I have found that water shoes can also be used as barefoot shoes. Here are some on amazon that look decent for $20, they are called Cuda Voyage Water Shoes. I will be picking some up soon and will give a full review.
I have wrote a couple times about the VFF Bikilas that I purchased a while ago, and how awesome they are. I have only been running in them a few times, but loved wearing them as an everyday shoe. I didn’t mind people making fun of me at work, it was actually a good way to get familiar with the people at my new job. The only thing that bugged me was people that thought they were weird and wouldn’t talk to me or gave me a funny look.
With Merrell and New Balance jumping on the band wagon I figure I could get a pair of shoes with a normal looking toe box and get the benefits of both worlds. I recently make the trip to my local MEC and got the Merrel Trail Gloves, after waiting 30 minutes for someone to get me my size. I did a quick test while in the store walking and jumping around, would have been nice if they had a treadmill there. I noticed right away the differences. Now, after wearing them for 6 days I figured I should post on why they are decent, but not comparable to the VFFs.
The Toe Box
The first issue I have is the toe box. Although it is wider than any normal shoe, which is good, it is still not the correct anatomical shape that most toes are. Who has round toes? No one. My small toe is still a bit squished on the outside, then there is a bunch of wasted space where the toe box is rounded. After that my big toe is snug, then it round on the inside again and there is wasted space. The problem this causes is you don’t get to use the function of your toes like you do in the VFFs or when you are actually barefoot. I am not sure why they could not make separate toes like the VFFs and then cover the top to make them look ‘normal’
Immediately when I tried them on I could tell the heel and fore foot had about 1mm of extra rubber in the sole. This is different than the Bikilas which only have 1mm extra in the fore foot. With the trail glove, my heel and forefoot feel like they are up on islands and the middle of my foot does not make much contact with the ground. When walking this seems to take away some function of the arch an mid foot. I am not sure why if anyone with some bio mechanics knowledge can shed some light please do add a comment.
The Good Stuff
I have been pretty negative when comparing these to the VFFs, but they still are much better than a normal shoe. They provide decent feel with the ground, they are comfortable and very light weight. The styling of them is OK, I am using them more for casual wear so something more plain would be nice. The best thing about them is their durability, hold the shoe you can tell it is going to last a long time.
While I do think the VFF Bikila is a much better shoe, I still think the Merell Tail Glove is worth buying. It is a bit over priced compared to the Bikila, but serves its function pretty good. I am going to keep use my VFF Bikilas for running, and my Trail Gloves for casual every day wear. Either way I think getting a “Barefoot” shoe is important and will change the way you use your body, and fix or prevent injury.