The Feelgrounds Original Knit is attractive, versatile, and comfortable lifestyle shoe with a breathable knit upper, flexible sole, and great aesthetics. A great minimalist shoe for everyday activities.

Overview

The Feelgrounds Original Knit is attractive, versatile, and comfortable lifestyle shoe with a breathable knit upper, flexible sole, and great aesthetics. A great minimalist shoe for everyday activities.

From the Manufacturer

The Original Knit offers the most natural walking experience while looking sleek and stylish. Its knit upper comes with a water-repellent treatment, which makes this model a great all-round sneaker. Ideal for everyday casual wear in spring and autumn.

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Heart and Sole

The Feelgrounds company was originally crowd-funded by 1,907 backers on Indiegogo. They have since released number of very attractive models, including ship-on loafers, boots, and chukkas.

The sole is a recyclable TPE with excellent grip on smooth surfaces and a stack height of 5mm.

This sole really surprised me! It is pretty gummy and provides excellent stickiness on man-made surfaces. Its tread pattern uses simple circles with tiny dimples on each lug. On rough terrain, the lugs perform pretty well on trails, asphalt, and ice.

Usually, lifestyle shoes tend to have relatively flat soles that are great for smooth walking, but not much else. The Feelgrounds TPE sole is slightly gummy and soft as well as very flexible and pretty sticky on surfaces. The circular lugs still allow for a very smooth walk cycle, but can grab on many textures, such as logs on a trail or a bit of uneven ground.

On dry rocks, the sole material performs better than Vibram Gumlite, which is in my opinion of the best balances in terms of soling materials for durability, flex, and grip; a strong endorsement of the grippy characteristics of the sole.

The TPE material in the sole is quite soft and comfortable and not as firm and plasticky as other everyday shoes. While the stack height of this sole is a relatively short 5mm, the suppleness of this sole really adds a great deal of comfort. This would make for an excellent parkour shoe or a shoe for someone looking to transition to more minimalist shoes and wants the full benefits of a slim, flexible and zero drop sole, but with a bit of plushness and luxury.

My only concern is that because the sole is on the softer side, it may not be as durable as denser soles on the market. After wearing them on numerous adventures, the dimples on some of the circle lugs have started to fade. This all makes sense for the intended purpose as a casual street shoe, but I wanted to highlight some of his more aggressive capabilities in this review.

Flexibility is very high for this shoe. It is very easy to ball the shoe up and you can press and emphasis individual parts of your foot for adherence on a variety of surfaces. For me, a shoe is not truly minimalist unless I can perform presses on individual metatarsal heads of the bones of your foot. This level of dexterity and control provides a huge peace of mind when encountering tricky terrain. For example, allowing so much information to pass from ground to foot means I can usually predict how far of an angle I can push on a slope, rock, log, etc. before I will begin to slip. Provided my laces (for shoes), lacing system (for sandals and some Vibrams), or elastics (for slip-ons) are reliable and consistent, I am basically a mountain goat on trails, parkour gyms, and around town.

While the Feelgrounds Original Knit was not intended for such aggressive activities, it has a sole and construction that is more than capable of doing so, which makes it an excellent shoe for everyday that can still have fun when you want it to.

Overall, high praise for both leisure/casual use and when you want to cut loose.

Aesthetics

I would characterize their look as street casual, or city casual. I suppose their nearest non-minimalist analog would be All Birds, Converse, or classic Adidas in terms of looks.

One issue that some people may have with minimalist dress and casual shoes is that their wide toe boxes and the curve of the last, or the mechanical shape of the shoe, tends to call attention to itself. It is a common criticism that some minimalist shoes have a bit of a “clown shoe” look. Of course, to call something anatomically correct “clownish” is absurd, but one can understand where they are coming from. Clown shoes are cartoonishly over-sized. A part of that comic look comes from how big the toe area stands out. In contrast, while this looks clumsy on a clown, the wide toe box of minimalist shoes is beneficial to your foot health and allows your feet to do what they evolved for; be agile and to convey information to your brain.

