XeroShoes Do It Again With The New Prio

They’re here, They’re finally here! 

Ever since I saw my first glimpse of the new XeroShoes Prio, I knew I had to have them. Their sleek design and barefoot pedigree made them shoes to be sought after, and now, here I sit, with the box open on my lap, and I have to say – I’m not disappointed.

I expected the Prio to be light, and they are. I expected them to be flexible, and they are. I expected them to be breathable, comfortable, and affordable. Tick, tick, tick.

What I didn’t expect was that these shoes would be so much better than the competition.

Here’s a company that has been around since the beginning of the minimalist/barefoot running movement. They started with a very basic, DIY sandal, with a sole that was designed to be lighter than a car tyre. Basically it was a slight modernisation of the Huarache sandals famously described in the barefoot running classic Born to Run.

Fast forward a little less than a decade, and this tiny operation has grown up and is now producing shoes that other companies would charge upwards of $400 for (I’m looking at you Vivobarefoot).

 

Designed by barefoot runners, for barefoot runners, the Prio is an engineering marvel. It still follows the basic design of a huarache sandal, with the strapping cradling the shoe in a familiar crisscross pattern. But within that layer of strapping is now a lightweight mesh upper, which provides comfort and protection while still allowing maximum airflow across the foot. Most minimalist shoes these days have mesh uppers, but somehow, the Prio manages to get it just right, to the point where it’s easy to forget that the mesh is even there.

The protective covering doesn’t just stop at the upper however. Underfoot, there is a soft, yet thin fabric layer, covering the wafer-thin FeelTrue rubber sole. Unlike its sister shoe, the Hana, this soft inner sole features hidden stitching, which makes them more aesthetically appealing, and much more comfortable, even without the optional insole which is included in the box.

To top it all off, the Prio features one of the nicest toe boxes on the market. It is spacious enough for a full range of motion, even for wider feet, but doesn’t have the “clown shoe” effect that many wide-box shoes have.

With all of the new features in the Prio, it’s also comforting to see many of the building blocks that make XeroShoes sandals and shoes so great. The simple, yet effective grip underfoot, and the sensible lacing system make for a shoe that can be taken anywhere – off-road or on the streets.

Performance-wise, I can’t fault these shoes. I admit, I haven’t done much running in them yet (damn you, Cyclone Debbie), but the few K’s I’ve clocked up have been very pleasant, both at running and walking pace. I was very surprised at how much of a marked difference they made in running as compared to the Hana, which until now has been my go-to walking shoe.

When running in the Prio, you can literally feel the breeze blowing across your feet, and the ground underfoot, but with the security of knowing you’re not going to come to harm by the occasional rogue thorn or sharp rock.

As you can probably tell, the Prio has done more than impress, and is hands down the best minimalist shoe I have worn to date. I’m hoping they wear out soon so that I can buy another pair!

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

Beginning Barefoot would like to thank XeroShoes for providing us with sample shoes for testing. to purchase your own pair, and show your support, please visit their site at xeroshoes.com

 

Best Strategies For Building Foot Muscles and Strength (Guest Post By Jane Grates!)

Learning to run and have a good stride is a practiced discipline especially when you are changing running styles. For runners who have worn the typical jogging shoe all their lives, building foot strength and endurance is important. There are few practical strategies for strengthening your feet while alleviating any potential for pain or injury in the future.

The most crucial thing to remember when beginning to train for minimal or barefoot running is not to dive into training too fast. Think of building your foot muscles and strength as a long-term project. You want to do a little at a time and slowly build up your foot’s endurance by pushing the limits on daily basis.

The first step before you dive into training is to test the strength in your feet. One way to do this is to find rollers of different sizes and densities. Start with the larger and softer density roller and apply partial body weight by being seated. Measure the amount of pressure you can handle before applying more. Increase the amount of density and use a smaller roller until you feel that you can handle a fair amount of pressure.

The next thing to consider is your stride. Most barefoot or minimalistic runners‘ strike with either their mid-foot or the forefoot. When you run barefoot, you automatically strengthen the muscles in the arch of your foot, which is a great way to prevent a collapse later on.

