Saucony Kinvara 4 GTX Shoes
With a redesigned upper and adjusted FlexFilm, this low-profile trainer feels faster and better than ever before.
Waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex membrane
FlexFilm seamless upper
Memory foam heel pods
Moisture-wicking HydraMAX collar lining
Synthetic and fabric
PowerGrid foam heel insert
Retail - $120
If you read my other review this winter of the New Balance Minimus 10 Gore-Tex Shoes, you will know that I have been looking for a lower drop lightweight waterproof running shoe. When I was at Outdoor Retailer a while back I was super excited for the release of this shoe. I have been a big fan of the way Saucony has tackled the minimalist craze. They have offered shoes in four different drop types to address all runners' needs. The Kinvara has been one of the top shoes in the industry since it was first released. Both Melissa and I have been a fan of the Kinvara line, so I was happy to see the Kinvara in a Gore-Tex model.
What really excited me about these shoes was being able to have dry feet when running in the wet snow. Living in Colorado, we get lots of snow, and I generally have lots of runs in it. I am not one for a treadmill. Of course what happens this winter.....we get very little snow down here in town. It took a while but I eventually had enough bad weather days to get a good test in these. It is funny to be wishing for a little bad weather, but that is what it came to.
Another View of the Tongue
The Saucony Kinvara has been tremendously successful. I would venture to say that they are likely the most popular model for the company to date. The Kinvara are a mix of a traditional running shoe and a minimalist shoe. They have a 4mm Heel to Toe drop with a lower profile sole which balances cushioning and flexibility. What Saucony has done here is taken the Kinvara 4 and added a GTX membrane to the upper. Of course that means the typical mesh upper is gone and FlexFilm seamless upper replaces it. The Kinvara still uses a similar lacing system, but has added a sewn in tongue for increased waterproofness.
What is impressive with these shoes is the fact that they have kept the weight down. When you add a Gore-Tex membrane, you commonly see the weight increase significantly. Not with these. This is due to the lightweight materials used in the upper and sole. On the interior, Saucony has used a wicking liner and has Memory Foam heel pads to secure your heel in place. One thing that is missing, in my opinion, is the use of sustainable materials. At least, Saucony supports using your feet.
Just like I mentioned that the Kinvara are a blend of traditional shoes and minimalist shoes, I would say the fit is that way as well. When you think of a traditional shoe compared to a minimalist shoe, the toe box is normally a lot different. I fell like the Kinvara is a good mix. The shoe fits secure through most of the foot with a bit of extra room in the toe box. I really like that. The shoes felt good from a sizing standpoint all the way through. I am normally a size 9, and that is what I tested in these. The fit was right on. Sometimes I worry about them being too tight when a membrane is added to the mix. This inevitably adds some bulk to the shoe but with these, they were still a good fit.
Now you may be wondering why I gave them a low mark for comfort even though the fit was right on. I mentioned above that the tongue had been sewn into the upper. At the top of the tongue, they seem is extra thick. This is right below the top eyelets for lacing, and that causes a problem. The extra pressure from lacing created some irritation on my ankles, especially my right ankle where I have some scarring from surgeries. I will add that the left ankle felt it as well. If it was not for that the fit rating would have been much higher.
Assuming the fit works for you then really the most important thing is performance. This is where I gave these the highest rating. For the most part, they feel just like the standard Kinvara's but in a waterproof version. I think that is a good testament to Saucony for being able to accomplish that. Some people complain about waterproof shoes being too warm as they do not breath as well. I did not have this problem, but of course, I tested these in the winter and spring. If you are using them in hot and wet days that may be a different story. The most important aspect of these shoes is of course the Gore-Tex. I have to say that the only way any part of my feet got wet is when water was able to seep in from around my ankle. If you pair these with some gaiters, then they will not let anything in.
The Kinvara 4 has a good balance of cushioning and ground feel. They are low profile but not so much that you feel all of the ground. I will say that the ride is a bit harsher. I am not sure if that is from a stiffer foam used or what. On another note, the shoes have a normal road sole for traction. This was okay for wet days but lacking a little when I ran in the snow. I never had any issues but something to think about if you r running is in icier conditions.
Sole is for Road Running
Overall, I would recommend these shoes but do suggest trying them on first. Fit is so subjective that the tongue may not bother you at all then these would-be outstanding shoes. The waterproofness is great to have for those runs where you need it and not having a huge weight penalty is pretty sweet. I personally have been a big fan of the Kinvara since it first came out and think this is a good addition to the lineup. Since they are waterproof, the cost is a bit higher. They retail for $120, which is a fair price. If you want a lower profile, lightweight, waterproof shoes; take a look at these. As always, Your Mileage May Vary.
Not a lot of traction
Tongue rubbed my ankle wrong