Comment from: Kevin [Visitor]
Kevin

This is awesome!

One critique: I would put Huaraches/Lunas in their own category. Seems unfair to rank them below Vibrams on the barefoot scale, considering hauraches are lighter and completely open.

The lack of a cover around the toe box makes hauraches fundamentally different than the rest of the shoes in the "Foot Friendly" category.

I don't own hauraches yet, so can't really offer any more detail.

09/07/10 @ 14:12
Comment from: Rob [Visitor]
Rob

I'd also add the Nike Lunaracer to the "Flats" category. It definitely has reasonable ground feel as there is very little tread or sole but is mainly this spongy midsole. They are also very light but surprisingly "cushy." I don't know what the specifications are, but I think the drop would be 6mm or less. While it isn't a zero drop shoe it is very minimal. I like them a lot and have even run a 100 mile race in them. They do run a bit narrow so that is a detractor.

09/07/10 @ 14:26
Comment from: britt [Member]  

@Kevin,

Yeah, I hear ya. Actually, anything at the top of the chart in green is meant to be very close to barefoot. I was just giving a slight edge to "toes shoes" because they allow your toes to interact with the ground like barefeet.

@Rob

runblogger has the Lunaracer listed as: 24mm heel, 18mm forefoot = 6mm drop

http://www.runblogger.com/2010/06/heel-toe-drop-or-offset-what-does-it.html

Nike won't always give the detailed specs on these things so it is a challenge to measure them and figure it out. I think this is for the version 1. Are your's version 1 or 2? Maybe version 2 is closer to the ground. With these specs it seems like it would fit in more with the "Wherefoot" grouping, great shoes, but just not quite as barefoot.

By the way, here is a link to an interesting blogger who zero dropped his Nike Frees:

http://chrisultra.blogspot.com/2010/07/my-zero-drop-nike-free.html

Ha!

09/07/10 @ 14:49
Comment from: MCM [Visitor]
MCM

Just a question:

Where are the Saucony Kinvaras?

I've heard some great things about them, and I remember reading that they had only a 4mm drop. They also weight only 7.7 oz, almost in the Ultra Light category.

I've been dying to get a pair but just haven't gotten around to it.

09/07/10 @ 14:50
Comment from: britt [Member]  

@ MCM,

Thanks, I added it.

09/07/10 @ 15:16
Comment from: Chris [Visitor]
Chris

Britt,

Excellent categorization of minimalist shoes. I love the color coding too. Interesting you left out the Mizuno Universe 3 (and you explained why). I love them and think the drop is less than 6mm (the heel compresses pretty quickly).

Where would you throw in the Sockwa Amphibian or Kigo Shel?

09/07/10 @ 15:28
Comment from: britt [Member]  

@Chris,

Thanks! Yeah, the Mizuno was a tough one to leave out, but it is advertised with a 9mm drop. The Sockwa Amphibian and Kigo Shel would perhaps be considered foot friendly. I have read that the Kigo Shel is a bit narrow. I am not convinced they are good enough running shoes to make the list.

Have you zero dropped any more shoes?

09/07/10 @ 15:37
Comment from: Rich [Visitor]
Rich

So if I'm reading that chart correctly, the Merrell barefoot line with have zero heel-toe drop? Nice. I'm currently (post-injury) a little gun-shy of the super minimal options so am excited to try the NB and Merrell lines when they come out.

Britt, do you know the heel-toe drop on each of the nike free shoes? I've been unable to find that information anywhere.

09/07/10 @ 16:10
Comment from: Monica [Visitor]
Monica

Our local running store is promoting the Ecco Biom (sp?) as a great shoe for promoting a forefoot landing, and I think it's supposed to be quite light. What do you know about it?

09/07/10 @ 16:50
Comment from: britt [Member]  

@Rich,

I assumed the Merrells will be zero drop shoes for my chart, but that is speculation on my part. If anyone knows, please chime in.

From what I've read, the lowest drop on the Frees is 4mm on the 3.0 and perhaps higher in others. Nike considers a lot of the detailed specs proprietary and I have not measured them. What I know came from reading various websites and forums.

@Monica,

The BIOMs have drops of 8mm or greater. So, they didn't make this list. The higher the drop, the harder it is to maintain a forefoot strike.