Shamma5One step towards preparing your feet for barefoot running is to invest in a good pair of minimal shoes. Test out your foot strength and endurance by learning to forefoot strike with minimalistic shoes on a hard but smooth surface such as a track or tennis court. You will know immediately from the response of your body if you are ready to move on after a few days. Make sure to pay attention to your form and try to create good form from the beginning. It’s also good to build up the calluses on your feet prior to going completely barefoot. There are many minimal shoes on the market that allow you to practice your forefoot strike.

When looking for a shoe, stay away from a built up heel. A larger heel will cause you to over-point your toes, which causes unnecessary pain and possible damage to the foot.

Find a shoe with a flexible sole and no arch support. When the sole is too stiff, it tends to prevent the flattening of the arch, which in turn keeps the muscles in the foot from functioning naturally. An easy rule of thumb is that if you can’t easily bend the sole of the shoe, it’s too stiff. In the first few days of training you may feel your muscles in your feet tire quickly, but this will eventually get better over time.

Overall the benefits from barefoot running outweigh any negatives. For example, you don’t have to worry about buying the latest jogging shoes. Plus, runners find that it takes less energy to forefoot strike, because they utilise the natural spring of the foot when stepping down. Running barefoot also allows you to carry less mass, which is great when you need to accelerate or get more push from each stride. If that’s not enough, how about the pure and simple fact that barefoot running feels great! Your feet have ton of nerves that are activated upon each step, so it’s an amazing rush. Lastly, with barefoot running there is very little impact delivered to the foot upon landing, so it’s really comfortable provided you take the time to strengthen and prepare your feet.

Author’s Bio:

janegrates1Jane Grates

Jane is an entrepreneur based in Copenhagen, Denmark. She owns several websites including Monica’s Health Magazine. When not busy with her websites, she travels to popular running destinations.

Barefoot shoes: The new Xeroshoes Ipari Hana reviewed

Xeroshoes Ipari Hana

Xeroshoes Ipari Hana

It’s hard to know where the Xeroshoes team find the time to develop, test, and bring to market such a wide variety of well-crafted, thoughtfully designed, and beautiful shoes, but I’m glad they do!

It seems like just yesterday they announced the release of my favourite running sandal, the Umara Z-Trail, but now they’ve created something completely new, and very surprising from a company that has until now specialised in sandals.

I’m referring of course, to the brand new Ipari Hana, which makes its debut TODAY!

2016-10-18-09-57-50I was fortunate enough to receive a sneak peak pair to try out, and am glad I did, because these are going to fly off the shelf. Want to know why? Keep reading.

Let’s start with the construction. The Ipari Hana have a great base to start out on, as they feature the unparalleled Xeroshoes “FeelTrue” rubber soles. This makes them super-flexible and at very thin 5.5 mm, provide excellent ground feel.

Moving up, we have the insole. I’ve had a play with them both with and without insoles, and even though the insoles are technically removable, the Hanas are and are intended to be worn with them in, and are much more comfortable this way. They’ve very thin though, so there is not a major difference in ground feel with them in.

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Next we 2016-10-18-09-57-00have the uppers. At first glance, they look like they are made of a single layer of canvas material, but on closer inspection, we can see that they are also partially lined with leather (suede?). This touch really makes the Hana feel like a proper shoe, and greatly improves the comfort factor. The leather is soft against your feet, flexible, and durable.

The Hana is intended as a casual shoe, and unfortunately isn’t waterproof, but you can’t have everything, and most minimal shoes fall into this category these days. I haven’t tried it yet on my Hanas, but I’ll likely use the tried and true Scotch Guard trick (ie: spraying them with Scotch Guard) and bump up the water resistance a little.

2016-10-18-09-58-20Finally on to my favourite bit. I don’t have a word for it, as I’ve never seen it before, but the bit of material that the laces thread through is GENIUS. I don’t know how such a simple structure can make such a big difference, but for those of us who wear shoes without socks, this is a godsend. (If you know what this bit is called, please let me know in the comments!)

What it manages to do is move the tightening action to the top of the foot, instead of the outside of the foot. This is a very subtle difference, but is IMHO a killer feature that would (read: will) guarantee I’ll be looking out for tihs feature in future shoe purchases.

