Meet Lems Boulder, the "Barefoot Shoe" Boot

Meet Lems Boulder, the "Barefoot Shoe" Boot

I got good news from Andrew Rademacher, founder of upstart minimalist/barefoot shoe manufacturer Lems Shoes* ("Light. Easy. Minimal.") — the first batch of the much-anticipated Lems Shoes Boulder Boot are now available for order! I say "first batch" because it's only the first few hundred pairs of production (more to come, of course, within a few weeks).

The release of the Boulder boot marks the first of a new line of Lems hitting the market in 2013! What's so exciting about the Boulder? Aside from it being a "barefoot shoe boot" that is super lightweight, zero drop, minimally and flexibly soled, and a boot, well, what else is there to say? If you've had a pair of Andrew's barefoot shoes, you're expectations are likely through the roof for these boots. We've reviewed the first offering from Lems that hit back in 2011 — the Primal (see reviews here and here) and had nothing but good things to say.

Andrew has a pair of Boulders coming my way, so I hope to share more about it soon, but if you're eager to snatch up a pair without further adieu and want to know the scoop, read on!

UPDATE: I got the boots! If you want to jump straight to my full review of the Lems Boulder boot, go here!


The official Boulder Boot specs from Lems!

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Vibram FiveFingers Jaya, KomodoSport for Women Available Now!

Vibram FiveFingers Jaya, KomodoSport for Women Available Now!

Plus the new Bikila LS and TrekSport in new colors for both men and women!

Big news! Five Fingers retailer CitySports has just put up for purchase women's KomodoSports (This is the first they've been made available! No men's yet!), women's Jayas (A women-only shoe), men's and women's Bikila LS, and two new colors of TrekSports -- red/black for men and blue/grey for women!  As far as I know, this marks the first online retailer to actually have any new Spring 2011 Vibram FiveFingers in stock, ready to ship (As opposed to the psych-out by REI a couple weeks back)!

Here are some details and links to go pick up a pair of the new Vibram 2011 line while they last:

Just as soon as I hear anything regarding availability for the other 2011 VFFS -- the Jaya LR (women), and KomodoSports for men -- I will send out another alert! !

CitySports offers FREE GROUND SHIPPING on all VFFs!  What more could you want?

You can learn more about the Jaya here, the TrekSport here, the KomodoSport here, and the Bikila LS here. As for sizing, Jayas should size similarly to Classics, KomodoSports, Bikila LS and TrekSports should size similarly to Bikilas. As with all VFFs, sizing varies from model to model and sometimes even from color combination to color combination!

Merrell Barefoot, Minimalist Running Education Site Launched

Merrell Barefoot, Minimalist Running Education Site Launched

Merrell Barefoot, the new line of footwear from popular shoe manufacturer Merrell, has just launched their Merrell Barefoot microsite, which features minimalist and barefoot-minded content. This includes blog posts focused on barefoot/minimalist running, videos on how to run with a barefoot style featuring barefoot running guru Jason Robillard, and more.

More details about the Merrell Barefoot launch, and the answer to if you can buy them after the jump!

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Soft Star RunAmoc Review

Soft Star RunAmoc
Soft Star RunAmoc.

Guest post by Matt

Matt is an avid minimalist hailing from the great state of Oregon, home of the minimalist shoe company Soft Star. He recently set out on an adventure that put his Soft Star RunAmocs to the test. Enjoy Matt's take on these elegant but durable minimalist shoes.

The Test

Not unlike many of the people who's stories are here at birthdayshoes.com, I've been intrigued with testing the limits of my minimalist obsession. In this case, it meant challenging Oregon's South Sister mountain in footwear a mere whisper of the massively thick soles and steel toes of traditional hiking boots.

About RunAmoc Lite Shoes

When I received a pair of RunAmoc Lite shoes from local minimal shoe maker Soft Star Shoes to test, it seemed the opportunity had arrived. If you are not familar with Soft Star or their RunAmoc model, let me bring you up to speed. They are made by elves. It's even run by two Chief Elf Officers. Of course, these elves are not of the short stature, pointy ear variety. Just dedicated shoemakers working from the factory in Corvallis, Oregon. But the RunAmoc's do have an elfish quality in their simplicity. They sport merely a few pieces of leather stitched to a Vibram sole. And with a close look at that handiwork, you see these are as much hearty as simple - not to mention ridiculously comfortable.

Read on for the full review after the jump!

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Fila Skeletoes Toe Shoes Exclusive Sneak Peak

Black Turkish Sea Men's.
Fila Skeletoes Black Turkish Sea Men's.

"What the heck are those" Fila Skele-toes??

If you must know, just skip this post and go straight to our detailed review: we've photoed and videoed the "heck" out of the Fila Skele-Toes here!

FiveFingers Look Alike?

If you're new to the crazy concept of "toe shoes", you might benefit from a brief history on their origins. Believe it or not, they got their start almost five years ago by an Italian company called Vibram — they produced the first five toe shoes called Vibram FiveFingers and have turned traditional footwear paradigms upside down.

