Teva Zilch Minimalist Sandals for Toddlers/Kids Review

Teva Zilch Minimalist Sandals for Toddlers/Kids Review

Buying footwear for your growing babies, toddlers, little boys/girls, or kids would be simple if there weren't so many shoes out there that were clunky, narrow, heavy, stiff, or high-heeled.

Outside of the moc-like slippers worn by infants, crawlers, and light walkers, there aren't a ton of great options out there as a child's foot grows—particularly, it seems, in the "in between" stages of ages of 3 to 4.

This really hit home recently when my oldest daughter Avi's 3-year-old sized Merrell Barefoots started wearing out (the uppers, mostly). My instant reaction was simply to pick up another pair of the same shoes in a slightly larger size. Unfortunately, it seems that her precious Flux Gloves are no longer being produced and I couldn't find any in her size, anywhere.

So I needed a replacement that fit her fast. Commence frantic Googling.

But I wasn't having a lot of luck. That is, until a search led me to find that Teva had created a Zilch sandal that sized down to a little kids or toddlers 10* and that they were only a little over $30 from Amazon (They're the "Teva Zilch Sport Sandal (Toddler/Little Kid/Big Kid)." I didn't delay, grabbed the smallest size I could (10), hoped for the best, and paid for next day shipping.

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LEM Boulder Boot Review

LEM Boulder Boot Review

Lems Shoes (the barefoot shoe company formerly known as Lemming formerly known as Stem Footwear) recently dropped their new boot for Spring 2013—the Boulder (see Meet Lems Boulder, the Barefoot Shoe Boot for the original release announcement).

Lems founder Andrew shot me over a pair to try out and review for BirthdayShoes, so I've been wearing them the last few weeks. What follows is my full review of what amounts to being one of the most minimal boot-style barefoot shoes yet (I'll note a few other contenders for that title, too). Let's dive in!

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Kickstart Earthbaked Plus/Minus 90 Minimalist Shoes

Kickstart Earthbaked Plus/Minus 90 Minimalist Shoes

Wanted to give readers a heads up on a new minimalist shoe concept that might pique your interest.

Steve Boynton, a designer based out of Provo, Utah, has designed a wool-based, biodegradable shoe design he's calling the PlusMinus (or the Earthbaked +/- 90). It's a neat concept. In the words of Steve, the shoes feature:

  • Minimal barefoot loafer design with an upper made of 100% wool.
  • Earth friendly materials: Wool is biodegradable, moisture wicking, antimicrobial, and breathable which makes it perform great against the skin.
  • Freedom for your feet on rest days, at work, or at home.

Steve has launched a Kickstarter campaign to get these novel shoes off ... or on the ground.

I emailed a bit with Steve about his concept and learned that the shoes are meant to be worn barefoot, they feature a natural rubber sole with no midsole or sole. With the 3mm layer of wool wtitched to the inside of the sole and the 3mm of rubber outsole, they only have a 6mm stack height. So they're pretty minimal.

Steve estimates that a pair will last 3 to 6 months with everywhere, everyday wear. In my experience wearing hyper-minimalist, soft-soled shoes like those made by Soft Star Shoes, so long as you're not a heavy walker (and have acclimating to a lighter step via wearing minmialist shoes for awhile), I could see these easily lasting that long with a 3mm rubber outsole. The design of the PlusMinus reminds me a bit of Soft Stars, actually. I'd be curious to try them out.

Due to their natural components of the Earthbaked PlusMinus design, Steve suggests when you're done with them you can just bury them in your backyard and let them biodegrade naturally. Cool concept, no?

Here are a few more stock photos of the shoes:

If you're interested in seeing the PlusMinus come to market, head over to Steve's Kickstarter campaign. You can hook up a single pair for $25 you can get a pair shipped to you when they're manufactured.

As of 5/9/2013 and about three days into the campaign, Steve has raised almost $6K towards his $40K goal.

Care to kickstart a new shoe? You know what to do.

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Trail Running Spain in Spyridon FiveFingers

Trail Running Spain in Spyridon FiveFingers
Lord of the Rings trail on the outskirts of Alhama Spain, Sierra Nevada range in the background.

BirthdayShoes reader Ray recently took a trip to Alhama, Spain. Ray decided to spend his week there running and hiking remote trails with a guide and a dog as his companions.

What follows are some more amazing photos of Ray running the trails in southern Spain. His footwear of choice were the FiveFingers Spyridon LS, which his guide was a little concerned about (but ultimately may be a convert!). Read on!