On to performance. These aren’t running shoes (unfortunately), but rather sit very nicely in the day-to-day shoe category. I’ve worn mine mostly for trips to the shops and walking the dog, and the best praise I can give them is that straight out of the box they’ve felt like an old pair of shoes. What I mean by this is that they’re not stiff and don’t feel like they need to be worn in. This being said, they have begun to stretch a tiny bit, which is  to be expected wit canvas/leather, but this has only improved the comfort.

On2016-10-18-09-58-48e downside for now, is that the Ipari Hana are only available in Men’s sizes. But don’t worry ladies, there is a women’s version due for release shortly (shh don’t tell anyone I told you).

There’s not much else to say about the Ipari Hana apart from WOW. For a first full shoe, Xeroshoes have done a brilliant job. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

If you’re interested in getting a pair, act fast, and use this link to get your pair discounted to $64.99 USD during the release period (before they sell out!). 

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

Beginning Barefoot would like to thank the team at Xeroshoes for letting us road test their latest products. Please show your support by visiting their site and browsing their amazing products!

Under The Lems: We Review The Primal2

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

lems-logoIt’s been a while since we did a shoe review. Mainly this is because, by and large we’d seen them all up to this point: sandals, boots, running shoes, trail shoes, and even earthing sandals.

But the one type of shoe we haven’t really explored in depth is simple casual walking shoes. One of the main reasons for this was that of the few that I had tried, nothing really called out to me. I tend to avoid doing reviews of shoes that I don’t like, since it’s far more fun to test out the good ones.

2015-06-13 11.59.10Well, I’ve finally found the good ones – Lems’ Primal 2!

The Primal2 is a lovely, lightweight, flexible walking shoe with a comfortable foot-shaped sole. It’s not waterproof, but has a great breathable upper, which allows you to wear them all day without getting sweaty, uncomfortable feet.

primal2-rolled

Construction

The Primal 2 features an 8mm, air-injected rubber outsole, which is at the same time lightweight and durable, and comes in various colours depending on the style you choose. Despite it’s durable feeling, it is also highly flexible.
Primal2_4The soles include thin 1mm insoles, which are just simple fabric boards, and an optional 3mm removable footbed which adds a nice level of comfort. I normally toss the removable ones, but in this case they really seem to add to the comfort of the shoe, which I’ve been really enjoying.

So with a total drop of 9mm (or 12mm with footbed), these shoes come in at the higher end of the minimal scale, but it has been put to good use, with the extra height really adding to the sense of quality construction that the Primal2 convey without taking away the minimalist feel of the shoe.

2015-06-13 11.58.28Above the soles, there is a microfiber/open weave upper, which again, is lightweight and airy. The mesh construction allows plenty of air to circulate the foot, and with a properly designed toe box, this makes the shoes comfortable to wear in the warmest of conditions.

In all the reviews I’ve done over the years, I don’t remember ever mentioning a shoe’s tongue. They generally go without being noticed, but on the Primal2, they are padded and nicely fitted, which really lends the shoes a comfortable, slipper-like feel.

The only thing I can nitpick on the construction side of things with the Primal2 is the lacing. I’ve found them just a bit too short, and prone to coming undone. After a couple of weeks, I’ve just ended up tying the ends together in a knot and leaving the lacing loose to allow me to take them on and off easily. Surprisingly, this hasn’t caused any extra foot movement and, with them being tied like this when the arrived in the box, I wonder if this is the ‘correct’ way to wear them anyways.

Performance

2015-06-13 11.58.25My Primal2’s have come at the perfect time, with winter creeping up slowly here in Australia. I wouldn’t call them winter shoes necessarily, but they have been welcome on my poor cold soles on those early morning runs to the mailbox to get the newspaper.

I’m actually surprised at how much I’ve been wearing them. I usually will kick any shoes off at the door if I’m wearing them to the shops, etc, but with the Lems, I’m finding myself wearing them nearly all day long. I think this is due to a combination of their light weight, great airflow, and comfortable fit.

All in all, I’m really impressed with the quality and thought that have gone into the Primal2. They have definitely taken up residence on my usually bare feet, and I expect them to stay there for some time yet. I’m looking forward to seeing how they fare in the long run, but I have high hopes.

