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Soft Star Shoes RunAmoc Dash for Work Review

Soft Star Shoes RunAmoc Dash for Work Review

Guest post by Dan Finkelstein

I've been an avid "zero drop" (neutral sole height from heel to forefoot) shoe proponent for many years. My first pair of Vibram KSOs ruined me for all "normal" footwear, and when I started a new corporate job I needed something more professional.

Zero drop shoes for work?

I work for a company in Southern California that works very closely with local law enforcement agencies and fire departments. Our customers come from a paramilitary culture and things like dress code are very important. The dress code for men in my office is slacks and a dress shirt with a tie being optional. I needed to find some shoes that still looked professional, but were still zero drop.

I read the Run Amoc DASH review and thought I may have found a great solution. I opted for the smooth black leather on the body of the shoe and the black suede leather for the saddle portion (You can actually build your own combination on Soft Star's site). On the Soft Star website they almost look grey, but in real life in is two shades of black.

Ordering the shoes

Soft Star Shoes has some of the best customer service I've ever experienced. I called to ask a sizing question and I was told about a sale that would be starting in a few days. They gave me the sale price even the sale wasn't active yet, and told me a little known secret that they do offer half sizes which aren't listed on the website. My foot felt like it was right in between the 10.5 and 11 so I ended up ordering both with a promise from customer service that I could send back the pair that didn't fit for a refund (they made good on this promise when I returned the 11s.).

So how'd the do? Read on to find out!

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Altra Instinct 1.5 Review

Altra Instinct 1.5 Review

Overview

As I first mentioned in my review of the original Altra Instinct, the first thing most people notice about any of the shoes in the Altra line is the foot shaped design. This feature alone sets Altra apart from most of their peers. The distinctive toe box follows the shape of the foot and allows plenty of room for your toes to splay naturally.

The Altra Instinct 1.5 skirts the boundary of the minimalist running shoe category. The Instinct 1.5 is definitely minimal because of its zero heel-to-toe drop and anatomically correct shape (custom for women and men) resulting in a nice wide toe box for proper toe splay and the weight is a modest 8.9 oz (252 gr) which is .1 oz (3gr) heavier than the original Instincts. The total stack height is 22.5-24.5mm depending on which removable foam insole is used; either the 5mm Sculpted or 3mm Strengthen insole. The remaining stack height comes from the 15mm thick Dual Layer EVA with A-Bound Top Layer midsole and the 4.5mm thick FootPod Outsole. Obviously with this relatively thick stack height, the amount of ground feel or proprioception is somewhat limited.

The new Altra Instinct 1.5 besides being unnoticeably (though slightly) heavier than the original has had its upper completely redesigned and in my own opinion is at least cosmetically and visually superior to its predecessor.

Read on for more photos and a full review!

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Hiking Zion in Spyridon LS FiveFingers

Hiking Zion in Spyridon LS FiveFingers

FiveFingers fan Chris sent in the following story about hiking the Narrows in the Zion National Park in his Spyridon LS FiveFingers. Seems the Narrows are hiked primarily in a river and the hike can take around 13 hours.

Here's Chris' story:

Recently I took a trip out West in U.S. to see some great sites, one of them including the Zion National Park. One particular trail that tests someone's will is called the Narrows. It consists of a flowing, cold river and rocky, usually slippery terrain— in addition to this you're placed in a very tall canyon that has only two directions to follow, back out and further in. This trail is often started at the 'bottom' and hiked up against the current, farther in to the canyon, which is how I made my way. About half of the people I met had on Canyoneer 5.10's, which are phenomenal shoes, for their grip is like glue and you have the option for wearing neoprene socks. Many others I passed by simply were not prepared for the hike but couldn't resist the beauty of the place. I on the other hand decided to hike up with my somewhat new pair of Spyridons (LS). I also donned a pair of Injinji wool socks which were pretty much essential in my opinion.

When I first started the hike it was early in the morning and the water was maybe even as low as the high-50's (Fahrenheit), during the day it warmed up by about 10-15 degrees but was still chilly in the deep, and reported to be around mid-60's. The terrain was typically rocky with some sand, but mostly rocky and as such almost every single step had to be considered as it was easy to look up at the great wonder of the canyon and zone out.

What do I mean by rocky? Well consider pebbles and throwing stones to rocks the size of footballs all the way up to boulders that could be climbed up and over, basically at every foot step. I was a little nervous about this hike as I was worried about my feet getting jammed, scraped or simply tired from the constant surmountable terrain. Luckily my Five Fingers performed admirably. I specifically chose the Spyridon LS as I think the tread and most importantly the grip is superior to the other variations of Five Fingers, but it also has a protective arch which proved incredibly important as many of my foot strikes were right down on the arch so I could try and grip rocks as a basketball player might grip the ball.

After hours in the canyon I made my way back, something of which took about half the time as I was almost running with the current and on a decline. Early on I had became confident in my choice of footwear and laughed a bit on the inside every time I saw someone in sandals. While I jammed my foot once, right down on to the ankle as I slid on a very slippery rock, I found that because of my almost-barefoot experience I was not placing so much weight on to each step. The jam proved to be nothing and I was off in a second, to tell you the truth I was more worried about tearing the fancy upper on the shoe.

