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The Cheap Minimal Shoe / Cheap "Barefoot Shoe" Review Roundup
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September 30, 2012
2:17 pm
Cal
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Whoops! It looks like the link I gave isn't going to work - apparently too long.

If you're interested, once on the forum (which I think the link will take you to) the thread name is "Just took my first walk."

Peace

September 30, 2012
2:33 pm
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Halifax, UK
Gnoll
Forum Posts: 364
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June 5, 2011
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Slapping with huaraches comes about from improper tying. I'm size 11 (US 12, coz you guys always have to be bigger, right 🙂 ) and got mine tied up just perfect. It's trial and error. I do a lot of road work in my Invisible Shoes (Contacts) and some extreme downhill on grass, which always ends up surfing. I went with wide ribbon style laces, which can be pulled up tight without biting.

Trial and error ...

My minimalist footwear inventory consists of:

Invisible Shoe Contacts (6mm)

Home made Vibram Cherries (4mm)

Reebok Travel Trainers

Unbranded zero drop faux leather trainers

VFF Treksports

Inov-8 286 and 240s for proper (not manicured) trail and cross-country running

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

September 30, 2012
3:05 pm
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First-Eater
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February 22, 2010
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Julia:

A lot of people seem to like the Soft Stars...but at $65, they don't qualify as "cheap", so unless they see fit to send me some, I doubt I'll be reviewing them.

Cal:

I've had the Invisible Shoes for many months, because I was given them to review and I really, really wanted to like them for a wider range of uses...but I've been unsuccessful in keeping them quiet no matter how I walk. 

Perhaps if I could use the standard "string between the toes" tying method they'd be less noisy...but I've never in my life been able to wear flip-flops or anything with a toe separator (instant pain and blisters), and the Invisible Shoes are no exception (I tried).  And as I look at them on my feet, I realize that there's simply too much space between my toes and the sole of the sandal, and they're going to slap no matter how I walk.  (Regular sandals, e.g. Tevas, don't have that problem because the sole is very rigid and has lots of toe spring.)

The link munching isn't your fault, by the way: it's a bug in my comment software, which I hope to replace sometime soon.

JS

September 30, 2012
5:29 pm
Mountain Evan Chang
Guest

Richard Nikoley once mentioned the Vans Bali. I tried on these slip-ons, and opted for the Vans SPRLS which are laced instead. They're made on the same wide last. They blend in pretty darn well with traditionally-shod folks.

September 30, 2012
6:17 pm
PattyH
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I'm a fan of Fila SkeleToes. The soles are amazingly flexible, yet have enough padding to protect my feet in industrial environments. The price is $25 now, down from about $80. My feet are very narrow and I've broken my foot in the past when it slid off regular shoe soles. The SkeleToes fit like gloves and allow me to feel and grip every surface. I don't wear them in the wet, they smell like a swamp if they get wet.

September 30, 2012
8:43 pm
Franklin Chen
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I ran my first race today in Invisible Shoes and have some concerns as I think about how to move forward. I am curious whether going from 4mm to 6mm helps a lot with the problems, and also am interested in advice about lacing systems and the rain problem I have.

October 1, 2012
1:16 pm
Charlayna
Guest

Has anyone else had issues with VFFs and holes? My VFFs I bought last summer started to get holes worn into some toes and the balls of the foot within 4 months...

I still wear them for indoor kayaking/weight lifting, but I'm afraid to purchase another pair since these ones started falling apart so quickly 🙁

October 1, 2012
8:23 pm
Rob
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I've worn Vibram Five Fingers since mid March of this year. They definitely are my go to footwear. Probably have had them on 85% of the time versus anything else. Absolutely amazing...
walking, hiking, sprinting, biking. They are so comfortable. They fit my feet quite nicely and have decent sole and end of toe protection. Lower back issues are now non existent although I also give credit to chiropractic care over the same time period. Feet are strong and posture has totally improved. It's like getting a foot massage anytime you wear these things. They have held up extremely well. They can get a funky smell to them (just soak them overnight before tossing them in the washer). I have just purchased a pair of VVF cold(er) weather type boots, all leather with zippers. Got some socks too! Looking forward to wearing them, not so much the weather. I highly recommend VFFs.

October 1, 2012
10:12 pm
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MEC:

Skate shoes are definitely the closest mainstream alternative to a true minimal shoe.  I can't wait to see the finished Primal Professional shoes.

How much are you pulling in your avatar?

PattyH:

If the Skeletoes are indeed down to $25 I may have to review a pair!

Franklin:

The 6mm sole didn't make as much difference as I thought to the ground feel: mainly it made them heavier, and I prefer the 4mm.

