Today, we’re going to be going in depth with the new Saucony Kinvara 7.
Update: Saucony Kinvara 11 full review
Saucony Kinvara 7 Review
You know it’s really something when products get into a kind of legacy evolutions of what they are. And for that to happen two things have to take place. Number one, the evolutions of that product have to make sense and have to be something that’s constantly improving or changing for the better. Number two, the loyalists of that product have to really be on board with it. If you just keep changing it for a new audience, you’re not going to have those loyalists around and they’re not going to be the best advocates for your particular product that you’re looking for.
However, with the Saucony Kinvara 7, we see that this thing is giving well into the high numbers. With its 4-mm drop, really good ground feel and a super loyal fan base, this is an extremely popular shoe that is now at its 7th iteration and we can see it coming for a lot of years to come.
Read other runners’ reviews on Amazon.
The upper is something that has always been one of my favorite sections in the Kinvaras, and the Kinvara 7’s is no exception. Let’s talk first about the design. The shoe’s green fading into black is kind of a nod to the fluorescence of the past seven or eight years fading into the more old school black. So personally, I like the loudness of the shoe.
Talking about the support structure of the Kinvara 7, Saucony is using their FLEXFILM system on the upper. On this version of the shoe, Saucony is using FLEXFILM in really great places where the foot might work against the material and try to break it down. Basically, they put an entire almost rand around the shoe that goes all the way around. This is going to keep the material solid if you’re kind of driving forward in the shoe. Again, Saucony has used an overlay (Saucony logo) right where the shoe flexes in the forefoot to really reinforce the mesh underneath and keep everything solid.
In the roughly 45 miles of pretty intense stuff sometimes that I’ve got on this shoe, there’s no breakdown of that at all. But if you’re taking it on trail or something like that where you might brush the material on a branch or a stick, something like that might break it down. So when people decide to talk about how a shoe is acting and the material might be breaking down, be sure you’re blaming the material and not just the fact that you’re running and brushing up against a rock all the time.
The mesh on the Kinvara 7 is one of the things that make the shoe stand out. On the front, again, we’ve got a very fine mesh and then a little bit more open mesh around the back half of the foot. Also, this is lined on the inside with something that’s a little more fine to keep out fine debris and dust and things like that. It’s very flexible and flexes nicely over top of the foot and it’s very comfortable.
Something else that we’re seeing in this update that has appeared in the Saucony Kinvara 6 is the PROLOCK system. In the Kinvara 5 the PROLOCK system was obvious that you could feel where the system attached underneath the upper. In the 7th version, it’s really disappeared because it’s nicely integrated into the rest of the upper. Saucony has taken a lot of consideration with this and got rid of the feeling of that additional strap down there. But in that case it wasn’t something that stood out to me as being annoying; it was just something that I noticed, but in this update, I don’t notice it at all, so Kudos.
The heel counter in this version is a fairly semi kind of flexible rigid thing, but then about halfway up it goes to being flexible. This is actually not unlike the deconstructed heel counter that we saw in the New Balance Vazee Pace. Then, of course, we’ve got my personal pet peeve and that is the foam. The foam around the collar and on the tongue is actually really nice. The collar is coated by the RUNDRY fabric which is going to keep the foot from sweating profusely and it’s going to absorb moisture and wick it away from the skin. This material is nice and keeps everything solid and there’s not too much foam or too less foam.
Overall, the upper of this shoe is really a nice highlight in all Kinvaras. Of course, some people have had some durability issues here and there with the previous iterations, but in this version, I think people are going to really be happy. The upper is going to really be a compliment to the speed, durability, and endurance that you’re going to find out of this shoe.
This is probably one of the places where this shoe has the most actual change, but the kicker is you can’t really see it. The first thing is they’ve gone from using EVA+ foam in the midsole to using SSL EVA. SSL EVA is really meant to be one of those things that enhances the longevity of the shoe, provides for less material breakdown, and really enhances the appearance of the new EVERUN material.
As a lot of other brands are doing these days, Saucony is really looking to find something that’s going to be more resilient material and still give you that impact and that kind of spring-back without the material bread down super fast. In the Kinvara 7, Saucony actually put the EVERUN material in a place underneath the heel. Again, you can’t really see it.
Why only put EVERUN in the heel and not through the entire midsole?
They did extensive wear testing and based on different arrangements both in the heel alone, in the forefoot alone, and under the entire foot, the preference overwhelmingly came out to be that in the heel. When you land on the heel you want that kind of cushion or that spring. Also, when you’re landing on the midfoot or forefoot, ideally you’re letting that heel settle into the ground and this is, again, giving you a little bit of that eccentric muscle action, that feeling and that kind of spring off of the heel after your heel settles secondary to the midfoot or the forefoot. So this was definitely something that they really thought about a lot.
Another thing about the midsole I think shows up really well is that flexibility. There is quite a bit of spring in this shoe and a lot of pop. And one of the interesting things is that when you start to fold it up, it doesn’t fold in half really and maintains a nice curvature which is actually really interesting. In a lot of other shoes, that foam is going to have a quick breakdown, but the Kinvara 7 maintains a nice curvature throughout, flexes front to back and works with the foot very well.
