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April 27, 2010

Soft Star RunAmoc Now Available!

If you’ve been following along here for the past month or two, this isn’t so much an announcement as it is an update – but Soft Star's RunAmoc is officially available as of today from the company website.

Soft Star RunAmoc; black perforated leather with street outsole

Links are below – but first, a few follow-up observations …

* The name is RunAmoc! Just like I wanted! I love getting my way sometimes.

* More than any other minimalist shoe I’ve worn, these mocs have a very natural feel to them – I’ve occasionally described it to friends as “tribal” or “native”. There are two pieces of leather or suede held together with a single lace, sitting atop a thin, flat platform; you get the sense that American Indians or indigenous people of nearly every continent might have worn something very much like this at some point. (Sure, the Apaches or Navajos probably didn’t have access to Vibram outsoles – but it’s a simple design with universal utility.) If you didn’t know better, you’d have no idea how much trial, error, and revision was involved with making the finished product.

* Price point for these (as of this posting) is $87. It was the last element of the product launch to fall into place, and by far the one that caused the most discussion, research, and thoughtful consideration on the part of the company.

Basically, the factors involved were these: Soft Star’s not a big corporation looking for huge profit margins – they mainly want to make a nice, high quality product that is as affordable as possible while still sustaining the business and providing for their handful of employees. However, their hand-made products also carry some very unique pricing issues that larger companies don’t have to deal with, such as custom orders (materials, colors, outsoles, accents), specialty sizing (including working from tracings and individual foot measurements at times), and keeping 100% of their materials and construction in the USA.

All of that stuff adds value to the product – and in my opinion, to the whole company – but it comes at a price. The fact that they’ve taken all this into account and still offer a price point that’s similar to a pair of Vibrams is pretty impressive.

* Of course, any comparison to Vibrams has to include durability, and that’s the aspect of the RunAmoc I’m still investigating. I currently have almost 200 miles on my trail soles, and there’s some visible wear in the high-impact areas, but not enough to lose traction yet. Will they last 300 miles? 500? More? I’m not sure yet … but I’ll keep posting updates here as warranted.

Trail outsole after approximately 200 miles; click to enlarge

* Since I’ve already covered much of the information that would be included with an “official” review, for the time being I’ll just refer you to a couple of prior posts for more information: This one explains the product development process, and this one introduces the RunAmoc with perforated leather and a street outsole.

So here are your links: the Soft Star RunAmoc is available in black perforated leather, red perforated leather, or brown suede. Currently the perforated models (officially called RunAmoc Lite) only come in those two colors, but the suede model can be customized in any color. All of those styles can be ordered with either a 2mm street outsole, or extra grippy 5mm trail sole. Check them out, and contact me (in the comments box below) or the company via e-mail if you have any questions. Then go run amuck!


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The BIG E 4/28/10, 3:51 AM  
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The BIG E 4/28/10, 3:53 AM  

I have been intrigued for a while. As much as I love my 5fingers getting them on and off is such a pain for me. My little toe is married to my 4th and it some times takes 10+ minutes to get them on. As much as I love barefoot running it is not feasible very often. So today I will order a pair of RunAmocs. I'm going to try the 2mm. It will be nice here in the North East so I'm going to wait until Star opens and have them sent Next day. I'll give you guys an update ASAP.

Anonymous,  4/28/10, 6:56 AM  

I'm close to pulling the trigger on these, but can't decide between the 2mm vs. 5mm outsole. My reference point for comparison would be my Vibram Five Finger KSO, which I've had for almost 6 months. How do the 2mm vs. 5mm compare to the KSO in terms of ground feel and protection?


Donald 4/28/10, 8:20 AM  

Big E - Awesome. Definitely post an update here whenever you'd like.

Anon - The 5mm outsole is most similar to the KSO for ground feel. 2mm is very similar to a Feelmax shoe if you've worn any of those.

Francis 4/28/10, 3:12 PM  

I'll probably pick up a pair soon, for running and occasional casual wear. Still unsure about what material to get, though. I'm thinking either suede or the smooth leather, with custom colors.

Was the suede appreciable warmer than the vented leather? Would the smooth leather help a lot with the wetness issue?

Donald 4/28/10, 3:37 PM  

Francis - yes, suede is definitely warmer than the perforated leather. Perf leather dries much more easily, though. The suede has light water resistance, but once it gets saturated it takes a very long time (like 1-2 days) to dry completely.

For casual wear, I'd recommend the suede. If you're going to be running in the rain or through puddles and across streams, go with the perforated.

Francis 4/28/10, 11:37 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Francis 4/28/10, 11:38 PM  

Just placed my order. I ended up deciding on the RunAmoc SMOOTH option that they have for Design Your Own, which is non-perforated leather. I imagine it'll have the warmth of the suede with less of the sponge-like qualities. (Also, less dirt retention from the dustier trails.) I have to admit that my choice was informed a tiny bit by vanity. I didn't dig the available LITE options (black a little too plain, and my Cal Bear-ness preventing me from owning red shoes) and I didn't want to wait until the other color options opened up. Those two-toned white/black LITEs on the sample page look sweeeet though.

