The world’s love affair with barefoot running shows little sign of abating, with Nike and New Balance this week announcing new shoe lines to try and grab a slice of the market dominated by Vibrams.
Both companies already have previous offerings in this market, with Nike’s existing free-running/parkour shoes being unveiled to great acclaim, and New Balance’s trail running shoes widely recognised as market leaders.
New Balance’s Hi Rez shoes fit nicely into the company’s newly introduced Minumus range, designed to appeal to minimalist runners – as it is so flexible you can literally roll it up and shove it in your pocket. The science behind the shoes is detailed in several fascinating article on the Minimus website, showing the sheer amount of work and investment that has gone into this range – a real labour of love.
The Hi Rez weigh in at a sprightly 3.9 ounces, compared to the 12 ounces of a standard shoe. This is mainly due to New Balance ditching the single block of foam that usually make up the sole, instead crafting one from 42 independent rubber pods that flex in closer union with the foot. They do of course look absolutely beautiful, and should be hitting the shelves from mid-April in the States for around $120, with an EU launch soon after.
Nike’s Free Run 2 iD shoes are described by the company as delivering the “natural-motion benefits of running barefoot” with a super-flexible yet supportive midsole and an ultra-light upper. The minimalist design helps strengthen the foot and ankle by working core muscles that aren’t activated in conventional running shoes, while multiple color options let you boast personal style.
The shoes can also be customised on the company’s website to any colour scheme you wish (we had fun making a lurid yellow/black wasp theme) and are available now to purchase for $135 online, with an EU launch soon.
The company has also introduced a special Yoga/Pilates shoe, the Nike Studio Wrap, designed to, “give women an elevated workout in the studio that takes them back to their daily lives in style”. Resembling a roll of bandages at first glance, (although available for the pricely sum of £95!), the shoes go against the standard rule that the two disciplines are usually strictly practiced without shoes, but Nike argues that our bare feet lack proper traction, not to mention support, so it created a modular shoe that morphs from a washable neoprene wrap into a shoe for trekking home from the studio.
All three shoes have us chomping at the bit to try a bit of barefoot running – what do you think? Let us know in the comments below…