Kickstarter Alert: Skinners—Lose the Shoes

Apparel Kickstarter Reviews
Image: Skinners Technologies

Whether you’re into barefoot running, or need super-portable shoes for travel, or enjoy kicking off your shoes at work, you might enjoy a pair of Skinners.

Skinners are like outdoor socks: they’re short, ankle-length socks with a rubbery coating, making them something in between socks and shoes. The press material says it’s a “dual coating of durable anti-abrasive polymer made from the finest Swedish materials”—basically it looks and feels kind of like those recycled-tire rubber playground surfaces. The sock portion has those silver antibacterial yarns to combat odor. And if they get dirty? Toss them in the washer.

Skinners are currently on Kickstarter, where they’ve overfunded by a huge margin within the first week and a half. The pledge level is $35 for a pair of them (the early bird slots sold out very quickly), with additional pledge levels for multiple pairs.

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.

I was sent a sample pair to try out—I wore them around the house a bit, and then wore them on a walk with my kids to see how they felt on sidewalks. Indoors, I have a pair of house slippers that I usually wear, but I’ll also go with bare feet or sock feet, depending on the weather. The Skinners definitely feel closer to wearing just socks than slippers, though with grippy soles.

Yep—looks like I’m walking around outside in my socks. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Outside, the Skinners were an interesting experience. The closest thing to it is probably my Evo running shoes, which are minimal shoes designed for “barefoot” running. I could really feel the surfaces you’re walking on—for instance, when walking across those yellow bumps that indicate the edge of a curb, I felt every bump. While the surface does protect you from scraping up your feet while walking outside, it would still hurt if you stepped down hard on a rock—again, similar to wearing barefoot shoes.

The Skinners, however, are much more flexible than any of the barefoot shoes that I’ve worn. The interior is seamless, so it has the comfort of wearing a sock. It felt a little strange to be walking around outside with socks on, but I think it’s a feeling I could get used to. For me, they’d be limited to summer use mostly, because I live in Portland, and I don’t think I’d want to walk through a puddle in them. I have wide feet, and the Skinners are a little narrower than I’d prefer; while I can wiggle my toes around in my cotton socks, the rubberized sole stretches a little less, so I probably need a larger size.

The Skinners are certainly popular: the Kickstarter campaign has taken off and there’s still a month left to go. Part of the reason is the number of different reasons you might have for wearing them and their ultra-portability. You can just roll them up and tuck them in a pocket for any time you need a pair of extra shoes: when you go skating, after a long hike, or just to wear around the office. Probably the biggest limiting factor is simply how it looks (and whether you care). To paraphrase Henry Ford, you can get them in any color you want, as long as it’s black: the logo can come in a variety of colors, but the sock and sole are black.

For more about Skinners, check out the Kickstarter page.

Disclosure: I received a sample pair for review.

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