Current shoe collection (as of 2016 – I now only have the Docs as my final pair of ‘crap’ shoes (as of March18))
Several months ago now I threw out all my heeled shoes apart from the ones pictured above (I don’t wear them, I just look at them and wonder how I ever managed to get my bloody foot in them). I’ve been experimenting with footwear since I decided to go minimal.
Throughout this blog there’s a particular emphasis on feet, given that that’s where I start in most of my movement assessments. I almost always try and persuade people to start transitioning (safely) to a more minimal shoe (there’s a post somewhere that I wrote on how NOT to do this), and I often get asked, “What shoe should I buy?”
There’s plenty of info about the why, so I’m just going to focus here on what and where. This list is not exhaustive and I’ve excluded a lot of shoes that have to be shipped in from the States, mainly those that have a ridiculous shipping fee on an almost mortgage requiring purchase price. Where I’ve owned the shoe in question I’ve added a bit of blurb, but this is mainly a list for you to use to introduce to the companies that provide minimal shoes.
In alphabetical order:
I own a pair of Altra Torin Zero Drop shoes. They’re quite bulky underfoot, which I did on purpose so I could walk distances on concrete. So no ground feel unfortunately, and also not a particularly wide toebox, and also quite a big toe spring. In fact, having just typed that sentence, I’m gonna bin ‘em and get something better.
Yep, been back and had another look. About the only thing going for these is the zero drop. However, they might be a good option for transitioning, concrete walking etc.
(March 18 update: I got shut of these give my comments above)
Altra Torin Zero Drop
Look like a naff VFF rip-off, but you never know, they might take off. Limited range as of this blog post. Toes aren’t separated like VFF, so might be preferable to those weirdos that don’t like something in between their toes. Can’t work out from website if they ship to the UK.
This company do a steel toed clog where this might be required, the A640. Nice wide toebox and zero drop although I’m not sure about the toe grips, arch support and heel cup, but they’re apparently durable, waterproof and lightweight. And if your job does necessitate steel toes, then this might be an option.
If you can bear to watch your dignity drain out through the holes in these horrific looking items of footwear, then good for you. Personally I’d rather poke my own eyeballs out. For those of you who are inclined towards a more undignified existence, check out the flatter, wider options.
Very high on my ‘to try’ list. This company hand makes their shoe after you send in a scanned image of your footprint. Custom fit. You pay for it, but I think it’s worth it given some of the designs they have. Zero drop, no problem. Flat, wide etc. Spread your toes when you draw round your foot and you’re laughing. Nice going out option for ladies and gents.
Remind me of Xero sandals, but I like these too. Not owned a pair yet. You can choose your Luna based on terrain, which is a nice touch if you need a thicker sole for walking on concrete for instance. Definitely on my ‘to try’ list.
The Primal Professional / Chronology
Although I nearly lost the will to live with their website, I like the idea behind these shoes. A dressy office shoe that looks narrow and heeled, but secretly is flat and wide. Crafty! They ship to the UK at a price.
One of my favourite brands despite not having even purchased any yet. They’re only available in the States, but they will ship to the UK. Family handmade minimal shoes from soft, flexible, breathable materials. Got lots of kids’ shoes too.
In my opinion look too tapered in the toebox and elevated in the forefoot. They’re available to ship to the UK though.
SOM Footwear (sense of motion)
US but ship to UK. Funky, wide, flexible, but not too feminine. Mind you I wear VFFs when I’m out in a frock, so who am I to talk about feminine.
This is specialist golf shoe company. Worth keeping an eye on if you ever get to the States as they don’t ship to the UK. There’s supposed to be a supplier in the Netherlands but I can’t find the shoes on their site.
Vibram Five Fingers
From the ridiculous to the sublime (Crocs to VFF)… I expect there will be disagreement here. Anyway, my preferred minimal shoes. I love them and have several pairs. They’re not for everyone, both in terms of what they look like and also that they’re pretty much as barefoot as you can get (there’s some others on this list that can claim the same). They therefore take quite a bit of transitioning to. I’m just about to write a post about how not to do that, and also include some info on what you should do instead.
As much as I love these shoes they are a tad expensive… I usually luck out on eBay or just Google and see what comes up. Beware cheap options, they’re really dreadful fake copies, of which I’ve fallen prey several times. They’re not even wearable! Be warned.
Vibram Five Fingers Classic Sparkly – these are my ‘night out’ options.
I have a pair of JingJings from VB, but unfortunately they’re almost a U shape in design and absolutely cripple me just to put them on (this is due to my arthritic right big toe). Don’t let that put you off though, most of the other shoes in their selection are completely flat, flexible and wide-toed. If I had my time again (and the £££) I would go for a flat shoe and probably a half or a full size up.
They do some nice men’s dress/office shoes, albeit they’re a little pricey.
Xeros are also high on my ‘to try’ list. Another sandal type shoe with thickness of sole chosen by terrain. Ladies can decorate their Xeros with beads etc. which is a nice touch. They now do a trail version which apparently makes you ‘mountain goat’ like on wet terrain.
(March18 update: BGE (best girlfriend ever) has a pair and they’re like shovels – as you’re walking along they collect anything that’s in front of them and deposit it under your foot – I won’t be investing!)
Favourite Super Light, Super Thin Soled VFFs. (March18 update: I now have various pairs – they’re getting more feminine. I think they’re cottoning onto the fact that there are some idiots like me that have decided this is the way to go and wear them whether they’re going out for the night or up a mountain – I even found a pair of VFF Soul in Nude that I’m contemplating remortgaging for).