@Skorarunning FIT shoe review: Between minimalism and maximalism is just-rightism #FITfriday

It seems to me that running shoes are like a lot of other things we put on our bodies: they’re subject to trends. For instance, I recently discovered that men’s ties have drastically reduced in width this last season. I now have a few in the new “right” size, but a closet full of “too wide” ties – including a few purchased just last year.

It’s true that I discovered “minimalism” in running shoes after reading the 2009 book “Born to Run.” Initially a niche, minimalism widened to a chasm filled by the major shoe companies. Conversely, I’m not sure when maximalism crept into my consciousness – some time early last year I’d say. The max-cushion movement has gone mainstream in the last few months – with the major shoe companies looking to cash in on the latest trend (with some offerings better described as max-marketing than as max-cushioned, I’d say).

Through all this, a few shoe companies have stayed trend-proof and true to their mission. Skora running shoes are one of this small group – as they say, designed by runners, for runners. As a runner, I appreciate that! I didn’t seek out minimal shoes as an end – they were a means to an end: allowing me to run the way my body was designed. To my way of thinking, the new Skora FIT is the best expression of that I’ve run across so far (can’t. resist. pun.).

What do I look for in a shoe?

  1. Zero-drop. Allows for a natural foot strike.
  2. Anatomical. An object that goes on your foot should be foot-shaped.
  3. Roomy toe-box. Your toes should splay as you run. When they can’t move, or worse are pinched together, pain ensues.
  4. A locked-in midfoot and heel. If your foot is moving around in this part of the shoe, hello blisters.
  5. Laces. This is really 4a. I have found a few shoes that worked for me that relied on elasticity and/or Velcro closures (“Aww, he got the Velcros…”), but nothing compares to laces when it comes to customizing your fit.
  6. Goldilocks cushioning. On pavement, I need something. Too little can be torture at 20+ miles. Too much means my foot can’t tell my brain what’s going on down there. Oh, and weight. Light = fast.
  7. Value. There’s a happy medium here. I’ve tried poorly made shoes from other companies that checked some of these boxes that didn’t make it to 100 miles. I’m willing to pay for quality design, materials, and construction when it means I’m going to get more wear out of a shoe.
  8. It should cover your foot. Duh, right? Well, “I don’t always wear shoes, but when I do, ….” Sandals? No, thanks.
  9. It should look cool. I consider myself a function-over-form guy, but I love it when I don’t have to choose. I’ve owned a few pairs of shoes that I would prefer to only run in at night, if you know what I mean.
  10. Gestalt. The whole should be more than the sum of its parts. A shoe that is there, but not there. Om.

If I scored the shoes I’ve run in over the last 5 years in these categories, I’m sure the FIT would have the highest score. Zero-drop? Check. Roomy toe box? Check. The light, stretchy upper really contributes to that:

20140411_075318

That’s my hand. My toes aren’t that flexible. However, they are quite long…

Locked-in midfoot/heel/laces? Check. I love asymmetric lacing. Traditional lacing bugs some folks on the top of their foot – but when you sweep it off to the side it takes pressure off that area. Just lacing these shoes up is a joy. The combination of the stretchy upper and the asymmetric lacing makes it super easy to get a “Goldilocks” fit. If you’ve ever taken off on a run and felt like you laced up too tight or too loose, you know what I’m talking about. That is not going to happen with the FIT:

CAM00044-1

Goldilocks cushioning? Check. I think the FIT is “just right.”  The FIT borrows some of my favorite things from Skora’s other models – one of these being the R01 “platform” (or last, if you prefer) which is like Skora’s BASE and FORM. It combines a rubber outsole with compression molded EVA foam midsole. An extra bit of cushioning is found in the Ortholite insoles. This insole is slightly thicker than those found in Skora’s other offerings. The insole from FORM is on the left in the picture, FIT on the right.

20140411_075522

That FORM insole has roughly the same number of miles on the shoe it lives in – perhaps even less.

Also, the reverse dimpling on the insole is a little more pronounced than other models – I like it – it’s stimulating in a good way when you put the shoe on but not at all intrusive:

20140411_075424

You can actually make them out in the above photo. This next photo, for comparison, is an insole from FORM:

20140411_075450

The reverse dimpling is there – but smaller.

Value? Check. The FIT is probably the best value in Skora’s lineup. My pair have 200+ miles on the odometer already and there are zero durability issues despite virtually all of those miles being on the pavement. As you can see, the high-abrasion rubber on the outsole is holding up really well:

20140411_075244 20140411_075214

I can’t find anything wrong with the material on the upper or any of the seams. I would be shocked if this shoe didn’t push past 1000 miles. Mille Miglia! They should make it in Ferrari red and yellow! The FIT’s price point stays out of the 3 figure range as well.