09/07/10 @ 17:31
Comment from: liefman [Visitor]
liefman

Good post and interesting stuff! But please don't lump the Nike Frees all together. The 3.0 and 7.0 are very different shoes. I think the 3.0 with a 4mm drop, when you remove insole (not attached anyway)is very light very flexible and no marshmallow and should be included separately. The 7.0 and run + should be considered "traditional" running shoes and not included at all. My 2 cents. ;)

09/07/10 @ 18:03
Comment from: Rich [Visitor]
Rich

Thanks, Britt. I would not be surprised at all if the free run+ and 7.0 are > 6 mm. I'm currently running in the Brooks Launch (9.5 mm) and free run+, and I'd say there's no way the Launch has a 50% higher heel rise. More like they are about equal.

I'm not bashing the nike free line - I actually like the free run+ quite a bit. But after cobbling together some information, I doubt these shoes meet your 6 mm cut-off.
runblogger has the nike free 5.0 at a 10 mm offset: http://www.runblogger.com/2010/06/heel-toe-drop-or-offset-what-does-it.html
Meanwhile, a nike employee says the run+ has a 1 mm lesser offset than the 5.0: http://www.runblogger.com/2010/06/heel-toe-drop-or-offset-what-does-it.html

Now, runblogger has the Brooks Launch at 10.5, while Brooks gives it as 9.5. So let's say that if Nike were to put a number on the 5.0, it would lower than runblogger's measuremnet (due to runblogger's methodology or whatever) - let's call it a 9.0 mm offset. According to Nike employee, you take one off that on the run+, getting you to 8.0 mm. I can't find the same info on the 7.0, but I can't imagine it's less.

09/07/10 @ 18:38
Comment from: britt [Member]  

@ liefman & Rich

Hmm, I will revise the chart and take the 5.0 and 7.0 off and add the Lunaracer at 6mm per runblogger and based on Rob's positive review. Thanks for the info! If anyone has info that later versions of the 5.0 or 7.0 have less than a 6mm drop or less, I can always put them back on.

09/07/10 @ 18:47
Comment from: Lindsey [Visitor]
Lindsey

Another superb post, Britt!

Did you get the Nike Streak XC 2's? What do you think of them? I found them more narrow through the toe box than my Mizuno Wave Universe 3's, but overall they've been a much better value for me. I'm doing most of my running in the Nike's now, and ending each run with about a mile of straight up barefoot. They're complimenting each other well so far. :)

09/07/10 @ 23:11
Comment from: Peter Larson [Visitor]  
Peter Larson

Britt,

Thanks for the Runblogger mention - I appreciate it! Great post as well.

I'd definitely suggest adding in the Mizuno Wave Universe. I've been running in a pair for about a week and they are one of the most effortless shoes to maintain a mid/forefoot strike in that I have tried. The 9mm drop number reported on-line is for the midsole only I think, and when I measured them I came up with a 6mm drop at most. There's no way they are really 9mm, and I know another guy who has measured them at 4-5mm after 100 miles of use. Great shoe, and at 3.8oz, unbelievably light.

As for the Nike Free Run+, it's hard to measure because the upper is a single unit - no place to slide a clamp in around the tongue. My best guess is around a 7mm drop, so probably a bit above your cutoff, but I do like running in them.

One other note - the GoLite Amp is above your weight cutoff in men's size 10 (I have a pair) - mine are about 12.5oz. Still, being zero-drop makes them worthy of inclusion in my mind. I see them as a winter running, light hiking shoe.

Pete

09/07/10 @ 23:27
Comment from: Willie_G [Visitor]  
Willie_G

Hi - You did a great job of sifting through all the various products popping up out there, thank you :-) There are a couple Inov-8 shoes you could include, the ones in the 190 to 230 range. Inov-8 deserves recognition for their efforts in this category of shoe.

I (and virtually everyone on the various forums out there) would also argue that Huaraches come even closer to barefoot than VFFs, though, because they're completely open and non-restricting of foot motion. And of course you can easily make them yourself and custom-fit them to your own feet. They certainly deserve their own category, or should at least be put into the first group, imo.

