Kinvara 6: A Low Drop, Transitionally Cushioned Road Shoe. We jumped on the Kinvara bandwagon pretty early. Like 6 generations ago when we met the former Saucony VP of Sales at the USNWC and he told us they had a new concept on the way (and don't even get on us about the nuance of the store only opening up in 2013...we've been running a LOT longer than that!). This was one of the first shoes on the market to combine a more "natural" drop (the difference in cushion beneath the heel vs. the cushion under the forefoot) with anything other than a thin layer of rubber, meaning it was a shoe that promoted a more efficient foot strike without sacrificing a reasonable amount of cushion for the runner who had not trained their feet for the stresses of barefoot running. We were excited at the time and went through a number of pairs of those original shoes. They were winners and launched a whole new category of "mainstream minimalist" shoes.
Six iterations later, we think the Kinvara 6 is better than ever. It runs a bit narrower than some of our other low-drop offerings, meaning it provides a more sporty and familiar feel in the toe box for those transitioning from traditional, elevated heel shoes. Its incredibly lightweight, meaning the only thing between you and your fastest run yet is sacrificing a month's worth of Starbucks vente coffees to plunk down the coin for a new pair.
So start taking advantage of free refills and get over here. You'll get your buzz as you speed by in the new Kinvara 6s.
The Kinvara 6 is Currently Available ($100).
Zealot ISO: A Low Drop, Comfort Cushioned Road Shoe. It has been our general experience that when a runner chooses to pursue shoes with a more "natural" drop (in our world ~6mm or fewer difference between the amount of cushion under the forefoot and heel) they often follow quickly with wanting "less" shoe around their foot as well. The result is that "minimalist" shoes have less supportive uppers, fewer layers, and less of a traditional feel to them. That's all well and good, but what if you want to become a more efficient runner and actually liked the way your old shoes felt?
Well, the answer is you give the Saucony Zealot ISO a shot. We're pretty confident you'll be happy you did.
To us, the feel of the Zealot is a combination of two things: a sock-likematerial providing comfort and crease-free fit with an external support system that adapts to the exact shape of your foot. The marketing term is "ISO-Fit", but we try to avoid that type of propaganda. What it means to us is that our customers can get the secure feeling of a rock-solid heel cup and dialed-in instep while taking advantage of a very responsible 4mm drop that allows them to land in a manner more conducive to a long, injury free running career.
It's the best of all worlds for folks who were happy before but have realized that most of the major running companies care more about marketing giant air/gel heels than looking out for their customers. Saucony is looking out, and the Zealot proves it. Did we mention how awesome it feels on the foot? Yup. We just did.
The Zealot ISO is Currently Available ($130).
Breakthru: A High Drop, Transitionally Cushioned Road Shoe. This is the one with POP(!!). This is the shoe you put on and just know you're going to get everything out of your run. It offers no excuses and no apologies. You are what you are and it is what it is, which can be a really good thing.
We like the Breakthru for runs ranging between speedwork at the track and a half-marathon. Longer than that and we think you'll want something that coddles your feet a bit more, but up to that point..who-hoo. This is not a sloppy shoe - it wraps your foot in a continuous layer of seamless upper and lets you know that when you make a move, it will be ready for you. The midsole (you know, the part beneath your foot) is well cushioned - meaning you won't feel every pebble as you run down the street - but remains extremely responsive - meaning you won't be wasting any energy when you land in this one.
While we consider this shoe for fast running, some of our most appreciative customers have been shorter distance runners just making the transition to the sport. You certainly don't need to be a professional to appreciate the nuances of these shoes, and we've received excellent feedback from folks at the front of the pack and those running with the mayor just ahead of the sweep car. The shoe looks good, feels great (especially for lower-volume feet...if you think you have a narrow foot, this may be your panacea) and provides one of the most nuanced rides in the store. Get in here. Get it on your feet. Then get out there.
The Breakthru is Currently Available ($100).
Triumph ISO 2: A High Drop, Comfort Cushioned Road Shoe. Its always good to identify the shoe a company is really, really excited about. The one they can't stop talking about. OK, yeah: the one they won't shut up about. It's generally the shoe they're throwing everything at - all their technology, all their marketing, all their...all. Folks, this is that shoe.
The original Triumph ISO was one of our most satisfying surprises when we brought in the Saucony line. Folks who really know us know we suggest runners choose the lowest amount of heel-to-toe offset (drop) and cushion appropriate for their running style, and people are often very surprised to hear such an approach would also embrace a high drop or high cushioned shoe. But it does (within limits, folks...this still clocks in at a mere 8mm drop - over 30% less than a traditional shoe, but the most Saucony offers and the highest offset we support). We were big fans of the Saucony Triumph ISO, and we told everyone who would listen.
Well, 2016 brings the first update to this franchise shoe, and we can tell you the folks at Saucony are even more excited about this one. They've introduced a new material - optimistically called "EveRun" (Get it? Get it?), and placed just beneath the foot - that actually provides a bit more bounce. They tweaked their "ISO-fit" system (see our Zealot review for info on this), and adjusted the fit of the upper based on runner feedback. What does all this equal? Well, its a more "dialed-in" fit, which means folks transitioning down from traditional shoes will find it to be...almost exactly what they were used to. But better. More bounce for the ounce, less elevation in the heel, an amazing level of comfort, and a shoe capable of carrying you to the finish of your first mile or your first marathon. This is a pretty amazing accomplishment, and makes the Triumph ISO 2 a shoe we're really proud to have available for our customers.
The Triumph ISO 2 is Currently Available ($150).