They don't have pics up on the site yet, apparently they'll be updating with customer creations, so you might see mine up there soon enough. :)

[Repost/Edit because of a typo and my OCDness]

The BIG E 5/1/10, 6:22 AM  

RunAMoc lite. 2mm. GREAT. first run thoughts.
*2mm is plenty. there is a leather insole that you run on. very flexible though

*trust them. because they attach at your ankle with nothing holding the bottom of your foot down there is movement.

*love the width. feel as close to barefoot as any shoe.

*easy on. unlike 5fingers you can take them off, run barefoot and put them back on quickly.

*only concern. because there is movement, as you run the bottom of the foot leaves the bottom of the sole, I'm worried about my gait.
only time will tell.

*I'm glad. I'm happy I have them. they feel great. so comfortable. after 6 miles I can say these will be my main running shoes.

Donald 5/1/10, 9:14 AM  

Big E - Awesome notes. Thanks. I notice that my heel does drift a bit inside the moc, and I tend to land slightly to the inside of the insole. It hasn't affected my normal gait, but the wear pattern inside the shoe is slightly asymmetric on the insole.

Keep me posted!

Colin,  5/3/10, 7:05 PM  

Just got a pair that I think may be too big. I was right between a 10 and 11 per the sizing chart but closer to 11 so I went with that. In general terms they are too big. when I walk or run my heel slides to the back and there is at least a half inch between my toes and the front of the sole. Walking around at first they felt floppy as well. I had a hard time with how much my foot moved in them.
I was going to exchange them but couldn't resist trying them out. They were magnificent! The extra material in the front (odd as it sounds) didn't hinder me at all. In fact I think it was a benefit. I can't explain exactly why. They performed really well even in technical downhills. Once I got used to the different feel of wearing a moccasin of this type ( I usually run in VFF's) it was an incredible running experience. A very different kind of freedom and experience than the VFF's. In any case I am stoked!

Colin,  5/3/10, 7:06 PM  

BTW I have the "Trail" sole. Excellent traction, but could be just a bit thinner.

Donald 5/3/10, 9:14 PM  

Colin - Very good points. The toe box does seem excessively roomy at first, but my foot seems to find the right spot. In my case, that was slightly inward on the heel.

Glad you're enjoying your pair. Happy running!

Anonymous,  5/4/10, 2:41 PM  

How is the breathability compared to VFF? I love my VFF but they leave my feet hot, sweaty and smelly (and the shoe too).

Donald 5/4/10, 3:11 PM  

Anon: overall breathability of the perforated styles is pretty similar to VFFs. The mocs won't dry as quickly as VFFs, but they don't retain quite as much smell either. A bit of a tradeoff, I guess.

anthony 5/22/10, 8:11 AM  

Donald, my Feelmax Kuusaa's wore a hole in their Keprotec 1mm sole within 250 miles of running on asphalt streets, concrete sidewalks, and crushed gravel lake trails. From your review, it sounds like you expect these kinds of minimalist running shoes to wear out this fast, is that true? I'm interested in trying out these Soft Stars because the Vibram sole might wear longer, but spending almost $100 on shoes that are thrown away just because the sole is worn out (while the uppers are just fine) in just a month of running seems wasteful to me. I'd happily pay to have the shoes resoled, just so I'm not clogging up the landfill.

Donald 5/22/10, 4:48 PM  

Anthony - thanks for the feedback. Just so I'm not misrepresenting Feelmax, the Kuusa outsole was upgraded for the current Niesa and Osma shoes, and it's much more durable. I put about 250 miles on my Osmas without any problem.

However, I do think the Vibram outsole on the RunAmoc will last far longer than what you described with your other pair. The question of re-soling is a good one; I'll check with Soft Star and post something here as an update.

ed 6/5/10, 6:32 PM  

Got my RunAmocs a couple of days ago and after wearing them around the house, went out for a couple of miles today. I'm trying to transition from Nike Free's because I just couldn't get off my my heels in the Free's. With the RunAmocs, I had the same concern as others about my heel drifting around in the shoe, but I'll try to get used to it. I think I need to cinch the laces tighter.

My main question is, when you run in these or other minimalist shoes, do you try to stay up on your forefoot/midfoot area -- running on the balls of your feet -- or do you land on the forefoot and then let your foot lower down to the heel?

I started off on the balls of my feet, but as my feet and calves fatigues, started lower down to the heel. By the end, I was very tempted to run just normally, because it felt restful, but I'm concerned that'll have me reverting to total heel strike.


Donald 6/6/10, 4:29 PM  

Ed -

Pure forefoot strike vs midfoot strike is a matter of preference for most minimalist runners. I tend to be a midfoot guy, and land more or less flat-footed in the mocs.

Whichever you prefer, however, there is certainly an activity tolerance that needs to be built up. As you described, once your muscles start to get fatigued, you have to think more consciously about maintaining proper form. The tendency to land on your heels will fade away eventually, but in the meantime, it's important to avoid landing on your heels simply because you're fatigued - you'll develop pain and/or injury if you do this too often.