Cool? Check. If you don’t think the FIT is a cool-looking shoe, I can’t help you. The black 3D-printing on the upper is functional (more support where it’s darker, more flexibility where it’s lighter) and gives the shoe a really unique look:

20140411_075200 20140411_075147

Gestalt? Ja! My perfect shoe is a shoe I’m not thinking about while I’m running in it. It should disappear. Even when I’m on pavement I want to be able to close my eyes and feel like I’m running barefoot. No shoe is that good, but the FIT is just a great combination of all of the qualities I look for in a shoe. I’ve done speedwork in the FIT on a small track without blistering. I’ve taken it on multiple pavement long runs. I went back and looked at my mileage log today. (Umm, I might track mileage on each shoe on a spreadsheet with weekly, monthly and annual mileage totals – message me if you share my sickness and want my excel file). Since receiving the FIT, I’ve run in it 19 times, with just 3 runs in all other shoes. I like it so well I’m planning on running the Boston Marathon in it. It doesn’t hurt that “Orange is the new yellow” at Boston this year! I would probably prefer the lighter PHASE or CORE for a shorter distance like a 5k or 10k, but I think it’s FIT for half and full marathons.

Here’s a few action photos of me and my friend John (not wearing the orange FITs – yet…) running a 10+ mile segment of the One Run For Boston cross-country relay last week:

1457670_417977645004717_1387055078386011627_n 1610012_417977681671380_3332103484058150425_n untitled untitled2

I’m a fan of the FIT. If you’re thinking about trying a pair of Skora shoes, this is the model I’d try first.

 

Check out the FIT – follow the link by clicking on the banner to the right, or:

http://www.Facebook.com/skorarunning

http://www.Twitter.com/skoraRunning

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21 comments on “@Skorarunning FIT shoe review: Between minimalism and maximalism is just-rightism #FITfriday

  1. bryanew710 says:

    Can’t wait to try these out!

  2. Mike Graber says:

    Did you find that the FIT was *true-to-size* ?

  3. Michael Busch says:

    A couple of questions: (1) Are there any local dealers in Colorado that you know of?, (2) Are there any online retailers who aren’t going to charge for shipping, allow returns on shoes that have been worn, and give a discount?
    When I try to order on the site, I get the 25% discount, but of course that drops the price below the Free Shipping amount. I have to give them to much personal information to find out how much shipping costs.
    Basically, I don’t want to risk ordering and not liking them, and having more shoes in my “closet” that I am unable to wear. I buy too many shoes to make many more mistakes like I recently did with Skechers (they just didn’t work for me, but I was unable to return them).
    They do sound intriguing. I share your philosophy on going “minimal” to achieve a goal, not for the trend. They just work for me. I mostly wear Viratta’s, Kinvara’s, Merrell Bare Access 3’s, and Newton Energy NR’s.
    Great review. I really want to try these shoes, but I am afraid of the risk that they won’t work out.

    • Tad says:

      I don’t have an immediate answer for you – but I promise to back to you ASAP!

      • Tad says:

        I checked on local dealers – none at this time in CO. As to the second question, as Meat Loaf would say, “Two out of three ain’t bad.” I’m no rocket surgeon, but I’m not aware of any online retailer that can do all 3 of those on the FIT.

      • Michael Busch says:

        Thanks for the response(s) Tad. First though, GOOD LUCK at Boston! I ran it twice and it was truly a great race. Very humbling to be around such great runners.
        As to the Skora’s: They look promising, but if they can’t find a way for people to try them without taking such a high risk, and if they can’t make them available at either a local store, or a good online retailer, then I fear they are not setting the company up for success.
        I requested to be an Ambassador, but they said that didn’t make sense if I hadn’t tried the shoes. OK, that makes sense, but for someone like me who lives near Boulder, deals with a lot of runners, and buys a LOT of shoes, how about finding a way to get shoes in my hands with no risk so I can get the opportunity to find out if I love them, and then add me as an Ambassador? The market is to competitive to expect people to go out of their way and take high risk.
        I hoped that Skora would bite and at least say something like “hey, you buy a lot of shoes and you run a lot, how about you buy a pair of shoes from us and wear them. If you don’t like them, we will take them back and refund your money.” I mean if they are confident of their product, and given that they don’t do this for every customer, how about a gesture of confidence and good faith?
        Anyway, in answer to your Meat Loaf comment. Actually, Runningwarehouse.com offers a discount, free shipping (both ways) and 90 days to return worn shoes for exchange for any other pair of shoes you might want, or store credit. That seems to be 3 out of 3 to me.
        I guess Skora’s are just not in my future. To bad, I really am continually in search of great shoes.

