• minimalist sandals!

    Xero Shoes - Barefoot Running Sandals

Teva Zilch Preview - Barefoot Friendly Sandals

Teva Zilch
The Teva Zilch.

Here's a quick look at the new Teva Zilch sandal which will be available March 1, 2011 mid-April retailing for $80. It is being billed as the "thinnest, most minimalistic sport sandal" that Teva has ever made. It is designed to be very thin and flexible while offering great traction and protection. The hardy straps and big toe loop should securely lock down your foot too. Could this be a high-tech alternative to the primitive huarache? We haven't tested it yet, but a pair is on its way to us so we can bring you a more detailed review.

Here are a few more design highlights from Teva:

  • Sole designed to grip like crazy in wet and dry environments.
  • Topsole with slow recovery material to give everyone a custom feel.
  • Outsole slightly wraps up for a secure fit.
  • Minimal 10mm total sole from foot to ground.
  • Rolls up making it a great travel shoe.

Below is an image gallery of all the photos we've got to date. Click thumbnails to Zoom.

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Whatcha ya think? Is there a need for a barefoot friendly sandal? Are sandals barefoot friendly already? Anyone think you can run in these puppies? What say you? Sound off in the comments!

HT: KayakShed.com

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.


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.


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