For what it's worth, my calves were KILLING me for a few days after I ran the 50M in these mocs; it was my longest minimalist run to date, and my muscles weren't quite ready for that kind of jump in distance (from 50K to 50M) quite yet. My advice is to be patient with it, and remind yourself to stay more mentally focused than normal when you start noticing your form slipping due to fatigue.

ed 6/6/10, 5:18 PM  

Very comprehensive and helpful response, Donald. I'll follow your advice. Thanks!

shane 6/21/10, 12:54 AM  

To the guy with the sizing problem. They run a little big so if your in between best to go with the smaller size.

Nick 7/18/10, 3:35 PM  

Hello, I just got my Runamoc lites yesterday and wore them around the house a bit. It seems I am have the same issue as this guy (http://thatlinuxbox.com/blog/article.php/20100613202746477) with my toe poking up towards the end of the shoe. I went with an 11 after sending detailed measurements of my feet to Soft Star. I think 12 would prob. be too sloppy. I was wondering if the leather loosens with use and will eventually accommodate my toes better (mainly just my big toe). They feel very different than my KSOs or Osmas although I think I got spoiled with how wonderfully roomy my osma's feel..

Donald 7/19/10, 5:26 PM  

Nick: I haven't had any problems in the big toe area, but I suspect some folks might have sizing issues due to Soft Star only making whole sizes. If you're normally an 11.5 (or a big 11), the 11 might be a bit snug while the 12 is a bit roomy.

I also haven't found that the leather stretches too much after it's worn in, although it does get a bit softer.

Alan,  10/7/10, 12:46 PM  

I'm interested in these "shoes" but wonder about the protection they provide on trails. I have been running trails for 5+months in water shoes and have learned to watch where I'm going. I have to imagine the 5mm will provide more protection against rocks/stumps/acorns and the like that are hidden under leaves this time of year. Can you comment on this?

Donald 10/10/10, 2:39 PM  

Alan: I use the 5mm outsole them for all trail conditions, including a 50-mile ultra this spring. I think the mocs provide slightly more protection than Vibrams, but you still have to be careful; I use the analogy of "picking your line" on a mountain bike.

Anonymous,  12/13/10, 1:00 PM  

I'm considering Runamocs, primarily for cold-weather running. My toes freeze easily, and the Flows aren't warm enough for me anytime it gets below #) F, especially when the ground;s wet. I'd probably use them mostly on roads, and use my KSO Treks with injinis for trail running.

Since my main need for those runamocs is warmth, should I get the 5mm outsole instead? I prefer a lighter, closer to barefoot feel, but don't want to replicate the problems I've been having with numb toes with my VFFs. Thanks for any input you can provide!

Catherine M. 12/27/10, 11:23 AM  

Seasons Greetings!

I am training for my first barefoot marathon and will use the runamocs only when the temp. is freezing. When I tried them on (size 9 though I am usually a size 10) I discovered my heel was directly over a large seam. Have you suffered any blisters because of the internal seams? I am ordering a size 10 in hopes that the seam will no longer be under the back of my heel.

Thanks for your work!


Donald 12/28/10, 10:12 PM  

Catherine: I haven't had any blister problems with internal seams - maybe my Drymax socks help with this? I can't say that I've heard of this being a problem for other folks.

Good luck with your marathon!

Anonymous,  2/3/11, 11:54 AM  

They need to add a heel cup of some sort. I bought a pair of the Chocolates in November. The leather on the heels is floppy and does not stay up especially when it gets wet. I wore holes in both heels after 2.5 months and 450 mile. I sent them back hoping they could fix to no avail. Love to fit and the feel but am somewhat unsatisfied with how many miles I got out of them.


Donald 2/3/11, 8:43 PM  

Darrell: they've added a heel cup, for precisely that reason. It comes standard with all RunAmocs now.

Anonymous,  2/4/11, 8:05 PM  


I bought the Chocolates in November. Have the added the heel cup since then? There was a peice of small leather similar to the outsole but hardly enough to keep the leather from sagging. Stangely enough I think the Rambler with the 5MM trail sole would be a better winter running shoe for our Michigan winters. The material they use takes mink oil well and stays upright better than the floppy suede. The ventilation on both sides becomes an issues when running in slushy conditions in any of their shoes. Still love the product and have not given up on them.


Donald 2/10/11, 8:04 AM  

Darrell: They should have been updated by November. I compared the before and after versions in this post from September, and I'm still really happy with how the heelcup versions have held up over time. You're probably correct about the Rambler for winter running, though.

Maddy,  8/13/11, 4:42 PM  

I have always wanted a pair of these amazing shoes, but as I actually got ready to order them, I realized that I couldn't decide between 2mm and 5mm. Flexibility and "feeling the ground" are very important to me, but I live in an area which is covered in goat heads and other sharp prickers which have a tendency to poke right through any thin sole. I was wondering if there was any advice as to which way to go. Thanks!!

Donald 8/13/11, 6:39 PM  

Maddy: the 2mm soles are pretty puncture-resistant, but if you're doing a lot of off-road miles, my preference is the 5mm. You trade a bit of ground feel for improved traction.

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