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.

Xeroshoes Amuri Cloud Launches Today

Video

Well, today’s the day!

As many of you who follow my Twitter and/or Facebook accounts may already know, Xeroshoes have been hinting at the release of a brand new shoe. After much speculation, it’s finally been released, and is on sale now.

It’s called the Amuri Cloud, and is a thinner, lighter, prettier version of the Sensori Venture (now renamed as the ‘Amuri’ Venture).

Have a look at the launch video and tell me these don’t look fantastic:

I can’t wait to review them! (shoes are on their way, so watch this space)

In the meantime, if you’re quick, you can grab a pair at 20% off by following this link

Just a heads-up: Beginning Barefoot is a Xeroshoes affiliate, but we’d still link to these shoes even if we weren’t! Don’t worry, it won’t cost you any more, and buy via our site helps keep the great barefoot running articles coming!

The Embarassing State Of Barefoot/Minimal Running

By Barefoot Dawsy

I’ve been running barefoot now for four years, and blogging about it for two. I admit that I started out, alongside many others, after reading the now famous book ‘Born To Run’.

At that time, the barefoot running resurgence was just starting out, amid criticism of the large shoe companies. The majority of this criticism was centred on the question of whether or not they were misleading the public as to the safety that their shoes provided.

There was an interesting study that came out of Newcastle University[1], in Australia, which basically stated that despite a huge and time-consuming search, there was no evidence that the pronation and motion control features of modern running shoes had any benefit at all.

This questioning of a hitherto nearly universally accepted truth was one of the fundamental drivers for the barefoot/minimal revolution, which saw the exponential rise of the minimal shoe, and the unprecedented uptake of barefoot/minimal running.

Here was our chance. There was a vacuum of useful, relevant data and proper studies, which was damning in its absence. The shoe companies were lying to us, and we were all being played for fools.

I, like many others, embraced the new style of running, and waited impatiently for the inevitable mountain of studies and evidence demonstrating the superiority of barefoot running.

It never came.

In fact, just recently a new study did come out[2], and it was woefully reminiscent of the Newcastle study. This one, however, tells the story of a lack of evidence that barefoot running has any benefits at all. It points to the few studies that exist, most (all?) of which are poorly crafted, and even unscientific.

Barefoot had a chance to become something more than a fad, and become the next big thing in running. Instead, its legacy is more overpriced shoes with questionable usefulness in injury prevention.

So, what do we do now? We can’t sit back and hope that somebody, somewhere manages to get the funding together to put together a clever, well-crafted study. Or hope that someone publishes one that proves conclusively, one way or the other, which style is better. 

What we can do is to take responsibility for our own testing and assessment of whichever style of shoe, or lack thereof that, we choose. We need to stop looking to major corporations to hand us the magic pill that will stop us getting injured. We need to take the time to learn how our own bodies want to move, and what style of running feels right, whether shod or unshod.

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions in running. Each of us has slightly different styles, preferences, pain thresholds, etc, so it’s on us as individuals to intelligently weigh up the options and make the best choice for ourselves.

What brought you to try barefoot running? Have you got any views on how the scientific community or running shoe industry are handling things? Let us know in the comments!


[1] C E Richards, P J Magin and R Callister. 2008. Is your prescription of distance running shoes evidence-based?, Br J Sports Med 2009 43: 159-162 originally published online April 18, 2008 (doi:10.1136/bjsm.2008.046680)

[2] Hall JP, Barton C, Jones PR, Morrissey D., 2013. The biomechanical differences between barefoot and shod distance running: a systematic review and preliminary meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2013 Dec;43(12):1335-53. (doi: 10.1007/s40279-013-0084-3)(Pubmed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23996137)

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?

Luongo2

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!

How To Buy Minimalist Shoes

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

Are you in the market for a pair of minimalist shoes? If you are, then best of luck to
you! Unlike just a couple of years ago, we now have hundreds, if not thousands of styles
to choose from. Selecting the best pair for you can be a daunting task, so I’ve put
together this guide to help you out.

A lot of the new shoes that are being marketed as ‘minimal’ these days just plain aren’t and this can be very confusing. Below are a few criteria that make up a true minimalist shoe, and are things that you should look for when you go shopping.

Weight

Weight is really the big one. This is where minimal shoes really give runners a big advantage. The average ‘normal’ running shoe can weigh between 10 and 20 ounces (ounces seem to be the standard measurement of shoe weight out there, so for now I’m going non-metric). Minimal shoes, on the other hand, usually weigh less than 8oz.

