Road Shoes

Shoe of the Week: Saucony Kinvara 12

The 12th version of Saucony's popular Kinvara is an athletically connected, natural-feeling trainer with a snappy ride and an outstanding (and flashy) upper.

Saucony Kinvara 12 Review

Weight: M7.5oz, W6.5oz

Heel-Toe Offset: 4.1mm (28.5mm/24.4mm)

Price: $110

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Saucony Kinvara 12 Men's
Saucony Kinvara 12 Men’s Photo: 101 Degrees West

Top Line

The neutral up-tempo trainer/racer that represents all the positives of the minimalist movement: Better, faster running that connects the runner to a pure version of the sport — without being harsh.

What’s New

The changes from version 11 are subtle: The 12 lost less than half an ounce in weight. The tongue is new, and outstanding: thinner, perforated and gusseted, made of incredibly soft, stretchy suede-like material that treats your instep and ankle like kid gloves. The midsole is still PWRRUN but, due to the new shape, felt firmer, and made the ride a bit more rigid, with more snap. The black and neon coloring is dramatically retro, and smacks of “Tron.”

This is the shoe for you if…

You are an efficient, natural runner who enjoys running in its purist form, with a feel for the ground — but not so much that it hurts. These lightweight go-fast trainer/racers will help you rack up the miles: miles of smiles and not necessarily trials.

Saucony Kinvara 12 Women's
Saucony Kinvara 12 Women’s Photo: Molly Hanson

First Runs

“Athletically connected” best summarizes our test team’s impression of the newest update of Saucony’s “go-fast trainer” and its re-sculpted PWRRUN midsole for more ground contact and what amounted to a firmer underfoot experience. One tester called it a classic “second generation minimalist” feeling, given the low heel, wide platform, flexible forefoot and closeness to the ground for proprioception without beating you up. They are prime candidates “for the runner who wants to reconnect with the road without going full-on minimal.”

Another tester summarized the shoe as “sculpted, semi-cushioned, flexible, oddly firm and providing a natural ride.” The responsiveness may be “too real” for some but it certainly serves to engage the foot and brings running to life. For those who need a more underfoot protection, support or guidance, the Kinvara 12 won’t be enough. As one tester noted, “It provides adequate (nearing on too little) cushion and too much responsiveness for my taste.”

The upper, with its internal stretch bootie, lightweight printed adaptive mesh and oh-so-comfortable tongue, was a huge hit with the test team across the board. It provided, one tester described, “Just the right amount of structure, and feels secure without weighing you down.” The heel counter falls on the side of minimalism and the hold of the upper was form fitting enough that they gave off an old school vibe. But it was tongue that really won over everyone, with its ersatz suede, gussets, minimal material and quilting for comfort and moisture management. The fit was close and snug, somewhat like a racing flat, but not enough to be uncomfortable.

The performance was snappier than the Kinvara 11 and testers noted the ground feel had a faster, race-like vibe to it, with some using them for tempo and pick-up workouts. The shoe remains agile, versatile, responsive, super light, and flexible.

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Altra Rivera, Brooks Hyperion Tempo,  NB Fresh Foam Beacon 3, Topo Cyclone