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Thread: [Recreational Products] Xero Shoes. EDIT 2 Jan 2013

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    Voodo chile's Avatar Campidoctor
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    Default [Recreational Products] Xero Shoes. EDIT 2 Jan 2013

    Xero Shoes
    The 'Barefoot' Running Sandal



    Quick Info Name: Xero Shoes (Originally marketed as 'Invisible Shoes')
    The particular model of Xero shoe in review is the 4mm sole 'Connect'

    Company: Feel the World Incorporated

    Price: 4mm 'Connect' Sole - $25-30 USD.
    + Additional Shipping which can very on location ($10 USD to NZ)
    (Though Black Friday discounts i purchased with for $40NZD Total)


    Xero Shoes Minimalist footwear has taken off and grown into a movement. Although still nowhere near the mainstream thinking, it has become more popular with runners as it has become more clearer that the human body was indeed, designed to function perfectly on its own, without the aid of any man-made devices.

    In order for people to understand this a little background info is needed

    Obviously for the purpose of walking and running in our modern world, some form of man-made intervention is required as inventions such as asphalt and glass pose quite a thread as our bodies were not designed to deal with them. The protection of the foot is probably the number one reason for them coming about, but over time this has changed to the point where shoes are made for the sole purpose of allowing us to run.
    We get the common running shoe, with the padding and thick cushioning on the soles of the feet, often elevating the foot 3 or 5cm above the surface of the ground, with a heavy emphasis on shock absorption on the heel. And we have all seen this with the Nike Airs with transparent windows with air cushioning.

    This is done to minimize the shock impact that occurs when heel striking which running shoes encourage. Takin a step back, you can see that the solutions that the shoe designers have come up with are responsible for directly fueling the problem created.

    The minimalist footwear movement is based around letting the leg and foot work the way they were designed to, and this means as little interference as possible. Shock impact is minimized despite next to no cushioning surface and this is due to the different running technique involved. Try sprinting down the sidewalk outside your house in bare feet and you will notice that there is little heel contact with the ground. Try to purposely strike the ground with a heel-toe and you will realize the impact that this creates. Many people run on asphalt with a heel-toe strike but the impact this creates is lessened through the excessive padding in the heel of the shoes and so they don't realize how much impact is created and this eventually catches up with them over long distances or after a few months when the padding is worn out and compresses.

    Back to Xero shoes. What we have here is an attempt to create the sensation of running in barefeet but provide protection. As you may have experienced, running barefoot on asphalt creates a very painful burning sensation after 500 meters or so. Glass is something you always have to watch out for and these very things are what Xero shoes were designed for.


    The design is extremely basic. It involves a thin 4mm vibram sole (6mm for 'Contact' model) and cord. The purpose of the sole is to act as a thick layer of skin on the bottom of your foot. It is thin enough so that you can feel the texture of the ground underneath your foot, yet protects your foot from foreign objects puncturing your skin. When ordering the kit, the user is required to punch out (Hole punch provided) the hole for the toe string as per the dimensions of your foot. Because of this, every pair of Xero shoes are unique to the user.
    The sole comes as a flat piece of vibram in the size that you ordered and the string is laced through the soles and tied around the foot in any way the user prefers. I personally went with the slip on/off minimalist lacing.


    Over time the flat sole will eventually take in the contours of your foot become 'wavy' like in the photo above

    If you are a regular Jandal/Flip Flop/Thong wearer, you will be used to having the gap between 1st and 2nd toe, and basically that is what these are, jandals with the heel part secured.

    As you can see there are no fancy straps, as this is all held together with synthetic cordage. It is important to get the perfect fit and not to tight or loose as the string can become very uncomfortable if not done right.

    I think one of the interesting aspects of these is that they can teach you a lot about how we run. If there is a problem in your running technique, you will find out quickly and you will quickly revert to a more natural technique. Being new to barefoot running i had to take it easy.
    500 meters is probably a good distance and chances are if you have never really done this before, you will experience some form of muscle fatigue and this will just be from adjusting to the new technique. You will tend to land on the forefoot. Think of how a dog runs. The arch of your foot and your bent leg will act as a spring and minimize impact.
    Due to work, i am only able to run during weekends and not very far either, still sticking to a 500m dash and its important to realize that running round the house in barefoot will not prepare you for anything over 200m. It will take time and practice. Most of us have learned to run in runnning shoes and barely run at all on a regular basis so you will need to build it up.

