Barefoot Shoes

Soft Star Moccasins Review

Soft Star Shoes are handmade leather moccasins manufactured by a small company in Oregon. In this review, I talk about my experiences with the Soft Star Grippy Roos, a barefoot shoe that provides a great deal of ground feedback while keeping your feet exceedingly comfortable!

I first heard of Soft Star shoes back in early June of this year via Rocco, who mentioned them as his “barefoot shoes” of choice outside of his KSO FiveFingers. I sought out Soft Star and got in touch with Tricia, one of the Soft Star “Elves,” so-called as the Soft Star shoes have a decidedly elfish look to them. I asked Trish if I could be sent a pair of Soft Stars to test for a potential review for BirthdayShoes.

Tricia obliged and sent me a pair of the Grippy Suede Roos in “chocolate.”, which retail at $63 (unless you have larger feet — say size 13 men’s or higher) and size similarly to regular shoes (a welcome relief to VFF-calculus!). Now that I’ve had a few months to put these Mocs through the ropes, it’s high time I reviewed them, so allow me to introduce to you to a monotoed “VFF alternative” — Soft Stars!


Though Soft Star has a number of non-moccasin offerings, the Grippy Roos have a two-piece moccasin leather design whereby the ankle is wrapped by one piece and another piece covers the front and top of the foot, overlapping the ankle piece. Both parts are connected at the lip, ankle of the Moc via a set-length elastic band, which comfortably secures the Moc onto your foot.

This design looks very Moccasin-like — for you parents out there, they might remind you of Robeez. Anyway, here are a couple of photos to help paint the picture (click for larger):

The “Grippy” part of these Moccasins is derived from the fact that they feature a T-Rex soling, which is “a soft black rubberized non-slip surface” that is bonded to a layer of suede, that is then covered with sheepskin insole, which is what you feel on your feet. All said, based on some caliper measurements, the combined footbed is a mere 2mm thick at the heel — by way of comparison, this is on par with the heel thickness of the FiveFingers Moc and thinner than my oldest Classics (they are 4mm thick).

You can actually see the layers come together by looking inside the Soft Stars:

The T-Rex soling material has a diamond/gridded/bumpy structure to it, and true to form grips well to otherwise slipper surfaces. It also seems to be fairly durable though I’d expect it to wear through if you were a heavy walker or dragged your feet much. Below are two photos of the soles, the photo on the left when the Soft Star Grippy Roos were received back in June and the second photo taken today:

Overall, the Soft Star Mocs employ a simplistic, Moccasin-styled design, one that is lightweight, and feels well-made from nice, almost completely natural materials.

The Soft Star aesthetic

The moccasin aesthetic of the Soft Star Grippy Roos as worn with shorts or “bare-legged” as pictured above is one you may either love or hate. Personally, the look has grown on me, but I also see it as sort of a moot point as I tend to wear my Soft Stars with jeans or pants.

Where the Soft Stars aesthetically shine is as an inconspicuous barefoot shoe that you can wear to casual or maybe even business casual events.

As you can see me modeling to the right (How embarassing — click for a larger version), Soft Stars work well with pants and are aesthetically normal looking. They actually look a great deal like Birkenstock Boston suede clogs, which have been a go-to casual to business-casual sandal for me for over a decade.

Though KSO Treks are an elegant suede solution that compliment dressier occasions, for more stealth-barefoot applications, the Soft Stars work well in a pinch.

Where and when to wear Soft Star Mocs, and how do they feel, anyway?

The Grippy Roo is designed for indoor and outdoor use. When I first got the Roos, I tested them on a mile walk to a nearby park where I randomly decided to climb a tree. The Soft Stars performed perfectly and felt good if not slightly warm in the Georgia heat (this was in June!).

The soft soling of the Soft Stars transmits surface conditions extremely well. With only 2mm of material between your foot and the ground, there is no “cushioning” in the soles so if you walk on a rocky path, you feel it all in high-def with just a tinge of softness from the sheepskin insole.

Over the past few months, I’ve worn my Soft Stars on walks, to run errands, and to events requiring a dressier shoe than FiveFingers or where I didn’t want to bring a bunch of attention to my relatively shy feet.

More than anything, though, where I’ve worn my Soft Stars the most from a time-perspective is in my house. I’m wearing them right now and they are keeping my feet quite comfortable despite the cold hardwood floors.

Generally, the design of Soft Stars affords my feet a great deal of freedom within the shoe. I can scrunch up my toes inside the Soft Stars, wiggle my toes with aplomb, and my feet feel completely unconstrained. The utterly flimsy soles don’t push back on my bending feet in the least. To put it plainly, the Soft Star Mocs are super comfortable.

Special considerations for VFFers

The barefoot feel of Soft Stars is what you’ve come to expect from FiveFingers, if not even a little more “barefoot” feeling due to the thinner and flimsier sole materials.

Perhaps the biggest difference is simply that the spacious feeling and comfort provided by the Soft Star design means that the leather extends beyond your feet a bit, which is just to say they’re not on-the-skin or wrapping-the-foot as tightly as with VFFs. Mind, this isn’t a complaint. If anything, it’s a testament to the requirements of “barefoot shoes” — they need to be big enough to keep your feet free and unrestrained by tight toe-prisons (a.k.a. toe boxes).

