December 7, 2012

Review : Saucony Kinvara Trail

  • Type : Minimal
  • Use : Trail running
  • Price : About $120

Since I started running on trails, and mostly after the Copper Canyons Ultra, I realized that there is terrain that requires a sturdier protection for my feet. Sharp, protruding rocks are unforgiving, and I think rock-plating has its place in a serious trail shoe’s feature list. Sadly, most rock-plated footwear I have tried so far comes with thicker, elevated outsoles and some unwelcome heel-to-toe drop, which contributed to, if not caused, an ankle sprain some weeks ago. The Saucony Kinvara Trail is a rock-plated trail runner, but it features a low-to-the-ground approach and a slight 4mm drop, which intrigued me enough that I purchased a pair.

First impression
The Kinvara Trail looks and feels like a tough shoe, but remains very light. It features an aggressive outsole with v-shaped patterns and a solid rock-plate, completed by a double row of cylindrical studs that resemble ice spikes. The upper mesh is light and breathable and the tongue, partly sewn in place, is secured by a standard lacing system. Nothing out of the ordinary, no otherworldly feature here, which is one of the main reasons for my interest. The Kinvara Trail just plain looks solid.

Trail test
There’s no other way to know if a trail shoe has what it takes. I simply laced them up and went for a run. And another. And another. From light gravel trails to single track, the Kinvara Trail has performed admirably. So far, I have worn them on rocky trails covered with wet autumn leaves, muddy dirt tracks, in the gnarly Copper Canyons of Mexico and on rocky technical trails in Texas. In every environment, the shoe proved grippy and tough, and also comfortable over long distances. There’s no other way to put it; I love it.

I think Saucony has just created one of the best trail running shoes on the market right now. It does everything brilliantly, without exotic bells and whistles. Just common sense; it’s light, low, rock-plated, grippy, flexible and comfortable. The only little qualm I have about it is that the lacing has too many grommets for my taste, and that makes the shoe a little finicky to tighten properly. But this is easily fixed by changing the lacing so it skips every second grommet, then snipping the laces.

High points
  • I won’t hide it : I love this shoe
  • Aggressive outsole is very grippy
  • Rock-plated, but remains very flexible
  • Light and minimalist

Low points
  • Aside from the lacing micro-issue, I have nothing else to point out.

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