Though the Fila Skele-toes look conspicuously similar to Vibram Five Fingers, our contact assures us that, "Fila does not see this product as a direct competitor to the Five Fingers." How so? Well, this shoe is being marketed as more of a casual activity shoe. They see them being used for activities such as biking, boating, swimming, and walking.

They are not designed for running, which is one of the primary uses of our beloved Five Fingers. Instead they are intended to be more of a companion product. A comfortable and affordable casual alternative to slip your toes into after a hard work out in your Five Fingers. Skeletoes can give you the barefoot experience while reducing the wear and tear on your performance oriented Five Fingers. At least in theory, on review of the Skele-toes they're not quite as barefoot as we would like.

Men, Women and Kids!

The Fila Skeletoes are barefoot shoes targeted to active men and women and Fila is even offering this product in kids sizes. It is great to see kids included in the mix. They are certainly priced right at $59 for Men and Women and $49 for kids (MSRP).

Under the Hood

Though in the photo above, the upper material looks like Neoprene, it is not. Skeletoes are made of four-way stretch, two ply nylon. They have a bungee cord for ease of entry and velcro straps for a customized fit. They have a multi-purpose slip-resistant rubber outsole. That's the basics — more detail about them (and photos/video) can be found in our Fila Skeletoes review.

There are two things that really differentiate the Skeletoes from the original "toe shoes" (Vibram FiveFingers):

  • The bottom sole of the Skeletoes do not cover the top of the toes as this might infringe on a Vibram patent.
  • Skeletoes incorporate what they call an EZ slide feature that combines the smallest two toes for ease of entry. For some people that have issues with their toes and can't wear Five Fingers, this feature alone might make the Skeletoes an attractive option. Our contact claims testing shows that Skeletoes were much easier to put on than Five Fingers.

If you're wondering why we compare Skele-toes to something called "FiveFingers," it's simply because the concept of "toe shoes" was pioneered by the first toe shoes on the market, circa 2005-2006, Vibram FiveFingers: get caught up on what you've been missing a la the barefoot revolution.

Availability

The Skele-toes started showing up around mid-February 2011! That was when our buddies over at Comet Shoes started carrying them.

What say ye?

Do you like the look and would you consider buying a pair? What about that combined pinky/fourth toe thing?

Who says you can't use Vibram Five Fingers Bikilas in the snow?

Who says you can't use Vibram Five Fingers Bikilas in the snow?

Mark recently made the switch to running in Vibram Five Fingers Bikilas with great success. He even decided to give them a try in a race on the snow. Here is Mark's story:

My first "race" of the year went well. It was just a little under 5 miles - 3 miles road, the rest snow covered trails. Before the race started I couldn't feel my toes. Once we got going I didn't even feel the snow. I have been running my long runs on trails in Bikilas, but not in the snow. I was surprised how good the traction was. There was about 4 inches of fresh powder on top of packed snow.

This was also my first actual race in Vibrams. I made the switch to them around October. I kept getting injured every time I ramped up in normal shoes. It seemed as though as soon as I went over 20 miles/week I would injure myself, usually tendinitis. After a 10 mile race last May I could barely walk. I went to several podiatrists got the normal story about orthotics which I got. Luckily, insurance covered them because I think they made it worse.

My friend kept telling me to try Vibrams. Then, of course, I read "Born to Run". I remember the first time I put them on just to go to the gym. I couldn't run due to the tendinitis but it was pouring and my car was parked a few blocks away. So I ran to my car. Then I noticed I didn't feel a thing. I got to the gym and hopped on the treadmill and ran a mile at around a 8 min pace. My legs felt amazing. Well, except for the next day when it felt like I got hit across the calves with a bat. I slowly continued to work in Vibram runs until I was just using the Bikilas. I have been running for a few months now with just the Bikilas with no pain at all, other than the normal muscle soreness. I picked up a pair of Saucony Kinvaras this past week to help with the cold of early morning runs when it is 19 degrees and I switch back and forth between the Kinvaras and Bikilas.

Any who, I am looking forward to a lot more races in Vibrams. I am also dying to get my hands, errr feet, on a new pair of the Merrel trail gloves to try out.

Mark

Thanks for sharing this with us Mark! Let us know how you like the Kinvaras.

2011 Fall Vibram FiveFingers Boots, Laces, Leather and More!

Vibram Five Fingers Fall 2011
Previews of just some of the new models in the Vibram Five Fingers Fall 2011 line-up.
Updated 7/21/2011 with links to:

I'm excited to share with you all a sneak preview of some of the five toed shoes and boots in the Vibram FiveFingers 2011 Fall line-up. As you can see, Vibram has taken things up a notch — in more ways than one.

Overall, we're seeing new laced varietals of FiveFingers — for those who don't get "laces" on their toe shoes, realize that there are many would-be toe shoe fans who have high insteps. These "high feet" can make many VFFs too tight on the top of the foot — laces are a simple, time-tested solution to both this problem and the general issue of making a standardized shoe have a more custom fit for unique feet!