 

How about you? Have you tried out Lems shoes before? What did you think? Wed love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

 

Beginning barefoot would like to thank Lems shoes for providing shoes for testing purposes. If you liked this review, please show your support to them by purchasing a pair from their website, or following them on Twitter (@LemsShoes), or Facebook.

What Ever Happened to Invisible Shoes?

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

Invisible ShoesjpgOne of my first ever shoe reviews on this site was for the ultra-minimal running sandal “Invisible Shoes“. Back in the day, this start-up was trying to change the world, one shoe at a time, by selling DIY sandal kits with incredibly thin soles. What ever happened to these guys?

A Brief History

Back in 2009, sprinter Steven Sashen and his wife Lena had the crazy idea of bringing a high-tech version of the centuries-old running sandal, the huarache, to market. Steven had become a recent barefoot convert, and was looking for a way to help people find out about and begin to enjoy it as well. Having heard about the Tarahumara in Mexico, and their amazing sandals, made of old tyres and rope,  he found a terrific vehicle to do this.

Xero-Shoes - Promo

Not long afterwards, with a lot of R&D, and testing, the Invisible Shoe was born. It featured a simple nylon rope tying system atop a very thin, very flexible, and very durable Vibram sole. They were inexpensive, comfortable, and soon became a favourite within the barefoot running community. One of the big reasons for their popularity was the availability of a DIY kit that let you build your own shoes for a few bucks (you can still get them!)

XeroShoesLogo

Fast-forward a couple years, and Invisible Shoes took a major step forward. Due to the ever-growing popularity of the DIY huaraches, Invisible Shoe as a company decided to expand. They changed their name to Xero Shoes and began to update their existing line and launch new products, such as coloured soles and accessories. This culminated in the February 2013 appearance of Steven and Lena on the television series The Shark Tank.

Though they didn’t get the funding they were after, the exposure from appearing on the show was a turning point for the company. It wasn’t long before they announced a new product, the Sensori Venture, which has turned this small company into an up-and-coming competitor of even the big shoe companies.

So Why Am I Telling You This?

The minimal shoe revolution, which has in many ways boosted the barefoot running revolution, was largely started as a backlash to shoe companies selling us over-engineered, over-priced shoes. The original idea was to go back to basics and wear less shoe, allowing your feet to move as they were designed.

There are some incredible new shoes on the market, and I’ve reviewed many of them, but on average, these shoes are over a hundred dollars a pair, and here in Australia, finding a decent pair for less than $200 is getting harder and harder.

sensori-venture-4-colors

Xero Shoes, in contrast, have always done the right thing by barefooters. Of the truly viable and durable minimal shoes out there, theirs are by far the cheapest, with their priciest shoes coming in at less than $40! I still run in my original 4mm Connects that I paid $20 for 2 years ago.

On top of this, Xero Shoes have always been big supporters of the barefoot running community. This year, they’ll be sponsoring the Barefoot Runners Society’s International Barefoot Running Day (May 4th, 2014).

Full Disclosure

Invisible Shoes/Xero Shoes have been a favourite of Beginning Barefoot since the beginning. Steven was the first prominent barefooter I ever interviewed, and we have collaborated several times in the past with giveaways and contests.

We have been a part of their affiliate program for years, and yes, we do get a small commission on sales referred from this site. Despite this, I still think that Xero Shoes are the perfect first shoe for anyone interested in trying minimal shoes/running sandals out for the first time. Our affiliate status is merely a reflection of this.

More To Come

Xero Shoes is an exciting, young company that is doing great things for barefoot/minimal running. We’ll be reviewing many of their products in detail this year, so if you’re interested in finding out more about Xero Shoes, be sure to click the follow button, or find us on Facebook and Twitter!

Sun Run Race Report and Luongo Footwear Review

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

Race Report

This past weekend saw the third running of the Dee Why to Manly “Sun Run“. This 7km course takes in some of Sydney’s most picturesque beaches as the sun rises over the water.

SunRunBibUnfortunately for myself and several thousand other racers, the ideal was a bit removed from the reality. Arriving just before dawn, we sat huddled at the start line, waiting for the sun to come up and the torrential rain to cease.

In truth, however, the rain only seemed to add to the sense of enjoyment of the assembled runners, as we slogged our way together from once headland to the next.

