This shoe is a game changer.
That was a bold statement—especially since we are talking about the minimalist market, which is known for innovations and “game-changers”—but this is no ordinary shoe.
The Soft Star RunAmoc Dash with the bullhide sole is nothing short of a miracle in the most simplistic sense of the word. It has become my favorite shoe for leisure, work, and enjoying my day. There is no shoe in my collection that even comes close to being as comfortable or as flexible and none are quite as unique and quirky-looking as well.
Intrigued? Read on and find out what makes this shoe so special.
The Soft Star RunAmoc Dash with the bullhide sole (shortened to RunAmoc BH for the remainder of this review) is made entirely of quality leather, is super lightweight, collapsible, durable, and stylish.
This particular review is for the Soft Star Shoes RunAmoc DYO (design your own) model, which has custom colors and stitching options, but this review is representative of all RunAmoc Dash shoes from Soft Star with the bullhide leather sole. As luck would have it, Soft Star has some Bullhide Dash RunAmocs on sale (for now!) here, which is 20% off.
What Soft Star says:
Our natural bullhide leather sole is extremely flexible, pliable and durable for outdoor use. This shoe adapts to the shape of your foot to allow maximum freedom of movement when you flex and bend your feet. Perfect for barefoot enthusiasts who want maximum ground feel in a shoe that offers simple protection from the elements.
Lightweight (5.7 oz for a mens size 9)
The most comfortable shoes that I own
The leather sole provides amazing ground feel
The leather construction accommodates a wide range of feet shapes
Quirky good looks
Limited traction with the leather sole
The RunAmoc BH is a quirky, yet cool, looking shoe. Vaguely elf-like, but with a style all its own, the shoe is very versatile from a fashion point of view and works well with a nice pair of jeans or a well-matched suit. The version I received from Soft Star was a Design Your Own model with very nice blue stitching and accents and everything is well executed in a classy way, especially with the supple leather all around the shoe. The overall design really grew on me throughout the review process I now wear them everywhere.
The sole is amazing and, yes, it is comprised of a single piece of durable, high quality bull leather. Honestly, more shoemakers should use leather for their soles because it provides many benefits, especially for barefoot and minimalist enthusiasts.
It goes without saying that the flexibility in a leather sole is tremendous. There are very few minimalist shoes that allow for a downward toe flex, let alone those in the “lifestyle” category of minimalist shoes, but these babies flex with every movement of my foot (See Exhibit A). They provide just enough protection from even rocks on sandy trails, but provide an uncompromising barefoot experience. In fact, the flexibility and great feel of these shoes made them fantastic rock climbing shoes. I was able to get my toes into tiny footholds that would be nearly impossible in most other shoes, even Vibram Fivefingers.
The sole is also very durable! After three weeks of walking around the urban jungle of Boston and hiking around Pike’s Peak in Colorado (with some rock climbing thrown in!), the sole is still good-as-new and barely has a scuff to tell of my adventures in rock climbing and monkeying around. E.g.:
The leather molds itself to your unique foot shape in very little time—yes, even my wide duck feet! Initially, I felt that the shoes might have been a little too narrow for my feet, but in less than a day, they have essentially become leather socks that have molded to my foot. There really is nothing quite like it. While other shoemakers do the best they can with the uppers of their shoes, the last (shoe platform) and sole are typically ridged and will not stretch or mold like the other materials of the shoe. The only way to enhance that aspect of the shoe is to make the sole thinner, which increases flexibility and ground feel, but even the thinnest rubber sole does have the same pliability and feel as these leather soles. They truly are in a class of their own. I feel like I’m wearing super protective socks, rather than an actual shoe, and that’s a good thing.
Having so much flexibility and ground feel truly provides an actual barefoot experience. With this amazing bullhide sole, I can feel individual cracks in the sidewalk, the fine gravel on a hiking trail, and other small details of the world. Despite this incredible ground feel, the leather is thick and durable enough to provide a fair bit of protection from the elements. I was able to bound around some Colorado canyons with little fear of rocks and pebbles. I would say that bullhide sole provides about the same protection as 6mm of Vibram Morflex or 5mm of Vibram Newflex, but with better flexibility and ground feel, of course.
The only issue I had with the sole is that it provides very little traction due to the lack of any tread whatsoever. With a running start, I was able to perform a Risky-Business style 4-foot powerslide on the freshly cleaned floors at Denver International Airport (though I had a little bit od dust on my soles from an earlier hike). In fact, Soft Star’s website makes sure to let you know that these shoes do not have great traction at the time of purchase. Despite that one aside, I find that the leather sole is superior to a traditional rubber sole in just about any situation.
One thing worth noting is that Soft Star added a small cushioned section on the inside of the shoe where the back of the heel would normally rub. This little bit of padding makes a big difference in helping your foot stay in the shoe and is very comfortable. Few minimalist lifestyle shoes have that little bit of extra security in the rear of the heel, which can cause some rubbing and make the shoe move around a bit too much while walking around.
While I believe the RunAmoc BH is best as a lifestyle shoe, it works great for running as well. I ran with them for about 20 miles over the course of a week and found the ground feel to be excellent and they do live up to the name “RunAmoc”.
In comparing the RunAmoc BH with other lifestyle shoes in my collection, the RunAmoc absolutely blows them away in terms of flexibility and ground feel. I alternated the RunAmoc against the Jay and Dharma from Vivobarefoot, and the Advocate Stitch from Patagonia for a few days. After wearing the RunAmoc BH, these other shoes felt heavy and stiff, even though I’ve completely broken all of them in over a year ago. There truly is no comparison.
Even with socks on, my feet are still cool in the Colorado heat, while in the past, I would find myself having to air out my feet with the other shoes from time to time when standing still for a while, especially in an office or teaching setting.
In summary, I absolutely adore these shoes. They have become my favorite shoes for day-to-day use and they can also work very well if you need to dash or hike in a pinch. I get lots of compliments on them and I love telling people about the bullhide leather sole. They are, without a doubt, my favorite shoes to wear around town because of their unequaled comfort and flexibility.
They are a barefoot enthusiast’s dream.
If you’re new to Soft Stars, you might check out other Soft Star reviews as they are long-time perennial favorites at BirthdayShoes. Meanwhile, (while supplies last) SoftStar has some Bullhide RunAmoc Dash available on saleright now here (as of mid-November 2014). The Bullhide Dash is usually $109 but on sale for $87.20.
A huge thanks goes out to Soft Star Shoes for sending me a pair of the DYO RunAmoc with a bullhide sole for me to review. They put a lot of thought—and a little bit of magic—in their shoes and I look forward to seeing what else they come out with in the future.