Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Feather-light, comfortable up to the marathon distance, affordable
Cons: Unsupportive, low durability
Best Uses: Road running, workouts, racing, transitioning towards minimalism
Be the speed demon you've always wanted to be with our Top Pick winner for a racing flat, the lightning fast Saucony Kinvara 6. With only 7.8 ounces in a size 9, a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop, and a generous amount of cushioning, it makes for an ideal neutral shoe for workouts and races up to the marathon distance and beyond. We also feel it's a great choice for those making the conversion towards more minimal road shoes. The 4 mm heel-to-toe drop is a considerable change for those who have always used a traditional road shoe, most of which have a 10 mm or more heel-to-toe discrepancy. We think the Kinvara 6 feels amazing, but remember to gradually adjust to shoes like this. The Kinvara 6 puts a lot more stress on your lower legs and achilles tendon in comparison to traditional trainers with a 10-12 mm drop, such as the Brooks Ghost 8. Don't be surprised if your lower legs are super sore after the first few runs in these quick racers.
The landing is well cushioned but in no way too cushy. We like to think of the landing as right in between the Brooks Ghost 8 and the Altra Torin 2.0, having just the right amount of cushion to still be a responsive shoe. We get a smooth transition and propulsion in our gait cycle since it forces us to land more midfoot and heel strike less. The landing pad features nine triangular lugs on the forefoot, which we feel gives us fair traction on the roads. These segmented lugs definitely add to the propulsive feeling of the shoe. In general, we highly recommend this speedster. This is truly a fun shoe to run in. You just might have trouble slowing yourself down.
If you'd like to compare all of the running shoes that we've tested, check out the Best Running Shoe for Men review.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Being the lightest shoe we tested as well as having the smallest heel-to-toe discrepancy, this is our favorite shoe to take out when we have a speedy run, tempo, or local road race planned.
We rate the Kinvara 6 as having the second most responsive ride in the group behind the Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3. Though, the two shoes are completely different and each use their own design to create a responsive feedback to the runner's gait. Unlike the super stiff springiness we feel in the Wave Prophecy 3, these provide more of a natural responsive feel since our heel strike is almost completely mitigated. This more natural feel in the ride is proliferated by the small discrepancy in the height of the cushioning from the heel-to-toe, 4 mm compared to 10 mm, as well as being nearly half the weight of the Prophecy.
The Saucony Kinvara 6 comes in at a tie for the second highest score in landing comfort. We don't feel it needs much breaking in and is ready to roll with high out-of-box comfort. With just a 4mm drop in the heel-to-toe, Saucony created a smooth and natural landing that utilizes full ground contact similar to the Brooks Ghost 8. Most of the shoes in our test group have at least a 10mm discrepancy from the heel-to-toe. The 4mm offset facilitates a natural running gait, forcing the runner to heel strike less and land on the midfoot, creating a more efficient landing. This puts less shock on your joints but will in turn make some of your leg muscles work harder. Overall, we feel this is a good thing for our body. Though it definitely helps the runner to land with their midfoot, heavy heel strikers can rest easy knowing Saucony integrated PowerGrid cushioning in the heel to absorb impact and reduce shock. Most runners will likely use this road shoe as a workout or racing shoe but many may also enjoy using it as a daily trainer once they are used to the more minimal style of heel-to-toe drop.
The upper is perfectly snug and gives us a sock-like fit. The Saucony Kinvara 6 scores relatively high compared to the rest of the group in upper comfort. Saucony designed a crazy light material called FlexFilm that stretches and adapts to the form of your foot. This upper is unique from all the other shoes we tested in that it is completely seamless. The great thing about this FlexFilm is that it decreases the chances of chafing and it's made so that most runners can even get away with wearing no socks at all. (Though, make sure to keep in mind that everyone's feet are different and we don't recommend doing this for the first time on a long run or a race.)