    Pros
    -Cheap price (5000 mile warranty) I personally give these 5 years.Even 2 or 3 years would exceed their price to durability ration in my eyes.

    -Light. Close to barefoot feel

    -Portable.

    -Will not smell after wearing them for long periods of time.

    -Ability to feel the ground underneath you. This can be hard to describe as obviously you wont be able to feel as much as running in barefoot.

    Cons

    -Appearance. Do look like something you would buy at a trendy womens fashion store. They do give off a slight feminine feel. I would go for Jandals or shoes for casual use and keep these as home use or running duty.

    -Adjustment is an art. Will take some time to get it right. Will need adjustment and retying as they will not always hold their exact shape after taking them off/on

    -The vibram sole will create a rather distinct slapping noise when running on asphalt. Think rugby/football boots with sprigs on them except quieter. Vibram is not rubbery like the soles of most running shoes, its fairly plastic-ey


    Conclusion
    What we have here is a cheap pair of running sandals which will allow you to run in barefoot without actually being in barefoot. Its barefoot running designed for the modern environment. Out of all the other minimalist footwear out there (I haven't tried any others), this is the cheapest and the most minimalist approach.
    Dont expect them to grant you magical running abilities. If you can run well in bare feet, then you cant run well in these. They wont give you 'extra spring'. Their only purpose is to protect the sole of the foot. Running in them wont feel too much different than running in barefoot.

    Would i wear them out on a trail? I would, but i would also bring a pair of socks and sturdy shoes as backup.
    Would i run a road race in them? Likewise, i would bring a pair of socks and shoes.

    I wouldn't put my full confidence in them yet due to limited use and i would have to give it at least a year until i feel fully confident.

    Would i recommend? It wouldn't hurt. If you have the money and curiosity, why not? This is not as big leap as buying other minimalist footwear such as 5fingers or New Balance Minimus which can cost up to $150-200


    Update EDIT : UPDATE OF REVIEW (As promised)
    I havent gotten the chance to bring them on an adventure, (say a decent 4+ km offroad trail) and thats mainly because i'm still adjusting to the long distance bare foot running.
    I have been able to double my running distance and this is what i will base the final part of the review on.

    I have given these a bit more use. Tying technique has been improved by changing the position of the central tying point and bringing it closer to the toes.
    This does seem to relieve pressure that the toe string puts on your foot.

    Doing a longer run, i found the only real problem was just the fact that i was running on asphalt and although these will prevent that burning sensation you get from running barefoot, after a while, you will want to run on the grass just because it feel a lot more pleasant. - Although running on the asphalt isn't causing any pain.
    If anything, it was dehydration and just general fitness which were causing my problems if there were to be anything and that just goes to show that these will offer no instant advantage to your running abilities.

    These are designed i guess mainly for straight running. Making sharp turns while sprinting will be more difficult while wearing these and this is probably due to the fact that its only cordage which is holding it to your foot which ultimately means less stability on your foot. This was found out when doing a bit of tennis in these on an asphalt surface. While it is still possible to wear these, i would go for shoes for this purpose. Basically, if you were playing a game of rugby or touch rugby, you'd be better off in bare-feet or shoes.

    I also took these out in a bit of natural terrain and this is where i believe they shine. Its very rare for people to go barefoot in natural terrain outside their own property and walking all over interesting surfaces and terrain contours can become a different experience. Obviously they don't offer incredible levels of protection, so if going hiking, you would obviously take a pair of decent shoes/boots but for light wandering, these can add a further dimension.
    As you may know i am not particularly keen on wearing these in public but their weight and ease of portability means you can basically take them anywhere or even stuff into your pockets so it wouldn't hurt to bring them out as a alternative pair of footwear if you are venturing out into natural terrain

