A few weeks ago, Saucony offered me a free pair of shoes. I looked through their shoe collection and decided on a shoe that I wouldn't normally buy. I chose the Saucony Kinvara TR2 in hopes that it would be a good short distance trail racing shoe. I have lots of running shoes including trail shoes, but I don't have many options for lightweight trail shoes. Like many trail runners, I often do distance runs in Cascadias. I also like Inov8s and New Balance. These shoes are all very nice, but I was looking for a shoe to race in on the trails.
Last weekend I signed up for a 7.5 mile trail race. This was the perfect place to try out the Saucony Kinvara TR2. The course was not too technical, but it had a lot of different terrain. It had some elevation change, roots, rocks, deep mud, and a few stream crossings. The shoe performed as well as I had hoped it would. For me, this is a shoe with a purpose and the purpose is short distance trail racing. It felt fast while still providing enough protection. I felt nimble running down steep hills. It also drained water well as one of the stream crossings was over my knees.
I chose this color because I loved the way it looked. I was looking for a fast shoe to trail race in, so I wanted a shoe that looked fast. They call this color navy/citron/orange. It also comes in blue/black. To me, the blue/black looked a little plain, but I know everyone doesn't like a flashy shoe. A friend of mine ordered a pair of the women's Kinvara TR2 in the red/gray/white color (shown below). This color looks really nice also. I wouldn't describe it as red though. It's more of a dark copper color. The women's shoe is also available in gray/blue/citron. In both the men's and women's shoes, there are little opalescent accents on the shoe if you look closely in the right light.
Since I knew there was going to be stream crossings in this race, I was sockless in the shoe. The upper was comfortable and presented no problems to me. Even when wet, it dried quickly and did not cause any blisters on my feet. It has two layers of mesh with flexfilm overlays to hold the shape. Sometimes when I run sockless, my toes eat through the mesh. I believe this dual layer of mesh will be fairly durable. That being said, I wish the upper had a little elasticity to it. It felt loose in some places and tight in others. The tongue is "bootie-constructed". This is supposed to keep rocks out of the shoe. I don't think they hit a homerun with the tongue. It connects between the two layers of mesh and leaves a pocket to hold rocks. My only real complaints about this shoe are with the upper. I think these are minor issues for most runners, but they can easily be fixed by Saucony.
Some runners will find this shoe to be too narrow, while others will like the snug fit. I usually like wider shoes, but liked the fit of this shoe, at least for trail racing. The shoe fit tight in the midfoot, which I liked when going down hills with speed. I felt sure footed and did not slide inside the shoe. Te heel collar held my foot well. I saw two other runners lose a shoe in the calf high mud while my shoes stayed on my feet fine.
The midsole is cushioned with powergrid and ssl eva. I think some runners would like a little bit more cushioning perhaps from the ssl eva, but it was enough for me. I typically run in racing flats or similar shoes, so I don't expect a lot of cushioning. The midsole also features a nylon fiber mesh rock plate. You can see it through holes in the outsole. It provided plenty of protection from the sharp rocks. The shoe was flexible enough for me, but some runners may find it a bit stiff. I'm not sure if the stiffness will loosen up or not since I've really only run 7.5 miles in this shoe.
The outsole provided plenty of traction. It performed well on loose rocks and also in the mud. The heel is beveled. I'm not much of a heel striker, but I guess it probably hits the ground when ground down steep hills. The rubber is soft, but still looks to be durable. This outsole works great on a number of different surfaces.
Saucony lists the weight as 7.8 oz for the men's shoe and 6.8 oz for the women's version. They list the heel height as 16.5mm, the forefoot height as 12.5mm and the offset as 4mm.
After the race was finished, the Saucony Kinvara TR2s looked almost new thanks to the stream crossings. Most of the trail races I sign up for are 50ks. I don't think I would wear this shoe for a 50k, but you never know. I do like this shoe for shorter distance trail races. For me, I would wear this shoe on 15 mile or less trail races that I thought I could run fast. It felt fast and responsive on all parts of the trail. I think there is some room for improvement in the upper of this shoe, but all in all, it will be a good trail racer for me.