As the temps & snow continue to fall the need to keep my toes warm on those crisp long runs has become paramount. Up until these beauties arrived I had been running in a different minimalist type shoe, the Bikila by: Vibram Five Fingers paired with Injinji toe socks. The Bikilas are a great shoe, but if you have to stop in the snow at any point during a run your feet will melt the snow between your toes & around them making your feet wet. Not exactly something you want in sub-freezing or even sub-zero temps.
My hunt for a cozy alternative to the VFFs lead me to Soft Star's Shoes. After speaking with the Elves (Their customer service is fantastic.) at Soft Star, I decided to order the Smooth version of the RunAmocs with the trail sole. In spite of ordering the shoes in custom color, width & over a holiday they still managed to show up on my doorstep within a week.
Upon opening the package I quickly realize that the RunAmoc is well named as this shoe is essentially a moccasin for running.
Eager to try them out I slipped them on & went about the rest of my day running errands. At first the leather upper over my toes made them feel a bit trapped, but as you'll read in other reviews this is something that breaks in over time. Even with my limited usage of them so far I am already beginning to feel them loosen up. They are after all leather. That said, the way the overall fit in the toe box is appropriate given that you don't want to be sliding around which could cause instability and blistering.
As I mentioned earlier, I chose to go with the trail sole. Gravel, rocks, ice and ice chunks are common obstacles during my runs so this seemed to be the wisest choice. If you are used to a KSO or Bikila sole the 5mm Vibram sole on these will feel pretty substantial to start, but as soon as you go down a flight of stairs, climb over a snow bank or clip an eight minute mile on slick packed snow you'll see where these soles really shine. So far I would rank these on par if not markedly better for traction on snow than the VFF models I have. I also find that I spend less time looking at the ground for debris that could bruise the bottom of my foot knowing that the thickness of this sole, even with it's flexibility, has enough protection.
Of course since I live in North Dakota my first opportunity to actually run in them landed on an evening of -1F temps and a fresh inch of fluffy snow. Much to my relief my feet stayed warm & dry during the entire run. Now, running thru drifts or sidewalks covered in over 5inches of snow isn't an uncommon occurrence for me so I am curious to see how well the midfoot-to-forefoot seal (pictured above) will function in those conditions, but I haven't had the chance to test that yet.
I plan on keeping an ongoing review of the Smooth RunAmoc so that the rest of you can get a feel for how quickly they'll wear and what terrain or conditions they are the most functional in. This is just the start. It's looking promising so far. :)