I’ve worn a lot of shoes but the one consistent presence in my running the last 3-4 years has been the multiple versions of the Kinvara, way before I was even drafted into the Saucony Ambassadorial role.
It’s hard not to like the Kinvara. Light, breathable, low-drop, cushioned minus the mushiness, making it all near perfect for uptempo running and racing over all but the shortest of distances when a firmer ride works better. I’ve worn versions 1, 3, 5 and 7 of the Kinvara and while the ride changed this way and that over the years, the versions still maintain its legacy of light, cushioned and responsive. This makes the Kinvara a safe bet for a large segment of runners out there.
EVERUN TPU material and TRI-FLEX outsole configuration made their way to the Kinvara line with the version 7, but the casual wearer could be forgiven for not “feeling” the touted EVERUN hype, compared to say the Ride 9, Zealot ISO 2 or Triumph ISO 2/3. That was because EVERUN was used just as a heel insert within the midsole, unlike the topsole layers of the aforementioned siblings. In summary, the expected bounciness was less palpable. Nevertheless, I still found the K7 to be an improvement over the K5 (I skipped the 6 since I already had 2 pairs of K5 in rotation along with the Ride and Zealot) in terms of overall durability. The Tokyo and Boston editions of the K7 are still in active rotation but their usage are now under serious threat due to the arrival of the Kinvara 8!
So what’s the big deal about the 8? A fair bit actually, albeit the black/citron colorway is similar to the K7’s slime/black. Here are the high level specs, with the improvements marked with an *
- 23mm (Heel)/19mm (Forefoot) for a 4mm offset.
- Full-length EVERUN topsole*
- Revamped upper which is super breathable*
- Simplified use of Flexfilm*
- Inner sleeve
- Less intrusive Pro-lock*
- Tongue is now better padded to take the pressure off the laces. It’s also long enough to accommodate full lacing*
- Unchanged TRI-FLEX outsole configuration.
- Slight increase in weight. Still a lightweight at 8.3oz for US10. Comparatively, the K5 weighed 7.5oz while the K7 8.15oz.
I’ve logged just over 60K in the K8 so far, which comprised of a 24K, 20K (at sub-4 MP), and many more shorter ones and I can say that I just love how the shoe feels. Moving the EVERUN from the midsole to the topsole was a stroke of genius. Skeptics will think that it’s just a marketing gimmick but it does work – the wearer gets the benefits of the springy and responsive cushioning right where it matters while minimizing the weight gain of the shoe. TPU is heavier than traditional EVA, so a full EVERUN midsole will need to have a wildly engineered upper like the Freedom ISO (my next review!) to mitigate the weight gain.
The fit is similar to the K7, while not as roomy up front as the Triumph ISO 3, your toes won’t end up scrunched together. There’s certainly enough room for foot swelling right up to ultra distances under 100K. The Pro-lock no longer feels as restrictive and with the improved padding on the tongue, I’m able to lace down further without the added pressure on top of my feet.
The K8 is surprisingly stable, thanks to the semi-rigid medial heel counter as well as the overlay on the lateral side of the midfoot. I found the recent marathon-paced 20K done in the rain to be particularly enjoyable. The legs felt less beat up due to the topsole and in case you’re unaware, the EVERUN material is less susceptible to temperature changes, retaining its cushioning and responsive qualities even in cool/cold weather.
With the K8, Saucony has taken a long-time favorite and made it even better. If I had to pull a shoe out from my rack for a last minute race, this would be it. If I had only 1 shoe to run in, this would be it.
The Saucony Kinvara 8 is already available in Stadium and Running Lab stores as well as selected RSH outlets nationwide, and it best of all, it still retails at RM429, the same as the K7. Unless you’re no fan of the new-found smooth and bouncy responsiveness or the miniscule weight gain, I don’t see why you’d opt the 7 over the 8.
Disclosure: I am a Saucony Malaysia Ambassador but the opinions expressed above is based from my own personal experience and miles logged in them. This review is in no way whatsoever influenced by Saucony Malaysia.