This post originally appeared on Running Product Reviews.
In this review, our third annual look at minimalist shoes, we examine this growing category and feature seven new shoes and one updated model for you to consider – with another eight minimalist shoes coming a bit later. In deciding what a minimalist shoe is, we use the following ranges: a minimal heel-to-forefoot drop (5 millimeters or less); minimal support (can fold down the heel of the upper or pinch the sides of the heel together) and little sole structure (should be able to twist torsionally with little resistance); and light in weight (under 10 ounces for a men’s size 11). Shoes that satisfy at least two of these three characteristics we classify as minimalist. Your use of minimalist shoes will be determined by your fitness and preferences, but all runners can benefit from the use of a minimal shoe for at least a portion of their running.
The upper is open mesh with welded overlays and saddle-like, ghilley lacing across the midfoot to securely wrap the foot for performance. The midsole has a generous 28mm stack height (15mm in the midsole), combined with the familiar Altra zero-drop geometry to provide the benefits of a minimal shoe with enough cushion to keep from being beaten up. The segmented carbon outersole allows good flexibility and traction without weighing things down. The result is a daily trainer with zero-drop geometry.
“Really roomy in the toes; not too big or wide, just spacious. The ride is plush, but the foot is close to the ground, especially the heel.”
Heel/Forefoot Drop: 0mm
Sizes: Men 8–13,14,15; Women 5.5,6.5–11,12
Weight: 9.6 oz. (men’s 11); 8.4 oz. (women’s 8)
Though the midsole is the lowest in the adidas running line with a stack height of 15mm and a drop of 4mm, it is a bit more than one might expect from the very minimal nature of the shoe. Deep flex grooves and a forefoot-only outersole provide a flexible, responsive ride and a measure of protection without sacrificing the feedback desired in a minimalist shoe.
“These ‘shoes’ have to be about as minimal as it gets. They hug my feet perfectly, and provide decent cushioning and protection, though I probably wouldn’t recommend them for everyday running.”
Heel/Forefoot Drop: 4mm
Sizes: Men 7–13,14,15; Women 5–12
Weight: 5.3 oz. (men’s 11); 4.1 oz. (women’s 8)