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Saucony Kinvara 11 - Women's Review

This incredibly lightweight shoe offers a relatively low price and stupendous performance
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $110 List | $109.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, comfortable, responsive, less expensive
Cons:  Less durable, less padded
Manufacturer:   Saucony
By Ally Meller ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 22, 2020
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Our Verdict

The Saucony Kinvara 11 is a clear winner, and if we could give it more than one award, we probably would. It is exceptionally lightweight with a low price to match, easily winning our Best Buy Award. But its low price isn't the only impressive thing about it. The Kinvara is light, springy, and oh so fresh. From the moment we slipped our feet into these FormFit mesh-laden trainers, we knew they were something special. Runners looking to shed weight and intensify speedy miles will develop their own love affairs with these special sneaks. Saucony even makes a wide option, hooray! These kicks are sure to add some pep to your step without breaking the bank in the process.

Our Analysis and Test Results

Are you in the mood to PR? Yeah, us too! The Kinvara 11 is plush in all the areas where it counts without being burdensome or heavy. Prepare to shave seconds off your mile time in these babes. The PWRRUN+ base is shock-absorbing but feels lighter and more agile than traditional running shoes. The FormFit sole only enhances this shoe's responsiveness making it perfect for runs when you really need to drop the hammer.

Performance Comparison


We cannot praise the weightlessness of these shoes enough.
We cannot praise the weightlessness of these shoes enough.

Responsiveness


Responsiveness and levity work together harmoniously to help your runs feel more effortless. The soft and flexible sole of the Kinvara 11 melds together and culminates in a superiorly responsive shoe. The foam sole allows the legs to bound weightlessly from one stride into the next. Each step propels you forward, and THAT is why these shoes scored so highly in this metric.

The 'Varas, as we are affectionately calling them, continue to be our first choice for tempo runs and middle-distance race days. Our Herculean-effort speeds can be attributed to these sleek and nimble showstoppers — once you slide your feet into these bad boys, we expect you'll be raring to go just as much as we were.

The extra plus tongue on these bad boys is part of what makes them long-distance superstars.
The extra plus tongue on these bad boys is part of what makes them long-distance superstars.

Landing Comfort


The Kinvara is one of our favorite pairs of shoes, ever. Our most successful runs have been on days when our legs were well-rested, and our feet were in this shoe. It's far from a plush ride, though. Runners looking for a goose-down pillow landing base might find these to be a little too minimalist for their tastes.

The base is springier than it is soft, constructed of PWRRUN+ sole and light-as-a-feather rubber to dampen the impact with each footfall. Runners who land heavily might not be as successful as we were in these shoes. Heavy steppers typically need a bit of underfoot cushion to protect their joints. The Kinvara offers a more lightweight style landing, so be sure to keep that in mind.

The PWRRUN sole and FORMFIT inside are two of the elements that add to the Kinvara magic.
The PWRRUN sole and FORMFIT inside are two of the elements that add to the Kinvara magic.

Weight


This is our A-plus, top shelf, weightless killer. Employ the Kinvara when you are ready to break some tape. These are the lightest shoes we tested — the wizardry that went into constructing them is almost otherworldly.

For runs at breakneck speeds, these shoes deliver. They weigh in at less than 7 ounces per shoe (women's size 7), which is on par with barefoot running style faves. Even as we worked our way into double-digit mileage and higher, these kicks never weighed us down.

The Kinvara surprised us by being light but supportive. This is one of the lightest shoes we have ever had the pleasure of testing.
The Kinvara surprised us by being light but supportive. This is one of the lightest shoes we have ever had the pleasure of testing.

Durability


The Kinvara didn't impress us as aggressively in this department. Because they are flexible and less rigid, they don't score as high in the durability metric. They outperform other shoes in our test, but their lightweight, foam sole degrades faster than we'd like.

These shoes lack longevity because of their soft rubber soles — the exact thing that makes them so responsive and light. Their soft sole makes them an impractical cross-over choice. These will not be your trail cross-over shoes. Not only is the foam vulnerable to abrasions from the environment, but they also do not offer much in the way of protection, We shudder to think about stubbing a toe in these shoes, so be mindful when wearing this featherweight kick.

The foam sole isn't as rugged as traditional rubber.
The foam sole isn't as rugged as traditional rubber.

Upper Comfort


Yet another reason we love the fancy-schmancy Kinvara is because of their upper comfort. The heel and collar are spacious but don't slip when in motion; the laces stay tied tight no matter how many hours you spend pounding the pavement, and the tongue is perfectly padded and protects feet from a potentially uncomfortable lace bed.

These shoes bend and adapt to their wearer's foot, and we stand behind the design wholeheartedly. The tongue and collar are the only two truly cushioned elements of the shoe, which makes the upper incredibly comfortable. Even post-run errands are enjoyable because sweaty and swollen feet have ample real estate to flex and move. Grueling workouts have nothing on the Kinvara. Don't be intimated though — while this shoe talks a big game, it is totally appropriate for walks around town too. Due to its low profile and sleek demeanor, this is a great choice for experienced road warriors and beginners alike.

Check out that tongue cushion- so plush!
Check out that tongue cushion- so plush!

Breathability


When considering how tightly the FormFit mesh is wound, the fact that these shoes scored as well as they did for breathability is impressive. They seem borderline water-resistant, so we found them to be the perfect beach running shoes. Coupled with their sand-resistant tread, the Kinvara was our top choice for all coastline courses.

For all the shoes in our review, we tested them with cotton socks as well as moisture-wicking socks. The Kinvara 11 performed well with both types of socks, in both inclement weather and on sunny days. Is there anything these shoes can't do?

Brady the Dog loves extra long beach runs as much as we love the low weight of these trainers.
Brady the Dog loves extra long beach runs as much as we love the low weight of these trainers.

Value


The value to delivery ratio here is killer. We love that these shoes came in below average in the price category while also providing a stellar performance. Snagging a pair of these puppies will seriously feel like a bargain as you glide into them day after day. The amount of life that you get out of the Kinvaras matches up nicely to their lower-than-average price point. These shoes will be your long term faves for speed days, long runs, and of course, everyday errands and walks.

These reliable running BFFs are worth every penny.
These reliable running BFFs are worth every penny.

Conclusion


Lightweight does not a stellar running shoe make. Though, in the case of the Saucony Kinvara 11, it actually does! The just-right underfoot cushion and impeccable stabilizing structures come together to create a really exceptional racing shoe. The support is soft without being imposing, which helped us improve our speed. This is our preferential tempo run shoe, making track days and beach days pass quickly and somewhat painlessly thanks to excellent responsiveness. The Kinvara ranked high in our metrics, responded to imposed demands, and made us feel like we could fly. This, coupled with a friendly price point, made for an easy Best Buy Winner. Our past PRs don't stand a chance now that we have these shoes in our corner.

Ally Meller