Run Real, Indeed – SKORA Running Redefines Minimalist

by Editor on February 7, 2012

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).

Construction:

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.

Fit:

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).

Additional Testing:

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.

Pros:

  • Excellent protection from gravel or other “rough stuff”
  • Comfortable fit
  • Roomy toe box

Cons:

  • 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. 

~Barefoot Terry

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kyle Kranz February 7, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Great review, glad you like them as much as I do :)

Carissa February 7, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Hey

Just a quick question. I have a pair of vibram five fingers and loved them to bits….I could run pain free without my hips aching. the only problem is that i gave myself a stress fracture in my foot. these new shoes sound fantastic but do you think the extra cushion on the balls of your feet will be more forgiving than the five’s?

thanks

David February 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Hi Carissa,

David here of SKORA. Our shoes include 5mm of EVA midsole as a cushioning layer between your feet and the 4mm of rubber outsole, the density of our materials is higher than traditional shoes. This allows for greater ground feel and decreased wearing of the shoes. That said, it sounds like a review of your running form or a more gradual buildup of minimalist shoes miles is in order for you to keep stress fractures at bay. Note the word “stress” – it may suggest more than a need for more cushioning. But, our shoes do have what I (and many others) consider to be a fantastic blend of minimal cushioning, flexibility and the right amount of ground feel to allow your feet to signal to you when it’s time to call it a day. Hope that helps! Run Real. DS

Terry Orsi February 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Hi Carissa,

I agree with David. I don’t think it is a matter of cushioning. The SKORA does have more cushioning than the base sole of the Vibrams. When I started barefooting, I ended up with a bone bruise (which I thought was a stress fracture) in my foot. It was a function of both developing proper form as well as building strength in the muscles of my feet. Bottom line is that I did too many miles way too soon. Whether you run barefoot or in minimalist shoes, there is a very REAL build up period of strengthening over a period of 6 months to a year. Everything from your feet, calves to thighs needs to develop. Consider these factors first before putting your hopes in any minimalist shoe (or even straight barefoot) when you run. Best of luck and have fun!

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