Shoe Review: Saucony Kinvara 13

A side view of the Saucony Kinvara 13.

The Saucony Kinvara 13 is lightweight, low-to-the-ground performance trainer with a sleek and relatively simple design. It’s a highly versatile shoe that can be worn for long runs, up-tempo workouts, recovery runs and just about everything in between. While there are faster and more thickly cushioned shoes, the Kinvara remains special for its uncomplicated design. It’s light, it’s comfortable and it’s versatile enough to do almost anything you ask of it.

Fleet Feet reviewers tested the Saucony Kinvara 13 for easy runs and up-tempo workouts. Here's what you need to know.


Tech Specs

Saucony Kinvara 13

Weight

6.2 oz (W), 7.2 oz (M)

Drop

4 mm

Category

Neutral

Use

Daily training, up-tempo workouts, light-duty racing

Surface

Road, track

The Same Kinvara, but Lighter and Softer

A birds eye view of the Kinvara 13.

When the Saucony Kinvara hit stores in 2010, it was a key model in the minimalist revolution. As many brands were focusing on a “barely there” feel with a low-to-the-ground design that contrasted the heavier, overbuilt shoes of the early 2000s, Saucony unveiled the Kinvara with a similar geometry and a low heel-toe offset but a refreshingly soft, light and moderately energetic midsole and a lightweight, thin, nylon upper without weighty overlays. It was one of the first shoes that bucked the minimalist tradition by highlighting a smooth, soft ride, even amid the maximalist revolution that followed. Through the years, the Kinvara continues to offer a smart, sleek and simple design enjoyed by all types of runners.

Because Saucony didn’t alter the design of the Kinvara very much over the years, it evolved from a modern marvel to an unchanged classic as running shoes continue to become thicker, bouncier and more energetic. That brings us to the Kinvara 13, which is slightly lighter with a better fit and improved feel for the road. The Kinvara 13 features a light, pliable and uncomplicated upper, an energetic midsole and a buttery smooth ride.

The Kinvara 13 is built on a soft and responsive platform that’s comprised of a full-length PWRRUN foam midsole topped with a thin slice of PWRRUN+ for a bit of increased energy. The outsole features an underbelly of exposed foam and strategically placed rubber elements. The grip isn’t great on wet terrain or gravel surfaces, but it works well on dry roads and bike paths.

The Saucony Kinvara 13.

A 4 millimeter heel-toe drop and a soft midsole give the Saucony Kinvara 13 an agile feel that’s perfect for quick-cadence running. An updated single-layer, airy mesh upper secures the foot down to the same midsole and outsole chassis that runners enjoyed in the Kinvara 12.

In essence, the Kinvara 13 is pretty close to what it has always been. It’s still light, comfortable, agile and relatively fast. But given how midsole foams have changed through the years, it’s hard not to view it in comparison with other popular models that aren’t quite as light but are much more thickly cushioned, considerably more lively and a lot more protective and durable. Those models are a lot more expensive, so part of the reason runners will continue to love this and choose it as their everyday trainer is that it has an affordable price tag.

“I liked the Kinvara 12, but the minor changes have made the Kinvara 13 a marginally better shoe,” Brian says.

Kinvara 13 vs. Kinvara 12

The Saucony Kinvara 13 vs the Saucony Kinvara 12.

Tech Specs

Kinvara 13

Kinvara 12

Weight

6.2 oz (W), 7.2 oz (M)

6.5 (W), 7.5 oz (M)

Drop

4 mm

4 mm

Category

Neutral

Neutral

Use

Daily training, up-tempo workouts, light-duty racing

Daily training, up-tempo workouts, light-duty racing

Surface

Road, track

Road, track


The Kinvara 13 is slightly lighter with a roomier fit and a softer feel than the previous two versions.

The shoe’s major update is the new, single-layer engineered mesh upper. The Kinvara 13 fits true to size with a bit more wiggle room in the forefoot, but the breathable, stretchy and stripped-down design of the upper provides a more locked down fit.

There are more subtle differences, including what seems to be a slightly more voluminous interior, creating a more accommodating fit for more foot shapes. It also feels softer and slightly more flexible than the Kinvara 12.

While the Kinvara 13 is lighter and fits better for most runners, it’s not as snappy and fast as previous editions. Although it can suffice for tempo runs, fartlek workouts and track sessions, its soft demeanor is not an even match to the modern race shoes with carbon-fiber plates or even modern performance trainers with advanced foams.

The Kinvara 13 weighs the same pros and cons as previous versions. It's light, relatively fast and versatile, but it’s not as bouncy, cushy or durable as many of its modern contemporaries. Times, and shoes, have changed a lot, but the Kinvara has not.

Final Thoughts

The sole of the Saucony Kinvara 13.

The Kinvara 13 should be well received this spring, especially by runners who don’t relish the feeling of maximally cushioned shoes with an excessively bouncy profile. It will certainly be appreciated by runners who are looking for a more affordable shoe that’s versatile enough to tackle different types of runs.

If you liked the Kinvara at any point over the past 12 years, you’re bound to like the Kinvara 13. It can still be your do-everything daily trainer or a speed-day shoe for faster workouts. It can even be a light-duty racing shoe, if you’re willing to concede that its simple foam architecture isn’t going to provide the energetic pop that modern racing shoes do. You might find the Kinvara 13 less appealing than you did in the past, if only because running shoes as a whole have evolved and there are many models that are more responsive, more cushy and more durable.

The big question will be what happens next with the Kinvara. Will the Kinvara 14 be welcomed into the modern world with Saucony’s super-lively PWRRUN PB midsole foam and its SpeedRoll geometry? Time will tell. But for now, the Kinvara 13 remains a reliable everyday trainer that’s as light, comfortable and versatile as it has always been.

“For short miles, these are lovely! I felt fast, didn’t feel off balance, and they were definitely more responsive than I had previously expected,” Andrew says. “I’ll definitely be putting these in my tempo lineup.”

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