The toe shoes market is soon to get another contender from none other than Body Glove, one of the leading manufacturers of water sports apparel, in the form of a three-toed shoe. You read that right. Three. First you had FiveFingers with, well, of course, five toe pockets; then the Fila Skele-toes with four; and now we're down to three!* I guess we've already got two-pocketed toe shoes in the form of Tabi Shoes, so Body Glove is just filling in the niche with the 3T here!
The Body Glove 3T Barefoot Technology is coming Spring 2012 and sports the following features (as noted in the official product spec sheet above):
- Three toe pockets: the smallest three toes get one pocket to "work together to increase stability and control." This should make them pretty easy to put on, to boot.
- "Just your foot, protected"
- "Hybrid" for use in and out of the water
- A "IDS" (Integrated Drainage System): through-the-sole drainage system to let out water (or let air circulate)
My contact at Body Glove indicates that these are geared specifically for kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding, though I'm sure they could be used in just about any water application.
What I don't know (yet):
- If the upper is made out neoprene or something else (I'd guess it is).
- How thick the (presumedly) rubber sole is; how flexible is the sole?
- Are these neutral from heel to toe?
My first impression, which are necessarily general given how much I don't know about these toe shoes, is that it looks like an interesting design to round out your toe shoes options. While I joke about the "three toes," I can't help but think about my experience with Flow FiveFingers, which are neoprene and separate all five toes. While many have worn Flows for winter running, it's very easy for your little toes to get cold if you're not moving enough due to the tightness of the neoprene and the lack of the little toes being able to heat each other as with a more typical "mitten" design; perhaps putting the three smaller toes in one pocket will solve this issue while still providing a greater "barefoot" feeling through separating the largest metatarsels.
All in all, toe shoes get a lot of their benefits through the separation of the toes (See: why toe shoes?) as individual pockets allow a minimal, flexible-soled shoe to move with your foot as your toes bend, splay, and flex. Could there be an ideal compromise between separating all the toes, which leaves at least one or two more susceptible to snagging on rocks (and breaking) and still maintaining some (or all) of the benefits of articulated toes? I don't know.
What do you think about these? Interested in a three toe option for water sports or winter running wear? Sound off in the comments!
* This is at least a little reminiscent of the "Seven Minute Abs? I'm going to invent 'Six Minute Abs?'" line from Something About Mary; or perhaps a reverse of the number-of-blades escalation you get with disposable razors