Written by Barefoot Dawsy
So 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.