Overall thoughts

I’m quite pleased with my Soft Star Grippy Roos. With it getting cooler outside, they’ve quickly become my footwear-of-choice inside my house to keep my feet comfortably warm.

If you’re looking for an alternative to FiveFingers that maintains the barefoot feel while providing a more “normal” aesthetic (with pants or jeans!) or just want an all-purpose indoor and outdoor barefoot shoe, check out Soft Star. And though I’ve not had a chance to test them, note that they also make Soft Star boots, Vibram-soled “Ramblers,” suede-soled Mocassins, slippers, and more, including a whole array of barefoot shoes for babies or toddlers. Because Soft Stars are handmade to order, you can even mix-and-match leather styles by model and design your own Soft Stars. Custom-made shoes — how cool is that?

An information video on Soft Star Shoes!

Finally, I really like how personable Soft Star is and it’s easy to get behind them as a cobbler. I confess: I love my Soft Stars!

If you have any questions about my Grippy Roo Soft Star mocs reviewed here or just want to inquire further into my experience with them, please let me know by commenting below.

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

17 replies on “Soft Star Moccasins Review”

I’d been casually looking for a nice pair of moccasins for a bit now and after reading this, I just put in a request with my fiancee for a pair for Christmas. Thanks for the info!

Thanks for this info Justin. I ordered a pair of Grippy Roos and had them in my hands in Pennsylvania in 3 days! I love them! They are incredibly comfortable and ‘pass’ a little more easily than my Vibrams (I own 5 pairs of V5Fs!). I wore them to work today and plan to do the same tomorrow!

I’ve been wearing a pair of Soft Star Moccasins for several months now, and I adore them. I wanted something for when the weather got cooler, and they’re just that much warmer than my other minimalist shoes. I wear them around the house, I wear them to walk dogs, I wear them when I go out in public.

The only quibble I’ve had is that on my shoes, the dye of the suede will bleed onto my toes if the shoes get wet (e.g., when walking in wet grass.) It washes right off and doesn’t stain my toes for very long, but I do keep that fact in mind when I go out.

I’d buy another pair in a heartbeat.

Actually, I’d be pretty disturbed if YOU reviewed a high-heeled shoe!!!

Seriously though, you got me wanting a pair of Soft Star shoes now!!

Ha well by “high heeled” I mean thickly heeled sneakers or shoes (think: Nikes).

I’ve been wearing my Soft Stars all the time in my house ever since it got colder. They are awesomely comfortable slippers and great ad hoc outdoor barefoot shoes (though socks might be a good idea if it’s particularly chilly out!).

If you had a choice between wearing the classics and the soft star everyday, would you choose the vibram classics?


In the house I’d say Soft Stars. Outside (assuming reasonable temperatures) it would be the Classics (unless dress code required otherwise).

Thanks for the reply!

If I will be wearing it to go to school and walking around school, (no real dress code unless professional presentations), then I should get the classics?

I really like the KSO but also want the ease of putting it on as you wrote in your one about the VFF classics.



I just got my Grippy Roos in the mail yesterday. I ordered them after reading your article. They are awesome! I put them on as soon as I got them out of the box and didn’t take them off for the rest of the night.

I got some grippy roos for running in the Minnesota winter. I haven’t tried them in slush (I stick to the treadmill at those times), but they’ve been perfect down to about -10*F running on packed snow. My ankles get cold below about 5*F, so then I have to wear socks, but otherwise I have happy running feet.

I’ve got about 50 miles on them and I don’t notice any signs of wear.

I’ve been looking for soft-soled shoes for next winter. (Sydney, AUST; nothing extreme) How do the Grippy Roos do in the wet? Do they stay dry inside? Also, being sheepskin inside, do they get smelly if you wear them without socks?


I haven’t tried them in the rain or running through puddles. The leather is permeable and would soak through in time, I’m sure. There are also entry points for water to get in on the sides of the Mocs (where the leather overlaps).

I don’t wear mine with socks and have never cleaned them now in six plus months. I wear them almost all day in my house working from home and they don’t stink. They still smell leathery, but not smelly.

I am looking into these shoes for something to wear to work in Korea as an English teacher. I have very sweaty/hot feet though and was wondering what their breath-ability is like?

Hi, I ran in VFF sprints that were too tight for a couple months and got a black toenail and my first bunion (ow!). Switched to a man’s VFF Bikila to give my long toes more room, but the shoe is too wide and my toes migrate out of their slots (doesn’t seem to affect the running though). Would these shoes be good for trail running if I have long narrow feet and want to relieve a bunion?

Well, I wearing my new SS and I LOVE them! I ended up getting the Grippy Roo style but went custom shiney lime & shiney blue with shiney pink leather flowers for the buttons. The leather is so incredibly buttery soft that it is simply amazing to think it’s even leather. The insoles are really super soft fleeced sheepskin. And the attention to detail is really great. I ended up ordering narrows are I have the world’s skinniest yet long feet with the second toe being about 1/2″ longer than my others. No other shoe has fit me so well right outta the box(er, tissue paper in mailer).
I bought them to wear as house shoes & find the idea of running in them intreguing but will save that idea for another pair in the future. I truely do forget I have them on(they feel like socks).
The poster above asked about long narrow feet & trail running. I think their runamock DASH series would be a very good choice. The bottoms of the grippy Roo just wouldn’t hold up. The Ramblers might be fine too, since they have Vibram Cherry soles like alot of huaraches do.

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