combination.

adidas Adizero Boston 12 (RTR Review)

Sam: The Boston has a firmer more responsive ride (see also Mach X below) and leans more uptempo than the Kinvara Pro. As with the Kinvara Pro (and Mach X below) we have a 3 layer construction of supercritical (PEBA) foam below the foot with expanded beads for the Saucony, a somewhat flexible plate (more flex for sure in the adidas upfront) and EVA bottom layer. While the Kinvara has a ¾ length PEBA plastic plate, the Boston has a full length Energy Rods array plus a copious outsole. Its heel feel as a result is less forgiving and its front impulse more dynamic if also less pleasingly cushioned and smooth feeling. While more flexible it actually feels stiffer than the Pro. The Pro leans daily miles and the slower end of the spectrum while the Boston 12 leans towards the faster end of the pace spectrum. Both are true to size with the Boston having not quite the heel hold but a similar front quite unstructured volume and a touch longer length.

Hoka Mach X (RTR Review)

Sam:  The Mach X has a 39mm heel / 34 mm forefoot so is 3mm lower at the heel and the same at the forefoot as it is a 5mm drop shoe. Much like the Kinvara Pro,  it has a supercritical foam (PEBA)  top layer, plate and its case PEBAX plastic, and a lower EVA based layer. It differs in having a rubber outsole in the mix. Despite its outsole rubber it weighs about 1 oz ess at about 8.95 oz / 254g in US9. I think in large part this is due to its narrower 90mm rear platform vs 115mm for the Pro. I think the Pro could reduce the rear platform width to somewhere closer to 100mm and still be plenty stable while losing weight

I have one run in them (full review by team linked above) but clearly feel where they differ. The Hoka has a firmer and more responsive/snappier ride compared to the Kinvara in large part due to the rubber outsole but is nonetheless very cushioned. Its plate feels quite similar to the full carbon ¾ plate in the Saucony but the shoe is less cushioned feeling and softly rebounding up front and at the heel. Both are very stable. The Saucony upper is slightly more pliable, softer and less dense while the Mach X's while thin is more performance oriented in fit and warmer. While the Hoka is more correct as to length than the slightly short Kinvara, it is snugger at the metatarsals. Both are true to size for me with the Hoka best with thin socks. 

The Hoka leans more uptempo and racing with a focus closer to the Saucony Endorphin Speed and Boston 12, filling a big gap in the Hoka line up for a less aggressive plated option (and a less rigid uptempo trainer one than Carbon X 3) while the Pro leans more long runs, daily base miles and recovery. 

Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 (RTR Review)

Joost (M9.5 in both): It’s been a while since I ran in the Shift 3. For me, it’s the kind of shoe you use when you're very beat up and you want to go for a recovery run without giving your feet a further workout. It’s definitely not a shoe I can run fast in without it feeling a little awkward. I think the Kinvara Pro is better suited for easy runs, recovery runs and the occasional burst of speed.

Sam: 4mm drop, flatter max cushion geometry, no plate I much prefer the Kinvara Pro

Saucony Endorphin Shift 1 or 2 (RTR Review)

Michael: I called it out in my review, but the Endorphin Shift was my favorite high-stack trainer ever… until this? I admit that I ended up putting more than 500 miles on my original “Mutant” colorway Shifts, so maybe the jury is still out, but the Kinvara Pro absolutely throws me back to the joy of that original Shift. If you can still find the original Shift, the price will probably be great (in which case - buy! Hoard!), but if you can’t, the Kinvara Pro is a more than appropriate substitute. An upgrade, even!

Saucony Triumph 20 (RTR Review)

Joost (M9.5 in both): Another great offering from Saucony. The Triumph 20 is soft without sacrificing ride quality and is superbly built. It has better traction on wet surfaces than the Kinvara. It’s also less expensive than the Kinvara. A tough choice, but I prefer the Kinvara for its ride quality and softness.

Jamie: The Triumph 20 is everything you want in a daily trainer. Soft, fairly responsive, great traction, and incredibly durable. When I want to recover the day after a workout, I love that this shoe feels supportive and stable. The KInvara Pro makes me want to push the pace a bit thanks to the more noticeable rocker effect, but doesn’t give me the same kind of stable ground feel. The KInvara Pro just has a bit too much stack height for me. 

Saucony Ride 16 (RTR Review)

Sam: The more classic daily trainer in the Saucony line up, the Ride sits between the Endorphin Speed and Kinvara Pro. No plate, no supercritical foam, just solid PWRRUN foam in a lower 35mm heel / 27mm forefoot platform with the same 8mm drop. Plenty of cushioning of the reliable any run any pace in the Ride 16 if not that exciting in feel making it a bit less of a slow days shoe and not quite the speedster the Speed is.  It’s upper is true to size but considerably more secure at the rear of the shoe, and is almost to much so for me. 

Overall I prefer the Kinvara Pro and that is saying something as recent Rides have been my top daily all around trainer.  With the Speed in the mix for faster days the K Pro is the more versatile every other run option in a Saucony rotation.

ASICS Superblast  (RTR Review)

Sam: No plates here just a giant stack of supercritical FlyteFoam Blast Turbo as in ASICS top end racing shoes. Amazingly light at 8.43 oz / 239g (US9)  for a shoe with a 45.5 mm heel / 37.5 mm forefoot stack height that surpasses the Kinvara Pro's by about 3.5mm, the 1.5 oz lighter weight and additional (how much is really needed?) cushion is noticeable, that is for sure. The ASICS is somewhat more awkward to turn over and transition given its height and no plate compared to the Saucony at both faster and slower paces.

