If you read my inaugural blog post you already know that the Saucony Kinvara ranks highly on my list of favorite shoes. I got to wear test the much-anticipated Kinvara 3 prior to its official release, and I loved it even more than the Kinvaras of previous generations. So needless to say, when I heard that Saucony was coming out with an off-road version of my number one go-to shoe I was pretty pumped to try it out!
A Rugged New Take on Your Old Favorite
The Kinvara TR is still everything we love about the classic Kinvara; neutral and light-weight (men’s 7.9 oz and women’s 7.2 oz) with a 4 mm heel-to-toe offset, plus some exciting, rugged new features that offer a little extra protection and stability over technical terrain. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Upper: FlexFilm Technology and Toe Wrap
Like the Kinvara 3, the upper of the Kinvara TR features Saucony’s FlexFilm technology. Durable, lightweight FlexFilm is heat welded onto the shoe’s outer layer of mesh creating a seamless upper that hugs the foot with a structured, yet accommodating fit. The second component of the KTR’s comfy, snug-fitting upper is a tightly woven, breathable mesh designed to keep dirt and debris from the trail out and to dry quickly in the event of off-road surprises such as creek crossings, giant puddles or unexpected downpours. Another upper features that sets the upper of the Kinvara TR apart from its road running counterpart is its handy rugged toe wrap which offers up a little extra protection and toe love as you bomb down steep, technical descents like a total trail running bad-ass.
I personally find the Kinvara TR to be a slimmer fit than the Kinvara 3. As the owner of a pair average to narrow-ish feet I enjoy and appreciate this shoe’s snug fit. I feel it does an excellent job of locking my foot securely in place as I scramble through the wild and wonderful parks and woods of North Carolina with reckless abandon. However, I could see this narrower fit being a limitation for the trail runner with a more robust, full-bodied set of feet, so wider feet beware!
Outsole/ Midsole: External Bedrock Outsole and High Traction Rubber
Another key trail-specific feature of the Kinvara TR, and the number one reason that you need to own this shoe in addition to the original Kinvara is its External Bedrock Outsole. This protective, yet flexible plate runs from midfoot to forefoot shielding your feet against even the gnarliest and most invasive rocks and roots. As I stated in my introductory paragraph, I freakin’ love my Kinvara 3s and consider them to be among the most versatile lightweight, low drop trainers on the market. However, I must admit that I have taken my trusty K3s on a few off-road jaunts where a painful rock or two left me longing for a little extra foot protection. The EBO of the Kinvara TR guards against unpleasant rock penetration (is anyone out there giggling as they read that?), while maintaining flexibility and feeling soft underfoot, providing me with all of my favorite light-weight Kinvara efficiency, plus a little extra foot protection from the perils of the trail.
I recently had the pleasure of putting my new KTRs to the ultimate test at the toughest, most technical 10K trail race I have ever encountered! The course was pretty sloppy, and admittedly there were moments on the steepest and muddiest grades when I wished for just a little more traction. However, I think this would have been the case regardless of the shoes I was wearing. For the most part, I thought that the high traction rubber and strategic triangular lug design on my fly new kicks did an awesome job of shedding mud and keeping me upright and face plant free throughout the race!
Lower Stacking Height
In other news, the Kinvara TR keeps you a little closer to the ground that our old friend the Kinvara 3 or the Peregrine, Saucony’s slightly more rigid and aggressive 4mm drop trail shoe. Here are the most consistent findings from my internet research regarding the stacking height of these 3 shoes…
In my opinion, it is advantageous to be close to the ground in an off-road shoe because this offers increased stability and balance over rocky, rooty uneven surfaces. Trail running often proves to be natures own little obstacle course. Thus, ankle rolling and sometimes even out right falling are occupational hazards. When you do find yourself rolling ankles on the trail (and if you aren’t doing your fair share of ankle rolling you’re doing it wrong), it is better and typically less dramatic to roll only a short distance before reaching the ground as opposed to falling off the taller platform of a higher-profile shoe. And lower profile shoe may help reduce incidence of ankle rolling all together. Just another thoughtful feature that gives the Kinvara TR a sweet off-road advantage over other options out there!
Fast and Fabulous Approved!
All things considered, I am really pretty excited about running in the Kinvara TR . I really dig the way its low profile keeps me connected with the trail while its winning combination of flexible and responsive, yet protective midsole and classic Saucony Pro-Grid heel cushioning give it the versatility to keep me running comfortably over a variety of surfaces from pavement to the most technical of single track. I would absolutely recommend this shoe to the diehard Kinvara fan who is seeking the occasional off-road excursion or to anyone who is looking for an efficient, lightweight, low drop trail shoe for training and racing. Kudos to the clever people at Saucony for taking this fast, fabulous favorite beyond the pavement and into the great wide open!
Big thanks to the nice people at Saucony for the sweet new shoes, to my photog running friends and Instagram for making all of my KTR pics look extra hip and cool, and especially to all of you for reading!
Watch These Videos to Learn More About the Kinvara TR:
Check out this informative, Saucony-approved KTR Video: Kinvara TR Specs
Catch the Kinvara TR in action at one of North Carolina’s toughest races, the Continental Divide 10K Trail Race. (Look for the chatty girl in the orange singlet.): KTRs at Continental Divide