Photo credit: Sydney Morning Herald

Photo credit: Sydney Morning Herald

This was my first race since injuring my ankle back in October, and it was also a great opportunity to test out my pair of Luongo Footwear (more on this later). As such, I wasn’t out for any PRs, and had the chance to take it easy and enjoy the run.

To my surprise, there were several minimal shoe wearers out there. I counted 4 all up! Each was sporting a version of Vibram Five Fingers, (2 Spyridons, a Bikila and a KSO). With the Sun Run being a relatively small race, this was a surprisingly large showing, and I’m certain there were others that I didn’t get a chance to see.

I even ran into another barefooter, who I had a chance to chat with briefly. I get pretty excited when I see other barefooters at a race, and think it’s great to see that this ‘fad’ is carrying on, with new blood injected at every race.

As for the course itself, it was pretty barefoot friendly. It was run entirely on regular roads, most of which were nice and smooth. There were a few rough sections that beginners might find troublesome, but with white lines and footpaths close by, these were relatively minor annoyances.

My one gripe for the race was that there was limited information on public transport options, and a lot of the parking facilities were closed due to the hour and street closures for the race itself. I hope that this gets rectified in time for next year’s run.

I look forward to doing this race again next year – hopefully in the sun!

Luongo Footwear Review

Luongo_logoOne of the main reasons I chose to sign up for this year’s Sun Run was to get a chance to test out Luongo Footwear in race conditions. As far as I know, I’m the first person ever to review these shoes for use in racing, and want to thank the guys at Luongo for giving me the opportunity.

Before I talk about performance, I think it’s a good idea to talk a bit about the shoes.

Luongo1

Luongo Footwear are unlike any shoes I’ve worn for running before. Made from neoprene and nylon, they are incredibly light and breathable. They are snug-fitting and conform nicely to the shape of your foot.

They are up there with some of the most minimal shoes I’ve worn, to the point that, honestly at first, I thought they would simply fall apart on my feet. Luckily they have proven to be surprisingly resilient, and very comfortable.

Luongo3

I managed to get a few short training runs in the Luongos before the race, and each time, I was surprised at how well they would go. When standing around, getting ready, I found them a bit on the warm side, and was aware of my feet sweating a little. This initially had me worried about overheating when running, but once I was out on the road, the shoes really came into their own. The porous material and minimal design allow the breeze to flow through the shoes and surround your feet, which keeps them nice and cool.

When I saw the sheets of rain coming down as I set out for the race, I had second thoughts about bringing the Luongos. They’re porous shoes, and would instantly be soaked through once I stepped outside.

Instead, what happened was that the water actually helped the shoes conform to my feet. They stayed warm and comfortable, despite the frigid rain. Who’d have thought that wet  shoes could be comfortable?

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They didn’t have the flopping feeling that a lot of really minimal shoes have, and honestly, I pretty much forgot about them for most of the time I was wearing them.

Around the halfway mark of the race, I did end up taking them off, but this was not a comment on the shoes themselves, more that I still prefer full barefoot, and love the feeling of the wet ground beneath my feet. This is one area that no shoe will be able to truly match, no matter how minimal. Of course, protection and reduced sensation are the main reasons why people wear shoes in the first place, so this isn’t really a problem.

If I had to find one negative aspect of the shoes, it would probably be their conventional toe shape. I found when running in the wet, that this pulled my toes together just a little bit. I’m really sensitive to this as I splay my toes significantly when running. Personally I’d love to see a split-toe version or a wide toebox version of this shoe down the track.

Luongo4

All in all, I really enjoyed wearing and racing in the Luongos. They were lightweight, comfortable, and most importantly, didn’t get in the way! I would recommend them for outdoor use for experienced barefoot runners, since they are so minimal, or else for inside work, such as at gyms, where bare feet may not be allowed.

It’s really exciting to see more and more interesting and innovative designs like these coming out of small companies like Luongo. If their first shoe is any indication of things to come, I think we’ll see some amazing products in the future!

Beginning Barefoot would like to thank Luongo Footwear for providing samples for testing. Visit their website or follow them on Facebook or Twitter for some great barefooting insights, or better yet, pick up a pair for yourself!

5 Simple Methods To Help Overcome Barefoot-Induced Anxiety

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

Confession time.

