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Monday, June 15, 2009

Ideal Footwear: a barefooters perspective

Hermes (Lysippos c. 350 BCE)

So, what is the ideal shoe from the perspective of a barefooter?

Firstly, let me make it perfectly clear...nothing comes close to the perfection of the foot as-it-is.

With that in mind, here's what you should look for in footwear:

1. Lightweight - we don't need any extra weight.
2. Extremely flexible - don't control my foot thank you.
3. No support - none, we want to get stronger through good form.
4. No cushioning - none, it's not needed (see above).
5. Wide - freedom for feet to be whatever they are...always.
6. Thin-soled - we need to FEEL the ground.
7. Puncture proof - as rarely needed insurance.
8. Durable - long lasting, wear well.
9. Easy on-and-off - please.
10. Portable and easy to stow - so we can travel together.
11. Fairtrade made - thinking about the future.
12. Green - earth safe materials, recyclable, duh.
13. Breathable - so as not to suffocate.
14. Good grip - let us stay upright when things get slippery.
15. Toe articulation - I have toes for a reason.
16. Beautiful - because we never tire of beauty's inspiration.
17. (added 8/8/09) No Stink - a shoe should not smell bad...ever.

What do you think?

BFT

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31 Comments:

Blogger anna said...

Perfect criteria

Monday, June 15, 2009

 
Blogger anna said...

Perfect criteria!

Monday, June 15, 2009

 
Blogger Andy said...

Love it! My favorites, the VFFs, are great, but they do not completely meet your criteria: easy on (NO), slippery (YES), and wide (for some people, NO). I would add that they do not cause abrasions, rubs, or punctures. In a recent ultra, my VFFs gave me a couple seam rubs on both feet. I still need to try your sandals or a similar design. Like you said, nothing like bare feet though.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

 
Blogger ADVENTUREinPROGRESS said...

I think those criteria are great. I would LOVE to see someone take those and apply them to winter footwear... an area vastly under-represented in the barefooters world.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

 
Blogger Frank said...

Yes!
This is a great list.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

 
Blogger ryanarn said...

@ADVENTUREinPROGRESS I was thinking the exact same thing this winter when attempting some natural movements in knee-deep snow. The heel of my boots was causing major fatigue going up hill but proved to be a bit of insurance when plunge-stepping into the unknown terrain covered in snow on the downhills. Maybe I can find someone to make me a pair of caribou hide mukluks and I'll just give up plunge-stepping.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

 
Blogger ADVENTUREinPROGRESS said...

@ryanarn I bought some sheepskin lined moccasins last year from Quoddy Trail moccasins. They were warm, they were flat, and quite good, with one significant problem: they do not handle wet very well at all. That is my biggest problem with leather. If you are going to be spending a day in the backcountry hiking, snowshoeing, or otherwise in wet snow conditions like we get here in the north-east, you need waterproof/breathable otherwise your will get frozen feet.

I also tried using NEOS overboots over the moccasins. While they were good at keeping the water out, they don't breathe at all, and so my feet got wet and cold from sweat instead.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

 
Blogger ryanarn said...

@ADVENTUREinPROGRESS I remember reading that Inuit mukluks had a replaceable footpad on them and they would turn the fur out on that part of the boot (the rest was turned in for warmth). The fur would provide traction. They would also wear grass socks to wick moisture from the feet. We have a long, cold winter here so I spend a lot of time in boots and want a different solution.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

 
Blogger Michael Valliant said...

Sounds like the perfect description for a running shoe. Are there running shoe companies who offer anything close? The Vibram FF and sandal option are still a little too much for me, but I am interested in a shoe that could be a good transition towards something like that. Always enjoy your site, adventures, and thoughts, Ted!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like feelmax could fit in the criteria quite well. When are they selling in the US?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

 
Blogger ADVENTUREinPROGRESS said...

Feelmax shoes are supposed to be available in July and the boots in August.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

 
Blogger BareFootGBG said...

Excellent post Ted! Again the simplicity of your articulation leaves nothing to be added :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe suggest to Vibram's development team if they ever thought of taking the fivefingers to the next barefoot level by designing a pair similar to the leather lyical sandal or the Yoga Paw Sock or maybe even like the Zhik Barefoot Boot? It would be a toeless and heelless adjustable backstrap fivefinger.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My cheap aquasocks come close and are good for cold weather (but not for snow):

1. Lightweight - yes
2. Extremely flexible - yes
3. No support - yes
4. No cushioning - yes
5. Wide - yes
6. Thin-soled - yes
7. Puncture proof - yes
8. Durable - yes
9. Easy on-and-off - yes
10. Portable and easy to stow - yes
11. Fairtrade made - no
12. Green - no
13. Breathable - no
14. Good grip - yes
15. Toe articulation - no
16. Beautiful - no

Friday, June 19, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love minimalist shoes, but want one that is environmentally friendly as well. I'm checking out the Gumshoe from simple shoes for everyday usage, it has cushioning, but it is flexible with a thin sole. How important do you think not having cushioning is for minimalists shoes?

Monday, June 22, 2009

 
Anonymous Jay said...

I love this list. I'd also like to add a corollary to "Wide"--I'd say wide, but just wide enough to accommodate the toes during flexion.

I wouldn't want the sole to reach far enough beyond the sides of the foot such that it would alter the kinetic chain during strafing or pivoting movements.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That about covers it. I am still looking for a work friendly shoe with these qualities. I undo all the good of BFT huaraches with 9 hours of shoes...grrrrrr. In winter, try Steger mukluks. Mine are the old dipped in rubber ones, but they are the warmest boots ever and have nice flex. I am going to experiment with a smaller size and removing the wool liner in favor of a wool toe sock. Next winter's project.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

 
Anonymous Ravi said...

