Thursday, August 07, 2014

Saucony Kinvara 5...

By Frank

The Saucony Kinvara 3 (K3) propelled me to my second Comrades finish in year 2013 and the adventure did not stop there. The Kinvara 4 (K4) then quickly become my training shoe for my third Comrades and also at the same time bringing me to the finish line at the Titi 100KM 2014 and also 90KM at the Twilight Ultra Challenge 2014.

The Saucony Kinvara 5 with my Comrades bronze medal.

My "love" affair with the Saucony Kinvara series became stronger over the two years and now the relationship continues with the fifth generation, and it became stronger than ever when it helped me to my third and best Comrades finish ever! And 2 weeks later, helped me to complete yet another 90KM at the Back 2 Endurance 2014 earning a third placing! All in the same shoe, the Saucony Kinvara 5 (K5)!

Lateral view of the Kinvara 5.

Medial view of the Kinvara 5.

The Kinvara series has retain much of its DNA since the first generation. Still at 4mm heel to toe drop with stack height of 22mm versus 18mm while retaining the same weight of 216 grams for size US8.5, minor tweaks has been made to make turn the good shoe into a great shoe. While many agreed that the K3 was the best among all with the K4 suffered some durability problem on the mesh, I must say that it isn't what you think until you try the K5!

I personally enjoyed the K3 very much with the first pair enjoying approximately 700KM running distance before I retired it. The second pair which was my race shoe for Comrades Marathon 2013 went through about 300KM before I decided to immortalise it due to the contribution it made towards my big race. No tearing issue and wear and tear of the outsole was reasonably good. The K4 however, though as enjoyable and performed pretty similarly to the K3, yes suffered from some tearing issues on the toe box's mesh. Mine started to show after hitting 400KM.

Across the generations. The fifth, fourth and the third.

Saucony was quick to respond to the problem with the K4 and that gave birth to the K5. The mono mesh used in previous generations is now replaced by a new stronger but yet light and flexible mesh. And yes, it is very breathable too and one does not need to touch it to know its new. It looks different too and in a good way as it gave the shoe a very clean look. Some minor re-positioning of the FlexFilm material is made to strengthen certain high wear and tear areas without making any sacrifices in weight and flexibility too.

Closer look at the new mono mesh and the re-positioning of the FlexFilm.

Hidden under the new mesh at the mid foot region is a new system call the Pro-Lock which is made by some plasticity spandex material, first introduced in Saucony's track and field footwear. As the name suggest, it's a system that runs at the sides of the internal bootie of the tongue to lock the foot down in the shoe while we run. And instead of going across the foot, it goes under it and it felt good as it dynamically move with the foot's movement secured by the laces.

The Pro-Lock system.

Next, the minimal collar is now plush with memory foam padding call RunDry all around it. Gone are the days when I had to take precaution in wearing mini crew socks to minimise the chances of chaffing at the Achilles region, The plushness of the new material is soft to the touch and grabs my ankle gently without any irritating issues. And I must say, this is probably the best upgrade in the "Feel" department!

RunDry pampers the Achilles.

Now with the upper and cosmetic department heading towards a positive change, next will be the outsole. The top of the range PowerGrid foam continues to cushion off the impact. And while I had no durability issues on the K3 and K4's outsole, Saucony decided to add additional rubbers on the lateral side of the mid foot area. Not that I can feel any difference but perhaps the outsole can last longer. One thing that I do feel or rather say hear the difference will be the suction sound from K3 and K4 whenever I walk on mosaic tiles. Gone is the sound from K5 and I suspect is due from the tread design of the rubbers which literary gives more traction especially on tile pavements.

The Kinvara 5 outsole (bottom) compared to the Kinvara 3 and 4 (top).

Many including Peter Larson aka RunBlogger has said that the K5 is the best Kinvara ever made. While I've not worn the K1 and K2 before as I find them too soft, I do believe Saucony is heading at the right direction with the K5 and it is much a superior shoe over the K3 and K4 and I am starting to see that some changes are made based on the racing heritage especially the Type A series. Hey.. After all it's the shoe that smashed by Comrades time!

The Saucony Kinvara 5 in a wide arrays of colours should be available nationwide at authorised Saucony dealers such as Running Lab, Stadium, Studio R and Royal Sporting House beginning September 2014 and will retail at a recommended selling price off RM399.00. And there may be even a special water resistant version call the RunShield series coming to our shores too.

Disclaimer - The pair of Saucony Kinvara 5 reviewed here is a complimentary media sample pair given as part of my sponsorship program with Saucony Malaysia.

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