Now, if this is not an issue for you, great! You are not a vain person and just enjoy shoes as shoes. However, if you might have expressed concerns about your minimalist shoes looking too “clownish”, well, Feelgrounds has got you covered! They look completely like your run of the mill, yet attractive, shoes, despite having a pretty good toe box! My wide and voluminous feet are very comfortable with this shoe. In fact, they are probably the most comfortable shoes I currently own!

I think how Feelgrounds went about the look of the shoe is to start the wide curve of the toe box early and to taper off gently as our eyes round the toe section. Some minimalist shoes have a pretty aggressive curve from the pinky toe inwards. Everyone’s foot is shaped differently and this is actually a bit limiting for some wearers. I find that this subtle curve is not only good looking, but also more accommodating for a wider variety of feet.

There is a semi-pull tab and Feelgrounds branding strip stitched into the heel. This is semi-adequate as a pull tab. The majority of this strip is stitched and there is little space to actually grab onto. Also, the Feelgrounds logo is offset, so when reading from top to bottom, my shoe reads “GROUNDSFE’. It is meant to be subtle, but I think it would look better as the entire name of the company. Other shoes in their catalog have a smaller font and the entire brand logo is visible, so maybe it was just a choice for this Original Knit style.

Overall, the Feelground Original Knit are attractive, if a bit discreet, casual shoe. They are not meant to complement your wardrobe and are neither loud nor invisible. Essentially, a great middle ground for an everyday shoe. They do feature more colors than this nondescript gray and brown number, but I do hope that they come out with more colors, maybe some stripes, or lace and color combinations in the future. I envision this as a shoe that someone can really get attached to because of how comfortable and easy they are to wear, and it would be great if they became more expressive in future colorways.

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Fit and Materials

The fantastic uppers are vegan and made from recycled PET. Very breathable and semi-water repellent, they feel great to the touch and seem to be very durable. I wish other upper materials could feel this nice, let alone recycled ones. The laces and lining are also made of recycled PET.

They do a pretty good job at keeping water out. Initial splashes bead off the surface of the shoe, while full submersion will lead to wet socks.

The heel counter is a microfiber material and it is just right for my feet in terms of support and comfort. There is just the right amount of hug to prevent my heel from slipping, but nothing feels stiff either; that part of the interior is smooth and plush.

From a manufacturing perspective, it is very impressive for a new company. I can sometimes find random defects from shoes I receive from other companies that have been around for a while. Going so far as requiring an exchange before writing a review because of an odd stitch that would rub on my heel or a weak glue/stitch point that would spell trouble for long-term ownership. In terms of craftsmanship, everything looks great. The shoe is nicely put together and well made. One gets the feeing that this shoe was made by someone who cares about their product.

As stated earlier, this is the most comfortable shoe I own. The knit uppers provide a nice hug of comfort and the soles are soft and flexible. This strikes a nice balance between security and comfort. Many of my casual shoes are a bit too loose and my foot seems to flop around a bit, especially if I have to shift gears around town and make a dash to catch a train, build momentum to jump a barrier, or catch a frisbee. While a leisure shoe should be designed for leisure in mind, that does not mean it can be sloppy or lazy. This is where the Feelgrounds Original Knit excels. Earlier, I stated that the sole has aspirations for action, but is happy to enjoy a simple day as well.

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Future Improvements

Overall, this is a fantastic shoe from a new company looking to do big things. For a future Original Knit update, I would like an aligned logo, more sole and color combinations, and a tougher pull tab. I would be great to get a full line of casual shoes one day, including a leather dress shoe and other staples.

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Summary

With the Feelgrounds Original Knit, you can take both the road less travelled and the road most travelled and enjoy either choice. A fantastic new product from a new company! I am very happy to see new blood, looks, and ideas in the minimalist industry.