Unlike the Reebok RealFlex, Sockwa shoes are most definitely not designed for the mainstream athletic shoe customer.
This is a true barefoot / minimalist shoe.
For my review, I tested the G2 model.
Note – Sockwa is going to be unveiling their latest product at the Outdoor Retailer show next month. Unlike the current method of “gluing” the sole to the upper, this new product will utilize over-mold technology. Overmolding is a process where one can join two different plastics during the molding process without the use of adhesives or primers. This process comes from the plastic injection molding industry and will serve to actually bond the upper & the sole together into one piece.
The product will be fully machine washable, more durable, have fewer non-green materials, weigh even less and have a smaller footprint on society.
- Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.
The Sockwa G2 doesn’t provide much cushioning for your feet. I found this out while sprinting a hill covered in very pointy stones. It truly felt barefoot.
However, the uber-thin TPU sole was up to the challenge of my 255 lbs pounding up and down that Hill of Pain.
Conclusion – you will feel it when you run over stuff, but unless it’s a nail, the Sockwa sole will keep your human sole from being punctured.
- Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.
Just like being barefoot…except you can’t grab stuff with your toes.
- Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…
Just like being barefoot. There was absolutely no restriction on the flexing & spreading of my Shrek-like feet.
- Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?
Light as a feather.
- The Drop – Most conventional running shoes raise the heel 22-24mm off the ground while lifting the front of the shoe only 10-15mm off the ground. This difference creates a forward leaning slope which changes your posture and leads to a heel-toe gait which leads a bunch of problems. Long story short, a flat shoe is more natural.
No drop – 2.8 mm of neoprene cushion on the front and back of the shoe
- Shape of the Sole – As your foot spreads, does the protective sole continue to protect your foot from physical damage?
Sockwa soles are shaped like a flat-footed, extra wide sock.
Unlike a normal shoe, the Sockwa sole wraps up and around the neoprene upper. This allows for the sole of your foot to remain protected by the TPU sole as your foot naturally spreads & flexes while you walk, run & jump.
- Comfort – Do they feel good on your feet?
How do you enjoy walking or running with bare feet?
With these shoes, you will experience essentially the same amount of impact. Less damage (temperature & impact) than bare feet, but the same impact force due to the relative lack of padding.
If you are used to exercising in a mainstream athletic shoe, the difference will be enormous. Like night & day.
However, after a little while, your soft little baby feet will begin to toughen up and your body mechanics will adapt to accommodate for the lack of foam, gel, springs, airbags, etc…
Just like putting on a pair of your granny’s knitted slippers.
- Appearance – Do you look like a freak wearing them? Do you care?
I overheard a few comments while wearing the Sockwas.
- Check out that guy’s shoes
- Is he wearing socks?
- Why does he look like a hippo wearing ballet slippers?
The last comment made me wonder if all barefoot / minimalist shoes look better on smaller, less muscley owners. They look a little dainty on us “big guys”.
- Ventilation – Vibrams are notoriously stinky shoes…what about the RealFLex?
So far so good.
- Durability – Will they stand up to some pounding?
So far, so good. It’s only been a couple of months, but I have been running them all over different surfaces – pavement, ashphalt, rock, gravel, dirt trails – and there is little to no wear.
- Price – Due to my Scottish background, cost is always a factor.
$49.99 USD – $40 less than the Reebok RealFlex
- Application – Is the shoe applicable for everyday use, running, sports, yoga, weight lifting, water sports, beach sports, etc?
I wore them in the lake, on the beach, walking on the boardwalk, walking on the sidewalk, running on the sidewalk, running in the woods, running on gravel & stones, while lifting weights, while stretch & doing yoga poses…and other than having to get used to the higher impact forces, I have absolutely no complaints.
True, I don’t see myself wearing them through a Canadian winter, but…
Like the Reebok RealFlex, your decision to buy this shoe should come down to application.
If you want a true barefoot feel, this is a great shoe.
But, if you don’t want to walk around in sock/shoes & have strangers make comments, then maybe you should opt for a hybrid minimalist shoe like the RealFlex or the Nike Free.
Or, maybe you wear your Sockwas in yoga class or at the beach or sprinting hills…..and then walk the streets in something more mainstream.