Anti-Shoe: Silicone 'Foot Glove' with Five Toes

By STEPHEN REGENOLD

Of all the strange and unlikely athletics trends of the 21st century there are none, in my book, nearly as strange or unlikely as shoes with toes. By this I am referring primarily to Vibram and its now immensely successful FiveFingers shoes, a line of thin, dexterous footwear that’s marketed to promote “natural running” via a foot-hugging design and articulated toe pockets. Head to any popular jogging area or major footrace now and there will be people sporting the Vibram “foot gloves,” guaranteed. FiveFingers shoes sell like mad at many running shops around the United States.

This year, there is a new entry into the shoes-with-toes niche. Inov-8 Ltd. strives to make an even more minimal “barefoot” footwear with its Evoskin, a silicone shell of a shoe that weighs scant ounces and offers almost zero padding from pebbles and bumps underfoot.

inov-8 evoskin.jpg

Inov-8 Evoskin

I have run a few times in the Evoskins this spring. The $65 shoes fit like Vibram FiveFingers though even closer — the silicone material is literally skin tight. Pull an Evoskin on and after the initial curiosity wears off you might forget they are there.

The Evoskin experience is akin to running without shoes on — which was Inov-8’s (www.inov-8.com) goal — though imagine thick, slightly squishy calluses on both feet. That’s what it’s like. You can feel almost all disturbances through the shoes’ thin soles, including each rock, stick, and sidewalk crack. But there is just enough material to keep a careful runner safe.

Step in sand and you sense the grittiness of the grains. I tromped along a wet creek and squished in mud, a dulled sensation accompanying the slime rising between my silicone-ensconced toes. Indeed, sensitivity is the hallmark of Evoskins. The thin, rubbery shoes offer the experience of running barefoot, though with a modicum more protection from the painful things that might lie along a path.

The Evoskins are made for trails and soft terrain, not pavement. There is no insole and almost zero “padding” afforded by the mold. Anyone not versed in the style and technique of running barefoot will feel utterly exposed in these anti-shoes.

Overall, I had fun running in the Inov-8 “gloves” for a while. But for me the design is too minimal. Further, the silicone pockets squeezing my toes became uncomfortable after about 40 minutes on the run. But if you’re a dedicated “barefooter” looking to skim back even more from Vibram FiveFingers or your current minimalist shoe, the Evoskin might be the five-toed fit for you.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.

Posted by whiskers - 05/23/2011 02:51 PM

Silicone on my feet? Can’t imagine the feeling or the smell.

Posted by trailfiend - 05/23/2011 10:05 PM

seems more like a silly con. Enough novelty spending opportunities for people more interested in standing out because of their choice of impractical gear rather than just pumping out decent training and race day efforts.

Posted by Pyllon - 05/24/2011 12:05 PM

Can you wear toe socks with them do you think? Might get a bit sweaty otherwise??

Posted by gnarlydog - 05/25/2011 05:43 PM

$65 for moulded silicone? ….what GFC?

Posted by Warren - 05/25/2011 06:01 PM

So, when are these companies going to start offering custom fitting for people like me? I have 2 webbed toes on each foot, making these kinds of footwear impossible to wear for me.

Posted by JAY - 05/25/2011 10:14 PM

lame. if you want to go barefoot, drumroll please, then go barefoot and get a freakin callous. this must be a company funded by a trust fund

Posted by Knut - 05/27/2011 07:31 AM

@ Pyllon. For sure you can, and you’ d probably want to for the very reason you mention. With socks moisture is a non issue even wearing them for a full day.

yfrog.com/h717xknj

Posted by monica aloth - 05/29/2011 09:58 AM

Is it possible to try a pair any place in Denmark before bying over the internet? Mostly because I use 40 and sometimes 41 or 42 in sizesĀ“!

Posted by Knut - 05/31/2011 03:21 AM

They’re not in stores yet. Also, I cannot see why you’d want to use a stores time and stock to try before ordering on-line.

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