The Saucony Kinvara 4 was met with delight last time I reviewed them, so the new Kinvara 5 was highly anticipated, ever since glimpsing sight of them just before the London Marathon 2014
The immediate difference between these and the Kinvara 4 is the feel of them. The Kinvara 4 was almost like a slipper, and my feet felt a little like they were swimming. However in the new Saucony Kinvara 5, they feel a lot more secure, and much more like a shoe, which depending on how you like your shoes is a good thing or a bad thing. However, the fit of these is in my opinion superior to the previous ones, still leaving a nice open feeling around your foot, but making you feel a little safer in them. The outsole has also changed slightly, meaning that you can feel the triangular lugs slightly more. This sounds bad, however, it is an odd sensation, and feels great. You can really feel the floor through all that midsole foam, allowing you to get a more natural ride.
The midsole has changed very little, and still uses a 4mm heel drop, with a PowerGrid heel unit for excellent cushioning. The only real change has been in the heel, where Saucony have completely decoupled it, offering a smoother transition from heel to toe, and therefore a slightly more comfortable, softer and smoother ride.
The upper is where the vast majority of changes have been made. The Arch lock has been added, and has finally been made to make your foot feel secure, without interfering with the feel of the shoe. This has been done by putting a strap between the two layers of mesh, and using it as an independent eyelet allowing you to really customise the fit of the midfoot. The Flexfilm has also been altered slightly, to provide more flexibility, and more comfort. The heel unit has been altered to look and feel more like a regular shoe. Rather than using pods on either side of the achilles, they have gone for a more universal feel, adding memory foam in the full way around the collar. Personally, I quite liked the feel of the old pod system, however can see why the change has been made, as a few people had complained this was interfering.
The outsole has been slightly extended along the lateral side of the shoe, meaning a slightly greater surface area of harder wearing material. The old Kinvara wore out fairly quickly if you were a slight supinator, so again, this is a wise change. However, I'd still like to see more outsole, as you still have to be very efficient in your landing position, and any slight deviation from the centre results in you hitting just foam. However, the interesting part is the triangular piston lugs. These, as you may have guessed, are designed to work like pistons, pushing your foot back up after impact. It has never been that noticeable until now, and you can really feel each of the lugs, almost like a spring in each step.
The Saucony Kinvara 5 is the best Kinvara yet. It offers just as much flexibility and cushioning as the previous version, yet offers more in the ways of fit and durability. The fun is still there as well, which is great to see. the weight of them means the run is effortless and you do feel very fast whilst wearing these. They are slightly more suited to heel strikers and transitional runners than the previous versions, but still offer all the benefits of a 4mm heel drop, and plenty of cushioning to boot. My only criticisms come in the form of the heel unit and outsole. The pod system has gone, which I felt really secured your foot into place. However, the decoupling of the midsole at the heel has really helped make the heel strike smoother, so that's a big plus on that point. The outsole could do with slightly more substance, as like I mentioned, it has the potential to wear out if you aren't an efficient runner. However, I can see why these changes (or lack of regarding the outsole) have been made, as the whole idea of the Kinvara 5 is to feel fast, yet comfortable. I give it a 9 out of 10