I think the problem with the lacing systems that don't go between the toes (like mine) are that the slap gets worse.  I'm doing some experiments right now to see if I can mitigate it somewhat.

Re: rain and traction in sandals, I found that wearing socks solved the slipping problem during river hikes with a backpack.  You'd need tabi socks (with a separate first toe) to do it with the huaraches, though!

Charlayna:

A minimal shoe will have a minimal sole, which will wear through more quickly since there's so much less of it.

Rob:

I'm sure I'd love VFFs if my toes were the right shape!

JS

October 2, 2012
5:33 am
mark
Guest

Great write up about alternatives to 5 Fingers. Nothing beats a free pair of running shoes that were given to us at conception!

I have Invisible shoes and they work great on clean trails and the pavement.

October 3, 2012
4:48 am
Mike OD
Guest

Right now I basically have 3 pairs of footwear (live in a warmer climate so snow is not really an issue): Speedo water socks (not sure which model...but they were on clearance for like $9), Chuck Ts and simple sandals.

I find the Speedos are great for any kind of workout.

Chuck Ts are my other workout option, although for trail runs they slip too much with the flat tread (and I won't even tell you about the time I attempted a trail run in them after it rained....comical at best).

If...when I buy a new shoe, I will probably go back to the Solomon water shoes that are super flexible/mesh and have a decent tread. I had a pair of those that I wore all to hell for 2+ years straight. They were a great shoe!

October 12, 2012
12:57 am
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mark:

If shoes weren't required in most places, I'm sure we'd go around barefoot more often, resulting in tougher feet that wouldn't have so many issues, even in urban areas.

Mike OD:

Chucks aren't very good in wet conditions.  Fortunately that's where water shoes shine!

JS

October 12, 2012
7:05 am
Madison, WI, USA
Gnoll
Forum Posts: 75
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September 24, 2012
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I know I would!  I had an employee at the local Barnes & Noble telling me I had to "keep my shoes on" every Tuesday I was there (I would unconsciously slip out of the sandals I was wearing).

 

I've been looking into minimal shoes for awhile, but haven't gotten any yet and probably won't be until next spring when the weather warms up.  Thanks for another informative article.

"Often we forget . . . the sky reaches to the ground . . . with each step . . . we fly."  ~We Fly, The House Jacks

October 16, 2012
10:20 pm
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Jen W:

Options for usable winter minimal shoes are, unfortunately, very limited.

JS

December 11, 2012
6:19 am
lane
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Wrestling shoes can be found for under $20, are very light,with a flexible sole. They have the benifit of no arch support and a zero drop. I have found their sole lasts longer than the water shoes and with laces they provide a stable running surface. The only down side I have found is the "high top" design. Overall they offer a good blend of cost, barefoot "feel", and durability.

December 20, 2012
2:48 pm
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lane:

I've looked at wrestling shoes before -- but I can't find a pair that aren't obviously, well, wrestling shoes.  And since I never wrestled in school, I'd rather not make it look like I can!

That being said, I'd like to try a pair someday.

JS

March 23, 2013
7:37 am
backpacking essentia
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Wow, this piece of writing is pleasant, my younger sister is analyzing these things, therefore I am going to tell her.

March 26, 2013
5:37 pm
Corey
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IMO if you want a good quality minimal shoe you might as well just pony out the extra few bucks to get a shoe that will last for awhile. Why waste an extra 15 - 20$ for a shoe that is "close to" minimal?

March 26, 2013
10:27 pm
Corey
Guest

In addition to my previous post, If your looking for a decent minimal shoe in my experience New Balance makes the best quality shoes. I'd recommend getting something like the MR10 for a good minimal running shoe, or getting the MT10 for a good trail running shoe. As I said in my previous post I'd recommend *AGAINST* wasting money on a cheap "almost" minimal shoe.

 

[JS edit: removed direct links to online store.  I don't mind people linking their own articles from time to time, but I reserve the right to edit anything blatantly commercial.  I will also usually edit video embeds to plain links.]

March 27, 2013
12:15 am
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Corey:

1. The difference between a $10-$20 water shoe or skate shoe and a $120+ NB Minimus isn't "a few bucks".

2. Water shoes are actually far more minimal than VFFs...let alone the New Balances, which aren't even zero drop!

That said, there are reasons to get something like an Inov8, an NB Minimus, a Nike Free, or even a Newton...but it's not because they're minimal (they aren't) or offer good ground feel (they don't).  Running long distances on pavement or very hard ground seems to be their best use...but I'm more interested in trail use and everyday use, for which I prefer something with better ground feel.  (And that comes in non-fluorescent colors, preferably black.)

JS

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