Thanks so much for your awesome posts on Barefoot running! You motivated me to get start running au naturale more and I even got a pair of Vibram FiveFingers to go on longer runs!

These shoes feel great and I feel like I've re-kindles my interest in running again!

Just posted some thoughts on barefoot running and these Vibram shoes on my blog. All the best Ted!

http://www.sethigherstandards.com/barefoot-running-vibram-five-fingers-are-worth-it/

Saturday, June 27, 2009

 
Blogger gaydave said...

hi ted! BTW you are by far my favorite person portrayed in Born to Run... I just was completely floored by that book... totaly changed my world view.. :) I'm running barefoot, or in vibrams and loving it... calves are growing exponentialy lol

I would like to add however, though I love the five fingers, maybe you could pass on the suggestion that many people have funny toe lengths and would love some kind of adjustable toe length system

Sunday, June 28, 2009

 
Blogger Dia said...

& dance slippers! I have some lovely split sole slippers that are divine - feel like a well made, thin sole moccasin . . . wouldn't last long in the elements, but oh, so comfy!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone tried Sockwas???
www.sockwa.com

I ordered a pair. They were very nice and flexible. Sorta like an expensive aquasock. The bottoms are not tough enough for rough terrain so I am thinkin of gluing some of Ted's Vibram Cherry material to the bottom. Or maybe his leather liner may be strong enough.
What do you think?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

 
Anonymous Asim said...

Yes, good list but really, VFFs are absolutely fab even though they do not fit all of your criteria (as Andy said in one of the other comments). I have been running in them for a month now and have gone from not being able to do a 1 miler to doing 9 miles the past Sunday. In one month! And I was 40 lbs overweight with knee pain and herniated disks when I started out.

Really, the importance of the form cannot be overemphasized and for starters like me who might shy away from running barefoot right away, there is just nothing else out there that compares.

Maybe you can get Vibram to hit a few more of you criteria. That there would be THE perfect show right there.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My only worry as it pertains to the criteria and feelmax, is durability. I do not think that sole will hold as long as FiveFingers do. The FiveFinger sole seems to last forever.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

 
Blogger firesion said...

I think you need something in there about sizing. I may be the only person in the world where my big toe is not the longest toe on my foot. It would be nice to have more "size" options then the current one number system used for shoes.

Monday, July 06, 2009

 
Blogger chris said...

If you haven't already heard of or seen them, it would be fun to look at TOMS shoes from tomsshoes.com. They are fairly minimal in that the tops of most shoes are just canvas, and the bottom of the shoe is mostly flat and sensitive to the ground. As far as any normal shoe is concerned, it is basically like a closed-toed sandal, but here's the catch: for every pair you buy, the company donates one pair to a child in need somewhere else in the world! It's an amazing one-for-one cause and even if the shoe isn't your number 1, it is very comfortable and you'll be changing someone else's life. any questions contact me at chrilwright@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

 
Blogger Jeff Gerke said...

Would a racing flat work well for transitioning into minimalist footwear? I'm just now researching after reading Born to Run so I have no experience really with using minimalist footwear. I currently use the Montrail Hardrock on the trails (I run technical rocky stuff) and Brooks Radius on the road. I know I need to ease into it. To begin with I was thinking about getting some racing flats and using them on the road a couple times a week for short runs then build up from there. I would continue to use my regular shoes on the rest of the time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

 
Blogger beatsupcripplesdave said...

I think you should just jump in... I'd get the vibrams a tab big and wear some injinji eco liners because they're thin but will keep chaffing down...

my advice is to get a good complex warmup in before your run, cut back the millage for the first few weeks, don't go crazy with stretching and mix it up every once in a while with something like converse flats (15-25 bucks) (also get these a bit big, lace tight at top and loose at the toe).

I run in Tucson Arizona on all kinds of surface and I love my vibrams... I wash them in my shower with the socks every other day and they hold up well.

Monday, July 20, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

 
Blogger Mushtaq Ali said...

There is one other criteria that I like, inexpensive. I love my five fingers but I can't afford to replace them as fast as I wear them out.

When I use shoes to run they are "wu shu" canvas shoes which meet most of your list and cost me very little per pair.

I have just reviewed them on my blog
http://tracelesswarrior.blogspot.com/2009/09/my-favorite-running-shoe.html

Great material on you site BTW

Thursday, September 10, 2009

 
Blogger gtd3765 said...

Ted, I recently purchased Mr. Christopher McDougall's book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen , and it got me thinking about how I myself run. I was on my high school cross country team and I learned to love running around the school. The chapter dealing with you however got me thinking more about the way I run and if running bare is the best idea. As it was, I had bought the book to read on the beach for vacation so I decided to run on the beach barefoot. I was amazed at how easily I moved and at how far I went without realizing it. I had not truly run for almost 6 months and after my beach run I ran almost 4 miles non stop. This effected me to buy a pair of FiveFingers the next day when I happened upon them in a local strip mall. My family is still very anxious about me trying to run in them and I will admit that my feet are not ready yet to go back to basics after so many years in the coffin that is the modern running shoe. And I'm glad you can enjoy running again. :D Best of luck and may God bless.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

 
Blogger D.Jones said...

Hi there barefoot Ted! My name is Diana--I have just been introduced to your site by a friend that loved the book born to run and he loves your site as well. I'm just starting my research on barefoot running and it seems really interesting. thanks for the good points and the great blog. it is fun to read. I just might have to try barefoot running!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

 

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