Monday, November 8, 2010

Winter Minimalist Running Shoes

Guess what?  Winter is around the corner!  I run through the whole season...with some limits.  I enjoy running barefoot, but it won't be long before winter has a firm hold on central Illinois.  It's already been in the 20s the last few mornings.  I haven't adapted to running barefoot in cold temperatures.  It can be done--even in the frigid Midwest winters.  Not me...yet.  I'll be relying on minimalist shoes for the next few months.  Fortunately, I already have several pairs of different minimalist footwear:

VFF Bikila
VFF TrekSport
Feelmax Osma
Mizuno Wave Universe 3
New Balance 790 (not truly minimalist, but good for a trail shoe)

Looks like I am set for winter, right?  Well, those first three Vibrams don't work for me when the temperatures are below 25 or so--which happens a lot in Illinois! Still, that leaves three pairs in my existing stable of shoes.  Of course, that last one is really only for I have 2 pairs for roads.  I suppose that's enough.  With warm socks, I should be OK.  Plus, I hope to adapt over the next month to cooler and colder temperatures so I can endure the bitter cold that will come later.  I gave up on the VFFs quickly last winter.  The Wave Universe has very open mesh on top and winds rip right through and cool your feet--great in summer--not so much in winter.  The Osma is a nice shoe, but its VERY thin sole allows the ground cold to leak right through and chill your entire foot.  Hmmm...maybe I'm not so set for winter minimalist running!  If you are like me, you are always looking for the next "great shoe."  Any excuse gets me looking for a new purchase. I've recently found a very interesting blog that is focused on minimalist shoes.  You'll find pictures, reviews, manufacturer links, and lots of technical data (weight, heel to toe drop, sole thickness, tread, etc) on a variety of minimalist shoes.  In addition to the data on running shoes, there are a few resources on good running form.  Check them out here:

Minimalist Running Shoes

I've added them to my blog links on the right side bar.  Where did I find this great resource?  Where else, on the Google minimalist runner listservThat group is THE BEST!

Any of you barefoot or minimalist runners have this winter running thing figured out?


Kevin said...


Last winter I wore my KSO Treks with Injinji socks and it was OK as long as I didn't stop for too long. They felt great in the snow and gave surprising traction.

Chris said...

Thanks Kevin. I now have the TrekSports--not quite as hearty as the leather Treks, but better than the KSOs. With Injinji socks, I hope they'll get me through a good portion of the winter.

Joshua said...

last winter it was my kso's and i through the entire winter. no injinji's either. past the first 5-10 minutes and you have so much blood flowing to your feet, the cold never bothered me. that's dry cold though. slushy stuff isn't good for anyone

Judy Tolliver said...

Not directly related, but your post reminded me of this movie I saw about an arctic runner called Atanarjuat. You may want to check out what he was wearing on his feet. It's a good movie, too.

Chris said...

You, Kevin, and local runner Jason Elliot give me hope that I'll be able to run most of the winter outside in VFFs. Heck, I'm happy to add the toe socks for extra warmth. I should be fine as long as we don't have much of that sub-freezing slushy crap.

Was that guy running naked in the arctic? I guess I can wear warm clothes and slap on my FiveFinger shoes and be just fine in Illinois! No complaints from me...of course, today was 70 degrees!

Taylor said...

Hey Chris,

I live in Edmonton, Canada (guessing you flew in here for the Death Race in the summer?) and I went out for a short run yesterday morning before work. It was a brisk -29C (about -20F) with half an inch of fresh snow. On my feet I had my bikilas with a pair of injinji socks and all was well. Actually I turned around after 10 minutes because I could feel a couple of my toes getting really cold and I was worried I'd be too far from home if they got really bad.. but by the time I got home the blood circulation had improved significantly and I was feeling fine. I even stayed outside to shovel the sidewalks before going in :)

Chris said...


Yep, I flew into Edmonton for the Death Race. Great city. I'm glad you can run in the Bikilas all the way down to that low of a temperature. I think the key is to hang in there until the blood circulation really gets flowing into the feet.

kids crocs said...

Thanks for your recommendation,I will find review on each brand so that I can find the best comfortable shoes I need.

Krisjand said...

I am in Germany and facing the same problem. I have some Bikilas, which are more "closed" (No mesh) but worry about the seperate toes and getting cold. Most other 0-drop shoes seem to be very open. I think I might try the VFFs with some running, anti-chafe gel. This was mentioned in "Born to Run" to help with wetness from rain and puddles.


Chris said...


I do wear my VFFs with lightweight wool Injinji toe socks. That helps a lot. Not sure about the anti-chafe gel, but it could help. Anything that puts another layer between you and the weather should help insulate from the cold. I run in the Bikila and TrekSport (slightly warmer and heavier than the Bikila or KSO).

yroc said...

vivobarefoot neo trail

will Kimbrough said...

Soft Star Run Amoks with wool socks!!

Chris said...

Good wool socks with almost any minimalist shoe will work wonders.