Sorry that my review for the Saucony Kinvara 4 (K4) took this long. I had my reasons you see. Besides being busy as usual, I was trying to figure out the difference it has as compared to its predecessor, the K3. And after having to run at different pace in numerous distance with a max single run of 72KM from a DNF at the Craze Ultra 2013, I guess I've spotted at least a few upgrades to the K4 which is rather noticeable. But before I continue on, you may want to re-read my review on the K3 (here) back then to have a slight recap on it as I will just keep it short on the K4 since I will only be highlighting the major changes. Another read will be my first impression of the K4 (here). So yeah, let's go...
The Saucony PowerGrid Kinvara 4
The K4 was launch on back in May 2013 during the Boston Marathon but only arrived on Malaysian shores early September 2013. Together with RSH (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and together with new ambassadors Jason and Zijill, we had a successful launch for the highly anticipated shoe.
The official unveiling of the Kinvara 4 during its launch day
The K4 shares most its DNA from all its past 3 predecessor. At 4mm off set with a 22mm heel stack height and 18mm forefoot height, it hits the sweet spot for those who are looking a natural running shoes combined with reasonable cushioning. It looks pretty much the same since the first version was released and weights in at about 216 Grams for a size men US8.5, the same weight as compared with the K3. Every generation, small changes were made based on feedback gathered and I am pleased to know (and feel) that most of the changes made to the 4th generation has been a positive one, at least for me.
Let's start with the upper. The most obvious change here at least to our eyes will be the re-positioning of the FlexFilm layers. Gone are the "zebra stripes" at the front which resulted in lesser films hence allowing a slightly more flex and also air intake. Try putting the shoe on without socks and swing them in an air-condition room. You will feel a slight increase gush of of air entering the shoes compared to the K3. As for flex, it was not really noticeable until you really pay attention to it. However, with the "zebra stripes" gone, I felt less secure on the toe box which resulted some swaying of my feet. A slightly thicker socks solved my problem though.
Repositioned FlexFilm on the toebox
FlexFilm pattern on the toe box as seen on the Virrata (left), Kinvara 4 (middle) and Kinvara 3 (right)
Moving to the rear of the shoe where the collar is, is where the"zebra stripes" new home is. The FlexFilm layers are now concentrated around the collar which gives the ankle a very secure fit. I really adore this new change as it held up my ankle securely especially when I take sharp turns during my runs. And with the HydraMax foam within the collar and a new improve collar which is said to be a bit softer and less irritating on the Achilles region (not that I can feel over the K3), my ankle felt great!
FlexFilm "zebra stripes" around the collar region
The next major change will be the midsole, an upgrade from ProGrid to PowerGrid, a lighter, bouncier and more durable foam. Honestly speaking, this is rather a protection feature for those who strikes the ground on the heel. A 4mm heel to toe offset encourages mid to forefoot striking but do not forget that one does loose concentration at times especially when fatigue sets in. And that is when heel striking will generally come at times. With a cushy rear, it may just help with it. Personally for me, I didn't find this upgrade useful for me as I weight pretty light. However, it may come in handy for those who weight heavier. So yes, it's a positive upgrade here.
Midsole upgraded to PowerGrid
Same outsole pattern from the K3
So there you have it. Only some slight upgrades to a already magnificent shoe, a legend of its class in Saucony's stable. Nothing much has changed from the K3 and I certainly hope the successor K5 will retain most is DNA from here, perhaps securing the toe box a little.
I've used the K3 for my Comrades Marathon 2013 which fared really well and the K4 will most likely be my shoe of choice for the 2014 "Down" run edition. Just hope that next year's colourway which I've targeted will arrive just in time. *grin...
The Saucony Kinvara 4 is now available at all Saucony authorized dealers such as Running Lab - Tropicana City Mall, selected RSH, Studio R and Stadium stores nationwide retailing a recommended selling price of RM399.00.
This review pair of Saucony Kinvara 4 is given complimentary to me by RSH (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd as part of my sponsorship program with Saucony.