ProGrid is Saucony’s cushioning technology found in the heel of the Saucony Kinvara TR. They are more responsive than EVA and provide better cushioning in a lighter package. The ProGrid is specifically located in the heel for those odd times (mostly on trail downhill’s) where one would strike with the heel. The few times I did strike with the heel it felt fine, but the shoe is overall a harder shoe so don’t expect a marshmallow like softness to the heel. Only placing the ProGrid in the heel means that the shoe is lightened and still maintains some proprioception in the forefoot that would be lost with too much cushioning.
Saucony has done a stellar job with the EVA+ on the Saucony Kinvara TR! EVA+ is EVA foam that comprises of the rest of the shoes midsole that is very resistant to abrasion. When going downhill fast one tends to scuff the shoes against rocks, especially on the sides of the shoes and the normal EVA foam is very susceptible to damage here. So far with the EVA+ I haven’t dealt any damage to the shoe’s midsole, so thumbs up from me on this technology. It seems however; the effect of the EVA+ results in a relatively firm shoe with a hard ride. There’s little creasing visible in the midsole, so the cushioning should last longer than normal.
EBO is the last of the Saucony technologies located in the midsole of the Saucony Kinvara TR trail shoes. This is their version of the classic rock plate and works very well, more so than I first thought was possible for this class of shoe. It extends to the middle of the shoe and really stops you feeling every little pebble while out on the trails, but the compromise is less flexibility and trail feel. I prefer the EBO as I run more rocky trails versus say the Merrell Mix Master where you had more ground feel that would do better on less stony ground. Horses for courses as they say! The EBO does again add to a noticeably firmer, almost hard riding shoe.
Saucony Kinvara TR Outsole
The outsole on the Saucony Kinvara TR is an interesting one. The lugs have a chevron shape (think Salomon Speedcross but not as deep) and are orientated both backwards and forwards facing between the forefoot and the heel. There are smaller extra lugs on the toes, which I love as they help to dig in when going up short steep sections. There are little black knobs (similar to where you would find spikes on track shoes) between the main lugs, which should add to the grip of the shoes as they are flexible and dig in more. I haven’t tried them in muddy conditions yet, but with damp soil and rocks they still performed well.
The rubber on the Saucony Kinvara TR outsole is relatively hard so wear so far has been satisfactory. Initially I struggled to get grip from these shoes on the trails and was really not impressed. They seemed to break in however and now they perform fine. I’m not sure why this was, I think there may have been some sort of wax coating left on the outsole from the manufacturing process, who knows. Again, the hard rubber on the outsole with the firm EVA in the midsole and EBO makes for a firm to hard ride, but does inspire speed and protect you from trail debris. Strangely enough this shoe didn’t feel too bad on the road, so they can work well for road to trail duty.
The outsole also wraps around the midsole in areas, so this adds some protection (and weight) that is missing in many shoes of this type. I like it, but racing snakes may find the shoe too heavy overall with all the protective elements.
While the initial trepidation about the road heritage and grip issues were a problem for me with the Saucony Kinvara TR, I soon learned to actually like and possibly even love these trail racing flats.
If you are in the market for a low drop shoe for racing or fast trail runs to switch up with your beefy training shoes or something more beefy than your Vibrams, you could do worse than giving the Saucony Kinvara TR trail shoes a try.
Just don’t expect a trail version of the Kinvara.
The Saucony Kinvara TR is available in men’s and ladies versions at specialist Saucony stockists nationwide at an RRP of R1199.00