"Minimal Sneakers" - sneakers trying to be minimal shoes. i tried some (Inov8s, NewBalance, Saucony)

Discussion in 'Gear & Footwear' started by AABarefoot, Jul 29, 2011.

  1. AABarefoot

    AABarefoot Barefooters
    1. Florida -...
    2. Florida - Tampa

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    0
    As I am the “SORT-OF Barefoot Runner” it means I do like running in minimal shoes(VFFs, etc…). And there are a lot of sneakers out there claiming to be minimal shoes. Needless to say, none of them are. BUT! There are some that at least embrace the “neutral gait” (NewBalance’s (NB) term, more on this later.) – meaning a barefoot gait or barefoot stride.


    Here are some of the sneakers I have found that embrace a barefoot gait:


    Inov8 Road-X Lite 155 $110
    Inov8 F-Lite 195 $115

    Inov8 X-Talon 190 $115


    NB Minimus Trail $100

    NB MT101(WT101) $75


    Saucony Kinvara $80


    ACTUAL ZERO DROP!!!:

    Altra Lone Peak $110 (not tested)

    Altra Instinct $100 (not tested)

    Altra Adam $100 (not tested, is probably an actual minimal shoe)



    I do think that there is a niche for these shoes; It is hard to argue that the barefoot gait is not better for your body than a heel-strike gait. BUT there are tons of people that argue that although our feet may have been designed to run with nothing cushioning them, that was back in the caveman days. More specifically, that was back in the pre-concrete days. Plenty of people argue that our feet just are not meant to run on THAT hard of a surface, as opposed to dirt, grass, etc... Do I think this is true? No. BUT, plenty of people do. These "Minimal Sneakers" (I think it's important to leave the "sneaker" in there to make sure people do not confuse these with legitimate minimal shoes) fill the gap between Nikes and naked feet. I think that not so open minded shod runners and barefoot runners alike could have a use for a pair of these in the closet.


    I am going to take a second and talk about how important I think barefoot, ACTUAL barefoot, running is for your stride. I think running totally barefoot on a very hard surface (aka the street) is the only true way to perfect your stride. Now, even if you are of the mindset that running barefoot on concrete isn’t good for you, I don’t think you can say that a .5 or 1 mile every couple days is going to destroy your feet when there are people running marathons barefoot with no issues. My current training plan includes both barefoot and minimal shod running all week. First touch of PAIN and I stop. I think people that do not run at least some of their training on a REGULAR basis (more than once a week!) barefoot will have a much higher chance of injury due to poor technique in their stride or TMTS(Too Much Too Soon).
    I say this from experience; If I run in minimal shoes, even my VFF KSOs, for more than a week without any true barefoot time, my first run back to barefoot and I can tell my stride technique got sloppy. That’s why starting a run barefoot is such a great idea. Start it barefoot, then once your feet hurt, throw your shoes on and knock out the rest of your run!


    The next quick sidetrack I want to take is about nomenclature. NewBalance’s web site uses the term “neutral gait” to descried a barefoot stride. The stride made so popular by “Born to Run.” I instantly did not like that term. I don’t think it does the stride justice. So I leaned towards “correct gait” or "proper stride," things like that. But then I thought of “Natural Gait”(I'm not claiming to have coined it, but im just saying that I just now thought of it without reading it somewhere). I think "Natural Gait" or "Natural Stride" is the PERFECT way to describe the proper barefoot stride. So from now on, I will be calling it the Natural Gait.


    BACK TO THE SHOES!


    Some of the shoes listed above are trail shoes, meant for woods, dirt, hills, etc… They are the Inov8 X-Talon 190s and NB MT101s, I'll get to these later.


    Before I get into the reviews I wanted to touch on the Altra shoes. Most of their line is impossible to find right now, but I thought they deserved a mention because the Lone Peak and Instinct are actual zero drop sneakers. and I would probably consider their Adam a minimal shoe - I'll have to wait to try it before I confirm anything. The one thing right off the bat that will be less than optimal about the Lone Peak and Instinct is the weight. 8-10oz is REAL heavy when you are used to 5oz being your heaviest shoe!


    Now to the road shoes: I am going to do them in reverse order of how I ranked them. So the Saucony is first(last). The reason I added them to the group is the shoe is $80 retail and almost a neutral sole. So they are at a good price point and meant for a natural gait. All things pointing to a shoe worth looking at. Now, there is nothing wrong with the Saucony, but it’s the most sneakery of the shoes tested. Its got the most padding, which as a barefoot/minimal nut I have a tough time liking. But is was comfortable enough to run in, I didn’t notice it hindering my stride at all, so it at least makes it onto the list.


    Kinvara: Note how much padding there is!

