ZemGear Ninja shoes

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

ZemGear Ninja Toe ShoesSo I was browsing the twitterverse this week when I came across a shoe I hadn’t heard of before: the ZemGear Ninja Split Toe. They looked pretty cool, so I meandered down to my local minimalist shoe store and tried a pair on.

I didn’t get the opportunity to road test them, so this review is based entirely around a wee jaunt around the store. As you’ll see below, this was enough.

The ZemGear Ninja Split Toe shoe definitely falls squarely into the “ultra-minimalist” category. It’s essentially a lightweight slipper with a thin rubber sole. It features a split “tabi” toe, which could theoretically allow you to wear flip-flops with them (why you would do this I have no idea!). The uppers are of a stretchy fabric with ‘welded’ bands that ensure a tight fit.

At first glance, these look like excellent shoes – lightweight, contoured, and at ~$50(AUD), a bargain compared to many other minimalist shoes out there.

Where these shoes fall down is in the size and attachment of the soles. These appear to be stitched on, but in such a way that there is a seam running around the perimeter of the sole. This seam actually protrudes beyond the sole and would inevitably contact the ground during running and walking. Because of this design, I wouldn’t imagine that they would take too much wear and tear, even for the lightest-stepping runner.

The second issue is once again with the sole. I have fairly average sized feet, yet I found myself stepping on the seam on the edge of the sole as I walked. I tried on a larger pair but even then I found the same problem.

Unfortunately, the sole construction of the Zem Ninja Split Toes was a deal breaker for me, and I wouldn’t consider buying a pair. However, the construction of the uppers of these shoes seemed sound. Hopefully the company will fix up these issues, and when they do, they’ll have a very strong product that will do well in the minimalist shoe market.

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8 thoughts on “ZemGear Ninja shoes

  1. I bought a pair of zemgear 360’s which are made specifically for running. The other range are more designed for beach and indoor activities. I didn’t like the inside seam either and it took me a good week to adjust to their “fit”. Even now having gotten a good fit where the inside seam doesn’t rub, after some time wearing them the sweat makes your forefoot slip inside the shoe. I cannot imagine this to be any good whilst running, and therefore have not bothered road testing them. I use them while my VFF’s are drying after washing.

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  2. I’ll have to track down a pair of 360’s and give them a road test, but if they’re anything like the ones I tried, I think you’re right about the soles slipping a bit. Still, nice comfy uppers, eh?

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      • Hehe yeah, maybe that’s the problem! I haven’t enjoyed even running in my Vibrams since I started barefoot full-time…seems like it may be barefoot or nothing now đŸ™‚

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  3. Thank you so much for your review!
    With ZEMgear you have to keep in mind that there are different styles for different purposes. The ones you tried on are actually the “Originals” there are the booties that ZEMgear started with and they are intended mainly for indoor and/or sand surfaces. Also, they are not recommended for running. The stepping down on the seam part is a valid issue however, know that ZEMs actually adjust to *you* rather than the other way around. What this means essentially is that with time ZEMs mold to your feet and the seams flatten out.
    For running, we have recently added the 360s to our repertoire. These are fantastic and provide minimalism with great support and durability. The construction is different so the seams issue will not be apparent. The 360s were built for high durability and you can take them for a run anywhere.
    Let me know if you would like more information. Again, thank you for taking the time to review our footwear!

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    • Thanks for your comment Lidya! I had hoped to try out some 360s but they weren’t available at the store where I tried the shoes on. I’d love an opportunity to try them out though, so if you can recommend a retailer in Sydney or are able to help me arrange a test run, I’d be more than happy to do another review.
      I find it interesting that the shoes are designed to adjust to fit the feet that are wearing them – this is another aspect I’d love to test out, and would probably need more than a stroll around a shop.

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    • Lidya,
      Do you know of any stores in Victoria, BC Canada that sell your shoes? I REALLY like the style of them and I think that my feet would be very comfortable. I’ve tried the Vibrams and they’re just too restricting for my amply dextrous toes.
      Thanks!

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  4. Zemgear…zemgear

    I had a really rough time with zemgear..

    most of their models couldn’t even handle me walking in them let alone run.

    so I contacted them while my zemcraps were torn up in a corner – FROM WALKING IN THEM?

    I’m not some championship fast walker or a gold medal sprinter, but if these were made to run walk whatever, then they should last!

    all of my pairs were trashed to say the least…but don’t take it the wrong way other customers complain about durability too and zemshits does nothing to change it.

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