Where did the Spyridon LS excel? Pretty much everywhere, mostly from being lighter and holding on to less water than other heavier duty shoes; but, also from the fact that the grip was far superior to everything except perhaps the canyoneering-branded shoes. I felt like some nimble ninja and sometimes bolted through the canyon around many of the slow-goers.

What were the downfalls of choosing this shoe for this hike? I think new comers to the Five Finger community may have tired feet along the trail. The biggest downfall was where the rubber failed me, but only a few times; once or twice on a buttery-slick rock where I don't think any amount of rubber would have helped, and a few times on sandy, dry rocks where at the same time my shoes were sandy. I actually got a chance to use 5.10 Canyoneer shoes and while the rubber on those is designed for canyoneering and thus somewhat mind-blowing, it did exhibit the same fatal flaw my Spyridon LS did— if the surface is dry and sandy and the bottom of the shoe has packed-on, dry sand there is no hope for grip.

All in all the Narrows was a fun hike and perhaps my favorite of Zion National Park. It is both beautiful and somewhat technical, especially the farther up go you. I hope to go back some day and do this hike again, and you bet I'll be wearing my Five Fingers!

Great to hear the Spyridon LS performed so admirably in such unconventional conditions! I've heard almost universally positive feedback both about the grip of the Spyridon sole and the added protection due to the "cocoon technology" (more on all this in the BirthdayShoes Spyridon LS review). That said, they are mostly aimed at trail running, so it's neat to hear how they perform well as river-hiking footwear!

Thanks for sharing your story, Chris!

Fall 2012 FiveFingers Lontra, Speed XC, and SeeYa LS are OUT!

Fall 2012 FiveFingers Lontra, Speed XC, and SeeYa LS are OUT!

The Fall 2013 FiveFingers — Lontra, Speed XC, and SeeYa LS — have started showing up for sale now at retailers! Where, exactly, can you find them? How about here:

I know what you're thinking: why are the Speed XC and Lontra so expensive? It's because they've been made water-resistant using layers of fabric and taped seams. These are the first water-resistant VFFs to date. As for just how resistant to water they are, we've yet to review them here (but will within the next week, so stay tuned). Meanwhile, the release of the SeeYa LS means our giveaway (see our first review) has ended (winners of the two pairs of SeeYa LS and those others who won stickers will be notified post haste!).

If these are the toe shoes you've been waiting for—FiveFingers for cold and wet weather running, walking, or whatever you're into and can't wait any longer, I suggest picking these up now as stock is likely to be very limited for the next few weeks (what I'm hearing anyway). Note that Travel Country, the sponsor of the BirthdayShoes giveaway, offers Free Shipping on orders over $69.

Further note that they still have many older FiveFingers models on clearance (KSOs for $40-45, SeeYas for $75-80, Speeds for $75, Classics for $40). Take a look around their site and you can get some pretty fantastic deals on FiveFingers.

Indeed, only certain colorways are available now in each model and some of the women's Speed XC and Lontra haven't shown up anywhere to date.

If you want more info on these new VFFs, you'll find the official specs on each model after the jump.

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Xero Shoes--Huaraches in Color

Xero Shoes--Huaraches in Color

Invisible Shoes recently changed their name to Xero Shoes. The name-change came about to focus the brand (50% less syllables!) and better capture in words the awesome quality and barefoot-proximity you get with a pair of the Invisible Shoes Xero Shoes huaraches minimalist sandals.

And while the name-change is a big deal, on the zero-dropped heels of this change comes news that Xero Shoes just released four new sole colors — "Mocha Earth" (brown), "Electric Mint" (bright green), "Boulder Sky" (light blue), and Hot Salmon (a faded red). All are marked, of course, with the new Xero Shoes logo and branding.

I've had the luck of getting an advance look at all four new sole colors (Thanks for providing them Steven and Lena!) in order to photo-document them.

It should go without saying, but I'm a huge fan of the Xero Shoes product. For the money, it's hard to beat what you get with a pair of their huaraches:

Xero Shoes are simply fantastic huaraches in any color. But as for these four new colors — well, read on to see more of them!

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SeeYa LS Vibram FiveFingers Initial Review

SeeYa LS Vibram FiveFingers Initial Review

UPDATE October 4, 2012

Guess what? The SeeYa LS is now available!


Any day now the (new for Fall 2012) Vibram FiveFingers SeeYa LS will hit the shelves. When it does, you can expect to hear it here first — you might as well know that the SeeYa LS is here (as of 10/4/2012).

Built on the same ultralight sole as the SeeYa model that Vibram released Spring 2012, the SeeYa LS adds traditional laces and a wholly new upper. It can handle running, general fitness, and pretty much whatever else you want to throw at it.

What follows is an initial review of the SeeYa LS — I've been wearing and testing them for the past month though if you want a running-specific review, Tim will follow-up his original SeeYa review with an LS review soon.

In the meantime, read on for a slew of photos, intell, and how you can win a pair of the SeeYa LS when they release!

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