It took me nearly 2 years of running in minimal shoes before I finally let my bare feet touch the ground!

Like many people, I was just really nervous about doing it.

It wasn’t the fear of stepping on something nasty that worried me, it was a much more deep-seeded hesitance that I couldn’t really get over. Looking back, I realise that it was the product of decades of social cues that told me that people just don’t run without shoes!

With the benefit of hindsight, I know that taking my shoes off was the best decision I could have made to improve my running, but that didn’t matter back then. I thought that I’d run slower, get stepped on in races, not be able to train in winter…the list goes on. The worst bit was the fear that I would become some sort of social outcast for making this change.

The truth was that all of these perceived problems were manageable, and once I started working on them, they ended up being far from insurmountable.

The hardest bit was taking the first few steps.

I’m absolutely certain that my experience was not unique. I’m sure that most people reading this are minimalist runners, and that many of you, despite wanting to try it out, find yourselves unable to take the next step and shed the shoes.

To help you get through the toughest bit, and get you out of your shoes (if only for a little while), I’ve put together a list of ways that you can help yourself get used to the idea of running completely barefoot (in public! Gasp!)

1. Start out indoors

As luck would have it, most of us are blessed with a perfect place to start out barefoot – our homes. Even the smallest apartment has a wealth of sensations that your feet are going to love exploring.

When was the last (first?) time you noticed how your carpet feels underfoot? Or how differently you move over hardwood versus rugs?

Taking your shoes off at home should be your first goal when you decide to go barefoot. Try to keep your shoes and socks off as much as you can while at home. This will get you used to the feeling of going barefoot, and give you just that little extra edge to help you make your move.

To supplement your home-walking, it’s a good idea to start including some stretching and strengthening exercises. Simple things like picking up toys, marbles, pebbles, etc with your toes will help you build up your feet muscles and make your transition to full barefoot that much easier.

2. Go to the beach

One of the best ways to ease into barefooting in public is to go where barefooting is expected. The beach, or a public park are great places to start. Not only will your bare feet not look out of place, but you get to enjoy the great outdoors!

A weekly excursion to practice a bit of jogging or walking on different surfaces will go a long way towards preparing your soles and your mind for barefoot running.

3. Set goals

One of the best carrots to make you want to do something is to set yourself tangible goals. This doesn’t even have to be a racing goal or a distance goal. It can be something as simple as walking to the end of the road, or going shopping barefoot.

The more little goals you accomplish, the more confident you will become. As you become more confident, your goals will grow, until you find yourself doing things that you never thought possible.

4. Drive barefoot

The world being what it is, many of us find ourselves spending a lot of time in our cars. You can use this time to strengthen your feet by driving barefoot. This is one of those borderline barefoot activities that will give many people pause.

It’s natural to be apprehensive when you try driving barefoot for the first time. I recommend taking a pair of shoes with you that you can put on if you find it’s too much. Start with a short drive, someplace familiar, maybe to the shops and back. As you gain confidence, increase the distance.

It will get to the point that you prefer driving barefoot. It feels good, and is a great way to get your feet out!

If you’re worried about the legality of driving barefoot, then it’s definitely worth checking your local laws. From what I’ve heard and read, though, most places allow barefoot driving.  Besides, it’s safer than driving in flip-flops or sandals, since there’s nothing to get caught on the pedals.

5. Go where people aren’t

One last thing that you can do, when starting out, is to run in seclusion. Sometimes it’s best just to be left to your own devices and allowed to do your thing. A great way to do this, especially in summer, is to head out early, before the neighbours wake up.

It’s amazing how empty the streets are at sunrise, and you can take advantage of this fact to start learning how to run barefoot. Just make sure you have adequate light so that you can see the path in front of you. If you need to, take a flashlight or headlamp along.

Another option is to physically remove yourself from people altogether and go someplace secluded. This can be a trail or field, park, or even a parking lot. The key here is to go someplace you feel comfortable being on your own.

Overcoming the fear and anxiety that most people feel when they first learn to run and walk barefoot is challenging, but it can be very empowering. Once you’ve conquered it, it will change your perspective on how you view yourself and how you feel about how other people view you.

The psychological benefits of barefooting are as many and as important as the physical benefits, and only add to the long list of reasons why taking off your shoes is worth trying!