Welcome to the Maple Grove Barefoot Guy!
For the latest in barefoot and minimalist running advice, news, and product reviews, subscribe or follow me at one of the links below! Cheers citizens!
Monday, September 12, 2011
Soft Star Moc3 Review
I rarely use overly strong language when I do shoe reviews. I don't want to use words like "ultimate", and "best" because I'm worried that the next shoe I try will become "the best". And then the next one will again be the best, and so on. Then you start sounding like a sports commentator. I think doing that takes away your credibility. It also makes you one step closer to a wardrobe like Keyshawn Johnson's.
Although I do appreciate his effort to wear EVERY pattern.
But occasionally I feel compelled to make a call. Here's my call for the Moc3. This will be the BEST MINIMAL SHOE OF 2011! End of review...
It's hard to be a swag ninja unless you have ninja shoes. Now I have them. And that's really a good descriptor of these things. They remind me of those booties that ninjas wear.
Silent but deadly marshmallow warrior! If I was attacked by this guy, I would be torn as to whether to run from him or give him a big hug.
Anyway, as you can tell from the fact that these shoes are literally collapsing inward on themselves, there's not much to them. As with the Runamoc by the same brand, there is absolutely no structure in the shoe's upper. In fact, the only thing that holds the shoe to your foot is a bit of elastic around the collar, and the will of the shoe gods. In that respect, they are actually better described as slippers rather than shoes.
This lack of material throughout the product is what makes these things great. There is nothing to interfere with the natural function of your foot. This is the way all minimal shoes ought to be.
In terms of materials used, the upper is comprised of the same ventilated leather used on all of their running shoes. The interior of the shoe is made entirely of a material called Breath-o-prene, which is supposed to assist in ventilation. I certainly agree with that. I usually can't stand to wear a closed-toe shoe during the summer, but I tolerated these shoes very well. My foot seemed to stay dry and relatively cool throughout my test runs.
Soft Star continues the ninja thing on the bottom of the shoe, with an outsole inspired by a Japanese tabi sock. The soling material is their traditional 2mm Vibram Cherry. However, instead of extending across the entire bottom of the shoe, it only covers the areas where your foot generally makes contact with the ground. The remainder of the bottom is called T-Rex material, and is used on the bottoms of some of Soft Star's other moccasins.
This is the first closed-toe shoe available where the soling material is the shape of your foot rather than the shape of the shoe. Seems like a simple concept. Because the sole is the shape of your foot rather than the shape of the shoe, it better conforms to your foot during a run. That's why Vibram Fivefingers usually one-up closed-toe shoes in the groundfeel department. That shape combined with its 2mm thickness gave the Moc3 crazy, epic groundfeel. There is no other minimal running shoe on the market currently that can match it. Let me put it this way. During my test runs I actually found myself enjoying them more than I did the barefoot portions of the same run. It's very, very rarely that I say that. They are THAT good people.
Of course, this epic groundfeel also means that the Moc3 isn't going to be the shoe for every person or every condition. I will be using them as my go-to minimal shoe for all places and conditions, hands down. But I also prefer to go barefoot almost anywhere. On the other hand, for those people who aren't as much of a barefoot connoisseur, I think this shoe will not have enough protection. If you're used to running in a traditional minimal shoe, wearing the Moc3 is going to feel like a sock for you. It also won't provide much more than abrasion protection on rough trails. I found myself having to be extra careful while going over large rocks and debris.
I'm a little hard on these shoes. But I only beat them because I love them!
This picture shows one of my worries with these shoes. As you can see, the podded sole isn't the only part of the shoe that makes contact with the ground. You'll find that the T-Rex material as well as the leather upper will as well on occasion. Other bloggers have had success running significant distances in these without seeing any wear. But all Soft Star shoes tend to wear along the seam where the upper meets the soling material. Now Soft Star shoes are all still very durable, and you can expect to get hundreds of miles on them. However, since the seam in this shoe is more exposed, I expect them to wear a lot faster. If you run a lot of trails that is. I would suspect that road running will not damage them much, if at all.
Another issues I have is fit. As you can see from the above shot, the Moc3 is the narrowest of all of Soft Stars running line-up. It also has the smallest toebox. I don't consider myself to have particularly wide feet, and I found my Moc3s to fit a bit snug. Of course, as with other Soft Star shoes, the leather on the Moc3 flexed nicely while running. So the snug fit was not an issue during running for me. But I suspect that a person with a wider foot will have some problems.
I also found the lack of available sizes a bit problematic. As of this moment the Moc3 is only available in whole sizes. In my experience with Soft Star, I am in-between sizes. Thus my 10A Dash shoes are a little too short, and my 11A Moc3s are a little too long.
This was really only an issue when I got the shoes wet. Despite the proported wicking capabilities of the Breath-o-prene, like all such material...once it's soaked it's done. I didn't heed the warnings on the company website to avoid running through open water, and wound up with some soggy shoes. And once they got soaked, they felt exactly like a pair of loose fitting, wet socks. I hate that feeling! After becoming soaked, they also took several days to dry. Not cool for someone looking for an every day trainer. It also gives me concern about whether these would make good winter shoes.
BUT...I do want to emphasize that any fit issues that I had were vastly outweighed by the incredible "ninja-ness" of these shoes. I felt like a ninja running in these things, and that's what I think minimal running should feel like. This is perhaps the first shoe that has given me that feeling. Soft Star has certainly hit another home run here, and in my opinion completely blown their other shoes out of the water. I highly recommend giving them a try.
Happy ninja running citizens!