Posted on August 19, 2011
You’re hooked on Vibram FiveFingers, but your commanding officer won’t get behind the style. Or you’re currently dealing with the backlash from the Army’s decision to ban toe shoes.
Whatever the case, there are still a number of minimalist shoes out there that should be deemed acceptable for PT. While they don’t have the glove-like quality or articulated digits like the original VFFs, they still have extremely thin soles, minimal cushioning and less supportive uppers. They are extremely lightweight and for the most part are ridiculously flexible.
Vivo Barefoot Evo
Although it’s almost double the weight of a feather-light racing shoe, the Vivo Barefoot Evo ($160) is pretty darned lightweight at 8 ounces. It doesn’t interfere with the natural movement of the foot, which is exactly what a minimalist shoe is so regaled for.
The Evo provides zero stabilization, arch support or heel build-up. Supremely flexible, it was obviously created with the barefoot athlete in mind. Check out this review at Birthday Shoes for more specs.
Saucony Kilkenny racing flat
In a pinch, some barefoot enthusiasts prefer the non-interfering feel of racing flats because they share barefoot traits of flexibility, thin soles and lightweight constructions. Despite weighing less than 6 ounces, the Kilkenny ($55) does still have a fair amount of traction.
An even more minimalist Saucony, the Hattori ($80) was released just a few months ago. Extremely lightweight, the Hattori has zero drop. The roomy toe box gives your digits space to naturally arch, grip and push off.
Coming in at 4.4 ounces, the sole features a flex groove in the back of the toes and in the front of the metatarsals. While the shoe doesn’t compromise natural motion, it does lose a bit of the feel of the road due to the 10mm sole according to this Birthday Shoes post.
Merrell Trail Glove
Looking for zero drop? That’s pretty much the definition of the Merrell Trail Glove ($110). Teaming up with the fine folks over at Vibram, Merrell created a series of barefoot shoes, which includes the Trail Glove. The Vibram sole may have more tread than you’re accustom to, but it’s minimal.
Another minimalist shoe characteristic is the roomy toe box that allows toes to spread when running. Also the shoes are super lightweight.
New Balance Minimus trail version
The jury may be out when it comes to defining the New Balance Minimus trail shoe ($99.99). Weighing in at just over 7.1 ounces, it has a 4mm slope from heel to toe that may have some barefoot enthusiasts shaking their heads. However, reviewers like Donald found that the high-performance trail shoe complimented his barefoot running style nicely.
More minimal than minimalist, the Asics 33 has announced two new shoes that encourages natural foot movement. The Gel-Rush 33 ($70) and the Gel-Blur 33 ($85) are both at least a good 2 ounces heavier than any other shoe on this list.
While there is not arch support in sight for the Blur, it’s does have an abundance of sole and cushioning and is fairly stiff according to this review in the Runner’s World forum. The Blurr and the Rush might be the styles to wear if you are wanting to ease into the minimalist running style.
If you couldn’t run in your VFFs, what minimalist style of shoe would you choose?