This difference in weight allows us to run more efficiently. Every time you lift your foot, you of course lift the shoe you’re wearing. Over a few steps a couple extra ounces won’t make much difference, but as you run more and more, this small difference in weight can really add up.

In my experience, running in lighter shoes has enabled me to go further and faster than I ever had before. Look for the lightest shoes you can find. Usually the best ones are less than 5oz.

Drop

One of the fancy terms that you will no-doubt hear as you shop for minimal shoes is ‘zero-drop’. The ‘drop’ is the difference in height from the back of the shoe versus the front. Generally this will be a positive number as most shoes have a built-up heel. So, for example, a shoe that’s 12mm thick at the heel and a 4mm at the toe will have a Drop value of 8mm (12-4=8).

Basically the idea is that having a Drop value of 0 means that there’s no slope to how your foot sits, so your foot sits more naturally. Beware though, as there are a number of tricky little tricks that shoe companies will try to make their ‘zero drop’ shoes sound more minimal than they are.

Zero-drop is usually defined as anything less than 4mm, so right off the bat, you may find that your shoes have a built-up heel, even when it is suggested that they don’t. So make sure that you check the actual drop in millimetres before you make your purchase.

The other thing to watch out for is that just because a shoe is zero drop, doesn’t mean that it’s zero padding. A shoe with a 12mm heel and a 12mm toe is still technically ‘zero-drop’, but certainly not minimal (I’m looking at you, Nike Free).

Ground-feel

Which brings us to ground-feel. As you might have guessed, this is an indication of how well you can feel the terrain beneath your feet. It’s a very subjective value and can be difficult to ascertain in the flat, featureless landscape of a shoe shop.

Ground-feel is very important as it will give your body feedback that it can use to adjust your form with. The more ground-feel your shoe allows (ie, the closer to barefoot), the better, as you can never have too much feedback.

A simple test that I use to get a rough indication of ground-feel in the store, is to step on a shoelace while wearing the shoes. In a nice, thin pair of minimals, you should have no problem feeling it underfoot. If you can’t feel it, then you may as well be wearing 10 pairs of socks for the amount of help your shoes are going to be to keeping your form in check.

Flexibility

When you buy minimal shoes, you want to find a pair that allow your feet to move as freely and naturally as possible. Flexibility is really important as it will help you strengthen your feet and run as your body intended.

Like ground-feel, flexibility is pretty subjective, but you can test it out by trying 2 quick tests.

The first is to touch the toe of the shoe to the heel. Your shoe should definitely be able to do this when bending them upwards, but the best shoes pass this test in both directions.

The second test is the Twist test. Grasping the heel in one hand and the toe of the shoe in the other, give them a twist. You should be able to do at least a 180 degree twist, or better yet, a full 360 degree twist for maximum flexibility.

Fit

The last major consideration is to make sure that the shoes fit correctly. There are a lot of different styles out there, and each of them fits a little bit differently. This is where going to an actual store comes in handy, as the staff should be able to help you ensure a correct fit.

This is really important, because even if you buy the best shoes out there, if they’re too big or small, then you could really do yourself a damage. Beware of online sizing
and make sure you go out and try a pair before you buy.

By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to avoid a lot of the major pitfalls of shopping for shoes, and make your next pair a valuable addition to your running toolbox.

Review: Skora Form Shoes

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

Skora FormWhere do I start with this one? I’ve been dying to try out a pair of the much-lauded Skora shoes, but living down-under, I had a hard time tracking down a pair. On my recent visit to Canada, however, I finally managed to convince the lovely folks at Skora to let me give their latest ‘Form’ shoes a test run.

First Impressions

Normally I don’t pay much attention to packaging, but when I unwrapped the parcel that the shoes came in, I couldn’t help but smile. The box they come in is just lovely, and has a handy magnetic clasp, which means that finding a future use for it should be easy.

Skora BoxThe shoes themselves are beautifully crafted, which is obvious as soon as you lay your eyes on them.

Oh, and they smell lovely. There I said it.

Included in the box was the 2 shoes, with inserts (more on these later), a spare set of laces, and a sticker. I’m always stoked when I get extra stuff, so the laces and sticker were a nice surprise.

Construction

Skora SolesIf I was to try to describe them to somebody who’s never worn them before, I’d say the Skora Form are like a modernised version of the old-fashioned leather racing flats. This lends them a really classic feel, and had me dreaming that I was in Chariots of Fire. But I digress.

The leather uppers conform beautifully to the contours of the feet, and the well laid out lacing only improves on this.

