I prefer to be barefoot when I run.
That being said, I have found a number of situations where some variety of foot covering is beneficial. In my shod running days I was a heel-striker. Even after two years of barefoot and minimalist running, when I wear my old running shoes at work (I’m a teacher) and have to run, I slip back into my heel-striking habits. This is likely due to the built-up heel on the ‘traditional’ average running shoe.
So when the SKORA Running BASE shoes arrived, I was excited yet ready to be a tough critic. My first thought when I pulled them out of the box was, “Hmm, kinda bulky.” (Again, keep in mind, I’m a guy who runs primarily barefoot.)
That opinion quickly changed as I put on the SKORAs and walked around my house a bit. First thing I noticed was that they felt cushy and comfortable. The toe box is very roomy, giving plenty of room to spread the toes. And they are not at all bulky, weighing in at a lightweight 9.1 oz p/shoe (size 10.5 US Men).
SKORA Running is launching for Spring 2012 with two models – the BASE and the FORM. Both are zero-drop shoes. They are similarly constructed. The main difference is that the BASE has a Nylon X-strap (in place of traditional laces) while the FORM has an asymmetrical lacing system. Additionally, the BASE has a mesh upper, while the FORM is made from high-grade Pittards leather. Both models have a 4mm rubber sole, 5mm midsole and 4mm sockliner/cushioning system.
The SKORA is a very comfortable shoe. My BASE model was a little loose and on some of my first test runs, I noted a slight hot spot developing on the inside ball of my foot but I never developed any blisters while running in the shoes. A check with the company indicated that this model may run a ¼ size large. The FORM runs true to size. A thin running sock makes the fit on the BASE just about right.
First Test Run:
The first night I got the shoes, I was very eager to get out on the road for a test. I took them out on a 6-mile training run. As a barefoot runner, I have become accustomed to a very quiet run. The rubber on the forefoot made a consistent clicking sound as I ran down the road, not unlike the ‘clapping’ sound you often hear when running in Vibram Five Fingers. Still, it was hardly noticeable and not bothersome.
My main concern heading out was that, initially, the shoe felt “built up” (meaning that there was a large difference between the middle of the shoe and the heel height). I was concerned that I was landing more towards my heel, and made a conscious effort to heel strike. It didn’t take long to realize that the shoe was not affecting my stride one bit – I was consistently landing mid-foot/forefoot. The second thing I noticed while walking away from a water fountain was that the shoes were clearly “flat” (zero drop between heel and mid-sole).
On subsequent runs, I ran a total of about 20 miles on both asphalt/concrete roads as well as on dirt/gravel trails. I ran very comfortably on sections of trail that were heavily graveled. I also wore them on a 32-degree morning run. My feet were toasty warm the entire run.
- Excellent protection from gravel or other “rough stuff”
- Comfortable fit
- Roomy toe box
- Slightly reduced ground-feel
My only criticism is that the build up of outer sole and midsole reduces ground-feel a bit more than I like. Keep in mind that I lean more toward the barefoot side of minimalist running – and I’m being really picky. That being said, the stack height (9mm) is thinner than other minimalist shoe options out there.
Overall, SKORA Running is launching with a great minimalist shoe. The sockliner is soft and comfortable, and does not rub the skin so they can be worn well with or without socks. All SKORA models have a zero-drop heel allowing you to maintain good running form. The toe box has ample room for toe splay. The SKORAs perform very well on all surfaces. For those of you who prefer minimalist to barefoot because of “rough stuff” like gravel, these shoes offer excellent protection.
If you are more of a minimalist shoe runner or you are a barefooter looking for a good shoe for running more technical surfaces, this shoe will definitely make you happy. They certainly have earned a spot in my minimalist collection.
Check back later this week for an interview with barefoot runner and founder of SKORA Running, David Sypniewski, and for more images of the latest shoes to shake up the minimalist landscape.
Pre-order your SKORA Running BASE and FORM here. Men’s styles and sizes will ship in the next few weeks for Spring 2012, Women’s models will be available for Fall 2012.