Starting with the outsole, this is probably one of the biggest aesthetic updates of nothing else from its original shoe. Usually, we’re used to looking at a bunch of triangles that are around the outsole. But in this version, Saucony has gone with an entirely new setup. Yes, they’re still using IBR+ and XT900 rubber to take care of the different types of abrasion that happens to different areas, but overall, it’s a super huge change.
As we look at the shoe, the green areas up in the forefoot and down in the heel, that’s the XT900 rubber. So, that rubber has been placed in areas which need particularly high-abrasion wear. If you’re someone who lands on the heel of the foot or when you toe-off, these are the areas that get worn down quickly so they need more high-impact rubber. If you compare this to previous versions of the Kinvara, these are exactly the same place as it was; it’s just the different shape and everything like that. This is definitely a case of not messing with what works while still changing the overall aesthetic.
Now the orange rubber that we can see, that is Saucony’s IBR+ which is Saucony’s injection blown rubber plus. This material is not just meant to provide durability in those areas, though not as much as the XT900 rubber, it’s also meant to actually provide a little bit of cushion and enhanced ground feel. Once again, IBR+ is located in the same positions as in the previous Kinvaras, but in this instance, because of the flex grooves that can happen in between the little Chevrons, it adds a good deal of flexibility to that area. It doesn’t subtract from it even though the larger portions of rubber are taking up space where the triangles have kind of a cut-through. In this case, this does a good job of keeping the flexibility where it’s been in other iterations of the shoe which is something that a lot of Kinvara users like.
In terms of general wear on this guy, there’s a little bit of accelerated wear in the IBR+ rubber section as opposed to the XT900 rubber because I land very midfoot. It would be great if Saucony extended the XT900 up a little bit to provide more durability in the midfoot. But for a heel striker, it’s not an issue at all.
This is where that new EVERUN material is going to come in. EVERUN is not as bouncy as in the Adidas Boost Foam. You’re not going to find that amount of spring in this, and that’s not what it’s actually for, either because the application is only in the heel of the shoe and not the full-length thing.
If you haven’t done that already, make sure you check our comparison review of Adidas Ultra Boost 4.0 vs Nike Epic React.
But what did feel like when I was running?
I’m a pretty solid midfoot, forefoot runner and that’s no different in the Kinvara 7 at all. So the first four miles or so of any run, what I felt like is it was pretty similar to other Kinvaras and I like that. Don’t get me wrong, I love the other Kinvaras. However, it was 4 to 5 miles into these runs where I really started to notice the difference. And again, as Saucony said with their testing, this is what they noticed is that people generally prefer the heel. I’m not saying that I would not love to try a full-length piece of the EVERUN material in the midsole of one of these shoes, but in this case what I felt is that as I let my heels begin to settle more into the ground, I really started to getting that bounce-back and getting that extra help with the eccentric muscle action in that area. And to be honest, it was very comfortable and at the end of the runs, my legs did not really feel as gassed as they might otherwise. So, I really like this material, but again, I would love to see a full-length version of EVERUN. I also found that the flexibility in this shoe is really nice but doesn’t sacrifice on that “popiness” and that kind of spring-back that you would expect from Kinvara or a more racy kind of oriented shoe.
The first thing that I want to say is that my size 11 fits just like all Saucony Kinvaras. I don’t see any reason you go up or down in sizing unless you find that consistently with yourself in Saucony running shoes. Also, the Kinvara 7 in a size 11 comes in at 8.9oz.
Update: some runners say the fit is a bit on the tight side and recommend you order 1/2 size bigger.
Saucony Kinvara Men’s / Saucony Kinvara Women’s
I feel like the heel counter is nice and it’s just very subtle and doesn’t really lock down on the foot or anything like that. It forms a nice heel cup internally with that great cup sock liner. Moving into the midfoot, I really like the PROLOCK a lot. It feels good on my foot and I like the way I can cinch things down.
The one thing that I do wonder about is if somebody had a wider foot and wanted to wear this guy, I’m not sure how it would fit them because while there’s room in the toes to expand, I’m not sure how the PROLOCK would feel around that and how really it would work because at some point it’s going to be squeezing in instead of wrapping.
The toe box is just straight up classic Kinvara. For me, it provides tons of room to wiggle and splay very comfortably even on some longer runs. So, way to stick with what works in Saucony.
Newbies to the Kinvara series and old school people are really going to like the Kinvara 7 a lot. It’s a very consistent version with the way that it wears. With the way that it rides you’re going to get that consistent Kinvara feel, but the addition of that EVERUN material is going to get you a little bit more energy especially as you begin to fatigue into the back of the shoe there, which I like a lot.
As far as bang for your buck goes, this is a really great value especially for a really well-loved high-end shoe that’s going to be able to take you anywhere from your training days to 5Ks, 10Ks, marathons, ultra-marathons and whatever you want to run in it. Saucony Kinvara 7 is a super solid shoe and I can’t wait to see what you guys think.