They're kind of the 400lb gorilla in the corner, I know.

09/08/10 @ 02:37
Comment from: britt [Member]  

@Lindsey,

Yeah, I bought some. That is my foot in them in the pic at the top. Ha. Unfortunately, I have been dealing with a pulled adductor muscle and haven't been able to run in them yet, but I see what you mean about the toe box. They are amazingly light. but don't look particularly durable. Glad to hear they are working for you.

@Pete,

Thanks for your great website and all the work you have done on testing minimalist shoes. You are the definite authority on the subject. Yeah, people really seem to love the Mizuno Wave Universe 3. That is why I made sure and mention it. I probably should add it with a footnote. I saw where Zappos had the GoLite Amp listed at 12 oz. so I went with that. It was for a size 7.5 though, which is kinda small for specs. I agree that it seems worth leaving them on since there are so few zero drop shoes at this point, even though they are a bit heavy.

@Willie_G,

Anything at the top of the chart in green is meant to be very close to barefoot. I am giving a slight edge to "toes shoes" because they allow your toes to interact with the ground like barefeet. I will try to get a poll up on the blog to ask folks which they think is more barefoot.

There are and have been 5 different Inov-8 shoes on the list from the start, including the 190 and 195.

09/08/10 @ 08:17
Comment from: admin [Member]  

@Willie_G,

I'm biased (clearly), but I personally don't find huaraches (I have two pairs of them -- Lunas and Invisi Shoes) to be more barefoot than VFFs -- certainly not Classics or Sprints. The open airiness is their edge (they "feel" a bit less restrictive on top of foot), but two things make them less barefoot in my mind:

1) They don't move dynamically with your foot through as large a range of motion as VFFs. You flex your toes upward (as you do on ever step of a run) and the footbed of the huaraches hangs below your toes. The lack of tactile functionality on the front of your toes in huaraches (as compared to VFFs) also makes them fundamentally different than barefoot. I'm more capable of climbing a tree barefoot or in VFFs than in huaraches (actually, I could climb a tree in in Soft Star Grippy Roos, too -- I've done this before).

2) reduced ground feel, general reduction in foot-sense (not quite proprioception, but general foot awareness to the ground) due to the flat/hard (even as it's flexible and thin) huaraches sole.

So while I agree huaraches may be the "best" minimalist shoe out there in the sense that it's the most cost effective solution and is minimal having only two parts -- laces and bottom -- I don't think they're the best in terms of functioning as dynamically as your feet -- like VFFs.

Mind, my two critiques of huaraches don't necessarily apply across the line of VFF models. And this topic deserves its own post ... but in a nutshell, I agree with Britt :)

09/08/10 @ 09:21
Comment from: Rob [Visitor]
Rob

I've got both the Nike Lunaracer and Lunaracer 2 and both have a very minimal drop, certainly within your 6mm tolerance. Definitely feel like much less drop than most shoes I have including the Nike Free Run+ those things are like tanks compared to the Lunaracer. The original Lunaracer is my favorite as it was really stripped down. The newer Lunaracer2 runs about a half size small and is a bit more constricted in the toebox. However I hear that Nike is going back to more of the original design in it's next release. If you can get a hold of any of the original Lunaracers, they are pretty awesome, even have a pretty good amount of ground feel (for a running shoe). The newer versions are ok as well but not quite as good. Perhaps I can figure out a way to get a good heel-to-toe drop measurement? My oldest pair is about fried so perhaps I can just cut it up and measure it directly! ;)

09/08/10 @ 13:54
Comment from: Ed [Visitor]  
Ed

Nice article! You should probably add the VFF Flows given we are headed into the winter months soon enough. Seems they will slip in the "light" section of Toe Shoes.

Just a comment about the weight too. Having put over 350 miles on my VFF Treks in the last four months, I ran today a quick 4.6mi run in Bikilas. They may be heavier than the Sprints, but they are easily the "lightest" feel I've ever had short of being barefoot, lighter even than the Classics. Maybe it is the sock-like grip of that fabric vs the rougher feel of whatever the Sprints are made of, coupled with that strap. While the Bikila's are heavier on the scale, they sure don't feel it on the course.

