‘Barefoot-Style’ Shoes for Hipsters


“What are those hipster shoes?” My friend and running partner was staring at my feet. I was dressed in running shorts with a T-shirt on, but on my feet were a pair of stealthy, slipper-like shoes made by a new company, Kigo Footwear, based in Atlanta, Ga.

You might be sick of reading about “barefoot-style” shoes. But Kigo jumps on the barefoot bandwagon with a new line coming to market next month. The company’s four models range from my “hipster”-oriented Drive, a unisex shoe with a bungee lace, to the casual, Mary-Jane-style Flit model made for women.

Kigo Footwear Drive shoe

The Drive comes to market on August 1 and will cost about $90. For that you get a simple, flexible-soled shoe with water-resistant uppers and a 2mm footbed inside. As noted, the laces are small elasticized bungee cords, and you tug them tight to fit the shoe on your foot.

With the Drive, Kigo attempts to distinguish itself from the myriad barefoot options by offering a shoe that does double duty during activity and as casual wear. In my use, I see the ratio skewing more “casual” than “performance” for most all wearers of the shoe.

Elasticized bungee cords serve as laces

A flexible sole and a zero-drop footbed put pressure on a runner to stride with grace. No slop allowed with this kind of shoe. Road running is harsh with this shoe, and on dirt trails the lightly-treaded sole offers the bare minimum for traction.

Fit is somewhat loose — the Drives do not securely cinch on your foot like most running shoes do. The lacing system provides a weak hold. But in my tests the plastic cincher on the laces stayed put even after a couple miles of running, and overall the shoe felt fine on soft trails.

Kigo touts light weight as a hallmark, advertising that the average Drive shoe weighs 4 ounces. Not so on my scale. My men’s size 12 Drive shoe measured 8.1 ounces with its footbed installed. This is lightweight, to be sure, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Drive model is built for running and everyday use

In the end, I like the Drive shoe for its comfort and its looks. It’s a great everyday shoe that can occasionally be called upon for a hike or a casual run. But as a dedicated barefoot-running shoe, the Drive falls short. There are many better choices on the now-crowded barefoot shelf.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com. Connect with Regenold at Facebook.com/TheGearJunkie or on Twitter via @TheGearJunkie.

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.