Last spring I had the opportunity to test a shoe that had been perhaps the most long-anticipated of the entire natural running movement: the SKORA FORM. The company set a pretty tall standard for itself with high-quality material construction, along with a high-end price tag of $185 that proved to be a hurdle for many users.
I had some frustration in my testing due to SKORA’s sizing for both its BASE and FORM models, which were at least a half size too large. Even without removing the insole (creating a lower stack height which I usually prefer), the shoe was difficult to fasten properly, and my foot moved around inside the shoe too much for me to do any serious high-mileage testing.
|SKORA women's FORM|
At the time, the FORM was only available in men’s sizes, but this fall the company introduced a women’s FORM, which is now available in two colors. Most of the design features and construction elements are the same as the men’s version, with a few tweaks to make it better suited for female runners. It’s a zero-drop, medium midsole shoe, placing it in the same category as Altra’s Intuition or Merrell’s Dash Glove and Bare Access (review coming soon) – and since I happen to be married to a runner who has reviewed all of those models, I figured I had the perfect person to test the women’s FORM as well.
Prior to the release, SKORA also offered me a mulligan of sorts, and provided a smaller size men's shoe for my own testing. I happened to receive them in the midst of my high mileage (relatively, at least) weeks of preparation for Leadville, and wore them almost straight out of the box on a 31-mile road run, the last 13 miles of which consisted of leading a 1:45 pace group at a local half-marathon. I’ve put a couple hundred miles on them since then, and I’m really impressed with their durability in every way except for one, which I’ll explain shortly.
In the meantime, let’s run through a quick recap of the whole SKORA concept. The company’s slogan is “Run Real”, and they don’t want to be considered a minimalist shoe – rather, their primary intention is to promote natural running form and to create the best possible shoes to accommodate it. They believe that the best running shoes let your feet function naturally, while providing protection and comfort that allow you to extend your run as far as your body will take you.
The vast majority of technical specifications on the women’s FORM are identical to the men’s version – so I’ll refer you to my earlier review, and briefly run down the specs here:
Uppers are made from Pittards Armor-Tan goat leather, with Pittards WR100X sheepskin lining. In other words … very UN-vegan.
Standing height is 13mm with the removable insole in place, and 9mm if you remove the insole.
Removing the insole also expands the toe box somewhat, giving the effect of sizing up roughly one-half size.
Lacing is asymmetrical, and eschews a traditional tongue in favor of the burrito-wrap style that seems to be appearing more frequently from various manufacturers. In my initial testing I commented that the shoelaces were way too long, but this was corrected between the prototype I reviewed and the final release version.
Sizing can be adjusted around the heel and ankle with an elastic Velcro strap, and the ankle collar has soft padding for improved comfort.
Weight of the women’s version is 7.4oz, compared to 8.2 for the larger men’s version. Again, this isn’t super-minimal, but it’s light enough so that your feet don’t feel burdened. And of course …
… flexibility of the women’s version is the same as the men’s. (Although to be biologically accurate, perhaps they should make the woman way more flexible than the man. Or maybe that’s just my wife and me.)
The outsole consists of high-abrasion rubber that has held up extremely well after 200 miles. It performs equally well on roads and trails, only losing traction on loose gravel or sloppy, muddy terrain.
One design feature that doesn’t work for me is evident in the heels, which are rounded on both sides. Because I tend to make heel contact with the inside of my heel, with increased mileage I’ve slightly worn down the inside of my right heel, which inclines me to land even further over to the side than I do naturally. If you have neutral alignment, this won’t be an issue, but if your biomechanics are skewed to one side or another, you may have similar problems with the FORM.
Sizing is similar for the women’s version, meaning that you should size down at least a half-size when ordering, and even consider a full size down if you’re intending to remove the insole. SKORA’s RealFit last for women accommodates a wider fit spectrum than the men’s version; I’ve heard criticism that FORMs are too narrow, but that wasn’t a problem for me or my wife throughout or testing.
Both of us found the FORM slightly warmer than conventional mesh running shoes, but not nearly as much as you might think. As I mentioned, I ran in mine through much of the summer and didn’t have any problem with overheating, although it’s worth pointing out that Monterey County summers can be fairly mild.
I also typically wear my FORMs without socks, and even during my 31-miler, comfort was great without any hot spots or other problems.
I’m definitely more impressed with the FORM now that I’ve had a chance to put significant mileage on a pair, and I anticipate that a biomechanically neutral runner with proper natural form could log many hundreds of miles on a pair. The prolonged lifespan may justify the lofty price tag, but I’m still inclined to consider the FORM a luxury item in similar fashion as a Lexus is to a Toyota; both will help you rack up a lot of miles, but one will get you there in much finer style.
SKORA’s men’s and women’s FORM models retail for $185 from the SKORA website, or from the following Amazon.com links:
*Products provided by SKORA. Amazon Affiliate sales support Running and Rambling.
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