09/08/10 @ 16:33
Comment from: Guy [Visitor]
Guy

I guess you went by advertised specs but it seemed a bit odd that the Vibram KSO treks were considered "ultra light" while the trek sports were listed under "light". I own a pair of both & it sure seems like the trek sports are the lighter of the two.

09/09/10 @ 12:31
Comment from: Ian [Visitor]
Ian

Great, but where are Paper Feet? Have these slipped through the net?
Check them out, I'm gonna get several pairs as soon as I can...
http://www.paper-feet.com/

09/13/10 @ 15:51
Comment from: Heather [Visitor]
Heather

I love this list! I plan on using soon to buy my next pair of shoes. It would also be very helpful to see retail prices for each of these shoes.

09/13/10 @ 23:24
Comment from: Lindsey [Visitor]
Lindsey

Whoa, the Nike Streaks are now "wherefoot?" I respectfully disagree with that decision. Weren't they previously listed as flats? Why did they get changed?

Trust me, after taking them over grass and gravel roads, these shoes certainly do provide feedback, and WAY more than something like the Kinvara (which I've also run in). If anything, my experience in both suggests they should swap places - the Kinvara's aren't racing flats, while the Streaks are.

09/15/10 @ 20:59
Comment from: britt [Member]  

Lindsey,

You caught me! I moved it down and probably should have logged it here with a comment. I now own a pair of the Streak XC 2s and am putting together a review on them. Here is my thinking: I wanted the "flats" section of the continuum to be just that, flat. I have started to run in the XCs, read more about them around the web, and do some of my own measurements. At their thickest point they are close to 20mm. Once you get into that range you start to lose some road feel. Also, they have Nike Air units in them. They are little air or gas filled modules that are surrounded by foam in the midsole. These cushion, but also reduce road feel. Personally, I like them a lot, but I don't think they have a great road feel and are not very close to barefoot. I would like for the "flats" section to be shoes with better road feel an thinner soles. More in the under 20mm range. I may need to revisit the Kirvana and move it down too. Thanks for your input.

09/16/10 @ 10:05
Comment from: Lindsey [Visitor]
Lindsey

They're working well for me, but place them as you feel best. I would strongly suggest removing the Kinvaras from the flats section though, because if you feel the XC's have too much cushion/not enough road feel, the Kinvaras have absolutely NO business in the flats section either. Yes, they have a low drop, but they are foam boats compared to the XC's.

09/16/10 @ 15:45
Comment from: John V. Karavitis [Visitor]
John V. Karavitis

John V. Karavitis I first learned about barefoot running and the Vibram Five Fingers when I read the book "Born To Run". I'm thinking I'm going to have to eventually try a pair and see what it's like. So I'm grateful for this website, seems as though it has a lot of information and a lot of testimonials. Keep up the good work! KC9ISD

09/18/10 @ 14:00
Comment from: mike [Visitor]
mike

just wanted feedback on the Vibram Fivefingers Bikila Mens. has anyone ran a marathon in these? are they as beneficial as everyone i see with them on says?

09/18/10 @ 18:44
Comment from: Matt [Visitor]
Matt

I see something else that didn't make the cut -- feet.

Feet are the lightest and cheapest way to go. And the barefoot feel of feet can't be beat.

Given that "barefoot running" now equates to running in "barefoot shoes", I suppose that people who run without shoes need to come up with a new term.

09/21/10 @ 09:38
Comment from: britt [Member]  

I removed the New Balance MT100 and MT101 due to their 10mm drop.

09/22/10 @ 12:43
Comment from: Greg [Visitor]
Greg

Of course, you can take any suitable shoes and have it "zeroed" by the local shoemaker/cobbler.

I have had the following shoes zeroed:

Saucony Fastwitch 3
Brooks Green Silence
Brooks Cascadia 5 (trail shoe)

Since zeroing, the FT have about 300 miles on them, the Cascadias somewhere around 200, and the GS have exactly 13.1 on them.

10/01/10 @ 09:58
Comment from: Bob [Visitor]
Bob

I don't have it in front of me, but the new Outside Magazine Winter Gear Buyer's Guide mentions the New Balance MT101, and cites the heel-to-toe drop as something like 4 mm. I realize it's not a very minimal shoe, compared with most on your chart, and am chomping at the bit for more Minimus info, but I am curious about the discrepancy. Did New Balance claim a 4mm drop, but you measured 10?

