Will 2011 be the Year of Minimalist Footwear?

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Submitted by damien on

(Please see Toe Salad, our blog all about minimalist and barefoot shoes.)

There is a lot to be excited about in the world of minimalist footwear these days, and based on what I am seeing, it looks like 2011 is going to be the year that the market explodes with new products. Here is what we have to look forward to:

Kigo Footwear will be releasing two new models this summer.

Barefoot Ted is putting the finishing touches on his new company Luna Sandals.

Altera Running will be releasing their Adam and Eve running shoes in the fall of 2010.

Skora will be testing prototypes this fall and then releasing their running shoes in 2011.

In case you haven't already read about it, Inov-8 has a few new interesting products up their sleeve. They will be introducting two new models (the X-Talon 195 and the F-Lite 190) with a 1-arrow midsole and 3 mm differential (the difference in height between the forefoot and the heel) this fall. In 2011 they will be releasing three additional models that are completely flat with zero cushioning, the Evoskin, the Bare Grip 200, and the Road-X.

Inov-8 Shoc Zone
(click for larger version)

The last bit of news I didn't expect was an annoucement by Merrell and Vibram that they will be partnering to release a barefoot line in 2011. Does this mean that minimalist footwear has finally begun to hit the mainstream?

(click for larger version)

It's going to be hard to keep-up! Here at Outsideways our plan will be to continue seek out the best combination for hiking, backpacking, and outdoor adventure use.




I plan on walking over 1000k this fall barefoot. One limiting factor seems to be the durability of the footpads on pavement. I really like the possibility of these shoes, and have done a fair bit of running in Vibram's 5-fingers. But I find the "pain response" critical in maintaining that light-on-the-feet action that's so essential to natural-form running.

Oddly, the most significant thing to overcome is social awkwardness. I mean, running has been about shoes for so long. If you don't like people staring and asking questions, it's a kind of isolating endeavor to undertake. I hiked back from an Alpine refuge pieds-nus, and finally just put my sneakers back on because I was tired of everybody worrying about my feet. I'm thinking of starting a pieds-nus group here in Strasbourg to overcome this obstacle.

It's certainly looking like

It's certainly looking like minimalist footwear is hitting the mainstream. Merrell and Vibram are making a wise move, and I'm looking forward to what they come up with. They look to have the most promising line of footwear for outdoor recreation.


[...] when I thought I had all of the new minimalist footwear developments covered in my previous post, I discovered this video. Looks like Golite also wants a piece of the action (whether or not these [...]

my first

I just got my first pair of Vibram 5 Fingers and have worn them running three times and hiking once. I look like a big dork, but I've really liked the shoes so far. My lower calves are pretty stiff, but that's just a matter of building up the muscles needed for a more natural gait. Like you, I'd love to find something warm. Montana winters are pretty chilly and snowy, and I get cold quickly, so I don't know if I will be able to keep up the minimalist footwear year round. Plus, I'm mostly on x-country skis in the winter anyway.

Thanks for all these posts and updates, they have really made me think about my footwear.

Running in FiveFingers

I have tried running a few times in the Classic model of the FiveFingers, and I have had some interesting soreness I was wondering if its normal. I have some sharp pain directly under my arch sometimes, as well as some deeper, dull pain in my Achilles tendon. Has anyone else had this issue? Or does my body just need to get use to running in them? Any help would be great. Thanks


Hey Damien,

I was wondering if you knew of places to buy Feelmax shoes in the US besides Extreme Outfitters. I wanted to get a pair of Feelmax shoes from Extreme Outfitters and they told me that the style I want is back ordered and they don't know when they'll be getting more. These are going to be a Christmas present to me from my parents and they can't even tell me if they'll be in by Christmas. I'm trying to figure out some other way to get them. I saw them listed on amazon.com, but they say they're out of them there too.

Thanks for any help you might be able to give me!

- Kelly

Hey Damien, I actually just

Hey Damien,

I actually just found that website last night, but they're out too. I'm going to see if one of my friends that lives in Europe can pick them up a pair somewhere for me and mail them to me. Fingers crossed!

Hi, I called Feelmax

Hi, I called Feelmax headquarters about a month ago and they told me they have delivery problems, and probably wont get any new shoes before spring 2011 :(
They a more or less sold out everywhere, but best of luck. I would really like a new pair of Kuusaas, so I'm not too happy about this either.
Ah well, fingers crossed that they still have Kuusaa in their 2011 collection.
Their best/most minimal shoe IMO.