The soles are quite a bit thicker than some of the other shoes I’ve reviewed on this site. This can be lessened somewhat by removing the insoles. The quality construction of the shoes make this a non-issue and they are just as comfortable with or without them in.

What’s interesting to note is that even though the soles have a bit of thickness, it’s mainly made of harder rubber, not the squishy foam of modern runners. This allows for significantly more ground feel than say, the Nike Frees.

Performance

Skora Forms TopWe’ve established that these are some fancy-looking, well-built shoes, but do they perform? I’ve spent the past month putting them through their paces in a variety of conditions. Overall, I’d have to say that my impression is very favourable.

Roads

Really where the Skora Forms perform well is on the road. Hard-wearing and light, putting road miles on them is as easy as walking out the door. Most of the miles I put on them were on the road, and I enjoyed them all. I found that removing the insoles were best for road running as it improves ground-feel significantly and slightly reduces the overall weight of the shoes.

Trails

On light trails, the Forms were good, though I have to admit I was a bit sad to get them dirty at first! I did a few muddier and hillier runs in them and found that they did slip a bit. In all honesty, I will likely save these shoes for road runs and races down the track and use a more specialised shoe for these conditions.

Walking

Though they’re running shoes, I have to say that I’ve immensely enjoyed walking in the Forms. Leaving the insole in gives a little bit more heel protection which allows for easy long-distance walking. I’ve taken to wearing them wherever I go, as they’re extremely comfortable, and they’re wife-approved in the aesthetics department.

Overall Impressions

Overall I was well pleased to have had the chance to try out a pair of Skora Forms. They’re exceedingly comfy and look great. Performance-wise I found them to be very nice to run in and they seem to be pretty wear-resistant so far.

If I could change one thing about the shoes, I’d definitely prefer a slightly thinner sole, as even with carefully engineered soles and specialised padding, the ground-feel could be greatly improved. I look forward to a more minimal version of these shoes down the track.

Skora Forms are excellent, well-designed shoes. I’d recommend them for more advanced runners who have perfected their running form and are looking for a hard-wearing go-to road shoe. If these shoes are any indication of things to come out of the Skora factory, then we’re in for some great things ahead.

Review: Sockwa G3, Plus Special Discounts For Beginning Barefoot Readers!

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

SockwaG3If you’re just starting out with minimal footwear, then you’ve chosen a great year to do it! There are a number of exciting new shoes that have come out this year, and the Sockwa G3 are among them.

Sockwa started turning heads last year with their G2 series and have built on that momentum by releasing the G3, which feature better sizing and a range of great colours to choose from. The G3 have a lightweight, flexible upper, and one of the nicest soles on any shoe on the market.

When I first tried them on, I admit, I was a little bit unsure. I thought that maybe I had the wrong size, as they felt quite roomy.

Once I started walking around, however, this feeling disappeared. The truth is that with such thin material around your feet, it’s hard to believe that you’re wearing shoes at all. This feeling is only amplified by the incredibly thin and flexible sole, which give phenomenal ground feel that rivals even PaperFeet.

SockwaSoles

The G3 are a part of a growing trend to make minimal shoes that are not only comfortable and barely-there, but attractive as well. They are the first shoes that I’ve worn in years that didn’t make my wife wrinkle her nose. This is high praise indeed, considering some of the comments my Vibrams and huaraches have received!

What I found really interesting about these shoes is the difference in how they

feel and behave when you’re standing still versus when you run in them. When I first put them on and wore them around the house, I felt my feet heating up a bit. I was worried that this would only get worse as I ran in the. I was amazed that not only was this untrue, but they even cooled my feet down as I ran. The material used for the uppers is porous and provides surprising airflow. It’s not often that you can feel wind over your feet when running in a close-toed shoe, but I did with the G3.

SockwaG3Sideview

If there’s one negative about the shoes, it’s that when your feet are wet, they can a little bit slippery underfoot, between your foot and the inside of the sole. As mentioned above, they do dry out pretty quickly though, so this is only a small issue, and one that may not affect runners that tend not to run in the rain or through streams (like some people *ahem*).

Overall, despite their seeming simplicity, the Sockwa G3 are a surprisingly well designed and executed shoe. They are lightweight, comfortable, and affordable. I haven’t got enough nice things to say about these shoes, and they have found a place in my regular rotation.

BONUS! If you like the sound of the Sockwa G3 series, or any other Sockwa products, today’s your lucky day! Readers of Beginning Barefoot receive a $5 discount on any orders made via the Sockwa.com website! Just enter the code beginningbarefoot when making your purchase.

Beginning Barefoot would like to thank Sockwa for providing G3 series shoes for testing and review.