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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rating Minimalist Shoes

Many people ask me about minimalist shoe recommendations. First, I always recommend people learn to run barefoot first, then use minimalist shoes as needed. Keeping that in mind, there are some conditions that warrant shoes (extremem weather, terrain, etc.) With this in mind, I am going to start rating the shoes I encounter based on a rating system I'm using from Barefoot Ted's Google Group (Ted himself posted this.) Each shoe will be rated on a 1-5 scale for each of the categories, then a composite score will be derived from that. Here's the scale:

1. How lightweight is the shoe? Lighter is better; 1 = heavy, 5= light
2. How flexible is the shoe? More fexible is better; 1 = limited flexibility, 5 = extremely flexible
3. How much support does the shoe provide? No support is better; 1 = very supportive, 5 = no support
4. How much cushioning does the shoe provide? No cushioning is better; 1 = very cushioned, 5 = no cushioning
5. Is the shoe wide enough? Wider is better; 1 = very narrow, 5 = very wide
6. Does the sole allow you to feel the ground? More ground feel is better; 1 = very little feeling, 5 = very good ground feel
7. How puncture-proof is the sole? More puncture-proof is better; 1 = little protection; 5 = great protection
8. How durable is the shoe? More durable is better; 1 = not durable; 5 = very durable
9. Is the shoe easy to take on and off? Ease of use is better; 1 = very difficult to take on and off; 5 = very easy to take on and off
10. How portable is the shoe? More portable is better; 1 = very difficult to transport, 5 = very easy to transport
11. How environmentally-friendly is the shoe? Greener is better; 1 = not at all environmentally friendly, 5 = very environmentally friendly
12. How breathable is the shoe? More breathable is better; 1 = not breathable, 5 = very breathable
13. How good is the traction? More traction is better; 1 = horrible traction, 5 = excellent traction
14. Does the shoe allow for good toe articulation? More toe articulation is better; 1 = litle or no toe articulation, 5 = excellent toe articulation
15. Aesthetics- how do they look? Higher score is better; 1 = pretty ugly, 5 = good lookin'
16. How resilient is the shoe to odors? More resiliency is better; 1 = very stinky, 5 = not at all stinky
17. How close does the shoe approximate barefoot running? Better approximation of barefoot running is better; 1 = not at all like barefoot running, 5 = excellent approximation of barefoot running
18. How expensive is the shoe?  The cheaper, the better; 1 = very expensive, 5 = very cheap.

Using this 18-point scale, I plan to review all minimalist shoes I come in contact with. As of right now, I will review the following shoes:
  •  Vibram Five Finger KSOs,
  • Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot Aqua,
  • Saucony Killkenny XC2s,
  • Banana Republic Gibson Driving Moccasin


  1. I like and have run in the Brooks "T" series, currently running an old pair of T5's. They might make your list too as a light weight trainer.

  2. I looked at a few of these online. The Killkenny XC2s seems to be a cross country spike therefore I would expect it's a very stiff ride and not appropriate for streets. Have you come across Feelmax? Amazon carries them. Very minimalist shoe and very flexible.

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  4. Graig- I won a pair of T6s a few months ago. I tried them out, but they were way too much shoe for my tastes. They wouldn't have been quite so bad if it weren't for the big heel drop. I liked the color scheme, though. My wife thought they looked like Seseme Street shoes.

    Rob- My XC2s aren't spikes... they have a flexible sole. Still, they are not a great minimalist solution for me... they are VERY narrow. I haven't tried any of the Feelmax shoes yet... I'm hoping they develop a better distribution network here in the US.

  5. I like to run in my self made huarache, it really great running trail in it.

    See here for my huarache