A fast and crazy-light running shoe
The Saucony Kinvara 12 stays the course for runners who have loved prior versions of this shoe. This edition has new colors and a new design, but the features that made it a cult classic – featherlight design, cushioning, low drop – stay the same.
But you pay a price for a fast, snappy shoe – durability issues remain a problem. Don’t expect to get more than 250-300 miles from them. Not a problem if the Kinvara is only used for races and speed work.
- Lightweight, fast shoe – feels like you’re not wearing a shoe
- Nice design and colors
- Snug fit in upper
- Good cushioning for low drop shoe
- Outersole wears out quickly
- Not as durable as other running shoes
The Saucony Kinvara 12 is a great choice for runners who want a shoe that’s lightweight, cushioned, and fast. It’s ideal for short and long races, interval workouts, and tempo runs.
New runners or runners looking to train for their first longer race will appreciate this shoe for its natural high energy return feel.
The shoe is simplistic in design, built for neutral runners who want a lighter weight shoe. At only 7.5 oz for men and 6.5 oz for women, the Kinvara 12 excels during any type of daily run you throw at it as a lightweight, fast shoe.
The upper on the Kinvara 12 is super lightweight and comfy, the most comfortable Kinvara series upper so far. The shape of the upper molds to your feet, but gives you a wider forefoot and toe box.
The upper is the biggest change from the Kinvara 9, going back to the style of the original Kinvara. Instead of the speckled mesh pattern, you now get an engineered woven mesh that is both supportive and breathable. This upper gives the shoe a simple minimalist look.
With the adaptable mesh included on the Kinvara 12, you get additional airflow into the foot chamber. Your feet will breathe! You’ll have no problem running during warmer weather when humidity and sweat could create abrasion, as the shoe naturally wicks moisture very well.
Previous models had some durability issues with the upper, and the new mesh is much more durable.
FlexFilm, a strong material melded to the upper, is used more sparingly, which also helps with flexibility.
Perhaps the biggest change from the Kinvara 8 and 9 is the replacement of the old lacing system, which many people did not like. The new lacing system is much more comfortable and lets your feet breathe with a snug lockdown.
Your arch is also locked down with a padded tongue via attached elastic stretchy material. The tongue is padded just enough to provide extra comfort on the top of your foot.
The shoe utilizes a heel counter to keep your feet comfy while locking your foot in place. Another improvement with the Kinvara 12 upper is the addition of two padded areas on either side of the heel counter, which creates additional comfort for your Achilles.
The shoe fits great with the new improvements. A wider forefoot accommodates most foot types and lets your toes breathe with plenty of space. You can usually count on Saucony shoes to fit true-to-size, and the Kinvara 12 is no exception.
The Kinvara 12 is not as cushioned and flexible as previous versions, but still has a decent amount of cushioning. You get a really comfortable ride with the combination of cushioning in the shoe.
The removable foam insole combines with 2 extra layers of cushioning to create the right balance of comfort and weight. The first layer is Everun, which is Saucony’s way of creating springy soft landings with high energy return. You get about 83% more energy return than other midsole technologies on the market, and the foam holds up over time.
The problem is that Everun is pretty heavy. Saucony’s answer with the Kinvara series is to create a thin topsole out of Everun to give you the same benefits, and combine that with another lighter foam, EVA+. This combination of 2 foams gives you a slightly firmer ride, but you still get excellent responsiveness and cushion.
The EVA+ midsole has also been continued forward from the previous version of this shoe, and makes up the majority of the cushioning system in the Kinvara 12. You get a really smooth ride no matter where you run.
The result is really soft and durable midsole. I love the energy return in these shoes, and the responsiveness is just as advertised.
Keep in mind that the shoe has a really low heel drop, at only 4 mm. You get a more natural running form, as you rely less on cushioning and stability features. But low heel drops aren’t for everyone, and can cause calf strain for some runners. It’s a good idea to transition slowly into lower heel drop shoes if you aren’t used to them.
The overall feel of the Kinvara 12 is comfortable straight out of the box. It doesn’t take much to break in this shoe, and the seamless, snug fit prevents slippage. At the same time, it doesn’t irritate your skin. You get a decent amount of cushioning for how light the shoe is.
The outsole continues the Kinvara line method of using an exposed EVA foam midsole with a blown rubber outsole. This helps the shoe shave weight, contributing to the Kinvara 12’s lightness.
The trade-off for weight savings is durability, with the midsole foam being exposed. The Kinvara 12 holds up better than previous versions, but don’t expect to get more than 250-300 miles out of the shoe (less for bigger runners).
The guidance system in the middle of the outsole on the Kinvara 12s helps to ensure smooth transitions and give you a nimble nice ride. You’ll see the split in the middle of the outsole that ends at your toes when you turn the shoe over.
The flex groove configuration that was added to the Kinvara 12 helps give additional flexibility to the shoe. They give you a more natural movement that matches your feet throughout your run.
The Tri-Flex grooves help to evenly distribute weight and therefore reduce overall impact to your joints. Overall the flexibility of the shoe is decent, but not super flexible.
You get a decent amount of traction with this outsole’s tread. Even so, some runners have reported issues in wet conditions.
The Kinvara 12 feels different than the previous iteration. If you are looking for a firmer ride with more energy return than previous Kinvaras, the Kinvara 12 excels.
Cushioning is really personal preference, so try these shoes on to see if there’s enough for you. Personally, I forget I’m wearing them, and I like the lightly cushioned, high-energy feel!
Some support is provided through the guidance system and internal heel counter pads, but this neutral shoe is really built for lightweight energy return. So don’t expect much in the way of added stability.
This shoe is a smooth and reliable daily trainer, perfect for days when you want a firm, lightweight shoe. The Kinvara 12 is really versatile and will perform well for fast or slow days, from short to long runs. No matter where you want to take the Kinvara 12, you’ll get lightweight comfort.
Saucony Kinvara 11 vs Kinvara 12
There aren’t major changes between the Kinvara 11 and Kinvara 12. The upper has changed in design, but the snug fit and breathable mesh remains the same.
The lace system has changed slightly, but it continues to be a traditional lacing style vs. the ISO fit found in Saucony’s many other shoes.
Some runners may not notice it, but the Kinvara 12 now has FORMFIT, a contoured design under the insert that should fit better to the shape of the bottom of your foot.
Saucony Kinvara 12 Stats
Type: Neutral / Minimal
Weight: 7.5 oz (men’s) // 6.5 oz (women’s)
Heel-to-toe drop: 4 mm
Width Options: Standard, Wide