    [​IMG]

    Kinvara Sole:

    [​IMG]



    The NB Minimus Trail - not nearly as bad as I thought they would be!
    I had two comfort issues, as with most shoes, I only really noticed them while walking in the shoes, but over a long run I'm sure both would created legitimate problems for me. As soon as I put on the Trails I noticed two things. First, they were WAY TOO TIGHT around my forefoot - which means no way my toes were really getting a chance to spread out. NB, please go buy a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves and see how the front of a minimal shoe is supposed to fit. I think any barefoot runner will have issues with this shoe being too tight. If they offer it in a "wide" then make sure to get that, but I am pretty sure they dont.

    **on a side note - they have release a 2E(a WIDE) MT20 since i reviewed this shoe, Im pretty sure that any BF or Minimal runner would NEED the WIDE! my feet are not that wide, and i need it**

    The other thing that bugged me was the top of the heel material rubbed a little. It seems they used a stiff material for the heel and the top rubbed the back of my ankle. But, as it seems with all shoes, as soon as I started running I didn't notice them anymore. the cool down walk wasn't very comfortable with them being so tight, but I actually didn't mind running in them.
    I expected to hate any shoe, no matter what the hype, coming from someone like NB. But they have two Ultra-Runners giving them input and it seems they are actually listening, more than I can say for nike and the rest of em. Honestly, if the front were wider, I would run in these shoes every once in a while.


    NB Minimus Trail:

    [​IMG]

    NB Sole:

    [​IMG]

    cutaway, this is why they arnt minimal shoes:

    [​IMG]



    The Inov8 F-Lite 195 is a great shoe, the ONE downside to the 195 is that Inov8 made the sole very durable. well... durable = stiff. And stiff is not good. otherwise this shoe is an awesome shoe to run in, ESPECIALLY if you do any trail running. They are a slightly heavier, slightly stiffer version of the 155... but they do come in red and black.... tempting


    F-Lite 195:

    [​IMG]



    My number one choice, despite the AWFUL color option(yes, I meant to write that in the singular case since they ONLY OFFER YELLOW!!!), are the Inov8 Road-X Lite 155s.

    I truly think this is as close to a minimal shoe as sneakers will get(unless inov8 makes them actual zero drop). Super soft(flexible) sole, room for your toes to splay(more on this later), but does lack a lot of traction, so beware of wet slippery surfaces! I ACTUALLY enjoyed running in this shoe - it doesnt have the true barefoot feel, but if you just ran barefoot and your feet are feeling a little raw, this is like running on a cloud. My stride was not hindered at all and I ran the longest I've run in a long time on these shoes.
    these shoes, as shown in this picture, dont fit how the shoe guy in the mall always told me shoes should fit, my toe is a bit back from the front, I think I like this because it puts the widest part of my foot into the widest part of the shoe - allowing my toes to splay when I run. all around, very happy with this - these have been added to the "regular use" pile of shoes for when my feet need a rest from me pushing them barefoot.


    Road-X Lite 155s:

    [​IMG]



    Back to the trail shoes:

    Now, I have bought both these shoes, run on some light bike trails with them, but I live in Florida. Worse off, I live in the even flatter part of florida (some parts of florida actually have "hills", aka sulfur mines). so even though I feel that I really like both of these shoes, until my next trip to Canada, and an opportunity to actually run these up and down a mountain, I cant really give a review on them. I really like the X-Talons and I like a lot of the insight put into the MT101s (again, surprising the hell out of me!). As soon as I get a chance, hopefully this summer, I will post up my reviews.

    **another side note... i have actually found myself wearing the MT101s all the time. I am a pilot, and it nice to have a stiffer sole for flying(as opposed to a VFF sole, which i do use to fly also). So when im not BF, in VFFs or VIVOs, im probably in the MT101s. So i like them a whole lot more than i thought i would!**

    X-Talon 195:

    [​IMG]

    MT101:(i know, it doesnt look like much, the sole is what impressed me)

    [​IMG]

    MT101 Sole:

    [​IMG]


    one last note - I heard someone call these "transitional shoes." As in, if you are going to transition from a heel-strike gait to the natural gait you should wear these sneakers. I think that is a bad idea. I think your initial transition should be barefoot, actually barefoot. until you have the upmost confidence in your stride. THEN start adding minimal/shod mileage. Going barefoot keeps you from doing TMTS which is the number one way I see people getting injured these days from switching to the natural gait. People, your legs are not used to this, you have to take it SLOW!!!



    Hope you enjoyed the read!