Michael: The Superblast is the super-trainer for the rest of us. No plate, just high-stack, soft-running goodness. And even though I love the direction that ASICS went with the shoe, I do think the Kinvara Pro is better, because while the ASICS can handle any amount of mileage you might throw at it, it does falter slightly at faster paces. Not so on the Saucony! The Kinvara Pro can readily handle easy or fast running, and the plate doesn’t intrude. If you’re an ASICS devotee, you won’t regret the Superblast - I just prefer the Kinvara Pro! 

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 25 (RTR Review)

Sam: ASICS other big stack trainer focuses strongly on rear stability in a neutral shoe. And it is super stable for such a big shoe but I found the heel blocky and awkward as is the front which is plateless and less effectively rockered than the Pro. The ASICS upper is a thing of plush light effective hold and comfort and if that is what is your focus is yet better than the Saucony but in this match up the Pro for me.

adidas Adizero Prime X  Strung (RTR Review)

Sam: The wildest of the max cushion shoes with a huge 49.5 mm heel / 41 mm forefoot, stack height that goes well beyond the Pro and in price too at $300. It is 1.4 oz lighter than the Saucony and has an incredibly dynamic ride off the front from dual plates but.. its super narrow heel landing and shakier upper holds it back from total greatness. It is just not as practical for most as the Saucony and is more the most exotic and exciting concept car of running. 

Skechers Go Run Ride 11 (RTR Review)

Sam: At $125 with a very fine supercritical dual density Hyperburst Ice midsole, a front mellow carbon infused H Plate and lots of durable rubber the Skechers has a springier ride and a wallet friendly price that is for sure. It weighs a bit less than the Pro sitting on an only slightly lower platform at 38mm heel / 32mm forefoot, 4mm less at the heel and 2mm less upfront.  The upper is fine but comparatively cruder and warmer. Interesting that while it has all the underfoot tech of shoes costing far more, the savings seem to come from its less modern upper more than the ride tech below.


Skechers Max Road 6 (RTR Review)

Sam: I did not test the Max Road 6 but as with the Ride 11 a great value at $130 with the same general construction as the Ride but more of it with a stack close to the Kinvara but given its fuller coverage rubber outsole an ounce more in weight the Pro. 

The Kinvara Pro is available now at our partners

Tester Profiles

Michael is a patent attorney and graduate of Northwestern University Law School. Prior to law school, he competed collegiately at Washington University in St. Louis (10,000m PR of 30:21). Michael’s PRs include a 67:43 half-marathon (Chicago Half-Marathon) and a 2:21:19 marathon PR at the 2023 Grandma’s Marathon. Michael continues to race on the roads, and is chasing a sub-2:20 marathon and potential OTQ in the future.

Joost is a Belgian in his 50s living in Luanda, Angola, Africa, where he faces the heat, humidity and general chaos to run anything between 60-100 miles per week. He was on a mission to run and win in his age group in the 6 marathon majors and got his 6th star at London in 2023 with a 2:26:10 PB in Berlin in 2019 at 51. He won his M50 AG at the 2022 Chicago Marathon in 2:29 and in 2023 won his AG in London in 2:36. Only Boston, so far, escapes him for an AG win at the 6 Majors. He ran in primary school, but then thought it would be a lot cooler to be a guitar player in a hard rock band, only picking up running again in 2012, gradually improving his results. Please check out Joost's coaching service here

Jamie is 30  years old and runs about 70-100+ miles per week. She has run many marathons, with a PR of 2:49 and has more recently moved up to ultra distances. She completed a solo 100k in 7:36:40 and set the Chicago Lakefront Trail FKT. In 2021 she was the fastest US woman on road for 50 miles with a  time of 6:07:11. She is training to qualify to represent team USA at a world championship. Outside of training, she is the store manager at Fleet Feet Lakeview in Chicago.

Sally is a lifelong runner and mother of five who agreed against her better judgment to run her first marathon at age 54; she has since run the past ten Boston Marathons, two NYC Marathons, one Chicago, and one London with the WMM Six Star Medal now in her sights. With a Boston PR of 3:25:55 in 2022 (9th place in AG) and two consecutive 2nd place in Age Group awards in NYC, she competed in the Abbott World Marathon Majors Age Group World Championships at the 2022 London Marathon and ran an all-time PR of 3:24:02, placing 6th in the world in her women’s 60-64 age group.  She also competes in USATF races with the Greater Lowell Road Runners team. To add meaning to her Boston Marathon races she runs with Team Eye and Ear and has raised over $275,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital. Sally is 5’2’’ and 105 pounds and lives in Marblehead, MA, training outdoors year round. She blames her love of skiing out West for any and all Boston Marathon training challenges.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 66 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was 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 if he gets lucky.. training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run or nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

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

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns

EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Europe only: use RTR code RTR5ALL for 5% off all products, even sale products 


Men's and Women's SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Use RTR code RTRTOP4 for 5% off all products, even sale products

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

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

Men's and Women's SHOP HERE


Find all RoadTrailRun reviews at our index page HERE 
Google "roadtrailrun Shoe Name" and you can be quite sure to find just about any run shoe over the last 10 years

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

No comments: