With so much scientific data out there showing how much better it is for us to run like our ancestors did (barefoot), one can only expect new companies to be popping up all the time to try their hand in making shoes that get us as close to that as possible while still giving our feet protection. We’ve seen some footwear like that already here at Gadget Review, but today I’m writing about a new company on the scene: Skora. Now Skora makes two general models of shoe – the Form and the Base – and as you can see from the title here I’ll be speaking about each in turn. Also dear reader, you should know that in most of my footwear reviews I’ll be talking about both a woman’s and a men’s shoe as I value my wife’s opinion on any kind of apparel.
Now Skora doesn’t use the usual terms like “minimalist” or “barefoot” to describe what they’re putting out – they have coined the phrase “Run Real”. So then, what exactly does “run real” mean then? According to the Skora website, they believe that “running shoes should be built to encourage running performance that is biomechanically correct as possible, with minimal interference.” In layman’s terms it means that Skora shoes work on getting you to use your midfoot and forefoot when you run, and not heel striking. The Skora shoes do this by using less heel cushioning and less support.
The Base model that Skora sent was the women’s shoe, and it was distinctively different in two ways from the Form model. For one, rather than laces there is a single Velcro strap to keep it in place on the front, and another Velcro strap on the heel. My wife’s initial reaction was to exclaim that they felt like a pair of slippers. In truth, she even started wearing them around the house in place of her normal slippers because they were that comfortable. The Form model uses laces, but has them set off to the side rather than a normal shoe’s center style. It instantly sets the Skora shoes apart from other brands when looked at because it is just so odd to see. The Form model also offers the Velcro strap on the heel to facilitate getting that perfect fit (when it works that is).
The second way both shoes were different were in the uppers on each. Both the Form and Base models use the same zero drop sole, which is comprised of a midsole, an insole, and an outer sole. The outer sole is a 4mm thick rubber tread with some slightly raised nubs on the front for when you are running on the street. The midsole is 5mm thick and (unlike the outer sole which is cut away in parts) is present throughout the length of the shoe. Finally your insole is 4mm thick, and removable in case you have another insole you wear, or choose to not wear one at all. One thing that is pretty neat on the insole is that is has very slightly raised bumps all along it to help give your feet a little more grip inside the shoe. Now if you do the math, you will see that that is 13mm between your foot and the ground – which makes it easy to see why they don’t actually use the term minimalist or barefoot at all; the Skora shoes are a decent bit thicker than the competition.
Now on the Base model, the upper is primarily made up of a synthetic mesh in order to allow your foot to breathe easily – this is probably the feature that my wife liked the best, because it kept er feet very cool no matter what she was doing. That part of the upper is all around the toes and metatarsals, around the ankle is another type of mesh – however this mesh has a soft padding underneath it. The Base model has no tongue either, instead opting for a one piece design that works extremely well with the Velcro strap system. The Form model has none of this – instead it is comprised of a goat skin upper with a sheep skin lining. The leather is extremely soft, and has a great smell to it while the lining grips your foot inside the shoe better than the Base’s lining does. Unfortunately because of the nature of the goat skin leather, it does not let your foot breathe anywhere near as good at on the Base model (which made my feet sweat quite a bit), but that is to be expected. Where the Base shoe does not have a tongue, the Form model does – however it is attached to the upper arch. Whereas the Base model feels and looks like a comfortable slipper as my wife says, the Form looks and feels like an ultra premium shoe.
Now I have a wider foot – not quite so wide that I need a regular wide shoe, but wide enough that when a shoe doesn’t have any give it is uncomfortable. That being said, the Form model was very snug on my foot, but not in an uncomfortable mater at all – in fact, the toe area is where I have the most width issues and that is where (conveniently) the most room is here. My wife says that the Base model had more than enough room thanks to the stretchy mesh design, but she was able to use the Velcro system to keep the shoe tight enough that it wasn’t falling off of her.
For me, the 13mm was just right when running in these, though I suspect some others who are more used to less might find them too stiff. I wouldn’t say that though – to me, they felt more like triathlon shoes, which meant that they were absolutely perfect for my needs. The biggest negative here comes in the form of the price – if the Base models are expensive for the model of shoe, then the Form models are out of this world; however the Form’s high price can be attributed to the goat and sheep skins that are used, while I don’t know how to justify the Base’s cost. We tried the Skora shoes in a number of different terrains – from a track, to trails, to fields, and while they performed admirably on almost everything (these definitely aren’t trail runners), they excelled on asphalt and on packed dirt, giving you a bit more plush than other minimalist while still being responsive to your foot’s needs.
Bottom Line: If you are looking to transition from a normal “big box” running shoe to a more minimalistic one, these are a great (albeit expensive) choice.
- Extremely plush feel to them for a mostly minimalistic shoe
- You can tell the level of craftsmanship that goes into a pair of these
- Some nice color options
- Extremely expensive when compares to similar shoes
- The heel strap doesn’t do a whole heck of a lot
- For some people, the amount of sole might be a bit much
You can get a pair of Skora shoes from their website – the Base models run $110 while the Form models run $185