Barefoot Shoes Reviews

Soft Star Roo Long-Term Review

Fourteen years (and a few days) ago, I published my first Soft Star Shoes review (here) — that of the Soft Star “Grippy¹” Roo Moccasins.

Nearly 12 years ago, I published a review of my Soft Star Roos (and Ramblers).

Today, I’m going to share some long-term thoughts about the Soft Star Roo, a special, made-by-hand pair of barefoot slippers.

Because believe it or not, I still am wearing them. As in, to this day, including today, I still wear the exact same pair featured in the 2011 review.

I ❤️ the Soft Star Roo

This is my 12 year old pair of Roos²:

As you can see, they are looking pretty good on the outside. This color combination, if I recall, was a custom deal Soft Star created for me. the tan suede has taken on some blue color from (sometimes) selvedge jeans, and sure a little dirt here and there. Other than that, the suede looks excellent.

What about the soles? Well, take a look:

Suffice to say, I’ve stepped in god knows what over 12 years—and for the first 2 months of their life, I tested them like I would regular shoes, wearing them all over town, to work, to parks, and more.

The main impact of time is the accumulation of a smooth surface over the scruffy suede, and yeah, lots of dark spots because floors are dirty.

There are no areas I can see where the leather is thin or worn so rough to be close to breaking. I even spy a spot of paint from, if memory serves, repainting a room a decade ago.

What about the inside? Here are a few shots of the sheepskin:

It might not be obvious from the photos, but most of the sheepskin fur is still there. Much of it has a matted quality to it. In a few areas, the friction between foot and fur has worn away the fur down to the leather. Overall, I find it remarkable how well the sheepskin has held up. I think it’s a testament to the design of the Roos being so minimal, lightweight, and flexible — these slippers don’t fight with your feet.

Now that you’ve seen what a very old pair of Soft Star Roos looks like, let me share a bit about what why I ear them—especially in the cooler Fall and Winter months around the house.

What makes the Roo so special?

Easy to wear, cozy, comfortable

The Soft Star Roos succeed by combining a simple, lightweight design with quality materials that simply feel great on the bare foot.

For the upper, the suede has a structure without being obnoxious, and feels just fine against the bare skin on the top of my foot.

For the insole, sheepskin is unbeatable. Sheepskin fur wicks away moisture. It’s warm and cozy to my feet. The only drawback? Sheep skin does wear down over time—how could it not?

Yet mine still looks pretty good!

For the outsole, the leather holds up like a champ. It also transmits ground feel perfectly. (That doesn’t count for much on indoor surfaces, though if you take these outside, you’ll notice.)

Because Roos are not socks, they don’t feel glued on to your feet, which means you get some air circulation inside them. If your home is particularly cold, you might like socks to create another layer on top of your foot (the part of your foot touching the leather upper). Otherwise, and for most, forget the socks.

As for drawbacks to the Roo, only one comes to mind. Where the upper and sole materials meet, running the periphery of the shoe on the inside, there is a fairly thick seam comprised of three layers of material (see the bottom right of the last photo). Your foot may, on occasion, notice this seam. For example, my toes notice it sometimes. In a way, it’s just something for my foot to fidget with when bored.

(I don’t mind it. Just thought you should know.)

The Roo is great for everyone

I remarked years ago about how the Roo is similar in design to soft soled shoes for newly walking children. Indeed Soft Star makes those very shoes for kids too (of course!).

The question I ask myself: Why do we so often insist on trying to improve something that just works?

I know all the ways to answer that question—especially with shoes.

Yet it’s wonderful to go back and remember that a simple design made with good materials often is about as good as it gets.

If you’re interested in picking up a pair of Soft Star Roos, head over to The Roo is now made in Elk leather, too, which looks … intriguing.

And if the “Elves” at Soft Star ask, tell them Justin at BirthdayShoes sent ya (you don’t need to do this!).

¹ Soft Star discontinued the Grippy sole nearly 8 years ago. That sole had the thinnest layer of material bound to leather, and really, it wasn’t that grippy. Nontheless, RIP Grippy.

² I have no idea where my 2009 Grippy Roos are. I don’t recall throwing them away. However, we moved houses two years ago. I hope one day to find them buried amidst my wives shoes.)

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.

2 replies on “Soft Star Roo Long-Term Review”

That’s awesome! I have also seen that the leather soles outlast the rubber soles! And they feel amazing. This is the most long-term and thorough review I’ve seen. So cool that you are still enjoying them after more than a decade.

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