    Aaron - The Sort-of Barefoot Runner
     
  2. AABarefoot

    AABarefoot Barefooters
    1. Florida -...
    2. Florida - Tampa

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    0
  3. Jimmy Hart

    Jimmy Hart Barefooters
    1. Arizona -...
    2. Texas - Dallas
    3. International

    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Messages:
    760
    Likes Received:
    33
    I've been able to run in all

    I've been able to run in all versions of Altra footwear except for the Lone Peak and you are right in your speculations about Altra. Their stuff is top notch. The Instincts are a great shoe if you like shoes. I use them for work, walking, and leg strength running days. The weight is heavier than anything else I have and I can feel it when I run in them. It's nice because it helps build leg strength without compromising joint function.

    The Adam/Eve is an amazing minimal shoe. The best comparison is the VFF KSO but without the toes. It has a great fit and feel and is also customizable with two different insoles that come with it. This thing can basically go from being the KSO to the Minimus Trail just by using the insoles to determine how much thickness and flexibility you want under foot.

    I also know that the availability is about to be a non issue. They just shipped a huge amount of Instincts out and the Adam/Eve will be releasing next month with the new Black Instincts. The other models are set to be releasing in the following months but I'm not sure they want me throwing that schedule around :)
     
  4. AABarefoot

    AABarefoot Barefooters
    1. Florida -...
    2. Florida - Tampa

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    0
    Jimmy Hart wrote:I've been



    sweet thanks! there is a shoe shop about 30minutes from me that is a dealer, ill have to make a trip and grab a pair!
     
  5. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
    1. Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Messages:
    20,462
    Likes Received:
    6,611
    The formatting looks fine. 

    The formatting looks fine. What's wrong with it, or should I ask? Also, feel free to add your reviews to our Product Review section above. Thanks!
     
  6. AABarefoot

    AABarefoot Barefooters
    1. Florida -...
    2. Florida - Tampa

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    0
    @tj - hahahaha, throwin

    @tj - hahahaha, throwin gasoline on a fire are we? i got the formatting to look close - click on the link to see how it was supposed to look.
     
  7. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
    1. Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Messages:
    20,462
    Likes Received:
    6,611
    Don't need to.  This one

    Don't need to. This one looks damn good to me. Hee. ;-)
     
  8. Nyah

    Nyah Barefooters
    1. Virginia
    2. District of...

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    293
    Likes Received:
    44
    AABarefoot wrote:NB, please



    Even that's not a good example of how a minimalist shoe should fit. The toebox shape of the Merrells restricts the amount of room that the big toe is supposed to have. It can be seen in the following photo:

    [​IMG]
     
  9. mokaman

    mokaman Chapter Presidents
    1. Georgia

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Messages:
    1,234
    Likes Received:
    1,573
     I'm really not interested in

    I'm really not interested in any shoes for pavement running but when it gets cold out in fall/winter I switch to shoes and trail running. I've tried many types of footwear for this and believe you could get by with just water shoes all winter no problem unless you want to do some faster paced running in rocky or muddy conditions. For slow trail running or winter pavement about any zero drop footwear will work from water shoes, Vibrams to moccasins whatever is comfortable and keeps your feet warm.

    There is no clear winner of a shoe for fast winter trail running...if you could combine the best features of 3 or 4 of the better shoes it would be a big leap forward. It is still going to take a few more years for this to sort out then a clear style will evolve above the rest.

    Altra - I have tried on the Altra Instincts... good shoe for someone coming from regular hi-heeled running shoes but too thick a sole overall for me, nice front of foot shape though, the fashion police will not like this shoe. The Lone Peak has promise but right off the bat it is heavy compared to others... I look forward to a lighter version of the Lone Peak. The Adam/Eve looks like a better version of the Vibrams same usefulness...I will buy these when my Kso's wear out.

    Inov8 - Baregrip 200, tried these on, nice and thin and flexible but narrow, would have to size up so far that there was an extra inch or more in length. The Inov 195 are what my son has and I ran in these some, there decent but they need to have a zero drop version of this shoe with a true foot shape that would be a winner for sure on the trails...great sticky rubber outsole.

    New Balance still has a ways to go, if they can finally do a zero drop option on the 101 or minimus trail I would try them on at least. I do run in the New Balance MT100's for winter trail running but I had to zero drop them myself...these are just make do for now.

    The Merrell Trail Gloves are pretty good as they are... but the fore foot shape could be improved a bit but all in all they may be the best shoe out there for now if the foot shape fits you close enough. They have some other quirks for some runners, one for me is I have to wear socks with these or my achilles tendon area gets a rubbing issue.
     
  10. CocoNut

    CocoNut Barefooters

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2011
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    ooohhhh....I just might get

    ooohhhh....I just might get by at work with those New Balance MT101's! That is, after I take my sharpie to that bright white "N" on each side....[​IMG]
     

Share This Page