More Minimalist Running With Skele-Toes Amp Barefoot Shoes

Geek Culture

Photo by Russ Neumeier

Part of the joy of being a GeekDad is finding things that both you and your kids can enjoy doing together. For my youngest and I, that common joy is running. We’ve run a few 5K races together over the past couple years, and when Fila asked us to review the Skele-Toes Amp, we jumped at the chance to check out this running shoe technology.

Fila’s Skele-Toes Amp is their entrance into the minimalist running shoe market. The shoes have four spots for your toes – allowing for your two smallest toes to fill one spot. Improving over the original Skele-Toes (which were not for running), the new line offers a minimalist running experience with cushioning in a lightweight shoe.

My daughter took to her shoes immediately – choosing to wear them as casual shoes to school and for gym class for things like basketball and soccer. In her words the shoes are “cool,” and the toes and bright-pink color drew lots of attention from her class-mates. They’ve asked where they can get a pair and they’ve wondered how they feel.

I’ve used my pair as a mix of running shoes and quick-throw-on-a-pair to run errands. I even played laser tag in them once without issue. My running experience with them has been about six times on runs ranging from two to five miles.

Photo by Russ Neumeier

The running experience has been mixed. I’m a mid-foot to fore-foot striker when it comes to running so I didn’t have the adjustment to changes in running gait that some have experienced if they typically heel-strike when they run. I did notice that my gait changed slightly and look forward to running in them longer than five miles.

What made the running experience mixed?

On the positive side:

  • A week and a half ago, I ran a 4-mile run in my standard running shoes on a flat track. At the 3.5 mile mark my IT band started letting me know to bring the run to an end. Last week, I ran a 5-mile course in the Skele-Toes that was a part track and part road with hills. My IT band never once complained.
  • I’ve used the Skele-toes Amps on a variety of surfaces – dreadmill (not a typo), running track, asphalt road and trail. The flexible sole isn’t as noticeable on the flat surfaces, but it is noticeable on a trail or a road with gravel or small debris. You feel the pebbles, the roots, the sticks and the ruts. That was good for helping concentrate on the terrain, and the shoes flexed to the terrain.

On the downside:

  • Blisters. In three years of running, I have never had blisters at all until I ran in the Skele-Toes Amp. The first run I went out without socks (as these shoes require toe-socks) and within a mile had a hot spot and by the second mile had blisters on the arch of each of my feet. Using toe-socks has helped prevent blisters; however, on my most recent 5-mile run, a hot-spot started forming on one of my arches toward the end of the run.
  • The design of the shoe allows water to more easily seep into the shoes than a standard running shoe. I can run through a puddle or wet grass and my standard running shoe would keep my feet dry; running with the Skele-toes Amps in similar environments results in soggy toes.

Overall, the Skele-Toes Amps are surprisingly easy to slip on. You need some slight maneuvering to get your toes into place but not as much as I anticipated. My favorite aspects of the shoes are the laces – you pull the elastic tight and are ready to go. At the end of the run, it’s a quick button press to loosen the lacing. Also, with elastic I haven’t found my foot going numb like my standard running shoes if I accidentally tie the laces too tight. As a bonus, the shoes are machine washable.

My running regimen has suffered from work/life business the past few months and I’ve not run the number of times or distance I like to in a given week. I do look forward to keeping the Skele-Toes in my running routine and seeing how they perform over longer distances like a half-marathon.

Wired: easy to slip on, machine washable, cushioned-yet-minimalist running shoe design

Tired: requires toe socks, more prone to blisters, and soggy toes while running in damp conditions



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