    Ultimately i see these providing a better experience on natural terrain. There was nothing that made them stand out too much on asphalt footpaths. If you are a regular urban runner, i wouldn't ditch the running shoes or shoes in general. These will be worth a try for you solely because of price and curiosity.
    For the natural terrain runner i would suggest these more as the thin sole does allow you to feel the terrain underneath. You dont get that noise you get from walking on asphalt and concrete. I believe a psychological benefit is that in wearing these, you are more connected with the ground as opposed to be isolated though heavily built up shoes. You walk though long grass and you can feel it brush up against your feet. You walk on dirt hills and bark chips and you can feel the bumpy surface underneath and your feet get a bit dirty. It allows you to experience walking in bare feet while providing the minimum level of protection
    [/CENTER]


    Questions If you have any questions, i will try my best to answer them with an unbiased point of view
    Last edited by Voodo chile; January 01, 2013 at 04:44 PM.

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    Shankbot de Bodemloze's Avatar From the Writers Study!
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    Default Re: [Recreational Products] Xero Shoes

    I can't believe there is such a thing. Added to the Index.

    I have difficulty walking in shoes like this, let alone running. Great review though, you should enter the Review of the Month.

    Can I ask, whilst they are intended to help with running technique etc. are they actually comfortable to run it compared to running shoes?
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    Default Re: [Recreational Products] Xero Shoes

    As for comfort, that is something to be found out.
    I have ran short distances (500m) at a time in them and worn them at the computer for around an hour. I can say that they haven't caused any irritation while doing so.

    The only problems i have come across are the string digging into the achilles tendon or into the gap between 1st and 2nd toes when ties too tight and you do have to get that balance so that is doesn't also end up like a pair of jandals slapping against your feet whenever you walk

    I've got the rest of the summer off starting from next week so i'll have to do some longer distances in them. But yea i will be looking at how the toe string starts to perform under long distances and whether it will start to dig in.

    Will update review in a week or two

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    Default Re: [Recreational Products] Xero Shoes

    Ah I see, thanks for letting me know. I'll look forward to hearing back after you've trialled them a bit more.
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    Default Re: [Recreational Products] Xero Shoes. EDIT 2 Jan 2013

    Just read your edited part, interesting about your views on the different terrain types but they sound pretty durable. Would you still recommend them as strongly?
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    mishkin's Avatar Comes Limitis
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    Default Re: [Recreational Products] Xero Shoes. EDIT 2 Jan 2013

    strange product (maybe I am a snob), great review
    So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16).

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    Voodo chile's Avatar Campidoctor
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    Default Re: [Recreational Products] Xero Shoes. EDIT 2 Jan 2013

    Quote Originally Posted by Shankbot de Bodemloze View Post
    Just read your edited part, interesting about your views on the different terrain types but they sound pretty durable. Would you still recommend them as strongly?
    My opinion on them hasn't changed drastically. If you have cash to blow and are curious, try it. If you have doubts and money is short, then i think its safe to say you aren't missing out on a lot. Its sole purpose is to protect the soles of the feet with a minimal build, not turn you into Usain Bolt (No pun intented)

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    Default Re: [Recreational Products] Xero Shoes. EDIT 2 Jan 2013

    Okay, thanks for letting me know.

    Well mail me a pair next Christmas.
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    Default Re: [Recreational Products] Xero Shoes. EDIT 2 Jan 2013

    The Shark Tank chewed these guys up and spit them out.

    I was sold until that.


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    Default Re: [Recreational Products] Xero Shoes. EDIT 2 Jan 2013

    ooo harsh, very harsh, that was a roasting. Very good point made though, rubber and string and that's it.
    From a business standpoint, the only real strong-point i can see is the niche market item, very few companies have products along the same line. Luna sandals is all i can think of right now. As the guys said, if say, Nike catches on, they will dominate the market and perhaps make it better.

    I personally see them staying as a niche. I don't think they will catch on. Not until minimalist shoes replace conventional running shoes anyway

  11. #11

    Default Re: [Recreational Products] Xero Shoes. EDIT 2 Jan 2013

    I think they could improve on the design to address those concerns about materials, it was their valuation that caught them the most criticism I think.

    More power to them if they can make it, apparently a lot of people who don't get deals on Shark Tank end up getting a lot of exposure just from going on the show.

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