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Happy 4th Birthday, BirthdayShoes!

Happy 4th Birthday, BirthdayShoes!

Happy Birthday, BirthdayShoes.com!

Well, it's a belated "Happy Birthday" at this point—BirthdayShoes.com was registered on April 16, 2009, and had it's first post the next day on April 17.

What's happened since then? Well, a lot. By the numbers:

  • 125+ reviews written
  • Over 700 blog posts
  • Nearly 69,000 forum posts in some 7,600 topics (by 3,500+ members, 130 of which have at least 100 posts to their name
  • 3,500+ twitter followers @bdayshoes and nearly 2,700 tweets
  • 6,800+ email subscribers!
  • 7,300+ facebook fans
  • 3.86+ million unique visitors

The success of this site has hinged on the support of a great community of minimalist shoe and barefoot enthusiasts—readers like you. Thank you for your continued support!

And so BirthdayShoes carries on!

Running the Boston Marathon Under 2:30 (in FiveFingers)

Running the Boston Marathon Under 2:30 (in FiveFingers)

I got the above photo and story below from Josh who recently ran the Boston Marathon—in under 2.5 hours, his personal best.

Josh emailed his success story despite some apprehension given the tragedy surrounding the bombing that occurred during the event and I'm happy to share it below:

Birthday Shoes folks,

With some hesitation I wanted to bring you guys a Vibram FiveFingers success story.

As a quick background, I've been an exclusive VFF runner for the past 2.5yrs. Since transitioning over to FiveFingers I've taken 8 min off my half marathon PR (current PR- 1:10:57) and 59 min off my marathon PR (current PR- 2:29:55)

My most recent race was the Boston Marathon. I initially struggled to take satisfaction in what is, at this point, the peak of my running accomplishents. Though punctuated by sadness, I am choosing to take pride in the overwhelming demonstration of goodness that has been displayed by the running community. I am thankful for the chance to take part in such an amazing event that is the Boston Marathon. I am thankful that I had the chance to share this experience with my family and even more thankful that we were all fortunate enough to be out of harms way during the day's events. I am thankful to be a part of such a positive community that is relentlessly reclaiming the good of the day.

Apologies for that aside. I will now return to my other soap box of VFF marathoning success stories.

Boston was my 3rd time running a full marathon and would be my second VFF marathon. I secured my qualifying time (2:35:40) the previous May and despite solid training I still had plenty of nerves coming into such a high profile race as an unseasoned marathoner (the half-marathon is my race of choice) and today I'm chasing a sub 2:30:00 finish. As I warm up, I am delighted to see a couple of others out there ready to take on 26.2 in FiveFingers. I compliment them in their shoe choice and wish them the best of luck.

My qualifying time was enough to secure a spot in the first starting corral and I line up 3 rows back from the front of the 'general admission' starting area, still a good 20 meters back from the elite starters, but close enough to assure an unimpeded start. Despite my best intentions to hold back for the first half of the race I cruise trough 13.1 at 1:12:57. I suppose the course doesn't promote a negative split race anyways. My legs leave me at mile 22. I make it through the final four miles watching my well padded first half split creep ever closer to that 2:30:00 mark. As I work down the final stretch it becomes a desperate race against the clock. I pull every last ounce of energy from my legs and as I pass under the finishing clock I see it tick over 2:29:59, 2:30:00, 2:30:01...my spirits drop. I hobble along down what feels like an endless finish chute and meet up with my family. They have been keeping a watchful eye ony through the race with the convenience of their smart phones. It's at this point I see my official time posted on their screens - 2:29:55.

I accomplished what I set out to do, a sub-2:30 marathon. More-so, a sub-2:30 marathon in VFFs. So many peers thought me crazy to be running a marathon in these odd foot-shaped strips of rubber but, at this point, I feel it would be crazy for me to run it any other way. As I prepare for my now 4th Marathon I will have FiveFingers under my feet for every step.

Josh

Congratulations, Josh. Your time is an incredible accomplishment and I'm glad you decided to share it with us all despite the rippling wake of sadness from what happened. I'm glad you and your family were okay.

There's not much that can be said about the tragic events in Boston that hasn't been said already and I feel for things like this words just fail, anyway. So I'd just like to point out that Boston Magazine commissioned a fantastic photo for the cover of their magazine. If you haven't seen it, take a look and read more about the cover here.