  4. Michael Busch says:

    Following up, I see you meant no Skora online retailer offers 3 out of 3. But, again, that just reinforces my point. How about they get them into runningwarehouse? Then I will try them for sure.

    • bryanew710 says:

      Skora’s pretty much going with a direct sales model, as far as I know. Good luck ever seeing them at Running Warehouse.

      • Michael Busch says:

        I remember another interesting shoe company a few years ago (can’t recall the name). They went with the same model – “our shoes are great, we don’t have to accommodate our customers, they will come to us”. In all fairness, they didn’t go out of business, but they were purchased by another company. I don’t care if runningwarehouse carries them, in fact I would rather by direct from Skora. I just want to be able to buy them, run in them, and return if they don’t work out. That is how you get new customers. They give free shoes to Ambassadors, but they already love the shoes so that sales model seems flawed to me. Sure the Ambassadors review might attract people to purchase, but so would happy customers imbedded in running communities, standing at the start line of races, etc.

  5. bryanew710 says:

    I can kind of see where you’re coming from, but it’s economically unrealistic for a small company to basically eat shoes that they can’t sell because they’ve been pre-worn. I’m kind of surprised you’d even think otherwise.

    I could be wrong, but…

    • Michael Busch says:

      I respectfully disagree with your economic premise. In fact, this is what start up capital is for. Most new businesses run in the red until they can reach a point of market penetration to become profitable. What I am suggesting is an investment in early adopters to increase market share during the start up phase. Skora doesn’t seem to have a problem giving away shoes to their Ambassadors on the premise that this will increase sales thru positive reviews in blogs. What is the difference between that, and selling me a pair with a return if worn policy on the premise that if I love them I will tell “all my friends”? In fact, in my scenario they will sell a large percentage of shoes with minimal returns (assuming the shoes are as good as they say). In the Ambassador scenario, none of the shoes will ever be paid for. In that case Skora is strictly relying on the premise of increased market share (revenues) thru “blog of mouth”. Anyway, enough said here, I am going to bow out of this thread – I guess Skora just doesn’t want my business. I wish them good luck and truly hope they succeed, but it won’t be thru me taking a risk on their product.

      • Tad says:

        Michael, thanks for the Boston well wishes! I’m excited, humbled, and saddened, all at once to be participating in that great race. While I am a biased ambassador, I don’t speak for the company. From what I read, Skora is trying to get on the “shoe wall” at various brick and mortar retailers around the country with some success. If they establish a foothold in CO, I’ll let you know. Like you, I have tried a LOT of minimal shoes over the last 5 years (see my Brief History of Shoes post). Typically I’ll try a shoe on in the store. If that’s not possible (i.e. online only) I’ll find out the manufacturer’s recommendation on size. If it’s not “true to size” I’ll have them ship out two pairs – the plus pair and the minus pair. Either way, I usually can tell with a “carpet test” if they are worth keeping (or buying if I’m in the store) or not. Only twice have I ever determined that a pair of shoes was so horrible I couldn’t run in them any more after wearing on pavement. Once, I got my money back (Skechers – and tried a different model later with success); the other time, no satisfaction (Newton). The generous return policy at runningwarehouse must work for them (I have returned, but have not returned worn shoes to them) – but I can’t speak from an insider’s perspective to the economics of a worn vs. a no-wear return policy and you and Bryan have already aired both sides of that. I do hope you get a chance to try Skoras at some point – they clear shoes out at the end of each season and hopefully you’ll find what you’re looking for in your size. I’ve also found their shoes discounted on Amazon – I bought a shoe that wasn’t available otherwise at the time.

  6. Spyros says:

    Is the upper breathable? Judging from the photos, the 3D printing might prevent air pass through.

    • Tad says:

      Very much so. It’s mesh/fabric. I agree that in the exact spots where the 3D printing media is, there probably won’t be airflow through the printing media, but there isn’t any major area on the whole upper where the printing totally occludes the breathable mesh. The dots are well-spaced.

      • bryanew710 says:

        I don’t find them to be as breathable as the Phase, but that might be due to the fact that they fit a little more close to the skin, too.

  7. laurie says:

    the clymb has this shoe on sale, about half off, right now. i was just looking to see how true the fit was on reviews, but, since everyone here seems to want them. guess i will buy.

    • Tad says:

      Laurie, I removed your link after checking it out since the FIT isn’t one of the SKORA shoes that’s on sale. I do think the FIT is true to size.

      • Laurie says:

        np, I apologize for putting a link, promise i am not affiliate or trying to sell anything. I only happened upon your site and such good reviews on the brand that, well, hope the pair I picked are as nice. Thanks, Laurie

      • Tad says:

        No apologies necessary! I hope you’ll be happy with whichever model you bought. Skora doesn’t make a shoe I don’t love to run in!

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