Different in how they look…in how they are designed…in how they work…and in how they’re being marketed. But let’s leave that for the end of the article and get on with the analysis.
Skora has two different models – the Form & the Base. For this review, I chose to test the Skora Base (SB) as I was intrigued by the criss-cross velcro fastener. In a future review, I will be looking at the Skora Form – which has just been introduced for women.
- Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.
At first glance, this thickness might be enough to put off some minimalist running purists. Sure, it’s thinner than the Reebok Real Flex or a pair of Nike Frees, but for a shoe that promises minimal cushioning and a “natural” feel, the Skora Base is 2-3 x thicker than the ultra-thin Sockwa G2.
Note – before you banish Skora to the land of faux-minimalist sneakers, you need to slap a pair on your feet and go for a jog through the shoe store. Seriously, don’t stress about the thickness – If we’re going to get picky about sole thickness, I know a bunch of true barefoot runners who won’t even put up with the thinnest pair of Vibrams due to the loss in proprioception.
- Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.
The proprioception is superior to any of the big name manufacturers I have worn (Nike, Reebok, New Balance, etc) but not as good as it’s thinner-soled cousins (Sockwa, Vivo, etc). The high density rubber outsole (and the EVA midsole) are denser than industry standard improving ground feel. In short, the lack of squishiness improves proprioception.
- Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…
This is where Skora really separates itself from the pack.
Unlike some minimalist shoes which basically slap some rubber onto the bottom of a polyester sock, the Skora engineers have created an aysmmetric last shape with a curved bottom profile. And it’s that curved outsole which is supposed to mimic the natural foot shape and encourage a natural medial to lateral rolling motion which makes the Skora truly unique.
Unlike any other minimalist shoe that I have ever worn, the Skora Base actually makes you run naturally. No more falling back into old patterns of heel striking. The SBs will have you landing midfoot and absorbing impact as your feet were originally designed.
And while that may not be a huge deal for someone (me) who has spent months re-training their neuro-muscular system and suffering though freakishly tight calves and the converted their bodies to a minimalist style of running, it is a gigantic deal for someone who wants to start running ala barefoot put has spent years running heel-toe.
For this one feature alone, I can’t say enough good things about Skora.
Note – in addition to the curved outsole, the SBs have a nice wide toe box and larger ball girth volume designed to let my Fred Flintstone-esque feet move as they should.
- Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?
At 9.1 oz, the Skora is on the heavy end of the minimalist shoe market, but as that weight comes mainly from the awesome sole design, I am okay with the extra 2-3 oz of weight.