Perhaps having heard the call for winter-worthy toe shoes as well as the need for toe shoes for everyday, casual wear (read: more fashionable and less sporty), we see FiveFingers boots!

FiveFingers Kanga!

Update February 2012: this shoe never really got mass-produced. Rumor is that a couple hundred pairs (or so) got produced and are for sale in Europe. That's it.

First, the super-high boots with the furry tops are a women's model called the Kanga FiveFingers. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess the FiveFingers Kangas are pretty warm. How could they not be?

th the furry flare the Kanga has, it screams for attention and fits in with the high-boot fashion craze (oh the hours I've spent shopping for boots with Mrs. BirthdayShoes!). I wonder what celebrity will be caught wearing them first. Any FiveFingers ladyfolk after some boots?

The Kanga FiveFingers may not see a U.S. release as word is they didn't show up in the U.S. catalog. The Cervinia may be the U.S. equivalent (knit upper, no fur, Jaya sole). Stay tuned.

FiveFingers Trek LS

Update Fall 2011! I've reviewed the Trek LS FiveFingers!

Next, we see leather FiveFingers with laces — these are the Vibram FiveFingers Trek LS, which are basically Speed FiveFingers dressed in leather with a Trek sole.

As many Speed owners will tell you, the FiveFingers Speed is a fantastic model in the VFF line-up. Dressed in classy leather with the fantastic Trek sole, I think these will be a great addition to the line-up. Want!

The Fall 2011 Vibram FiveFingers Trek LS, all-leather Vibram toe shoes for everyday wear (though you could certainly do an impromptu sprint, dead lift, or tree climb in them if need presents itself!).
The Fall 2011 Vibram FiveFingers Trek LS, all-leather Vibram toe shoes for everyday wear (though you could certainly do an impromptu sprint, dead lift, or tree climb in them if need presents itself!).

FiveFingers Speeds in the U.S.!

Update! FiveFigners Speeds are out in the U.S.!

Now, I'm unclear as to how this fits in with the leather, Speed-like upper Trek LS, but I've got numerous people telling me the FiveFingers Speeds (the non-leather, Bikila-soled varieties!) are indeed, finally, coming to the United States.

Can I get an "amen?"

FiveFingers Bormio (Boot)

From left to right we see the Vibram FiveFingers Bormio leather boot, the leather FiveFingers Trek LS (Speed!), and a few pairs of KSO Treks — all from the Fall 2011 Vibram line-up!

Meanwhile, perhaps a reincarnation of the never-really-released FiveFingers Cortina, we see a leather boot — this is the FiveFingers Bormio. The Bormio has zippers on either side and features the Trek sole. We've reviewed the Bormio FiveFingers boots here in full. They retail for $160.

FiveFingers KomodoSport LS

And what are these new-styled LS FiveFingers? It's the FiveFingers Komodo LS! You can tell it's a Komodo by the side profile of the women's (pink) Komodo LS. Update July 2011!: We actually got our feet into pre-production versions of the KomodoSport LS and have reviewed the men's here and the women's KomodoSport LS here!

inal, non-laced KomodoSport, if you're not up to date on VFF models, is the Spring 2011 model was released in Spring 2011 with a new sole design. You can order the KomodoSport (non-laced versions) now, actually, or learn more about them on the Komodo FiveFingers page!

More!

In addition to the new color combos for Bikilas and Bikila LS, which is also slated to arrive any day now. Finally, it looks like there may be a women's calf-length "boot" with Jaya sole called the FiveFingers Cervinia. Haven't seen any photos of the Cervinia yet, so if I get some, I'll be sure to post them here!

Parting thoughts ...

If you're still reading, might I suggest you head off to read the actual reviews of these FiveFingers! This post is now (Feb. 2012) over a year old and everything mentioned above has been released (save the Cervinia and Kanga, which got nixed as far as being mass produced). Perhaps more excitingly, there are now newer models slated for release to get excited about. Just head over here to get a full rundown of all the FiveFingers coverage on BirthdayShoes — the barefoot shoes reviews rundown!

If it's not clear, we don't yet know all the details on these Fall 2011 models READ: These models will not be available until Fall 2011 (Attempting to head off 100 emails by folks who skim — you know who you are!). It seems Vibram reps only learned about them in the past month at the most, and are slowly spreading word to retailers around the country (and world!). That means there is some speculation above and a few attempts to match scuttlebutt to photos. We'll sort it out here in the coming days and weeks. So what do you think of these new FiveFingers models for Fall 2011 from Vibram? Sound off in the comments below!

Hat tip goes to Max DeLacy of BarefootInc, VFF runner, distributor, and go-to connection for FiveFingers in Australia, for sending in the photos. Also a nod to my anonymous source who filled in a lot of the product details! If you have additional intelligence (or clarifications!) on the 2011 Fall Vibram line-up, please drop me a line!