10/29/10 @ 09:39
Comment from: Reticuli [Visitor]  
Reticuli

You need to specify two other parameters in your overview of various "barefoot" shoes: 1) Effective Cushioning and 2) Softness/Hardness of the bottom-most outsole that contacts the road. The first has obvious benefits for distributing forces, especially in the forefoot. The second (such as rubber softness and tread density) is necessary to reduce the vibration component that causes the bottom ligament of the foot to get "plucked". The bottom of the human foot is soft. Mimicking being barefoot on soft ground when you're actually running on asphalt in shoes requires the shoe to be shaped like the foot and not like a rocket, less or no heel and arch height, a sole that is rounded and doesn't have right-angles at the edges, and either enough squishy cushioning (blue gel, sorbothane, etc), a very soft outsole material, or both. And as a side-note, I believe the first significant barefoot-like shoe from a major company (besides watersocks) was the Air Rift, designed for Kenyan runners who wanted to compete barefooted but were required to wear shoes. Nike is pretty dumb to have discontinued mens sizes in it and not simply further developed the design: reducing drop, reshaping the sole edges, etc. It was introduced in 1995, brought back for the anniversary in 2005, and is sporadically produced in womens sizes now. Clones/gray-market/knockoffs can be found, though.

11/06/10 @ 17:25
Comment from: David Helter [Visitor]
David Helter

I think you should do some more research on the BIOM concept by ECCO. They were one of the first to the market with natural motion footwear and Dr. Brueggemann, who helped Nike develop Free, worked closely with ECCO to develop BIOM. It is all about natrual motion and is leading product in this category, even though ECCo is not know as a sport brand. They have now taken the natura motion concept into other caegories like golf and cross training. Check it out and tell your readers more about it.

01/18/11 @ 23:16
Comment from: Debra [Visitor]
Debra

Thanks for this list. I've recently changed to forefoot running, in Terra Plana Neo (which you need to add - similar to the Evo but a slightly wider toe box; 4 mm sole, zero drop), but I'm considering whether I might want somthing with a -little- cushioning for long road runs (e.g. half-marathon); this list at least lets me know which shoes I should be trying on when I reach a shop. I actually found the Evo not wide enough on the toe box (very small feet, but wide right up to the toes, and I need room for those to move), but the Neo is fine.

02/03/11 @ 14:20
Comment from: Alex Thompson [Visitor]  
Alex Thompson

The Brooks Pure Connect could go on this chart. I run a little mileage in Five Fingers, and I run track workouts in the Asics Hyperspeed 4, and the Pure Connect fall somewhere between - to me at least - those two shoes. Drop = 4mm, flexible forefoot and some independence in movement of the big toe vs other toes. Lots of cushioning though.

11/11/11 @ 15:54
Comment from: EJ [Visitor]  
EJ

Britt this is a big help - thank you very much for putting it together. Where would you place the Saucony Xodus 3.0 and the Altra Lone Peak on this chart? Have you tried them?

Also wuld you consider organizing a list of low drop good cushioning business casual and dress shoes? As one spends more time in trail runners that are low drop, it makes you want the same feeling in shoes you can wear to work.

01/24/12 @ 14:42
Comment from: Mark [Visitor]
Mark

Hi Britt, the continuum is invaluable to someone looking to buy a pair of truely minimalist shoes. Could you update the continuum for 2012? Thanks for a great post!

05/08/12 @ 20:57
Comment from: JasonP [Visitor]
JasonP

Excellent comparison! I've been looking for something like this for a while. Thanks so much for doing this. Like Mark (the previous commenter) said, it would be nice if you can update it for 2012. Vibram, for example, has a whole host of new models released, which are all reviewed elsewhere on this website.

08/24/12 @ 10:04
Comment from: Bruno Oliveira [Visitor]
Bruno Oliveira

It is a very interesting list, but i only found your page now (12-04-2013).

Do you think, it is time for an update? a lot of things have changed in 2 years and probably a lot of people would benefict from an update to the list (me included of course)

04/12/13 @ 07:05