The inside of the heel features two small memory foam pods that give you a personalized fit which helps secure your foot. We feel the fit is best for those with narrow feet, though average width feet can likely pull it off. There are many user review complaints about the fit in some of the older versions, especially the toe box being too narrow. Since the 4th version, Saucony has made some adjustments to the upper. We've tested both versions and feel that the most current version, the 6, has a much more comfortable toe box fit. One change on the upper from the 5 to the 6 is a reinforced heel area. The heel on the 6 is a bit higher, as well as a bit more padded on the back and sides for added comfort. Also, if you're wanting some extra room, take note that there is a larger width available in the 6. If you're interested in reading our review of the shoe that scores highest in upper comfort, check out the plush Asics Gel-Kayano 21.
Having a fully seamless and ventilated upper, the Kinvara 6 receives our second highest score in breathability. An extremely minimal and lightweight yet functional upper is used in the 6. Other than the seamless outer mesh layer, there is only a single thin foam layer lining the inside of the upper. It also comes with an aerated insole to help keep your feet cool. This shoe won't protect your foot much from the harsh winter elements, but will definitely help you finish your run faster to get back inside and warm up those feet.
The Kinvara 6 blow the rest of the group out of the water when it comes to weight. At 7.8 ounces in a size 9, it is the lightest and most minimal shoe in the group. It is perfect for those who want to make a slow transition towards minimalist footwear while still having a moderate amount of cushion and protection. One significant way Saucony cut down on weight is only using high density rubber in high wear areas of the shoe. This is also an ideal shoe for the road racer doing 5k distances and we feel it is comfortable all the way up to the marathon distance. If you want a lightweight, neutral, and well-cushioned shoe that's not as minimal, take a look at the extremely well-balanced Brooks Ghost 8.
We like to envision the Kinvara 6 as a Formula 1 car tire. It won't be able to take the same miles as the tires on your commuter car, but the miles it does take are amazing. That being said, we notice the tread does wear away faster than many of the other shoes in our test group. Saucony added high durability rubber to high wear areas that took a beating on the last model, which we feel is a bit of an improvement. Though, don't expect to log as many miles in this shoe as some of the other road trainers we tested such as the efficiently designed Brooks Ghost 8. We logged over 50 miles in our pair and already notice slight wear on the outsole, but it's hard to say what they'll look like at a few hundred miles. The seamless upper is nice, though we assume it probably won't last as long as many of the heavier designed uppers. If a more durable shoe strikes your interest, take a look at the detailed review of our Editors' Choice winner the Ghost 8.
Old vs. New Versions
We had the luxury to log some miles in all three of the most recent releases of this shoe. For the most part, we notice the two most recent versions to be very similar and only small changes in the heel were made. An upgraded ProGrid heel pad is one change we love. One downside of the newest version is that it doesn't have as good out-of-box comfort as the 4 did. Saucony is going for a more durable last in the 6, and these will take a few more runs to really break-in. We noticed the outsole in the 5 wears significantly quicker than other shoes we tested, and Saucony took note of this. The 6 is given a revamped outsole with EVA+, and more abrasion resistant rubber to last you some extra miles. So, if you're a devoted user and feel right at home in the 5, don't worry about the 6 feeling too much different as we feel there are no significant changes made.
Don't be surprised if you set a PR in local 5ks all the way to your big marathon. This is the ideal shoe for race day or if you're looking to gradually make the switch towards minimal road shoes.
Less shoe equals more performance, with the retail value at $89-$99. We think this is a good price for this fast feeling shoe.
We think you should highly consider this speedy road shoe if a low-drop, highly cushioned minimal shoe works with your running style. This shoe has a great balance of minimalism and plentiful cushioning.
Other Versions and Accessories
This shoe is narrow! Thankfully wider sizes are available. We also recommend sizing up ½ your normal shoe size. You can also find the newest version of this shoe in the women's version, the Kinvara 5 - Women's.
— Jimmy Elam
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: August 17, 2015
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