After wearing barefoot / minimalist shoes for the past few months, I can honestly say that no two brands are the same.
They are closer in both form & function to the Sockwa, but as soon as you put it on, you’ll realize that the Kigo design is completely unique.
and just what makes the Kigo so different?
- 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.
Both pairs of Kigos come with a removable EVA insole, a flexible 1.5 mm midsole, and a 3 mm heel thickness. This combination of elements places the Kigos somewhere between the spongy protection of the Reebok RealFlex and the very thin barrier of the Sockwa G2.
The sole is made from a non-slip rubber with “fingerprint” grooves to provide a moderate level of traction. As well, the Kigos come with a protective toe cap.
Both of these features were tested when I played a game of pick-up football on damp grass one afternoon.
- 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.
Due to the thicker sole, both pairs of Kigos offer a lower level of proprioception when compared to the Sockwas.
For example, while sprinting up a rocky hill, I was grateful to be wearing my Kigos. However, when I was zipping through wooded trails with tree roots and uneven terrain, I preferred the “ground-feel” I got from the Sockwas.
How will you be using your barefoot shoes?
- 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…
The design of the Kigo’s upper and the use of 4-way stretch fabric results in an incredibly snug fit. While playing football in my Kigo Edges, I could cut and spin just like Barry Sanders.
Unfortunately, this same design didn’t allow my feet to spread laterally as if I was barefoot. While the sole is flexible and allows for movement front to back, the lateral spread is lost.
As well, the narrow toe box means that your toes will be unable to spread as you walk/run.
And this may be a significant issue for people buying “barefoot” shoes.
- Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?
Both pairs weight 5 ounces. They’re heavier than the Sockwas, but still incredibly light.
- 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.
There is a 1.5 mm drop from heel to midsole. Much flatter than the Reebok.
- Shape of the Sole – As your foot spreads, does the protective sole continue to protect your foot from physical damage?
Like a conventional athletic shoe, the rounded toe of the Kigo is narrower than your actual foot. While this design is more aesthetically pleasing, it means that your toes are squished together.
While this may be unnoticeable to a conventional shoe wearer, it’s hard to miss for people who are used to other brands of barefoot shoe.
- Comfort – Do they feel good on your feet?
The narrow toe box really bothered me. I couldn’t get past it.
- Ease of Use – Are they easy to put on?
They are super snug, but the webbing loop on the heel made it easy to slip on and off.
- Appearance – Do you look like a freak wearing them? Do you care?
The most popular description was “elf slippers”
But after I kicked their collective asses with my elf slippers, most commenters changed their minds and said they loved the Kigos.
The fact is, all barefoot / minimalist shoes are going to look “different”. The Reeboks or Nike Frees are the only ones that are going to look like normal athletic shoes. But those shoes are much less “barefoot” than the Kigos.
And remember, different doesn’t mean bad.
- Ventilation – Vibrams are notoriously stinky shoes…what about the RealFLex?
The Kigos have an anti-microbal insole. If stinky feet are an issue for you, this is a great selling feature.
- 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 very little wear.
- Price – Due to my Scottish background, cost is always a factor.
- Application – Is the shoe applicable for everyday use, running, sports, yoga, weight lifting, water sports, beach sports, etc?
I will be wearing my Kigos for outdoor sports like soccer & football. My foot doesn’t move around in the shoe, allowing me to make quick changes of direction.
Like both the Reebok RealFlex and Sockwa G2, your decision to buy this shoe should come down to application.
The Sockwa is more barefoot-y, but the thinner sole means you are going to hurt running over rocks.
The Reebok looks more like a normal shoe, so people aren’t going to stare.
The Kigo has more protection than the Sockwa, but looks funnier than the Reebok. The tighter toebox means that I won’t wear it for long stretches of time, but the tight fit is great for athletic performance.
- What kind of shoe are you looking for?
- What is the application?
Note – Kigo has two brand-spanking new models coming out in August.
And both pairs have been designed to make the Kigos more barefoot-y.
- Zero drop outer sole
- The rubber soles have been replaced with PLUSfoam
- Improved proprioception
- Wider toe box
- Smaller toe bumper
- Reduced “toe spring” – the toes don’t angle up like elf shoes
- As well, the new lines feature high-performing recycled, post-consumer and non-toxic materials, and are actually recyclable.
It’s as if they read this review before it was even published.
- The Kigo Flit is a lighter version of the Curv with a zero drop outsole.
- The Kigo Drive is a lighter version of the Edge with a zero drop outsole and adjustable speed lacing.