Admit it you're going to get some odd looks and comments when wearing these so are they worth the fuss? The look of Zemgear's Ninja Split Toe footwear will appeal to some and put others off but after a couple of weeks of regular use I really like them.
Manufacturers DescriptionUltimate everyday foot agility and lateral balance. The separation of the big toe from the 4 balancing digits delivers complete flexibility & grip-ability for your foot. The first choice of barefoot enthusiasts, runners and athletes itís preferred for all activities requiring lateral movements, forward propulsion and traction. Upper materials warmed by body heat expand and mold around the foot for a unique fit. Avg. weight: 2.2 oz
- Maximal foot agility creates uncompromised barefoot experience
- Strengthens the natural arch and re-conditions feet
- Proprioception allows data to travel faster from feet to brain
- Improves balance, helps manage vertigo and prevent fall injuries
- Barefoot activities and exercise can help manage and mitigate stress and body fatigue
- Split toe pattern for ultimate "grip-ability" and true barefoot feel
- Form fitting 4-way stretch upper accommodates multiple widths and foot shapes
- Breathable & drainable upper fabric protects from elements
- Patented high-frequency tech bands grant lateral stabilityvTraction lug outsole protects while enhancing your barefoot sensation
Users ReviewSince the release of Michael McDougall's book "Born to Run", Barefoot running has rapidly gained popularity throughout the world. Now more and more shoe manufacturers are releasing footwear designed to make the experience as close to being barefoot as possible. Tabi style shoes & socks have been used for many years in Japan as part of traditional dress and for martial arts, in some areas they are still the staple footwear for workers & labourers. The separation of the toes allows you to drive from the big toe whilst leaving the other 4 for balancing and gripping.
My first impression when trying on the Split Toes was that the foot bed didn't fit my foot correctly, the thin sole felt unusual and almost as if my foot was sliding off of the edge. After an hour or so of use this feeling had vanished the shoes had literally moulded themselves to my feet. The toes are slightly too pointed for me but this didn't detract from their use. The lateral stability bands are very visible and and you can see the lines on your foot when you take the shoes off but they're not noticeable when you're wearing them.
Now I'm not much of a runner and what I really wanted was something to wear in the woods and around camp that would allow me to feel the ground better than shoes. I became a convert of lightweight fell running shoes several years ago and really only wear boots now it the terrain is more extreme, such as tackling scree slopes on hills or in poor weather. Walking in barefoot running shoes does take some getting used to, the normal heel strike first tends to vanish I found myself automatically stepping first on the ball of my foot or the side and rolling forwards, this became more natural with use and as my feet and legs adjust to the slightly different walking style. Note of warning if you're new to bare foot walking/running it's best to take it slightly slower as I know of several people that have had tendon injuries by pushing too much too quickly, the design of modern trainers and shoes has taught us to talk heel first which isn't necessarily how are bodies have been designed.
Using the split toes in the woods became quite pleasurable, the soles are just thick enough to take the sharpness out of stones and sticks but they still allow you to feel the ground, I found my feet were working around the ground rather than crashing over it all of the time, I was using my toes to give grip rather than relying on the tread. I am interested to see how they fair on muddy, slippery conditions or going down hill as there is very little in the way of tread, more of a textured base.
The uppers seem to be made of a neoprene material that does protect your foot although it does allow some moisture in, they're quick drying but I'd imagine that spending an entire day in damp conditions may become wearing. Towards the end of the day I did start getting cold toes so I changed into shoes but it was with reluctance rather than relief.
I've worn the shoes for several days since, on hard ground my feet were getting tired more quickly although I'm sure my feet will "harden up" with increased use.
OverallThey look "different" and you will get a variety of comments although I have found that many people were showing interest rather than scorn. The more I wear them the more I like them, they're comfortable although long use on hard ground will get wearing. For the price though they're a good buy if you're interested or thinking about getting into barefoot running.
Fit for Purpose - 4/5
Versatility - 4/5
Durability - 4/5
Value for money - 5/5
Overall - 4/5