Less Is More: The Minimalist Shoe For You
Published on 11/13/2012
By Yori Niculescu
In the past couple years it seems like less is more, when it comes to shoes. Whether you think it’s valid or a product of the hype machine, the veritable explosion of minimalist footwear has made it clear that there is a place in the world of feet for shoes that don’t dull your foot’s senses. We’ve taken a look at some of the more notable pieces of minimalist footwear.
The Fitness ‘Footer: Inov-8 Bare –XF 210
Avid crossfitters and weight lifters have probably already heard of the Inov-8 Bare XF 250. It has a zero drop to prevent lifters from leaning forward during squats, deadlifts and the like, while the hard and sticky sole allows lifters to throw steel without fear of losing their footing with 200 pounds raised over their heads. The synthetic uppers will keep feet well ventilated, minimizing chafing and blisters during sprints, while the sides of the shoe are fitted with an abrasion-resistant coating that is perfect for rope climbs.
The Foot Glove: Vibram Five Fingers Trek LS
Arguably the forefathers of the minimalist shoe movement, one of Vibram Five Finger’s most popular developments was the Trek hiking shoe. People loved this shoe for its form-fitting leather and casual-ish look. The newest release for their Fall 2012 line is a revamp design of the Trek platform called the Trek LS. Although the some things go unchanged, like the 4mm EVA midsole and TC-1 rubber, one facet of the shoe couldn’t be more different-the addition of laces in lieu of the original Trek’s Velcro strap, allowing for a more adjustable fit, particularly for wearers with wider feet.
The Caveman’s Choice: Invisible Shoes Feel True 4mm Connect
The Invisible Shoes Feel True 4mm Connect is probably the most primitive minimalist shoe we’ve seen besides just duct taping the bottoms of your feet. These sandals are made of recycled materials and have no upper, just a sole and laces. The appeal to these shoes is obvious-you’re running caveman style, pretty much the way people did for thousands of years. Developed by two former employees from Reebok and Nike, the whole contour of the sole was designed to fit your foot just right. With custom tread and dimples on the foot bed to hold your foot in place, you can tell that every inch of this shoe has it purpose. What’s more appealing is that these shoes are customizable. From the laces, to the sole size, to the fit, it’s all up to you. The motto of the company is to “feel the world”. With as shoe so simple yet so thought out, feeling the world just be dopable.
Hiking Sans Heel Drop: Vivobarefoot Off Road Hi
The team at Vivobarefoot has developed a shoe that trail geeks can love. The Off Road Hi is one of the best minimalist hiking boots we’ve come across. With a 2.5mm outsole and 4.5mm lugs coupled with a 3mm removable midsole, barefooters are guaranteed the “close to the ground” feeling to which they’re accustomed without sacrificing protection from the trail. And while hikers will be feeling the ground beneath their feet, they won’t be feeling the water during river crossings thanks the waterproof sock liner. Bonus points: they look pretty sharp, too, so they’re at home at the bar and on the peak.
The Original Barefoot Shoe: Your Feet (Seriously)
We’ve run in countless pairs of minimalist shoes, but after a while of walking, running, and playing in “almost” barefoot shoes, you start wonder what it would be like to take the plunge and actually go barefoot. So gave it a shot - I left the Bikilas in the closet and went running with naked feet. To say I was experiencing sensory overload was an understatement. I ran on paved road, about of 100 feet of coble stone embedding in moist dirt, and sidewalks. I was able to feel everything. Every crack, every grain of sand, every texture of concrete. What I enjoyed the most was the feedback I was receiving from my feet. What I hated was feeling the toes on my right foot becoming a little raw before I realized my stride was too long. From then on out it was easy sailing. I was shocked to see that I kept my average pace while trying not to get impaled by random acorn shells. The overall experience was exhilarating. Yes, your feet are gross and dirty after, and I probably have hookworm, but I still just experienced something that most people in the States never experience. Everyone should try it once. And maybe tomorrow I’ll take a second stab at the original barefoot shoe.